One day, when Dawn Eden was 31 years-old, she ventured into the section of a bookstore that she had never visited before. This journey into the store was somewhat out of character for Eden, who preferred listening to rock music instead of delving into books. Even more rare was the part of the bookstore she found herself in, because she had never been interested in what it had to offer — until her recent conversion to Christianity. It was a shelf of how-to books on living with sexual purity. Eden, who was an agnostic Jew for most of her life, used to spend her days as a rock journalist interviewing Harry Nilsson and hanging out with Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys, living her nights bouncing from one New York nightclub to the next. It was surprising then that she, with her well-seasoned experiences, would find herself flipping through page after page of books searching for the meaning of chastity. To her disappointment, the stores she ventured into only offered books for teens, which aimed at frightening them into not having sex rather than offer a truthful explanation on why living a chaste lifestyle was important for every human being. When her quest proved fruitless, Eden decided to write a book of her own for adults who were looking for more than just the thrill of the chase. She hoped that there would be others out there like her — and hoped that she could give them the book that she herself had searched for. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, Eden published what she calls “a chastity book for grown-ups” in 2006, The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding fulfillment while leaving your clothes on. Not long after its publication, Eden converted to Catholicism. Armed with this new world view, she re-wrote the original edition of her book through the new lenses of her Catholic faith, which was published in 2015. Fellow author Colleen Carroll Campbell hailed the new Catholic edition for its humor and brutal honesty, as well as drawing on “the depth and insights of the saints, Church Fathers, and Catholic teaching in a way that the original did not.” Besides including various elements of her new-found Catholic faith, Eden also inserted a few additions to the Catholic version: it now catered to a male audience, who had expressed a need for a book like hers, and also addressed those individuals who were discerning a celibate life. “In this new edition, I take a different approach — I give people practical advice not on dating, but on living, because the real question of our lives is not 'How am I going to find a spouse'? but the real question is 'How am I going to be happy whether I have a spouse or not'?” she told CNA. “If we are just thinking that we have to find the right person to be happy, then we are really missing the point of life in Christ, and risking the possibility that we will never be happy — because if you put your happiness in a human being, then sooner or later you are going to be disappointed,” she said. In writing her book, Eden wanted to address the person she had been before her conversion — the person who was searching for ways to fill her hurting, lonely heart. She wanted to offer hope and healing to the other men and women who had also been hurt by past experiences. Eden wasn't the only one out there who felt the harrowing, sweeping feeling of loneliness — she found that it was becoming an increasingly popular sentiment. However, that lonely feeling wasn’t always a negative thing, she recalled. “I have come to realize that hunger and loneliness are not bad things: they are signs that I am made for something better and higher than this world, signs that I am meant to make room for God.” “We are all made with a God-shaped vacuum in our heart that can only be filled by the love of God in and through Christ,” Eden reflected. The ex-rock journalist wanted to impress upon her readers that their lives have meaning — here and now — and that they don't have to wait until marriage or a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled. But how could this be achieved in an age of growing existential loneliness? “As I began to let Jesus enter more deeply into my heart and entire life, then I learned how to let other people enter into me in a deeper way,” she asserted, acknowledging that her pledge to purity helped her become a better friend, daughter, and woman. Chastity proved to surprise Eden. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the denying admonishment that she had anticipated. In fact, Eden points out in her book that chastity does not deny love, but rather, shows men and women how to love more fully. “Our chastity is how we become personally integrated, body and soul, so that we can really love fully in every relationship, in the manner that is appropriate to that type of relationship,” she explained. Although written as the “Catholic edition,” Eden believes that everyone, even non-Catholics, can glean something from the Catholic Church's stance on sexuality, purity, and chastity. “Everyone needs the good news and the Church's sexual teachings are part of the good news,” she stated, saying that too often Catholics take for granted the treasury of Church teachings on the matter, seeing them as bitter pills rather than beautiful truths. “To live a life of chastity is to live in the truth — the truth of the dignity that you and those you encounter have from being made in the image of God,” she explained. Eden ends her chastity book for grown-ups with a beautiful description of how chastity changed her life and worldview. Not only did it enhance the quality of her relationships, but it has also drawn out the beauty of other people. “The world is no longer my meat market — it stopped being that for me years ago — and it is no longer my waiting room,” Eden wrote. “It is my cathedral, and every human being is a tabernacle of Christ.”
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.