Monday, May 19, 2008

Nothing About Purity Balls Is Okay

At my high school, the students got to vote on the theme for our my rather famous senior prom. The winning theme my senior year was "Splendor on the Nile." The runner-up was "Roman Holiday." Now I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure "Celebrate Not Having Sex, And Bring Your Dad!" got zero votes.

Still, that theme is put to lavish use at "purity balls," evangelical father-daughter dances that probably started in somebody's gym, and now have ballooned into the expensive, oddly ritualistic ceremonies described in today's Times. Some descriptive passages:

...After dessert, the 63 men stood and read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.” The gesture signaled that the fathers would guard their daughters from what evangelicals consider a profoundly corrosive “hook-up culture.”

Did you hear that? The "hook-up culture" can eat through pans.

“It’s also good for me,” said Terry Lee, 54, who attended the ball for a second year, this time with his youngest daughter, Rachel, 16. “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.”

Yeah, Rachel. It's up to you to keep Daddy in check. If you start kissing boys, you're giving him permission to cheat on Mommy.

“The culture says you’re free to sleep with as many people as you want to,” said Khrystian Wilson, 20, one of the Wilsons’ seven children, including five girls. “What does that get you but complete chaos?”

Um... seven children?

Each father and his daughter walked under the arch and knelt before the cross. Synthesized hymns played. The fathers sometimes held their daughters and whispered a short prayer, and then the girls each placed a white rose, representing purity, at the foot of the cross.

I see: the rose represents the girls' virginity, and the dads represent the girls' dads, and the cross represents sacrifice, and the synthesized hymns represent everything that is wrong with the world.

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