As someone who knows next to nothing about popular music, one of the only things I can tell you about the Jonas Brothers is that, years ago, they were big on “purity rings,” the evangelical symbol that means you’ll be abstinent until marriage. As teen idols with plenty of female fans, it was newsworthy that these Christian boys were going to wait to have sex.
Turns out guys themselves weren’t fans of the rings. Speaking to the Guardian, Nick Jonas says the ring (and what it symbolized) messed him up pretty bad. That’s partly because it defined him in a sexual way when he was barely old enough to understand what it was.
Nick has since said that the purity rings ended up shaping his view of sex. “They did,” he restates today. How? “The values behind the idea of understanding what sex is, and what it means, are incredibly important. When I have children, I’ll make sure they understand the importance of sex, and consent, and all the things that are important. What’s discouraging about that chapter of our life is that at 13 or 14 my sex life was being discussed. It was very tough to digest it in real time, trying to understand what it was going to mean to me, and what I wanted my choices to be, while having the media speaking about a 13-year-old’s sex life. I don’t know if it would fly in this day and age. Very strange.”
The brothers also discuss the rings in a new documentary, Chasing Happiness:
“In the church, it was encouraged that we go through this program and it was like, ‘wait for the right person and wait ’til marriage,'” Joe said. “All the kids that I grew up with were doing it so I was like, ‘oh, this is cool.’ Probably by 15, I was like, ‘what? What is this?’“
You have to appreciated the honesty, even if it is belated. The brothers, with their huge platform, are criticizing one of the biggest things that defined them — and solidified their Christian appeal. They should go at it even harder. Those rings urge kids to make a promise — to God! — that they will avoid sex (and everything leading up to it) before they’re old enough to know what they’re doing. It’s literally signing a contract you don’t understand. For many people who grew up in “purity culture,” they feared even kissing someone because they felt God was looking down upon them. A beautiful moment was turned into a nightmare. That’s the evangelical way.
At least they now have a sense of humor about it. During an interview with the UK radio show Capital Breakfast, the brothers were asked a question posed by singer Miley Cyrus: “Did it feel so good taking off your purity ring? And did it feel so good taking off your purity ring?” (The second part was clearly innuendo.)
Responded a very blunt Joe Jonas, “Um… Yeah!”
There you go. The best thing about a purity ring? Taking it off.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Richard for the link)