“When I was 16, I got a purity ring.
And when I was 25, I took it off.
I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it — it wasn’t a statement or an emotional thing. I just slipped it off my finger that day and, before tucking it away in a box, ran my finger around the words on the familiar gold band.
‘True Love Waits.’ Waits.
What’s it “waiting” for, anyway?”
This article on Grace For the Road entitled “I Don’t Wait Anymore” echoes so distinctly my own thought process growing up in the conservative, evangelical Christian community. For some reason, I never got into the idea of a purity ring. For some reason, the idea of the term “waiting” as a byword for sexual purity always rubbed me the wrong way. After all, as the author probes, what exactly are we supposed to be waiting for? And is waiting for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow truly what the Christian walk is about?
“True love waits” is an admirable slogan, for sure. Like the author, I see how promoting the idea is well-intentioned and stemming from a desire to impart healthy sexuality to our sons and daughters. But under the surface, “true love waits” implies several things that don’t match up with a Christian worldview, such as:
1. If you remain sexually pure, you will be rewarded by God with a spouse eventually
2. If you make a mistake you later regret, or your convictions change regarding sexual ethics, your chance at “true love” is forever marred
3. If a potential spouse has not saved themselves for you sexually, they must not truly love you
See, as well-intentioned as “true love waits” might be, following the rabbit trail down can get scary. The idea of virginity defining your personhood, especially a woman’s personhood, is another topic for another time. I think the overarching point of “I Don’t Wait Anymore” – and my own issue with “true love waits" – is rather that (as the article puts it):
“A lot of girls were sold on a deal and not on a Savior.”
I’m realizing more every day that holy living isn’t about the reward. Choosing to follow what is, I believe, God’s design for human sexuality isn’t just for my potential spouse. It’s for my own growth as a person. It’s one step closer, every day, to living in rightness with my Creator. It’s about freedom in my daily choices. But the looming heartache so many girls feel for a husband is so often only exacerbated and encouraged by the little phrase “true love waits.”
Because it tells them that life, as it is now, is just a waiting room. And who wants to stay in one of those? Because it tells them over and over again that Husband is the goal. But that’s not really the goal, you know?
I love my husband to death, more and more every day, but I know I could have lived a thriving and joyful life even if we’d never met. If I had gone to another school and never met him, or if I had chosen to remain single instead of pursuing a relationship with him, my sexual ethics would have been just as important to me and to God.
Because it’s not really about waiting. It’s about doing what’s right, what’s good for you, what God wants for each of us as individual people – not as Future Members of a Pair. The brutal truth is that not all of us will find someone we want to marry. Some of us may end up settling, some of us may never be asked, and all of us will eventually be dissatisfied – whether we’re married or single.
“[Paul] doesn’t describe singleness as a curse or a punishment or even a temporary state of waiting until the right man comes along. Quite the contrary. Paul is convinced throughout 1 Corinthians 7 of the blessing of the single life.”
“…Settle it in your mind that God is big enough and wise enough to give you the best life possible—the life that thrives… So stop wasting it. Stop wishing it away. Stop complaining about it and praying that it would change soon, and start believing the truth of God’s Word.
You have been given a good life, and it’s yours by design. Do you believe it?”
For more perspectives on this topic from Crosswalk, and around the web, check out these resources:
- To All the Single Ladies: The Mating Game
- Waiting for a Man? Change Your Focus From Here to Eternity
- All I’ve Dreamed of is Being a Wife and Mother
- I'm Single, But I'm Still a Whole Person
- How can Young Christian Women Embrace the Season of Singleness?
- Being Single: Don’t Waste the Wait
- Being Single: How We Waste It
- Elizabeth Smart, Human Trafficking, and Purity Culture
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: October 2, 2013