The author of an influential evangelical book that decried modern dating as a “training ground for divorce” has himself divorced his wife and renounced his Christian faith.
Joshua Harris, author of the 1997 book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and a former megachurch pastor, wrote in an Instagram post Friday that he “lived in repentance” for his prior teachings in the church and in his writing. A week prior, he announced that he and his wife of 21 years had separated.
In his post Friday, Harris said he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus.”
“By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,” he wrote. “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.”
Harris once served as the lead pastor to Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He stepped down in 2015 following a child sexual abuse case involving a former church member that was not reported to police.
Harris’ op-ed: Why I’ve rethought dating and purity culture
The once-influential evangelical voice, who now works as a digital marketer in Vancouver, also apologized for remarks he made toward the LGBTQ community that “contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry.”
Harris previously renounced his support of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in 2018. He cancelled the publishing of his book, which had sold over 1.2 million copies, writing in an op-ed for USA TODAY that “that the ideas in my book weren’t just naïve, they often caused harm.”
“Its basic premise was that the best way to avoid premarital sex was to stop dating altogether,” he wrote of the book in 2018.
In his book, Harris wrote that God would provide a partner at the right time and argued that dating would ultimately lead to divorce.
“Now, as a dad to three teenagers, I think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner,” he wrote in USA TODAY.
Harris did not immediately respond to request for comment this week from USA TODAY.
Along with the op-ed, Harris took part in a film titled “I Survived ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye'” in which he rejects his prior teachings. See the trailer below:
Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joshua Harris of ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’: ‘I am not a Christian’