April 14, 2004
Waits" Lowers Teen Birth Rate
by Michael J. McManus
Ten years ago Southern Baptist churches began asking their
teenagers to sign a "True Love Waits" pledge of chastity. This
was derided by groups like Planned Parenthood who argued that it
was unrealistic to expect teenagers to remain chaste till
Planned Parenthood's answer is comprehensive sex education which
assumed teens would be sexually active, and urged them to have
"safe sex" with condoms. It did not work. In 1970, only 29
percent of females aged 15-19 had premarital sex. By 1991, the
figure shot up to 54 percent. The greatest increase was among
the youngest teens. In 1970, less than 5 percent of 15-
year-olds had experienced sex. That soared five-fold to 26
percent by 1988.
The consequences have been devastating. There were only 59,000
births to unmarried teens in 1950 which skyrocketed ten-fold to
522,000 by 1990. And that is in spite of 364,000 abortions to
teenagers in 1990, which were virtually zero before 1970.
When teaching contraception increased teen pregnancy, sex
educators got birth control clinics opened nearby, then moved
into the schools, finally simply handed out condoms. All of this
with federal funding.
The emotional impact of premature sex has been devastating. Teen
rates of depression have soared and teen suicides quadrupled
from 2.7 per 100,000 in 1955 to 11.1 in 1995.
Amidst this moral chaos, Southern Baptists lit a candle of hope,
that teenagers might be persuaded to remain chaste.
Specifically, Baptist youth groups were urged to sign a "True
Love Waits" pledge card that states:
"Believing that (ital) true love waits, (close ital) I make a
commitment to God, myself, my family, those I date, my future
mate, and my future children to be sexually pure until the day I
enter a covenant marriage relationship."
In 1994 I remember seeing a sea of 211,643 pledge cards
displayed in neat rows of plastic holders over acres between the
Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol.
Ten years later, a total of 2.5 million teens have pledged "True
What has been the impact of this inspiring commitment of young
people to moral lives?
First, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the
percentage of sexually active high schoolers has fallen from 54
percent to 46 percent. And the greatest drop has been among
Second, teen birth rates have fallen 31 percent. Chastity is the
only real form of "safe sex."
Third, teen suicides have fallen 13.5 percent.
Fourth, True Love Waits launched an abstinence revolution,
moving Congress to appropriate funds for sex education programs
that not only make a case for chastity, but teach skills to
teenagers on how to resist the lines of the MTV culture:
"You would, if you loved me" can be countered, "If you loved me,
you would not ask."
Unquestionably, the declines in teen sexuality are partly due to
providing $144 million to promote abstinence. For example, there
is now an Abstinence Clearinghouse that provided many of the
statistics you are seeing in this column (abstinence.org)
Yet federal and state governments still spend $1.73 billion to
promote contraception. "Overall, government spent $12 to
promote condoms and comprehensive sex-ed for every dollar to
encourage abstinence," reports Robert Rector of the Heritage
These priorities are upside down, according to parents. A Zogby
poll found that 85 percent of parents said the emphasis placed
on abstinence for teens should be equal to, or greater than the
emphasis on contraception.
What can be done?
First, more parents need to attend School Board meetings to
demand that abstinence education replace comprehensive sex ed.
Second, citizens ought to swing behind the President's attempt
to nearly double federal funds for abstinence which are a part
of the welfare reform bill that died on the Senate floor two
weeks ago, thanks to Democratic opposition. This is the same
bill which provides the first major funding for marriage
education. The bill will surface again in June. Write Democratic
Or better, send teenage pledgers to meet their Senators!
Most important, religious youth group in other denominations
should go to truelovewaits.com to order pledge cards,
father-daughter rings and other material to promote God's plan
Southern Baptists are organizing an international display of
commitment cards on August 22 at the Olympics. Two hundred
thousand have already been collected in South Africa.
Will your teenagers or those from your church have their pledges
displayed in Athens?
2019: Column 1965: Protecting Girls from Suicide
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Ten Myths of Marriage
The Ministry of Marriage 911
The Message by Eugene Peterson
Green New Deal
Christian Persecution Rising Abroad
Gun Control Laws Needed
The Worst Valentine:
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Sextortion Kills Teens
Cohabitation: A Risky Business
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abortion and infanticide,