In my happy journey through every book on chastity known to Christian man, I made a stop at The Thrill of the Chaste back in 2012. The book had been out for years; I tend to be a later adopter. My favorite aspects of that edition were Eden’s utterly realistic experience and her comments about the loss of innocence. Through the wonders of the Internet, Eden herself found my review, complimented me on it, and revealed that she had been working on a new book about healing from sexual wounds through the lives of the saints. By reaching out to me, she sparked the great relationship I have with her current publisher, Ave Maria Press. I have been edified by the books I have read since, and I hope you all, dear readers, have enjoyed my writing about them.
I knew Eden had entered the Catholic Church after publishing The Thrill, and I was delighted to see in My Peace I Give You that there was still more for her to share about finding peace and redemption through embracing a chaste lifestyle. And who doesn’t love saints?
Imagine my delight to find that the very same Dawn Eden, chastity advocate and new(-ish) Catholic, had revised her initial reflections on converting to chastity in a new, Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. It’s been some time and many books since I first encountered her story, and I am pleased to note that the infusion of Catholicism only enriches her witness.
The first major difference I would note in this new edition is its tone. The first edition had a more confessional tone to it. Some readers, especially older converts to chastity who lived unchastely as adults (as Eden did), might miss that. I missed it a little bit myself. Key stories and images remain, such as some of Eden’s most significant boyfriends (a term both the author and I would apply loosely) and a can’t miss analogy about baking chocolate-chip cookies. In this edition, the language of sacramentality is woven throughout. The spirit of hopefulness remains, although it is no longer a hope for the author’s own future marriage. It has become a hope for marriage in and of itself, marriages truly fulfilled by chaste love. There is less longing, and in its place, great contentment.
Even more obvious than the language of sacramentality is a heavy dose of the Catholic theology of chastity. Since the updated translation of St. John Paul II’s work de-emphasized the phrase “theology of the body,” you will find it here spoken of as the “catechesis on human love.” Similarly, Eden’s work focuses less on the tangible aspects of her journey toward understanding chastity and more on developing a personal philosophy of love, sex, and relationships. It’s less about why you should keep your clothes on and how to go about doing that, and more about why the world’s version of love pales in comparison to God’s. I must admit that I got bogged down in some of the theology, but it was insightful enough for me to desire another read to let it sink in. I don’t think that makes it too dense for the average reader. It means that there is something more for people who are wary of this being “just another chastity book”—and for novices, there will be more than first meets the eye.
Considering that embracing chastity played such a critical role in Eden’s conversion, I think this new edition was needed. In the same way the New Testament brings the Old to fulfillment, the Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste completes the story begun in the first edition. Then, the fire had been lit. Here, it has been set fully ablaze.
I received a free copy of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, Catholic Edition from Ave Maria Press in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks for their generosity!