Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter.

purityballMy husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice.

Recently the topic of so called “Purity Balls” (hee hee) has been back in the news. (I think maybe because it is spring? Not really sure. Is that when these things traditionally take place? Or possibly on Father’s Day (um, ewww)? Thank God I don’t know from first hand experience.) The first ball was put on by the Wilson family in Colorado Springs in 1998. Randy Wilson is a field director for the Family Research Council, which was originally part of Focus on the Family until 1992. The recent Nightline feature which ran March 22nd, featured Randy Wilson, Ron Johnson, the Pastor of Living Stones Church in Indiana and their daughters. Johnson, is quoted in the program as saying to the young women (who typically range in age from 9-14),  “You keep this [ring] on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.” Seriously? Seriously? Does this creep anyone else the eff out?

The Balls, according to Wilson’s Generations of Light web page, now take place in 48 states. The ceremonies themselves resemble wedding receptions. The fathers give the daughters a ring (often they wear a ring themselves that they later gift to the future husband at the wedding), there is a father daughter dance, the girls wear white dresses and the father and daughter exchange pledges. The amazing thing to me is that these balls are considered “godly” events by their participants.

On Saturday night I shared this story with my Dad. He was disgusted and appalled and I thank God every day that I was raised by a father (and mother) who respected me as an individual, and never believed it was his job to be my “boyfriend” and who never taught me that I, individually, was to be married to Jesus. Ewwwwwww.

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”


8 thoughts on “Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter.

  1. ““You keep this [ring] on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.” Seriously? Seriously? Does this creep anyone else the eff out?”
    …yes, in more ways than one.
    you’re married to the Lord, but your father is your boyfriend.
    oh, i’m just…i can’t even…i just…

  2. good question, projectedrealities…what IS the equivalent event for sons, to ensure that they, too, will remain pure? i wouldn’t be surprised if there *wasn’t* such a ceremony, which brings up a whole new issue for me; the expectation that girls must be perfectly pure, while the “boys will be boys” train keeps chugging along.

    • I can’t remember the specifics, but there is something of the same nature at some churches for teen/college boys. I know I went through it and it involved a blank key as the “key to our virginity” and that it was considered a more “manly” ritual than a ball. But I wasn’t a Christian at the time and didn’t pay much attention. I also couldn’t tell you if this was a wide spread thing in churches or not, or if the ones that put on purity balls also did this thing or not.

      And I’m also trying not to laugh out loud too much at “putting on purity balls”….

  3. This whole thing comes from fear, from a desire to take charge and not let ANYTHING BAD (anything outside Dad’s control) happen to his girl. Emphasis on HIS girl. We claim to trust God enough to give him power in our lives, but NOT enough to take care of our kids, especially girls, because anyone touching them is simply unthinkable. This is simply Dads extending their reach. And what a heap-load of guilt on those girls should they even kiss, much less anything else. Patriarchal and scary.

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  5. Ginger Bryan says:

    I went to the web page (GenerationsofLight) and it spoke of quite a different pledge and ceremony than what you talk about in your blog. I will say here, that I would not have wanted my daughters to participate in such a ceremony and disagree with some of the promises the Dad’s make in the pledge (which are impossible for a human to keep, by the way), and (not to mention) lacking in understanding of the Scripture. But, I wanted to know what they say about themselves and it was quite different than what you wrote. I certainly agree that the 2 people in a relationship should be the ones to know who they are marrying and decide for themselves. Don’t think most parents would know their future son-in-law well enough to add their 2 cents worth. But, it is sad you apparently wrote a blog to make fun of others and their beliefs. Your adding that on to your wanting to talk about your own families ideas makes it looks as though this was written purely to attack and belittle others and their beliefs. Why not just write about your own ideas instead of attaching them to the ideas of others (or is that the whole point, to attack others). Lastly, your use of “ewwwww” reminds me of kindergartners. It seems childish and took you from seeming like a woman, to feeling I was reading a teenage girls blog.

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