I hadn’t been at Edgewood long, maybe less than a year, when the promotion material for the first “True Love Waits” Campaign came across my desk. I knew almost immediately that it was something we needed to do. I had no idea that my first major emphasis while at Edgewood would be talking so openly to students about God plan for sex and to embrace the True Love Waits pledge: “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship.”
In the midst of planning, our pastor at the time, Dr Mike Watts, got on board with this and we decided to make this a church-wide initiative, calling the adults in our church to the same standards and commitments that we were going to ask our students to make. Our thinking was, if we are going to ask this of our students shouldn’t we ask the same thing of the adults in their lives.
So I quickly went to talking to students about sex, which was at best uncomfortable, to talking to the entire church, doubly uncomfortable. I’ll never forget the Sunday morning we launched the campaign, and as we taught during the youth Sunday School hour the principles found in True Love Waits I got a myriad of questions from students about sex. Mild questions about petting and touching to questions about oral sex and other things I was embarrassed to think about much less address to a room full of students. We survived, mostly unscathed and 6 weeks later several of our students took the pledge, signed the commitment cards and stood in front of their church family publicly affirming their pledge to purity. Brother Mike then called on the adults in our congregation to the same pledge, single adults to be celibate and married adults to be faithful to the spouse.
It has been almost 20 years since that first campaign and those students are now in the 30’s with families of their own, but I am reminded of these events about this time every year as churches all across America call students to a True Love Waits type commitment during the valentine’s season.
I was encouraged last week as I got the Edgewood Evangel, the monthly newsletter from Edgewood Baptist in Hopkinsville. They and countless churches like them still see the importance of talking to students about true love. Brad Hall, the Associate Pastor their made this comment in his front page article: “Teenagers in our church need to be taught about true love. We need to talk to them about what they see and what they hear every day- helping them sort through the messages of the culture to embrace the truth of what love really is. It may be hard to talk to a teen about an area we feel like such failures in, but the pain of our past mistakes can become wisdom from God for giving spiritual guidance”. Well said Brad, well said.
Talking with our teenagers isn’t the easiest thing to do. But we cannot just talk about the easy stuff. Our students need to know that we as adults aren’t afraid of the hard questions and can have open and honest conversations about real life issues.
But this culture of students also needs to know that we “practice what we preach”. Hall concluded in his article by saying, “And finally we need to stress the value of long-term commitment in our adults. In a culture heavy on emotion and light on commitment, we need to be constantly reminded that falling in love is one thing; staying in love is another. Life long love is a decision. For Christians, this decision is tied to a covenant made with God and a commandment to love each other and deny ourselves.” Our students, maybe more now than ever need to see this type of commitment from the adults in our churches.