Shannon Harris, a singer, actor, composer and writer, as well as the ex-wife of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” (IKDG) author Joshua Harris, is releasing a memoir about her experience inside evangelical Christianity and her journey out of it. Shannon says that she hopes her memoir, titled “The Woman They Wanted: Shattering the Illusion of the Good Christian Wife,” helps other women find themselves again.
“I wrote the book because I wanted to contribute my story to the conversation about churches who abuse their authority and power,” Shannon said in a statement to ChurchLeaders. “I also wanted to be a voice of permission to women and others who are wanting to reclaim their connection to themselves, their values and dreams.”
“It’s strange that I wrote a book, and I feel like it is behind me, and no one has even read it yet,” she wrote in an Instagram post in October. “I poured my heart and soul into it. I labored over every sentence. I tried to tell my story in a way any other person could understand.”
“I share my opinion but don’t demand you agree with me,” Shannon continued. “I tried to inspire you to stay connected to yourself, your values and dreams. Hopefully it will make you cry and make you laugh. My mother was a big part of it! I am so proud of what we have done and I think you’re going to love it.”
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Shannon Harris on Leaving and Finding Herself
Shannon Harris was married for 19 years to Joshua Harris, an influential evangelical pastor who became famous for “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” a book which advocated for courtship over dating and which was emblematic of the purity culture movement of the 1990s.
Joshua pastored at a Sovereign Grace church in Maryland and was mentored in ministry by C.J. Mahaney. The Sovereign Grace network has faced controversy due to allegations that leaders, including Mahaney, concealed sexual abuse for years. Joshua implied in an interview with The Washington Post that concerns over Sovereign Grace leaders’ handling of sexual abuse allegations contributed to him stepping away from the church.
In 2015, Joshua left the pastorate to attend seminary, where he encountered people who shared with him how his books had harmed them. In 2016, he publicly addressed the idea that he was wrong about some of his past teachings and in 2018 released a documentary exploring the impact “IKDG” had on people. Joshua apologized for the damage his book had caused and stopped publication of it.
In July 2019, Joshua and Shannon Harris announced that they were separating. Days later, Joshua announced that he was no longer a Christian.
Shannon, whose stage name is Shannon Bonne and who has released a self-titled EP and a single, says that she had originally planned to share her story as a musical. On her website, she describes her book as the story of “a young woman who makes a series of choices that gradually change her into someone she doesn’t know. It is not a book about religion so much as it is a woman’s story, my story within a church and within patriarchy.”