Purity balls keep dads faithful?

The events are designed to defend girls' virginity, but the fathers are the ones being saved from sin.

Topics: Sex, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

We’ve written before about Generations of Light Ministries’ fantastically creepy “purity ball,” where fathers make a pledge to protect their young daughters’ hymens. But the New York Times’ coverage of the 2008 ball launched the event’s creepy quotient into the cosmos. Never before has the ball’s purpose been made so clear: It’s all about the dads.

The girls may dress up in glittery princess gowns, drape themselves in purity jewelry, make silent vows and place a white rose at the foot of a cross — but the fathers are the ones who actually make a purity pledge. Not the girls, whose “purity” is at issue, but their fathers. Each father signs a pledge reading, in part: “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 my family as the high priest in my home.”

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Terry Lee, 54, who attended the ball with his 16-year-old daughter, told the Times: “It’s also good for me” — good for me! “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.” So, when that apparently not-so-sacred pledge you make to your wife at the altar starts to wear off, it’s time to dangle another consecrated carrot in front of yourself? And what better motivator in a man’s personal pursuit of purity than … his daughter’s virginity? Indeed, the ball’s co-founder, Randy Wilson, told the Times: “I’ve heard from fathers that this challenged them, to guard their own eyes, for example.”

At this year’s ball, Wilson told the fathers: “Our daughters are waiting for us … They need to be rescued by you, their dad.” It seems to me the dads are the ones in need of rescuing.

Tracy Clark-Flory
Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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