By Charley Sutton @charlsutton

A 17-YEAR-OLD has committed herself to America’s Purity Movement - where daughter’s pledge abstinence to their fathers

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Videographer / director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Dan Howlett, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

 

The Purity Movement started in Colorado Springs 20 years ago. It was founded by the evangelical Randy Wilson and his wife Lisa and has since then spread across 48 states and 17 countries.

The movement holds annual Purity Balls, which include a ceremony for young girls to pledge to abstain from sex until they get married.

The formal occasion entails the girls wearing long white gowns and the fathers donning smart suits, attending a dinner and dance - making it look like 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 is preparing to attend a Purity Ball with her father, Beauchamp.

Hannah 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 in. I want to make a promise to myself and to God that I will stay pure until I get married.

"I don’t need to do all these things that girls are doing and that girls consider to be normal. I don’t have to do these things. I don’t have to have sex to know that I am loved."

For Hannah, both God and her family have heavily influenced her decision to take the purity vow and it especially means a lot to her father, Beauchamp.

He said: “It's an honour for someone to say that they are going to wait, that not just the purity ball dress, but to think that when [she] puts on that wedding dress, that white dress, that white wedding dress, it will also be an outward symbol of, 'I have held myself, kept myself for my husband.'

"And for her to make that decision publicly, I think it's more of an honour than everything else. That she has made up her mind. She has made her decision. And 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.

The organiser of Hannah’s ball is realtor Deb Brittan. Deb’s involvement in the movement came later in life after a volatile divorce and she believes in Randy’s ideas.

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.

"I immediately ended up in relationship with a young man. It became an obsessive relationship. We ended up getting married. And then it ended up turning into a volatile marriage.
"It was during that season that I ended up beginning to know my Lord Jesus Christ, to know that there was a God who loved me.

"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 admits 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.

She said: “My first boyfriend, it lasted about two weeks because he wanted more than I was willing to give. I have my morals and I have my values and I am not going to give that up because of a guy.

"The smallest thing can lead to temptations to go further and I want to stay as far away from those temptations as I can.

"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."

The Purity Movement preaches that sex before marriage is a sin and use contracting sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy outside wedlock as reasons to maintain abstinence.

Deb 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.”

"There is nothing negative that can possibly come as a result of waiting until marriage.”