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What Do Promise Rings REALLY Promise?

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Single Mom Seeking: I admit it: I'm a big Selena Gomez fan. But when I saw Gomez on "Extra" explaining that she'd asked her parents for a promise ring -- and they brought the ring to the church to have it blessed -- I thought: "What, exactly, is she promising?"

selena gomez, jordin sparks, jonas brothers

She's not the only one. The Jonas Brothers say on their website that they also wear rings "as a promise that they will stay sexually pure until marriage."

You might have heard about this via the Video Music Awards promise ring debate, after VMA host Russell Brand derided the Jonas Brothers for their purity vow.

In response, singer Jordin Sparks proudly showed off her own purity ring and shot back: "I just have one thing to say about promise rings," she announced to the audience. "It's not bad to wear a promise ring, because not everybody -- guy or girl -- wants to be a slut."

Just what is this purity ring thing all about anyway?

"The message these stars are sending is not real because it doesn't work in the real world," says Annie Fox, founder of the InSite, a place "for teens and young adults to turn their world around."

The abstinence-only message is simply not successful, explains Fox, who is also the author of the Middle School Confidential™ book series. "Education helps kids make choices -- NOT pledges."

"If the message is WAIT to have sex," she adds, "that's not a bad message."

Instead, however, the message that promise rings send is, "if you wear this ring, people think you are superior in a moral way. If you don't wear this ring, you're suspect."

"And what happens when you break the promise? Do you feel like you've sinned? Do you have to hide this from your parents? Now, you've betrayed your parents' trust -- and God's, too."

"I think that these stars benefit financially by having a squeaky clean image," adds Fox, who recently spent the day with teen celebrities at the Teen Choice Awards.

"If they can flash it on their finger, great! But who's to know what really happens unless someone comes forward?"

"No, I do not endorse young girls having sex," adds Fox. "But as parents, we need to do the best job possible to educate our kids."

What do you think?

next: Teacher Stabbed to Death at John Tyler High School
15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Qwerty September 24, 2009, 3:37 AM

I think it is tragic that abstinence is so abusively treated in peer groups nowadays. Its great they could make these vows, but the amount of teasing people get for them is unbelievable. It is definitely something that schools need to work on, because teens get away with practically saying anything, but this isn’t a joke or just something you did to please your parents. It actually means a lot, and it’s really humiliating to have people jeer at you because of it.

PlumbLucky September 24, 2009, 4:48 AM

The only peers I had in high school who wore “purity rings” were also no angels. They simply claimed that they didn’t have sex - as in, vaginal intercourse with penetration - but bragged about giving and getting head, mutual masterbation, etc.

Rose September 24, 2009, 5:28 AM

It is a personal choice. Does it really work? It depends on the person making the choice…he/she has to choose to keep the promise.

chris September 24, 2009, 5:55 AM

My eighteen yr old niece has worn her purity ring since she was 14. She just left for college and has maintained her promise to herself (in ALL sense of the word) Now that she is an adult, she can make whatever choices are right for her. I certainly didn’t wait until I was married but sometimes which I waited until I was older (I was 15) I think we should support these teenagers and respect thier decisions to wait and even if they failed at maintaining that promise they made to themselves, we should not judge them for giving into the same temptions that we are do at some point.

Cheryl September 24, 2009, 7:37 AM

The promise of abstinence does not reside in the ring, it is in the person. We have to teach our children that abstinence is a worthy goal to work toward, not that it is impossible. All young people don’t have to engage in premarital sex, it is a choice.

ThatGuy September 24, 2009, 8:38 AM

>It actually means a lot, and it’s really humiliating to have people jeer at you because of it.

Hey, if you willingly decide to advertise a personal belief, be prepared to take the heat for it.

This is just as silly as those people with the christ fish on their cars, most of whom are just as (or more) obnoxious than everybody else.


kay September 24, 2009, 9:16 AM

The Jonas Brothers don’t wear their rings because their parents make them. It was a decision they made by themselves. It is more than staying sexually pure until marriage. It isn’t for financial reasons. And they don’t talk about it on their website because it is personal to them. They are a religious family with good values.

As a former teenager and parent of many teenagers, I can say that abstinence is a successful message. It is one that my friends and I heard, understood, and had no trouble adhering to. Our children are following that path now. Parents need to be involved in their children’s lives. Talk to them and teach them not to buy into the media telling them that abstinence isn’t possible.

zeureeka September 24, 2009, 10:02 AM

I’m sick of everyone acting like teens and young adults who DON’T wear promise rings or choose to have premarital sex have something wrong with them.

It’s an individual choice. Yes, I wish some kids would wait longer. I was 19 before I lost my virginity, and then in the confines of a loving (but not married) relationship.

There’s more than one kind of “good morals,” it’s best to prepare kids for the worst while teaching them your values. Just because you ask them to abstain and they agree or pledge to do it doesn’t mean they will stick with it. It’s still best for them to know ALL of their options so they can grow up to make informed, mature decisions.

dean September 24, 2009, 1:14 PM

Ok, I guess my comment from this morning was not approved. Big shock for momlogic. Maybe because I quoted Jordan Sparks and she said ‘s!ut? Has anyone here had this problem before?

disagreeing September 24, 2009, 1:28 PM

“As a former teenager and parent of many teenagers, I can say that abstinence is a successful message.”
Statistics beg to differ.

Stan September 24, 2009, 4:34 PM

I have three kids, ages 6-18. Before that I was a counselor for mentally ill/abused kids and teens for ten years. I have just about had it with the way we go about “teaching” our children. Instead of being honest with them and having a conversation, we opt instead to use two bit phrases and sayings, like we are a living version of Fox news. Instead of teaching kids the dangers of drugs and alcohol, it is “just say no.” Instead of teaching them about the consequences of sex, we teach abstinence and purity rings, setting them up for failure. We teach them to stay away from strangers, when most all abductions and abuse happens at the hands of friends and relatives.

Break the cycle, become an informed parent.

Melanie September 24, 2009, 6:37 PM

I had many friends in high school that signed some pledge at their church saying they would stay pure. Pretty sure every single one of them broke their “promise”. The funniest part was they would talk about how guilty they felt and would pray for forgiveness. The very next weekend I had to hear the story all over. Most of these friends didn’t make the choice for themselves but were pressured by their pushy church. If the pledge is made by the teenager I think it might be more successful. There’s nothing wrong with teaching abstinence but it needs to be combined with safe-sex teachings. Kids need to be prepared to make wise and safe choices for themselves. If they are going to have sex they need to know the real life ramifications.

ThatDude September 25, 2009, 6:22 AM

> I had many friends in high school that signed some pledge at their church saying they would stay pure. Pretty sure every single one of them broke their “promise”.

Hypocrites at church… shocking !!!

EP October 2, 2009, 9:37 AM

Thank God that abstinence doesn’t include anal, oral and manual manipulation!

Ans1210 December 8, 2010, 2:19 AM

I think diamond rings do not always promise a lot as it’s supposed.

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