The Silver Ring Thing is a unique para-church youth ministry that promotes the message of purity and abstinence until marriage using two avenues- an intense Live Event and a youth/small group film event resource called Project 434.
Kids attend what amounts to a revival.
SRT's 2-2.5 hour stage performance incorporates high energy music, special effects, fast-paced video, personal testimonies, and comedy all delivered in a concert-style approach with which teenagers can respond and relate.At the end of the performance, the teens are encouraged to purchase a ring, the symbol of their purity. Apparently, they have to give out with their email address and phone number so that STR staff can stalk and harrass them with messages "that encourage and equip them in their commitment."
The program states as its "Vision,"
"to create a culture shift in America where abstinence becomes the norm again rather than the exception."Forgive me for being a cynical old woman, but just when was that? In Pilgrim times? Victorian days? The 50s? And where was it again...Mayberry? Because I'm pretty sure that abstinence has never been the norm. Not for long, anyway. Of course, back in Days of Yore, the gap was not so long between adolescence and marriage. What with rural families and traveling preachers, there were a lot of "premature" babies. The kids were canoodling (and marrying) in their teens. These days, they could be having sex (or not) for ten or fifteen years between menarche and marriage.
In my opinion, sex education is the answer, not vows of abstinence. Birth control and disease control need to be available to our teens, and they need to be encouraged to use them. They also need to be encouraged to put off having sex until they are old enough to think beyond Friday night. And, of course they need to be told that the only totally, 100% sure method of birth control is abstinence. However, unless we keep our kids locked up, a lot of them are going to have sex, no matter what we say.
I'm not saying we need to make it easy for the kids to have sex. I'm all for curfews, chaperones, Internet monitoring, GPS surveillance and all the other things we parents do to try and keep our kids out of trouble. We need to do all that, and supply access to birth control. Because, no matter how difficult we make it for our kids to have sex, they are pretty smart little boogers, and very capable of getting around us to get what they want. So, while we are throwing logistical roadblocks in their route to debauchery, there needs to be conversation about birth control, safety, respect for one's partner and awareness of consequences. And they need to have access to birth control.
I guess the hardest thing is that open communication. I talked to all my kids about sex, even when it embarrassed them. Eventually, I figured out that the car was the best place for such discussions. For one thing, we wouldn't have to look at each other or be interrupted. For another (and this is very important), your teen is a captive audience. If he or she wants to get where he or she is going, he or she has to put up with Mom's lecture, period.
And, oh, did Mom lecture! We talked about different forms of birth control. We talked about disease. We talked about pregnancy. We talked about masturbation. We talked about respect for self and partner. I told them that the first time was something they would always remember, so they should make it an occasion worth remembering.
Hell, I don't even think it's healthy to go without having sex until that mystical "wedding night!" I mean, who wants their kids to get married at nineteen, these days? I can't imagine being young and celibate for years on end! Not to mention the fact that I think it just might could be important to actually have sex with a prospective partner before a lifetime commitment is made.
Of course, given my marriage history, I really don't think marriage "for life" should be the only available option, either. I like the pagan "year and a day" thing. A couple is "handfast," vowing fidelity for a year and a day of cohabitation. At the end of that time, they can either make it permanent or break it up...no harm, no foul. I think a couple planning to have children could marry for, say, twenty years, or until the kids are grown, and then split or renew. Marriage is, after all, a legal contract. The couple should be able to decide the length and other particulars.
But, I have wandered a bit far from my topic, which was the rather complex wrongness of whipping our teens up into a fervour of abstinence, beating them about the ears with the cross of guilt, and charging them out the wazoo for the privilege.
If your kids want rings, buy them rings (or let them save their money to get their own) and leave religion out of it.