Monday, June 14, 2021

Passion and Purity

 Learning to Bring Your Love Life  Under Christ's Control

by Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)
191 pages / originally published 1984

We have reviewed Elisabeth Elliot's books before in this blog. Hers was indeed a life consciously dedicated to God in Christ - including her "love life." That's what makes this book so helpful, as Elliot examines what it means to live as the bride of Christ, even while seeking a man or woman to live your life with in marriage in the Lord.

Elliot's book is a fairly easy read, because, like a good novel, her true-life story is an example of how to "Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control," rather than a textbook. She takes us through her budding romance with Jim Elliot, showing us what made him admirable to her in his Christian commitment and maturity (something that makes this book also suitable for guys to read). As well, she shows the difficulties inherent in waiting for God to make his will for their relationship, as Jim goes through his training to become a missionary with the commitment that he will not proceed further in his relationship with Elisabeth until he knows where and when he is serving as a missionary and how she will fit into that work.

In contrast to our culture's attitude to romantic love - the belief that it is just one more way to bring us ultimate fulfilment - Elliot insists that we must yield ourselves to Christ before and above anyone or anything else. She calls our culture's obsession with either romantic love or single self-fulfilment "The Serpent's Reasoning" - the promise of the snake to Adam and Eve in Eden.

Instead of seeking our fulfilment in either ourselves or others, we need to seek God, and Elliot reminds us of what she needed to remind herself in her relationship with God:

  • God is with us in our struggles with sexual temptation;
  • sometimes we may simply have to wait for God to make His will clear, and that waiting makes the final result sweeter;
  • God's will for us may be life as a single person;
  • suffering frustration by waiting to get married at the right time is good for us, because God exalts us by humbling us first; and
  • nothing shall separate us from God's love in Christ (not even frustration in romance).
I have only two cautions:
  • The foreword is written by Joshua Harris, who has also written on this subject, but has since renounced Christ.
  • Elliot states that while submision is God's command for wives, that does not give husbands the right to "demand obedience," for they are to use their authority in a Christlike way. She stresses the sacrificial nature of Christ's love for His bride - true enough - but then extends that description to say that He does not impose His will. It is not her main point, but this version of the idea that God is a gentleman misses the fact that as a Father, He is willing to "impose His will" on His dangerously straying children.

If you want to understand better the struggle between passion and purity, you can purchase Elliot's book here, or here in Canada.

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