Author tells of her journey to chastity

After nearly 10 years in her new life, Dawn Eden has written a popular book on the joys of a chaste lifestyle and is working on another.

By Gail Hollenbeck, Times Correspondent
Published February 26, 2008

SPRING HILL - Throughout her 20s, author Dawn Eden bought into the cultural message and belief that casual sex would bring deeper relationships and, eventually, a husband.

But the former rock 'n' roll historian and New York Daily News editor says a Sex and the City lifestyle was leading her down a path to destruction.

"If I hadn't met Christ, I would be dead or I would be in a mental institution," Eden said in a recent interview. "I suffered from serious cyclical suicidal depression before my conversion. I was completely healed of that with my receiving the grace of faith in Jesus Christ."

In 1999, after becoming a born-again Christian, the former agnostic decided to make a drastic change, from a life of promiscuity to a life of chastity.

Eden, 39, says she discovered that chastity is about more than not having sex outside of marriage; it's a path to living life to its fullest.

"We all, inside of us, have a longing to go beyond the superficial, but sadly, our culture encourages us to value ourselves and each other for what we do and what we look like rather than who we are," Eden said. "When you talk about chastity, you're really talking about love. And when you're talking about love, you're talking about learning how to love, not only that special someone out there, but really learning how to love everyone."

That message, she says, is for married people as well.

In her book, The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, published by Thomas Nelson, Eden shares her journey of discovery, speaking frankly and candidly about her quest for love and its consequences, both before becoming a Christian and after.

Finding that most books written on chastity were written "by virgins for virgins," Eden decided to write her own book. The response has been phenomenal.

"It's blown me away to see that my book is in its sixth printing after just over a year," Eden said, noting the book's Spanish version sold out in one week. "What that tells me is that people are eager for a positive message that shows them what they can gain by being chaste rather than just what the culture is telling them, which is that they'll lose out if they're not having sex."

Although Eden wrote the book with women in mind, she found many young adult men appreciate her message.

"Something I discovered when I began speaking to young adult groups and on college campuses is that men want something higher to be asked of them. They want to discipline their bodies for something higher."

Eden is currently working on a new book that will givepractical advice for chaste dating, which will be directed to both men and women.

With The Thrill of the Chaste having gained recognition by being reviewed in publications such as the New York Times, Eden has been invited to speak about its message at churches and on college campuses as far away as Dublin, Ireland, and London. She has been featured on the Eternal Word Television Network, was recently the guest on the Today's News in Focus radio program, served as the representative for chastity at Yale's Sex Week, and spoke on Sacred Heart Radio in Cincinnati for Valentine's Day.

On Friday, Eden, who became a Catholic in 2006, will share her inspirational message with young adults at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church.

"I think for Christians who are pursuing chastity that it's very important to seek fellowship among people who share your values," Eden said about her upcoming talk. "So just the fact that people are coming to this church to hear me speak about chastity is great, and they should continue to pursue fellowship among people in their church."

She also plans to encourage the young adults to counter the culture by espousing Christian values.

"We live in a culture of relativism, where people are told that one truth is just as good as another," she said. "The message should be not to objectify one another but rather to view the other person as a gift and to become a gift for the other person. Once you understand that, you can view your spouse with a sense of wonder, and as a single person you can view the love and kindness and generosity that you receive from any human being with wonder and thankfulness."

If you go:

Hear her story

Author Dawn Eden will present her views on chastity Friday at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 5030 Mariner Blvd. The evening, which is hosted by the young adult fellowship group, will begin with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for couples and $10 for singles. Call 584-1996 or send e-mail to whatcomesnext@stfrances.org For more information about Eden or to buy her book, visit www.dawneden.com/blogger.html.