Elisabeth Elliot: 1926-2015

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others


I am sure many, if not all of you, know by now that Elisabeth Elliot died on Monday at the age of 88, suffering from dementia. Elliot has been a prominent author and speaker for over half her life – maybe the 1st  significant female author of my generation.

Her late husband, Jim Eliot, was venerated after he was killed by an unreached tribe called the Aucas in Ecuador over 60 years ago. She wrote 2 books that re-told that story: Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Eliot.

Other books she wrote include Let Me Be a Woman (a book of male-female relationships), A Chance to Die: the Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, Keep a Quiet Heart (a collection of essays on what it means to get to know God), Facing the Death of Someone You Love (lessons learned from her widowhood), The Music of His Promises: Listening to God with Love, Trust, and Obedience (a devotional on the implications of the sovereignty of God), The Path of Loneliness: Finding Your Way Through the Wilderness to God (a book regarding her struggle with losing a 2nd husband and how she made peace with being alone), A Path Through Suffering (a book about drawing closer to God through trials), and Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control among many others.

Elliot ElisabethIt is the last book mentioned in the above paragraph that had the deepest impact on my life. When I was a teenager, a few years into puberty, my parents wisely decided that I should read a book on purity as a young man from a biblical perspective.

At first, I objected (to my shame) reading a book from a woman. So my Dad decided to teach me a lesson by giving me an alternative book to read. Instead, he gave me Josh McDowell’s Why Wait: What You Need to Know About the Teen Sexuality Crisis, which is 444 pages. Elliot’s book was only 192 pages. I obstinately read McDowell’s book anyway and found it to be very instructive, but I wish I had taken my parents’ original advice to read Elliot’s book.

I did read Elliot’s book a short time after I completed the read of McDowell’s book. To this day, it is probably the only book I would commend without reservation to someone looking to enter the “dating scene.” Some of the topics covered by her in this book

  • How to know the right person to marry
  • Loving someone with passion without compromising sexually
  • Male and female roles in relationships
  • Putting the desires of God over your own desires
  • The limitations of how far you can go physically in a relationships

Since I am a quote-collector, I thought I would share with you a few of the quotes I saved from that book, in hopes that it might whet your appetite to read this book, give it to a teenager or college student or perhaps invite you to read some of Elliot’s other works.


Quotes from Passion and Purity

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”

“I took it for granted that there must be a few men left in the world who had that kind of strength. I assumed that those men would also be looking for women with principle. I did not want to be among the marked-down goods on the bargain table, cheap because they’d been pawed over. Crowds collect there. It is only the few who will pay full price. “You get what you pay for.”

“What do women want today? What do men want? I mean, deep down. What do they really want? If ‘times’ have changed, have human longings changed, too? How about principles? Have Christian principles changed? I say no to the last three questions, an emphatic no. I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot well do without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.”

“If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.”


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