Purity Rings, (also Pledges, Balls, etc.) Good idea or just a pretentious fad?


#1

My previous topic on "born-again virgins" seemed to be getting a little sidetracked into discussion of purity rings, so I figured I'd make another one. So, I wonder what Catholics think about the "Purity" movement, which seems to be mostly popular in evangelical circles in the US, as opposed to the Chastity language more favored among Catholics. I've seen individual posters discuss that either they, or their teenage children, do wear purity rings or have taken purity pledges. Haven't seen anyone post about going to a purity ball, but I've seen a TLC documentary on them.

Now, it seems to me that much of this could be taken as pretentious, concerned mostly with outward appearance, and often hypocritical, as from what I understand, most teens who take purity or abstinence pledges wind up breaking them anyway, either in spirit (by avoiding intercourse but engaging in other sinful activities) or completely. It would also seem that many CAFers think it is pretentious or tasteless to broadcast one's virginity status to the public, yet it seems that wearing a purity rings is doing just that, much as someone wearing a wedding ring is broadcasting one's marital status.

On the other hand, to publicly proclaim a commitment to chastity might help in providing someone with incentive to keep that commitment instead of looking bad in front of everyone, and I guess it might help weed out some frogs on the dating scene...though unfortunately there are some men who'd actually be motivated to "conquer" such a person and date them with the express intent of getting the person to break their pledge. Women, too...I know of a woman who seduced a young man who was engaged and kept telling everyone who'd listen about how he and his fiancee were chaste and waiting for the wedding night. Not sure quite why she did this, but it did seem she felt motivated to prove this man a hypocrite, or perhaps that she was so desirable no man could resist her advances.

So, has anyone here either participated in anything purity-related, or otherwise, had a chance to do so and passed it up?


#2

Hormones, emotions-r-us, and need fulfillment drive our social standards on unchastity.

Wearing a chastity ring is a useless exercise if it's not accompanied with consistent mentoring. Chastity is a learned behavior, something a person acquires through the will of the mind.

For years, children don't need the counseling and then with their rush of hormones, they need weekly - if not daily mentoring. Which few get, nor are most willing to accept. Like forcing an unrepentant alcoholic to AA meetings. Or an unrepentant sinner to Reconciliation.

I wish I could slip a ring on my finger and suddenly have control over my compulsive attitude toward food. I'm at the age where I can't tell any longer - am I hungry or am I just bored?

"I don't know," I say to myself. "Let's go talk about it over lunch."


#3

I think it's a fad. There are a lot of problems with it. I remember a friend of mine in high school - his church had a kind of pledge for teens to remain pure. Well, there was a lot of pressure, even though it wasn't direct - but who was going to be the one NOT to sign up? It kind of made the whole thing a farce.


#4

[quote="Bluegoat, post:3, topic:219015"]
I think it's a fad. There are a lot of problems with it. I remember a friend of mine in high school - his church had a kind of pledge for teens to remain pure. Well, there was a lot of pressure, even though it wasn't direct - but who was going to be the one NOT to sign up? It kind of made the whole thing a farce.

[/quote]

My Catholic high school did that as well. It was odd, everyone signed a card, even people that bragged about having sex. :confused: That was one of those moments that really confused my not-Catholic-yet 16 year-old self.


#5

It's definitely a fad, and fads tend to be shallow. Temptation, on the other hand, can be very persistent and seem very compelling.


#6

People who wear purity rings can be seen as targets for bullying, and also physical violence. People will see the ring as a challenge, and then get angry when the person doesn't give in. Or maybe they will give in and then they are "conquered." I heard of cases where teen and college-aged boys would rape virgin girls and brag about it.

On the flip side, some people might avoid someone because he/she is wearing a purity ring. That is bad, too, because someone who needs a Christian influence to help find God might be driven away by thinking the person "doesn't like to have fun" or "is too pretentious to bother with."

Sins (or lack thereof) are between a, individual person and God. They don't need to be shared with the community. It is admirable that a person is committed to self-control, chastity, God, etc. but such a public display is not good.

Marriage rings are different. They show signs of a couple's commitment to each other, and maybe you will be targeted by a drunk person in a bar by some weirdo, but they will generally leave you alone when you say you're not interested.


#7

Personally, I think a purity ring can be done in a really neat fashion. I think it would be great to present it to the young lady as puberity is taking hold, with a conversation about self, and self respect. Opening the door for open honest discussion and such.

Don't know about a fad. I can see how this can be done in ways that loses the purpose.

First of all, it doesn't have to say in huge bold letters... I'm a Virgin.

Plenty of girls wear rings. There is no way to know that a ring is worn as a pretty bobble, or or something to be replaced with an engagement ring or wedding ring.

I don't know about balls, or events. That just gets on the weird side for me... but that's me.

I can see them done in plenty of beautiful ways. Perhaps with a birthstone. or I've seen a ring with a miraculous medal set in it. I personally wouldn't worry about the ring bringing on the bullies. Unless of course the ring is blinking billboard about a persons virginity.

I'm reminded of a an old country western song about temptation... One the one hand, is a wedding band, to remind of someone who would not understand.... Our rings not only tell others we're off the market, but also as a personal reminder of that important someone. I think this sort of thing is about a personal promise you've made to yourself and to God.


#8

[quote="stephe1987, post:6, topic:219015"]
People who wear purity rings can be seen as targets for bullying, and also physical violence. People will see the ring as a challenge, and then get angry when the person doesn't give in. Or maybe they will give in and then they are "conquered." I heard of cases where teen and college-aged boys would rape virgin girls and brag about it.

[/quote]

Perhaps a person should not wear jewerly that shows their religious belief either. No crosses, medals etx.... for you exact same reasoning. That's rediculous. No?


#9

P.S. Almost afraid to ask. What are purity balls?

Oh wait. Wow. You meant A purity ball. Dancing, food, etc.


#10

Well, I guess I stand alone. I think they are a fine thing to do. Sure, some people abuse or don't take them seriously-So what? Let's keep them going so the people that DO take them seriously can continue to do so.

Besides, what' is wrong with having some fun and supporting and pledging a good cause?


#11

I wore one that said "True love waits" until I got engaged. Unless you grabbed my hand to read it, you'd have no idea what it said. It was more a reminder for me than anything else.


#12

[quote="Rascalking, post:10, topic:219015"]
Well, I guess I stand alone. I think they are a fine thing to do. Sure, some people abuse or don't take them seriously-So what? Let's keep them going so the people that DO take them seriously can continue to do so.

Besides, what' is wrong with having some fun and supporting and pledging a good cause?

[/quote]

I agree. I've seen teenagers sign up for SADD and they were the biggest drinkers on the weekends in my high school. Just because some people don't take the cause seriously, doesn't mean its not something that shouldn't be supported.

One of the Catholic parishes around me held a Silver Ring Thing event, but DD was too young to attend. She expressed an interest in attending one in the future, can't imagine what kind of message I would send her when she's expressed an interest in such a ring if were to tell her "oh its just a fad."


#13

My sister got close to not being able to get married because one of the questions involved whether or not she had taken a religious vow of chastity. I forgot how it was worded, but she misunderstood the question and said yes. Eventually it was cleared up that she was referring to a chastity pledge at a youth event and not a vow of celebacy taken when joining a religious order.

While she did take a pledge, I thought the entire thing was silly from the beginning. I knew I was going to wait for marriage before I even knew what sex was. It was like striving to avoid any other sin. I knew it would offend God and I didn't want to offend Him. The only thing I struggled with as a kid was understanding why if you were engaged, you still had to wait for marriage. I understood waiting for that special person I'd commit too, but for awhile it was only out of obedience that I felt you had to wait during engagement. However, as I grew older, I began to understand marriage as a covenant and that the wedding wasn't a mere formality. I let go of my belief in soulmates and realized that God gave us the choice. You weren't fated to be with someone. Rather you could seek guidence in who to choose, make the choice and then become "soulmates" in marriage.

So by the time I was engaged, I was very determined to wait for marriage and while chastity was definitely a challenge, I did succeed in waiting. During my confessions of sins against chastity, I began to see God working on purifying my heart. I began not only confessing acts against the chastity, but also false motivations -- that I thought the sins were beneath me, that I'd feel humiliated if I failed, that I wanted bragging rights about having succeeded. Even though I technically would fall into sins against chastity, by frequent confessions, I saw God purifying my heart at a much deeper level.

Ultimately I think chastity rings and what not try to promote chastity on a very superficial level. The pledges also make it seem like its something optional that makes you somehow better than others. Shall we also take pledges not to lie? How about pledges not to steal?

I think ultimately these pledges stem from our culture's obsession with sex. Even though I never had a chastity ring, I have to say that chastity was given such an exclusive and special focus as I was growing up that it made it seem like the worst sin you could commit. Often if I would confess a sin against chastity, my spiritual pride about being chaste would blind me from being able to make a complete examination of conscience. All I could think about was the sexual sin. Certainly, it is a grave offense, but its not the only sin. In fact, traditionally pride is seen as a greater sin and it is pride that tends to make us obsess about one sin or another whether its to rationalize that sin or to become blind to other forms of sin.


#14

[quote="twoangels, post:13, topic:219015"]

Ultimately I think chastity rings and what not try to promote chastity on a very superficial level. The pledges also make it seem like its something optional that makes you somehow better than others. Shall we also take pledges not to lie? How about pledges not to steal?

[/quote]

Really? We tie a lot to rings...

"With this ring... I thee wed...".and so on... Is that superficial?

It's not like you NEED a wedding ring to do what you're supposed to.

However, I don't like the pledge thing either. I just like the sentiment that is there as a reminder.


#15

I think that a girl's father has more influence on whether or not she has premarital sex than any pledge she might take.

I support fathers "dating" their daughters, showing them how a man should treat them when they are grown. If the father is totally involved in his daughter's life, she will not need the glitz and glamor of a "purity ball."

Those events seem to me to be similar to child beauty pageants, it's more of a profit for the venue, and while the little girls might be enjoying themselves for that evening, the day-to-day involvement in her life from her daddy is going to have more of a deep and lasting impact.

I am not against this, but I would warn the fathers not to think that one dance with a tiara on is going to tell his daughter to stay chaste. It takes more work than that. It is a commitment to raising up his daughter to know that she has a gift meant only for her husband, and any boy who would seek to unwrap and spoil that gift is to be quickly rejected.

It reminds me of the "quantity time v. quality time" argument that was used in the 80's and 90's to justify parents being away from their kids for 12 hours a day, if only they arranged "quality time" - like 10 minutes when they actually paid attention to their kids, vs. 2 hours when they were pretending to pay attention but were still working in their heads. It was bogus then, and it's bogus now. Kids need a whole heck of a lot of time, and keeping our sons and daughters pure takes more than just one event and ring.


#16

Lets just say it didnt work for me. Alll the promises in the world in front of your parents or whatever done count for much unless you really let them know why. Give REAL reasons, give religious reasons on chastitiy of course but also worldy reasons as well. (Pregnancy, disease, can ruin relationships, stress)

There are a huge library of reasons, but if they dont understand why then it doesnt count for a hill of beans.


#17

[quote="lizziebits, post:11, topic:219015"]
I wore one that said "True love waits" until I got engaged. Unless you grabbed my hand to read it, you'd have no idea what it said. It was more a reminder for me than anything else.

[/quote]

So did I. I wore it on my right hand, and I gave it to my husband when we got married. I didn't make the promise in public or advertise my ring as being a purity ring -- it was just a reminder to myself.


#18

[quote="faithfully, post:14, topic:219015"]
Really? We tie a lot to rings...

"With this ring... I thee wed...".and so on... Is that superficial?

It's not like you NEED a wedding ring to do what you're supposed to.

However, I don't like the pledge thing either. I just like the sentiment that is there as a reminder.

[/quote]

I think we need to keep our sacramentals as sacramentals and not confuse the line. Its the same as how some priests do not allow a Unity candle during the Nuptial Mass. It mimics the liturgy and gives a false impression, thus de-emphasising the liturgy.

Moreover, not everyone is called to marriage and as such the married exchange rings as a sign and symbol of that special marriage that was formed. It sets them apart. But chastity is required of all, even the married. But what happens with the chastity ring? You replace it with the engagement ring and then the wedding band. It gives a false impression.

I'm not saying symbols are bad. I bought a "chastity" necklace to wear on my wedding day. It was an open lily with the words "covenant", "promise", and "virtue" on it. But I didn't buy it before I got married. I bought it specifically for my wedding to be an extra symbol of the importance of chastity both outside and inside of marriage.


#19

[quote="twoangels, post:18, topic:219015"]

Moreover, not everyone is called to marriage and as such the married exchange rings as a sign and symbol of that special marriage that was formed. It sets them apart. But chastity is required of all, even the married. But what happens with the chastity ring? You replace it with the engagement ring and then the wedding band. It gives a false impression.

[/quote]

I'm not sure what you mean by this? A false impression of what?


#20

[quote="twoangels, post:18, topic:219015"]
I think we need to keep our sacramentals as sacramentals and not confuse the line. Its the same as how some priests do not allow a Unity candle during the Nuptial Mass. It mimics the liturgy and gives a false impression, thus de-emphasising the liturgy.

Moreover, not everyone is called to marriage and as such the married exchange rings as a sign and symbol of that special marriage that was formed. It sets them apart. But chastity is required of all, even the married. But what happens with the chastity ring? You replace it with the engagement ring and then the wedding band. It gives a false impression.

I'm not saying symbols are bad. I bought a "chastity" necklace to wear on my wedding day. It was an open lily with the words "covenant", "promise", and "virtue" on it. But I didn't buy it before I got married. I bought it specifically for my wedding to be an extra symbol of the importance of chastity both outside and inside of marriage.

[/quote]

With all due respect (and I mean that sincerly) I think your over analyzing the purity rings a bit.

People seem to find things to complain about (I'm clearly not talking about just you)-I'm a little stunned people are complaining about this. It's hard to swallow.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.