True Love Waits
True Love Waits (or TLW) is a Christian-based group that operates on an international level to promote sexual absence in teenagers. Founded in 1993 by Lifeway Christian Resources, the program bases itself on the Biblical command that an individual is to remain faithful to one’s husband or wife, even before knowing who they will be or before marriage.
The True Love Waits program involves several weeks of education followed by a pledge of abstinence made to God. Since its inception, the program has educated over 2.4 million young people on the importance of sexual abstinence. Founders of TLW believe that their program is more effective than others because they believe the commitment to God carries more weight than a simple secular or “paper” commitment.
A study out of Yale and Columbia universities does not share the optimism of the True Love Waits founders. Of 12,000 teens, aged 12-18 years, who completed the TLW program, 88% had engaged in sexual intercourse before marriage within six years of completion. Teens who signed the abstinence pledge also married earlier than their counterparts and were less likely to use a condom. The rate of sexually-transmitted diseases was equal to those who didn’t participate in the program. More promising, however, were the findings that those teens completing the TLW program delayed their first sexual encounter by 18 months as compared to their peers and had fewer sexual partners.
In response to the study’s findings, True Love Waits has developed an ongoing program that supports teens for a longer period of time by challenging local churches, educational facilities and businesses to continue the efforts of TLW in promoting sexual abstinence until marriage on an ongoing basis.