"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

It's Incredibly Easy to Focus on the Sins of Others

I will periodically read comments from Baptist Life, an on-line forum of Baptists from all over the world. In a discussion over a True Love Waits rally in Atlanta and the pressure put on kids by pastors to sign committment cards, the following comment - laced with irony - made me laugh out loud.

BDiddy wrote:

Even in my small youth group, there were at least two or three couples who everyone knew was getting busy but they were pressured into signing that card anyway...

Speaking of obesity and TLW. Back in middle school they had an event at the Georgia Dome where they stacked the signed TLW cards to the ceiling. It was a big event with all the popular Christian bands like dc talk, Newsboys, and Michael W. Smith performing. At the time, I was attending a small country church with a couple of friends. Well the plump preacher and the plump youth minister felt the need to stop and eat at the Cracker Barrel just south of Atlanta before making it to the Dome. We didn't have time to stop at all but their big bellies crowded their judgment. We stopped. And we missed the ENTIRE TLW event. We arrived just in time to hear Michael W Smith sing the concluding song. So essentially, 25 youth who had signed TLW cards and did the whole abstinence program on Sunday nights for a month or so drove three hours in a church bus to Atlanta to eat at Cracker Barrel....

By the way, just to show my consistency and to not offend anyone unintentionally, I affirm the right for any pastor to be fat and for any student not to make a vow in writing. Both are not signs of a lack of spirituality. Gluttony and immorality are - but it is incredibly easy to focus on the sins of others to the neglect of seeking God's grace to overcome our own.




M. Steve Heartsill said...

Now you've done it! You've gone to meddling...as my dad would say. You've gone to talking about preachers and gluttony. What's next on your list, music ministers and their toupees?

irreverend fox said...


the way I think about it...I'd rather be fat than ugly anyway...cause if you are fat you can always lose weight...

thanks for the great story! I laughed out loud as well!

Bob Cleveland said...

Form without function. Heat without light.

Church without ..... ?

othoniel a valdes sr said...

I know the person that began the True Loves Wait for SBC and I attended a TLW rally at The Ga dome many years ago and I have known many youth ministers & pastors that have promoted this strategy & program and not one of them has ever put pressure on the kids. I think you have done a dissevice by using this story to make your point

Anonymous said...

Otto disagrees with Wade?


Wade - I can only wonder how it must feel to have someone that is disgusted with everything you do, say, or think...and yet he seemingly can't wait to read your blog and comment everyday.

Weird, it seems.

Wade Burleson said...

The Othoniels of this world make life interesting. I am grateful for him, his ministry, and pray he continues to read my blog.

Jack Maddox said...


Well if them there kids are eat'an at the Crackle Barrel, then they ain't out a fornicat'en!

On a serious note...it has been my experience that the TLW approach is not nearly as effective as we have liked to thump our chests about in the past. Sexual purity can only come as a result of regeneration, and even then, unfortunately we often miss the mark.


tbd said...

"not one of them has ever put pressure on the kids."

Othoniel, to make a statement like that, I figure you must be: omniscient or omnipresent (or perhaps both)...which is it?

I liken TLW to Judgment Houses - very emotional and very little else.

I was at a community youth rally a few years ago and as the speaker prayed his "come up front" prayer, he said (no lie) "God forgive all these that don't have the GUTS to come up here tonight." It was probably the only time in my life I looked up in the middle of a prayer to make sure I had not fallen asleep and dreamed such absurdity!

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Dear Anonymous
At least you know my name.I am glad that I don't have to hide .

Gary said...


You must be iced in, eh? ;->

Busy, busy poster last 24 hours.


othoniel a valdes sr said...

I am glad that you have ascrived super- powers to me but I don't need them.

Anonymous said...

As predicted the Mo Bapt Conv Exec Brd passed a motion to receive the Theological Study Committee Report and use it "as policy" in who they will and will not do ministry with. They also voted to not affiliate/do ministry/or church plants with ACTS29.
The lines continue to be drawn in Missouri. Show-Me you're a Christian and Show-Me you're a Southern Baptist!

Melanie W said...

My father - a third-generation Oklahoma farmer who isn't easily impressed by preachers with lots of education or "fancy preaching" - has always said that if pastors spent less time telling people about their sins and more time telling them about the grace and changing power of Jesus Christ then the world would be a lot better. We all know that condemnation from the preacher or signing a pledge card isn't going to change anyone's behavior.

I am 24 and grew up in SBC youth groups so I went though the whole TLW program/push not so many years ago. I have to agree with Jack here. It doesn't seem to produce a whole lot of results, at least not in my experience. I signed a pledge in the 8th grade, but then never did in high school as I thought it was kind of stupid to have to "pledge" before men to live pure in this one area. Most of my youth group friends did though. And, during high school and college I attended four baby showers - and one wedding.

greg.w.h said...

Given True Love Waits clearly visible strategy of leveraging teen peer pressure for positive impact, Othoniel's comments struck me as ironic (though not necessarily false at least in intent.)

But Jack's comment regarding regeneration is easily forgotten in the heat of conceiving new rules, new promises, new pledges, and new pledge cards to live by.

Greg Harvey

Karen in OK said...

I had two teenagers who signed TLW pledges, and for them it was useful. Sure, it is not the whole answer. Sure, some signers don't mean it. Etc, etc, etc. Those of you who are so critical of it, can not the same kinds of criticisms be made of every single thing we do?
The old saying may hold true about two types of people: the ones that do something and the ones that criticize the ones that do something.

Debbie Kaufman said...

MelanieW: A great big Southern Baptist Amen to all you have written.

J. K. Jones said...


Good post. I’ll have to come back and read more.

I wanted to say that I went to a TLW rally once. I had only recently started to attend church again after a time in sin. Some of that sin was sexual.

I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt at the end of the lecture. I felt I had ruined any chance of having a happy marriage or a sanctified sexuality. Satan was at work in this.

A gospel appeal was made at the end. We were told, basically, that we could be forgiven and “virgins again,” but we would always have to live with the consequences of our sins. I was so overwhelmed I didn’t raise a hand, stand up, or sign anything. I read Romans chapters 3 and 4 at least five times that night. It was a week before my head was back on straight.

Guilt is an important feeling for a person to have. Guilt is good for the guilty. But guilt can be turned into a horrible weapon if we are not careful.

J. K.

Frank (or Chip) said...


I read often and comment seldom. Frankly, I have never read a blog as interesting as GaTtY. I greatly appreciate you as one of my trustees and know that you approach the issues of IMB (especially) with great thought.

Thank you also for affirming my friend Othoniel. I know him to be a good and godly man with God's Kingdom in view. Your position through this censure has been the right to disagree and you have demonstrated that to Othoniel, who I do not remember ever agreeing with you.

I am thankful that people are talking about things that influence my life and ministry on the field. I can only hope and pray that everyone who is so passionately for or against ppl's and baptismal succesion will give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and continue to keep the lost in mind.

Frank Lamca
Team Facilitator for the Latino Team
Quito, Ecuador

kevin said...

I sincerely doubt that Wade was intending to create a backlash against True Love Waits with this post. It seems to me that hypocrisy was the point.

We have a Filipino version of TLW here, and it has has greatly expanded our ministry.

I'm not under the illusion that everyone who attends one of my seminars will commit to sexual purity. At least I have a chance to share the Bible's standards of purity--a much needed message to a generation that is bombarded by sexual messages.

More importantly, we follow-up with seminar attendees who express interest in the gospel.

I regret that any of you have had negative experiences with TLW, but let's not totally discount it. Doing so kind of reminds me of those who blame youth ministry for the moral problems of our youth. It's kind of like blaming oncologists for cancer.

Just my two cents.

johnMark said...

Oh Wade,

Just look at what you said. Stuff like "true love waits" and "pressure put on kids by pastors". I mean, if true love waits why would you say pastors put pressure on kids? C'mon! I hope your laugh was happy and not sinister, just think of your witness!

And then what's this stuff about "offend[ing] anyone"? You just don't care, do ya? You talk about pastors and students and "a lack of spirituality"? Who do you think you are?!

I think we've got you nailed down now since you said "it is incredibly easy to focus on the sins of others". Wow, Wade. Nailed!

Remember, those are your words!

The jig is up!

Mark ;-)

RRR said...


I read the message not as taking sides on TLWs but as saying, "be careful not to be a hypocrite."
It was hypocritical for those Christian leaders to preach sexual abstinence to young people who are pressured in that regard on a daily basis while the leaders take the group’s time to feed their own addiction.

We Southern Baptists are stereotyped as being overweight. It’s justified. I too struggle with the temptation and have tended to be overweight all my life. But it is like other temptations that can be controlled with determination and the power and submission to God’s Spirit. But first we must acknowledge it as being a problem.

Overeating is not only a health issue, but, as suggested in this anecdote, it seriously undermines our Christian witness individually, as a church and as a Convention. It’s embarrassing to see spokespeople for our Convention on CNN or Fox News speaking to the ills of society while they are vivid images of those having lost control of their own personal discipline.

The message I got from this blog story was that it’s a shame that we pick and choose sins to put on a blacklist used to exclude members of Boards while neglecting other sins which are even more prevalent. I would have difficulty taking a mandate from a Convention or Board seriously that restricted people who drink alcohol or some other issue when it is made by a room full of people who are dealing with eating disorders.

This is a bigger threat among we Southern Baptists than drinking alcohol, irresponsible blogging or speaking in tongues. It deserves a resolution being made at the SBC and to be prioritized if we are going to make restrictions on SBC entities and Boards.

Bob Cleveland said...

If negative experiences was a reason not to do anything, then I guess we'd have to shut down most of the churches. With over 50% of the membership obviously having a negative experience with THAT, and since we're a congregational organization, well .........

How many kids have to see the light for TLW to have been worth it?

CB Scott said...

I presented the motion at the BSSB that was the "father" to TLW. I thought it was a pretty good thing.

I still think it is a good thing if it it used correctly.

It is kinda like firearms. They are good things in the hands of the right people used properly. Ask a church in Colorado how they feel about that tonight.

BTW, the pastor and the youth guy should have been fired. That would be a proper use of firing. It too can be a good thing.


othoniel a valdes sr said...

Frank or Chip
Thank You for your kind words & for your faithful service in Peru & now in Ecuador.
Merry Christmas

Jim Sissney said...

You may want to step back and reread the blog.
1) Wade did not say the pastors put pressure on kids to sign the cards. He said the dicussion quoted indicated the pressure.
2) As to not offending anyone, if you read the last sentence again you will understand why Wade says this. You can be fat without being a glutton. You don't have to sign a piece of paper to be moral.

Yes it is incredibly easy to focus on the sins of others. It makes our sins seem lesser in nature. However, Wade will tell you that he is by far a perfect person. Noone is.

B Nettles said...

I believe you missed
" Mark ;-) " at the end.

Bob, I'll offer an end to your without: Church without humble righteousness.

Wade's post highlights, I believe, the typical conservative dysfunction: if you behave right, you are right, and I'm right, so behave like me. I don't care what you think.

The problem with TLW or gluttony or other pick-a-sins is they are behavior modification without foundational truth. Yeah, the Bible says to "flee fornication" but how many churches actually, seriously teach the basis God gives us: marriage is a covenant picture of Christ and the church and portrays God's grace and faithfulness to the world, sexual union is a covenant act between two people, sex outside of marriage violates the covenant, God takes covenants very seriously and takes portrayals of the Gospel seriously. Of course, knowing truth never stopped anyone from sinning, but isn't that picture better than "don't do that?"

"not one of them has ever put pressure on the kids."
Sounds like a bunch of hyper-Calvinists to me. :)

Youth ministry: don't get me started...

Jim Sissney said...

Yes I did miss that.
Thanks for pointing it out.

My apologies JM.

johnMark said...


It's okay, dry humor doesn't come across well in text. I should have been clearer.

Thanks, B. Nettles.


davidbmclaughlin.com said...

If you are looking for good sermon material on gluttony, the notes from one of my church's messages is here.

Jim Sissney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.