Area 51, a faked moon landing, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot — everyone has a conspiracy theory. My theory is that purity rings are simply a way for Christian book and jewelry stores to make money.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a free-loving, communist atheist (not that people don't have a right to be so if they chose). I just don't understand what wearing a ring has to do with someone's choice to practice abstinence.
Once some girls (and on occasion boys) reach fifth or sixth grade, their parents slap rings on their fingers. When starting middle school, most people don't know who they are or have any idea how they truly feel about sex.
And before publicly signing themselves up for a life of chastity, students should at least be allowed to understand and choose their own lifestyle.
Churches, on occasion, hold purity ring ceremonies after abstinence studies. If someone doesn't want a purity ring, for whatever reason, it won't look good. So, even if someone simply hates wearing rings, he or she will look trashy in the eyes of the church.
And students who may not agree with the study at the end, who don't want to look bad, have to accept a ring with everyone else to keep up appearances.
And what if someone wants to be abstinent, chooses to wear a purity ring and then somewhere down the road, for one reason or the other, makes a mistake and regrets it? Or what if the person simply decides to change that lifestyle choice?
If the person keeps the ring on, he or she is lying. But if it is taken off, other people will wonder why and find out what happened.
Yeah, that's the kind of awkward position I want to be in over a piece of jewelry.
Let me be clear, it's not what purity rings stand for that I find so abhorrent; I don't find remaining abstinent until marriage a repulsive concept by any means. The aspect of the rings that bothers me is how they're used by many of the people who wear them.
Parents want to control their children's sexual activity and somehow think a ring is the same as a chastity belt. Pastors and youth ministers at least are comforted by the fact that the students have visual reminders of abstinence vows. Wearers of purity rings use them as a way of proclaiming how holy they are and the importance of true love waits.
News flash: You're going to have sex if you want to, no matter what jewelry is on your finger. And, somehow magically, those who don't wear purity rings manage not to jump in bed with every single person on the street. It's about personal ethics, not fashion choices.
I'm sure there are people who wear and promote purity rings for respectable reasons, but most of the people I have encountered cannot provide clear, well-thought out logic for their accessory choice.
I know people with purity rings worth hundreds of dollars, who mainly wanted them because they were pretty.
Bible studies about sex suggest buying rings — which, to me, simply sounds like cross-promotion for Christian bookstores. I know the stores are only providing a product consumers demand, but who convinced teenagers driven to stay abstinent into believing they needed a ring in the first place?What does a purity ring do for the wearer except flaunt his or her sexual choices in other people's faces?
If someone is set on waiting until marriage to have sex, his or her actions will eventually inform surrounding people. Actions, after all, speak more loudly than words and definitely speak more loudly than shiny objects.
Hannah Rogers is the assistant news editor of The Reflector. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.