Sex before marriage amongst youth is a topic that is often promoted in mainstream media so BREATHEcast took the time to chat with critically acclaimed author Clayton King about his newest 'True Love Project' to find out the true meaning of purity.
King and his wife Shari have released a 'True Love Project' book, and two devotionals, '40 Days of Purity for Girls' and '40 Days of Purity for Guys' to biblically define love, sex, and romance. The books explain why the Bible asks men and women to remain pure, and highlights the promises of hope and restoration in God for those who have not.
King said he was not involved in the original true love waits project that started in 1994, but decided to get involved eventually since he had already made a commitment to pursue sexual purity as a result of his faith in Christ.
"It's always been difficult for a Christian to fight against the tide going all the way back to the first century. Sometimes we think that we have it tough," King said, "we have it a lot easier than the Christians did under the Roman Empire, but it is tough."
King said that one thing he and his team maintain in this project is that "this is not a virginity program." He said his work is "written with a hope [that] people would understand purity in light of the gospel."
"Purity is a much bigger and broader topic then just pursuing virginity," he said, "You could pursue virginity and miss out on God and we don't want people to make that mistake."
With the 'True Love Project' King and his wife build on the foundation that was already established by the original true love waits project, but they present a holistic approach to purity as they look at what it means to follow Jesus.
"There's a greater emphasis on forgiveness, a greater emphasis on Grace," King explains.
King is very careful to not alienate anyone with the project, "You should strive to be a virgin, but if you're not a virgin that doesn't mean your life is over," he said.
"If you messed up sexually that doesn't mean that God can't bring someone wonderful into your life," the author assures, "You can still experience love and happiness and joy."
King said they want to help people understand how purity affects "every area of their life," primarily as a disciple of Jesus. In the books King provides tips found in scripture on how people can avoid sexual temptations.
"It's more difficult now with the Internet and smartphones and immediate access to all sorts of imagery," the father of two boys says, "It's harder now then it's ever been to resist temptation because temptations in your face 24 hours a day."
King and Shari have a phrase they use to help people struggling with temptation. "Hate it, starve it, and out smart it. Hate sin, don't feed into temptation, come up with a plan to out smart the temptation," he advises.
According to King, scientific research has proven that the healthiest way for a person to experience physical intimacy is in a committed relationship. The book also touches on the scientific aspect of purity.
"The desire for sexual intimacy will blossom in your life, it will come alive at some point," King admits, but maintains that "just because you have a desire doesn't mean it's the right time to or the right context to fulfill it."
"Sleeping around and caving into those urges carry lots of danger," he continued.
The author went on to say that all the research he's done shows that teenagers who become sexually active before marriage "have greater rates for suicidal tendencies, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, poor self esteem, and poor body image."
He goes on to say, "The reason why God says to wait until your married to have sex is because he designed your body, so of all people he knows the best way for you to use your body."
"Trust really is the biggest element of sexual intimacy," the respected author says, "We all know intuitively that the greatest way to prove to somebody that you trust them completely is to commit your life to them and that's the context in which sexuality should take place."
King said scientist and psychologist studies say similar things and that must mean marriage.
"I think that all of us are wired for intimacy and all of us at some point do desire sexual intimacy as well as emotional intimacy, but men and women are very different," King said, "I don't think it's necessarily harder for one gender, I think it's equally difficult possibly in different ways."
He also says parents should be open with their kids on the subject of sex. "In the research that we did, we found a really striking correlation between student who had regular on going conversations with their parents about sex," he notes. Stating that those kids were less likely to be involved with drugs, alcohol, gangs, they did better in school, and they postpone sexual activity a lot longer than students who never talked to their parents.
"We encourage parents to have this conversation with your kids, but in order to have this conversation you need to know where you stand, what you believe so that you can listen to them talk and share," he said, adding that parents "should not be telling their kids to go ahead and explore their sexuality."
He confessed that he and his wife have already talked to their kids and they are just nine and twelve years-old.
"Just because you mess up it doesn't mean you give up. God offers Grace and forgiveness for any sin you've ever committed"
Kings ends the interview with some advice for those who might feel peer pressure to give into sexual impurity. "The cool thing is to be a leader, the cool thing is to be an individual who really does make your own decisions," he declared, "You can be an example to other teenagers."
He even provided a statement that a younger person can say to someone who is struggling. "'For Me I've decided that sex is so powerful, so wonderful, and so important that I'm gonna wait until I know that I love somebody and I won't really know that I love somebody until I've committed my life to them in marriage'" he modeled.
He urges for people to invest for the long term instead of the short term. For more information on the 'True Love Project' visit the True Love Waits website.