FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–More than 77,000 teens around the nation made online commitments to remain sexually abstinent until marriage as part of “True Love Waits: Seize the Net Goes Live,” a nationally televised celebration of purity.
More than 1,000 youth gathered at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 13 and thousands more joined the event via satellite and a live broadcast on FamilyNet. Many responded to the invitation to sign commitments to purity by visiting the www.truelovewaits.com website.
The rally, hosted by brother-sister singing duo Phillip and Natalie LaRue, also featured music from Phat Chance and Joy Williams, all artists who have taken a stand for sexual purity.
Richard Ross, one of the founders of True Love Waits and a professor of youth ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, delivered a challenge to young people participating in the rally. He compared each youth to a rosebud, demonstrating that when a rosebud is forced to open before the proper time, it is torn.
“If you already have had sex before marriage, which are you?” he asked. “Are you my hands doing the tearing or are you the petals that have been torn? Actually, you’re both … in sex before marriage you are being torn but you’re also tearing another.”
Even so, there is forgiveness for those who already have made mistakes, Ross said. “God himself welcomes you with open arms.
“It was Jesus Christ, God himself, hanging on the cross, that made it possible for your sins to be forgiven, including your sexual sins.
“If you’ve experienced God’s forgiveness, you can make a promise of purity from this night until your wedding night,” he said. “The rosebud represents the person you are this evening. By God’s grace, this can blossom into something absolutely beautiful on your wedding day.”
Two recently married couples interviewed by Ross testified to the truth of his message. “It was amazing,” Joe, a new husband, said of his wedding day. “I could relate to Adam in some way when God presented Eve to him for the first time. I knew at that moment what God intended marriage to be.”
Ross also read a letter to the participants from President George W. Bush. “Your decision to remain sexually abstinent until marriage is the right choice,” Bush wrote. “… Your commitment to abstinence from now until you’re married demonstrates great strength, conviction and wisdom. I encourage you to actively live out the faith and principles that led you to sign the abstinence pledge.”
Jay Fannin, Wedgwood’s youth minister, welcomed attendees to the church. Referring to shootings that took place at the church in 1999 in which gunman Larry Ashbrook entered the church and killed seven people before killing himself, Fannin said, “That tragic event proved God’s Word true by making us more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.
“We can be more than conquerors in [purity] by following God’s plan to abstain from sex until marriage.”
Ross said the rally being held at Wedgwood was no accident.
“The [Wedgwood] auditorium is a symbol of students who stand courageously for their faith and who are not fearful of standing against the culture and for God,” he said.
The major purpose of an event of this magnitude is to remind youth who have made the True Love Waits commitment that they are not alone, Ross said.
“In most of the schools they go to, their impression would be that hardly anyone lives with abstinence,” he said. “So when they go to a rally with thousands or when they see hundreds of thousands of cards in a display, it helps them feel, ‘I’m not alone. Lots and lots of people share my values.'”
Events like this one can also have a big cultural impact, Ross said. “When you display thousands of cards or you bring together thousands of students, secular culture finds that interesting. And it helps get the story out about what the teenagers are doing relating to purity.”
The Feb. 13 event followed in the tradition of other major True Love Waits initiatives, which have included stacking commitment cards to the top of the Georgia Dome and spanning the Golden Gate Bridge with cards.
“It’s just another one of those milestones in the campaign to really help the young people sense how large and significant this movement has become around them,” Ross said. “That’s the whole point.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: REGISTERING ONLINE, TAKING A STAND, LEADING THE TROOPS, MAKING THE PLEDGE, STRENGTH IN NUMBERS, LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT and PHAT CHANCE.