TEENAGE girls are swearing off sex at evangelical ceremonies in the US where fathers are given a key to their chastity as part of a purity movement sweeping through the country.
The movement, started in Colorado Springs 20 years ago by believer Randy Wilson and his wife Lisa, has since spread across 48 states and 17 countries.
During elaborate annual Purity Balls, daughters pledge to remain virgins until they get married.
The formal occasion entails the girls dressing up in long white gowns and the fathers wearing smart suits, attending a dinner and dance in scenes that resemble a wedding.
At the ceremony, fathers are given a key, representing their daughter’s chastity, to eventually pass on to their daughter’s future husband.
Both father and daughter then sign a purity contract and the daughters are given a purity ring to wear on their wedding ring finger.
In Louisiana, 17-year-old Hannah Lee Powers attended a Purity Ball with her father.
The teen told Barcroft TV: “The Bible says that sex before marriage is a sin and I believe that.
“I’m doing this Purity Ball because it’s like a symbol to tell everybody. That this is what I am doing and you may not accept it.
“You may think it’s weird but this is what I want to do because I want to take the stand for what believe.
“I want to make a promise to myself and to God that I will stay pure until I get married.
“I don’t have to have sex to know that I am loved.”
The Purity Movement preaches that sex before marriage is a sin and wards teens off the act with stories about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy outside wedlock.
Organiser of Hannah’s purity ball Deb Brittan said: “Safe sex is a total and complete myth. There is no such thing as safe sex. The reason I have genital herpes today is because someone told me there was such a thing as safe sex.”
Hannah’s decision to make a purity vow has “honoured” her dad Beauchamp.
He said: “It’s an honour for someone to say that they are going to wait
“I believe one thing, she will get rewarded for it. So it is going to be hard. It’s going to be tough and she will be judged and laughed at and hopefully she can take the heat.”
Founder of the movement Randy Wilson says that the idea behind the Purity Ball isn’t just about abstinence, but to also help fathers and daughters establish strong relationships.
But there has been a backlash from people claiming that the idea behind the movement implies that a woman’s value lies in her virginity and any bad life decision relates to their choice to have sex.
Deb, however, believes “there is power in submission”.
She said: “I became sexually active at a very young age and I still remember being very disappointed after that first experience and thinking, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’
“When I stated to drink or do drugs and make other reckless choices after my choice to become sexually active, that was all connected. Because my devaluing myself and not feeling worthy anymore.
“And that led me to become a stripper. So I had made one devaluing choice at 15 to become sexually active. That led to many more devaluing choices.”
She added: “I believe that there is power in submission. And so right now these young girls are voluntarily choosing to be obedient to their fathers. In the same way that I choose to submit to my husband’s leadership.”
Teenager Hannah admitted to having boyfriends in the past, but she is now going to extreme lengths to ensure who she is next dating will become her husband.
“I have set rules for myself, like I promised myself a long time ago that I would not be in a room alone with another guy unless he is family. Because I know that is something that can lead to temptations.
“I can’t say that I’ve gone all my life without kissing a boy because that would be a lie. Everybody strays from God’s path, but if you’re really willing to turn your life around then God will always forgive you.”
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