“Lord give me chastity, but not yet” is one of the most relatable quotes from a saint (this one from St. Augustine of Hippo) for those of us struggling to grow in virtue. And it kept coming to mind as I read Dating Detox: 40 Days of Perfecting Love in an Imperfect World ($14.95, Ignatius Press) by Kevin and Lisa Cotter. If you’ve ever had a thought somewhere in the ballpark of St. Augustine’s line, then this book is for you.
Chastity is hard. There are all sorts of speakers and books on the topic that convey why it’s so important. It is. While setting a lofty challenge of excellence is good for us, many people find themselves inspired but unequipped to actually achieve that goal of being chaste. They don’t know how.
Dating Detox is the how-to book on growing in the virtue of chastity, for people who want to get better but don’t know how. And to get better, sometimes you need to “detox.”
“The purpose of a detox is to remove some type of toxic substance from a person’s life…for people who want to remove the toxic influences that are leaving them disillusioned by love, we suggest they go on a dating detox,” the Cotters wrote (Page 9).
The detoxing process outlined in the book starts by revealing the true purpose of love, dating and sex, and helping readers find the courage to run after that purpose and discover the steps to get there.
But it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re just looking at the end goal; so, Kevin and Lisa separate the book into small, daily steps — into 40 days, one digestible chapter per day. At the end of each chapter, there’s a challenge. The whole thing makes up six sections (so, six weeks of reading) and every chapter and challenge builds on the one before it.
The challenges at the end of each chapter aren’t easy (nothing worth doing ever is), but they’re extremely simple. Kevin and Lisa write with raw honesty and use real stories from people they’ve interviewed (names have been changed) to give examples and encouragement in the book. Each story is relevant to struggles people face, and nothing is sugar coated. But the stories always end in hope.
With the challenges, stories, perspective and practical tips peppered throughout the 40-day journey, achieving the goal of chastity is broken down into something that’s realistic and attainable. They acknowledge that it’s difficult, but it is possible —through the book’s roadmap, and most importantly, through prayer, sacraments and good friends and mentors who can help.
Ultimately, this is a book of healing. Few people these days come out unscathed in relationships. And in a post-sexual revolution world where casual sex is the norm and the definition of love is more culturally confused than ever, it seems that just about everyone has been a victim of some wound at the hands of a romantic partner. Or themselves. This is what the virtue of chastity is about — it’s about healing the parts of us that try to fill our inner holes with people, reducing them to things instead of persons. It creates a space around our hearts, minds and souls so that we can see ourselves and others as a whole person. And that space gives us permission to see any wounds that need bigger work, which the book talks about briefly as well. This book is particularly geared toward young adults, but regardless of any age, the journey to loving freely and authentically is the same, and that journey is worth the work.
Kevin and Lisa have worked with college students for over a decade with The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), and Kevin serves as their director of curriculum. Lisa is the founder of Made to Magnify and speaks to young adults on living a life of excellence. More info about the book, as well as several resources, can be found at the book’s page on Lisa Cotter’s website, madetomagnify.com/dating-detox-book.