When she goes to school or turns on the television, 16-year-old Permian student Sandra Chavez is often exposed to a culture that celebrates premarital sex.
“From all of the pressure, it’s really hard to save yourself for marriage,” she said.
But Thursday night at CrossRoads Fellowship, she and about 800 other students were able to hear that it’s OK to wait.
CrossRoads Fellowship joined with Mid-Cities Church to bring in the nonprofit evangelical organization Silver Ring Thing and have the group put on a live event to entertain and spread its message and rings to young people in Odessa-Midland.
In a scene that at times resembled a rave more than a church meeting, complete with glowsticks and thumping bass, students and parents heard the importance of communicating when it comes to sex and understanding that purity is about more than just celibacy.
According to its website, SRT promotes “abstinence until marriage centered in a relationship with Jesus Christ,” taking its inspiration from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, which encourages Christians to avoid sexual immorality and strive for purity. The rings, emblazoned with the verse number, remind wearers of their promise to remain holy.
Jamie Jenkins, mother of a ninth-grade Midland Academy charter student, loved the thought of the purity ring and said she believed society had changed from when she was younger now that celebrities like the Jonas Brothers and Jordan Sparks support waiting for sex.
“Abstinence is cooler now than it was,” Jenkins said.
Charlie Blanton, a junior at Midland High School, said it was important for younger kids and high school students to hear, although he wasn’t sure how long the effect would last.
“Most people will go back to the way they were. But some won’t,” Blanton said.
Scott Windham, high school student pastor for CrossRoads Fellowship, heard about Silver Ring Thing at a former church while he lived in Tennessee, and when he moved back to Odessa, he contacted SRT about coming to the area.
“I was impressed with their professionalism,” Windham said. “They didn’t look cheesy.“
He and the church’s junior high student pastor, Brittany Bethel, thought the organization’s message would be especially welcome in Ector County where, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 7.8 percent of all births are from mothers younger than 18, and almost half of all babies are born out of wedlock.
Bethel didn’t think that one event would change all of that, but she said it was a starting point in the conversation about sex between students, parents and youth leaders. But numbers aren’t what it’s all about.
“We don’t care about statistics,” said Denny Pattyn, founder of Silver Ring Thing, who attended the event. “We teach abstinence because it’s the truth.”
Chavez, the 16-year-old Permian student mentioned at the first of this story, said pressure is reality and staying pure is hard.
“But it’s worth it,” she said.