At her wedding ceremony last week, bride Brelyn Bowman chose to present her father with a “certificate of purity” signed by her doctor, that confirmed her hymen was still intact. When she posted a photo of their first dance to Instagram, the caption she shared explained that at thirteen, she’d fulfilled her father’s wish that she remain a virgin until marriage. “During the remarks, she shared that she wanted to honor me by not allowing any man to touch her before her husband,” Mike Freeman, her father, told BuzzFeed.
The world had much to say about her decision after the photo went viral. Bowman’s Christian faith has been celebrated by some (she’s responded to the hate using the hashtag #makejesusfamous), while others who consider the practice “archaic” asked why she would share the details of her sex life with her father.
Bowman said the decision was hers alone and she was following in the footsteps of her sister, who also presented their father with a certificate at her wedding six years ago. Freeman told BuzzFeed that all three of his children took virginity covenants at thirteen, though his son engaged in premarital sex.
The expectation of female purity — that a woman will remain a virgin until her wedding night, otherwise she is soiled — isn’t limited to Christianity, of course. It’s a borderless standard in patriarchal societies and, around the world, women are subject to “virginity tests.” Markers of sexual activity, like a broken hymen, can leave them shunned by family and community — even in the instance of rape. However, the hymen is not a tell-tale marker of virginity, as some women are born without tissue, or it can be worn away by physical activity or masturbation.
Read the full story at BuzzFeed.