True Love Waits, a Christian abstinence initiative, is promoting purity this month. As the movement marks its 19th year as a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, it's still working hard to make "saying no" sexy during the month of love.
February is traditionally a strong month for TLW because there is a natural tie-in with Valentine's Day, Bob Bunn, content editor with LifeWay's Student Ministry Publishing, told The Christian Post.
He said many youth in the church are already thinking about love and sex, so youth leaders see it as a good time to look at those issues from a biblical perspective. Plus, the culture is "certainly sharing its message" so it's important for the church to share its own, he said.
Lauren Winner, author of the book Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity, wrote that "chastity is one of the many Christian practices that are at odds with the dictates of our surrounding, secular culture. It strikes most secular folk as curious (at best), strange, backwards, repressed."
But Bunn told CP that regardless of cultural norms, it is the "responsibility of Christian adults to help this generation know what God says about purity and sex, and not to run away [from it]."
To do that, TLW is encouraging church leaders to engage its youth through a variety of ideas this month. Some of them involve presenting a series of lessons during Sunday School or youth group on God's plan for sexuality, or having the pastor deliver a sermon on biblical sexuality.
Bunn said that this month is also a good time to bring parents on board, to help them effectively talk to their teens about sex by giving them resources and a platform to do so.
Other churches are planning ceremonies, like a father-daughter or mother-son dinner, to help parents reinforce the message of purity.
Talking about sexuality with teens lets them know the proper role of sex in the Christian life, Bunn noted. TLW also helps engage the entire church community and gives teens support.
Glenn Stanton, a marriage expert for Focus on the Family, told CP in a previous interview that engaging the church to talk about sex more is vitally important. Some of the only messages the church gives regarding sex is "don't do it unless married, and if you are we've got sex manuals for you."
But the church should think about the larger narrative of human sexuality. "For us as Christians it's such a wonderful beautiful story that is not always explained," he said.
Agreeing, Bunn commented, "We don't want kids to be afraid of sex, God created it. But like so many other things in life there are appropriate times to display it, from a biblical perspective."
In the United States alone, approximately 3 million youth have signed True Love Waits commitment cards pledging sexual purity until their marital vows.
According to TLW, 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.