Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On

Wow! I just finished this new release by Dawn Eden and it's quite powerful.

First, let me preface that this is a book about chastity aimed especially at twenty-something women who have previously fallen for the "casual sex" dating game. In other words, this isn't one to hand to your young teenage daughter unsupervised.

If you want to receive the love for which you hunger, the first step is to admit to yourself that you have that hunger, with everything it entails - weakness, vulnerability, the feeling of an empty space inside. To tell yourself simply, "I'll be happy once I have a boyfriend," is to deny the depth and seriousness of your longing. It turns the hunger into a superficial desire for flesh and blood when what we really want is someone to share divine love with us - to be for us God with skin on. (pg. 28)

With grace, good humor and a surprisingly upbeat style, Dawn, a 30-something New York journalist, shares the story of her conversion to chastity and her vision of the liberating power of the faith.

I spent many years of my life being single. I have nothing to show for it except the ability to toss my hair fetchingly and a mental catalog of a thousand banal things to say to fill the awkward, unbearably lonely moments between having sex and putting my clothes back on. You never see those moments in TV or movies, because they strike to the heart of the black hole that casual sex can never fill. (pg. 25)

She presents a compelling (and quite readable) account of the shortcomings of modern dating and the fulfilment to be found in a chaste lifestyle.

The idea of love as a presence and not a passion is tantalizingly similar to the definition of faith given to us in Hebrews: "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". It gives love a tangibility and a certainty that we normally do not feel in everyday life, save for the moments when we contemplate those dearest to us. More than that, love as a presence suggests something that's inescapable, without form - something that could conceivably fill everything. (pg. 90)

So what if you're not a woman in your 20s and you have lived chastely? Is this book for anyone other than this particular category?

I would say yes and for very particular reasons. Whether you're interested in better understanding those who fall into traps of modern culture (in order to help them) or you want to pass good attitudes about sex and marriage on to your children, this book is a great read.

First of all, naturally, she's "been there" - she offers amazing insights into the insecure and often depressing world of the "modern" single woman. Her answers aren't preachy, they draw from her experience and her faith in a loving and gentle way.

Taking my complaint very seriously, Mom advised me to read up on what Christians call spiritual warfare - especially Paul's words in 2 Corinthians, where he distinguishes between physical enemies and spiritual enemies: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

Bringing every thought into captivity means being the master of one's thoughts and passions instead of being mastered by them. It made sense to me; that was what I needed to do. If Paul knew what he was talking about, then I needed help - because I was locked, however unwillingly, in a spiritual battle. (pgs. 171-172)

The other piece, though, is that she goes way beyond arguing against this unhealthy lifestyle and a sense of opposing what is wrong. She opens up a complete vision of what is good and how to go about living "the good" in the modern world.

Instead of passive resignation, one must commit to active resolution: the determination to never miss an opportunity to share His grace with others.

This is something that can be done every minute of every day. God's grace may be found in every experience, whether it's a happy or painful one. We discover His grace by stepping out in faith - realizing our dependence on the Lord, and allowing ourselves to risk disappointment, so that we might be open to every blessing He has in store for us. (pg. 195)

Though this isn't for young teens, there's so much good in it, that I plan on sharing it with my daughters some day. Perhaps we'll read it together before they go off to college.

If your light shines through everything you do, from the greatest thing to the smallest, then it will be impossible for anyone to miss it. This is why the self-advertisement encouraged by the singles industry is counterproductive. When you focus the spotlight on yourself, no one can see how beautifully your light illuminates those around you.

It took me years to learn that lesson. (pg. 108)

Available from your local bookstore.
W Publishing Group, 212 pages, softcover, copyight 2006

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it sounds like a crazy book. i'll have to give it a read!