Publication Date



This paper presents a brief history of teen-focused abstinence groups and virginity pledge traditions. It then examines the various meanings virginity pledges have for the adolescents who take them. Much of this information is drawn from abstinence groups’ websites, as well as from personal interviews conducted by sociologists studying virginity loss. Several reasons for taking a virginity pledge were identified. Many of these reasons referenced Christianity. More specifically, pledge-taking was viewed as an act of worship, as a way to adhere to Biblical directives and as a way to honor God’s gift of virginity. Familial reasons were also given as a rationale for taking a virginity pledge. Pledgers referenced their parents’ beliefs regarding abstinence, as well as a desire to avoid emotional pain family members had endured as a result of having premarital sex. Pledgers also maintained virginity as a way to ensure positive romantic relationships in the future, with many desiring to give their virginity as a gift to their spouse. Finally, pledgers mentioned health-related reasons for maintaining virginity, particularly the desire to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.