Mother's Day Features
Everybody Isn't Doing It
Millions of courageous young people have walked down the aisle at a youth rally and signed a “True Love Waits” abstinence card. Others have signed a card in Sunday School, youth group or better yet, as their parents were teaching them about value centered sexuality. The wordings on the cards vary but basically they read, “In commitment to God, my family and my future spouse, I will remain sexually pure until marriage.” Since 2004 the secular headlines have screamed that pledgers are more at risk for STD’s than those who never signed a sexual purity card. Most of the articles claim that sexual purity pledges don’t work and will put kids more at risk for pregnancy and STD’s. Are the articles right? I don’t think so.
It is true that the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (which these headlines are always quoted from) revealed some alarming results. Hannah Bruckner of Yale and Peter Bearman of Columbia were the authors of the study and yet when the reports came out, many people believe they severely misled the press on this subject. No one denies that many young people who sign the pledge cards do struggle with keeping their commitment until marriage. The Bruckner/Bearman study did bring to light some alarming insights. For example:
- The study reveals that for the pledgers there is about an 18 month delay in sexual activity, but that many do succumb to sexual temptation after the initial 18 months.
- Less pledgers will use any form of protection from pregnancy and HIV on their first sexual intercourse experience.
Both of these findings are obviously of great concern to those like myself, who believe that a commitment to Biblical sexuality involves waiting until marriage to have sexual intercourse. It means there is still much more to do to help young people make right and wise decisions about their sexuality than just sign a pledge card. This means more parental involvement in sex education and helping students develop a strong theological foundation for their decision to wait until marriage to have sexual intercourse. It means teaching them the Biblical truth about sex. God created sex and he sees it as wonderful in the context of marriage. (Genesis 1, 2) God wants this most special relationship between one man and one woman to be sanctified through marriage. (Matthew 19:4-6; Exodus 20:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
Robert Rector and Kirk Johnson of the Heritage Foundation examined the same study and found contradictions as well as other input that is much more positive that can help spread some light on the negative headlines. They claim:
- Many of the findings were flawed because the press only reported small sub groups of the large and extensive study. “For example, the central contention in the prior research that pledgers are more likely to engage in anal sex without vaginal sex relates to only 21 persons out of the total Add Health sample of 14,116.” Even Bearman and Bruckner would agree that this is just not good scientific study.
On a much more positive note, Rector and Johnson found these facts from within the study as they compared non–pledging adolescents with virginity pledgers:
Youth who make virginity pledges are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors as young adults
And less likely to engage in sex with or act as prostitutes
Dr. Richard Ross, one of the co-founders of the incredible True Loves Waits movement around the world, warns parents and youth leaders that we cannot become complacent in providing young people with Biblical information on their sexuality and warn them of the dangers of sexuality activity outside the bounds of marriage.