For those who don’t know, Josh Harris is kind of like one of the authors of “purity culture,” the guy whose book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” became very popular. He was also a pastor, took over for C.J. Mahaney. Long story, lots of controversy, but basically he was a significant Christian pop culture leader.
Anyway, a while back he repented of his book, apologized for having hurt so many people with it. Not long after that he reported the end of his marriage, how his wife and he are separating. Now in an Instagram post he speaks of something more akin to deconstruction, loosing his faith and falling away from Christianity itself.
Everything Josh Harris seems to have once believed in, trusted, stood on, has now shifted dramatically. I pray he is surrounded by some good friends.
My heart really goes out to those who may have followed him, those who built a faith around his teachings. We follow Jesus Christ, not other Christians, but that can still be some hard stuff to deal with. I remember once turning to a guy in a time of grief who I thought was a strong believer and he suddenly said rather sarcastically, “So where’s your stupid god-god now??” Broke my heart, but it rattled my world too, because I realized people can go through all the motions, say all the right words, know the Bible in and out, and yet have something else in their heart entirely. Also, I had to admit that I can be deceived. That’s kind of scary, makes you realize you’re vulnerable, makes you doubt your own perceptions. Also, it really opened my eyes to placing Jesus first, Jesus before all others. And it did help to send me on a really good journey, one of asking, so what makes someone a Christian?
And that’s the whole problem with Josh Harris and the environment he came from, the Christian culture he helped to create. He was basically part of a legalistic belief system that implies we’re saved by our own good choices, by our ability to obey the ten commandments, by our purity rings, by our politics. In his Instragram post he says he is falling away or deconstructing his faith and that, “by all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
It struck me as very sad because that’s his answer to what went wrong right there! It is a sentence that just screams out for control, for I have, I am, I define, I judge, I measure, I get to decide. I, I, I,…..
By all his own measurements he now finds his own self lacking. Well of course he does! “As you judge, so shall you be judged….”
I’ve broken up with my faith a few times. I call it “divorcing Jesus.” It’s somewhat amusing after the fact, in terms of heated tantrums and heated grace. The last time I tossed not just my cross out the car window, but my cell phone, too. That’s it, I’m done! And that Still Quiet Voice said, “What makes you think it’s up to you?” That totally blew my mind, but that’s true, that’s actually in the Bible. We love because He first loved us. We come to faith in answer to His call. He invites us in, not just the other way around.
We’re in a two way relationship and then we act as if it is all just a one sided deal, a simple matter of proclaiming, I believe. And tomorrow, I can just squeeze my eyes shut and proclaim, now I don’t believe.
So much of Western Christianity is built around maintaining control, our own, kind of like a pseudo surrender. I’ve totally submitted to Christ…..just on my own terms and under the following conditions with all applicable safe words. It’s an egalitarian relationship, one based on give and take, on dispensationalism. I do this, so God has to do this…….
I am not mourning this “falling away” of Josh Harris because sometimes the false god we have created in our own image needs to fall away so we finally have room in our hearts for the Most High.