Purity Balls

Question in e-mail today asking me what I thought of “Purity Balls,” the odd fundamentalist Christian ritual in which daddies take their young daughters to a sort of mini-prom and at the end of it the daughters pledge to remain sexually pure and the daddies pledge to defend that purity. Basically, the reason for the dance is the pledging, which strikes me similarly to Mark Twain’s definition of golf: “A long walk, spoiled.”

My own thought about these purity balls is that they’re really icky — we could go on all day about what’s wrong about dads making their very small daughters think about sex, or indoctrinating them into thinking their sexuality should be contingent on the dictates of the men in their lives — but given the high holy terror with which fundamentalists regard human sexuality in general and female sexuality in particular, I don’t find these mechanisms of control and indoctrination particularly surprising. I feel sorry for the little girls that their quality time with daddy comes at the price of pledging to submit their will to daddy’s whims until such time as they equally surrender to their husband’s will, but I guess that since they get to wear such pretty dresses, it’s a fair trade. So that’s all right.

Speaking as a father — and one of a girl just about the right age to take to a “purity ball” at that — I’m not going to criticize one of the underlying desires of the purity ball, which is a father’s desire to express his commitment to care for and protect his child. I happen to have the same desire. I will note, however, that the expression of that desire can take on rather substantially different forms. These “Purity Ball” fathers think it’s best expressed through control; I think it’s best expressed through knowledge. I don’t want my daughter to pledge her “purity” to me, as if having a sexual experience is some sort of karmic besmirching; I want to inform my daughter so that when she has sex, she knows what she’s doing and she has it on her terms, and she comes away from the experience satisfied (as much as anyone comes away from their first experience in such a state) and able to integrate it into her life in a positive way.

Which is not to say I want her having sex, oh, anytime before she can vote; indeed, you can believe me when I say to you that among the discussions we’ll have will be the ones where I suggest that abstinence really is the best policy through high school, for many very good and practical reasons (hey, it worked for me). I mean, I suppose I could just say “You shouldn’t have sex because I’ve told you not to, and that’s the end of it,” and demand she respect my authority. However, if Athena is anything like me as a kid (and it’s becoming rather abundantly clear that she is), any attempt at parental rule by fiat is likely to be politely but deeply ignored, and she’s going to do what’s she going to do.

That being the case, rationally outling the consequences is going to work rather better than trying to ram a pledge down her adorable little throat. Indeed, I doubt I could do that, even now — she’s already remarkably resistant to me pulling the “because I said so” act, because she’s already internalized the idea that things should happen for a reason. And of course, I feel immensely proud about that, even if it does make getting her to clean up her room a real pain in the ass sometimes.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, I think not having pre-marital sex is pretty idiotic. This is a separate issue from promiscuity — I’m not a big fan of totally indiscriminate appendage insertion or acceptance — but if you’re serious enough about someone that you’re contemplating marriage, you damn well better know what your own sexual playing field is, and you damn well better know if you’re sexually compatible with your presumed marital partner. Waiting until you’re married to find out if you’re sexually compatible with your spouse is like waiting until you’re married to find out if you actually speak the same language as your spouse. Yes, you probably could make a marriage work without actually being able to speak to your spouse, but that’s not really a good marriage, is it. I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone I know.

All of which signals to you that I have a rather different view of sexuality in general than your average “Purity Ball” father. Which is, of course, all right by me. As I said, I can’t fault what I see as the root impulse for the purity balls, but I’m glad that my expression of the desire to keep my daughter safe is not that one. Because if you really want to fetishize sex for a little girl, I really can’t think of a more effective way to do it than something like a purity ball. And you know what? Fetishizing sex for little girls is so very much not what I want to be doing with my time.

97 thoughts on “Purity Balls

  1. I wonder how many of the girls taken to these balls understand that purity refers to their sexuality. How does a dad make his daughter understand the pledge without defeating the purpose of it somewhat? After all, misunderstanding is the best side-dish to dread. Serve that one up at ballroom-temperature and you’re set.

  2. PNH:

    “Ah, good old ‘pre-martial sex.’ There’s an entire chapter of Old Man’s War devoted to that, if I recall correctly.”

    What are you, an editor or something?

    Fixed.

  3. And yet you’re still asserting that one had “damn well better know if you’re sexually compatible with your presumed martial partner.”

    It’s how we can tell you’re a real artist; the same themes keep asserting themselves in your work. Graduate students, start your engines!

  4. I’m sorry, but every time I read “Purity Balls,” I give a little Beavis and Butthead chuckle.

    Heh, balls.

    I’m not sure I’m too comfortable with young girls being purified by balls.

    Especially not by their daddies.

    Ew.

    K

  5. I have to say, I find the whole concept utterly bizarre. It’s oddly feudal somehow – treating a woman’s body and sexuality as property of the Lord in his castle. I think a trip to Self-Awaria should be scheduled for these chaps.

  6. This goes onto the same pile as similar pledges that are (supposedly) popular among parents (and sloppy journalists).

    Somehow I think few kids involved volunteer out of the blue to make these pledges, and few kids are going to have sufficient independent spirit to feel able to tell their folks “no, but thanks for the suggestion”. More likely they’ll swallow hard, make the pledge, then go and do (or don’t do) whatever they would’ve (or wouldn’t’ve) done anyway. With perhaps a little added motivation to not tell Mom&Dad if they broke the pledge and things go bad … and maybe with a little less respect for promises.

    Ob: IANAParent. But I was a kid, once upon a time.

  7. The pledge:

    I, (daughter’s name)’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

    I pledge to cover my daughter?? (As a high priest?) Ew, and extra-ew!

    I know this is just picking on their language, but…who chose that language?

  8. I’ll actually go out on a limb and say that this sort of overriding impulse to keep your children safe isn’t actually a good thing. Sure, every parent has it, but everyone has jealousy and envy, too. They are all wired into the backbrain, and are nothing to celebrate or flaunt.

    Sensible parents quickly figure out that trying to keep your children safe is a sucker’s game. The best you can conceivably do by that metric is to keep them alive until they leave home, a particularly unsatisfying sort of victory condition. Once they are walking, most of your effort should go into trying to make your children dangerous rather than trying to make them safe.

    That said, if a child isn’t old enough for sex, by what possible reasoning are they old enough to make binding choices about their future sexual activities. It’s like asking ten-year olds to promise to volunteer for the military when they turn eighteen.

  9. There’s so much that’s so wrong with this.

    I think one of these high-priests of the home should talk to a marketing person about rebranding their “purity balls.” That phrase is just too creepy for words.

    And that pledge! Oy.

    Honestly, this whole thing stinks of parental one-up-manship. Bleh.

  10. Kevin Q: I did that, too. Heh, he said BALLS.

    My mom told me when I was a teenager that she hoped her daughters would try shoes on before they bought them.

    It was a little confusing at the time.

  11. Emily, I love your mom’s comment. I wonder if women with huge shoe closets are compensating. ;)

    However, I’d like to say that every time I read Purity Ball, I keep thinking of some sort of insertion device. Which is just bad.

  12. And yet you’re still asserting that one had “damn well better know if you’re sexually compatible with your presumed martial partner.”

    I just assumed he was talking about Sparta.

  13. Paul:

    “Yeah, but you were a geek. It’s not like you had opportunity or anything.”

    Untrue (about the lack of opportunity thing, not the geek thing). But, you know. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  14. Mostly agree with this post, except for “not having pre-marital sex is idiotic” part. Certainly not going to say pre-marital sex is bad (though “pre-marital” doesn’t mean “random”), but if some people (to pick a totally random example, my wife and I) want to wait, I don’t think that’s a problem.

    Well, I suppose it could be indicative of a larger problem, but the sex itself would be tangental in that case.

  15. Completely creepy – what kind of father would obsess over his 7 or 8 year old daughter’s future sex life? I have a hard time understanding a lot of the fundamentalist Christian mindset but this is astonishing.

    Then again, I’m more the kind of parent who would say “better at home than in the back seat of a car” for my sons and my daughter.

  16. First off, I have no kids, and I would not therefore presume to preach to ANYONE – but from a purely personal point of view and if I DID have kids this would NOT be the approach I would take to the whole vexed issue. I’m with you on the principle of the thing, John – a thimbleful of knowledge is far more valuable than a truckload of thou-shalt-nots.

    Treat your daughters like ignorant imbeciles incapable of choice… and you will get them.

  17. Ya know, I’m coming up on six years since I had to disclaim myself with “I’m not a parent.” Now, I need to disclaim myself with “I have no daughters, only sons.” That being said…

    I agree with John that information is important. My parents always made it clear that I could ask them anything, and the same goes for my kids. I’m also willing to take the time to explain anything that’s in the world, rather than take extreme steps to shut it out (which is why you won’t find any parental locks, internet filters, etc. in my house). So yes – an informed child is a well-equipped child.

    But I’d also add something else, which I think is a little closer to what this (very warped) concept of Purity Balls is getting at: it’s important that the kids know that you care about what happens to them. And while you can’t always tell them what to do, some of the things they do will make you proud, and others will make you disappointed.

    When I got old enough to leave the house without my parents (i.e., driver’s license), other kids had curfews. I never had a curfew, but it was made clear to me that if I came home later than expected without calling, my parents would be very worried (while I was out), followed by very angry (when I got home). The desire to avoid causing either emotion was enough to get me home on time in most cases.

    Same applies here: John probably can’t tell Athena not to have sex. But in addition to informing her about it, he can make it known to her that if she does have sex before she can vote, it would make him unhappy. It’s still her choice, but her father’s disappointment will be one of the consequences of that choice.

    I think the Purity Ball is yet another in a long series of attempts by “morality police” to formalize this kind of thinking into an event, which (they believe) adds a certain gravitas to it. Unfortunately, it usually does the opposite – transforming the sentiment from a personal understanding between a father and his daughter into a “church-thing” or a “community-thing” or whatever.

    I’ll bet those who truly do care about their daughter’s purity will “watch over her” without having to say so publicly at an officially sanctioned Purity Ball.

  18. Kevin R:

    “but if some people (to pick a totally random example, my wife and I) want to wait, I don’t think that’s a problem.”

    I don’t think it’s a problem, really, if both partners are comfortable with that. It’s just not something I would personally be comfortable with. Sex is a non-trivial component of most marriages, and therefore an incompatibility there can be an issue, even if things are otherwise peachy. I simply think it’s wise to check that aspect along with every other.

  19. “Untrue (about the lack of opportunity thing, not the geek thing). But, you know. Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

    Is that what you call transference? Curse my awkward teenage years!

  20. The whole thing would be creepy as hell if we were talking about, say, 12-year old girls. But it sounds like we’re talking about eight- or nine-year olds. And then it becomes, creepy, yes, but just strange and bizarre as well. I mean, do nine-year old girls really want to go to dances? And how does a child of that age even understand, on any real level, the concept of purity? It would be like me trying to get one of my two-year old girls to understand the notion of abstaining from alcohol.

    Fundamentalists make my head hurt.

  21. I’m one of those conservative Christian types, and all I can think is “iiiiiiiccckkkk.”

    And I agree with Kevin Q. – I start doing a Beavis “huh huh” whenever I see the words “Purity Ball”.

    “Heh. Those are some really … heh heh .. puurity balls … you have there. Heh heh. Heh. I said balls.”

  22. Because “me, too” comments are fun:

    When I saw “john | Purity Balls | Whatever | 9:33 AM” in my newsreader, my mind turned to matters testicular…couldn’t they think of a better name for these things, assuming this is the name those who throw these things use?

  23. At the age of 7, let alone 4, all a little girl ought to be thinking about are her dolls, kitties, ice cream, what she’s getting for Christmas, and jumping rope. To make her talk about sex in any form, let alone make a sexually oriented pledge, takes fucked-uppedness to new depths.

    I personally have never understood the near fanatical pursuit of “sexual purity” and the abstention from premarital sex among fundies. Okay, I can understand how it’s one thing if you want to make a conscious and thought-out decision to not sleep with anyone until you meet the person you want to marry. But that’s a very different thing from the way fundies prioritize abstinence with a state of fervor bordering on panic. I mean, there are the undesirable consequences of having sex when you don’t know what you’re getting into, like STDs and pregnancy, sure. But then the fundies, with their unequivocal opposition to the kinds of sex education that would inform kids as to how to avoid those things, aren’t exactly focused on that aspect of it. It’s all about the institution of marriage itself, as this holy, sanctified be-all and end-all to human existence, outside of which no one (but especially women) can hope to have a happy and fulfilled life. Exactly what do fundies think they’re protecting by their abstinence fixation? Do they think that by avoiding premarital sex, they are innoculating their future marriages against any hardship or strife whatsoever? That if you remain “pure” until those rings are exchanged, you will have a perfect marriage in which you never ever argue with your spouse, have any financial hardship, and all your kids will be cherubic little cherubs? What fantasy of married life are they imagining, anyway? It’s all very very odd.

  24. Waiting until you’re married to find out if you’re sexually compatible with your spouse is like waiting until you’re married to find out if you actually speak the same language as your spouse.

    According to family lore, a few generations back we had an English-speaker married to a Welsh-speaker. They never learned one another’s language and had fifteen or twenty kids over the course of a lengthy marriage.

    On the flip side, I suppose really good linguists could overcome a lack of sexual compatibility. “Ooh, baby, I love the way you…conjugate.”

  25. Once they are walking, most of your effort should go into trying to make your children dangerous rather than trying to make them safe.

    Or, failing that, making any potential suitors believe you are dangerous.

    But I have to say, having a brother was most effective.

    (Father of four, three of which are daughters.)

  26. CoolBlue: Did your daughters terrorize their brother’s girlfriends? Or did they conspire to tell them his most humiliating secrets? Seems the latter would be more in keeping with girl behavior.

  27. Thanks for the comments on this, John, we must read some of the same blogs.

    You know what really gets me? The overall lack of coming to an actual term of purity. Pure what? Under what circumstances? Does this cover virginity under a certian definition? Or is good missionary style considered “pure”?
    My general understanding of this:reading between the lines a must, folks, is that is covers any and all sexual experiences. IOW, no catholic high school girl “cop-outs” with the Baptists.

    All in all, this is not surpising in the very least from fundamentalist. I may be wearing my atheist hat a bit to snug around the ears, but those nuts are never happy until everything comes under church purview. With Daddy Dearest as High-Priest.

    Some one owes me a break.

  28. Did your daughters terrorize their brother’s girlfriends?

    Um, worse. They judged them.

    His most recent main sqeeze he introduced to my wife and I first, fearing “what the girls would think.” I later took everyone out to dinner to get to know one another. Afterwards, the girls immediately initiated a three-way call to discuss her.

    Their verdict? She’s OK.

    Whew.

    Or did they conspire to tell them his most humiliating secrets?

    Eventually. Though they have enough discretion to not do this right away.

    They’ll let things slip here and there as she becomes “one of us”.

  29. Dear god, that is creepy.

    If I have a daughter, John, I could do worse than to follow the sensible approach you’ve outlined.

  30. I wonder how many of the girls taken to these balls understand that purity refers to their sexuality.

    Perhaps it is just me being a dumb non-native speaker, but I thought purity could refer to non-sexual things too. I imagine a little girl thinks in terms of “being nice”, “not doing bad”, concepts that children tend to grasp at a young age.

    treating a woman’s body and sexuality as property of the Lord in his castle

    More like treating her mind like so. The insidious part is the pledge; the girl gets to promise something of which the consequences she does not fully understand. Then later she may get the opportunity to break the promise she made to her god in presence of her father.

    More likely they’ll swallow hard

    More likely they’ll have a ball. Balls are fun, even if you do not equate them with, huh-huh, testicles.

    Completely creepy – what kind of father would obsess over his 7 or 8 year old daughter’s future sex life?

    Isn’t this about fathers obsessing over their daughter’s future lack of sex life? I do not think the men we’re discussing are actually picturing their daughters’ possible sexual exploits in glorious technicolour. At least, I hope they don’t (they’re christian fundies, who knows what they think).

  31. Ick, ick, ick.

    Seven-year-old girls at a ball with adult men? How can they dance? They’ll spend the evening staring their partners in the crotch. It’s indecent.

    Anyway, this thing is not about the people the daughters are and will grow up to be. It’s about men showing off in public in front of other men.

    This is the exact equivalent of those Muslim guys in France who get points with each other for making their sisters wear a hijab or go veiled. At purity balls, they’re publicly boasting to each other about their control of their daughters’ sexuality, at a time when they have no cause to be worried about it.

    Wimps.

    If I had a seven-year-old and were going to make a major investment of quality time with them, I wouldn’t spend it blathering to other parents about a not-yet-relevant aspect of said kid’s life. And if I had a kid who was of an age to be thinking about sex, I wouldn’t expect them to be the least bit impressed by some piece of public chest-beating I did when they were seven.

    My inner teenager (I keep her around to opine on manuscripts) reacts to the idea of my father publicly asserting that he controlled me … heh, just about the same way I reacted to it the first time. The aspect of it as a public religious oath just makes it more fun: You mean, if I fool around, it’s your honor that takes the hit, not mine? Better and better. Bring it on.

  32. You know, I have a five-year-old daughter who loves to dress up in fancy dresses and would probably have a blast at a formal father-daughter dance. I wish someone would organize a liberal version, at which everyone can pledge to vote for Democrats and give to progressive causes, or something like that. I suppose an apolitical version would work as well, but I think it helps to give all the adults an excuse to participate other than “but stuff like that is fun.” Maybe someone could run one as a fundraiser for some widely appealing charity?

    Because, yeah. Purity balls? Ick. Double ick.

  33. This isn’t the subject I was expecting at all when I clicked the headline. I was expecting some sort of fantastic new detergent dispensing method. You know, like a ball you fill with fabric softener and throw in the wash or something. Which reminds me…

  34. Byron, I think you and I are the only ones here who got lost on the way to the gutter and ended up somewhere wholesome instead. When I saw “Purity Balls” it put me in mind of hors d’oeuvres–melon balls, maybe, or those roly-poly artichoke-spinach things covered in bread crumbs.

    Quoth John,

    …she’s already remarkably resistant to me pulling the “because I said so” act, because she’s already internalized the idea that things should happen for a reason. And of course, I feel immensely proud about that…

    and I thank you for it. I, too, took a dim view of “because I told you so” from my parents (who for their part probably only said it because if I was given a reason I would argue and argue and argue). On at least one occasion when I complained that “‘I told you so’ is not a reason!” Mom told me, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” Well, here I am about to turn 30, and while I understand, I still don’t agree.

    Disclaimer: Not a parent, no current plans to become a parent, have not yet had my resolve tried by a pre-teen daughter who argues as bull-headedly as I did.

  35. I wish someone would organize a liberal version, at which everyone can pledge to vote for Democrats and give to progressive causes, or something like that

    Yeah, nothing creepy about that.

  36. Purity balls? At age 7 or so? What kind of programming of a young child’s computer is that? I spent time as a fundamentalist Christian of the extreme variety (Kinda like spending time in prison) and have seen the long term results of that. I met my wife in that world. We love each other dearly and will for the rest of our lives but she had the “Sex is Dirty” thing drilled into her since that age and it will always be there in her mental background.
    What I know of Humans is that the tighter you hold them the more they want to break free of their bonds. And when they do they gravitate to the very things that were forbidden, curious what the fuss was. Add to this is the arrival of hormones with all the massive new thoughts and desires to figure out. Rebellion and the primal need to break free and procreate are a part of this internal confusion. Drilling this purity thing into their minds at this early of an age will produce prudes who can never be comfortable with one of the great blessings of life (Good sex) and whores who fling themselves at every pleasure with no control. Few will find the balance in the middle that can give peace and joy.

  37. Saith Naomi:

    You know, I have a five-year-old daughter who loves to dress up in fancy dresses and would probably have a blast at a formal father-daughter dance. I wish someone would organize a liberal version….

    Actually, ’round these here parts (Chicagoland) we have two alternatives, not “Liberal”, but rather, approprately non-political: Our gradeschool has a Daddy/Daughter dance every spring; and the local YMCA “Adventure Guides” does too. (The Adventure Guides also have three-times-a-year D/D “campouts”, which are even better for D/D bonding).
    Saith Theresa Nielsen Hayden:

    Seven-year-old girls at a ball with adult men? How can they dance? They’ll spend the evening staring their partners in the crotch. It’s indecent.

    Dance with a 7 year old? Well, half the time I was holding her in my arms; the rest of the time, we’re line-dancing (*shudder*– I actually did the Macarena– see, I really do love her) or “rock & roll” dancing (Read: she’s bouncing up and down like a ferret on crack while I bounce (more gently) around her).

    It’s loads of fun. Sweet. Good bonding time. And I’d bet dollars to donuts that the resultant keeping the lines of communication open between us will go farther towards promoting her “purity” (rather, intelligent sexual behavior) than any asinine “Purity Pledge” (blech).

  38. Yeah, I’m with all those proclaiming the “ick” factor. And I happen to be a Christian.

    I’ve been straight up with my girls (three of them; all teenagers at present) about educating them about sex. They know that regardless of what our church teaches and what their personal beliefs are, they need to be safe and should wait to deal with sex until they are ready to deal with a pregnancy. The fact is, birth control fails sometimes and they need to be able to handle the options or become a mom if they are going to have sex.

    I’ve been lucky so far that we all have a pretty close relationship and they still talk to me about these things. Actually, their teen years have been alot more fun than their toddler years. They’re smart girls and I’ve tried to be a smart mom. I think we’ve done much better than a “purity ball” ever could.

  39. Okay, I’m sticky extra-squicked by the pledge and the whole idea.

    But a number of people in the thread are objecting to bringing up sex with 8-year-olds. And I’d actually say that’s a great idea. Speaking as the father of an 8-year-old boy, I think it’s much better to start dipping a toe in those waters now, as opposed to waiting ’til a kid is 12 to have THE TALK.

    That’s not to say I agree with pledging to “cover” a little girl. But Purity Balls are better than a complete blackout on conversation until puberty, which may well be the alternative in a lot of cases.

  40. Whenever you hear the most enthusiastic proponents of abstinence-only sex education saying that sex is “sacred,” understand that what they really mean is that sex is profane.

    Yes and no. They’re stating something as true which is their ideal (not mine). Sex should be sacred. As in, not part of daily life, set aside, reserved for particular [capital T] Truth-Approaching purposes. They are attempting to convince the world that pre-marital (non-marital, whatever) sex is blasphemous in that it is using for common purposes something which is designed to be sacred. (e.g. bibles as toilet paper, clerical vestments as napkins at a Kansas-City style barbecue, votive candles as blackout lighting).

  41. Jon Marcus:

    “a number of people in the thread are objecting to bringing up sex with 8-year-olds. And I’d actually say that’s a great idea.”

    My general feeling about this is that when Athena asks sex-related questions (and she has), I answer truthfully but in a manner appropriate for her age. I don’t bring up the subject myself.

  42. Well yeah, letting a subject come up as part of a normal conversation is the best way to teach…just about anything, I guess.

    But (maybe I’m being prejudiced here), the “target market” for these things is a guy who otherwise is never ever ever gonna talk about sex with his daughter, no matter who brings it up. So maybe this is better than nothing. And “nothing” is the likely alternative.

  43. “but if you’re serious enough about someone that you’re contemplating marriage, you damn well better know what your own sexual playing field is, and you damn well better know if you’re sexually compatible with your presumed marital partner.”

    I’m afraid I’m not clear on the concept of sexual compatibility. What does it even mean? Does it mean that both people have to like the same sorts of things sexually? Like if one of them more kinky than the other or something? Or one has a more active libido?

    When I try to think of how sexual incompatibility would harm a marriage, there seem to be two sorts of problems: problems that play out in the sexual arena but aren’t about sex per se, and problems that can come and go as people age and change.

    In the first case, I’m thinking of something along the lines of people who know what they want sexually, but can’t or won’t ask for it. But that’s just a communication problem. Or think of people who refuse to put in the effort to please their partner sexually. That’s not a sex problem, that’s a selfishness problem. You don’t need to have sex with someone to know if they’re not really opening up to you or if they’re going to be too selfish to put in the work to make you happy. So pre-marital sex wouldn’t be necessary.

    In the second case, I’m thinking about how one person’s libido can be stronger than the other’s, and they’ll want more sex than the other can give. The thing is, you can date and have pre-marital sex for several years, but find your libido slowing down or speeding up as you age. The way things are when you’re dating isn’t they way they’re going to be when you have two kids, one of whom is an infant, which is different than it’s going to be when you’re in your sixties. So pre-marital sex won’t help in that case.

    I guess I can’t conceive of a sexual problem that is both serious enough that it would be a deal-breaker and that could only be discovered through sexual experimentation, but couldn’t be addressed as it came up, through normal means of marital problem-solving in a healthy relationship.

  44. Greg:

    “I guess I can’t conceive of a sexual problem that is both serious enough that it would be a deal-breaker and that could only be discovered through sexual experimentation, but couldn’t be addressed as it came up, through normal means of marital problem-solving in a healthy relationship.”

    That’s very nice for you, Greg. However — and please don’t take this as snark — just because you can’t think of a problem serious enough doesn’t mean those problems don’t or couldn’t exist for others. Saying things “it’s not a sex problem, it’s a selfishness problem” — even if it adequately describes a sexual incompatibility, which I would doubt in any number of cases — doesn’t really solve things, because however one wishes to classify the problem, it will still exist. Like many other potential issues, it’s best to have it on the table before one decides to get hitched. Getting married and changing one’s life to accomodate another human being is stressful enough without another unforseen issue being hauled up, particularly when that issue is in a category of life that should be a joy between partners, not another category of dissatisfaction.

  45. I definitely concede that my position is largely founded on ignorance. I meant to throw that last bit out there to hear what problems are out there that I haven’t thought of. And the reason I called it a selfishness problem is that you don’t need to have sex with someone to find out that they’re selfish. If someone is selfish generally, they’re probably going to be selfish sexually too. Conversely, if their sexual selfishness is going to present a problem for the marriage, it will probably also manifest itself in non-sexual areas as well. In other words, sexual incompatibilities are just personality incompatibilities, and if you know someone’s personality well enough, and if you know enough about your personal compatiblity, you probably know enough about your sexual incompatibility. But that’s true of all of the sexual incompatibilities I can think of. Perhaps you know of some that this isn’t true of: that’s why I brought this up at all, because I have a hard time understanding the concept of sexual incompatibility independent of the concept of personal incompatibility.

    Anyway, my point is not that having sex before marriage will make your marriage better or worse, or that all things considered, it’s better not to have sex before marriage. Perhaps, pre-marital sex will make certain problems easier to identify. I guess I was only trying to argue that it’s possible to avoid a sexually incompatible marriage without actually having sex. Yes, it’s difficult, but the thing is, if you can be in a relationship long enough, and know someone well enough to know that you want to marry them without ever having sex with them, then your relationship isn’t very strongly founded on sex anyway, and so a sexual problem probably won’t be a deal-breaker.

  46. Greg:

    “And the reason I called it a selfishness problem is that you don’t need to have sex with someone to find out that they’re selfish. If someone is selfish generally, they’re probably going to be selfish sexually too.”

    This is entirely possible. What I think you’re missing is a whole range of situations where someone might not be “selfish” in any accepted sense of the word, but still has sexual incompatibilities due to upbringing, past history, personal preferences, and so on. It’s entirely possible over the course of time in the marriage that one can get over these issues, but again, better to know earlier than later, particularly if the result is such a disparity in sexual tastes and preferences that it causes real issues in the marriage.

    (Alternately, there are people who can be fabulous lovers and otherwise be entirely incompatible in personality and outlook. Sex can and should be integrated into a larger relationship, but it’s its own thing, too. For the record, I would also advise against marrying anyone who is a great lay but with whom you don’t otherwise get along.)

  47. “That’s very nice for you, Greg. However — and please don’t take this as snark — just because you can’t think of a problem serious enough doesn’t mean those problems don’t or couldn’t exist for others. Saying things “it’s not a sex problem, it’s a selfishness problem” — even if it adequately describes a sexual incompatibility, which I would doubt in any number of cases — doesn’t really solve things, because however one wishes to classify the problem, it will still exist. Like many other potential issues, it’s best to have it on the table before one decides to get hitched. Getting married and changing one’s life to accomodate another human being is stressful enough without another unforseen issue being hauled up, particularly when that issue is in a category of life that should be a joy between partners, not another category of dissatisfaction.”

    perfect response, I couldn’t have written a better one myself.

    Let me add another reason for the wisdom of premarital sex, besides discovering incompatibilities…there’s also the problem of turning a relationship from totally platonic, into sexual, overnight.

    Sexual experience is supposed to happen gradually, at a slow pace that you are comfortable with. If it’s rushed faster than one person is comfortable with, then it becomes traumatic to that person.

    Think of it this way. You have two people dating. They have normal hormones and want each other, but go to lengths to control themselves so that they can marry as virgins. In fact, they won’t even kiss with their mouths open (and most people who are serious about not having sex before marriage, will draw the line FAR before sex, just to be safe) But oh, it is hard, and that guy is having such a hard time waiting, but he’s willing to do it for her!

    Well, now it’s their wedding night. She’s a virgin. She’s never so much as been seen topless before, let alone allowed a guy to penetrate. She’s scared and nervous and really, terrified of sex. But she knows it is expected of her, and after how long her husband has waited for this, she can’t deny it to him! Even if he is understanding, she feels so guilty that she’s going to pressure herself to go further than she really wants to go.

    What awful feelings! So much better to let things naturally and slowly progress to that point at their own pace. A wedding night should be happy, not full of all this pressure to perform, and pressure to go to a certain place physically, whether or not you are yet comfortable.

    And this comes directly from a friend’s experience, I didn’t make it up.

  48. “On the flip side, I suppose really good linguists could overcome a lack of sexual compatibility. “Ooh, baby, I love the way you…conjugate.””

    Only if these linguists are cunning.

    Another marriage problem:
    which is worse: having the sex on your wedding night not be your first, or not being ABLE to have sex on your wedding night?

  49. Several years ago, on a Valentine’s weekend, my daughter had a Father-Daughter Dance. I was more excited about it than she was. A problem cropped up when one of her friends did not have a father to go with and I volunteered to be her father for a day so she can go and enjoy the event with her classmates. At age 10, they were just so coy and totally innocent about life’s seious problems. After the dance, I even brought them for some ice cream and treats at a fancy hotel. I was having coffee and one of my daughter’s friends remarked that she wants to get married and have her honeymoon in that hotel. I literally blurted out my drink upon hearing that remark. So much for innocence!

  50. I think it would be more appropriate for a daughter to have a close, loving relationship with a father who clearly supports her as a person and helps guide her in her relationships (including chasing off undesireables). Leave the sex / “purity” talk to mom. There’s something a little creepy about a father protectively guarding his daughter’s genitals.

    And yes, I do have a daughter.

  51. These balls are warped.My teen age sister read an artical on these things in the February 2007 issue of Glamour.Since this girl is easy to brain wash she called up her boyfriend to break up with him.She`s not sexually active and her boyfriend is not the type to pressure her to have sex but she dumped him.As a teenager I never had a boy who didn`t treat me bad so I think that it was foolish of my sister to end a perfectly good realationship over a magazine artical.To make maters worse before being dumped this boy was sent home from the hospital after surviving a knifing attack done to him by a bully.He was emotionally not alright in the first place.So then his girlfriend dumps him.

  52. Why are only young girls pledging their “purity”? Why are guys not pledging their “purity” at these special balls? sound like a double-standard to me.

    I think it is better for parents to sit down w/their children & talk w/them about sex rather than making them take a pledge. Why don’t you just get out the old “chasity belt” for your daughter.

    Josie

  53. As a mother of three sons and two daughters-I can say with almost a 100% certainty that if you dress up a little girl in a “beautiful ball gown” for a night of dancing and fine dining that she would basically “pledge” to anything just to be able to get out and wear that gown.. Which scares me to think about her in the future when any random jerk takes her out for a nice dinner.Her thoughts just may be ” well I might as well sleep with him because he loves me just like my daddy does”. EEWWWW thats just a terrible thought.

  54. As the parent of a Daughter, I happen to believe also that education is the best weapon — this means no double standard, but education of both our Daughters AND OUR SONS — once again we are placing all the responsibility on the females — just as we must educate our young Daughters to respect themselves, we must also educate and bring up ours sons to respect themselves and the females in their lives…

  55. I have a question… Are we, as a society, better off with more promiscuity or less promiscuity?

    I choose the latter. Fathers should actually start taking some responsibility for their children (as well as themselves) and act on behalf of their best interests- this includes their sexual behavior. We should get rid of these unhealthy labels like “slut” and “whore” and replace them with words such as “devoted” and “true.” The way we do this is by not getting everything we want including sex with whomever we so choose. That is a lot to ask but it is the very thing addressed at these purity balls. And by the way, I think education, without heart-felt commitment to some higher standard, is worthless. You can be an educated “slut” you know?

  56. David Mizer:

    “Fathers should actually start taking some responsibility for their children (as well as themselves) and act on behalf of their best interests- this includes their sexual behavior.”

    That’s all well and good; one hopes they would do it in a way less fundamentally creepy than a “purity ball.”

  57. I couldn’t agree more with you about this whole thing. First of all, I think it’s really creepy to see all these girls getting dressed up pretty to dance with their dad’s and to pledge to him not to have sex. It’s really weird in that whole father-daughter-sex-talk icky way.

    Also, I just watched a news story on comcast.net about this. There was a girl who’d dad said that he wanted to protect his daughters from guys because when he was younger, he was the guy to protect them from. It’s always the people who USED to do something that are most against it, isn’t it? Also, his daughter said she was pledging not to date or kiss a boy or anything until she was married. How does she expect to get married? An arrangement? I was confused. She’ll change her mind once she finds her clitoris. Trust me on this.

  58. Regarding those Purity Balls that our government is helping fund….
    It’s interesting to note that many if not most of the churches promoting this idea are Reconstructionist denominations. Reconstructionism is a rapidly growing and arguably heretical sect of Christianity (due to the fact that its adherents follow the teachings of John Rousas Rushdoony and Gary North in addition to and often instead of those of Jesus Christ) and their goal is to eventually take over America and install their brand of faith as the state religion.

    Father-daughter dances are a fine thing, but here are a couple of websites that will show you what ELSE these folks believe:

    http://0rz.com/?vDVsP
    http://0rz.com/?vcDYg
    http://0rz.com/?NsCrB

    And, here is a link for VisionForum, a HUGE promoter of the Purity Ball concept and one of America’s leading homeschooling curriculum companies. VisionForum is run by Doug Phillips, son of ex-Reagan cabinet member Howard Phillips and pastor of Boerne Christian Assembly, a hyper-patriarchal Reconstructionist congregation where women are relegated to virtual slavery in their own homes, denied higher education, are not permitted to participate in prayer in the church services, make prayer requests in church, or even receive communion unless it is served to them by their husband or another male member of the congregation.

    http://www.visionforum.com/

    The Phillipses are quite the father and son team, too — Howard Phillips is the founder of the Constitution Party, whose 2004 presidential nominee was League of the South member Michael Peroutka. While the Constitution Party courted the votes of the League of the South (identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and other neoConfederate groups in 2004, Howard’s son, Pastor Doug, was hard at work garnering the Christian vote, encouraging his congregation to vote for Peroutka and warning them that they were not spiritually “at liberty” to vote for the Bush or Kerry because of their unBiblical stances on key issues.

    And our government is funding father-daughter dinner dances for these groups. Sweet.

  59. I think they had a good idea with this whole purity ball thing, and i think that it does help to bring fathers and daughters closer together. now a days, everyone is so critical when it comes to a father and daughter being close. if people see a mother watching her daughter play on the play ground, they dont think anything of it, but i remember when i was young, and my dad was babysitting me play on the playground with my brother, and someone called the cops because they thought he was a child predetor, and then the cops asked us questions about if he had ever “touched” us where it was “wierd”. it was rediculous. im not christian, but i think this whole pledge is a good way to bring the fathers and daughters closer together, and to help the father stay a good man. the only part i find a little strange is why the girl has to pledge to stay a virgin. i mean, why not have her pledge to stay a good daughter who is obedient to her mother and father and siblings, to be a true freind and to help make the world a better place… or something to that effect. the whole “girls need to stay virgins” pisses me off so much, because no one ever wants the men to stay virgins. well, they do, but its never an issue thats pushed, or anything that the men/boys need to pledge. if the girls want to pledge to stay virgins until they’re married, then they should have the chioce to choose that pledge at a different ball. and if they have that, it should be called just a “purity ball” where the fathers and daughters can come together, and have mothers and sons come as well, and pledge along with the girls/sisters.
    thats just my opinion. i have freinds who want to stay pure, and i think thats a great choice, and then i have some freinds who have already had sex, and i dont think there is anything wrong with that either. i just think it should be the girls chioce, and that if she wants to spend time with her father, then she should be able to do it either way: pledging to preserve her innocence, or just being able to dress up and go to a ball with her daddy.

  60. One major shortcomings is that fundmentalists (and inerrantists in general) tend to have no sense of the ridiuclous so they really *don’t* know how this stuff sounds.

  61. As a Christian fundamentalist, I think I can clear up why the fathers and daughters make this purity pledge. It’s because we believe that God made sex for marriage and all sex outside of marriage is sin. So it’s understandable for families who believe this to want their daughters to pledge not to behave in a way that they think is sinful.
    That being said, I think the purity balls are pretty gross myself. The idea of getting all dressed up to go dancing with my dad and talk about sex is just weird. My parents just told me that they believe premarital sex is wrong and would be disappointed if I did it. I’ve been married for 2 years now, my husband and I were both virgins on our wedding night, and we’ve had no trouble with “sexual compatibility”. I like the fact that I’m the only woman he’s slept with, since I don’t ever need to worry if he’s wishing I was as good as jane so-and-so. I am very glad I took my parents advice, but I don’t intend to force my opinions on my children any more than my parents did on me.

  62. This is the strangest thing I have never read about a purity ball. There is nothing wrong with sex. Sex is good, but parents should educate be straight forward with children about this matter. This sounds like a modern day version of my childhood when boys and girls where ot allowed to swim in the same swimming pool.

  63. Seems to me that fundamentalist Christians are totally obsessed with sex. Anything homosexual is of the devil. Not only are they opposed to abortion; but also wish to control it for every one. Since the “Scarlet Letter” thingy the right wing righteous have been, seemingly, totally obsessed with sex. Seems to me the ball is another example of the male dominating the female. Isn’t it more about what Daddy does than his daughter; yet the end result is abstinence by the daughter. Seems to me a loving relationship between mom and dad would be the beginning of sexual educarion for the family. Why is there no
    purity ball for Mom and sons? Does sexual abststinence apply only to the girl child? Gosh, I quit. It gets crazier and crazier.

  64. Nice Smear Cynthia Gee.

    You should apply for a job with any various leftist organizations. Awesome job!

  65. Clearly no one here is a born again Christian. If you dont like the idea because its not what you believe in – so be it. However for those who take serving the Lord seriously, this is a wonderful idea. If you honestly dont believe that the relationship between a father and daughter has nothing to do with her choice in relationships (sexual or not) with men – you are sadly mistaken. And thats not coming from a “religious fanatic” alone, its been studied. Sex is promoted all over this world, espically this country, and no one lifts a finger to protest how “odd” it is that 15 year old girls are being sent sexual messages through the music they listen to. And yet, when something happens to counter that, hold the phone. Waiting till marriage? My goodness, thats just silly (note the sarcasm.) If you dont like it, dont get involved with it, but you have no right to judge those who do involve themselves in this when you cannot even begin to understand the roots from which the desire to be pure is extended from.

  66. AM:

    “Clearly no one here is a born again Christian.”

    What an unbelievably arrogant statement.

    As it happens, there are more than a few commentors here who are born again and/or deeply religious, and separately, I know some born-again Christians who find the concept of “Purity Balls” at least as repugnant as I do, if not more so. It’s less about Christ than it is about control.

    So take your comment, AM, and stick it. Your attempt to trump everyone else in your righteousness is, well, unchristian at the very least.

  67. I don’t think that most of you even understand what a Purity Ball is all about. It is about a father promising to protect his daughter’s choice to stay pure for her husband. Christian’s aren’t obsessed about sex… for crying out loud if anybody is obsessed about sex it is today’s culture. The ball is a beautiful ceremony were the girl promises in front of God and everyone else attending that she will stay pure. I pity those of you who pervert this beautiful ceremony.

  68. Wow, these responses are frightening! As a Christian, I do not think that there is anything wrong with the Purity Ball concept for these believers. This is a great start, but the fathers must stay involved in these young girls lives because sexual temptation is all around them. One night will not do it! I can respect those who disagree with the idea, but don’t bash those who choose to do it.

    Let’s face it, “Our Society” has become obsessed with sex, not Christians. These young girls have to make a very important decisions about giving something that is sacred and special to them, to someone else. Once that virginity is lost, they can never regain it. Why not educate and give them the opportunity to make wise choices instead of leaving that decision up to a culture that promotes sex, which eventually leave them empty and brokenhearted.

    As for men, my husband remained sexually pure until we were married. And no, he did attend a ball to do so. As for me, I did not..but I renewed my commitment and my husband and I have been married for 16 years and have 2 wonderful children. My daughter who is now 14, expressed to me that she wants to remain pure until she is married. No, we did not take her to a BALL.., it was her choice. We celebrated this moment privately with her.

    So don’t bash these believers for trying to live right in the eyes of their GOD. You may not understand their choices, but you should respect it.

  69. JR:

    You appear to be under the impression that people here don’t understand why people have these sorts of things, which is not in evidence; it’s pretty clear why they do. Likewise, if people are doing something you think is creepy and wrong on some level, you’re not obliged to respect it simply because the people doing it shove it under the veil of their religion.

    Likewise, you’re conflating a dislike of the concept of “purity balls” with a general dislike of people encouraging abstinence in their children, which is another thing not in evidence.

    Basically, for one demanding others not criticize because they don’t “understand,” you’re not showing a great deal of understanding yourself.

  70. # John Scalzion 23 Nov 2008 at 9:20 am
    JR:

    You appear to be under the impression that people here don’t understand why people have these sorts of things, which is not in evidence; it’s pretty clear why they do. Likewise, if people are doing something you think is creepy and wrong on some level, you’re not obliged to respect it simply because the people doing it shove it under the veil of their religion.

    Likewise, you’re conflating a dislike of the concept of “purity balls” with a general dislike of people encouraging abstinence in their children, which is another thing not in evidence.

    Basically, for one demanding others not criticize because they don’t “understand,” you’re not showing a great deal of understanding yourself.

    what a typical response from someone uneducated on the subject of Christain abstinence and the purpose/meaning behind it. Not wanting to understand or learn just wanting to criticize. Very close-minded, and I thought we Christians were the close-minded judgemental types… hmmm guess we are not the only ones

  71. Charity:

    “what a typical response from someone uneducated on the subject of Christain abstinence and the purpose/meaning behind it.”

    Why, yes, Charity, we typically reject the suggestion that we, don’t, in fact, understand what’s going on regarding “purity balls” and why, because, let’s face it, the thinking isn’t exactly rocket science. I think most of us would also note to you that the word “understand” is not the equivalent of the phrase “to accept uncritically,” which is apparently what you seem to want it to mean.

    In any event, today is an ironic day to plump for virginity pledges, and the suggestion of the efficacy thereof.

    Also, as a simple procedural matter, it’s become tedious and boring to read all these late-posted, self-righteous comments proclaiming that those of us who do not think purity balls are not the best idea to come off the mountain since the commandments just don’t understand, so the next comment on this theme in this thread will simply be deleted.

  72. Dammit. Cancel the launch. Apparently, filling this tank with purity balls isn’t going to get us to the moon. Back to the drawing board.

    Maybe we can use these balls in brain surgery.

  73. Challenging youth to wait until they are an adult is one thing. Scaring the heck out of them, and telling them a condom is a provision for sin is irresponsible. Did you know the Lovers in the Song of Solomon have sex in Chapter 2, but don’t get married until Chapter 3? The kind of ignorance Church leaders have about this sort of in-your-face premarital sex in the Bible has gone on too long. If you want to know more, go to my website. It’s cheaper than a Purity Ring and a lot more fun than abstinence.

    -The Scott

  74. Such rancor! I just incidently stumbled across this website and I was so amazed to read such outrageous negative comments! I wonder if these sames comments would be spoken in the light of day? It is perhaps a good thing that this site has no faces and is basically anonymous, huh?! Whatever. I think that I am going to return to my own life now. PEACE. mmw

  75. Stupid ideas deserve mocking, Mildred.

    As for being anonymous, no, not really. I sign my name to my opinions and I’m pretty easy to find. So that’s another bit of passive-aggressive snark that won’t fly. Thanks for playing, however.

  76. I’m looking at a documentary on purity balls right now.

    Interesting and completely predictable that this would be invented as another form of fundamentalist control over their children!

    I cannot fault the motivation!

    I can see the obvious advantages of this behavior.

    My problem is that when a girl stumbles, what happens to her?

    What happens to her relationship with her father, mother, friends, siblings who are in the movement?

    disappointment, guilt and ostracizing should not be part of a womans experience with her sexuality!!!!!!!!!!!

    AND YOU ALL KNOW GOD DAMNED WELL THAT THIS IS WHAT OCCURS!!!!!!!!!!

    FREAKING FUNDAMENTALISTS NEVER USE THEIR GOD GIVEN BRAINS TO THINK SOMETHING THROUGH COMPLETERLY!

  77. Purity balls are actually for girls at the age of 12-18, who already know about sex, to make a vow to remain pure until marriage. Sex actually hurts someone if it is done outside of marriage. I’m not saying people who have premarital sex are bad, because everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The formals that we do at our church are nothing like the way you have described it. In fact, they are quite beautiful. As far as the dad thing goes, it is your dad that gives you away at your wedding, correct? It symbolizes your step out of purity and being unified as one with your husband. When you have premarital sex, you break this bond, and you become attached to that person rather than your husband. Thats why no one has ever forgotten their first person with whom they had a sexual encounter with. People don’t realize, but sex can be a bad thing if it is done outside of marriage. Honestly, I have never met a person, woman mostly, that has not regretted having sex before marriage. It can destroy you, if done wrong. Thats why it is so important to me and my church to participate in the ball. and it is not at all weird that my dad be my escort, either!

  78. Nia J.:

    “Honestly, I have never met a person, woman mostly, that has not regretted having sex before marriage.”

    You need to get out more, Nia.

    Also, entertain the notion that how your church does purity balls is not how every church does them.

  79. I understand where you are coming from. I’ve met a lot of people who have had sex and I have asked. Some say they didn’t regret it, but most said they had. I know I may not speak for everyone else, but if i were younger and had sex, I surely would have regretted it. I believe that you should have sex with someone you know you are to marry, which is your husband, or wife. If I’m just having sex with different people, I’m sleeping with someones possible future husband. If that makes any sense. People may not agree with me and even mock me for it, but thats what I abide by.

  80. Nia:I’m not saying people who have premarital sex are bad

    OK.

    because everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

    Wait.

    That sounds quite a lot like saying they’re “bad”.

    The only way to fall short of the Glory of God is because of sin. Sin, I’m pretty sure now matter how you interpret it, is bad.

    sex can be a bad thing if it is done outside of marriage.

    Again. That sounds like “bad”. In fact, I think “bad thing” actually includes the word “bad”, which is, well, bad.

    sex before marriage. It can destroy you

    Personally, I have never been destroyed, but it sounds quite bad as well.

    thats what I abide by.

    If that’s what works for you, by all means, live by what works for you. Seriously. And if you can find someone who abides by the same, then you’re all set.

    I would however point out that you might want to consider that there is not a little bit of judgement of others going on in your court when someone else decides to do what works for them and that ends up including having sex with someone whom they aren’t planning to marry. And they end up perfectly fine with it afterwards and are clear that it worked for them.

    You cannot say you do not judge people as being “bad” for having sex out of marriage and then go on to list all the ways it is a bad thing to do and they are bad for doing it. A little honesty about yourself would go a long way here.

    I’ve met a lot of people who have had sex and I have asked. Some say they didn’t regret it, but most said they had.

    As for the people you have talked to who have had sex, people on average in the US have sex with soemthing like 3 to 6 partners before getting married, depending on what polls you look at.

    You might want to consider that being in a community that has a purity ball, that it skews your sample population, and therefore your overall results. Especially if that community tells its children that sex before marriage is to fall from God’s grace, is a “bad thing”, and can “destroy you”. If that is what a person was told growing up, many would feel extremely guilty about having sex before marriage, many would try to hide it, and many would not report it as a good experience even if it was. Statistically it has been proven that women generally underreport their sexual activity, the reason seems to be that women are ingrained with the message that only “slutty” women have sex or lots of sex, so women often underreport to polls. You might want to consider that a similar thing is happening to the women you are “polling” in your community.

    Lastly, you might want to look up something called “confirmation bias”. Because even though you start out saying you don’t think people are “bad” for having sex before marriage, several things you say indicate you have a bias, and therefore might affect who you poll, how you ask the questions, and so on.

  81. I totally understand where you are coming from and you do make a good point, but doing something bad doesn’t make you a bad person. That is what I meant. Me being a teenager, I guess you can say I have a lack of knowledge about the subject. I’m just saying that its a good thing (for some people, obviously) to participate in a purity ball. And its not the neighborhood that I live in that makes me think this way, it’s my parents, and my church. My whole family, other than my parents, don’t really call themselves Christians or don’t believe in God. A lot of the people at my school don’t really follow the Christian lifestyle. I chose to follow God, because I have free will. Yea, I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life, and yea, I have judged people in my life, but I definitely don’t have that holier-than-thou attitude. I love all and support others. I guess you could say I have empathy.

  82. @Nia J.

    “Me being a teenager, I guess you can say I have a lack of knowledge about the subject.”

    Indeed. A lack of knowledge is not, in and of itself, a terrible thing; it is entirely correctable. What is terrible are the things that so many people use to gloss over a lack of knowledge, such as uninformed value judgements.

    “Honestly, I have never met a person, woman mostly, that has not regretted having sex before marriage.”

    Hm. Being a teenager with no experience, and limited knowledge, of sex is certain to be a significant factor in shaping such a perspective. The statement also suggests an extraordinarily limited sample size. It may be an honest statement, but it is a demonstrably inaccurate one.

    “I’ve met a lot of people who have had sex and I have asked. Some say they didn’t regret it, but most said they had.”

    Wait. It is worth pointing out that the second statement does not jibe with the first. The first statement was not an honest one. This is a complication.

    “Sex actually hurts someone if it is done outside of marriage.”

    Actually, no; this statement is false. There is no evidence to support this statement, and mountains of evidence to the contrary. Additionally, the conditional of “marriage” has historically never proven to be a universal “hurt” preventer with regard to sex or anything else. This would be an example of an uninformed value judgement.

    “I know I may not speak for everyone else, but if i were younger and had sex, I surely would have regretted it.”

    Younger than a teenager? Well, yes; that makes sense. Adolescence and earlier are periods in life where people can, in general, be safely described as simply not ready for the physical and emotional aspects of sex – which has no relevance to their very real need to, as Mr. Scalzi described further above, figure out their own sexuality on their own terms and in their own time.

    “I believe that you should have sex with someone you know you are to marry, which is your husband, or wife.”

    That is a reasonable expectation of marriage. But to prescribe only that for others, as you do in this statement, is a prescription that you are in no position to make.

    “When you have premarital sex, you break this bond, and you become attached to that person rather than your husband. Thats why no one has ever forgotten their first person with whom they had a sexual encounter with.”

    You honestly don’t think that a more plausible and obvious reason for remembering your first is simply because… they were first? Really?

    I’ve never forgotten the first person I had sex with, but that’s simply because she was someone that I knew, and being the “first time” for any event in one’s life is something that tends to be remembered. For that matter, I’ve never forgotten anyone I’ve had sex with; my memory isn’t that poor, and it would be rather rude to try to – after all, they were people, like me. Very few people deserve to be forgotten, and the one I might wish to forget is for reasons quite unrelated to sex. And even there, she was part of my life experience, and I take ownership of and responsibility for my life.

    But then, I am much older than you.

    “I guess you could say I have empathy.”

    I suppose I could say that. But what I will say instead is that I truly hope that you do, Nia. You are very young, and life is long and full of people very different from you. How you treat those people as you grow will depend in no small part on whether you truly do have a sense of empathy, and are able to keep it.

  83. At first, I was trying to make myself seem older because if you knew I was a teenager (you do now) you wouldn’t take what I am saying. So yeah, I still will stick to my guns because I’ve seen a lot of things a “teenager” shouldn’t have seen. I still have a lack of knowledge about the subject, but hey, I got a lot to learn and I’ve learned a lot. So yes, I get your point and I have to look at the subject in a different light.

  84. @Nia J.

    “At first, I was trying to make myself seem older because if you knew I was a teenager (you do now) you wouldn’t take what I am saying.”

    Take what you are saying… how? Nia, What you said was not judged on the basis of your age, but on its own merits. You made assertions and judgments that are not credible. When you volunteered that you are a teenager, that provided some context to put your words in better perspective. The fact that you are a teenager does not make what you have to say inherently valueless; far from it. But ignorance on a particular topic doesn’t exactly add value to words spoken on that topic; I wouldn’t take advice on driving a car, for example, from someone who has never been behind the wheel. Not because that person is someone to be inherently dismissed outright, but because they are demonstrably unqualified to speak on that particular topic. On that same note, I would never insist someone get behind the wheel of a car if they didn’t feel they were ready to do so, nor would I tell them what particular type of car they should drive. I would also expect that they would drive wherever they were able to do so after knowing what sorts of precautions driving requires..

    Do you live in an environment where the fact that you are a teenager is, in and of itself, seen as a justification to devalue your words?

    “So yeah, I still will stick to my guns because I’ve seen a lot of things a “teenager” shouldn’t have seen.”

    So have I. So have a great many other people I know. I remember what it was like to be a teenager, Nia. I remember the awkwardness, and aching all over, inside and out, wanting and needing and fearing and hoping and planning and wondering, Here’s a secret most adults won’t admit – it doesn’t all go away as you grow up. Most of it does, to a degree that varies from person to person, but not all. Mostly what happens is you learn to manage what’s left. You learn to hone your strengths and guard whatever weaknesses you can’t buttress (well, not everyone does, but you get the idea). But wantingneedinghopingfearingplanningwondering and dreaming are things that don’t stop until you die. They don’t feel the same at, say, forty-six as they did at sixteen, but an honest person recognizes those things as just part of being human.

    (And, hell, it’s not the same for every teenager, either. Even the most useful generalizations are subject to some wild variables.)

    Being a teenager is just an earlier stretch of the same road. If I point out things about the road that you don’t see and don’t think could be true, it’s probably just because I’m much further along that you are. If others point out the things I do but describe them differently, they’re at a somewhat different vantage point.

    And some people don’t like to talk about certain things on or about the road. They have their reasons. Others may call me a liar; I make a point of not standing on the same part of the road where they are. I’ve been there, and it wasn’t a good place.

    And this is a good spot for me to stop using fuzzy pop-psych analogies.

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