I love the concept of purity rings, where parents purchase a ring and give it to their daughter over a meaningful weekend, inviting her to guard her purity. I think all parents should take their child’s sexual purity seriously. However, I began to see over the years that the purity ring concept was actually setting the child up for greater failure. When a teen fails to resist temptation, they build a wall with their parents because it isn’t just about their choice but about profoundly disappointing their parents, who had created such high expectations. Purity shouldn’t be a pass/fail but rather a lifestyle of good choices. I think it is wise to keep the bar high (really high) when it comes to teaching, equipping, and empowering our children with their sexual health; however, we live in a culture that is so flamboyantly sexualized. When we teach purity, we also need to be taught HOW to take our mistakes, failure, and sin and bring it to God. Fear, shame, and pride keep us in our sin, while confession, humility, and honesty bring restoration. Moral failure is a top reason why teens fall away from God. They feel like they have committed a fatal sin and are now separated from God. While it is true sexual immorality does have profound ramifications that affect our mind, body, and spirit, it is only God who can heal and restore what was lost. We aren’t expecting our teens to crash the car once they get their license, but it is wise to give them instructions on what to do in case of an accident so that they are empowered should they find themselves in that mess.
I once asked a girl in her young 20s what contributed to her choice to remain pure despite continuous pressure. She told me how her parents laid the foundation by teaching her the power of sex, attraction, and moral health and then presented it in a way that empowered her that her daily choices were guarding herself FOR something and not just AGAINST something. One is empowering, and the other one is merely obeying a command through resistance. Ex. For the person dieting, they will be much more successful if they make a choice not to eat the cake BECAUSE they have their eyes fixed on a higher goal of denying themselves now SO THAT they can fit into their jeans down the road. The JOY of the future is what helped them to say NO to the cake today. They wanted their jeans more than the cake. Another person diets simply by denying themselves in a self-condemning, shameful way of managing resistance, which only stirs up the desire for cake even more. It is rooted in willpower, “I can’t,” and rules. This isn’t a recipe for success, longevity, or real transformation. I was inspired to keep the concept of the purity ring for my girls but to do it FOR their future husbands. I took them out, and we talked about purity (not sex ed, but the purity of their mind, body, dress, heart, emotions, and relationships), and then we each picked out a tie for their future husbands. They are placed where they can see them daily and are reminded that he is a living human being on earth today. They pray for him, think about him, and some are even keeping a journal about him (wondering, dreaming, and praying for him). This establishes that they are guarding their purity FOR HIM. My daughter came home one day, expressing an interest in a boy at school. I asked, “Is that the boy you have been praying for?” and instantly, she realized, “NO!”