“Passion and Purity” for a New Generation by Abigail Ruth Shah

“Passion and Purity” for a New Generation by Abigail Ruth Shah

(Book Review of Elisabeth Elliot’s classic book)

Passion and Purity

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

Passion and Purity starts out with Elisabeth, a senior in college, questioning God, asking Him why she was still single. She touches on the topic of the difference between singleness and virginity, her view on how each was equally important to her. Elisabeth first learns of Jim through her brother Dave. Through the next few years after their meeting they struggle with being apart, being together, loneliness, and self-control. Elisabeth shares her personal struggles through journal entries and letters between her and Jim. While she fights against loneliness, doubts in Jim and in God, Jim struggles with the more physical restraint side. She also talks about what men and women want in a relationship. Men want to chase, while women constantly want to be in control. Men want femininity and vulnerability, but upon further conversation with college men, Elisabeth finds that they do not really know exactly what they want, and neither do women. From here, she concludes that only God can truly know what is good for each person. After years of meeting up for short periods of time, Jim and Elisabeth finally do get married while on the mission field in Quito. Elisabeth makes a good point towards the end of the book about how passion and purity does not end with marriage. You are pure by staying obedient to God and doing what he wants you and your spouse to do. The main point Elisabeth tries to drive home is that God will bring you the right person when He is ready. Not when you want it or feel like you can’t handle the loneliness anymore, but when God knows you and your future spouse are ready.

Abigail Ruth Shah

Abigail Ruth Shah

I personally enjoyed when Elisabeth would bring up stories of desperate, single girls writing to her for help. Many of them cried to her of how much they wanted God to bring them their “prince charming” or how much they loved this one guy but he acted like she didn’t even exist or how terrible a break up was. While these stories were amusing and kind of funny, I did genuinely feel bad for them. It was also interesting seeing how girls and guys and the struggles they face really never change through time. Maybe modern technology and generational views add a variety to the types of struggles, but for the most part, kids back then struggled with the same stuff. For example, one that really stuck out to me was the common, age-old question of: “How far is too far?” While I have not had a whole lot of experience with this myself, I have been contemplating over this question for quite some time. Elisabeth is very blunt with this question… there is no answer. There is no line that is THE line to stop at.

 

While I agreed with most of this book, a few things did not sit right with me. Elisabeth talks of how women should never ever make the first move. Sure, I get it, let the guys chase, but Elisabeth goes as far as to say you can’t even ask a guy friend for a chill Chinese takeout date. She basically says if one day you marry the guy you asked out, and he is unhappy in the marriage, he will ultimately be able to blame you for an unhappy life. I feel like with times changing, it is a little more acceptable for a girl to ask out a guy. I do agree with the man being the spiritual leader and stepping up as the initiator, but nowadays I believe it is more acceptable for girls to sometimes make a move. Another part of the book that I am a little iffy about is where she draws the line on the physical aspect. Elisabeth and Jim don’t flat out say there should be no physical touch, but they talked about physical restrictions like they believed there should be zero physical-ness until marriage. While it does sound good, I don’t know where I stand with the absolutely NO physical touch. Of course I believe there should be no sex before marriage, but stuff like kissing and holding hands that Elisabeth condemns aren’t necessarily sins. I do believe that things like holding hands and kissing can lead to further, more dangerous things and couples need to be careful and know what they can handle personally. I also had a problem with how she portrayed being single in such a bad light. She talked of how it would be such a curse to live a life without being married. I feel like she was being a little over dramatic. I wish she touched on the topic of being happy in Christ even without marriage and being happy in a state of singleness. Yes, being married is great and all and it is a wonderful thing to have somebody that loves you just as much as you love them, but it is not the end of the world if you don’t get married. You should find your happiness in Christ instead of your soul mate. But for her theology, I agreed with her 100%.

LESSONS FROM RANDY

LESSONS FROM RANDY by Pastor Shah (Clearview Baptist Church)

(This article was featured in the newspaper The Daily Dispatch on Saturday, June 14, 2014)

There’s nothing good about a phone call in the middle of the night. Still half-asleep, I could hear my wife – “Who??? Oh no! What happened?” Randy Reagle surfingAfter a long pause her tone changed from shock to condolence – “I’m so sorry. He’ll be right over. We will be in prayer.” I thought I heard the name – Randy – but still unsure, I asked, “Who is it?” She confirmed, “Randy Reagle just died in a car accident.” I couldn’t believe it! We just spent Sunday afternoon with him and his family at the lake. How could this be? I asked the same question that his family and friends have asked – “Why would God allow a 23-year-old with so much potential to be taken away?”

In the past few days, God has proven again and again that even though He is not the source of pain, He is always working “all things together for good.” Instead of brooding over the wreck on NC 39, the He has been bringing to mind Randy’s spiritual walk. Although I knew him less than a year, I witnessed a life that had real struggles but with a real faith in God. After much prayer, I asked permission from his father if I could share a few lessons from Randy’s life and he graciously agreed.

Randy with Shane1. Randy reminded me that first impressions could be deceiving: I have to admit that the first time I met Randy I thought that he was cocky but something told me to look below the surface. One day I invited him over to my office, expecting to make small talk and Randy shared with me about his brother Shane who had died a couple of years ago and how he struggled with his death. What I perceived as arrogance was actually a wound that hadn’t healed. We are so quick to pass judgments on others, especially our youth. We’ll never know the struggles they are going through until we take the time to get to know them.

2. Randy inspired me with his bold faith for Christ: It was a joy to watch Randy worship. I’ll always remember the last Sunday he was in church. No sooner had the Praise Team begun singing “Glory to God Forever” that he was on his feet, hand raised, worshipping God, no regard for what anyone would think. A few months earlier we went to a men’s conference, where we had to sit on the stage due to lack of space. I was hoping to stay incognito but not Randy. There he was praising God; and when the speaker gave an invitation to rededicate, Randy was the first one off the stage and on his knees in prayer. It showed me that this generation might not worship as I do but it is real and bold, nonetheless.

Randy63. Randy taught me that you don’t have to stop having fun in order to be serious about God: Like any 23-year old, Randy loved his X-box, favorite TV shows, and water sports. He often joked that all his life’s possession was in his wakeboard. But, there was another side to him. His family would often find him by the boat dock reading his Bible for hours. He was especially fond of reading books on how to reach the next generation with the gospel – “God without Religion,” “Red Letter Religion,” “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, “God’s Not Dead,” “7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness” and – oh yes – “Happy Happy Happy” by Phil Robertson. Quite a shock to some of us who think that we are the last great generation that thinks!

Randy24. Randy left me with tremendous hope for the future generation: When I went by the house to plan the memorial service, the family insisted that I see Randy’s room. I was reluctant, not knowing what I would find. As I entered, I smiled to see the bed unmade, typical of Randy. As I glanced across the room, my eyes were drawn to one of our church bulletins pinned to a dry erase board on the wall. It was scribbled all over with notes from a sermon I preached sometime back. But what caught my attention were two words in big block letters – “JESUS SAVES.” In my heart the Holy Spirit whispered, “Randy got it.” This young generation may live on Facebook, dress sloppy, listen to strange music, and have a different work ethic but they do get it, probably better than us.

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16 (Verse tattooed on Randy’s arm)

Randy5(For more on Randy’s walk with God, visit randyswalk.com.)

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