Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Kissed Dating Hello

In the late 90s Josh Harris' "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" came out. This book took the conservative Christian community--especially the homeschool community--by storm. My mom gave me this book when I was thirteen. I skimmed it quickly because as a late blooming teenager I didn't really see how any of it applied to me. I was not going to date, I was going to court. Got it. Could I please go roller blading around the neighborhood now? If I ran into a boy I'd be sure to not make prolonged eye contact until his intentions were clear.

Sarcasm aside, it wasn't uncommon to hear young Christian homeschool teens asking each other, "is your family doing dating or courting?" Daters were looked down upon, courters were revered for their higher standards. It was never explicitly said, but somehow we all knew to answer "we're going to court, of course!" We weren't heathens, after all!

"Guarding your heart" was the phrase used when proceeding into a relationship with the opposite sex. (Oops...meant to type gender and not the "s" word.) We assumed that by following these standards and "guarding our hearts" we'd be guaranteed the perfect man and a perfect marriage. Again, it was never said, but somehow I came away with that assumption.

Here's the problem with that assumption: there are no perfect men (or women) and no perfect marriage. Assuming a particular method of dating/courting will grant you either of these is setting yourself up for disappointment. I know plenty of girls who obeyed the letter of the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" law who are in their thirties and still single. I know plenty of girls who had a perfect courtship and their marriage still has problems. Obedience doesn't guarantee reward. Tough lesson. (Some of these are man made laws. Obeying God's law always leads to reward, just not necessarily on this side of eternity. See Hebrews 11.)

So, here's my final opinion more than ten years after perusing IKDG: dating is not evil. There is this unspoken idea in courting that you have to be CERTAIN the person you are going to court is the one you will marry before you proceed. I believe you should date purposefully. But you don't have to know for sure that someone is "the one" before you make a move. If you DO know for certain, great! But having that as a prerequisite is not realistic in most situations.

In a nutshell, I think this is what you should keep in mind when approaching a relationship:

Step one: mutual attraction (well, hopefully it's mutual).
Step two: guy pursues and communicates intentions.
Step three: establish values and set your boundaries. Have accountability. (Hopefully both sides will already have accountability people in their lives.)
Step four: Have fun, get to know each other and find out if this person is meant to be your 'til death! If not, move on. If so, huzzah!

This is neither dating nor courting, but a little combination of both. "Dourting," if you will. In fact, I think I'm going to write a book called "Dourt your way to the Alter." I smell a best seller.

Psalm 73:26


cbcomedy said...

Awesome. Reminds me of the book Marriable.

Steve said...

You might find my blog of interest where I critique Josh Harris's book.
I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?

Unfortunately Josh Harris is quick to point out the problems with dating but reluctant to share any of the problems with his approach. KDG may also be something more appropriate for teenagers vs. older singles.

Hope this helps.

Colorado Mom said...

Well said Kristin!

Anonymous said...

oh Kristin, this is awesome

Steve said...

It should also be pointed out that two of the couples that Josh Harris mentions in his "Boy Meets Girl" book are either divorces or in the process of divorce.

Thus sadly even Harris's "model" couples can have the not perfect end.

Jenny said...

"Dourting"? LOL Just make sure you have some success stories before selling the idea to readers. Most of the courtship/betrothal set like to announce something as "the right way" when no one's ever tried it.

Steve said...


A long the lines of what you are saying, it is a lot easier to present something as the "right way" or "better" method when it is new and has no track record. Now that it has been in place for a while we are seeing that it has its own problems.

What is sad is that despite "coursthip" and "kissing dating goodbye" having problems many of those that promote it aren't open about these problems.

Carl said...

Hi Kristen. I found your blog through your comment on Jenny's blog. I wasn't homeschooled but when I was in college, I lived three years in a spare room with one of friend's family who was of the same conservative Christian homeschool type that you speak of. So I can very much sympathize with the issue your dealing with here and I have to say your caricatures are hilarious!

When I was living with the family in college I remember having a number of discussions with them on the issue. I think you hit the heart of the matter when speaking of "purposeful" dating. I was surprised time and again that the "courters" always assumed that "dating" = "casual dating" which in turn seemed to conjure up "foolin around". But what matters is the purpose of dating: is it God-honoring or not? Does one take marriage serious or not? As you say, "find out if this person is meant to be your 'til death!"

I've not read Josh Harris but my wife (homeschooled also) did when she was a teenager and feels that what Josh was up to was simply critiquing casual dating. Granted it was his first book and probably written without balance, it's a shame that many either take his shared experiences as a manual or rake him over the coals because people take it as a manual when it shouldn't be. Given what he says about it, it should be evaluated on a cursory level only and not squeezed dry by over-analysis (which thankfully you don't do).

Steve said...


The below link is what supposedly Josh Harris meant he was "kissing goodbye:"

It is sad that Harris didn't make this clear in any of his books or for that matter share this on his blog.

Mandy Maria said...

While everyone in my high school youth group did this, my youth leader was always like read the Bible not a self-help book. All dating/courting books say the same thing: focus on Jesus.

Also, as a teenager I never understood the phrase "guard your heart" and it was never explained to me very well. Now at 25 I understand, but I went through heart ache to learn the lesson.