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Joshua Harris, sexually abused as a child

17 posts in this topic

Joshua Harris, author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" is today a lead pastor at Covenant Life Church, the flagship church of Soverign Grace Ministries.

SGM recently had charges of sexual abuse/cover up dismissed, but in reference to the lawsuit, Harris spoke out about how he was personally sexually abused as a child in a recent Sunday sermon:

blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2013/05/sgm_appeal_joshua_harris.html

Sermon documentation: covlife.org/resources/3967153-How_the_Story_Ends

C.J. Mahaney, whose name seems to be all over these accounts of sexual abuse and cover up, was apparently his mentor.

This is Joshua's profile at Covenant Life:

Joshua Harris has served as senior pastor of Covenant Life since 2004. His primary responsibilities are to provide vision and direction for the church through preaching God’s Word and leadership of the pastoral team.

Joshua grew up outside Portland, Ore. Raised in a Christian home, he gave his life to Christ as a teenager. At age 17, God began to stir in him a desire to call his generation to passionate commitment to Jesus. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began speaking at youth conferences and publishing a magazine for teens. His first book about honoring God in relationships and romance became a surprise best-seller.

Through the teaching and friendship of C.J. Mahaney, Josh was challenged to see the central role of the local church in God’s plan. Joshua moved to Covenant Life to receive on-the-job training and mentoring from C.J. and the other pastors. He fell in love with church, met and fell in love with his wife Shannon, and felt the Lord confirm his call to pastoral ministry. He served as a youth intern under Grant Layman, then as executive pastor, and eventually became Senior Pastor when C.J. transitioned to full-time leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Joshua is the author of several books including his latest, Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters. He serves as a member of the Gospel Coalition Council and the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Part of me wonders if this abuse affected his views on courtship/not dating? If Jonathan Lindvall is the father of the courtship movement, Joshua Harris made it extremely popular.

I am truly, truly sorry that this happened to Harris. The sexual abuse of children makes me fuming mad. But it is enlightening that the biggest proponent of courtship and not touching until marriage was abused as a child. I can't imagine that his history would have had no bearing at all on his view of romantic relationships and sexuality. He was so young when he wrote IKDG.

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Wasn't he involved in some of the cover up of sexual abuse in his own church. If so, his past abuse doesn't excuse him hurting other people. It actually makes his actions more frustrating because he knows what sex abuse can do to a child.

He said some nice things in his interview but wasn't he one of the ones who helped cover up the abuse?

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This is the first I've heard on Harris's involvement with the sex abuse scandal, other than that he is part of a church previously associated with SGM. Anyone have links?

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I know in his sermon he said if families felt the need to leave the church to do so and urged victims and families if sexual abuse occurred to go to the police and not have it handled in the church. I applaud him for that and I hope families do leave and do go to the police who have been silenced for fear of church retaliation.

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In the interview he said everything right. The cynic in me wonders why he didn't say this before when the allegations first surfaced. This problem has been going on for a long time.

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Mahaney and Harris are lauded in many non-SGM circles for their books and preaching. It makes me concerned that not enough big-name churches are aware of the connection between these two and the Sovereign Grace atrocities. I feel like if they were aware of it, they would take a HUGE step back and distance themselves from that ministry. Then maybe those SGM churches would lose some of their steam and crumble, as they rightfully should.

This story is simply not big enough. More people need to know what is going on so that the leaders in Sovereign Grace are either shamed into trying to make things right (not that much could be done to rectify such disgusting behavior), or shamed into disbanding completely.

Even the church I attend now has some Harris books in it's bookstore. I feel like I need to have a word with my pastor, because if he knew his ass would pull those books so fast Joshua H's head would spin. It's not right that money is paid to these jerks and then presumably pumped back into the SGM so that they can abuse more children and cover it up.

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For those who don't know about the SGM allegations here is a link to start you out.

patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2013/05/sovereign-grace-ministries-and-abuse-time-to-speak-out/

Here is something about the lawsuit that SGM are now facing

juicyecumenism.com/2013/05/23/breaking-the-silence-on-the-sovereign-grace-ministries-lawsuit/

The recently amended lawsuit is sickeningly detailed. It is available online, but please be warned, it gives a very detailed and disturbing account of the alleged sexual abuse of children as young as three years old. The lawsuit identifies 11 plaintiffs and 14 defendants including SGM Inc., Covenant Life Church (which in December 2012 disassociated with SGM), Covenant Life School, SGM co-founders C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak, and other churches and pastors in the network.

At point 29 in the amended lawsuit, plaintiffs charge Mahaney and other SGM leaders with “[participating] in a conspiracy to permit sexual deviants to have unfettered access to children for purposes of predation and to obstruct justice from occurring with respect to past and ongoing predation. Defendants covered up ongoing sexual and physical abuse of minors and repeatedly and routinely violated the mandatory reporting laws designed to keep children safe from predation.â€

On Friday, May 17 the Montgomery Court judge dismissed nine of the eleven plaintiffs based on an expired statute of limitations, and the other two on a question of jurisdiction. But this is not the end of the matter, as there are criminal investigations ongoing as there is no statute of limitations for felonies in Maryland. Further, the plaintiffs’ attorney plans to appeal the ruling. These are very serious allegations that still merit our attention.

Although this case has not been widely discussed openly in evangelical circles, it appears the silence may be receding. While discussing the lawsuit and its effect on his congregants during a May 19 sermon, Joshua Harris (best known as the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and pastor of Covenant Life Church, which was until recently associated with SGM) announced that he was sexually abused as a child. He urged those who are experiencing physical and/or sexual abuse to seek help and go to the police.

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In November 2012 SGM requested the lawsuit be dismissed on First Amendment grounds, stating: “SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment, that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse.â€

juicyecumenism.com/2013/05/23/breaking-the-silence-on-the-sovereign-grace-ministries-lawsuit/

I will be less cynical about Joshua Harris when he comes forward and states that the lawsuit should not be dismissed on First Amendment grounds. By saying the police should be involved he is taking a step in the right direction though.

Last week SGM released a statement reporting that their internal “review of the allegations to date has not produced any evidence of any cover-up or conspiracy. If we discover otherwise, our Board will immediately report it to the authorities and see that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.†The board members and the defendants in the lawsuit are closely connected, making real accountability and oversight challenging. One of the defendants, John Loftness, was chairman of the SGM Board until February 2013. Further, Mahaney resigned from his role as SGM president just last month, citing personal incompatibility with new polity structures as a primary reason.
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I get so confused every time Joshua Harris is mentioned on this board. My mind automatically goes to Josh Harris, the fisherman on The Deadliest Catch, who most definitely has NOT kissed dating goodbye.

Carry on ladies, carry on. :mrgreen:

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I get so confused every time Joshua Harris is mentioned on this board. My mind automatically goes to Josh Harris, the fisherman on The Deadliest Catch, who most definitely has NOT kissed dating goodbye.

Carry on ladies, carry on. :mrgreen:

I'm glad I'm not the only one who first thought of the fisherman from Deadliest Catch.

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Thanks for the info, debrand. Very helpful. Spent some time last night reading up on the case and it is just terrible. What Harris said was appropriate, but late, IMHO.

I am still incredibly interested in whether or not the fundie view of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" will change because of the news of his abuse. If Harris were a woman, he would have likely brought such abuse upon himself, and be a "chewed up piece of gum". Maybe it will be different because he is a man. But the fundies bought this book under the impression that he was a young man with a healthy childhood in a Good Christian Family who made Super Godly Choices about romantic relationships. Will they still see the extremism as good, or wonder if it is a reaction to his abuse?

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I know we have a copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye on our bookshelve since my husband had it. I don't think he ever cracked it open or read a single line. We joke in our house that I read enough for both of us. He doesn't remember how he acquired it either. I have read some of the religious books he has aquired over the years and most of the time I'm mentally doing counter apologetics while reading. So often I go wait a minute where is the evidence for what you are espousing.

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An interesting fact: That modesty survey FJ has been talking about recently? Done by his younger twin brothers, Brett and Alex, who are the founders of "The Rebelution". Obviously they've grown up with SGM too and I wonder if anything happened to them but they haven't said anything so far. And if not, I wonder how they feel? Or if they knew already?

And Joshua's dad is Greg Harris, who is also a big name. This is a pretty big fundie family.

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I am sorry he suffered abuse as a child and glad he disclosed it-- I hope that makes it easier for people who share his experience to come forward.

I do wish that, given that he's a survivor, he had pushed for a more proactive approach to abuse allegations when he was at SGM. (I'm assuming that if he had done so, he'd be saying so now.) The procedures SGM had in place for dealing with alleged abuse seem to be far more about maintaining the church's reputation than about protecting children:

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/05/30/ ... ere-valid/

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Thanks for the info, debrand. Very helpful. Spent some time last night reading up on the case and it is just terrible. What Harris said was appropriate, but late, IMHO.

I am still incredibly interested in whether or not the fundie view of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" will change because of the news of his abuse. If Harris were a woman, he would have likely brought such abuse upon himself, and be a "chewed up piece of gum". Maybe it will be different because he is a man. But the fundies bought this book under the impression that he was a young man with a healthy childhood in a Good Christian Family who made Super Godly Choices about romantic relationships. Will they still see the extremism as good, or wonder if it is a reaction to his abuse?

Josh was young and clueless when he wrote that book. It's his fault fundies are worried about "pieces of their hearts" given away. :naughty: Well, Josh admitted his wife was not a virgin when they met. Didn't seem to matter to him since he married her anyway. He needs to write another book about his marriage. I wonder has his opinions changed or if there are some regrets about what he wrote.

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Josh was young and clueless when he wrote that book. It's his fault fundies are worried about "pieces of their hearts" given away. :naughty: Well, Josh admitted his wife was not a virgin when they met. Didn't seem to matter to him since he married her anyway. He needs to write another book about his marriage. I wonder has his opinions changed or if there are some regrets about what he wrote.

The whole courting purity thing is just so damaging. I hope Josh can figure that out and produce a book or blog with a more merciful and forgiving worldview.

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When I was zipping down the street to get on the freeway to go to church this morning, I saw 2 large banners at the local adult school, advertising a new SGM church. This is in tech happy Northrop Grumman territory. I wonder if I wrote to the school district and included some links to articles about SGM, that they might reconsider allowing them to use the school site.

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