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Teens Are Saying Give Chastity a Chance : Lifestyle: The sexual revolution may be doing an about-face among thousands of youths who have signed a pledge in churches across the country to forgo sex until they are married.

September 24, 1993|DAVID BRIGGS | ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

No sex, please, we're teen-agers.

In a rebellion some church leaders hope heralds a new sexual revolution, tens of thousands of young men and women across the country have signed covenants vowing to remain chaste until marriage.

By July, organizers of the "True Love Waits" campaign hope half-a-million teens will have signed on, filling out enough pledge cards to stretch from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.

Adam Allen, 15, of First Baptist Church in Houston, said the campaign offers an opportunity for public redemption to teens portrayed in the media and by some government officials as having out-of-control libidos.

"Kids are taught that they're just animals and they're going to have sex--just use a condom," Allen said. "I'm willing to stand by God."

The campaign began in April as part of a Southern Baptist Convention sex education program. Youths were asked to enter into a pact with God before their parents, then in a more public setting at church "to be sexually pure until the day I enter a covenant marriage relationship."

It quickly spread to other denominations and organizations, such as the Assemblies of God and Pentecostal Church of God, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campus Crusade for Christ. At the July 29 closing celebration in Washington, D.C., organizers want to be able to display 500,000 pledge cards.

The first group of 59 covenants was signed at Tulip Grove Baptist Church in Nashville.

Within two months, 329 secondary school students in Houston took the pledge at First Baptist Church. At Brentwood Baptist Church, the adults predicted, "Our kids will never go for that," but in July nearly 100 teens made vows, the Rev. Thomas Walker said. The next week, at a youth rally with five other churches, 194 more kids took the pledge.

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At a summer camp in Oklahoma, more than 13,500 teens embraced the program. One, Traci Bixler, said she does not have a boyfriend, but already has written a sealed letter to her future husband telling him she loves him enough to wait.

"I am very excited about the prospect of God having someone for me," said Bixler, a Oklahoma State University freshman.

Teens say the campaign is partly a protest against being portrayed in television, movies and music videos as sex-obsessed, and against the distrust of an adult society where even the surgeon general advises girls to take condoms on dates.

"I think it's about time Christians who don't believe it stand up and say we can control ourselves," said Jenny Bellow, 17, who wears a pinky ring given to her by First Baptist Church in Houston announcing her commitment to chastity.

Just as the "free-love" disciples of a generation ago helped change the nation's sexual mores, teens embracing the new chastity are asking adults to give virginity a chance.

In a youth culture that has always prized being different, chastity is regarded as "awesome," some teens say. "It gives you a good reputation," says Jennifer Sleep, 16, of Houston.

Rick Bedient, 18, said he used to be one of the guys who would come into school on Monday morning and brag about his sexual exploits. His views changed when he became a Christian two years ago, and now he is happy to take the pledge.

"Sex is something God made to say, 'I love you,' " he said. "If you have sex with everybody, you can't say I've saved this one thing to say, 'I love you.' "

Purity Pledge

Text of the chastity pledge taken by teens participating in the "True Love Waits" campaign:

"Believing that true love waits, 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."

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