Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood

For Fathers

I (Daughter’s Name)’s Father, choose before to God to war for my daughter’s purity. I acknowledge myself as the authority and protector of my daughter’s virginity, and pledge to be a man of integrity as I lead, guide, and pray over my daughter and her virginity – as the High Priest of my home.

For Virgins

I (Name) pledge my purity to my father, my future/husband and my Creator. I recognize that virginity is my most precious gift to offer to my future husband. I will not engage in sexual activity of any kind before marriage but will keep my thought and my body pure as a very special present for the one I marry.

For Secondary Virgins (those who have engaged in promiscuous behavior) and wish to recommit themselves to lives of purity)

I (Name) re–pledge my purity to my father, my future/husband and my Creator. I now recognize that virginity is my most precious gift to offer my future husband. I deeply regret and will never again engage in sexual activity of any kind before marriage but will keep my thought and my body pure as a very special present for the one I marry.

 – Wording of the pledge signed at purity balls.

Just to make sure you understand me right, I will tell more of myself than I usually find necessary. I am a few years past 30, and a virgin. I find it wrong in God’s eyes to sleep with a man who is not my spouse. Someone like me should probably be the heartiest endorser of purity balls, right?

Wrong.

No, because:

1) Purity balls worsen what they try to solve:

The idea behind purity balls is that a girl’s need for a man to affirm her worth and beauty, drives girls to sleeping with boyfriends. That is very much true. And then, so say the proponents, the solution is to get another man – her daddy – to affirm her worth and beauty, so that she would not try to get it from a boyfriend.

The message of purity balls is: You will be appreciated for your outward appearance, but for now, enjoy these compliments only from daddy and no other males. Your worth lies in how men perceive you, and for now, ask dad what he will perceive as good, and no other guys.  Your hymen is the most important thing you can give a man. For now, don’t give it. But the reason you shouldn’t give it is so you can give it (to the man you marry).

The emphasis here is confirming exactly all the beliefs that cause girls to get sexually active. If, instead, you showed the girl that her value does not lie in what men think of her, but in a God that designed her in His image, with gifts and talents to use, she could focus on developing everything that God wants her to be.

Sadly, in the patriarchal mindset of some purity ball proponents, women only exist for men. Their “God-given role,” say these groups, is housekeeping, child-raising, and obeying a husband. For that reason, purity ball organizers cannot tell girls to live out their God-given gifts instead of focusing on men.

2) Purity balls do not focus on character:

It is relatively easy to keep a girl a virgin until adulthood. It could be done by the simple act of locking her in a tower. Or keeping her at home, schooling her at home, and not leaving her out of your sight, which is a more publically acceptable equivalent.

But this does not create a woman with values, who can teach her children values, who can be a strong support with, and for, her man, who could be trusted. Character could only be developed in a world of free will, where girls and boys are taught what is right, and why it is right. God himself did not make us robots, but gave us free will.

God wants her to do right on all terrains of life, not just the sexual, out of love for Him and other people. He wants her to live in love towards Him and her neighbors whether she marry or not, whether her marriage is happy or not. Virginity without character and Christian (neighborly) love is nothing.

3) Purity balls are man-ian, not Christ-ian:

Incidentally, God’s desire for all Christians – male and female – to lead a sexually pure life, and men’s desire for a pure/ faithful wife, overlaps here. Therefore, the man-centered fathers could take their daughters to a ball where man’s desire for a pure wife God’s desire for her life will be celebrated.

If this was really about God’s will, purity events for boys would have been just as popular. God’s desire is pure men and women, and these events do not celebrate that.

4) Purity pledges are unbiblical

Mat 5:34-37  But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:  Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Jas 5:12  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Pledging things before God? How anti-Christian!

5) Purity balls promote ideas like “a daughter’s heart belongs to her father until she gets a husband”:

Do I even need to comment on that? Eeeeeewwww.

6) The purity ball topic is, in my opinion,  inappropriate for little girls

In today’s sex-saturated world, it is essential to teach your children early to handle sexual topics. But it is not an appropriate thing to dwell on with a six- or nine- year old girl. It seems, to my mind, inappropriate to take little girls to events celebrating a topic they hardly could fathom. Plus, the presence of little children make some reasons to choose abstinence (what guys really think of gals who sleep around, STD’s, etc.) impossible to discuss honestly with the teenagers and young women.

7) The fairytale message of purity balls is a lie.

Marriages are imperfect institutions because two imperfect humans enter into it. Girls who learn that by keeping pure/ being

Real life marriages are no fairytale…

submissive/ whatever, she will have a fairytale marriage, are being lied to. Even princess Diana, who married an actual crown prince as an alleged virgin, had no fairytale marriage.

Several studies found that hierarchal marriages are much unhappier, with more spousal abuse. Considering that the movements that see the father as High Priest of the home promotes hierarchal marriages, it does not bode well for these girls.

8) Purity pledges put fathers and husbands above God

Look at the girl’s pledge wording again: Fathers first, husbands second, Creator last. Then it is the future husband again for two sentences: Her virginity is his sealed gift. Take two words (“before God”) from the father’s pledge, and three from the virgin’s (“and my Creator”) and God is not part of it at all. (This is why I call it God-on-the-back-seat religion.)

9) Self-respect is not mentioned once in the purity pledge.

I am a Christian, and I mention self??? Yes. After all, one of the two great Commandments is to love others as you love yourself. You need to love yourself right to love others right.

This pledge does not mention the effect that giving yourself sexually to a man, then being dumped, has on the girl emotionally. It does not mention what men think of women who sleep around. It does not mention health issues. If I told a girl to wait (and I have, in youth work) I would certainly focus on the girl herself as much as on other humans. After all, she is the one who live in that body 24/7.

10) The pledge is an uninformed and forced promise

Many of these girls do not understand what they promise, and the possible consequences. Even the older girls are often home-schooled and so isolated that they have no idea what normal relationships work like in the 21 century.

Moreover, she often has hardly any choice in the matter. Everyone in the worlds of some of these girls pressures her to make this pledge, would treat her as a slut if she does not, and would later blame her if she does not keep it.

11) Fathers are not High Priests of homes

Unlike what the pledge claim, fathers are not High Priests (capital letters in the pledge, not mine!) of their homes. Neither the Old nor the New Testament call the man the High Priest of the home. In fact, the New Testament acknowledges only one high priest in Christianity – Jesus Christ, who made reconciliation for our sins (Heb 2:17). Do the men who pledge to be High Priest for their family say Jesus is not good enough? Or that they, the High Priests (with capital H and P) of the order of Purity Balls, are higher than the high priest of the order of Melchisedec (Heb 6:20), whose priesthood is spelled without capitals?

12) Pledges promotes guilt

Some studies showed very little, if any, difference between purity pledged teens and other teens in terms of sexual behavior. A girl who breaks a pledge before God may feel very much guilty about it. Guilt about that which is against God’s will is acceptable (and should be sorted out in prayer with a forgiving God). Guilty feeling before God for breaking a pledge her father made her take – against what the Bible say of pledges  -  is not.

And suppose one of these little girls is molested among the way, would she not feel even guiltier than the next little girl? After all, she got the message that she was supposed to protect this – and she did not. Thoughtlessly causing her to feel guilt for what is not her fault is tragic.

13) Purity balls promotes control by another

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control – making wise choices, not driven by your own passions but by the spirit, for yourself and your Christian walk. The message of the purity balls are man-control: Do as your father say until you start doing as your husband say. It replaces, not just in sexual choices but in everything, the control by the self, and indirectly by God’s spirit, into human hands. The father at the purity ball say that he cannot trust God with his daughter’s life, but has to make choices for her himself. Christ is not a sufficient high priest – he needs to step in.

In conclusion, a wise father will protect his daughter from making vows she does not understand, and which God does not want her to make. He will protect his little girl from giving her heart to anyone inappropriate – and know he himself is as inappropriate an owner of her heart as can be. He will teach her about a loving God, a self-image by being made directly in the image of that God, and wise choices. He will trust and pray that God himself will lead her as he gradually lets her go into adulthood, to make choices without him.

After all, there is a reason why the Old Testament word referring to teenagers – na’ar/narah* – closely relate to “shaken off.” Shaking a teen off to gradually make her own decisions is the appropriate thing to do.

————————————————————–

 Note

*According to scholar Samuel Martin, in “Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy”. The word is used twice in the Bible for younger children (Moses and Samuel), but in those cases the children were shaken off much earlier.

Comments on: "What’s wrong with purity balls? One virgin’s perspective" (25)

  1. Really good post. In addition I’d add that it is improper for fathers to relate to their daughters in a way similar to how a future husband would. And that is exactly what this ball thing is doing; substituting daddy love for hubby love. Daddy’s spend the evening on a date with their daughter. They dance all evening with her, without Mom being there.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy said:

      Why do I hear the phrase “INCEST IS BEST” (punch line of a forgotten dirty joke) whenever I hear such things described?

  2. That’s the part that I described with “Eeeeeewwww,” because I lack the words to describe how wrong it is. You said it better.

  3. While I find the whole notion of purity balls and pledging one’s virginity to your father distasteful, what I find particularly disturbing is the idea that virginity is the most precious gift a wife can give to her husband. As you indicated Retha, a woman’s hymen is not a woman’s most precious commodity? *Ugh!*

    And what about the many girls who have lost their virginity or have been robbed of their virginity – the so-called “secondary virgins”? What about the girls who want to keep this confidential. I wonder how many young women go through the motion of purity balls because it is the “done thing” in their community, all the while knowing that they really don’t qualify. All it does is take guilt up to a whole new level.

    Or what about the girls who have lousy fathers?

    Are boys and young men going to start pledging their virginity to their mother? I can’t see this happening.

    So glad I live in Australia. There is no way purity balls will ever catch on here.

  4. Excellent post!

  5. Victorious said:

    Awesome post, Retha! I was unaware of the practice of “purity balls.”

  6. Wow. You nailed it.

  7. Excellent post. I have felt queasy about these things for years. You nailed it, and put into words all my swirling feelings of the wrongness them with logic and organization. May your blog be read far and wide!

  8. I really like all the points, except number 4. A marriage vow is a pledge, it may or may not be broken, but it is still a vow and a pledge. Any covenant contains a pledge made by at least 1 party to the covenant and most have pledges by all parties. So the verses you cite in item 4 need to be understood in the larger context of Scripture’s take on the subject.

  9. Wow that is horrible, but thank you for exposing it! Great article I always read all of your posts , like Becky said I hope your blog gets read by lots and lots of people!

  10. [...] TweetWhat’s wrong with purity balls? One virgin’s perspective from Biblical Personhood [...]

  11. I really liked this article. To me it sounds like they almost promote incest. YUCK!

  12. …Young men pledging their virginity to their mothers…well, THAT certainly put this whole practise into focus…yuck!

    There was one church that our family went to for a short time, where they had ‘promise rings’, that the girls ‘earned’ by taking a formal (in front of the whole church,) vow to abstain from sex until they were married. When I asked my oldest daughter (who was asked to participate in it,) if she wanted to join in and do this, she responded by telling me that most of the girls in her Sunday school class were doing it so they could pick out a pretty ring, and be esteemed as being pure. I told her that we knew she was still pure, and that if she wanted a ring like that, I would buy her one, no ceremony needed. In the end, she refused the ceremony and the ring both, because she ‘did not believe in it at all’.

    As my homeschooled daughter has grown older, she has decided to not even bother dating, till she is finished with her college schooling. She claims she’s just too busy to spend her time on those kinds of relationships. The Lord has shown her in dreams, what her future husband will look like, so she plans to ‘hold on to her golden ticket’ till she says ‘I do” to her future man. No promise ring or ball needed!

  13. Until boys have to attend purity balls, this is more sexist anti-Christianity. Wait. Even if boys/motheres had to participate in their own sex-based rituals, it would still be sexist. Not to mention both types bordering on incest, as others have noted, above (that “Eeeeeeeew!” factor).

    I’ll bet it fries patriarchal men when they study real Scripture and realize that God used not only ordinary women, but “fallen women” as well to judge (Deborah), lead His people, and preach the Good News. Conside:, the woman at the well, Rahab, Mary Magdeline, and even Bathsheba who is in the lineage of Christ, for a few examples. And then there’s Abigail (my personal heroine) who was married to a man called Nabal (translated “fool”) who had to defy him to not only save his hide (although he died soon after from the shock, no doubt), but also to save the reputation and the conscience of the future king, David. Fortunately for David, he recognized Abigail’s wisdom and her actions as being of God.

    Keep preaching and teaching, sisters! I can hear chains dropping off ;).
    Blessings,
    Phyllis

    • Thank you for the encouragement. The past 24 hours, your words “I can hear chains dropping off” have echoed in my head and my prayers. Please, Jesus, make it so!

  14. I have to say, when I read the title my first thought was ‘great – a chastity belt for men!!!’ (sorry-blushing here).

    After reading the article, I said ‘that’s just gross’. Don’t know why – just a feeling I had.

    After reading the comments – I understood. It really is gross – it smacks on incest. What would this fathers think of making their sons pledge their purity to their wives. No more masturbation!!!! (which would be a good thing). But the mental and emotionally damage caused perhaps would be lifelong.

    God expects all of us (female and male) to remain pure. In body and heart. Pure to Him and Him alone. The only exception is marriage and that is His gift to give.

  15. There is certainly a lot to find out about this topic.
    I really like all of the points you’ve made.

  16. Ryan J. Knight said:

    Reblogged this on Barefoot Christian Faith and commented:
    This is what happens when we let Satan teach us about our sexuality, instead of God. This practice not only violates scripture, on a number of levels, but God’s very own vision for the human family.

  17. So true. Purity balls are wrong on many, many levels. Well said.

    • So glad to read this article. This is great. I just wish that men and others who support these Purity Balls”, would read here. We need to change these balls, unless we are going to have boys attend and have mothers standing besides the fathers, where they belong. We in this country are no better than uncivilized countries, when we allow this to take place. Fathers are not the daughters’ only parents. Where are the mothers of these girls? There is no way I would allow my husband to take my three daughters there, unless my sons go as well, and that the mthers can stand beside the fathers.
      Who started this practice?any way

  18. Excellent article, you presented a great case against this sexist practice.

  19. So true.
    This is misogynistic to the millionth degree. Umm, excuse me—where is the mother son purity ball? Anyone? Ohhh, that’s right. Misogyny.

  20. Purity balls are sickening. Where are the girls’ moms and why do they allow their husbands to focus only on their daughters? I would never allow my husband to take my daughters to these balls, unless I also attend the ball, and they also include boys and their virginity.
    This is so nasty, with these men to be al hugged up with the daughters. Weird.

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