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The Miami Times 2013-09-29 04:12:30

caines | 7/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

[gallery link="file" columns="5" orderby="title"] Ceremony promotes abstinent lifestyle Love is patient . . . This was one of many discussions held at the True Love Waits Relationship Series, a memorable ceremony where youth committed to live pure, abstinent lives before God. Their parents and guardians signed commitments to be responsible men and women of integrity, who will protect their sons and daughters for purity. Young adults, ages 19-25, also independently made moral commitments as responsible Christians. The local event, which was organized by Elder Tanya Jackson of New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, featured 45 families from 16 different churches. We still find it hard to discuss sex with our children, and they learn about it inappropriately from reality television, so we have to address it,Jackson said. Dellayah Pleasure, 15, a student of Miami Northwestern Sr. High School, said she has participated in the ceremony over the past three years, and every year is a new experience. She said there have been different speakers and she has learned something new each year. Its important to stay abstinent until marriage, to live Gods way and wait for the right person, Pleasure said. She added that teenagers should not make decisions based off of the peer pressure they encounter in high school to have sex. Malik Jackson, 17, graduate of Stranahan High School, said the event was great and it taught the youth even the little ones that they should take care of themselves. There were several speakers at the event, including Rev. Dennis Jackson II, Anthony Taylor, Richard P. Dunn III, Dr. Jeffrey Swain and Jenevie Clark of Planned Parenthood of Florida. Jackson said his favorite part of the event was when the participants received purity bracelets and their parents spoke with their children, encouraging and letting them know that they would be there for them during their journey of purity. Jackson said he also enjoyed the Let It Go ceremony, where participants released balloons, which was symbolic for letting go of the pressures of life. If there is something holding you back or something you need to take to God, you can let it go, Jackson said. Robyn Jolly, has participated in the ceremony with her 11-year-old granddaughter, for the past three years. She said the panel of speakers told the youth that it is not necessary to give up themselves so freely as it is depicted in movies and TV shows. The guest speakers also discussed sexually transmitted diseases, what people will say to persuade others to have sex and the youths views on sex. Some of the parents were really surprised to hear what the little ones have been told [about sex] from their peers, Jolly said. Technology and media plays a big part in youth getting exposed to things earlier than they used to, she said, adding that the music tells youth that everything is OK. Were ina society where right is wrong and wrong is right, Jolly said. Society is glorifying things that do not need to be glorified. She said the panelist encouraged the youth to refrain from listening to all of the negativity that is out there. Were just trying to keep our kids as close to the Lord as we can, Jolly said. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com