Shortly after his third book, Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust, was published, Joshua Harris talked about the genesis of the book and his plans to speak on this and other relationship topics for the first time at his New Attitude conference
Sovereign Grace:
What inspired you to write about lust?

Josh: The idea for this book started when my senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney, asked me to give a message on lust at Celebration East 2001. It wasn't an interest or a burden for me previously. But when I was preparing that message, I sensed the working of the Holy Spirit in it. I remember praying as I prepared, and weeping as I thought about the people enslaved to this sin. Because of the depth of I remember thinking, "Whoa! This is going be a special message." I sensed that God was going to do something.

When I gave the message there was a very strong response. In fact, I even told people, "I haven't had people respond to a message like that since I first gave the I Kissed Dating Goodbye message." It was that kind of response. That's why I'm not surprised that Focus on the Family is broadcasting that very message, and not later versions.

Sovereign Grace: You are transparent and honest in this book. Is that ever awkward for you?

Josh: When I was writing Not Even a Hint, I was so focused on the task and the interaction with God and his word that sometimes I lost sight of the fact that thousands of people will be reading about my own struggle with lust. But in response to my earlier books and the initial message on lust, I received many letters, letters that really encouraged me to be open and honest. So it was easy for me to be honest because they were so honest. People – men and women – would write and say, "Please write about this, because this is where I am." So I think just being immersed in the realization of where a lot of people are helped me to be open with what I said. It seemed that when people wrote me, they felt the freedom to share things that maybe they've never shared with anybody else. So it was with all that in mind that I wrote the book.

But I do remember when my wife, Shannon, read different draft of the chapters, she said, "Wow! You're really honest in this!" It hit me then that a lot of people would be reading what I'd written. Now that the book's published, I do have uncomfortable moments where I'm out and people will come up to me to thank me for the book. At that point, I'll think, "Oh, they know this about me. That's kinda weird." But I think the important thing to remember is that God is already aware of all these things.

In general, I think Christians maintain this veneer of common decency – which we all get used to, and which is good – but it is contradicted by our hearts and where our minds are. I think writing this book hasn't made me less concerned about these sinful patterns or issues; I think I've actually grown in my hatred for lust. I'm no longer surprised at the reality of what's underneath, in myself or others. I think the veneer has come off in the process of writing, if that makes sense.

Sovereign Grace: You're going to speak on this at your New Attitude conference in January. After five years of not talking about relationships at New Attitude, why are you going to tackle it now?

Josh: I think that part of the reason to "go relational" with New Attitude started with the revisions to I Kissed Dating Goodbye. For a number of years, I've been thinking, "I want to move on from that topic. I want people the think of me as something besides that topic." But in revising the book, I realized, "You know what? The Lord is the One who blessed that message, and this message is a message that's needed, so I'm not going to downplay that." So when I was at New Attitude last year, I had this moment when I realized that all the people there are thinking about and dealing with relationships. I thought, wouldn't it be fun to break my self-imposed rule, and tackle this topic in a New Attitude sort of way? I was working on Not Even A Hint then, and I was thinking of addressing this topic there, as well.
Recently, when someone found out that New Attitude was going to be about relationships, this person came to me asking questions about it, and I could tell he was concerned. He was so appreciative of the tone of New Attitude, that the idea of being practical and talking about dating made him wonder if the conference would be the same. I told him, "We're not going to do this topic the way you're afraid we will. We're going do this topic in a way that is exalting who God is, and bringing Him to the center of our discussion." For example, we want to meditate on the attributes of God and how that informs the way we approach relationships, and then let it transform our perspective. So, it's still going to be New Attitude, but we're going to be addressing and applying all these amazing truths of who God is and what the Gospel means to an area that is very relevant for singles.