Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm all for purity, but...

...something about this just creeps me out.

Surely those of us with Biblical standards concerning sexual morality want to teach these standards to our children. We want them, boys and girls, to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God, and to live lives of physical, mental, and spiritual purity. We do not want them to regard sexuality as something to be exploited, as something that is less than the beautiful thing that God intended it to be.

But, well-meaning as the "Father-Daughter Purity Ball" movement may seem to be, it just doesn't sit right with me. In fact, to put it mildly, it seems disturbing.

Maybe it's the idea of having little girls, some as young as 4 years old, reciting pledges such as "I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me and that he will reward me for my faithfulness". That, apparently, is what the little girl is reading from the card. Frankly --- and I know that I am dating myself as one from the dark ages --- I am thankful that I was allowed by my parents to enjoy being a little girl, without having to worry about what "sexual" meant, or without having to ponder what sort of wedding gift I was going to be giving to my husband.

Maybe it's just the whole weirdly romantic prom date atmosphere. Yes, there is a lot of talk about dressing up as "princesses", but too many of the pictures remind me of prom pictures...except that one of the "dates" is way too old and the other is sometimes way too young.

Also disturbing to me is that the mothers are strangely missing from this event, and that there is no corresponding event to urge sons to pledge their purity to their mothers. Doesn't it seem odd that purity is pledged to the opposite sex parent, rather than to both parents? Also, since the mother is usually the one who is the primary caretaker and educator, especially in all things feminine, wouldn't it make more sense to have daughters make this pledge, privately and without all the hooplah, to their mothers?

Maybe it's the public spectacle of the whole thing, as if fathers are showing off their daughter's purity.

I would have found this sort of pseudo-prom horribly odd at any age. Thank God my parents never would have fallen for this sort of nonsense. When I was too young to understand --- or want to understand --- sexual temptation, the whole idea would have been one that would have annoyed me to no end. Why were my parents already worrying about my purity when all the boys in school still ran around screaming shrilly that girls had cooties? Why couldn't I live out some sort of princess fantasy with both of my parents (after all, every king needs a queen) and without the bizarre and icky sexual overtones? When I was old enough to understand, it would have seemed quite uncomfortable and embarrassing to make such a public display of a very private matter. Plus, the "romantic date with Daddy" concept would have been weird beyond words.

When I was in high school, I'll never forget a horrid mistake I made by attending some sort of Christian gathering about helping kids avoid sexual temptation. It was at this Christian meeting where I first heard of the most shocking perversions and deviate behavior. I was furious. These Christian leaders, it seemed, were far more filthy-minded than the worst gutter-mouthed sleazy guy at school. I really had no desire to know what depraved and twisted individuals did. I felt as if I had been tossed into a cesspool.

But then again, maybe I'm just odd. I think that my purity would have been best protected by not having me confronted with things that I had no desire to know, nor any reason to know. My parents were wonderful about answering all my questions and about not keeping me in dangerous or unnecessary ignorance. However, they didn't push stuff on me either. They let me be a child. When I was a little girl, they let me revel in being young, in being innocent and pure, in being unfettered by worries about sex. They let me play princess, happily and in various settings, without having to worry about making lifelong pledges about things that I really didn't want to know yet.

Here are a few links:

Focus on the Family: May I Have This Dance?

Generations of Light: Purity Ball


  1. While I can understand the parents' good intentions. . . you're right. . . pretty creepy. . .

  2. And I was squeamish even talking with my Mom about such things. . . My Dad? No Way. It was hard enough listening to the tapes on puberty with my Mom. . .

    Would have weirded me out big time. (Oh, and by the time I was in college I was speaking in public about chastity, good choices in relationships and so forth--so it's not like I didn't know about these things. . .)

  3. Yeah, that is really creepy. No little girl should have to ponder what is means to be sexually pure. And it would be equally creepy to make little boys do this too.

  4. You know, the thing that disturbs me (and maybe you address this in another blog in this series) is that the responsibility seems to lie with the girls. I have four sons and one daughter, and believe you me, if anyone needs to be talked to about sexual purity, it is my boys. Some of them are actually old enough for these conversations to be appropriate, too. But I just don't get this emphasis on this for young girls. Whose idea was it, anyway??

  5. The only comment I have after looking at these pictures is......Ewwww. :-)

  6. Chewy Mom, I so agree with you about the need for sexual purity to be discussed with boys. I'm not sure why this is given such short shrift. When I was researching the whole purity ball concept, it was hard not to get the message that either somehow boys aren't involved in sexual sin or that premarital sex is a sin for girls but not for boys. No one actually said that, but the absence of a similar concern for sons seemed bewildering.

    I think there are a number of reasons for this, and it's an idea I might explore further in future blog posts. One of the things that troubles me is that we do tend, even in the church, to have a double standard. Virginity and purity are seen as more important for girls. This is troubling to me.

  7. I have often thought similarly when I have read about such events. I do enjoy a wonderful relationship with my own father but I would feel very uncomfortable going to this level in a public way. Purity in many ways is a private matter. When it becomes public it becomes a spectacle and loses some of its purity.

  8. Thank you for enunciating this so well... I've had the same thoughts and misgivings over this growing fad... it's just *weird*.

    I agree that purity should not be made a spectacle of...

  9. We have definitely handled this with both parents. My husband has had the greatest share of dealing with the boys and princess daughter and I have had several talks already. I highly recommend the Everyman, Everywoman books for teens. At first, I didn't want my boys to read them, but when my husband read them he was so grateful for a game strategy that could work. He really felt that these books could have made a huge difference in his life if he had found them as a teen. My sons and my husband have given away probably 20 or so to other men/teens they know and care about. It saddens me that my little princess daughter, 8, has already had to have several talks with me about things that worry her in this department. I must have lived in a bubble as a child. We don't have TV and I am with her all the time. But I am grateful for her openness and thank God I am there for her to talk with.

  10. Plus -- what does an 11 yo know about purity, really. Of course it's easy for her to pledge it then -- much harder to avoid sin at an older age when a hot guy is involved.

  11. This is simply another attempt by Evangelical blowhards to re-inforce the stereotype of women's subservience to men. That it's done with fathers and daughters is just a ploy to tie in the 'familial' aspect of aiming true in god's eyes. What it actually does is create a perverse sense of ownership, by the father, of his daughter's sexuality. Disgusting.

  12. " I so agree with you about the need for sexual purity to be discussed with boys. I'm not sure why this is given such short shrift. When I was researching the whole purity ball concept, it was hard not to get the message that either somehow boys aren't involved in sexual sin or that premarital sex is a sin for girls but not for boys."

    I notice the same thing. The ironic thing is that in the Bible, what Jesus had to say about sexual sin He said to the men. Concerning the case of the woman caught in adultery, He said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

    Concerning lust in general, Christ said,Mat 5:27 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee..... And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell."

    Somehow I think that eyes and hands aren't the only "members" being (figuratively!) referred to here....

  13. So whom does the "purity", ie virginity, actually belong to, the daughter or the father?

    These programs seem to reflect the ancient idea that a woman's "honor" belonged not to her personally, but to her family.

    Should these girls also be expected to wave the blood-speckled bedsheets out the window on the morning after her wedding night to prove she was a virgin as well?

  14. I've written some more on this topic on my new blog: