Originally Published July 31, 2013
Ah, the purity ring – the passive symbol that says to the world, “I’m waiting.” Purity rings came on the scene during the ’90’s, primarily among Christian youth girls, as a sort of pledge to abstinence. For girls, the ring was often taken along with a symbolical “marriage” to Jesus while in waiting for a husband. The purity ring fad has declined greatly since then, but as a Christian man, I still see many Christian girls who wear purity rings. I often encourage them to not wear the ring because men view it very differently than do the girls wearing them. This is simply a bit of information from a male perspective that may give girls/women reading this article some new insight.
It encourages her definition as an object rather than as a person. I’ve seen from my observations and conversations with girls that one of the biggest challenges for a young lady with respect to a male suitor is to get him to see her and fall in love with her as a person rather than as a female object.
While a purity ring may carry with it a pledge of commitment and a lifestyle, it amplifies that a key feature of a girl is the fact that she’s living sexually pure, perhaps even remaining in her virginity. Yes, most Christian guys who are genuinely seeking a mate find a sexually pure girl very attractive, but if she has kept herself pure for him, he should view it as a blessing and a gift – not a criteria for her value. In a sense, the ring becomes a “quality tag,” such as “Made In USA” or “Organically Grown,” something that says “This piece of merchandise is better than that one over there.”
I don’t believe that searching for a mate should be like shopping for the best deal because there will always be a better deal somewhere, sometime. But I believe that’s exactly what purity rings encourage. They cause a girl’s sexuality to become integrated into how she is perceived as a person. There is the girl who wears a purity ring who has the arrogant attitude of “I’m a virgin. You’re not worthy to have me.” There is the girl who is known to wear a purity ring who then decides to take it off, and the first response from her peers is “Well, she did it. She gave herself away to some jerk,” even if she is still as pure as the day she was born. There is the girl who decides to not wear a purity ring when her friends do, and the whispers of “Yeah, we know what that means” start to haunt her, perhaps in a devastating way. That is all because a purity ring causes a girl’s sexuality and the physical state of her virginity to become one of her key definitions, and without it, she is seen as inferior to those who wear it. She has become an object of lesser value.
It acts to deter decent, God-fearing male suitors. Since purity rings are nearly always worn on the wedding finger, in accordance with the “marriage to Jesus” thing, and since they are intentionally designed similar to a wedding band, they very much appear to male onlookers and potential suitors like a wedding ring.
I’ve told this to many female ring wearers, and they universally respond with something such as the statements, “If he’s really interested in me, he won’t let the ring stop him from asking about me” and “It’ll deter all the skirt chasers who just want to get some.” Ladies, if you’re a ring wearer and have used justifications such as these, please pay close attention to what I’m about to say. As a Christian man, one of the first things I “check out” on a girl is her wedding finger. If there’s a ring, I walk away, no questions asked. I don’t get close enough to see the almost microscopic “In Waiting” script on it. I don’t look for little symbols that indicate it’s not a wedding ring. It’s a ring, and it’s located on a place on the girl’s hand that is sacred.
Sacred – I use that word to convey a critical difference between me and the guy who sees the ring yet isn’t deterred. A ring doesn’t deter the womanizing skirt chasers that you don’t want pursuing you. It deters the men who respect the marriage that the ring embodies, the men who respect the sacredness of marriage vows. A ring is a boundary that a decent man will not challenge, even if it is simply to ask if it’s a wedding ring. In contrast, guys who “just want some” often target married women because they are often neglected (and thus easy), and there is absolutely no risk of commitment to her, even if she gets pregnant, because she’s already in the care of her husband. He isn’t deterred by the ring because he’s simply wanting to steal sex from her. So actually, wearing a ring on the wedding finger has precisely the opposite effect that girls intend, deterring the decent and respectful suitors and attracting the disrespectful suitors and sex mongers.
Ultimately, each girl has to choose whether or not she’ll wear a purity ring, but she should weigh carefully the implications of wearing one. My hope for this article is that it will help give female readers more information to make that choice, information from a male perspective that they may not have realized otherwise.