The idea of wearing a chastity ring, also known as a purity ring, came out of the True Love Waits movement. The belief of this group is that young people should abstain from sexual activity, saving their virginity for their eventual spouses. True Love Waits groups believe further that following practicing chastity purifies the hearts of followers, enabling them to resist sinful desires. Believers used to sign pledge cards, then the chastity ring came to symbolize their commitment to maintaining their chastity.
The True Love Waits Movement
Through the True Love Waits movement, volunteers spearhead groups in each city or country make presentations in religious youth groups and schools. Their aim is to sign up more young followers who wish to pledge to abstain from premarital sex. Groups may also put on presentations at public events – sporting events and other TLW gatherings.
The True Love Waits movement seems to really want group members to honor their pledges to wait for sex until their wedding nights. Does it really work? Do followers really stick to their pledges, or do they find it too difficult?
“Chastity” is the state of being chaste, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Someone who has vowed to be chaste avoids having sex with anyone until they are married. Instead of giving what is regarded as a precious gift to someone they don’t love, they choose to save that gift for the person they promise to love for the rest of their lives. Expanding on the chastity definition, followers abstain from “unlawful” sexual conduct, which includes kissing, according to the Daily Mail. They avoid all sex acts. Young people who have chosen to remain chaste promise to remain pure in both intention and conduct as well.
Some young people may simply sign and keep pledge cards that memorialize their decisions to stay chaste, maintaining their virginity. Others may choose to wear a chastity ring that becomes a concrete, visible symbol of their decisions.
What is a Chastity Ring?
This ring simply symbolizes a promise that the wearer has made to avoid sexual contact and conduct until they are married, according to PurityRingsOnline. Like wedding rings, they are worn on the left ring finger – but the pledge doesn’t mean that the wearer is “married to God.” Rather, wearing a chastity ring on the ring finger of the left hand just serves to remind the wearer of their promise to refrain from sexual activity of any kind. Upon getting married, the wearer(s) remove their purity rings and replace them with their wedding bands.
These rings became popular with Christian-leaning abstinence groups. Wearers making an abstinence pledge may make their promise to remain chaste during a religious ceremony. It is at this ceremony that they have the rings placed onto their fingers.
Purity Rings and Purity Balls – What They Mean
Chastity rings seem to have been reserved mainly for pre-teen girls although boys have made the pledge and worn purity rings of their own. Families with pre-teen daughters who follow an evangelical faith are most likely to participate in purity pledges and purity balls.
The purity ball is an event in which the young girls making the pledge wear white dresses that resemble wedding dresses. Each ball can be compared to a mass wedding ceremony, with each girl making her pledge to remain virginal until she marries her eventual husband. It is said that the girl is “symbolically” marrying God, according to the Daily Mail. Each girl “pledges her virginity” to her father – in other words, they are giving the responsibility of protecting their virginity to their fathers. The fathers, as the “High Priests of their family,” also pledge to “cover their daughters” as her earthly authority and protection”. In one ceremony detailed by the Daily Mail, Ron Johnson, head pastor of the Living Stones Church in Indiana, tells his 12-year-old daughter, “You keep this on your finger and at this point, you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.”
During the ceremony, each father places a purity ring on his daughter’s left ring finger, then the purity ball ends in a large dance. In one purity ball, held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, several young girls wearing long, white dresses are depicted holding a large wooden cross on their shoulders as they process down the aisle. Purity balls have become popular in 48 of the 50 states in the U.S..
Chastity Ring Meaning
Chastity rings serve to show people that their wearers non-verbally communicating their belief that they are committed to saving their virginity.
Young men and women who plan to eventually marry, but who are pledging to live a life of chastity, may choose to wear purity rings.
As the wearer sees their chastity ring, it serves to remind them of their promise to God, their families and themselves. Their main goal is to give the same message to their future spouses with both their hearts and bodies. It is interesting how the Lifeteen site explains this symbolism: Wearers should remember that Jesus Christ is holding their left hands “until He gives that hand to a young man or woman in marriage.”
Are Chastity Rings for Girls or Boys Necessary?
A chastity ring doesn’t serve as a tiny chastity belt. If this is true, then why do followers of chastity movements include a purity ring if it isn’t necessary? After all, the young person shouldn’t be making the purity pledge and donning the ring simply to avoid disappointing their fathers.
The fathers of pre-teens who give their children purity rings don’t “hold sole possession” of their child’s sexuality. Instead, it should be up to that young person to remain true to maintaining their virginity, difficult as it may be at times. Got Questions? points out that those who make their purity pledges should do so only within the context of their relationships with God. They should sincerely commit to abstinence instead.
For some, the rings are a visible reminder of their promises to avoid sexual contact. Some followers don’t participate in the full purity ball movement. Instead, they make their decisions at a promotional program. For these young people, for whom God may be an important presence in their lives, that they made the decision only after hearing speakers doesn’t matter. They also seem to believe that abstinence is the only safe sexual practice, choosing not to take sex education classes, according to the New York Times.
A problem lurks in this belief: If the young person breaks their pledge, they don’t have the knowledge they need to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. Leaders of abstinence-only groups have instructed followers that condoms aren’t fail-safe protection. Many teens can’t maintain their virginity pledges – and, fearing pregnancy, they go into Planned Parenthood offices, requesting pregnancy tests.
Do Purity Rings and Pledges Work?
Young teens are starting sexual activity at ever-earlier ages. While they may still be virgins, they have kissed other teens and participated in sexual activity, such as oral sex. Therefore, while they are virginal, they are no longer “pure”. Teens have to make the active choice, day after day, to stay pure, according to Covenant Eyes.
Wearers may also act in sexual ways but, believing they are wearing a purity ring, they are able to do as they please. Several well-known celebrities, such as Nick Jonas, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato, have worn purity rings. Yet, after wearing them for some time, they have removed them, which seems to trivialize the meaning of the rings.