Fri, 12 May 2006

'Virginity pledges' by adolescents may bias their reports of premarital sex

In heathenry, an oath is the most sacred thing a person can do: keeping one's oaths is of paramount importance in our ethic. If an oath is broken, restitution is due to the aggrieved party - this was the origin of civil fines in the English system of common law. Breaking an oath with no thought to compensating an injured party is one of the few reasons heathens consider worthy of punishment in the afterlife.

No oath should be entered into lightly, and the full consequences of oaths should be understood before making them. Obviously, those who enter into oaths should be of an age where they can comprehend exactly what they're doing.

There's a movement afoot in this country called the Purity Ball - this is where girls oath to their fathers to maintain their virginity until marriage. Here's the partial oath they make:

I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

Does a prepubescent girl have the comprehension necessary to make this oath? Before sexual maturity, can she know what she's pledging?

"How can you measure the value of your eleven year old looking up into your eyes (as you clumsily learn the fox-trot together) with innocent, uncontainable joy, saying, 'Daddy, I'm so excited!'"wrote Wesley Tullis in a letter describing his grateful participation.

This is shameful - this is setting up a young girl to break an oath to her deity. Of course, the guilt that comes naturally from breaking such an oath will drive her back to her god seeking forgiveness, and I suspect that's part of the whole point.

How do you suppose one of these fathers would react if the girl balked at her invitation to one of these "purity" affairs? Would any eleven year old girl you know have the moxy to say "No thank you, Daddy, someday I might want to have sex before marriage, and I don't want to make a promise I can't keep... "?

What the folks forcing this kind of thing on their children seem to have forgotten in this whole mess is the nearly infinite capacity of people, when placed in impossible situations, to lie. Especially young people. Which is apparently what a good many of the girls who take these virginity oaths are doing. Perhaps they realize that it was a contrived oath (and thus invalid in some sense), perhaps their shame has driven them away from their faith rather than towards it. In any event, the broken oath lies forgotten, as teenagers do what teenagers have always done. Only the guilt and shame remain...

And there's nothing pure about that.

Adolescents who sign a "virginity pledge" and then go on to have premarital sex are likely to disavow having signed such a pledge, according to an analysis of survey data by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researcher Janet Rosenbaum published in the advance online edition of the American Journal of Public Health's June 2006 issue. Conversely, adolescents who have had premarital sex and then decide to make a virginity pledge are likely to misreport their earlier sexual history. This misreporting of sexual experience will make it difficult to accurately assess virginity pledges' effects on early sexual intercourse, according to the author.

(link) [EurekaAlert]

/Asatru | 1 writeback | permanent link

On 5/13/2006 09:03:00
Bjorngrímnir wrote

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