What did you learn? I felt the complexity of dating relationships, especially in the modern world. I learned that intentionality can be taken too far, to where people can put the relationship under a microscope: Is this the person I’m going to marry? With such tremendous pressure, it’s devastating when the relationship doesn’t work out. It makes it hard for single people to get to know other people in a more relaxed environment, away from public scrutiny.
IKDG was popular because it was radical and called young Christians to a higher standard. It’s hard to argue against a higher standard. We think if it’s radical, it’s gotta be good. We don’t do well with complexity. People latch on to movements for simple answers and promises. Even now as I revisit this issue, I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking this is the real answer. We need to go to God humbly as a community and recognize there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
You’ve been talking to a lot of old readers. I didn’t comprehend the impact of the book until now. It’s taken this long to see long-term consequences of the book, both good and bad. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. When people say my book has harmed them, I feel a lot of sadness. I swing back and forth between being crushed and being defensive.
How do you think this documentary will help? Part of my responsibility is to listen and honor each story. I know it can’t fix things and it’s too late in many ways, but I think it’s the right thing to do, and I hope it’ll spark conversations in our churches: Obviously we are going to keep making mistakes, so how do we Christians acknowledge that and process that in a healthy way? I hope it will bring some measure of closure for me. But I’ll always grieve that people were hurt by my book.
Would you recommend IKDG to your teenage kids? My wife and I probably wouldn’t advise our kids to court exactly the way we did. It worked for us, but we recognize now that it’s not a cookie-cutter model. With my own kids, I want them to have healthy dating relationships that allow them to know others and know themselves. I would still tell them that at some point be intentional about dating. I still like in IKDG the principle of putting Christ first in your relationships, of loving others selflessly, that you’re complete as a human being, whether or not you’re in a relationship. Singleness is a good thing, not a curse that needs to be fixed.