The New York Times today has an article describing Puirty Balls, dances in which fathers vow to protect their daughters and keep them pure. Reading it made me very uncomfortable.
Fostering healthy father/daughter relationships is a wonderful goal, but I’m not very inclined to call the relationships described (from what I can gather from a short news article) very healthy. Fathers are asked to “read aloud a covenant ‘before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.'” Abstinence is not mentioned, but it is the obvious strong undercurrent of the event. And the culmination of the event is when two men take their “two large swords,” make an arch beside a seven-foot cross, and have all the fathers and daughters kneel together beneath the sword-arch.
Thankfully, the author includes information about abstinence vows in today’s culture: “Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy. But studies have also shown that most teenagers who say they will remain abstinent, like those at the ball, end up having sex before marriage, and they are far less likely to use condoms than their peers.”
In the context of an event promoting purity and abstinence, I was particularly appalled by this quote from the organizer: “Fathers, our daughters are waiting for us.”
– David S. Cohen