I read an article on the Christianity today website which says, "A new study on "virginity pledges" suggests that they are ineffective and perhaps dangerous." (See here)

I think the idea of virginity pledges is really an American phenomena. I've not heard of any youth ministries here in Australia sitting round and having some sort of service or event where all the youth promise that they won't have sex until they are married (not that this means someone hasn't done it here in Australia).

The main problem I see with these is that they seem to make virginity before marriage God. That is, it's not living a life transformed by the Holy Spirit that is focused on, but it's simply not having sex before marriage. So much attention is put on this issue that it can make people think that it's not their faith in Jesus that saves them, but it's their ability to stay true to their pledge not to have sex before marriage. Even if this is not what these kind of group virginity pledges set out to do, I think that this message could come across to a young girl.

The other question that comes to mind is if you are going to make such a bold declaration that you will not sin in one particular way, if making a pledge to not do it was effective, why would you not think of every possible sin there was and run a "I pledge not to do this service" for all those sins as well. For example, would a youth group who runs a virginity pledge service also run a anti-consumerism pledge service where kids promise only to buy 19 inch LCD tv's not 60 inch ones? Or an anti-lying service where kids promise to never lie again. As soon as you make sin your focus and not God, then all the devil has to do is wisper in your ear when you fail, "you know that means you're not a real Christian, you've broken your pledge". That leaves people with guilt and an inability to confess sin, seek help and grow in Godliness. It is also more likely to leave people feeling sad that they let their fellow pledges down, or that they can't keep a promise rather than lead them to repentance because they have offended a great and Holy God.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think we need to address and deal with issues of sin in a public forum. That is we should have times where we talk about sex and porn and consumerisim and lying. But it needs to be done in a way where the focus is on God and his ability to transform, not on sin and our will-power to resist!

--- As a side issue, the idea that virginity pledges don't work therefore we should just give teens condoms and sex education is interesting. It's the same idea that people have when they say, people will always smoke dope so lets make it legal so we can make it safer, or people will always go to prostitutes so lets make it legal, and therefore there will be a safe regulated way for that to happen. This is the idea of harm minimisation and a liberal democracy where government should not interfere with peoples' individual liberties (as long as exercising them doesn't involve hurting someone). My liberal Bachelor of Arts with policy and sociology majors is very attracted to this, but as I put this through a Christian lense I see many inadequaces with such an approach. But that is for another post at a later day!