Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dawn Eden, "The Thrill of the Chaste," and Chastity in Marriage

I haven't written as much lately because we're in the midst of a move. Ugh. Although I don't enjoy moving per se, it does give one the opportunity to purge and the added anticipation of a new environment. We do not have much room here, so I'm looking forward to having a little more room, especially in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, I've been reading Dawn Eden's The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. I am in awe of her transparency. She is very honest in sharing her story, no holds barred. From all my years of celibacy and chastity, I can relate. Although at times it can be a difficult calling, it is not impossible. God gives us the strength to endure many things and for singles, enduring the loneliness can be achieved when we lean on Him for support.

I just posted on the Facebook group, "Castitas," a recommendation for this book. As I was typing the message, I started to think of how my call to chastity has changed since marrying.

Before, as a single, I tried to refrain from lusting after men. No small task, given the huge amount of sexploitation this culture imposes upon both sexes. I am not immune, for instance, to the sight of a well-sculpted man or someone who has a smile that could take your breath away. But as I had practiced rejecting certain movies or magazines as a single because of the paths toward temptation they'd bring; so I realized I needed to protect my marriage.

I do this a few ways. First, I never speak negatively about my husband not only in public, but to anyone. If there is an issue I have with him, I bring it to him. I also pray about it, but I figure God and my husband are the only ones to really hear it. Our society has become so used to "venting," that it's become a national sport. So much criticism of others has been paraded as "venting" when in essence, it is gossip and serves no good purpose.

When women gather, it is very easy for the conversation to turn toward husbands and boyfriends and how men overall aren't "stepping up to the plate" in a variety of areas. I'm not real keen on that kind of talk. In fact, I take offense for my brothers because most of the time, they're trying their very best. And some of us ladies aren't exactly berries and cream all the time, either.

Jesus commands us to love one another. Is it loving to be critical of the one person who shares with you the greatest intimacy? We are also instructed to edify and exhort one another. Griping about someone's faults won't build up anyone.

The other decision I made was to knowingly avoid any inappropriate conduct with other men. This included forswearing my love for contra-dancing. (Some of you may be saying "Contra what?...") Contra-dancing is like square-dancing except you have two lines of dancers instead of a square. You always dance with your partner, but then you dance with your neighbor. The lines weave with each other so that you end up dancing with a lot of people.

When I asked my husband if he'd consider joining me in attending a dance event, he flatly refused. When I asked why, he said, "Because I don't want to hold any other woman in my arms but you." can a lady argue with that?

So because he was honoring me by this response, I honored him by saying no to any future contra-dancing. I had a few of my friends say I should go anyway and have fun - but to me, I wouldn't enjoy it. If my husband's idea of chastity is to not dance with other women, how could I in good conscience minimize that by doing what I wanted to do? I couldn't and I'm so glad I haven't. We have found other activities to do together such as hiking and biking and I'm a happy gal.

One thing that has surprised me is how often married women openly lust after other men. This is not living a chaste life within marriage. It is as though a woman is saying to her husband, "Look. I know I said I was committed to you until the day I die, but hey...I'm still human! I can still appreciate some of God's finest pieces of workmanship when I'm at the gym. No big deal!"

Well, not exactly.

How many times have we given in to temptation? And what proceeds temptation? It's not like I plan on eating half a box of cookies. First, I may see an ad for the cookies. I look at the page, lingering on the luscious images, almost tasting the cookie as I look. Then, I may swing by the grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner. As I pass the aisle for cookies, again I think of the ad. The aisle beckons, telling me I deserve a treat because after all, I'm worth it. (Ugh. I loathe this phrase. That will be for another entry someday...)

How many days have I ended up with a box of cookies because that advertisement won?

I liken it to lust. When a married woman doesn't understand what chastity within marriage means, she can easily be led down the path of temptation until she's in bed with some slimeball who has no qualms about sleeping with a married woman. She has in minutes destroyed something precious, something God intended to be an intimate connection and a reflection of His fidelity to us.

So even when you marry, you must realize boundaries need to be set. And boundaries will always be tested because that's just the way it is. God allows us to be tested to purify us, but He is quick to answer our cries for assistance.

I may write more about this in the future. I realize that I made many of these decisions long before I married. I asked God to give me a man who would appreciate these choices and He answered with a resounding yes. I cherish my husband and thank God for him daily. I think the more we appreciate our loved ones, the more love God gives to us for them. I think that is just wondrous.


X said...

I read Thrill of the Chaste and all I kept thinking was "WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE WRITE THIS WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER?!" My life would have turned out SO differently. I ended up sending the book to my son's fiancee. They still live together but hopefully something will sink in. God bless Dawn Eden for writing this book.

Mary Rose said...

Angela, you and me both! When I was in college, I felt like such a dweeb. I wasn't into the fast, trivialized hook-ups and wished for more support. Sometimes I didn't make the wisest choices.

I hope your son's fiancee will understand that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. I hope she starts to understand the "theology of the body." It is an amazing thing, yes?

Count me as a new Dawn Eden fan!