The History and Meaning Behind the Purity Ring
Tokens often serve as a reminder of a promise or commitment, and a purity ring is just that: a reminder of a commitment to purity. While purity is not a new concept, the idea of a ring to symbolize the promise to stay pure until marriage is a more modern one. If you’ve ever wondered “What is a purity ring?”, keep reading to learn more about this modern type of promise ring.
What Is a Purity Ring?
At a glance, a purity ring looks just like any other ring you might wear on your finger. You may even know someone who wears a purity ring, whether or not you realize what it is or what it represents. When you look closer at a purity ring, you notice that the engraving and designs center around the idea of waiting for true love or living a pure life. The specific phrases and designs vary, but all purity rings symbolize that commitment to stay pure until marriage.
A purity ring, also called a chastity ring or abstinence ring, is a type of promise ring. Instead of committing yourself to one person, you are making a commitment to yourself. The ring often has a profoundly religious meaning. People who wear the rings commit themselves to keeping their minds, bodies and hearts pure while dedicating themselves to serving God.
The most common way to wear a purity ring is on your left ring finger, which is the same finger typically reserved for a wedding ring. This is no coincidence — the idea is that the purity ring stays on the left ring finger until it is replaced by a wedding ring. This goes along with the idea of keeping yourself pure until you get married.
The History of the Purity Ring
Purity rings came about in the early 1990s. During that time, the Bush administration pushed STD prevention with a focus on abstinence for young people. That promotion became a platform for many religious groups, and the purity ring became the symbol of the purity commitment.
Meanwhile, The Silver Ring Thing, a program designed to promote living a pure life through programs for middle and high school students, began. The program incorporates music, video, special effects, skits and comedy in a teen-friendly format with a focus on living a religiously devoted life. The program puts a strong emphasis on living a life centered around Jesus.
As part of the program, participants commit to purity. The Silver Ring Thing also offers purity rings for those who choose to commit to purity. Many other Christian groups also supported the idea of wearing purity rings, but The Silver Ring Thing and other religious groups are not the only ones who supply purity rings.
The rings are now available in a variety of styles from many different sources, all with the same purpose. Some people design custom purity rings by engraving relevant phrases and symbols on a plain band.
Who Wears Purity Rings?
Teens and young adults are the most common groups who wear purity rings. This demographic is typically unmarried and in the dating phase of life. Peer pressure to engage in various activities that detract from a pure life is also high at this point.
While young people are most likely to wear purity rings, anyone of any age who is committed to purity can wear this type of ring. Most people who wear purity rings do so for religious reasons. Many proponents of the purity ring movement are Christian-based groups. Families with strong religious beliefs may encourage their children to wear purity rings. Some churches or church-sponsored groups encourage youth participants to wear the rings as well.
People who aren’t religious may also choose to wear purity rings. These people simply want to focus on living a pure life to keep their priorities in line with their beliefs. Both males and females can wear purity rings. The rings are available in a variety of designs for both genders. Many young celebrities wear or have worn purity rings at certain points in their lives. Examples include Jessica Simpson, Demi Lavato, Selena Gomez, Jordin Sparks, Julianne Hough and the Jonas Brothers.
What Is the Purpose of Wearing a Purity Ring?What is the point of a purity ring? Here are some reasons people choose to wear them:
- Commitment to yourself: By wearing a purity ring, you are making a commitment to yourself. That commitment can be religiously based or simply a commitment to care about yourself and keep yourself safe.
- Commitment to others: While the main focus is committing to yourself, the purity ring is also a symbol to a potential spouse that you want to wait for true love.
- Reminder during difficult times: When faced with those difficult situations or pressures, the ring serves as a reminder of the commitment to making positive, healthy decisions in life. It can remind the wearer to stay strong in the conviction to refrain from activities that take attention away from keeping the body, mind and heart pure.
- Declaration of your decision: Some people choose to wear purity rings to make their stance known. They are not embarrassed to let others know they have committed to a pure life.
Buying a Purity Ring
A common tradition is for a parent to buy a purity ring for a child. This exchange typically takes place in adolescence. In many cases, the parent of the opposite sex presents the ring to the child. The father gives his daughter a purity ring, or the mother gives her son a purity ring, for example.
Some teens or young adults buy purity rings themselves. The individual decides to commit to purity and wants a ring to represent that commitment.
Still others exchange purity rings while in a relationship. Exchanging purity rings with a significant other shows that both of you have a commitment to staying pure until marriage. It is not an engagement or commitment to getting married someday — it is simply a way of say you both plan to keep your hearts, minds and bodies pure, whether you stay together or go separate ways.
Purity Ring Vows
Wearing the ring is only one part of the commitment. Most people who choose to wear purity rings also take a vow or pledge to the idea of remaining pure. The vow or pledge may be verbal or written. The purity ring wearer may write the vows personally, or the parents or a religious organization supporting the idea of a purity ring might provide a vow to use.
When committing to wear a purity ring, the vow or pledge should reflect the individual person’s motivation and beliefs. Reciting a vow or signing a pledge just to appease someone else means the commitment to the purity ring may not be strong.
The format for making a vow of purity is flexible. This allows each person to enter into the purity commitment in a fitting manner. Some options include:
- Verbal vow: The person committing to purity verbally makes the vow. This may take place with parents, friends, a significant other or other people.
- Signed pledge: Other people choose to sign written pledges when they decide to wear purity rings. The written pledge might be short and sweet or detailed, with the specific commitments the person is making. Signing a piece of paper may feel like more of a concrete commitment to the idea. Keeping a copy of the signed pledge also gives you something to look at if you feel your commitment wavering. It reminds you of your initial excitement and your reasons for dedicating yourself to purity.
- Purity certificate: A similar option is a purity certificate. This is similar to any certificate, and serves as a visual reminder of the commitment. The certificate might be signed by parents or a church leader.
- Purity ceremony: Another option to make a strong commitment is through a purity ceremony. This ceremony may be large or small, often involving family and close friends. Some ceremonies take place at home, while some churches host purity ceremonies as part of programs for church youth group members. During the ceremony, the person committing to purity typically takes the vow and is presented with the ring.
- Purity balls: Some people go above and beyond a simple ceremony to host purity balls. A purity ball is a more formal, elegant form of a purity ceremony. The guest of honor and other guests often wear formal gowns. Men typically wear suits or tuxedos. The event often includes dancing, food, cake and prayer, in addition to the presentation of the purity ring and the purity vow.
Common Styles of Purity Rings
Purity rings come in a variety of styles with various sayings on them. Purity rings for girls often have a thinner, more delicate design. They might include hearts, butterflies or similar engravings. Others include gemstones on the ring. Purity rings for guys may have a slightly more masculine look. Thicker bands are common in styles for guys.
The wide range of purity ring styles makes it easier for each person to find a look that fits individual preferences. Purity rings often come in a silver tone, with sterling silver being a popular metal choice. The rings come in a variety of other metals, including yellow gold, white gold and steel, so you can find a metal that suits your personal tastes and matches your other jewelry.
An engraved saying is almost always found on a purity ring. A common phrase is “True Love Waits,” or simply “Love Waits.” These simple phrases capture the essence of the purity ring, which is to wait for true love and marriage. Many other phrases are also available on purity rings. Some examples include:
- I will wait for you
- I will wait
- I will wait for my beloved
- One life, one love
- Love is patient
- Pure before God
- Pure and patient
- Psalm 51:10
- Song of Solomon 6:3
- Jeremiah 29:11
- Matthew 5:8
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
- Philippians 4:13
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4
Purity rings are often engravable on the inside of the band. This gives you a chance to personalize the ring to make it more meaningful to you and your specific situation. Ideas include your name, the date you took your purity vow, a special scripture or another sentiment related to purity.
Beyond the phrasing on the purity ring, you can get a custom look by choosing different shapes and accents on the ring. Many chastity rings use a simple band style. Others have sections designed to look like different shapes relevant to the idea of purity. Those designs often take the front and center position on the ring.
Still others use a cut-out design with a relevant symbol cut out of the band to create a shaped opening. Common images and designs on purity rings include:
- Crosses: The cross symbolizes the commitment to God first. Since most people wear purity rings for religious reasons, crosses are popular as decorations on the rings. The cross may be engraved into the ring or stand out beyond the edges of the ring.
- Hearts: Purity rings express the commitment to wait for marriage, which is based on the idea of true love. Because of this connection to love, hearts often make an appearance in purity ring designs. This could be an engraved heart or an accent gemstone shaped like a heart.
- Keys: Purity rings with key symbols often represent the “key to my heart” sentiment. The idea is that the future spouse has the key to the heart, and the wearer will remain pure until that marriage occurs with the one person holding the key.
- Flowers: Flowers are sometimes incorporated into the purity ring design for a delicate, feminine look. The flower might represent purity or innocence. Some people simple choose a flower design because they like the look.