“Are you denaried?”
The question comes from a four-year-old student. I set down my crayon and smile. “Hm?”
“Are you denaried?”
I glance around for context clues. “I’m…not sure.”
“I mean are you denaried to a dad?”
Understanding floods in. For the second time in a day, a child under the age of six is questioning my marital status. “No, I’m not married,” I said simply, and I return to coloring in my Bible story worksheet.
“Then what are those rings for?”
I’m almost surprised that the symbolism of a ring means so much in a society that has pushed so many traditional symbols into ambiguity. Yet time and again, new acquaintances, colleagues, and especially kids ask me, “Are you married?” after they see that I wear a ring on my left ring finger.
In a public school situation, I keep my answer vague: “No, my ring means that I’m not married yet.” With peers, I refer to it as a purity ring and usually receive a silent nod or “Oh”.
But with my young students in a Wednesday night Bible study, I decided to give a better answer.
“It means I’m not married yet. I’m waiting to get married. When I do get married, my husband will give me a new ring. We’ll trade. I’ll give him this one –” I removed it to pantomime the theoretical swap, “– and he will give me a wedding ring.”
What I didn’t tell my inquisitive four-year-old friend was that wearing my purity ring actually has very little to do with marriage. My purity ring is more than a promise to my dad, or to my future husband. It’s a a demonstration of my faith in God’s perfect ways. My purity ring indicates, of course, that I will save myself for my husband and refrain from pre-marital sex. But it also means that I will dress modestly, treat men with respect and restraint, and never love anyone more than I love God.
My purity ring isn’t a placeholder, preparing for the day when a wedding ring might grace my finger. It’s a symbol of the way I live my life, single or married, to the end of my days.
Do you wear a purity ring?