February is designated as True Love Waits awareness month by the Southern Baptist Convention, but what does that mean for us as volunteers in student ministry, parents of students, or even as student ministers? It is not about another emphasis or promotion, but rather about living lives of personal holiness as we continually pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.
About twenty years ago a small group of students in the Nashville area committed themselves to Christ in the pursuit of purity. Little did they know that shortly thereafter there were going to be thousands of students joining them in what came to be knows as the movement of True Love Waits.
With the recent release of Authentic Love: Christ, Culture, and the Pursuit of Purity, our hope and prayer is for students to pursue personal holiness in every area of their lives as they fall more deeply in love with Jesus. Every day we are invited into a world where we can create, customize, and even change our identity. We are bombarded with mixed messages and become consumers in a culture that tells us we can have whatever we want whenever we want it. Authentic Love exposes culture’s distorted messages about purity and love and reveals how God has created us for a life of personal holiness. Students are challenged to reject the self-serving influences of culture and embrace what it means to pursue holiness and reflect the character of Christ.
There is a version of the Authentic Love Bible study for specifically designed for girls, as well as a study for guys available. D.A. Horton is the author of the guys’ Bible study and Amy-Jo Girardier authored the girls’ Bible study.
Here are a few excerpts from each study, beginning with the girls’ Bible study.
A Good Gift, excerpted from Session 4 of Authentic Love:
So, in light of Genesis 2:24-25, we can determine that our sexuality was designed to be connected to God. He created it and gifted it to husbands and wives.
Now the church understands scripturally that sexuality is connected to God. But as it has been communicated through the years, I feel like the message has missed the mark as far as truly knowing how to connect the gift of sex to God.
When I was a teenager, our churches seemed so worried that we’d find out that sex was good and that, within God boundaries, it is a gift, that they just skipped telling us that part and focused solely on the consequences. They would say, “Here’s what you need to know: Don’t do this.” And they started really harping on the boundaries that God has given us and the consequences of crossing them. They said one day we’d get married and we should just wait and figure it out then. And so the problem is, oftentimes we focus on a moral checklist.
We are disconnecting our sexuality from true love and how God designed it. God’s love is one that is giving and sacrificial. Taking is the opposite of giving and is a love that’s rooted in self and selfishness. A love without God is destructive because it only serves to meet self’s needs. It is not true love.
When we understand what true love is and who true love is, then it makes sense when we read passages like 1 Corinthians 13. There is no way that we could be the kind of people that love this way unless we have Christ residing in us and transforming us with His love. God is true love.
An excerpt from Session 4 of the Authentic Love guys’ study by D.A. Horton:
Understanding how Christ’s love was demonstrated through action should carry over to the way that we treat young ladies. We should see them as our sisters in Christ. When it comes to the way we engage with girls, we have to remember 1 John 3:16 which says, “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.” Remember, Jesus showed His love for us by dying for us. John reminds us that we should be willing to do the same for other believers. We can apply this to relationships and friendships with girls by respecting, honoring, and serving them rather than using them.
God’s love does not lead us into manipulating girls into relationships, acting on our lustful impulses for sexual gratification, or even being overly flirtatious and trying to get as many girls to like us as possible. God’s love sets the boundaries for our friendships with girls to the point that we should seek to protect them like sisters, not just from nonbelievers, but often even our own selves.
To put it plainly, “laying down your life” in the context of your relationships with girls might mean refusing to date or even flirt with them, knowing that doing so would not point them to Christ.
For more information on Authentic Love and Lifeway’s other True Love Waits studies, see truelovewaits.com.