Joshua Harris, popular Christian author and former church leader, has renounced his faith and issued an apology to the LGBTQ community for offending its sensibilities with Christian tenets.
What are the details?
Harris, a former leader at Maryland’s Covenant Life Church, said that he was sorry for contributing to a “culture of exclusion and bigotry” that came along with his Christian faith.
Earlier in July, Harris revealed in an Instagram post his decision to leave his faith behind, admitting that he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus.”
He wrote, “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all 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.
“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 continued. “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.”
Harris went on to point out his regrets for “standing against marriage equality” and alienating members of the LGBTQ community.
“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,” he continued. “I hope you can forgive me.”
Harris also had a word of caution for his Christian associates.
“To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers,” he wrote. “Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, ‘All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'”
What happened to Harris?
Harris left Covenant Life in 2015 after the church had been accused of reportedly covering up child sex abuse.
Harris, a sexual purity proponent who wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in 1997 when he was 21 years old, also announced that his 21-year marriage is over, revealing that a “significant [change has] taken place in both of us.”
In 2018, Harris distanced himself from his popular book and said, “I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.”
“To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry,” Harris added.
Harris’ former church expressed its sadness in a letter, which was published on investigative journalist Julie Roy’s website.
The letter, written by Covenant Life Interim Senior Pastor Kevin Rogers, expressed its sadness in Harris’ decision to leave Christianity behind.
“These updates are hard to hear,” Rogers wrote. “We love Josh and [wife] Shannon. For most of us, Josh isn’t just some distant public figure. He’s a beloved former pastor and friend. So this news isn’t just a lot to process theoretically. It hits home personally.”
Rogers’ letter continued, “How do we process the news that someone who was a spiritual leader in our community, who taught us God’s Word, who ministered to us, no longer considers himself a follower of Christ?”
Rogers advised that people should continue loving and supporting others who were “swerving from,” “wandering from,” or “making shipwreck” of their faith, as it is written in Paul’s first letter to Timothy.
“In every case, Paul’s hope was for redemption and restoration,” Rogers wrote. “That these leaders would develop a ‘love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.'”
“That,” he continued, “should be our hope and prayer for Josh as well.”