Well, here’s an update to a story I posted a couple of days ago that I didn’t expect to see. Certainly not so soon.
Joshua Harris — the one-time unofficial Christian spokesperson for abstinence, courtship, and waiting until marriage to do everything as a result of his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye — had been offering a five-week course called “Reframe Your Story” for people who were “unpacking and rethinking the religious rules” in which they were raised.
Harris was basically offering to be a guide for anyone struggling with their faith. While he offered a free alternative to the $275 class for “anyone harmed by purity culture and my past books,” the problem was that many of those people were struggling precisely because of Harris. He was presenting himself as the solution to a problem he helped create.
But after a ton of backlash to his course, Harris now says he plans to cancel it.
One of the benefits of the internet is that you get rapid feedback, whether positive or negative.
After I launched my course Reframe Your Story I’ve heard from many of you with concerns about charging for the course and whether I should be teaching it at all. Thank you for taking the time to give your input to me. I’ve tried to listen and learn.
As a result of hearing your perspective and valid criticism, I’ve decided to pull the course.
I agree that I’m not an expert or a deconstruction guru. I hoped I could use my platform to spotlight other people with more experience and expertise, point people to good resources, and offer questions to help people unpack and make sense of their own journey. But I recognize this approach is flawed. I want to explore different ways to lift up other voices.
I am also going to shelve the resource list on deconstruction. I didn’t get permission from the creators to promote their work alongside my course, and I apologize for not getting consent first. I’m removing the emails of folks who downloaded the resource so no one will get follow-up messages.
For the people who signed up for the course, I’m so glad the vast majority used the free option. This made me really happy. Only four people paid. We’ll refund the registration of those four individuals.
While my course was offered with a free option, I encourage everyone to access and financially support the content and courses being offered by others in the deconstruction community. They’re passing on incredible value and expertise, and pouring so much themselves into their work.
Thanks again for speaking up and seeking to help me do better. I’m going to continue listening, learning, and growing.
It’s the right thing to do if not the best execution. The classes won’t occur, he’s refunding any money people gave him, and he’s acknowledging his own shortcomings. Still, I wish he would recognize that it’s not necessarily a good thing that so many people signed up for the course “scholarship” because that presumably means they were all hurt by him in the past. He also doesn’t explain why he thinks everyone was so upset. (Spoiler: It’s not just because he wasn’t “an expert.”)
But this is a good start. As I said before, I understand he needs to make money somehow, but if he wants to do it in this particular space, there are better ways to show he’s an ally instead of just claiming he is. He could be a vocal advocate for comprehensive sex education, promote the idea that it’s okay to date or be intimate with someone without marriage as a goal, work in support of LGBTQ rights, etc. But a guy synonymous with well-intentioned faith-based harm shouldn’t be marketing himself as a solution to that same harm without having done that leg work.
Let’s hope his next attempt at redemption is more thoughtful than this one.