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This article is about a Christian group. For other uses, see True Love Waits (disambiguation).

True Love Waits (TLW) is an international Christian group that promotes sexual abstinence outside of marriage for teenagers and college students. TLW was created in April, 1993 by the Southern Baptists,[1] and is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. It is based on conservative Christian views of human sexuality that require one to be faithful to one's husband or wife, even before marriage.


The True Love Waits pledge states: "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship." In addition, they promote sexual purity, which encompasses not only abstaining from intercourse before marriage, but also abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.

By the late 1990s, Christian music groups were promoting the program, and events similar to youth rallies were held at Christian music concerts,[2]providing an opportunity for adolescents to sign pledge cards.


In the first year of the campaign, over 102,000 young people signed the pledge, which was also taken up by other church groups including the Roman Catholic Church and Assemblies of God. The campaign has continued to spread across the US, making use of occasions such as Valentine's Day to gain attention.[3]

As of 2004, groups supporting abstinence numbered in the hundreds. During the previous decade, approximately 2.5 million American youth took the pledge of abstinence.[4]


The efficacy of the program has been questioned based on a 2003 study showing that 6 out of 10 college students who had taken the pledge had broken it, and of the 40% who identified themselves as abstaining from intercourse, 55% acknowledged having participated in oral sex.[5] In the 2011 book Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns, Christine Gardner criticizes True Love Waits[6] for "using sex to sell abstinence" by promising more satisfying sexual activity within marriage for those who abstain from premarital sex; she argues that this rhetoric reinforces selfish desires for gratification, sets people up for divorce and dissatisfaction with marriage, and simply adapts "secular forms for religious ends".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Guilty Pleasures: Religion and Sex Among American University Students, Huffington Post, July 20, 2010
  2. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (5 July 1997). "Crosse walks many miles to support new reunion set". Billboard 109 (27): 9–12. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  3. ^ True Love Waits achieves Valentine's Day presence, The Washington Times, February 15, 1997
  4. ^ "How effective are abstinence pledges?". BBC News. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Boles, Janet K. and Diane Long Hoeveler (2004). Historical Dictionary of Feminism. Scarecrow Press. p. 362. ISBN 9780810849464. 
  6. ^ Hennie Weiss (March 27, 2012). "Review - Making Chastity Sexy". Metapsychology Online Reviews 16 (13). Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ Sarah Pulliam Bailey (November 18, 2011). "The Rhetoric of Chastity: Making Abstinence Sexy". Christianity Today. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]

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35 news items

Medical Daily

Medical Daily
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

Support groups and open discussions about sex were key to helping men maintain virginity pledges during the pre-marital years, yet these men faced trouble once married. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock. Virginity pledges, where teens vow to forego sex ...
Press of Atlantic City
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:41:15 -0700

The Atlantic City-based Princess, Inc. organization is getting ready to start its annual True Love Waits purity series for teenage girls, and yes, sex is the main topic. Subscription Required. An online service is needed to view this article in its ...
PR Web (press release)
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 01:26:15 -0700

Author Joanna Chestnut tells her own story of how her views evolved in her intriguing book "True Love Waits: How a Hippie Peace Freak Became a Social Conservative". The wisdom gained by the author promotes saving sex for marriage, and after ...

Standard Newswire (press release)

Standard Newswire (press release)
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 11:11:15 -0700

NASHVILLE, Aug. 12, 2014 /Standard Newswire/ -- Two decades ago, a nationwide phenomenon swept the country. Hundreds of thousands of young people took a stand for abstinence due to their Christian faith during the familiar True Love Waits movement.
RH Reality Check
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:37:49 -0700

Virginity pledges began to gain attention in the early 1990s with True Love Waits, a project of the Southern Baptist Convention, and became even more widely recognized when Silver Ring Thing began staging splashy events from which young people would ...
New York Times (blog)
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:43:04 -0700

Telling a 15-year-old guy that “true love waits” can work in a culture that values chastity, that has clear scripts for dating and courtship that are widely shared and understood, that doesn't treat twentysomething virginity as a pitiable affliction or ...
Associated Baptist Press
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:30:00 -0700

True love waits, but don't expect it to wait forever, a Southern Baptist pastor and policy expert advised in a recent newspaper story arguing that couples should consider marrying at a younger age. By Bob Allen. A Southern Baptist pastor and an expert ...

New Statesman

New Statesman
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 07:48:45 -0700

Studies have found that teens pledging abstinence through large-scale national programs like True Love Waits and Silver Ring Thing are no more likely than their peers to remain virgins until marriage, but small peer groups may be more successful. “In ...

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