Chastity is a misunderstood virtue. It is more than simply refraining from premarital sex. It's an attitude, a way of life, and open rebellion against a debauched culture. Contrary to popular opinion, Christians don't think sex is dirty or evil. Christians believe sex outside marriage is wrong.
The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On is part memoir and part how-to guide on giving up casual sex, embracing chastity, and experiencing "a life more hope-filled, more vibrant, and more real" by putting sex in its proper place. That kind of life, says author Dawn Eden, is the thrill of the chaste.
The thirty-something New York Daily News editor, blogger, and Christian convert has written a nakedly honest book for a specific audience: single women ready to admit that premarital sex is not making them happy or helping them find the husband they desperately seek.
In The Thrill of the Chaste, Eden contends that our casual sex culture encourages singles to view one another as commodities. Like many young single women, she was caught up in the hype that sex is the way to a man's heart. Eden began to understand that premarital sex and its attendant baggage actually made it less likely that she'd get married. For example, to protect oneself from the eventual let-down of casual encounters, one must develop a toughness. In Eden's case, she sabotaged relationships before she got dumped so she could remain in control. "[T]he same armor that enabled me to tolerate casual sex made me less attractive to the kind of man I most desired."
Eden says dissolving the hard shell and allowing herself to be open and vulnerable have helped her be more capable of sustaining a long lasting relationship like marriage. Yes, Eden readily admits she wants to get married and believes God has called her to marriage. She also recognizes that some women reading the book want to get married and provides practical advice on how to meet marriage-minded men who share their faith.
Whether religious or not, women reading The Thrill of the Chaste will be able to relate to Eden's descriptions of awkward morning-after scenarios. No matter what feminists claim, it is futile to deny that women become attached. "Women are built for bonding," writes Eden. Sex detached from love leads to a feeling of emptiness.
Being chaste has a strong spiritual component, and to practice it requires a purpose beyond mere abstention from sex until marriage. God created us as relational beings to experience his love and show that love to others. The sexual part of the martial relationship bears more than physical fruit (children). Spiritual fruit borne by two uniting together as one is the "gift of self that they give to each other," writes Eden, which "becomes a gift to the Lord."
Bucking the culture and remaining obedient to God present the same problems they always have. As Eden writes, "The most challenging part of chastity isn't overcoming temptation. It's gaining the spiritual resources to joyfully face day-to-day life as a cultural outsider." And Christians know that kind of joy is found only in Christ.
The Thrill of the Chaste encourages single women to focus on sharing God's love with others and growing in grace rather than putting "the goal of meeting a husband at the center of…thoughts, actions, and dreams." Eden has found fulfillment in chastity, and she's using her God-given gifts to help others find fulfillment, too.