To the shock of many (including myself), Joshua Harris, the author of the two biggest Christian books on courtship and marriage from the late 90’s / early 2000’s, has recently announced that he and wife were separating. To anyone who read his books, watched his videos, and followed his love story, this comes as a blow to the gut. Joshua Harris was a hopeless romantic that inspired a generation to embrace a new kind of mindset towards relationships and marriage. It had much to do with his work that I pursued my wife in a courtship manner and reserved sex until marriage. I’ve now been married for almost fifteen years and I credit a lot of the success of our relation to that model of relationship building. I still think it’s a good and biblical model, and I don’t think his downfall should discourage anyone from pursuing it. I’ll explain why.
First of all, no idea should rise or fall upon a human experience. Good ideas are often difficult ideas to execute. Just because they’re difficult doesn’t mean that they are not good or right. There are likely millions of people who try to lose weight each year that fail miserably. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that the majority of those who seek to lose weight find it too difficult. Does this mean that seeking a healthy weight is a bad idea? Of course not.
It should also be noted that we live in a wicked world full of temptation and sin. Add on that the fact that there is a Tempter seeking to destroy the best among us. This precise case is a prime example to why the Devil seeks out those who might best serve his purpose in discrediting biblical ideas. A man like Joshua Harris is top target. The Bible clearly teaches that we are in a battle—not against flesh and blood—but against spiritual hosts of wickedness. This battle rages about us everyday. Those who fail to take up their spiritual armor are likely to fall in this battle. It seems that Joshua Harris and his wife are among them.
Of course, this blog isn’t to bash Josh or his wife. I pray only the best for them. However, I do think it’s important that we don’t get discouraged when great men like this fall. It is discouraging; I’m not going to lie. But it shouldn’t come to us as such a shock that we throw up our arms and say, ‘if he can’t do it, who can??’ This is the wrong thing to say.
The Bible is filled with men just like Joshua. I’ve been reading through the book of first and second Kings with my family recently. The amount of kings that start out well and end poorly is staggering. First of all, most of the kings didn’t even start out well in the first place. They were evil from day one. And then, of the kings that started out well, very few finished well.
Joash, for example. He became king when he was seven. He did great for a long time, but when his long-time mentor finally died, he turned away from the Lord. Jehu is another example. He started out very zealous for the Lord, but he ended up serving the abominations that previous kings had set up. Even Josiah, that great king that brought revival to Judah and pushed back the judgment of God another generation, even he failed when he refused to hear the word of the Lord from Pharaoh Necho.
But the best example of this would be Solomon. And I think he best parallels what has happened with Joshua Harris. Solomon did really good for a while. So good, in fact, that the Lord appeared to him in the night and offered to grant him whatever he would ask. He asked for wisdom. And again, the Lord was so pleased that he gave him not only wisdom, but wealth and power. Solomon penned many proverbs and the Song of Solomon. He also penned the book of Ecclesiastes. Yet, despite his great beginnings and his great wisdom, Solomon fell away from the Lord in his older years and began to serve other gods.
But why? How could this be? Didn’t the Lord appear to him twice? Wasn’t he endowed with wisdom beyond any man that had ever lived? Wasn’t he surrounded by wealth and pleasure that the Lord had given to him? What more did the guy want? He had all the money in the world. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. But we still see that his heart was drawn away to serve other gods.
This should be very telling to us. Even those among us who have had great wisdom, written great books, and done great things, are not exempt from temptation. Even those who have had the most remarkable experiences with God are still subject to temptation. Humans are good at forgetting. The people of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, yet they complained and grumbled when they got to the other side. This is human nature. We forget easily. This is precisely why we must ‘exhort one another daily, as we see the day approaching, lest any of us should be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.’
It should be noted, however, that even though Solomon’s fall was great, his books are still with us today, and read by billions. His fall did not nullify the truths that he had written about in his glory days. Those truths stand by themselves. And even so, Joshua Harris wrote some good things. Most of his work then I probably still agree with today. His work is not the problem, it’s our sinful hearts that are the problem. We shouldn’t throw away the great truths that he brought forth from those years. We should learn from it and build upon it. And we shouldn’t be discouraged when men fall, it’s going to happen. People give up on their weight loss every day. But this doesn’t mean that these ideas are bad. No, these ideas are so good that we ought to fiercely fight for them. Not Joshua Harris’ ideas, but biblical ideas (which he did a great job of bringing forth).
Josh, I pray this is not the end for you. It’s not too late for a great comeback. Your story does not have to be over.