Since I was fourteen years old, I’ve worn a very simple ring on my wedding finger. I’ve had it on every day since the summer before my freshman year of high school. The silver ring, with a heart in the middle, reads the word “purity” on it. Though simple, this ring holds an extremely heavy meaning and importance to me. Since I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life in a Christian school, I’m used to seeing one of these on practically every girl’s finger. Now, being in a public school and having a job with people that come from all different kinds of paths, I’m starting to realize not only the real meaning of this ring, but how extremely uncommon it is to find in the “real world.” I had one particular experience a few weeks ago that really made me realize this.
While having a conversation with a new friend I made, he looked down at my left hand and said,
“So whats the deal with that thing?” I glanced down at my silver band resting on my wedding finger and I asked, “My ring?”
“Yeah,” he said, “Are you engaged? I thought you were only eighteen!?”
“No,” I laughed, “It’s a purity ring.” ….He stared.
Now, let’s pause there. If you can imagine me, a teenager fresh out of Valley Christian schools, I was pretty taken aback by that question, “What’s [a purity ring]? ” Call it me being naive, or my “private school bubble” being popped, but I seriously cannot recall a time in my life (up to that point) that I’ve had to explain to someone what a purity ring was. So, I did.
“Well,” I began, “It’s a promise to save my virginity until my wedding night. It’s a promise to myself, to my future husband, and to God that I’m gonna save myself sexually for whoever I’m gonna marry.” He stared at me blankly,
“So…it’s like a promise ring…but to yourself?” I couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“Well, not really. But sure…you could call it that!” I said. As you can probably assume, answering this question just completely opened a whole ‘nother can of worms, and a whole new set of questions from him.
As our conversation continued, he asked me questions like, “When did you decide you were going to abstain from sex until marriage?” and “Why would you ever put yourself through such torture!?” (ha!) For the first time, I really had to not only explain my purity ring, but explain the background, the meaning, and the scripture behind it; which, for the first time, was…challenging. I told my friend that I had decided when I was about to enter high school and even though it is not always the funnest or easiest promise to keep, I find rest in knowing it is a promise that is protecting my heart from so much heartache that pre-marrital sex would bring.
Lucky for me, I’ve been able to witness first-hand the heartache that breaking this commandment brings. I’ve had friends, cousins & speakers at church/school talk about the pain that they’ve experienced through having sex before marriage. However, since having this conversation with this friend of mine, I’ve encountered many more situations where I’ve had to explain my purity ring, or why I’m still a virgin when I have a boyfriend of two years. It’s crazy to me that people just don’t get it. (I’m sure I look pretty crazy in their point of view, too!) Just last week I overheard two customers at my work discussing how they were having contests to see who could go the longest without having sex with their boyfriend. While the two laughed and poked fun at their one-week “records” it occurred to me just how abnormal my commitment to staying pure was to society. In high school, all I ever heard were stories of regret from having sex. I don’t think I knew a single girl at school who was proud of/stood by her decision of giving her virginity away to a man that was not her husband. However, now, from the conversations I hear, girls almost take pride in getting a guy in bed. Men take it as a competition to sleep with as many girls as possible. I never hear stories of regret anymore. Not from the people I am surrounded with on a day-to-day basis. Having sex is so normal and almost expected for the average person.
Being out in the so-called “real-world” now has been such an eye-opener for me. To be honest, I’ve never really had to explain my religion, my morals and my vow of abstinence to anyone until this year. However, having to explain these things has been such a challenging and rewarding experience; because with each conversation I have with someone with opposing views, my eyes are opened to the reasoning behind God’s commands for us. My body is where GOD dwells. 1 Corinthians 6;19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” To know that God’s spirit is living and dwelling in me, that my body is a temple, a place also referred to as “God’s house” makes me think long and hard about the way I treat it. Because God dwells in MY body, I want to make sure I’m using my body to do nothing but bring him the purest of praise. Whether that’s in regards to alcohol, language, and especially sex. I’m not claiming to be perfect, nor am I claiming that those who do these things are doomed to a destiny in Hell, rather, I am stating the reasons why I personally choose to abstain from these things. This ring that resides on my wedding ring finger is not just a symbol of sexual purity, but a mental purity and a purity of my heart. Strangely enough, being with people who aren’t Christians is really cool for me. It forces me to research and defend my views and my morals rather than asking my Bible teacher why “we” (as Christians) think/believe/do the things we do. I’m learning just what this foundation of Christianity is and why I believe it. But more importantly, through my conversations about my purity ring/my religion, I’m learning how to stand my ground & tell about a love that saves my life on a daily basis; a love that inspires me to lead a life of purity.