Sunday, December 8, 2013

True Love Waits is updating their purity campaign

I recently noticed this article about the True Love Waits campaign, which is 20 years old now. They say they have rewritten the entire program "to introduce a modern focus on the same message that has been encouraged onto millions of youth for the last two decades."

I am curious to know exactly what will be different about this campaign. It appears they are reacting to the criticism that has come about in the last year towards the purity movement, because the creator of the new program, Clayton King of Crossroads Worldwide, mentions the idolization of virginity:

"King also says the current project is unique in comparison to other abstinent-focused campaigns including the original 'True Love Waits' because his intention is not to "elevate virginity as the ultimate goal."
He says it will have a greater focus on grace and mercy for those who carry shame from abuse or past mistakes, and that it is more important to focus on being found faithful on judgment day than to be a virgin on your wedding day. My hesitance to be happy at that news derives from my assumption that not only would I disagree with what qualifies as a past "mistake," but more importantly I fear that the program's definition of "being faithful" includes "being a virgin at your wedding."

Maybe this program will focus less on the supposed negative consequences of premarital sex than they did when I was young, not shaming females into feeling dirty and worthless if they have been touched by a male. Maybe they will stop doling out the empty promises of having better married sex. Either of those things would be vast improvements.

But some of the language King uses makes me think it won't be different enough, particularly that he says he wants to draw attention to the "unchangeable word of God" and argues "If Jesus is your Lord, then you will gladly do what He says, trusting that because He loves you and He knows what's best for you." Both of those sayings are reminiscent to me of the type of Christianity I used to be a part of, where there was only one way to interpret scripture, and it would be used as a weapon against you to enforce conformity. Purity programs like this have already determined what they believe God wants from us regarding sex and marriage. Interpretation is not up for debate. They are there to convince young people to conform to their standards.

I never liked the name "True Love Waits," because it heavily implies that those who do not wait do not have true love. Now it is being called the "True Love Project," which I hope is an attempt to focus on God's love, rather than qualifying the worth of a couple's love. Mostly, though, I wish campaigns like this didn't exist, because it skews the relative importance of sex in a Christian's religious life. Why aren't there campaigns focusing on teaching young Christians to be charitable or to demonstrate love to all of God's creation? Perhaps those things wouldn't make them "set apart" from the world enough, since those values are already shared by most non-Christians.


  1. Concerning your question, "Why not have campaigns about ......(....) instead?" And you answer your own question by guessing "Maybe that wouldn't make them 'set apart' enough'

    Why be so cynical about it? First of all, why have a campaign about something which is already a part of the general culture? We don't see campaigns to encourage people to feed their dogs, for example, because everybody already knows they should feed their dog! Obviously, one only invests time and energy in a campaign because he wishes to CHANGE something.

    Second, churches do have campaigns for other things. They have campaigns to take youth to volunteer, to work in soup kitchens, to raise money for the poor, to recycle, etc, etc. How is it you missed all these things? Maybe your particular church got a little unbalanced in one direction, but that probably demonstrates the depth of anxiety that the adults in your community had about keeping their young people out of trouble.

    Again, you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    1. By the way, neither you nor I can ever know if the promises for "better sex" are empty promises or not, because neither of us waited. How can anybody make this comparison??

      For myself, as I am waiting to be married to the man I love, after having given my body away in previous relationships to men I did not marry, I can say I am convinced it was a mistake not to wait. Am I doomed to unhappiness and misery? No because true love is greater than mistakes. But is it a good thing that I am taking those past memories and experiences into my future marriage? I would never give that advice to someone who still had those choices in front of her. However, for those who already made that mistake, there has to be a way forward.

      I came to believe in Christianity in part because it was the ONLY cultural stream in my outside environment that actually told me there was a reason for why I felt so bad about having sex outside of marriage. I did not feel bad because Christianity or the purity movement made me feel guilty. I felt bad because of my own internal experience, and later I realized that there was only one stream of thought that said that it was normal for me to feel bad. So I thought maybe I should pay attention to it. Everyone else said I was supposed to be proud of myself or something!