Book Review: “Passion & Purity” (Elisabeth Elliot)

I read this book a few months ago (and by that I mean I started reading it in September 2010 and didn’t finish it until sometime in November), wrote a {little post} about it 7 chapters into the book, started the review shortly thereafter, and am now getting around to finishing it up and posting it. :]  That’s what happens when your mind goes at a million(ish) miles a minute and you constantly start writing new things down… eventually some articles get lost in the never-ending abyss of “drafts.” So for the late posting of this review, I apologize.

Passion & Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot is an amazing book. It’s a testimony. It’s an encouragement. It’s a guide-book. It’s convicting and challenging. It’s a wonderful example of what godly, Christian, pre-marital relationships should be like. It’s God-honoring. It’s raw and it’s honest.

I experienced a whole range of emotions while I read this – hurt, disappointment, anger, frustration, love, happiness, heartbreak, loneliness, strength, holiness… you name it, I felt it.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy love story or an easy read about dating and relationships, this books is not what you’re looking for. For about 10 years or so, I avoided reading this book because I thought it was going to be another book like “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris (who, in fact, wrote the foreword for it). I was right in some ways, because this book encourages purity and waiting on the Lord’s perfect timing and will. I was wrong in many other ways, because this book does not discourage dating altogether. This book is not a list of “do’s and don’ts” – but rather a book about how to live your life in such a way that would please the Lord in your relationships.

This is a book that tells the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. This book is a blast from the past. Elisabeth pulls from journal entries and old love letters written decades before and copies them over into this book, creating a transcript of her personal experiences and struggles to help millions people who would read her book. Her struggles were not in vain – truly the Lord had a purpose for even the seemingly most “unnecessary” trials she and Jim faced.

It’s a love story, yes; yet it’s a book that is so, so much more than that. This book took me longer to read than most books usually take me – not because it’s overwhelming in its length, but because the content is so rich and deep. There were times when the words Elisabeth penned down were so spot-on and convicting that I had to put the book down and ponder for hours what I had just read. Simple, yet deep truths. Parts of this book almost resemble more of a hot sermon, full of Scripture and quotes of famous Christians from the past.

My favorite quote from the book is: “Unless a man is prepared to ask a woman to be his wife, what right has he to claim her exclusive attention? Unless she has been asked to marry him, why would a sensible woman promise any man her exclusive attention? If, when the time has come for a commitment, he is not man enough to ask her to marry him, she should give him no reason to presume she belongs to him.”

The chapters were small, but filled to the brim with pertinent information for singles of today (and tomorrow). The book is, in all reality, timeless in its message. And it’s not just for girls. It’s most certainly for guys too.

If you’re single, I urge you to read this book. You’ll learn from her no matter your age or gender. She’s been through the struggle first hand. She’s endured the dreaded “waiting period” of singleness. I promise you won’t regret reading this book.


Posted on February 10, 2011, in Book Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Heather, I am married but have a 9-yr-old daughter. She’s clearly too young right now, but at what age would this book be appropriate to read?

    • My mom tried to get me to read it when I was about 12 or so… but I was too stubborn anr refused. I’d say that would be a good age, or any time after that.
      It’s not a hard book to understand – she’s very clear in presenting the points she wants to make in the book.

      I hope your daugher enjoys it as much as I did.
      Blessings to you both!
      Heather Joy

  2. I love the quote you pulled out. Elisabeth did a wonderful job of capturing in very few words what I believe is the wisest way to approach relationships. 🙂 Thanks for your review!

  3. I read this book not long ago. My wife (before she became such) had talked it up quite a bit. And I was not disappointed. It is a wonderful book with such rich insights that is certainly a must for all singles. Thanks for the review!

    • My copy of the book is currently being borrowed by a guy-friend of mine… who because interested in the book because i talked it up so much!
      It’s an excellent bookfor men AMD women. 🙂

  4. This does run the gamut of emotions and is probably the “right” read. Thank you!

  5. After I finished reading this book (which took my about a week, I didn’t want to rush through it), I took a look at the one star reviews here. Not to discredit anything that they all have said, but I don’t believe that any of those people read the book to the end. One person says that she doesn’t believe that Jim was not attracted to his “beloved Bett” and used her to fulfill his selfish needs. If you want a rough translation of a few chapters from the Song of Solomon, read the chapter entitled “Love Letters.” You’ll then realize why many pastors didn’t give sermons from that book up until recently.

    A few others have said that it doesn’t apply to our lives today because it’s outdated and “old fashioned.” Well, last time I checked the Bible was old fashioned and outdated. Yet, those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ still live our lives by it. We live in a society that wants instant gratification. Neither Elizabeth or Jim stopped what they were doing. Their work in their missions fields never deviated until the doors were closed in Africa and they both were in South America. They waited for God’s timing. If they just got it over with (like Paul suggests to the Corinthians) they may have never gone to South America. Their ministry would’ve been totally different!

    This book has a lot to offer and I would recommend reading Jim’s Journals along with it. I certainly recommend reading it carefully. It does encompass 5 years of their lives. It would not be a bad read for teenagers too. Of course, if you’re the parent, read it first and make the decision when your child is ready for the book. It may not apply to where they are with their walk with God.

    I myself found it difficult to read and found myself hating it at times. Probably because it was slightly convicting. Everyone should read this book whether you agree with the principles that are laid out in the book or not. That’s what it is, an “old fashioned” principle to live by which is, again, still in the Bible. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” That is the underlying principle to the book. Even if they had not gotten married I’d bet anything they would still be willfully ministering in God’s name. It would’ve been tough, but they would’ve done it.

    Oh, and yes, Elizabeth is right. It is a turn off to have the girl do all the work in the relationship. 😛

  6. This book brought me to a place of establishing relationships within God’s intended boundaries. All of my relationships are much healthier now. The book presents the principles of purity and waiting on God for the right relationships. It gave clarity to the reasons for not having sex outside of marriage.

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