Three “is the magic number.” Four is my personal favorite. Five is the number of years that I have been wearing a ring on my finger. “Which finger?” You ask. Well… it was on my left ring finger. And it could still be, but I’ll get to that.
When I was in high school my lovely parents bought me the book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” They didn’t know. To be fair neither did I. It is a lovely book written for teenagers that are planning to be married after college. (shortly after.) It was a decently written book about chastity and purity and truly I’m getting kind of disgusted talking about it. Because it was not really helpful for me as I became an adult.
During Week Two (middle school week) my first summer (2004) at Camp Glisson the TIR [Theologian in Residence] gave out tokens for each of his daily messages. The first he gave out were these rings that he had probably gotten from oriental trading post, or some other similar type of cheap nothings. I don’t even really remember what he said they were for, besides for a promise. But, I cut mine to size and placed it on my left ring finger. Where it stayed for the next three and a half years. Conspicuously.
At first, I just said it was a promise ring. Or that I was “Saving myself for marriage.” Blew my Peace Corps friends away. Probably added to the reasons that they wanted to corrupt me. I wore all the gold plating off, and made it smoother. Another of the reasons that I left it on in Kenya was to keep the host country national marriage proposals to a bare minimum.
As I continued to wear it, and read more about the practice of chastity and abstinence, and have continued discussions with my compatriots, I was challenged to define what I meant by the terms I used, and challenged to precision in the language I used.
One of the books that led me on the breaking point of my paradigm shift in what this ring I wear means to me was Dallas Willard’s book on Spiritual Disciplines. Great book. (The Duke Divinity School Library has it.) Finally, I read Lauren Winner’s book: “Real Sex.” Possibly the best book on chastity that I have read, and in my search for good reasons, I have browsed a good number of books on this subject in my numerous visits to the ubiquitous Christian book store.
When I got to div school there were many more people however that wore a ring on their left ring finger. And for them, it actually meant that they were married. For me (obviously) it still doesn’t. But I was not going to change just because of that. Over the winter, however, my hands shrank, so I switched hands. Now I have two new rings, (that mom and dad gave me to celebrate getting into div school) on my right hand.
A grand total of one person noticed that I switched hands, and commented. (others, if they did notice, did not tell me.) One person I have met since then informed me that I was wearing them on the wrong hand. (I told him that I wasn’t).
The current definition of the rings I wear is: an outward and visible sign of my inward and personal decision to practice the spiritual discipline of chastity.
And for now, that works for me.