The Purity Ring

The modern day symbol of a young girls pledge to remain sexually pure until marriage. The Purity Ring.  In some cases, a girl who makes that decision to “remain pure” will talk to her parents about getting a ring to signify this commitment.  Another tradition is the girl’s father presenting her a ring and she would return it to her father on her wedding day.

Is it me, or is that last one just a little odd?  Perhaps, a tad disturbing.  If someone is going to embrace this tradition, it would seem that giving the ring to her new husband would be a better gesture.  After all, is she not giving herself to her husband?

You probably know this stuff anyway.  I just want to share my reasons for disagreeing with it.

I am all for teaching our kids that sex is best for the confines of a married relationship. This is really part of how we were created.  I do believe God wants a life commitment before physical intimacy…that is, there should be a heart and mind intimacy with a life commitment.

A few thoughts.

First…the word, purity, has been focused on the idea of sex, as if abstaining from sex outside of marriage would keep a person “pure”.  Well, honestly, nothing outside of the blood of Christ makes us pure and we are no more or less pure because of sex, or not.

Second…the purity focus is placed squarely on the girl.  This makes it up to the girl to remain pure. She is the one who gets the ring as a pledge of her sexual purity.  Uh…really?  Why aren’t boys asked to pledge their purity?  Personally, I think most girls have less trouble waiting…but, guys need to learn self-control and how to respect girls/women.

Third…wearing a ring has been touted as “good testimony”.  A girl can explain what the ring is for, if asked.  Then, she can supposedly have a lead-in to “witness to” the asker.  In other words, the ring is also supposed to be a good witnessing tool.  If stating a personal conviction is supposed to be good witness, I think we missed something.

Big sin, little sin.

We have placed certain standards as greater than others.  People are so hung up on sex that they don’t see the shortcomings in their own lives or in their midst (greed, gluttony or their own sexual issues).  For teens and adult singles, the big evil is sex and the even bigger evil is abortion.  Then, they want to place a legalistic hold on singles and go even further with wanting to make legislation to make certain things illegal for anyone, whether they live by godly convictions, or not.

As far as I am concerned, the purity ring is a reminder of keeping law.  It has nothing to do with actual purity nor does it guarantee or prove someone’s salvation.  It is not a good “witnessing tool”, as bragging about one’s sexual purity simply shows that one is a rule follower more than a witness.

What we do should be out of love.

Ultimately, we must realize, acknowledge and embrace God’s love for us.  With the knowledge of His love for us, we begin to love Him in return.  Out of that love, we become eager to live and do as He desires us to, whether it is to serve the needy or change (repent) something in our lives.

As far as repentance goes, this is inspired by the Lord.  We should never demand someone repent.  Repentance is a change of the mind…that is a work from within and such work is by the Spirit.  He knows the timing and the way to reach an individual.  Basically, Law becomes behavior modification…when the Lord calls for repentance, it is a change from the heart, borne out of love and responded with love.

We need to teach our kids why sex outside of marriage is not ideal, yet not demand sexual purity or state that sex outside of marriage is a ticket straight to hell.  Then, should the kids have any questions, concerns or have begun having sex…or found themselves with a pregnancy…they should have a safe, non-judgmental place to go.  They don’t need to be shamed or condemned…there is no room for that in the Kingdom.

To sum it up.

The idea of the purity ring is a nice tradition.  It just seems that it comes with a package of legalism and self-righteous bragging.  It is also not right that this burden be placed on the girls.  The male-centric society that has been built has blamed women for being raped, for getting pregnant and for looking appealing.  Sure, girls should be taught the importance of basic modesty and to temper flirtation…but, by and large, boys need to learn self-control and respect.


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9 thoughts on “The Purity Ring

  1. Jamie Carter says:

    I agree with you – the emphasis on a girl’s purity and the tendency to ignore a guy’s purity tends to pressure both parties, one must say “no” or she loses all value and the other must get her to say “yes” in order to secure his value. Girls are expected to have just one or only a few life-long partners, the guys – not so much. The whole thing – it’s cultural too, a modern innovation that’s unbiblical. It only points back to how it was in the Scriptures in a first-century society without access to the knowledge and medicines we have today – a society that tended to segregate the genders and sequester it’s women in order to ensure that children born by them could only belong to the expected father and as such receive their proper inheritance. It wasn’t about holiness or righteousness, just a matter of contractual obligation.

  2. Just like you I am all for young people saving sex for marriage. But the idea of wearing a purity ring to proclaim that idea sounds too pharisaic for me. That decision to keep one’s body till marriage should be a personal decision between one and God. It should not even be a matter for public knowledge except where it becomes absolutely necessary.
    No sex before marriage is good, but it need not be proclaimed with a purity ring.

    • Nehemiah Project says:

      Ah, yes. The “ministry” of the Pharisee. In the US, it is more widespread than I am comfortable with. You are absolutely right…such things are between the individual and the Lord. Yes, we teach and encourage, but the Lord must be the one to do any conviction…not us.

  3. I like your last line: “Sure, girls should be taught the importance of basic modesty and to temper flirtation…but, by and large, boys need to learn self-control and respect.”

    • Nehemiah Project says:

      I appreciate your encouragement. It is something I feel strong about. When my boys started dating the girls they are now married to, I took them aside and told them to touch nothing, except her heart.

  4. I agree: It is a strange tradition for the woman to give the purity ring to her father on her wedding day. It should be given to the husband.

    Great quote: “Repentance is a change of the mind…that is a work from within and such work is by the Spirit.”

    I think there is naturally a greater focus on young women remaining pure because young men can’t get pregnant.

    I wrote a short essay called “Two Reasons Why Premarital Sex Increases the Risk of Divorce.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any feedback:

  5. Thank you John, your comment below shows understanding of the Heart of God…..

    Ultimately, we must realize, acknowledge and embrace God’s Love for us. With the knowledge of His Love for us, we begin to Love Him in return. Out of that Love, we become eager to live and do as He desires us to, whether it is to serve the needy or change (repent) something in our lives.

    I only wish someone had encouraged me to remain pure until Marriage but sadly I was shown that sex is acceptance even though it frightened me, perhaps my link below will help give some understanding as to why I was so mixed up. But yes it was God’s Love and Compassion that melted my heart of stone when I was old enough or I should say wise enough to understand His Truth as you shared.

    Childhood –

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

    • Nehemiah Project says:

      We cannot always understand many things. He works on our heart and brings us understanding. All the while, His grace covers us.

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