Thursday, April 12, 2007

Brave Rebellion

Joan Eden (full name Dawn Eden Goldstein) has a fascinating life journey. She grew up in a Reform Jewish household, her mother converted to Christianity when Eden was a teenager, Eden became an agnostic in college, later ventured into rock music journalism in the mid-1980s and embraced the libertine lifestyle of the music industry, then was found by Christ in 1999 in her thirties and became a committed Christian. She writes a blog called Dawn Patrol (, works as a freelance journalist, and recently published a book called The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, described as “part memoir, 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” (La Shawn Barber, reviewing Eden’s book at

Having “been there, done that,” Eden offers a strong critique of the casual sex culture that pervades high schools, universities, and much of modern society. Her target audience is single women ready to admit that premarital sex is not making them happy or helping them find the husband they seek. She contends that our casual sex culture encourages singles to view one another as commodities. Like many women, she believed the hype that casual sex is the way to a man’s heart, but actually found over time that it served as a hindrance to relationship building. For instance, to protect oneself from the eventual let-down of casual encounters, one must develop a certain emotional toughness. In Eden’s case, she sabotaged relationships before she got dumped so she could remain in control. “The same armor that enabled me to tolerate casual sex made me less attractive to the kind of man I most desired.”

Barber notes an important point in her review, that “chastity is a misunderstood virtue. It is more than simply refraining from premarital sex. It’s an attitude, a way of life, an open rebellion against a debauched culture.” Indeed, 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.”

I would like to read this book, but it points to a larger issue that is even more significant and meaningful to me, which is the rebellious component of Christianity. How ironic that modern day “rebellion” in America is not to live a debauched life, but to live a moral one! If Christians are not living as cultural “outsiders” in significant ways in post-Christian America, then we probably aren’t following Jesus very faithfully. The three prominent idols in our culture are money, sex, and power/prestige. These offer a good place to reflect on how “inside” or “outside” our culture we are. How do our views and practices in these areas differ from those of our unbelieving societal neighbors?

Recently, Eden participated in a debate at a bar in Manhattan with the author of a book on internet dating. A show of hands at the end of the evening revealed that Eden had lost on the debate's central question: 'Is chastity a good idea for singles?' (these were non-religious Manhattan singles, after all). But the other author admitted Eden had acquitted herself well, saying: “She was brave to speak to this crowd.” May we too be brave in Christ.


Post a Comment

<< Home