Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Lies We Tell

Sometimes for the sake of someone's good, we tell a half-truth. Right?
But often this half-truth, which some might even consider a lie, can do more damage in the long run.

I'm seeing that now with single women my age who grew up in the church.
When I was 15, I made a promise before God, my parents, and my youth group leaders that I would remain a virgin till I got married. It was all the rage back then.
Thousands of young men and women stood in front of their churches and made these promises. Some of us had the rings (I did!) and some of us went even so far as to have the "True Love Waits" bible (I didn't). But I can say this. It sure was popular and it was definitely pushed among American youth groups.
This post isn't going to bash the movement, but to show its weaknesses. I'm glad I made that promise. I wore my purity ring for a solid 10 years before I retired it. Not that I broke the promise, but that I realized that the ring really didn't serve me anymore. I wasn't going to look at it while I was in the middle of making out with a guy and think, "Oh right, I made that promise!" I realized that whatever I did with my sexuality had to be based on something deeper than a "promise" I made when I was 15. I needed to know the WHY behind it.

You see, the "True Love Waits" program tells teens to make this promise to wait till marriage based on a few ideas. Here are just a few...
1.) Don't have sex because God says so.
2.) God has someone out there for you, "the one", and you can love that person now by keeping yourself pure.
3.) Sex will be so much more fulfilling if you wait till you're married.
4.) Sex outside of marriage is full of pain, STDs, and heartbreak.

There are plenty more suppositions that go into the TLW campaign. And some of them are true. But some of them set up a false hope in young people.
The term "save yourself" for your future spouse is in and of itself misleading. First of all, who says you will get married? God never promises marriage to His people.
But He does call us to belong to Him. That every part of our lives belong to Him.
What I have seen among my friends is heartbreaking. We were TOLD that God has someone for us, and if we just save ourselves for that man, we will have great sex once we're married. But we hit 28, 29, even 30 years old, and we don't see any hope of getting married anytime soon. And most, if not all, have this moment of thinking, what in the world am I "saving" myself for?
There is this feeling of disappointment. Like God failed me. He was supposed to bring that guy to me! I was supposed to get married so I could stop "waiting".

There has to be a better way to do youth group sex talks.
We shouldn't bribe christian youth to keep their virginity with promises that we can't fulfill (like a spouse or a great sex life after marriage). And honestly, I think we would do well to focus on the heart of the youth and not so much on their private parts. I know, it's super important that we talk about sexual purity with them, but Jesus MUST be the motive for any good deeds. What if we spent our energies preaching the Gospel to our youth, showing them the mighty, wonderful, and awesome God that loves them and has called them to belong to Him. What if we talked more about how our identity is hidden in Christ and how nothing can take that away from us.
I wonder if our teens are smart enough to handle these things. I wonder if they can handle those great truths. And I wonder if these great truths would then turn into fruit in these young men and women's lives. Fruit of the gospel rooted in them. Fruit, like sexual purity.

(Quick note: I want to thank every youth leader, teacher, and any other adult that affected me as a young teen. Although I was brought up in the TLW culture, I know your hearts were totally in the right place- desiring God's best for me. And all of you taught me to seek God first in everything. You did well. And this blog post commentary is not at all meant to be a criticism of you, but a look at the bigger picture of what we are teaching teens and how it might not be the best way.)


Diana said...

I still have my "True Love Waits" bible. Never had a ring though. I had a real engagement ring at one point in high school, but realizing that was way too young to be thinking about marriage broke off the relationship. 31 and still single, but feeling great about it. Miss ya girl.


leah said...

This is really well written, Becka. Love it.