History of the Purity Ring

Purity rings got their start when the Bush administration promoted STD/STI protection/prevention and safe sex in the 1990s.

“Under the Bush administration, organizations that [promoted] abstinence and [encouraged] teens to sign virginity pledges or wear purity rings have received federal grants. The Silver Ring Thing, a subsidiary of a Pennsylvania evangelical church, has received more than $1 million from the government to promote abstinence and to sell its rings in the United States and abroad.” 1

A Purity Ring
It can be expensive or it can be cheap. It can be fancy or it can be simple. A purity ring represents a vow, promise, goal or commitment to abstain from sex until marriage. They are typically worn on the left ring finger. This is significant because it is the same finger a wedding ring is worn. It serves as a constant reminder of the goal and commitment to abstain from sex until marriage. (The purity ring is removed and replaced with a wedding ring once marriage takes place.)

Purity Rings vs Promise Rings
A purity ring is one of the many types of promise rings. Some are used to show a promise to a significant other that marriage and/or engagement is desired. While other types of promise rings are used to show commitment and affection because marriage and/or engagement is not desired.

Promise rings are also used to signify a commitment or promise to ones self. A purity ring is this type of promise ring: a promise to ones self to abstain from sex until marriage. A purity ring can also be used to signify a commitment to others (parents, family, friends) that you will abstain from sex until marriage. 2

Who are Purity Rings for?
Purity rings are for anyone and everyone. Most often parents will buy purity rings for their children; however, this is not always the case. Many young adults will purchase purity rings for themselves. Purity rings have increased in popularity over the years (especially since various celebrities have worn purity rings). They are worn by young adults and adolescents who have remained abstinent.

“Purity rings are also popular among “secondary virgins,” the abstinence movement’s name for people who have already had sex but have made a pledge to give it up until marriage.”3

When a purity ring is worn, a promise is made to abstain from sex until marriage (from that point forward). Purity rings can be worn by anyone. It does not matter if they have had sex in the past. Purity rings represent a clean step forward.

1Bario, David. Abstinence-only accessories: Purity rings for celibate teens. 29 Mar 2005.Rutherland Herald. 4 May 2010.AID=/20050329/NEWS/503290315/1027.

2Promise Rings: Their History and Meaning. “Engraving Ideas: Personalized Rings and Things.” 7 July 2008. http://www.engravedstyle.com/category/purityrings/

3Bario, David. Abstinence-only accessories: Purity rings for celibate teens. 29 Mar 2005. Rutherland Herald. 4 May 2010.