Kissing Dating Goodbye?
Thursday 1st August 2019 @ 1:52 am
If I had a euro for every time a young person / young adult asked me “have you read ‘I kissed dating goodbye’” I could have had a really decent night out with friends, and paid for everything, for everyone, all night.
You can therefore imagine how my eyebrows raised when I recently discovered Josh Harris who wrote the book and began the modern chastity movement, kissed dating goodbye, then kissed his wife goodbye, then kissed Christian faith goodbye. It’s sad on many many many levels. I hold no pleasure in broken promises made in front of family, friends and God being so publicly disavowed. There must be a lot of pain and turmoil in his home.
I do, as a chaplain look forward to the ‘out’working of his story, to see if it can help mend the torment of sex & sexuality questions that many young adults over the last number of years have gone through due to the influence of the theology he previously taught.
I am glad his theology has changed – and deeply impressed with his courage to admit it publicly. I wish all of us in leadership would be as open to honesty. For my part I am constantly trying to live authentically and work out what that means with those around me, to do otherwise is harmful to my social, spiritual and mental health. So while I applaud Josh’s honesty, I feel deeply for those caught in right wing Christian ethics of sexuality that for too many people have led only to shame and fear. Neither of those emotions are found on the check list of what Jesus asks of his followers – in fact it’s the opposite.
Jesus ethic of love in the Gospels specifically hones in on those who are disgraced and outcast with regard to their sex and sexuality. The issues for Jesus when taking time with prostitutes and others (sadly almost all females in the NT accounts – with the exception of the eunuch from the court of Ethiopia in Acts) are not to do with physicality of sex, but with the power questions that surround sex. i.e., when Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the Well, or the woman caught in adultery, or the women we are told paid particular attention at the ‘feet’ of Jesus, he addresses issues of power – and particularly the issues of power imbalance that they can be free from.
Hence, in sexual ethics, one of the things we see in the actions of Jesus is a rebuttal not of physical sexuality, but of power held over others in a sexual way. Sheer strength of physical force in sex is the most depraved and dehumanizing of any physical action – and only those who have been raped can speak to the absolute horror of it. Yet physical brutality is not the only way power is exerted in sexuality. Social systems, family systems and faith systems can all at times use ‘power over’ people to diminish them as human beings. Decrying life–styles, mocking behaviour, slandering inuendo, spreading rumour, creating an ‘us & them,’ are all commonplace in the church circles I have grown up in, and am still a member of. If I, as a straight, white, middle–aged single man feel the pinches and pitfalls of sexual questions, how much worse must it be for LGBTQ+ people around our churches and faith communities?
I take no pleasure in Josh Harris kissing his wife and his faith goodbye. I do hope now, that his journey can cultivate more honest discussions in Christian world surrounding the damage caused by the theology he once taught, and the influence of shame and fear in such theology. Ironically, (maybe it’s not irony, but prevenience in grace) he might now be better placed than ever to truly help heal people, and live in the fulness of a faith that adheres to real love.
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