Tuesday, November 15, 2011

True Love Waits – A Religious Sidetrack


2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
                                                                                                                         – Gen. 3:2-3

Scripture teaches that a marriage is to be between one man and one woman – unless death occurs or unless there are biblical grounds for divorce.  This of course implies that we are to remain sexually pure until we meet the person that is to be our mate.  True Love Waits is a Bible-based abstinence program promoting sexual purity and sex education in general; but there is a problem with their logic.

In studying Eve’s reply to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Eve at one point added to God’s Word.  God told them that they couldn’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but he never said they couldn't touch it – that’s something Eve added.  Of course this makes sense, though.  If you don’t touch it, then by default you won’t run the risk of eating it!  But this was Eve’s idea and not God’s.  God could have had a purpose for them touching it without eating it, but at this point we’ll never know.

But this is what religion often does: it adds to the Word of God, and it often does for what could be deemed noble purposes; but the end result is often disastrous.

For example, True Love Waits encourages teens and college students to sign “covenant cards” whereby they are pledging to remain abstinent until marriage.  Of course anyone in the group who doesn’t sign up will be frowned upon and rumors are sure to follow.  They can purchase “promise rings” and other paraphernalia showing everyone how spiritual – I mean committed – they are.

But what happens if someone fails?

Not only have they sinned against God through sexual impurity, they’ve also broken the “covenant card,” so now they are or can be “doubly ashamed.”  If they’ve been wearing the “promise ring,” then in good conscience they no longer can; and if their friends see them without it, then they’re liable for questioning; so either they’ll fold and live a lie or tell the truth and endure the added shame.  Perhaps even slide deeper into rebellion. 

But what if someone remains pure until marriage, just as “promised”?

The problem with this is the tendency to fall into self-righteousness and foster “I’m a better person than you” attitude: reminds me of the self-righteous Pharisee (Lu. 18:9-14).    

But we don’t, or shouldn’t, need signed cards or purchased items to show how spiritual we are.  If someone wants to do something special, let it be a private matter that only means something to them: let it be done something as a result of their personal relationship with God that means something only between them and God.   

True Love Waits at least partially depends upon positive peer pressure to reach its stated goal.  But peer pressure – positive or negative – is an outside force working toward the inside when what God wants is a change on the inside that then, and only then, manifests itself outwardly.  Does positive peer pressure have any value?  Yes, we all need to be challenged by those around us; but ultimately, it is very limited.  It is and always has been a matter of the heart. 

Mt. 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Furthermore, Scripture teaches we shouldn’t be making promises, oaths, or vows because one day we’ll be held accountable for them.  The Bible teaches that it’s better not to make them than to make them and not keep them, but this is exactly what the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and its many partners are asking teens and college students to do. 

Mt. 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:  34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
So as well-intentioned and as good as their information may be, because of the method they’re employing, the Southern Baptist Convention has it wrong.  Eve added to God’s Word for noble purposes and it only led to added grief.  We should be mindful of her experience.  Selah.