"I didn't leave room for the idea that dating could be a healthy way of learning what you're looking for in a long-term relationship, that it could be a part of growing personally," he said."I gave the impression that there was one formula that you could follow, and if you followed that, you'd be happily married, God would bless you, and you'd have a great sex life and marriage." He added, "Obviously, the real world doesn't work that way." However, the 42-year-old pastor and author said what he regrets most is the fact that he transferred the fear inside of him to his writing. "Fear of messing up, fear of getting your heart broken, fear of hurting somebody else, fear of sex." Harris, who went on to serve as senior pastor of Covenant Life Church for several years, said he finally understood the problems in his book after he stopped being the pastor of a large church and went to graduate school. Fear of the process, of the journey to maturity that friendship, relationships and dating can provide. Now, I am taking a step back from my younger self who read and anxiously let its principles guide me for too many years.
that’s part of the problem with my book.” The Washington Post followed up with a similar article in which a writer shares her story: I am a purity-culture success story: I am a heterosexual woman, a virgin until marriage, now with two small children and a husband I deeply love. This post received over 1,200 comments in less than a week. If I were to be honest, there were even a handful of men who helped me work through a lot of these topics. Just because we are ridding ourselves of the anxiety of waiting doesn’t mean that we give up all forms of God-honoring waiting for certain aspects of marriage.
For those who were affected by the tidal wave of copies of books by authors who championed for waiting, what are we to do?
Even Harris himself is asking to hear the conversation on his site, as he shares on his website that he has “heard a growing number of voices of people who have been hurt by [his books].” So where does this leave us?
I don’t think I Kissed Dating Goodby or books like it set out to do harm. But that doesn’t mean those principles were always interpreted and applied helpfully.
But that doesn't mean that dating is somehow wrong or a certain way of dating is the only way to do things," Harris said.
"So you can kind of, like, back up and say well, because of this, then you should do this, this and this as well. We have God's word, but then it's so easy to add all this other stuff to protect people, to control people, to make sure that you don't get anywhere near that place where you could go off course.
Even if it’s messy, even if it’s just with one friend—be wise, but start honest about your disappointments, hurts or frustrations with “dating.” There are several online spaces springing across the internet where millennial men and women are engaging in this topic with respect and honesty. Get into a place where you can chat, learn, grow and heal. You may not be as alone as you may think you are in the conversation. The problem is that I feel as if so many of those boundaries are defined either by fear or by the opposite—pride of not looking “holy.” This is the kind of mental concept I am okay with walking away from.
I do not want my life to be run by anxiety, fear, pride or coldness toward healthy and God-honoring relationships that will come in varying stages of appropriate human-to-human connection.
Earlier, Harris told NPR that while the Bible gives "certain commandments and guidance" relating to sexuality and relationships, Christians often take truths from God's word and add extra human regulation onto them, the pastor contended.