Purity Rings: Rose’s Story

A guest post by Rose

Hi, my name is Rose. My purity ring story is that in seventh grade I found a plain gold wedding ring in my mom’s jewelry box. She explained to me that in addition to my father making her engagement ring, he had made her a plain gold wedding band for wearing under her medical gloves during part time work as a nurse midwife.  I always thought the story of my dad designing and making the wedding ring himself was so romantic, as my dad is in computers now, but had picked up metal working as he bebopped along in his “jack of all trades” way.  So I asked if this plain gold band which my dad had made and fit me so well could become my purity ring. They agreed and I wore it on my left hand and of course it became a prop for all my fantasy wedding ideas. I got it engraved with the words “Psalm 37:4”.

I wore this ring for three solid years. During that time, a boy a year older than me named Scott* moved to my area and my church, and we found we had a ton in common and began hanging out. I loved the attention, but mostly I just thought he was awesome. When his mother told me that Scott had said that he considered that I “would be his best friend if I wasn’t a girl”, I was extremely pleased that he thought so highly of me, and only a little stung by my gender getting in the way of the deal. Mostly I thought to myself that he was just saying that everyone else wouldn’t get worried about our friendship being too deep.

That really didn’t end up mattering because all of our friends caught on that we were hanging out together and teased us mercilessly, asking when the wedding was etc. One day, my best friends said it was inappropriate that we were hanging out so much without being engaged, so they pulled the two of us into a room together and made him pretend propose. I was mortified and at the same time pleased as punch. They pulled the purity ring off my finger and made him use it for the faux proposal, which he blushingly stuttered out, and I accepted through my giggles (mind you, I was 14 at the time and he was 15, and we had not even been alone in the same room together at this point.)

A couple of weeks later at a church group meeting at his house, he pulled me aside into his bedroom and awkwardly told me through an encrypted note that he liked me and that he had never felt this way before and he just had to tell me. Err, that’s what he meant anyway, the note actually read “I love you”, which I was blown away by. I wasn’t given much time to process this. Three days later, we were setting up a “family meeting” with his parents and being given a litany of rules. No more phonecalls, letters or emails, no talking to each other alone, and absolutely no hand holding or anything else. We were not in a relationship. Period, full stop.

So from there we weren’t friends anymore. Scott was too embarrassed to even look me in the eyes or personally address me, and I didn’t want to humiliate him any further so I stayed away. His parents had told my parents (who were open with me and told me all this) that he had said similar things to a girl at the last place he lived, and that he was prone to crushes and we needed to be kept apart so he could control himself. At the time, my parents trusted his parents and left it at that. I later found out that less than a year after summarily rejecting me as an option, they allowed him to date a girl from his homeschool co-op that they approved of. He later dropped out of college to go marry at 19.

The end of the purity ring story (sorry about the tangent but I felt it related) was that about a year after being pulled away from my friendship with Scott, a friend of my mom’s stayed with us. He was a native pastor in a church in Zimbabwe that my missionary grandfather had planted. His wife had recently lost her wedding ring, and I volunteered my purity ring to be given to him to take home, since he didn’t really have the money to buy a new one.

I’m so glad I was able to give that ring a new and sweet purpose, and the verse proved true later. “Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I’m now very happily in a relationship with the love of my life. I didn’t meet her until after college, until after I prayed a prayer that God would give me only who he wanted me to be with, and that it would have to be pretty clear, as a sort of “fleece” (a la Judges 6). And then there she was, and I fell almost instantly. We’ve been living together for about a year now, and the joy I have is of one completely fulfilled in spirit. My parents don’t approve, and that’s hard, but they’ve told us they won’t treat us any differently, though they will keep preaching their truth to us quote “till my last breath,” as my mom said. I can only keep loving her, and telling them that I love God too, and maybe one day they will understand.

Nowadays, that ring means only that I had a different, more narrow perspective on life. I was never required to wear a purity ring, though a few girls in my church had them. It was a promise that I needed at the time, but it was turned against me by Scott’s parents, who my parents agree didn’t particularly like me. Because we were deemed “too young” to keep the promises we were being held to, our feelings could be pushed aside by their mandates and rules. My parents believed that Scott was “impulsive” and that he wouldn’t have been able to “control himself”, despite evidence to the contrary (again, he never even tried to kiss me or hold hands) because they “trusted his parents’ judgement”.

My parents have since apologized for ruining the friendship and not trusting us to be responsible, and I appreciate that. But I know they still wouldn’t have let us date at that time because of the stigma in the reformed charismatic church we lived in and the influence of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris.

*name changed

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This post is part of the Purity Rings project, in which young adults who had purity rings as teens and have since come to question the rationale behind them share their stories. For more purity ring stories, click here

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

    Thanks for sharing this story! It made me cry :’)

  • Sheena

    I’m glad that you are in a good relationship now…And that the ring has found its “home”.

  • Rose

    Thanks, Sheena. I’m very glad that I’ve found my love, although we are going through some harder times right now. My mom is lashing out with guilt and tears. I’m feeling less upbeat now than I was when I first penned this story.

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com JW

    That book ‘I kissed Dating goodbye’ I bet is a killer. Never read it but everytime I have heard the name I just rolled my eyes. Also glad to hear that your parents have apologized. A very important thing because many times Parents don’t know how to do that, especially in religous context. That pride thing.

  • smrnda

    I once read some of Joshua Harris’ books just since I’d heard so much about them. People should realize that he wrote them when he was in his 20s, and it really shows. It seems like he was kind of bitter and upset that he wasn’t with someone, so he had to find a way to ruin dating for everyone else that he could by declaring it to be wrong.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      I’m just waiting for the day that I walk into a Christian “bookstore” and see a t-shirt with Forever Alone Guy proudly wearing a purity ring.

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot JW

    I just recently heard on the radio about some ‘purity ball’ conference for girls 7-12 for parents to take their girls to. I thought that if a family is going to do that why are the ages that low. Teenage life is where the identity and decisions about self are made most abundant and can be long lasting. I don’t think I could ever take my daughter to one of those things, if I had a daughter. Just seems ‘weird’.

    • Aurora

      That creeps me out a bit. And aren’t these people usually the ones who insist it’s child abuse to let a kid know sex exists before they’re 13ish? So how do they justify making their 7 year old daughter promise not to have sex when they refuse to tell her what sex IS?

      I know, I know. Cognitive dissonance. And we have always been at war with Eastasia.

  • Rose

    JW, I also did not read I kissed Dating Goodbye, I didn’t need to, it was all around me, everyone was talking about it and treating it as a final word. I always thought it was odd he had “so much wisdom” when he was so young, certainly i didn’t claim to know everything about being a teenager even though I was one. *shakes head*
    My parents always have been very very good about apologizing and confessing sin and asking for forgiveness, which makes it that much harder sometimes to have differing opinions than them. In every way they possibly can, they practice what they preach, so saying their way doesn’t work for me is agonizing.


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