So, a propos of last month’s post on the pursuit of purity and its attendant hazards, Josh Harris–having first kissed dating goodbye–has now also kissed his marriage goodbye, followed by his Christianity. I wasn’t going to comment on all that, but then homeschool maven Michael Farris decided to do a dumb about it, and I’m not letting this one pass without comment.
Farris’ open letter, appearing as an op/ed column and posted on social media, is worth reading, if only as a bad example. Click the link and read it. Seriously. I’ll wait. It’ll take you less than 5 minutes.
Read it? Good. Let’s talk, because this is a study in what not to do, on a whole bunch of levels. First of all, remember, this kid grew up under Farris’ wing. Michael Farris knew Joshua, by his own admission considered him a friend and a brother. If it’s true that the kid was just running a set of formulas, and it was never any deeper than that, where was Farris’ head at, that he didn’t notice *then*?
I’ll tell you where: building a movement, pushing an agenda. Selling his own set of formulas. Farris says — now — that the courtship agenda they pushed together was never a formula, never a recipe for a happy marriage. I call bullshit, and he must think we all have really short memories. I was there, and that’s *exactly* the way it was promoted. We were all promised blissful marriages and great sex lives if only we avoided this and that before marriage. (And yeah, that was totally a lie, but that’s a post for another day.)
If Josh Harris is in trouble today — and he is — it’s in large part because he was made a willing tool of the adults around him, promoted to prominence far beyond what his maturity warranted, and used up. The Bible tells us not to promote neophytes to leadership—did we listen? No. Michael Farris least of all. When Josh was forced later in life to come to terms with the damage that he’d been complicit in doing, he seemed initially to be handling it fairly well. Now, though, he’s hit a serious crisis of faith, and he’s not handling it well. That’s on him.
But the fact that he got there to start with, that’s on us. Yes, us — the adults like Michael Farris who promoted a kid as a celebrity, the publishers who profited from it, and us, the ones who went to the conferences and bought the books and supported the celebrity culture that created this mess. Wasn’t for us, Christian celebrity culture wouldn’t be a thing, and Josh Harris would just be another person who had some pretty naive ideas about love and marriage when he was 21 years old. Didn’t we all?
If Joshua Harris ever believed in Jesus—and we have good reason to think he did—then he came into possession of eternal life at that moment. And eternal life is…what’s the word I’m looking for here…oh yeah. ETERNAL!!! As in, lasting forever. He has passed from death to life, and that’s a one-way street.
He can decide to take a nap on a slab in the morgue, but that doesn’t make him dead any more than sleeping in a garage would make him a car. It’s not healthy. It’s not good. And if he ends this life in that condition, he’ll enter heaven reeking of wood, hay, and stubble, saved yet so at through fire—but saved nonetheless.
But I’m praying for better. Josh Harris was honest enough to face the damage he did early in life. He was honest enough to recognize that some of the views he was coming to did not line up well with his Christianity. I’m praying he’ll stay true to that honesty and eventually come out with a clear head. He’ll look around at the husks the pigs are eating and long for home—and when that happens, his Father will run to meet him.
God has not given up on Joshua Harris. Michael Farris clearly has. You decide who you’d rather follow.