NOTE: Watch the full story on “Nightline Prime,” Saturday, March 22 at 9 p.m. ET.
Purity balls, in which a girl pledges to remain ‘pure’ until her wedding day, symbolically ‘marries’ God, and promises her father that she will remain a virgin until she’s a wife, have become a phenomenon in America, now taking place in 48 out of the 50 states.
The balls resemble giant wedding ceremonies, with the girls – all around the age of 12 – wearing white gowns and dancing with their fathers who promise to ‘protect’ their daughter’s chastity.
During the ceremony, fathers present their daughters with purity rings, which they wear to symbolize their commitment to virginity.
A new documentary follows two families who are taking part in this ritual; the Wilsons, whose father Randy is one of the founders of the father daughter balls, and the Johnsons from Indiana.
While all seven of the Wilson children are home schooled, socialising mainly with other members of their church community, the Johnson children attend a regular high school.
But while they might be exposed to normal teenage behaviour at school, at home they have the message of purity enforced by father Ron, who is the head pastor at the Living Stones Church.
One scene sees Ron kneeling in front of one of his younger daughter, gifting her with her purity ring.
‘One of the things you’ve been asking daddy about is “when am I going to get my purity ring?”
‘One of things I think it’s important to remember is this is your desire to do it the Lord’s way and really save yourself from kissing lots of toads along the way and wait for your prince charming to come along,’ he says.
PURITY COVERING AND COVENANT
I ………’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father.
I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and my family as the High Priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.