Believing that true love waits, hundreds of thousands of young people around the country have committed themselves to sexual purity until marriage.
While abstinence is not a new concept, this movement is new… and refreshingly different.
Rather than the fear-based approach of "don't have sex or else", or the stale "protect your health – use a condom" lines, this movement is founded on freedom and respect.
Just ask teens – they'll tell you.
During her interview with the Washington Post, student Yaminah Jackson said that "boys have more respect" for virgins.
Darius McCrary, who plays Eddie on "Family Matters," says that he is saving himself for his future wife because he believes that it's all about respect – respect for himself and the person he will one day marry.
And when asked why she took the "True Love Waits" pledge, Michelle Donachy told USA Today that she's choosing "to give up a moment's thrill for an eternity of rewards."
And research confirms that she is likely to reap many rewards, including:
Greater Sexual Satisfaction. A recent Family Research Council study found that the people most satisfied with their current sex life are married people who "strongly" believe sex outside of marriage is wrong. A Redbook magazine study during the mid-1970's, the 1993 Janus Report of Sexual Behavior, and a 1992 random-sample survey of Christianity Today readers, all concur.
According to research summary by David Larson of the National Institute of Health Care Research, sexual responsiveness is significantly affected by the relational context in which lovemaking takes place. Part of the reason why monogamous married couples have an easier time achieving greater intimacy is because they enjoy greater sexual freedom: freedom from fears of comparison, rejections, abandonment, and disease, among others.
An Enduring Marriage. A 1986 study published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family found that individuals who engage in sex before marriage are more likely to commit adultery and more likely to divorce that those who do not.
Similarly, a 1992 study by two sociologists at Bowling Green University found that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than other couples.
No Regrets. A 1994 survey release by the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) found that of the teens who have had sex, more than half wish they had delayed sexual activity. Indeed, many of those who are committing themselves to sexual purity are teens who have learned the hard way that sex without a lifelong commitment is empty.
The SIECUS study also found that teen sexual activity is declining – 36 percent of high schoolers report having had intercourse compared to 54 percent of the same age group in a 1990 study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Billboards in Baltimore boldly read:
"VIRGIN… Teach your kids it's not a dirty word." The mere existence of the billboard's message is a positive sign. But to really reflect the current trend perhaps the message should read:
Kids are teaching the nation it's not a dirty word."
Even the secular media took note:
The front page of the June 19 New York Times Style section splashed the headline, "Proud to be a virgin: Nowadays, you can be respected even if you don't do it."
The Washington Post on Nov.21, 1993, reported that virginity is a new counte
ong America's teens. Teen-agers are forming virgin clubs in high schools all across the country, and these "vocal virgins" are saying they are proud to be pure.
The March 1994 Mademoiselle featured an article entitled "The New Chastity," which stated that "saying o to sex might turn out to be the latest stage in the sexual revolution."
An article in the March 22 USA Today described how fans of TV's "Beverly Hills 90210" are delighted with the character Donna's preservation of her virginity. Moreover, in stark contrast from Doogie Howser's much-hyped loss of virginity a few years ago, characters are now being celebrated for their virginity. On Jan. 12, all three teen-age lead characters on "Family Matters" (Steve, Laura, and Eddie" disclosed that they are virgins.) Cody, the most popular character on "Step by Step," also refused to have sex before marriage.