Joshua Harris marches in pride parade after apologizing to LGBT community
Former pastor and evangelical author Joshua Harris demonstrated his support for the LGBT community by marching in Vancouver’s annual Pride Parade less than a month after announcing he no longer considers himself a Christian.
On August 4, Harris, former pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, shared several Instagram photos of himself participating in the British Columbia parade, engaging in Pride festivities, and “swapping stories” with LGBT activists.
“An American in Canada marching with the British Consulate in the Pride Parade,” he captioned one photo.
Harris also shared a photo of himself alongside LGBT advocates, including Matthias Roberts, host of Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being, and gay rock singer Trey Pearson.
“Enjoyed swapping stories, gentleman!” he captioned the photo.
Harris’ participation in Vancouver’s Pride Parade comes after he announced that he and his wife Shannon are separating, he no longer considers himself a Christian, and he regrets having taught that marriage is a union only between a man and a woman.
Years earlier, Harris denounced his 1997 bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which discouraged dating and influenced the purity movement.
"I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is 'deconstruction,' the biblical phrase is 'falling away,'" Harris announced on Instagram on July 26. "By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I'm not there now."
“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,” he continued, in part. “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.”
Harris’ announcement sent shockwaves through the evangelical Christian community and sparked a widespread debate regarding the doctrine of salvation.
Heath Lambert, who leads First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, announced the foreword written by Harris would be removed from his book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.
“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,” the Jacksonville pastor stated.
“The Lord knows Joshua’s heart,” he added. “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.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued on the Aug. 1 Briefing podcast that the “only way” to "sustain a biblical sexual ethic and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is by serious biblical content, serious biblical knowledge, deep theology, apologetics, biblical theology.”
"There may be even some who sin by repudiating Christianity, but if they ever were genuinely Christian, they will return by repentance at some point, and that is a Gospel promise," Mohler said. "If persons do continue in their repudiation of Christianity, then we have to remember the text 1 John 2:19 where we are told that, 'They went out from us, because they were not of us,' which is to say they never were truly Christians. They were pretend believers.”
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,” reads a statement on the Gospel Coalition website.
“We pray for our friend, for our churches, and for ourselves—that we may keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21), as God keeps us from stumbling (Jude 24).”
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," he wrote on Instagram. "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."