Since coming home I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning my bedroom and getting rid of old items I don’t use or need. Some of the many things I’m having trouble getting rid of (even though they’re thoroughly embarrassing) are my diaries from when I was in middle and high school. I wrote in them sporadically, usually about boys, and I’m not entirely sure how my fiancé would feel picking up and reading the diary I filled with entries about my high school crush who never liked me back. As cliché and whiny as these diaries are, I did find one hidden gem: a purity pledge I made between my junior and senior years of high school. I had tucked it between random pages of the diary, probably because I had no idea where to store it. Here it is:
I’m not 100% positive, but I believe I got this card at the Steubenville conference I attended that summer. The date that I signed is right around when I went, either during or right after the event. The best part? This supposedly binding promise to myself is on a business card. Someone went through the trouble of designing business-card-sized purity pledges that could be passed out like the much more-effective condoms of actual sex educators.
Despite the brevity of this particular purity pledge, I do have something to complain about when it comes to its contents. Ignoring the fact that it’s clearly meant to be a promise to myself AND God, whom I no longer believe in, there’s one particular sentence that doesn’t sit well with me:
“As a daughter of the King, I pledge now to live my life in a way that will guard my dignity, my purity, and my beauty…”
In a promise that’s generally understood to mean “I’m not going to have sex until I get married,” what are “beauty” and “dignity” doing in there? How does having premarital sex compromise a person’s beauty or dignity? Have I gotten uglier as a result of having sex? Do I no longer have dignity? This is especially disconcerting when one considers the definition of dignity:
“The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.”
Does a woman surrender her dignity when she has sex? Is she no longer worthy of esteem or respect? Do people who have premarital sex not deserve respect?
With just a few words, this pledge becomes disturbingly dehumanizing. It ties a woman’s worth to the state of her genitals rather than to the fact that she is a human being with a brain, and feelings, and all the things that go into a person. Furthermore, in the process of trying to get young women to choose abstinence, it puts down the people who don’t.
Regardless of whether or not you think purity pledges are a good idea, this kind of language shouldn’t be included in them. It’s degrading, it’s sexist, and it’s wrong.
Have any of you made purity pledges? What do you think about them? Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.