True Love Waits launches community-wide initiative
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--LifeWay Christian Resources kicked off its new True Love Waits initiative, “Takes the Town,” with a reception for youth ministers and community leaders and a concert featuring Christian recording artist Barlow Girl.
The Takes the Town theme encourages communities to unite by involving schools, local governments, businesses, churches, health organizations and others to promote abstinence.
"We hope it broadens the impact of the commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage," Jimmy Hester, coordinator for the True Love Waits team and the senior director of LifeWay’s student ministry publishing department, said during the Feb. 11 event at LifeWay’s offices in Nashville, Tenn..
True Love Waits spokesperson Paul Turner said the new theme developed as the logical next step for the 11-year-old ministry. "We’ve done a good job with churches and making students understand," he said. "I think God has prepared the culture to take a stand for sexual purity."
Several local YMCA employees attended the reception and voiced their support for the program and the impact it has made. Dawana Wade is the YMCA’s vice president of community development as well as the mother of two teenagers.
"It makes sense for me to connect myself with people that have the same views of sexual purity that I do," Wade said. "If we as a community embrace and recognize the [long ranging effects] of sexual activity, maybe the youth at the Y will, too."
Since 1993, an estimated 2.5 to 3 million youth have signed cards pledging to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Turner said he believes communities have the power to help that number continue to grow. "If everyone is saying the same message, students start to say, ‘You know, there might be something to this.’"
Hester said the True Love Waits team has set a goal of involving 50 communities in this unified effort during the first year, noting, "This is the kind of emphasis in a community that could really sway [youth’s] choices."
A study by the American Journal of Sociology found that teenagers who pledge abstinence until marriage are 34 percent less likely to have sex than those who do not make that pledge. The study suggested the pledge is effective because it creates an "identity movement" or "moral majority" that offers peer support.
True Love Waits is designed to encourage sexual purity through adherence to biblical principles and positive peer pressure. The pledge to abstinence comes after eight weeks of teaching and study. Hester said the intention is to give youth a biblical understanding of sexuality and God’s design for a sexual relationship within the boundaries of marriage between one man and one woman.
For more information about True Love Waits or the "Takes the Town" initiative, visit truelovewaits.com.