Josh Harris "rethinks his approach to courtship"

"... my book was used as a rule book to say this is the only way to do it. I know that that's not helpful." NPR

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Bert Perry's picture

I agree completely with Harris in that IKDG had become a de facto "user's manual" for relationships in some circles, especially among homeschoolers,   Yes, there were some people who were abused by this--I can personally think of a lovely young lady who's now in her late 20s and unmarried in part as a result of this.  

That said, IKDG and Doug Wilson's "Her Hand in Marriage", along with other writing by Voddie Baucham and others, does make the valuable point that we ought to remember: all too often, our modern dating system (or "hooking up" system in too many places I guess via Tinder and such) is simply a way to train people to get used to breakups and divorce.  We can (and should IMO) debate what our solutions ought to be--whether we go full Victorian with calling and courting, or whether we do something to mitigate the known hazards.  So let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater--IKDG made a valuable contribution, and we ought to thank Josh Harris for that.  But at the same time, we ought to rethink things so we're less likely to make it yet another cause for lots of rules that won't make sense five years from now.

One interesting development that occurred around the time of IKDB's publication, FWIW, is that traditional dating had begun in some areas to be supplanted by "hooking up"--if you've heard of Tinder and swiping, that's what that's about.  It's not monolithic, but a lot of people had begun to ignore the cultural rules of dating--come to her door and don't just honk, get to know her parents, take her out to ice cream or dinner or a movie before even thinking about even a kiss, and the like.  So I would guess a lot of readers, especially young Christians, would see Harris' book and say "what is this 'dating' thing he keeps talking about?".  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Susan R's picture


I thought IKDG started some very good conversations about what it means to 'date'. If the purpose of dating is to seek out a life partner, no one should be doing it until they are ready to pursue that kind of relationship. And if you are pursuing that kind of relationship, you'll essentially be 'courting'. 

I read IKDG out loud to my kids many years ago (as well as several other books about relationships and making good choices) and we talked about it. It deeply affected them and they take very seriously the idea of choosing to date. They've made some very good relationship choices so far because of those talks. 

As for the IKDG courtship cult following, it is unfortunate how many good ideas become idols in the hands of people looking for a magic bullet. If they just obey this book or follow that pastor, they are guaranteed spiritual kids. Parenting is scary and we want to feel secure and comforted. Our confidence, however, isn't supposed to come from a book like IKDG.