Saving sex for marriage is a herculean challenge these days. Our culture denigrates chastity and elevates sex to an idolatrous pedestal. To deny yourself sexual pleasure, we’re constantly told, shown and sold, is considered an unhealthy denial of your very self. Standing in opposition to that seductive lie is Scripture’s teaching that God has a beautiful, sacred and unifying purpose in mind for sex within the context of marriage, a way of thinking that’s increasingly countercultural.
As hard as it might be for “normal” folks to pursue a life of chastity, imagine how hard it must be for a celebrity brave enough to proclaim he’s a virgin and that he’s waiting until marriage to have sex. I’m talking about New York Jets quarterback and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow, of course, who said exactly that at a press conference in April. If his high profile status and forthright confession didn’t make him target enough, shortly after that press conference, the controversial online dating site Ashley Madison (which markets its services to married people who want to cheat) offered a $1 million bounty for any woman who could prove that she’d had sex with him.
Sordid and meanspirited though that offer may be, it prompted Sacramento youth pastor Cole Zick to take action. Specifically, Zick has founded a new grassroots organization called We Will Wait (www.wewillwait.org). Its purpose to encourage people to embrace God’s standard of sexual abstinence until marriage or to re-embrace that ideal if they’ve fallen short of it in the past.
Cole shared his heart for the new ministry in a YouTube video. And those visiting the site will find grace-filled exhortation when it comes to maintaining or regaining sexual purity as a single awaiting marriage.
“Many people make decisions in high school or college thinking that those decisions will be isolated from their adult lives and marriages. Then one day [they] find things falling apart because they were never able to conquer sexual habits that were created in the name of fun. The term, casual sex, has become a generational icon. Though we label it casual, too often our hearts and emotions know it’s anything but,” the site’s homepage says.
“Even with these cultural realities,” it continues, “there are still some that choose to wait until they are married to have sex. Even more that know the pain of losing something that they can’t get back and have made the choice to start today and wait. There are some who choose not to ‘drink the Kool-Aid’ and make a stand for themselves rather than bow to broken cultural beliefs. This is not a call to perfection but rather a focus on the value of an individual. For those who know the pain of these decisions we encourage you to address your pain. Today you can make a choice to heal. For those who have yet to and are still virgins we encourage you to wait until marriage.”
In a press release for the campaign, Zick added, “We believe that there is a large group of the young adult population that are choosing to make abstinence a lifestyle. Regardless of if they are virgins, have been sexually active, or are somewhere in the middle, many are choosing to wait starting today.”
After watching Zick’s introductory video and glancing over the group’s website, a couple of things stood out to me.
I appreciated his humility, especially since it was mingled with a realistic acknowledgement that many people out there haven’t chosen to wait, but perhaps now regretfully wish they would have. Zick is neither naïve nor Pollyannish when it comes to the reality that many singles struggle with sexual temptation and sometimes fall prey to it.
That said, his challenge to make a fresh recommitment to chastity — even if for those who’ve blown it — is absolutely in harmony with the messages of grace, forgiveness and second chances we find in Scripture.