The tradition of purity rings began in the ‘90s in the height of what is now known as “Purity Culture” within the church. They were given to young, teenage girls as a way to symbolize their commitment to save sex for their husband in marriage. Now, I believe purity culture had good intentions, yet executed many things wrong. I have several issues with purity culture and will have links at the end of this post for further reading. I am in no way saying that if you choose to wear a purity ring that you are a bad person or have bad intentions, so I hope that is not the message that comes across. I want to share the reasons I personally decided to stop wearing my purity ring and why we should take a closer look at the motives behind them and how we approach the topic of purity in the church.
First off, if you look at why girls choose to wear purity rings it is to save their virginity for marriage. Now, there is nothing wrong with making a commitment to do that, however, it promotes the idea that a person’s virginity equals their purity, which is NOT true. There are many people who are not virgins who are “pure”, and many people who are virgins who are not. God’s goal for purity is not virginity. If it was, then victims of rape and sexual assault would not be pure (and they 100% are!) There are people who have chosen by their own free will to have sex and sexual intimacy before marriage and have since repented and been forgiven by God. They are pure.
When do girls wear purity rings? They wear them before they are married. Now I have an issue with this because it implies (often unintentionally) that once you are married, you are no longer considered pure. This feeds into the lie that sex is dirty. I wish more Christians would be proactive in teaching young women that sex is not dirty and their sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, sex can be manipulated for evil or used in an ungodly manner, however, within marriage, sex is good and God created it to be enjoyed. Purity is a part of marriage just as much as it is before marriage.
Wearing a purity ring that symbolizes refraining from sex/sexual intimacy before marriage can often make purity more about action instead of the heart and mind. Purity isn’t about the act of having sex. It is a heart issue. What are your motives? It’s a mind issue. What thoughts are you entertaining? It involves EVERY aspect of your life. We need to stop thinking of it as “sexual purity” and just as “purity”. I’ve known people who were taught that having a crush was a sin, and that having any sort of sexual desire was lust. Please hear me out, having a sexual desire is completely normal and was created in us by God. There is a big difference between that and lusting. As teenage girl, I plead to all the moms, youth leaders, pastors, and all those it might concern, to change how you present the idea of purity to the young women in your life. The church is known for shaming women and making sex into something that should be feared and that can cause serious issues later on in life including in future marriages.
I would also like to point out that for the most part, purity rings are only given to and worn by girls. Purity culture has put too much of an emphasis on women’s purity and hardly any on men’s. This is not only sexist, it can cause issues as well. When churches teach “purity” they all too often put more pressure on women to “not cause young men to stumble” and this puts the responsibility of the young men and their “purity” all on the girls. (click HERE for a great post to read on this topic) This causes fear and shame on young girls. Calling a girl, a “stumbling block” is dehumanizing and shame-ridden. (click HERE for an excellent video on this topic).
After saying all of this, I am not saying you can’t or shouldn’t wear a purity ring. These are just some personal issues I have with wearing one and why I think everyone who does wear one should examine their motives and reasons behind wearing one. If your motives are God honoring and the message you share with people about it is not one of shame and instead one of the amazing grace of Jesus, then by all means, wear a purity ring. If you are interested in reading more about “Purity Culture” here are some resources and links for you to check out: