Okay Family, I’ll admit: there’s something in this world that can creep out Yours Truly. And thing is the “Purity Ball” event.
Now what is the “purity ball” event? It’s an affair attended by dads and their young daughters, where the daughters pledge their virginity to the dads. No, I’m not making this up, in fact there’s a documentary out called, Virgin Tales that discusses this phenomenon. This is becoming common among Evangelical Christians and was even explored in The New York Times recently. It was the brainchild of Randy and Lisa Wilson back in 1998; in fact, here’s a piece from their website:
The Father Daughter Purity Ball is a memorable ceremony for fathers to sign commitments to be responsible men of integrity in all areas of purity. The commitment also includes their vow to protect their daughters in their choices for purity. The daughters silently commit to live pure lives before God through the symbol of laying down a white rose at the cross. Because we cherish our daughters as regal princesses—for 1 Peter 3:4 says they are “precious in the sight of God”—we want to treat them as royalty.
One of the most memorable highlights of the ball is when the fathers stand in the middle of the ballroom and form a circle around their daughters standing all aglow in their lovely ball gowns. The fathers place their hands on their daughters, and together we pray for purity of mind, body, and soul for generations to come.
Now I have no problem with fathers looking out for their daughters’ best interests as they grow into women. And if a young lady wants to wait until marriage to “get it on” that’s all well and good too. However, I have a problem when men-regardless of belief-feel they have some Biblical “mandate” regarding how women handle their bodies. And despite the Wilsons’ good intentions, they too pave the road to Hell.
This purity ball creeps me out when I see girls pledging their virginity to their fathers as if they were some quasi-husband. I thought the act of staying a virgin was for some future spouse and not for a parent. This is calling for the daughter to cede her (budding) sexuality to Daddy’s patriarchal wishes until she finds a suitable (to Dad), “equally yoked” husband. I never recalled my sisters pledging their virginity to our Dad in our Christian household. This gives men complete control over their daughters’ bodies.
This also smacks of patriarchy-a “Father knows best” system that regresses back into the ancient world of the Bible where fathers made their daughters stay virgins so they can fetch a nice bride price for them. Today, in an age where women are becoming more sexually aware without needing a man-even among Christians-such awareness is a threat to the male-centered patriarchy that was touted in Scripture. And as male-centered American Christianity is slowly sailing into the sunset, many fundagelical men are looking for some vestige of control.
What also creeps me out is that these fathers are coercing their daughters into virginity by playing on the young ladies’ emotional and psychological need for acceptance and approval-especially from Daddy. Whether grade school or high school, the desire for acceptance and approval from Dad is strong in these girls. To me this is wrong! I have two goddaughters who I’d rather they pledge to be true to God and themselves by living authentically from the heart the way God intended. I would still love, approve and accept them whether they waited (or didn’t wait) for marriage to have sex.
And who says these pledges work? Unless the girls stay at home until marriage, what happens when they move out into the world? What happens when their hormones start firing up? Even if they stay virgins until marriage, will the sex be any sweeter, or the marriage any better? Who knows? What if these girls never marry?
A better approach would be to have both Mom and Dad foster a responsible sexuality in both their sons and daughters. To know that sex, if engaged responsibly can be pleasurable and even enhance one’s life. If handled irresponsibly, it could be disastrous. I have a son who’ll one day grow up into a young man, so I have my work cut out for me.
The Church also needs to let women handle their own bodies. Despite what “the Bible sez”, young girls are not their dad’s property. In fact, these young ladies are on loan from the Creator-that’s all. If you look at Jesus’s teachings, he never advocated “property” – to him all people were equal in the eyes of God. I think women-young and old-can do a good job of managing their bodies, thank you. If a man wants to give input, it could be a supportive and nourishing role instead of a patriarchal one.
It’s high time to put the creepy purity ball and what it represents to pasture. We’ve got more important things to do with our children-period.