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I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships and Romance

(Paperback - 2003)
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Overview

Joshua Harris's first book, written when he was only 21, turned the Christian singles scene upside down.and people are still talking. More than 800,000 copies later, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," with its inspiring call to sincere love, real purity, and purposeful singleness, remains the benchmark for books on Christian dating. Now, for the first time since its release, the national #1 bestseller has been expanded with new content and updated for new readers. Honest and practical, it challenges cultural assumptions about relationships and provides solid, biblical alternatives to society's norm.
Tired of the game? Kiss dating goodbye.
"Going out? "Been dumped? Waiting for a call that doesn't come? Have you tasted pain in dating, drifted through one romance or, possibly, "several" of them?""
Ever wondered, "Isn't there a better way? "
"I Kissed Dating Goodbye "shows what it means to entrust your love life to God. Joshua Harris shares his story of giving up dating and discovering that God has something even better--a life of sincere love, true purity, and purposeful singleness.

Details

  • SKU: 9781590521359
  • SKU10: 1590521358
  • Title: I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships and Romance
  • Qty Remaining Online: 55
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books
  • Date Published: Apr 2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Age Range: 14 - 20
  • Grade Level: 9th Grade thru College Junior
  • Weight lbs: 0.40
  • Dimensions: 8.20" L x 5.10" W x 0.60" H
  • Features: Price on Product, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Category: SINGLES
  • Subject: Christian Life - Relationships
NOTE: Related content on this page may not be applicable to all formats of this product.

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

So This Is Love?

Beyond What Feels Good, Back to What Is Good

It was finally here-Anna's wedding day, the day she had dreamed about and planned for months. The small, picturesque church was crowded with friends and family.

Sunlight poured through the stained-glass windows, and the gentle music of a string quartet filled the air. Anna walked down the aisle toward David. Joy surged within her. This was the moment for which she had waited so long. He gently took her hand, and they turned toward the altar.

But as the minister began to lead Anna and David through their vows, the unthinkable happened. A girl stood up in the middle of the congregation, walked quietly to the altar, and took David's other hand. Another girl approached and stood next to the first, followed by another. Soon, a chain of six girls stood by him as he repeated his vows to Anna.

Anna felt her lip begin to quiver as tears welled up in her eyes. "Is this some kind of joke?" she whispered to David.

"I'm . I'm sorry, Anna," he said, staring at the floor.

"Who are these girls, David? What is going on?" she gasped.

"They're girls from my past," he answered sadly. "Anna, they don't mean anything to me now . but I've given part of my heart to each of them."

"I thought your heart was mine," she said.

"It is, it is," he pleaded. "Everything that's left is yours."

A tear rolled down Anna's cheek. Then she woke up.

Betrayed

Anna told me about her dream in a letter. "When I awoke I felt so betrayed," she wrote. "But then I was struck with these sickening thoughts: How many men could line up next to me on my wedding day? How many times have I given my heart away in short-term relationships? Will I have anything left to give my husband?"

I often think of Anna's dream. The jarring image haunts me. There are girls from my past, too. What if they showed up on my wedding day? What could they say in the receiving line?

"Hello, Joshua. Those were some pretty lofty promises you made at the altar today. I hope you're better at keeping promises now than you were when I knew you."

"My, don't you look nice in that tuxedo. And what a beautiful bride. Does she know about me? Have you told her all the sweet things you used to whisper in my ear?"

There are relationships I can only look back on with regret. I do my best to forget. I laugh them off as part of the game of love that everyone plays.

I know that God has been faithful to forgive as I've asked Him to. And I know that the various girls have forgiven me, because I've asked them to.

But I'm still aware of the consequences of my selfishness. I gave my heart away too many times. And I took from girls what wasn't mine.

Living for Myself

My own self-centered approach to romance started young. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, by the time I reached junior high I had embraced a very ungodly attitude toward relationships. I didn't fear God. Despite my parents' diligence and godly example, I was living for sin and my own pleasure.

The older guys on my gymnastics team bragged about the different girls they had slept with. I was mesmerized by their stories. Sin sounded so enticing. With a friend I stole pornographic magazines from a bookstore and pored over them, stoking the fire of my own sinful cravings-I was enslaved to lust, and girls were nothing more than objects to satisfy my desire. One night I snuck out of the house for a prearranged meeting with three girls and made out with each of them one after the other.

Looking back, I'm sickened by these memories, but at the time I only wanted more. The fact that I remained a virgin during those years is, to be honest, a miracle. It had everything to do with God's mercy and nothing to do with any self-control or virtue on my part. I can easily be brought to tears when I think about where I'd be today if God had not chosen to intervene.

God convicted me of my disobedience through a message given by Randy Alcorn at a retreat I attended my freshman year in high school. Randy spoke about heaven. He talked about how Jesus died for my sins. Even though I claimed to be a Christian, as I listened I knew that I wasn't living for God. I had to change.

I repented of my sin right then, and when I got home from the retreat I threw away the pornographic magazines and paid the bookstore for what I'd stolen (I was too embarrassed to tell them in person, but I left a note with the money on the counter). At the same time I quit the gymnastics team and got involved with my church's youth group. My next girlfriend was a Christian and we didn't even kiss. I became a student leader and gained a reputation as someone who was serious about his faith. I assumed that my love life was now pleasing to God.

But I still had a lot to learn.

Not Quite Forever

Although I'm grateful for the changes I made then, I now recognize that much of it was superficial. I wasn't sneaking out to meet girls in the middle of the night anymore, but most of my wrong attitudes remained the same. My main concerns were still my own gratification and the fun I could gain from relationships with girls. I liked the way I felt when a girl liked me. I enjoyed the rush I got from flirting or expressing my feelings to a girl. I was still very immature and selfish.

In church my friends and I played the dating game with passion-more passion, I regret to say, than we gave to worshiping or listening to sermons. During Sunday morning services we passed notes about who liked whom, who was going out with whom, and who had broken up with whom.

During my sophomore year, my involvement in the dating game took a more serious turn. That summer I met Kelly. She had just become a Christian and was new to my church. She was beautiful, blond, and two inches taller than me. But I didn't mind. Kelly was popular, and all the guys liked her. Since I was the only guy who had the nerve to talk to her, she ended up liking me. I asked her to be my girlfriend at the youth group water-ski retreat and sealed our new relationship with a kiss.

Kelly was my first serious girlfriend. Everyone in our youth group recognized us as a couple. We celebrated our "anniversary" every month. Finding ways to spend time together and worrying about the current status of our relationship consumed my energy.

Kelly knew me better than anyone else. After my folks were asleep, Kelly and I would spend hours on the phone, often late into the night, talking about everything and nothing in particular. We thought God had made us for each other. We talked about getting married someday. We began expressing our feelings physically. I promised her that I would love her forever.

My parents didn't want me in a serious relationship, but they adored Kelly. They enjoyed the time she spent with the family. Their love for both of us blinded them to the fact that we were headed in a dangerous direction. They had no idea about our sinful physical relationship. I hid that from them. I never lied outright to my mom and dad, but I half-answered questions and tried to put things in a better light.

Like many high school relationships, our romance was premature-too much, too soon. And our struggle against sexual sin was a losing battle. Though we never actually had sex, we were dishonoring God. We were violating each other's purity, and our spiritual lives were stagnant as a result.

After a summer missions trip that kept us apart for two months, I ended the relationship.

"We have to break up," I said to her one night after a movie. We both knew this was coming.

"Is there any chance we can have something in the future?" she asked.

"No," I said, trying to add resolve to my voice. "No, it's over."

We broke up two years after we'd met. Not quite "forever," as I had promised.

A Heart Made New

I was seventeen years old when my relationship with Kelly ended. I walked away asking, "Is this how it's supposed to be?" I felt discouraged, confused, and desperate for an alternative to the cycle of short-term relationships in which I found myself.

For the first time I really began to question how my faith as a Christian affected my love life. There had to be more to it than "don't have sex" and "date only Christians." What did it mean to genuinely care about the girls I knew? What did it feel like to really be pure-in my body and my heart? And how did God want me to spend my single years? Was it merely a time to try out different girls romantically? Was dating such a good idea for me?

Books like Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot and long talks with my dad and mom began to change my perspective. Slowly, and in spite of my resistance, God was peeling away layer after layer of wrong thinking, wrong values, and wrong desires.

Some people who hear about my decision not to date till I'm ready for marriage assume that my heart must've broken. No, my heart was made new by my Savior. The change in my attitude was the result of realizing the implications of belonging to Him. The Son of God died for me! He came to free me from the hopelessness of living for myself. That had to change everything-including my love life. Having a girlfriend was no longer my greatest need. Knowing and obeying Him was. I wanted to please Him in my relationships even if it meant looking radical and foolish to other people-even if it meant kissing dating goodbye.

This Is Love

I've come to understand that God's lordship in my life doesn't merely tinker with my approach to romance-it completely transforms it. God not only wants me to act differently; He wants me to think differently-to view love, purity, and singleness from His perspective, to have a new lifestyle and a new attitude.

The basis of this new attitude is God's love for us. John explains the connection between God's love and the way we relate to others in 1 John 4:10-11:

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Do you see what John is saying? God's amazing love for us at the cross provides both the example and the power for us to love others. People whose sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus' death on the cross can't live or love the same ever again. We've been set free from our old self-centered life. We used to be controlled by what felt good, but now, as new creations, we're to be controlled by God's love. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul writes:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (ESV)

The Bible teaches that if we truly trust in Jesus Christ, we die to our old way of living. And we can no longer live for ourselves-we now live for God and for the good of others.

Because of that, relationships with the opposite sex can no longer be about "having a good time" or "learning what I want in a relationship." They're not to be about getting, but giving. Every relationship for a Christian is an opportunity to love another person like God has loved us. To lay down our desires and do what's in his or her best interest. To care for him or her even when there's nothing in it for us. To want that person's purity and holiness because it pleases God and protects him or her.

So whether or not we take a break from dating, if our dating is controlled by Christ's love it will look so radically different than the relationships around us that we'll want to come up with a different name for it!

In recent years, I've tried to let God's love as displayed at the cross define the way I love members of the opposite sex. This kind of love leads to some very practical changes in the way a person approaches relationships. Personally, I've come to some pretty intense conclusions for my life. I've come to realize that while friendships with the opposite sex are great, I have no business asking for a girl's heart and exclusive affections if I'm not ready to consider marriage. Until I can do that, I'd only be using that girl to meet my short-term needs, not seeking to bless her for the long term. Would I enjoy having a girlfriend right now? You bet! But I wouldn't truly be loving her and putting her interests first.

As I've sought God's will for my life, I've discovered that a relationship wouldn't be best for me or for the one I'd date right now. Instead, by avoiding romantic, one-on-one relationships before God tells me I'm ready, I can better serve girls as a friend, and I can remain free to keep my focus on the Lord.

So even though I'm not romantically attached, I'm loving the girls in my life more than I ever did in the past. And not with the selfish kind of love I practiced so often in the past. I'm loving them based on what God says is truly loving.

True love isn't just expressed in passionately whispered words or an intimate kiss or an embrace; before two people are married, love is expressed in self-control, patience, even words left unsaid.

Knowing What's Best

Waiting until I'm ready for commitment before pursuing romance is just one example of letting Christ's love control my relationships with the opposite sex. Each person has to examine his or her own life and ask what it means to love others like Christ. I won't pretend that the day-to-day issues of dealing with attraction or how close a friendship should get are easy to sort through (we'll talk more about this later in the book). But I'm learning to make God's Word, not my feelings, the guide. And as I do, my love is getting smarter. Yes, the Bible actually teaches that our love can and should grow in knowledge. Paul writes in Philippians 1:9-10:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

The way we love others should constantly grow and deepen in its knowledge and insight. And when our love grows in knowledge, we can more readily "discern what is best" for our lives. Don't we all desperately need that discernment?

After all, when we engage in guy-girl relationships, we're not always choosing between absolute wrong and absolute right. Often the choice is between what's good and what's best.

For example, even though I decided to quit the dating scene, I don't believe that dating in and of itself is sinful.

Continues.


Chapter One

So This Is Love?

Beyond What Feels Good, Back to What Is Good

It was finally here-Anna's wedding day, the day she had dreamed about and planned for months. The small, picturesque church was crowded with friends and family.

Sunlight poured through the stained-glass windows, and the gentle music of a string quartet filled the air. Anna walked down the aisle toward David. Joy surged within her. This was the moment for which she had waited so long. He gently took her hand, and they turned toward the altar.

But as the minister began to lead Anna and David through their vows, the unthinkable happened. A girl stood up in the middle of the congregation, walked quietly to the altar, and took David's other hand. Another girl approached and stood next to the first, followed by another. Soon, a chain of six girls stood by him as he repeated his vows to Anna.

Anna felt her lip begin to quiver as tears welled up in her eyes. "Is this some kind of joke?" she whispered to David.

"I'm . I'm sorry, Anna," he said, staring at the floor.

"Who are these girls, David? What is going on?" she gasped.

"They're girls from my past," he answered sadly. "Anna, they don't mean anything to me now . but I've given part of my heart to each of them."

"I thought your heart was mine," she said.

"It is, it is," he pleaded. "Everything that's left is yours."

A tear rolled down Anna's cheek. Then she woke up.

Betrayed

Anna told me about her dream in a letter. "When I awoke I felt so betrayed," she wrote. "But then I was struck with these sickening thoughts: How many men could line up next to me on my wedding day? How many times have I given my heart away in short-term relationships? Will I have anything left to give my husband?"

I often think of Anna's dream. The jarring image haunts me. There are girls from my past, too. What if they showed up on my wedding day? What could they say in the receiving line?

"Hello, Joshua. Those were some pretty lofty promises you made at the altar today. I hope you're better at keeping promises now than you were when I knew you."

"My, don't you look nice in that tuxedo. And what a beautiful bride. Does she know about me? Have you told her all the sweet things you used to whisper in my ear?"

There are relationships I can only look back on with regret. I do my best to forget. I laugh them off as part of the game of love that everyone plays.

I know that God has been faithful to forgive as I've asked Him to. And I know that the various girls have forgiven me, because I've asked them to.

But I'm still aware of the consequences of my selfishness. I gave my heart away too many times. And I took from girls what wasn't mine.

Living for Myself

My own self-centered approach to romance started young. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, by the time I reached junior high I had embraced a very ungodly attitude toward relationships. I didn't fear God. Despite my parents' diligence and godly example, I was living for sin and my own pleasure.

The older guys on my gymnastics team bragged about the different girls they had slept with. I was mesmerized by their stories. Sin sounded so enticing. With a friend I stole pornographic magazines from a bookstore and pored over them, stoking the fire of my own sinful cravings-I was enslaved to lust, and girls were nothing more than objects to satisfy my desire. One night I snuck out of the house for a prearranged meeting with three girls and made out with each of them one after the other.

Looking back, I'm sickened by these memories, but at the time I only wanted more. The fact that I remained a virgin during those years is, to be honest, a miracle. It had everything to do with God's mercy and nothing to do with any self-control or virtue on my part. I can easily be brought to tears when I think about where I'd be today if God had not chosen to intervene.

God convicted me of my disobedience through a message given by Randy Alcorn at a retreat I attended my freshman year in high school. Randy spoke about heaven. He talked about how Jesus died for my sins. Even though I claimed to be a Christian, as I listened I knew that I wasn't living for God. I had to change.

I repented of my sin right then, and when I got home from the retreat I threw away the pornographic magazines and paid the bookstore for what I'd stolen (I was too embarrassed to tell them in person, but I left a note with the money on the counter). At the same time I quit the gymnastics team and got involved with my church's youth group. My next girlfriend was a Christian and we didn't even kiss. I became a student leader and gained a reputation as someone who was serious about his faith. I assumed that my love life was now pleasing to God.

But I still had a lot to learn.

Not Quite Forever

Although I'm grateful for the changes I made then, I now recognize that much of it was superficial. I wasn't sneaking out to meet girls in the middle of the night anymore, but most of my wrong attitudes remained the same. My main concerns were still my own gratification and the fun I could gain from relationships with girls. I liked the way I felt when a girl liked me. I enjoyed the rush I got from flirting or expressing my feelings to a girl. I was still very immature and selfish.

In church my friends and I played the dating game with passion-more passion, I regret to say, than we gave to worshiping or listening to sermons. During Sunday morning services we passed notes about who liked whom, who was going out with whom, and who had broken up with whom.

During my sophomore year, my involvement in the dating game took a more serious turn. That summer I met Kelly. She had just become a Christian and was new to my church. She was beautiful, blond, and two inches taller than me. But I didn't mind. Kelly was popular, and all the guys liked her. Since I was the only guy who had the nerve to talk to her, she ended up liking me. I asked her to be my girlfriend at the youth group water-ski retreat and sealed our new relationship with a kiss.

Kelly was my first serious girlfriend. Everyone in our youth group recognized us as a couple. We celebrated our "anniversary" every month. Finding ways to spend time together and worrying about the current status of our relationship consumed my energy.

Kelly knew me better than anyone else. After my folks were asleep, Kelly and I would spend hours on the phone, often late into the night, talking about everything and nothing in particular. We thought God had made us for each other. We talked about getting married someday. We began expressing our feelings physically. I promised her that I would love her forever.

My parents didn't want me in a serious relationship, but they adored Kelly. They enjoyed the time she spent with the family. Their love for both of us blinded them to the fact that we were headed in a dangerous direction. They had no idea about our sinful physical relationship. I hid that from them. I never lied outright to my mom and dad, but I half-answered questions and tried to put things in a better light.

Like many high school relationships, our romance was premature-too much, too soon. And our struggle against sexual sin was a losing battle. Though we never actually had sex, we were dishonoring God. We were violating each other's purity, and our spiritual lives were stagnant as a result.

After a summer missions trip that kept us apart for two months, I ended the relationship.

"We have to break up," I said to her one night after a movie. We both knew this was coming.

"Is there any chance we can have something in the future?" she asked.

"No," I said, trying to add resolve to my voice. "No, it's over."

We broke up two years after we'd met. Not quite "forever," as I had promised.

A Heart Made New

I was seventeen years old when my relationship with Kelly ended. I walked away asking, "Is this how it's supposed to be?" I felt discouraged, confused, and desperate for an alternative to the cycle of short-term relationships in which I found myself.

For the first time I really began to question how my faith as a Christian affected my love life. There had to be more to it than "don't have sex" and "date only Christians." What did it mean to genuinely care about the girls I knew? What did it feel like to really be pure-in my body and my heart? And how did God want me to spend my single years? Was it merely a time to try out different girls romantically? Was dating such a good idea for me?

Books like Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot and long talks with my dad and mom began to change my perspective. Slowly, and in spite of my resistance, God was peeling away layer after layer of wrong thinking, wrong values, and wrong desires.

Some people who hear about my decision not to date till I'm ready for marriage assume that my heart must've broken. No, my heart was made new by my Savior. The change in my attitude was the result of realizing the implications of belonging to Him. The Son of God died for me! He came to free me from the hopelessness of living for myself. That had to change everything-including my love life. Having a girlfriend was no longer my greatest need. Knowing and obeying Him was. I wanted to please Him in my relationships even if it meant looking radical and foolish to other people-even if it meant kissing dating goodbye.

This Is Love

I've come to understand that God's lordship in my life doesn't merely tinker with my approach to romance-it completely transforms it. God not only wants me to act differently; He wants me to think differently-to view love, purity, and singleness from His perspective, to have a new lifestyle and a new attitude.

The basis of this new attitude is God's love for us. John explains the connection between God's love and the way we relate to others in 1 John 4:10-11:

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Do you see what John is saying? God's amazing love for us at the cross provides both the example and the power for us to love others. People whose sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus' death on the cross can't live or love the same ever again. We've been set free from our old self-centered life. We used to be controlled by what felt good, but now, as new creations, we're to be controlled by God's love. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul writes:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (ESV)

The Bible teaches that if we truly trust in Jesus Christ, we die to our old way of living. And we can no longer live for ourselves-we now live for God and for the good of others.

Because of that, relationships with the opposite sex can no longer be about "having a good time" or "learning what I want in a relationship." They're not to be about getting, but giving. Every relationship for a Christian is an opportunity to love another person like God has loved us. To lay down our desires and do what's in his or her best interest. To care for him or her even when there's nothing in it for us. To want that person's purity and holiness because it pleases God and protects him or her.

So whether or not we take a break from dating, if our dating is controlled by Christ's love it will look so radically different than the relationships around us that we'll want to come up with a different name for it!

In recent years, I've tried to let God's love as displayed at the cross define the way I love members of the opposite sex. This kind of love leads to some very practical changes in the way a person approaches relationships. Personally, I've come to some pretty intense conclusions for my life. I've come to realize that while friendships with the opposite sex are great, I have no business asking for a girl's heart and exclusive affections if I'm not ready to consider marriage. Until I can do that, I'd only be using that girl to meet my short-term needs, not seeking to bless her for the long term. Would I enjoy having a girlfriend right now? You bet! But I wouldn't truly be loving her and putting her interests first.

As I've sought God's will for my life, I've discovered that a relationship wouldn't be best for me or for the one I'd date right now. Instead, by avoiding romantic, one-on-one relationships before God tells me I'm ready, I can better serve girls as a friend, and I can remain free to keep my focus on the Lord.

So even though I'm not romantically attached, I'm loving the girls in my life more than I ever did in the past. And not with the selfish kind of love I practiced so often in the past. I'm loving them based on what God says is truly loving.

True love isn't just expressed in passionately whispered words or an intimate kiss or an embrace; before two people are married, love is expressed in self-control, patience, even words left unsaid.

Knowing What's Best

Waiting until I'm ready for commitment before pursuing romance is just one example of letting Christ's love control my relationships with the opposite sex. Each person has to examine his or her own life and ask what it means to love others like Christ. I won't pretend that the day-to-day issues of dealing with attraction or how close a friendship should get are easy to sort through (we'll talk more about this later in the book). But I'm learning to make God's Word, not my feelings, the guide. And as I do, my love is getting smarter. Yes, the Bible actually teaches that our love can and should grow in knowledge. Paul writes in Philippians 1:9-10:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

The way we love others should constantly grow and deepen in its knowledge and insight. And when our love grows in knowledge, we can more readily "discern what is best" for our lives. Don't we all desperately need that discernment?

After all, when we engage in guy-girl relationships, we're not always choosing between absolute wrong and absolute right. Often the choice is between what's good and what's best.

For example, even though I decided to quit the dating scene, I don't believe that dating in and of itself is sinful.

Continues.

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