An earlier set of findings from the project, released in 2001, concluded that teens who make abstinence pledges delay having sex a year and a half longer on average than those who do not pledge abstinence.

That study noted the delay effect is "substantial and almost impossible to erase." The pledge works, the study suggested, because it creates an "identity movement" or "moral community" that provides peer support for the teen.

That study also confirmed research that showed adults, especially parents, play a vital role in helping even older teens delay sexual activity. Delayed one-on-one dating and clearly expressed disapproval of premarital sex from adults greatly empowered teens to sustain their sexually purity pledges. Because True Love Waits campaigns typically are conducted in a church setting, teenagers are supported in their pledges by parents as well as a community of caring adults and peers.

Programs like True Love Waits, the study concludes, teach that human sexual relationships are mainly emotional and moral -- not merely physical -- in nature and that abstaining from premarital sex as a teenager is a critical step toward having a healthy, loving relationship in marriage as an adult.

Frequently asked questions about True Love Waits: http://www.lifeway.com/.

The Heritage Foundation (http://www.heritage.org) is a research institute that uses social science research to formulate and promote conservative public policies.

© 2004 Baptist Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.