True Love Waits....sort of.
When my sons entered their junior high and high school years, a popular church program entitled, “True Love Waits” encouraged sexual abstinence. It was a beautiful concept.
The program consisted of classes and then a ring ceremony where parents would buy a “True Love Waits” ring for their child. The youth group went through the ceremony considering themselves married to Christ as a way to promote abstinence. Moms and Dads tearfully placed the solid silver ring engraved with “True Love Waits” on the ring finger of their children. It was a great idea!
The problem was, like most teenagers, the kids were not coming 100% clean with their parents. To please their parents and in order to feel as though they belonged in their church, most kids committed to the idea. Most kids accepted the ring. Very few followed through with the commitment. The original program didn’t last. They’ve rewritten the material and now ask for a purity pledge prior to beginning the program. I’m sure that is going to make all the difference in the world. The program is naïve.
My sons didn’t go through the commitment process. I think they took some of the classes. I was judged and condemned for being “that mother.” I didn’t buy the ring. I didn’t watch my sons promise before God and the church that they would remain abstinent until marriage. I didn’t put a ring on their finger. Why?
Because I happened to have inside information as a youth worker that most of kids participating and following through with the ring ceremony were already sexually active. In fact, some were even pregnant or had impregnated.
This generations’ stand against fornication (the King James Version word for sex before marriage) seems to be to not allow their children to have the HPV vaccination. Many feel it gives the kids permission to have sex. I’m not sure I understand that opinion since none of us really asked for permission to behave as teenagers when we were their age. Guess what? Manipulation and control don’t work. Open communication does. Well, sort of.
Many churches have decided the answer is to scare the beejeezers out of Christian parents telling them all the possible side effects of the HPV vaccine in an effort to discourage promiscuity. Again, I’m not sure I understand the plan since we don’t educate parents about the negative side effects of cough and cold medicines, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Ritalin. Most churches are not educating parents on the effects of second-hand smoke in their homes. The majority of churches aren’t discussing the effects of fighting parents, adulterous affairs, and detached dads in the home. Those are more likely to cause distress to kids, but they have nothing to do with our desire to control our kids’ sexuality so those topics aren’t nearly as appealing in today’s church.
Am I saying the church needs to stay silent on teen sexuality? Absolutely not. I am saying that we might try to be honest with ourselves and our kids. We might try to explain to our kids we want them to remain sexually pure and why as opposed to thinking parental desire will determine a teenager’s decisions.
True love educates and communicates; it doesn’t manipulate or exaggerate to get its way.