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Joshua Harris on His Self-Imposed Excommunication


Joshua Harris, former evangelical pastor and author of the infamous book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, shocked followers this summer when he announced his plans to divorce his wife, Shannon, and shortly thereafter, his decision to renounce his faith. In a recent interview, Harris gave a little more insight into why he so publicly stated he no longer considers himself a Christian, and why he uses the term excommunication. 

“I came to a point of recognizing I’m not living according to this [Christian standard], and I held other people to this standard, and I excommunicated myself essentially,” Harris said in an interview with Axios

Joshua Harris Understands Why People Are Angry

Harris said his supporters and followers were “understandably” angry. When interviewer Mike Allen asked why, Harris explained: “Because I was a leader and a spokesman and I called people to live very particular ways, to sacrifice in very particular ways, and so for me to change in my thinking feels like a betrayal to them.”

He also alluded to feeling hypocritical because when he served as a pastor he would excommunicate people and now he is doing some of the same things he had excommunicated people over. He mentioned “unbiblical divorce” and living in any kind of unrepentant sin as cause for excommunication. In a portion of the interview that didn’t make the final cut of Axios’ video, Harris told Allen he didn’t feel the need to elaborate on his own “unrepentant sin”. He explained:

It’s like if the answer to the question of my sexuality puts me inside or outside of your circle, accepted or unaccepted, … I don’t want to be friends, you know?… That’s how I feel. And so that’s why I don’t feel any need to answer that question.

As far as his former followers, who have expressed regret over following his advice, particularly his advice about romance and relationships, Harris said he apologized and has “unpublished” the books. However, he acknowledges “you can’t give people years of their life [back].”

On his Instagram account, Harris wrote about another interview, in which he was asked “where did things go wrong in your life?”. Harris indicates he doesn’t feel things have gone wrong and is thankful for the “journey” he is on: 

I was asked in an interview “Where did things go wrong in your life? Were you given too much responsibility at too young an age?” I understood the question, but I didn’t agree with its assumption that I consider where I am today a mistake—as some kind of tragedy that different choices in the past could have avoided. How do I explain that in spite of the messiness of my life and even my mistakes, I am so grateful for the journey that led me here, to this moment? I want to be here and so the events, the mistakes, even the hurts that delivered me here aren’t things I would reverse even if I could. ⁣⁣

The former evangelical church leader briefly addressed the phenomenon of major evangelical leaders supporting Donald Trump. “I don’t think it’s going to end well,” he said. You can see hear his full comments on that topic here.

Harris currently resides in Vancouver, Canada, and has a “marketing and brand strategy company called Clear & Loud. In an Instagram post, Harris shared how he was inspired to help others with their marketing projects while attending a Story Brand course developed by Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame). Harris has been working on Clear & Loud for four years now. 

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for churchleaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.