Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Gift of Purity: A Book Review

99% of the time the conversations in this blog are perfectly suitable for even the youngest reader to peruse.  However, if your elementary aged child is reading over your shoulder today, you will at very least want to preview this. 

Embarrassing conversations are my forte.  Everyone has to have something they are good at right?  Well, if you need someone to ask a mentally ill adult about anything from his bowel habits, to regular hygiene, to his possible need for Viagra, I'm your girl.  Case work is a great preparation for life as a mother.  Yet to know what to say about sex and when to say it to my daughters still baffles me. 

So when Gospel Advocate gave us the opportunity to review some books I chose The Gift of Purity by Rachel Welborn. She worked with high schoolers for years dealing with abstinence-based sex education and writes with a young woman named Bethany (later her daughter-in-law) as a commenter/beta reader.

I was expecting something like the books we covered in my High school Sunday School classes on teenage morality (sex, drugs and rock and roll!). It wasn't.  Neither was it "sex" education in the sense of the anatomy and physiology of the birds and the bees.   Because of my dual backgrounds in Bible and psychology I am very familiar with much of the topic matter.  I knew the list of sexual transmitted diseases and ways of increasing or decreasing the safety of sex (for example, condoms will prevent some pregnancies and some sexual transmitted diseases while birth control is equally good/bad at preventing pregnancy but will do nothing to prevent STDs). And of course, I had not forgotten the basic Bible prohibitions on all kinds of sex outside of marriage. However this book was markedly more spiritual.

Ms. Welborn emphasized that we are beloved of God, and he wants what is best for us. His love for us is pure and eternal.  It's the love of a Creator/Father.  Loving him and trusting his good intentions towards us means obeying him in all things, including the details of our most intimate behavior. The book was a close look at the reasons - physical, emotional, social and spiritual - that God allows sex only inside of the bounds of marriage.

On the physical side the author provided a lot of information about the endocrine system.  She highlighted two different hormones and talked about how they worked in the male and female bodies to strengthen and support monogamous family living and how their effect is weakened by promiscuous behavior.  Emotionally she identified several emotional needs that seem to be met by sex and how this fails outside of marriage.  On the social side she gave a clear but not graphic description of STDs and the effects of unplanned pregnancies on young women.

I appreciated the book's matter of fact tone and the fact that it was not patronizing in the least. Since both the language and the treatment of the subject matter are more suitable to older girls, I would not recommend it for a "Caterpillars to Butterflies" class (girls 9-12). The Gift of Purity is obviously intended for older teens to college age young women.  Although limited Bible background is needed to understand the book, it requires a high school reading level and the ability to find, read, and analyze Bible passages. I can see it used for a Christian school (or homeschool) high-school class, a book for a mother to share with her teenage daughters or a gift to a girl about to start dating.

My daughter is 12 and last year she read a much less specific book that covered issues like dating and modesty.  She responded with a resounding, "Eww!"  So I don't think she's quite ready for this. However when the time comes, we might read this.  I loved how it leaned heavily on the idea that our moral obedience was a direct response to a loving God.  In other words it was driven by faith and love not fear of consequences.  Mrs. Welborn makes a compelling case that obeying God's commands is not only best for us but the only appropriate response to God's love.


You can buy The Gift of Purity here at The Gospel Advocate.  We'd encourage you to check out their other materials as well.

The Publisher provided us with this book for free for the purpose of review.  No further compensation was provided, and all opinions are our own.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

No comments:

Post a Comment