Let me start this post by saying I commend anyone who’s able to establish a standard of behavior for themselves and actually live up to their own expectations, particularly when it comes to abstaining from sex while in a relationship, given the numerous temptations that abound.
That being said, when I look at the spectacle that was made of preacher’s daughter Brelyn Bowman’s virginity over the weekend when she wed Tim Bowman Jr., I can’t help but shake my head a little. OK, a lot.
You’ve likely come across the Bowman’s story on one of your news feeds in the last 36 hours, as one element of the young couple’s ceremony in particular set off a fury of reactions: the presentation of a purity certificate. Brelyn, whose Instagram is filled with odes to getting a ring without giving up her ‘ting, uploaded the image below of her big day, announcing that she presented her father a certificate of purity signed by her doctor proving that her hymen is still intact.
If you grew up anywhere near a church, you know sex before marriage as a Christian is a big no-no, and you’ve likely also heard of teen and pre-teen girls being given chastity belts, purity rings, and the like as a pledge to remain pure until they walk down the aisle. It’s like a literal manifestation of Ephesians’ call to put on the full armor of God, and given the Christian call to keep others on the straight and narrow, one should give young sojourners all the tools they need to do so. However two things about this practice have always rubbed me wrong:
- The exclusion of the young boys waiting to deflower these girls from these purity pledges
- The pledging of a girl’s virginity to her father
Though the story in the Bowman’s case is that both the bride and groom were virgins when they jumped the broom, as far as one can tell from social media Tim didn’t present a certificate of purity to anyone. Sure, there’s no way to prove his virginity, medically speaking, the way his new bride did, but if she’s making her declaration so public, why should he not do the same?
Despite the clear double standard, part of me is glad Tim didn’t because there’s something twistedly archaic about a girl pledging her virginity to her father. I get that dads are most little girls’ first love, but that love is not a sexual one. Brelyn mentions she made a covenant with her dad at 13 to remain pure. Correct me if I’m wrong because it’s been a little while since I dusted off ye old Bible, but isn’t this covenant supposed to be between a woman and God — not man, even if the man is your own father?
Brelyn’s certificate presentation takes my mind back to the biblical days, but not in a good way. It conjures up images of fathers presenting their daughters as goods to be sold and the women being judged by a number of criteria, including their purity, to determine their worth with no such thing being done to the betrothed. While I’m happy to see a young couple remaining steadfast in their spiritual beliefs, I’m sad this tradition still exists, in its most sexist form, as an example of the accepted patriarchy that still runs rampant in many Christian institutions today. Either there’s purity papers for all, or sex — whether you’re having it or not — needs to be kept between the believer and God.