The author of the influential Christian book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," who recently announced that he and his wife are separating, now says he can no longer call himself a Christian by "all the measurements" he has for defining the term.
Former pastor Josh Harris, who has previously denounced aspects of his popular courtship series, made the declaration in an Instagram post on Saturday featuring a photo of himself looking out at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. In the post, Harris tells his followers that his earlier announcement about the decision to get a divorce left out a key piece of information: he no longer identifies as a Christian. The statement also includes an apology to members of the LGBT community.
"My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision," Harris begins. "I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)"
Harris then arrives at his big reveal about having "deconstructed" his faith. "The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus," he explains. "The popular phrase for this is 'deconstruction,' the biblical phrase is 'falling away.' By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now."
He follows that revelation with a statement of repentence which includes a specific apology directed at LGBT people.
"I have lived in repentance for the past several years — repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few," he writes. "But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me."
He concludes by expressing gratitude to his Christian friends for their prayers and asking them not to take it personally if he doesn't "immediately return calls" because at the moment he doesn't view the developments "negatively," adding that he feels "very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful."
The post follows another posted on July 17 announcing that he and his wife are getting a divorce. "We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends," the couple wrote. "In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision. We hope to create a generous and supportive future for each other and for our three amazing children in the years ahead. Thank you for your understanding and for respecting our privacy during a difficult time."