Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control

by Elisabeth Elliot

Other authorsJoshua Harris (Foreword)
Paperback, 2002



Call number



Revell (2002), Edition: 2, 192 pages


In her classic book, Elisabeth Elliot candidly shares her love story with Jim Elliot through letters, diary entries, and memories. She is honest about the temptations, difficulties, victories, and sacrifices of two young people whose commitment to Christ took priority over their love for each other. These revealing personal glimpses, combined with relevant biblical teaching, will remind readers that only by putting their human passion and desire through His fire can God purify their love. In a culture obsessed with dating, sex, and intimacy, the need for Elliot's freeing message is greater than ever. This beautifully repackaged edition will appeal to today's young people.

User reviews

LibraryThing member atimco
In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot uses her love story with her first husband Jim Elliot to illustrate the practical principles of the book's subtitle: bringing your love life under Christ's control. For five years she and Jim waited to pursue their relationship, because Jim knew he needed to
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be single for the missionary work he was undertaking at that time. During this period, Elisabeth kept detailed diaries recording her thoughts, prayers, and struggles with submitting to God's will. It was not an easy road, but through Christ Jim and Elisabeth were able to offer their love to God and accept when His answer was "not yet." It's a profound lesson, and all the more when the blessing denied is such a wonderful one.

I was disappointed somewhat because I thought this book would be primarily about how to move toward purity, with some examples from Elisabeth's life to illustrate her points. But instead it was the other way around — very autobiographical, with the principles of submission and holiness explored more incidentally. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. I just found myself not quite so interested in the details of her relationships with God and Jim; I wanted more focus on Scripture and practical purity. More structure would have been helpful, too.

Another thing I found problematic were some of Jim's letters that Elisabeth quotes. Several were extremely open and honest about his sexual desire for her. I'm not a prude and I think physical desire is a gift of God and absolutely has to be addressed in any book about purity, but the desire expressed in his letters was so intensely private and very suggestive... not sinful, but not to be placed before the public eye. Some of it was so explicit as to conjure ideas that I needed to instantly dismiss. I think this places a huge limitation on how we can use and recommend this book, especially with teens.

Elisabeth frequently quotes old hymns and poems, and I found this wearing after awhile. The spiritual principles represented are timeless, but not every hymn or poem is. I like many old hymns and enjoy archaic language in poetry, and I understand they were extremely meaningful to her as she worked through these issues. These elements are just overused to the point of near-tedium.

So that's a lot of negativity about the book. The things I liked can best be explored by quoting Elisabeth's own words:

I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy... There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere. (21)

So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its full meaning... (Lilias Trotter, 37)

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts. (59)

silently is the hardest thing of all... But the things that we feel most deeply we ought to learn to be silent about, at least until we have talked them over thoroughly with God. (60)

God gives us material for sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice makes little sense to others, but when offered to Him it is always accepted. (64)

Our vision is so limited that we can hardly imagine a love that does not express itself in protection from suffering. (84)

It is the control of passion, not its eradication, that is needed. How would we learn to submit to the authority of Christ if we had nothing to submit? (90)

There are some good principles here and I did not dislike the book overall. But this is mainly an autobiographical work and those who want a structured, organized, practical approach to biblical purity should probably look elsewhere.
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LibraryThing member n_yay
Oh my goodness. I don't know why my expectations were so low despite only having heard wonderful things about this book. But as soon as I opened it-I can't put it down. I feel as though Elisabeth and I communicate with the same heart. Her journal entries could just as well have been my own! I don't
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know why I didn't read this sooner...but I think it means alot more to me reading it in my current circumstances.
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LibraryThing member ithilwyn
Great book for single women, though she has some interesting insights for single men as well.
LibraryThing member TullyFamily
Very good, though I would have prefred to see more parental guidance concerning their courtship.
LibraryThing member jehovahrapha
I bought this book mainly because I'd heard of it before as a resource, and I was unhappy with the direction my relationship was going. I was afraid it was going to be dry and slow, but I dove right into it and never looked back. To be honest, this book helped me find my feet again, and I'll be
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forever grateful for that. Now I just have to get my sort-of boyfriend to read it to!
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LibraryThing member MonicaMusik
My mom made me read this book when I started to complain to her that I thought I would be single for the rest of my life. I was only 17 at the time so there was no reason to worry but I'm really glad she made me read it then because it completely changed how I viewed love, marriage, and family.
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It's basically an autobiography that chronicles the love story of the author and her first husband Jim Elliot. It took me a while to make the connection between the Jim Elliot of Passion and Purity and the missionary that I had heard so much about. So if you're looking for a how-to guide you'll probably be a bit disappointed. I had no real expectations so the book didn't have to deliver anything but a good read and it's so much more than that. It's insightful, honest, engaging, and life-changing.
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LibraryThing member OCMCCP
Very few books on dating have stood the test of time like Passion and Purity. Its much-needed message remains strong and hopeful in an age when doing whatever "feels right" is common practice. Using her own life as an example, Elisabeth Elliot guides singles of both genders and of any age on how to
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put their love lives under the authority of Jesus Christ.
Passion and Purity covers dating issues such as:
•how to know which person is the right one to marry
•loving passionately while remaining sexually pure
•the man's and woman's role in relationships
•putting God's desires ahead of personal desires
•how far is too far, physically
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LibraryThing member BrittneyRossie
This is the book that led me to choose my husband and choose a career in remote missions work. What more can I say?

Elliot has concisely, practically and gently laid out the truth which in this world falls short of glamorous. Still, she encourages, 'You can do it", "wait', and 'here's why it's
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worth it'.

The experience from which she speaks is at once compelling and gives her words authority to speak on such a subject. Though written decades ago, her advice is still relevant for singles and dating couples today.

For those interested in missions or ministry who are singles, I have to say it is a must read. Why? Because it matters who you choose to marry, for it may or may not break you on the mission field.
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LibraryThing member EstherFilbrun
I’ve read books about dating and purity before, but never one quite like this. Mrs. Elliot shares her and Jim’s love story, and interspersed with their story are thoughts and a lot of advice about what they did right, what they did wrong, and what the Bible has to say about the many different
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aspects of dating and relationships in general. This is a very practical book. She doesn’t push a particular relationship style (dating vs. courtship, etc.), but what she does do is encourage every single—young or old alike—to dedicate their lives to the Lord, and let Him have the ultimate say. The main encouragement I got from this book was to put the Lord first in everything—and that kind of advice is applicable in every area of life, not just in romance! I’d recommend this book to every young person who is serious about following the Lord, and just about everyone else, too. This book is full of practical encouragement, and I believe it is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published thirty years ago.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

192 p.; 5.5 inches


0800758188 / 9780800758189
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