I was talking with some P/QF survivors recently, and they brought up something that's always bugged me about the rampant symbolism (and corresponding lack of substance) in all things P/QF. Many of them had been given either purity/promise rings or some kind of heart locket. From where I sit, these things just give young girls and women something else to feel guilty or dutiful about, renders them little more than property to be traded, and puts a bunch of emphasis on superficial and external things which have a whole heck of a lot to do with nothing regarding the genuine measure of a person.
A few months ago, I wrote about the Contractual Bondage that accompanies such things.
As far as the heart lockets are concerned, I understand that the heart is presented (by the bride's father) to a groom at the conclusion of a wedding ceremony to represent the symbolic passing of control and authority over the woman's heart from her father to her new patriarch. As a groom, I'd be tempted to ask the father, "Hey, umm...What about the rest of her vital organs? You keeping those?"
Frankly, if she hasn't long since given you her heart by the time you get to a wedding ceremony, you're marrying the wrong woman. It's all just extra stupid. If you aren't "married" before you ever walk the aisle and stand before a preacher (or a judge if you choose that route), a few words or vows and several ceremonial actions won't render you "married".
My ex didn't have a heart locket that I know of, but of course, she dutifully wore a purity ring. She once told me that it would be given to me, as a gift, on our wedding night. What she didn't understand is that while I very much appreciated the fact that she'd saved herself, sexually, for me, and while there would've been a certain level of disappointment if she hadn't - I'd have still loved her and wanted to marry her either way. In this hyper-fundamentalist world of purity obsession, I have to be honest; should a groom speak his vows to the bride's face or to her vagina? I don't know if she ever understood that her sexuality, and the body parts involved, were only a small portion of what I was marrying. I wanted to marry HER - not her hymen and vagina, or her "purity". Those things, such as they were, were only a part of the package. Those things were and are largely superficialities. Such is the problem with my ex and her family, and P/QF as a whole - consumed by superficialities, while things that are the foundation of genuine character, and basic moral right and wrong, are neglected.
I came across this page about purity rings. Like the P/QF movement as a whole, it strikes me as someone capitalizing on the works-based, externally focused mindset of legalism to fleece others. Not only do they provide the ring, but also the "Covenant of Purity Certificate" and "Vow of Purity Prayer/Pledge Card". So, along with the ring, they send you all of the appropriate material to serve as the eventual basis of a "guilty" verdict against you in a court of legalism. It's all so sweet it's giving me a cavity (SA). They even go so far as to present a separate page which shows you "What the Bible says about purity" - in which the majority of verses cited are proof-texts or used entirely out of context. But, for a young woman raised in this kind of "Christianity", those verses can induce all the guilt necessary to produce conformity.
Gotta love that superficial morality and character.
First of all, my advice to any young woman reading this: If your parents try to pull any of this crap on you, making you sign some kind of covenant or pledge, pray some kind of oath or vow, and wear a ring to symbolize it all, compare it to the words of Christ...
"You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one."
Not quite so "pure" a process when Jesus adds a little context.
In my ex's case, as I've said before, the only covenant she'd made that was meaningful to ME was the covenant she'd made to ME, the covenant the ring I placed on her finger symbolized. That's the one that meant something to God, too. He never asked her to wear a purity ring, nor did He demand she agree to a purity covenant. If she couldn't keep MY ring on her finger, all her purity ring symbolized was worthless, because her word was worthless. I can only shake my head - something I've done a lot of over the past 3 years. "You can't trust her any farther than you can throw her, and she can't see a hill of beans difference between right and wrong, but her hymen, well...just WOW! That thing is immaculate, so she's good people. She even wore a ring for years that said so." I wanted her to realize that she was meant to be more than this.
Regarding her and her family (and LOTS of P/QF and cultic families and people), they'd paid so much attention to the superficial things, the surface things, external things, that they'd lost sight of things like being people of their word, dealing honestly, telling the truth, doing right by others regardless of cost. They neither practiced nor understood those concepts. Those things aren't surface things. If you spend all your time worrying about appearing "godly" and looking the part, you're never gonna understand the character, or the character of the character...and you'll end up lacking character. You'll be sweet like poison and have the moral depth of yesterday's mud-puddle. Character isn't surface.
I pity all of these young girls taught (whether wittingly or unwittingly) to place the entirety of their personal worth, prior to marriage, in the condition of their hymen - something that I don't think God spends a great deal of time in anguish over.
For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
A purity ring, and all that goes with it, is a promise that can't be kept by the letter of legalistic law and tied up in parts of the human anatomy. Purity is a heart and soul matter. All of this ceremony is just so much wasted time and effort. God cares about the heart of men and women. Not the state of their sexual organs, and not any symbolic piece of jewelry they wear.