A promise of virtue

It’s easy to mistake her purity ring as just a plain, silver ring — an ordinary article of jewelry. But to junior Serena Yoo, it means much more.

To its owner, a purity ring is not simply a decoration or fashion statement. It is a physical symbol of commitment, a promise to themselves, their future and God.

The ring is a symbol of chastity — it represents purity and abstention from sexual intercourse until marriage, one of God’s commandments in the Bible.

Twins Serena and Estelle Yoo both decided to get purity rings their sophomore year. They received their rings on Feb. 14, 2015, through a program called “True Love Waits.” The program took place at New Vision Church in Milpitas, which they regularly attend.

Prior to the ring ceremony, there are several sessions where participants learned about abstinence through video seminars. On the day of the ceremony, participants are called by name to walk across a white carpet onto the stage. A parent or guardian waits on the stage to give each person his or her ring. Inside the ring, the letters “T.L.W.”, the program’s acronym, are engraved into the metal along with each person’s initials.

Serena decided to partake in “True Love Waits” because she wanted to confirm that her decision to abstain came from within, not outside influences. Her ring is “a physical confirmation… [that]I made this commitment, with God and myself, and my family and my friends, my future husband and my future children, that I would live in this purity.”

While he doesn’t wear his ring every day because of its bulk, junior Jason Shen still deeply believes in its significance. He thinks that the ring can have several meanings depending on the person, whether it signifies complete sexual abstinence or an abstention from selective sexual acts. From his perspective, the ring is symbolic of his devotion to and walk with Christ.

Shen also wears a cross necklace to show his commitment to God. Like a ring, he believes having a physical object keeps him accountable for his actions, reminding him of his promise every time he looks at it.

“The importance of it is more in how you walk with Christ rather than just wearing a ring,” Shen said.

Like Shen, Estelle feels that her view on life has changed slightly since she started wearing her purity ring. She is more aware of living out the promise that she made, and concentrates more on making sure those promises turn into actions, such as using less profane language.

To Serena, her ring and her commitment are important parts of her that she will carry until marriage. While the ring does not have any specific effect on her, its morals help guide her actions to being sexually pure.

“Sometimes I kind of forget about [the ring],” Serena said. “Not in a bad way … but I feel like it’s a part of my finger.”

Although she also wears her ring everyday, senior Esther Na believes that she would still want to remain celibate before marriage, even if she wasn’t a Christian or didn’t wear a ring. Her background, rather than her religion, impressed upon her the importance of these values.

As these values are a part of her, she hopes to carry them with her throughout her life, even after she leaves her family for college.

Estelle has also noticed that many people are curious about her purity ring. She often finds herself being questioned about the significance of her ring or why she wears it. When explaining the reasons behind her ring to others, she finds that they are not always understanding.

“They’re like ‘Oh then can you take the ring off and then have sex? And then put it back on?,’” Estelle said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

But most of the time, Estelle noted that people respect her decision, or at least don’t seem to acknowledge it.

Estelle plans on wearing her ring until marriage, keeping a promise with herself that she will stay pure for her future husband. Her goal is to live a life of purity, to fulfill the covenant she has made between herself and God.

“[The ring] reminds me that, in what I do and what I say it should reflect Jesus,” Estelle said.

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