Friday, March 09, 2007

Purity balls, abstinence pledges and the like

Why are teenagers standing up and publicly declaring their promise to remain celibate until marriage, but adults are cringing, commenting anonymously and avoiding the subject altogether? And, on the flip side of things, are the declarations of these teenagers making a difference in their ability and desire to remain celibate (or abstain, like some like to say) until marriage?

Whatever the answer, there’s something in the air that makes this a hot topic. In the March 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (www.oprah.com), there is a story called “The Innocence Project,” which was written by Amanda Robb. It started off like this: “A lot of fathers hope their daughters will be virgins until they walk them down the aisle. But some are going a step further – taking pledges to support the girls’ commitment to chastity. And formalizing those pledges at what are called purity balls.”

Before I even finished reading the story, I thought, “What a wonderful idea!” As a, what I like to call, born-again virgin before I married (celibate for five years before), I have talked quite a bit to my 15-year-old daughter about maintaining her purity until she’s married. I even passed on my covenant ring (review some of my earlier posts that talk about covenant rings and making the commitment) to her after I got married. So, the idea of a purity ball seemed like a wonderful reinforcement to what I am already teaching her.

But, as I continued to read the story, it seemed like Robb revealed some statistics and facts that indicated there may not be that big of a difference between teenagers who take the pledge and teenagers who don’t. Although between 1990 and 2002 the United States teen pregnancy rate declined by more than 30 percent, which supporters of abstinence-only initiatives believe their programs are largely responsible for, according to Robb, social scientists don’t believe that the programs are behind the declines. It was further revealed that 88 percent of teenagers who make the pledge end up breaking it.

How disheartening!

Robb, and O magazine, presented a well-researched article that offered a variety of viewpoints on the subject. Everyone from adults who made the pledge as teenagers and still ended up having sex and adults who made the pledge and remained virgins until marriage to experts in the field of sexuality, abstinence and statistics. The comments got me to thinking: Should parents get involved in encouraging their children to make a pledge of abstinence/celibacy before marriage?

Absolutely! The obviously unsuccessful storied and discouraging statistics didn’t change my viewpoint. In fact, they gave me a little insight. Although it’s necessary to support our children in the correct decisions for their lives, it is also necessary to give them complete information. Parents are remiss if they don’t tell their children the dangers of having unprotected sex and give them complete information on protecting themselves. Wait. Wait. Don’t get mad at me. There’s fine line between supporting premarital sex and providing necessary information. A lot of Christians, and parents in general for that matter, believe that if you give complete information then you open the door for sexual activity.

The fact remains that some teenagers aren’t going to abide by their abstinence pledge. Most often because they’re taking the pledge at such a young age, don’t really understand it completely and are doing it to simply please their parents. Which means a lot of times parents, although they have good intentions, are missing some key ingredients in providing their children with abstinence information and support.


Whatever decision is made on how to promote abstinence among the single, teenage people in your household; it is still the right decision to make. As we encourage our children to be celibate until marriage, we encourage a future generation of adults to do what God has called for them to do, which is not to commit adultery (any sex outside of the bonds of holy matrimony).

To assist you in your commitment to remain celibate until marriage or to help you talk to your teen/children about celibacy and abstinence, I’ve listed some organizations that may help:

Organizations that support “abstinence” until marriage:
True Love Waits -- http://www.lifeway.com/tlw/
Silver Ring Thing -- http://www.silverringthing.com/
National Abstinence Clearinghouse -- http://www.abstinence.net/
Heritage Foundation -- http://www.heritage.org/
Articles, links and information -- http://www.insideout.org/documentaries/withthisring/links.asp

Also, pick up a copy of O magazine and check out “The Innocence Project” article. It was excellent reading.

4 comments:

CJ said...

They may be cringing because they know who is behind the whole idea. Abstinence until marriage is a very fine thing, and so is father-daughter bonding, many of the churches who originally promoted the Purity Ball idea are Reconstructionist groups, rather than mainstream Christian denominations. Reconstructionism is a rapidly growing and arguably heretical sect of Christianity, whose adherents follow the teachings of John Rousas Rushdoony and Gary North in addition to and often instead of those of Jesus Christ, and their goal is to eventually take over America and install their brand of faith as the state religion.

Here are a couple of websites that will show you what Reconstructionists typically believe:

http://0rz.com/?vDVsP
http://0rz.com/?vcDYg
http://0rz.com/?NsCrB

And, here is a link for VisionForum, a HUGE promoter of a similar idea -- the Father-Daughter Retreat concept -- and one of America's leading homeschooling curriculum companies. VisionForum is run by Doug Phillips, son of ex-Reagan cabinet member Howard Phillips and pastor of Boerne Christian Assembly, a hyper-patriarchal Reconstructionist congregation where women are relegated to virtual slavery in their own homes, denied higher education, forbidden to hold jobs or seek public office, and are discouraged from voting; they are not permitted to participate in prayer in the church services, make prayer requests in church, or even receive communion unless it is served to them by their husband or another male member of the congregation.

http://www.visionforum.com/

The Phillipses are quite the father and son team, too -- Howard Phillips is the founder of the Constitution Party, whose 2004 presidential nominee was League of the South member Michael Peroutka. While the Constitution Party courted the votes of the League of the South (identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and other neoConfederate groups in 2004, Howard's son, Pastor Doug, was hard at work garnering the Christian vote, encouraging his congregation to vote for Peroutka and warning them that they were not spiritually "at liberty" to vote for the Bush or Kerry because of their unBiblical stances on key issues.

And our government is funding father-daughter dinner dances for these groups. Sweet.

Petula Wright said...

Great information and knowledge to share, CJ. Although I knew some of this I didn't have all the details. Thanks for the additional information.

Whoever was behind the whole idea may be a little misled, but the concept in and of itself does follow what God believes. I think, as with all things, we have to take from it what is relevant or morally correct from a personal standpoint and then go from there.

CJ, What's your viewpoint on celibacy for marriage in general? Thanks for sharing!

CJ said...

"CJ, What's your viewpoint on celibacy for marriage in general?"

Pretty much the same as yours, I think -- no sex until marriage: fornication is a sin.
But I don't see anything wrong with dating, and I see nothing wrong with couples in love kissing, as long as they agree that they will stop if either of them starts getting aroused.

Petula Wright said...

Yeah, I know when my husband and I were dating I was normally the one who stopped things from going to far. He often tells people that if it weren't for me we would have had sex before marriage.

It's good when each person (in a couple) can hold each other accountable. That way when one is feeling weak the other can be strong and vice versa.