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The Purity Promise

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These days, young stars are sacrificing sex in favor of virginity vows. Momlogic explores this modern movement -- and what it means for teens everywhere.

What's the latest accessory to grace the bodies of teens wearing barely-there skirts and tummy-bearing tops? Purity rings. Selena Gomez, the 15-year-old star of Wizards of Waverly Place, wears one on her left ring finger that says: "True Love Waits." And the pop group the Jonas Brothers (Kevin, 20, Joe, 18, and Nick, 15) don silver metal bands to signify their promise to God to remain virgins until marriage.

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks says of her ring: "My parents gave me a purity ring and talked to me about waiting until I'm married to have sex. It wasn't forced; it just made perfect sense. It's going to be awesome to say to my husband that I waited my whole life for him."

These stars seem to want to prove they can be young and have fun without sacrificing their beliefs. And although this celebrity pledge may inspire young teens to wait until marriage, the numbers show they are just a reflection of a booming trend. Over the past decade, the number of Web sites selling purity rings has skyrocketed. In fact, sociologists found more than one in eight American teens have made a virginity vow to God.

K-Mart now sells gray, yellow, and blue sweatpants that proclaim in what they call "bold abstinence screen print" a logo that reads "True Love Waits" on the crotch and butt of the pants. And there's a new magazine geared toward junior high and high school students called Just For Girls, which encourages "abstinence living."

The good news: Studies have shown that purity pledges lower the risk of early sexual activity and teen pregnancy. The bad news: Researchers have also found that girls who make purity pledges were six times as likely to engage in oral sex than virgins who hadn't taken a pledge, and were also less likely to use a condom the first time they go all the way.

What do you think of purity pledges: good idea or a waste of time?

next: Boy Scout Camp Tornado Nightmare
69 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous July 2, 2008, 6:31 PM

people need to step out of the dark ages and realize that pre-marital sex, and yes, even teen sex is an absolutely normal and healthy behaviour, as long as both parties protect themselves and are aware of the risks and consequences. guess what, most teens out there ARE having sex and most of them do NOT get pregnant or stds. these kids are making responsible decisions, choosing effective methods of contraception and deserve just as much props as those who remain abstinent. labeling kids who chose to be sexually active as “impure” and immoral is absolutely sickening, considering we are supposed to be a modern and forward thinking society.

IDK July 7, 2008, 11:52 AM

I’m sorry but Most Teens aren’t having sex. Even a study by the National Teen Pregnancy organization says so. LOL

IDK July 7, 2008, 11:56 AM

Honestly this trend as every other negative trend is signaling a breakdown of American society. This country is destroying itself. From our backing of false politicians to the destruction of the family unit across the board. This country is imploding. I am not sounding the death knell, just a warning:)

IDK July 7, 2008, 12:11 PM

Hey Anonymous where have you been? Haven’t seen you, since the dark ages. Oh just to let you know the update on sex and teens: 1 in every 4 sexually active teens has an STD even up to TWO STD’s. Hey that’s even with condom use. No I’m not blaming it on condoms, but like you said it’s normal and a healthy behavior. What’s the problem??? Um let me think… OBVIOUSLY THESE TEENS ARE TOO IMATURE AND HAVE A HARD TIME FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS. Oops, Caps Lock got stuck…sorry! Interesting thought though…Contraception education has been taught for the last 40 years. You would think that this wouldn’t be. If you really go deep into it, this has been going on since the late 60’s and 70’s. This topic reminds me of the big MSA with Tobacco. The Surgeon said tobacco is ok and healthy and 40 years later after people are already hooked. Surgeon says oh wait its not healthy. Really think on how this can be healthy and please respond to this and tell me what’s so healthy about it.

Nhazuda July 7, 2008, 12:55 PM

I have 2 questions ,
Can u wear it , while its just written ” love ” as a purity ring ?
Can any religon other than christians wear it ?

Cattie July 12, 2008, 1:58 AM

Amy wrote: “What studies are you talking about? Because I have done extensive research on this topic and extremely reputable publications such as Congressional Quarterly and the Kaiser Family Foundation have reported that abstinence vows only delay the average onset of sexual activity approximately 12-18 months.”

So much for that “extensive research”…I’ve had my ring since I was 13, and I’m about to turn 20. I’m still a virgin. The thing is, it’s not the ring, it’s the ethics and the reasoning behind it that causes me to wait until marriage. It is something that I want, not something that I’m straining against because someone else made me wear this ring. It’s not about finding a loophole in things like oral sex, or trying to “get away” with everything but sex, it’s about the knowledge that abstinence is truly the only 100% accurate way not to get pregnant before you want to, not to contract a whole mess of diseases, and not to end up with your heart broken in seven places.

Yeah, you’re going to have urges like everyone else. But I believe - and pure reason says - that it’s just worth it to wait until marriage. Not until you think you’re in love, not until you’ve moved in with someone, not until prom night, but until marriage. Because, call me cheesy, but when you’re married, you have the legal union to match the physical union. Honestly, something mysterious and binding happens when you have sex; something like union of souls. And I don’t want to go messing around with that lightly.

cheri August 3, 2008, 1:21 AM

In response to Nhazuda on July 7th—-
As a Cristian (and Mom of two)I believe Anyone — ANY religion can wear a “purity” ring, I hope that any caring Christian would agree. I would also think that ANY ring can represent your belief.
I wish this idea had been around when I was in highschool- maybe having a ring, a “visual”,of my own beliefs would have helped me respect myself more.
Wishing you the best.
p.s. it’s never too late to start over— my husband (of 15 years) & I waited with eachother—made it so much more meaningful

Martha Hawkinson August 5, 2008, 11:52 PM

I chose to wear a caged pearl as a symbol of my commitment. It symbolizes that I am a rare and precious pearl, and that the man who is lucky enough to have me will be truly blessed indeed.

Really the whole idea is to save something that should be incredibly special until MARRIAGE, therefore making it incredibly special.

In my opinion, this takes a personal commitment on the part of the teen signing the pledge. This is why there is such a high ‘failure’ rate documented among those teens who have signed pledges. If a teen signs a purity pledge out of peer pressure, then he/she will probably break that same pledge.

Myself, I decided that I would save sex for marriage when I was 12, AND this was before my parents had gotten around to having “the talk” with me. I made a public purity when I was somewhere around 15.(don’t remember exactly when… though not the point.)

Shortly after I turned 21 (and I was still a virgin at this point!!) I made a deeper commitment to living a life of virtue, which entailed far more then just sex. The virtue pledge that I signed was a commitment to not dress in ways that are provocative, to behave modestly, and to save WAY more then just my hymen for marriage.(and more that I may have forgotten.)

While I do believe that both boys and girls should save sex for marriage, I think that public ceremonies are going too far. The only true way that teens and young adults are going to be able to honor such a commitment, is to recognize that it has to be first between the teen and God, then if the teen chooses to make it public, so be it. I think the father daughter purity balls are going too far. Sex is by its nature a very private act; therefore I think that the decision NOT to have sex should be just as private.

Now as to the wearing of purity rings, I think it should be a personal choice. Myself, I chose to wear a pearl pendant rather than a ring, and no I do not feel compelled to wear it everyday. Like I said, it’s a personal choice.

I can’t believe I had that much to say!

me August 9, 2008, 11:21 AM

Instead of waiting until marriage, one should wait until the one person comes along that having sex with feels right with. Like George Michael said: Sex is natural, sex is fun. Instead of living “pure” one should learn how to have safe sex.

Vern August 9, 2008, 4:17 PM

I’m a sceptic about these rings.
I have a niece who’s Father is a Minister. She pledged abstinence and wore the ring which she flaunted to everyone in the family. She sneaked behind her parents backs and slept around starting at the age of 13. Her parents never suspected and none of us “butted in” as her Father would not have believed us anyway. She sneaked out of the house at night to meet boys and lied constantly about her whereabouts to her Mom and Dad. (They could never see the trees for the forest) I know this because she had the “reputation” in town and she bragged about it to certain people including her sister years later. In other words…….I am a sceptic. Britney Spears was the same way……claiming she was a virgin when she was not. Having sex is something that is a personal choice and one has to take the responsibility for our own actions. What I don’t like is all the Bull=== that went on with my niece while her Father bragged about his perfect little girl.

Jessie August 10, 2008, 7:36 PM

Umm…I’m going to go ahead and disagree with the idea behind this article. Teen pregnancy is higher then ever and with abstinence-only programs overriding schools across the nation in place of real education, it’s going to keep rising. A promise to God may be a nice idea, but it won’t keep you from getting pregnant or contracting an STD if you should happen to break your promise. Condoms and birthcontrol are the only thing that can help prevent that from truy happening and not allowing educators to discuss how to find and use such protection is extremely damaging. If abstinence only worked, then teen pregnancy wouldn’t be on the rise.

Parents…educate YOURSELVES! Watch The Education of Shelby Knox. You can remain abstinent and informed at the same time!

Lori August 20, 2008, 10:58 AM

My story is probably on the extreme end of why you should save sex for marriage and why dad’s are so important in the process. I would have loved it if my father had taken more interest in protecting my virginity. He never sat down and had a one-on-one talk with the young man that became my husband. I think that gesture on my dad’s part would have shown he really cared about my well-being and safety. I wish I had waited until I was married before having sex. And maybe if my parents had been more involved and more verbal about the importance of being sexually pure, it might have happened that I was a virgin when I married. I might also be happily married, instead of that which is the actual case - I married a sex addict (which, of course, he hid very well at the time). Instead of warning our kids against sex before marriage, I think we should encourage them toward purity. That means teaching our girls to respect themselves. A loving father can show his daughter what real respect and love looks like. Then our girls won’t want to settle for anything less than the real thing.

lori August 20, 2008, 11:11 AM

oh, BTW, I realize that it IS possible to marry a sex addict even if you do wait to have sex with that person until you are married. Unfortunately, s/he wouldn’t have waited. S/he’d be getting his/her sexual desires met elsewhere. So hopefully if parents have taught their children what real love/intimacy/trust looks like, they will recognize the other person’s character flaws and run the other direction. P.S. acknowledging that sex addiction is not gender specific

ben September 11, 2008, 1:44 PM

I think purity rings are a deceitful ploy meant to take heat off of the dismal failure of “abstinenece only sex education.” Now you can blame the pregnant children for violating their vow of celebacy rather than the deliberate witholding of meaningful sex education.

nicole September 15, 2008, 7:16 PM

I was 29 when I got married and I was a virgin.It was hard at times but when you ask God for help and to provide a partner that shares the same morals and belief it makes it alot easier for you.I think the friendsyou share can make you or break you.We should teach our kids that it is ok to be different yet to stand out,that no means no and that abstinence is golden.Only when we reach self actualization that we can stand in the face of pressure.

renee September 16, 2008, 7:27 AM

they have the ring but do they actually understands that it means everything waits not just intercourse?aparently not since they have a higher rate of oral.

Jennifer September 16, 2008, 9:21 AM

Maybe the real issue here is the fact that about a million parents in the good old USofA are more concerned about their hair or nails or sports,or anything……and not their teenagers. I know right now mine is pushing every button he can and my husband and I are doing our best to guide him all the way.
If a purity ring holds sex off for only 12-18 months, that might just mean one less infertility issue when a woman who contracted and STD when she was a teen and didn’t know it for years ends up infertile.
I have a cousin (by marriage) who never even kissed her husband until they said ‘I do’.
I absolutely believe the true issue here is relationship with your teens, not a ring, or anything else.
We are lazy, self-centered, and don’t want to deal with the commitments we make by having our own children and then expect our teens to make wise choices by our example.

Kerri October 8, 2008, 4:37 PM

Waiting to have sex until you’re married is not just about you being mature enough or in love! It is a commandment from our Father in heaven! Thou shall not commit adultery. Adultery is Any sex outside of marriage. Not just cheating on a spouse. Sex before you’re married is outside of marriage also. I am teaching my 3 girls this and praying that they choose to wait, so to me the ring is an awesome promise between them and an Awesome God!!

anonymous October 9, 2008, 5:44 PM

Love is patient and kind. love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. it does not demand its own way. it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. it does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices when ever the truth wins out. love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

While everyone believes that they should do with their body as they individually choose to please: the bible talks about a more profound meaning on the ability to understand why purity and love are so interwined. there is so much in this world that we want,desire, dream, hope for in our lives. who doesn’t want the best of everything? Time is essential in giving yourself to a meaningful moment, one that will change your life forever, why not wait for the right person? the right time? why is there so much struggle today with the ability to wait on for just a while, all things come to pass.Wait for Gods right timing. You will be thankful for it.

Alex November 30, 2009, 7:23 PM

guys arent the problem we dont all want to use you many of you make it sound like that I have a purity ring of my own and I am a teenage guy in this world and I just want to say it is tough for us to

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