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.
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)
Waiting 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.
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
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
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.