Conservative Christians are outraged

JOSHUA Harris, the influential ‘purity’ advocate who recently shocked his followers by separating from his wife, kissing Christianity goodbye and apologising for his homophobia, has sent further ripples of horror among evangelicals by participating in Vancouver’s annual Pride Parade at the weekend.

The former pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, shared several Instagram photos of himself engaging in Pride festivities, and “swapping stories” with LGBT activists. He captioned one photo:

An American in Canada marching with the British Consulate in the Pride Parade.

Image via Trey Pearson/Twitter

Harris also shared a photo of himself with LGBT advocates, including Matthias Roberts, above left, host of “Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being”, and gay rock singer Trey Pearson.

Harris, according to Heath Lambert, who leads First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, is now:

In absolute spiritual peril.

Image via YouTube

Lambert, above, is author of a soon-to-be-published book called Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. The foreword was written by Harris, but Lambert says it will now be expunged.

In Finally Free I am trying to be clear about a Christian approach to sexuality. Joshua’s recent actions and statements only confuse that attempt at clarity and will lead others astray.

He added:

The Lord knows Joshua’s heart. Was Joshua a Christianized unbeliever who never knew Christ? We do not know, but God does. Is he a Christian who has fallen into grievous sin, and is in need of restoration? We do not know, but God does.

What we do know is that Joshua Harris is in absolute spiritual peril. He needs our love, and he needs our prayers. He has mine, and I trust he will have yours as well.

Regent University School of Divinity dean Dr Corne Bekker said:

What’s very sad for me is that Joshua has not only given up on the faith, he’s given up on all of the principles he has stood for so long. The Scripture says that when we see somebody fallen and trespassed like this, that we should correct them. But do it in a spirit of gentleness. And then watch ourselves as well.

In announcing his “falling away” from Christianity, Harris, author of  I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a 1997 book he’s  since denounced, said:

To the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.

The Gospel Coalition, the reformed mission from which Harris resigned in 2014, released a statement expressing hope that the former pastor will once again return to the faith.

While we grieve Josh’s decision (and have told him as much), we are not without hope (and we’ve told him that as well). We will continue to call on the God of sovereign mercy, the God Josh once extolled and the God who still sits on the throne.

Harris most recently said that while he’s refusing to “disappear’,  he plans to “sit in quietness and be silent” over the following months.

The inner journey that I’m on isn’t something that I need to broadcast. Which is why I’m not engaging in public arguments online. It’s why I’m not doing any interviews with the media. It’s why I’m not writing a book or starting a podcast. I want connection and relationships and dialogue with real people. But I need to avoid audiences and the pressure of becoming a spokesperson for anyone or any cause. That has gotten me into trouble in the past.

• This item was cross-posted from the Freethinker.