"Even so, I cannot possibly agree with the voices calling for us to put a condom in the billfold or purse of every pledger," he said. "That flies in the face of all we know about adolescent developmental psychology.... Handing a condom to a pledger simply says, 'We adults know you can't do this and we know you are destined to live like a barnyard animal. So, when you do break the promise you are making today, maybe this latex will help your odds a little.' At the end of the day, such a plan will lead to more sex with more partners and more devastating consequences than calling youth to live consistent with their highest ideals."

Jimmy Hester, a spokesman for True Love Waits, told The New York Times there is more to the True Love Waits pledge than signing a card.

"Signing a pledge card does not mean you are magically protected," he said. Since 1993, about 2.4 million young people have signed TLW commitment cards, which state, "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."

"True Love Waits is more effective than most abstinence programs that use the signing of commitment cards because it adds an element they lack -- a commitment to God," Hester added in a statement provided to Baptist Press. "True Love Waits would support any program that promotes abstinence, but [it] also would question the power of these types of pledges to shape long-term decisions."

This fall, True Love Waits will launch a new phase of work to challenge communities to provide a consistent message to students on remaining abstinent until marriage, Hester said. Titled "True Love Waits Takes the Town," the new emphasis challenges local health organizations, businesses, educational institutions, government and churches to form a coalition that provides abstinence education and support throughout the year.

"The teaching and challenge to abstinence is not a one-time event," Hester said. "Just like maintaining other appropriate behaviors, it has to be a continuous thing."

Hester also reminded, "The Centers for Disease Control ... said in a report to Congress in January 2004: 'The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually diseases ... is to refrain from genital contact."

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