May 26, 2011 by Chris French
I received this book free from Multnomah Books in return for a review.
Joshua Harris is 21 years old when he writes the book and only 19 when he decides to “kiss dating goodbye”. He argues that the way we date today gets in our way of being holy and is counter to finding a good spouse. How do a series of short-term relationships prepare one for one long-term relationship? There is very little committment in today’s dating relationships. People will break up over anything…or nothing. They’re just tired of the person they’re dating or think they can get someone better looking or you name the reason. We all get that and have seen that happen multiple times. What you might not have thought about is the connection between low committment and heightened intimacy in your dating relationships hurting your later marriage. Let’s face it, the only thing dating prepares you for is selfishness! You don’t get what you want you move on in a dating relationship. Harris says we carry that thinking, subconsciously or consciously, into our marriages. There’s a better way to prepare yourself for marriage: help people have a deeper relationship with Jesus. Instead of one-on-one dates Harris proposes group outings. If you’re going to do it his way you can’t focus on any one person more than the others. You can’t go out with a group to a movie then pair up with someone specific and spend all your time with them. Kind of defeats the purpose of the group, don’t you think? This idea helps you get to know the person and actually build a friendship with them before you or them attach any romantic feelings to each other. Those feelings are dangerous because they cloud your judgment (this is called infatuation). The person your infatuated with can’t do anything wrong and you can’t stop thinking about them. Harris says that’s not healthy or holy! You’re only suppossed to give that kind of attention to one person: your spouse (and God). Here’s the scenario: Boy meets girl. Boy and girls fall deeply in love. They date in the conventional way where intimacy exceeds committment. They get married. They’re happy for 6 months-1 year. Then one of them (or both of them) is tired of sacrificing for the other, so they decide to break up, only now they’re married so it’s called divorce. Sound familiar? Harris proposes an alternative. Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. Some people will decide to be friends with you. You’ll be able to see their faults and character and make an unbiased decision on whether you want to continue to be friends. Do things in groups with these friends so you can get to know them better. Work in the Kingdom with them by serving others. When you think you may have found someone that you’re ready to marry, not “try out” in a dating relationship, but someone you would be willing to committ to buy Boy Meets Girl and figure out how you should date.
This book has been around a while. In fact, when I told my wife I was reading it she told me she read it in high school! I had never even heard of Kissing Dating Goodbye before so at first I was pretty thrown off by what Harris was saying. Then I started thinking like Dr. Phil. Usually not a great idea, but this time it worked! What we’re doing in dating and marriage isn’t working. Take a look around! It’s broken. We need a different model. Something that will hold us accountable and not be so flimsy as the dating scene is now. I think Harris’ plan will work. I’m going to buy Boy Meets Girl and work his courtship ideas over. (He’s married now with kids from following his plan so apparently it can work). When you read the book you’ll be taken back by some of the things he says because even people who are trying to be God’s people have become so ingrained with our culture and our ideas about dating that a shift in that thinking is almost painful. He’s got a section in the book about what you do while you’re single that might turn your world upside down! Have you ever thought that God might actually be able to use your talents and that spending all your time with your girlfriend/boyfriend just might make God’s job harder? He’ll tell you the truth about love (It’s not about my fulfillment or my comfort, it’s not a feeling, and being in love is well within my control) that alone is worth the price of the book. This is not your typical book about purity. Purity has got to be about more than, “don’t have sex before you’re married”! We’ve gotten very far away from true purity. I think the concepts in Harris’ book just might bring us closer to God’s ideal for purity.