The "True Love Waits" extravaganza, put on by Campus Life and supported by many of our youth ministries, involved three to four bands, college comedy teams, pizza, pastries and powerful presentations about the value of young people abstaining from sex until they are married. It began at 8 p.m. and ended at 6 the following morning as more than 600 teens stumbled out of the building, squinting from the light of sonrise.
I wrote "sonrise" because many came to know Jesus for the first time in their lives. Many more, hundreds I suspect, made the commitment to save themselves sexually, for their future wife or husband.
I worked for four years as a perinatal (pregnancy) social worker back in the 1980s. For the last 15 years, I have done family life education at
my school for seventh- through ninth-graders. I also teach health in a university setting.
I have tried to continue my own education in this matter because the stakes for youth are high. I know from my professional experiences, but also from my personal ones.
I was a teen parent. The pain I went through, I do not wish on others, so I am willing to encourage others to pursue a different path than mine.
Take note, parents of teens: If your child missed this conference, send him or her to the one next year! The conference was a great success. Hundreds of teen brought together; no drugs; no violence; but an incredible amount of love.
Mr. Reader you are thinking: "SHOW ME THE MONEY … JIMMY … SHOW ME THE MONEY!!" I'll get to it.
So how was all this money saved. Well, I know it was saved cuz science says so!
Let me explain. We all know how sex outside of marriage can lead to sexually transmitted disease as well as teen pregnancy. We also know that teens often have unhealthy babies, since they go late for prenatal care or not at all. Teens who don't have sex before marriage don't get sick and don't have sick babies. Three or four months in a neonatal unit is big bucks, and if you don't believe me, call Children's Hospital.
Now there are some savings, but that's not even the money I want to show you. Some of the most recent research shows there is a relationship between premarital sex and marriages that don't last. Sex is not good for premarital relationships (three of four teen marriages end in divorce), but it doesn't work well for adult relationships either.
Hundreds of the teens made decisions to save themselves for marriage, and if they follow through, they will help save their own marriage. Sociologists for the last three decades have reams of data to show that broken homes (domiciles with divorce), lead to pain, delinquency, substance abuse and other anti-social behaviors.
Decrease divorce and the long term result is we keep people out of prisons. Ask any
friend of yours who is a correctional officer about the home history of inmates: broken homes, broken hearts, substance abuse, and then breakin' into homes or breakin' bones of other people.
The cost of one inmate runs about $30,000 a year. Three strikes and you're out is a long time, times 30 Gs a year, which is a lot of money. Do the math! It's millions!
The kids who went had a great time. Last year's conference at a local church had about 300 kids. Wouldn't it be great if next year there were over 1,000 kids coming together: no drugs, no violence … just lots of love?
Next year get a great Valentine gift for your teen. Show them you love them, by teaching them about love. Send them to the True Love Waits Conference. The teens I've talked to, CAN WAIT ‘til marriage, but they CAN'T WAIT ‘til next year's conference!
>> JIM SHINN is an El Centro resident who is a counselor at De Anza Junior High in Calexico.