The Joshua Harris heartbreak– thoughts for parents

How my heart sank as I read about Josh Harris’ recent statements and choices.

A familiar name from about two decades ago; the famous author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” I will state up front that I haven’t read that book or any of Josh Harris’ books, but I have certainly heard of them and been aware of them since my high school days. He burst onto the homeschool scene with first a magazine and then this book, followed by others. He didn’t just reach the homeschool-convention type of market, either. Parents from all kinds of Christian circles bought this book for their young people. Young ladies and young men read it. The message was absorbed and the method was apparently adopted by thousands of families.

So, here we are, two decades later. And the heartbreak we now hear of is that Joshua Harris’ own marriage has not lasted. Not only that, by his own admission, his faith in Christ has not lasted.

My heart goes out to the Harris family, but the point of this article is not to talk about the Harris’. I want to talk to myself as a mother and to you as other mothers.Sam1We are so prone to look for a method that will work. We want something we can hang onto– if we will just do this, everything will be fine and our children will grow up to be the dedicated Christ-followers that we so desire. We see kids shipwrecking at every turn. Somebody tell me what I should do with my own kids to get a good outcome, please! I’m scared! What can I place my trust in on this difficult journey called parenting?

Therein lies the problem. If our hope and trust is in anything other than Jesus alone, if our allegiance is placed anywhere else, we are falling short, and we may be falling into idolatry. (Preach it, sister…)Sam2We all need this reminder from time to time. The answer is not in a method. The popular methods and fads may be different today than they were a decade or two ago, but the truth is still the same. No book, no purity ring, no youth group, no homeschool co-op, no homeschool movement, no dating method, no educational method, no certain style of clothing, no parenting method, no discipline system, no Christian school, no formula of any sort is going to give me a guaranteed outcome. Ultimately, it’s about the heart of that child. They will either grow up to follow Christ for themselves, or they won’t.

This is not to say that we can’t find good ideas and good examples to follow. (In general, as far as Harris’ popular book, I think it’s a wise idea for young people to not be involved in the dating scene from age 14 up, etc. I think it is certainly a wise decision for young people to save themselves for marriage, as they follow Christ as their Lord and Master.) In general, we’d probably all agree that some popular “Christian” ideas seem to be good ideas, and some popular “Christian” ideas seem to be bad ideas.Sam 3As parents, we need to pray for great discernment. We must take ourselves, with all of our sheep-like tendencies, to the Great Shepherd Himself. As we fully accept our responsibility to lovingly guide our children from birth to adulthood, we need to seek God’s wisdom at every turn. We need to pay much less attention to the popular ideas of our day, and instead seek Biblical truth, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and seek out those who are seasoned Christians who have been down the path of life.

So am I saying that there actually is NO physical, human, foolproof answer to producing children who grow up to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, and minds? Yes I am, because Scripturally we know it’s a work of the Holy Spirit (which is somewhat of a mystery) in their hearts and lives. Over that child’s heart we have no control. Influence, yes. Control, no. Responsibility, yes. Guaranteed outcomes, no.

And as parents, if this realization doesn’t cast us at the feet of the Master, I don’t think anything will.Flowers

8 thoughts on “The Joshua Harris heartbreak– thoughts for parents

  1. Enjoyed reading this article and Jenny has the gift of teaching in her writings. Keep up the good fight of faith,dear we are ina spiritual battle. We don,t have to be ashamed of the NAME we bear. Love, Grammy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Preach it dear daughter! The proof that formulas don’t work? Parents can raise all of their children the exact same way, and some will follow the Lord, and others will reject the Lord. Some will turn against you, rejecting everything you believe and stand for and some will take the baton they have been given, and pass that baton on to their children, taking them to heights you yourself as a parent never achieved at their age. If you look at people in the old testament, some godly parents had foolish children. Some ungodly parents had godly offspring. Solomon one of the wisest men that ever lived wrote this in Ecclesiastes 2:19 regarding leaving an inheritance to your children. “And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will take over all the labor at which I have worked skillfully under the sun. This too is futile.” As parents we do the best we can, seeking wisdom from our elders, learning from our mistakes, and then asking God to cover our errors with His grace. We must teach our older children that they must choose “whom they will serve” and that they must answer to God for their choices, not to us as parents. There is tremendous freedom as a parent to let our young adults go and fly their own plane, where God leads. If the plane crashes, then as parents we don’t have to face the guilt that it was “all our fault”. If the plane flies higher and higher, we don’t have to take the credit for that either. In my own case, I gave my heart and soul to my ten children for over 40 years. I have no regrets. What they do with what they have been given, they are responsible before God and it is no longer my business. This is so freeing! God bless you dear parents out there who are doing the best you can. That is all you can do. Leave the rest to God.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so true. Every single part of it. As Christian parents it is our duty to teach them . They have to decide for themselves which way they will choose. I pray we teach them the ways of truth so when they are old they won’t depart from it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post…thank you. Events like this always “shake me up ” a bit and I need to rely on my Bible a bit harder at times like this.


    1. Yes it can have that effect on us, for sure… my husband has reminded me that there are so many faithful Christians all over the world who are quietly living a life of obedience and godliness. That’s a good reminder at times like this.


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