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A video profile of Speaker Mike Johnson and his daughter attending a purity ball together in 2015 has resurfaced, causing a stir amongst his detractors. “This looks like a wedding, but they are not bride and groom — but rather father and … daughter,” the segment  described the event. ABC News reported on the video, calling purity balls “controversial.” “At a typical event, fathers and their teenage daughters dress in formal ball attire for a night that involves dinner and dancing and culminates with the daughter signing a pledge to her father to abstain from dating and to remain sexually abstinent until marriage,” according to ABC.

NewsNation discussed the segment, with contributor Dan Abrams questioning whether the video was really the big deal ABC made it out to be. Author Linda Kay Klein, who has often pushed back against purity culture, said the information was very troubling. “What this reveals is that we are talking about not a mainstream conservative Christian, but an extremist. Really even among purity culture advocates, purity balls are extreme. A lot of folks even within the movement find them a little creepy.” She described a typical purity ball. “It culminates at the end with this sort of placing of the purity ring often on the girl’s ring finger as a promise to her father and also to her father in heaven that she will not defile her sexual purity before marriage, not just not have sex, but defile her sexual purity in any way,” she said, noting the ring is meant to be worn until it is replaced by her wedding ring. “Which essentially symbolizes the transfer of ownership over her sexuality from her father to her husband,” she criticized. The Stand defended Johnson. “That is a beautiful commitment, though one might wonder why ABC finds it newsworthy. As they come of age, young girls should be thinking about the future effects of their decisions for themselves and others. Such guidance could spare many women the heartbreaks and despair caused by hookup culture.”

“Purity Culture” had its peak from the 1990s to early 2000’s and has faced criticism from both secular and Christian sources alike. Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of The Great Sex Rescue and founder of Bare Marriage, has pushed back against purity culture, saying “It hurt people.” She has pointed out women who grew up with warped ideas of sex, including women who had the need for virginity so ingrained in them, they found it difficult to enjoy sex after marriage. However, the backlash against purity culture has led to what some call a gap in Christian sexual ethics. Speaking with Dr. Lina AbuJamra on her podcast “Relatable,” podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey discussed the lack of discussing purity now in evangelical circles. Stuckey stated she had grown up in purity culture and that it had both positive and negative aspects. “The problem with what’s happened now in 2023 with Purity Culture is you can almost not talk about purity anymore in the context of… evangelicalism and the local church, because if you say the word ‘purity,” there’s this pressure… to shut you up because it’s like don’t go talking about purity because [millennials] automatically associate that with Purity Culture,” lamented Dr. Lina AbuJamra.

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