From the Roman collar to the brown scapular, the Church has developed a plethora of physical signs one can sport to testify to his faith or vocation. A more recent one which- though not invented by the Church- is gaining popularity not only in various Christians circles but also in Catholic communities, is the purity ring. These plain, silver bands, often inscribed with words such as “True Love Waits” or “I Will Wait”, are worn as an outward sign of one’s promise to not only remain sexually abstinent until marriage, but also to cultivate a pure heart which will one day, hopefully, see God (cf. Matthew 5:8).
I started wearing a purity ring when I was thirteen; after witnessing the effects dating the wrong people prematurely had on various peers, I knew I did not want to fall into the same trap. I had heard about purity rings before, and thought that a visible commitment would both keep me accountable and serve as a firm reminder of my promise in moments of temptation. For me, wearing this ring was more than a commitment to purity- it was a commitment to patience. I knew all too well that my foolish heart could be won easily, and that this weakness would lead me to start dating any guy who was fairly clean-cut and was quick to compliment. And so, the night I slipped on the ring and signed the commitment card, I also composed a short list of things I knew my future husband would need in order to be a good help-mate. It wasn’t too long, and did not include height requirements or specific eye-colors; it was a character check-list, which I would write down about a year later. They were in no particular order, and there was only one that was non-negotiable: “Devout Catholic”.
As high school started and I was exposed to a whole new group of guys, this vow became more difficult to keep. It was then that I learned how tempting the word “compromise” could be, and where my suspicion that I would “fall in love” much too fast was proved true. Yet, as the old adage says, practice makes perfect, and as fleeting emotions came and went, my heart became more firm in Him, my Divine Spouse, the one whom I should seek before all things.
Though I am still a far ways away from reaching “perfect”, the decision to wear this ring began a process from which I continue to benefit- the process of discerning my vocation and learning the indispensable value of purity. As it sits obediently on my finger, it quietly reminds me of the God who is lovingly watching out for me, and the man whom He may place in my life, at the proper time.
But until then, I will echo the words of Rebecca St. James and sing, “I am waiting for/praying for you darling/ wait for me too/ wait for me as I wait for you,” and hope that, somewhere, there is a devout Catholic man singing the same thing.
“You are not your own. You were bought at a price, so glorify God in your body.”
-1 Corinthians 6:20
(The verse on the commitment card)
I would like to thank Tito Edwards for including this article in his National Catholic Register post for November 16, 2012.