NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — February sometimes is called the “month of love,” with Valentine’s week especially being a time when people not only send cards and gifts to loved ones, but also when families and churches give special attention to the meaning of true love and the value of saving sex for marriage.
Many churches hold annual True Love Waits ceremonies for young people who make commitments to remain abstinent until their wedding day. The churches then provide encouragement and support to the youth in the months and years ahead. Tokens, such as a True Love Waits ring or necklace, offer a tangible reminder of the commitment and add to the power of the ceremony.
In the United States alone, approximately 3 million youth have signed True Love Waits commitment cards in various events and settings, pledging sexual purity until their marital vows. Another 1.1 million commitments have been documented in Africa, and hundreds of thousands of commitment cards from youth throughout the world have been displayed at several events, including the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“True Love Waits” transition from a sex-education concept sketched out on a napkin in 1992 to an international movement has been nothing short of remarkable,” TLW spokeswoman Dawn Cornelius said. “Throughout the world, scores of young people continue to take a counter-cultural stand and embrace biblical purity.”
True Love Waits originated with, and is a division of, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
As TLW’s call for sexual purity approaches its 20-year mark in 2013, LifeWay continues to provide themes and direction for churches and families to help students with their commitments, as well as new resources to assist parents as the spiritual leaders for their children.
For this year’s Valentine’s Day, True Love Waits has highlighted several ideas for churches and families, including:
— Plan a special True Love Waits study. This idea can take different forms. Some churches may want to use their Sunday School or small group time during February to share a series of lessons on God’s plan for sexuality. Other churches might hold a TLW-focused Disciple Now (DNOW) weekend. Whatever the form, the combination of fun events and meaningful study can have a significant impact.
But churches don’t have to focus on only the kids. February can be a time to bring parents together for a short study as well. “The Path of Purity: A Family Guide” includes a six-session leader guide online to facilitate discussion about purity in the family. For a shorter study, “Pure Parenting” gives parents some practical help for creating a culture of purity in their homes over the course of four weeks.
— Plan a special event. A ceremony makes a huge impression on a teenager. Planning a special event such as a father-daughter or mother-son dinner can help reinforce the message of purity and give parents some footholds for continuing the conversation later.
— Plan a sermon (or a series of sermons) on purity. Messages that come from the pulpit tend to carry a sense of importance and priority for a church’s life.
“The message of abstinence is too vital to ignore,” Cornelius said. “We encourage churches to take advantage of the opportunities February provides and build on those opportunities throughout the year.”
For more information and TLW resources, visit www.truelovewaits.com. To access the True Love Waits blog, go to http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/true_love_waits.
Don Beehler is a writer based in Franklin, Tenn.