(The Daily Signal) – Corporate media journalists are still out for new House Speaker Mike Johnson’s, R-La., blood. This week’s contrived controversy is that Johnson took his teenage daughter to a “purity ball” in 2015.
ABC News claims to have “unearthed” a German TV news segment featuring Johnson, his wife Kelly, and his daughter Hannah, who was 13 at the time. According to ABC, the video showed “Johnson and his daughter at the ball with numerous other father-daughter pairs and shows Johnson’s daughter vowing to him to live a life of purity, as well as her signing a pledge.”
As part of the pledge, Hannah made her “commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future husband, and my future children … to a lifetime of purity, including sexual purity.”
That is a beautiful commitment, though one might wonder why ABC finds it newsworthy. As they come of age, young girls should be thinking about the future effects of their decisions for themselves and others. Such guidance could spare many women the heartbreaks and despair caused by hookup culture.
Purity balls were an outgrowth of the purity movement, which reached national prominence in the 1990s. They were formal events where girls got to dress up and spend an evening with their dad, enjoying a nice meal and practicing the dance steps they typically learned for the occasion.
The event was a way for fathers to be involved in their daughter’s lives and affirm their dignity and worth. This is a good thing, and it’s easy to see why the Johnson family would want to participate in it.
What is now called “purity culture” has become something of a bogeyman, but it was a reaction to a sharp rise in premarital sex and its consequences (including STDs and teen pregnancies). Popular in certain streams of evangelicalism, what we now consider purity culture was a movement to promote a biblical ethic of sexual purity. Young adults were encouraged to wait until marriage to have sex and establish practical boundaries to help them wait.
Outward commitments in the form of purity pledges or purity rings were encouraged. Even young pop stars such as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, and others wore purity rings at one point.
Today, non-Christians criticize purity culture for reinforcing gender norms or for fostering shame around sex. Christians likewise can recognize harms caused by overemphasizing rules and concepts that were not biblical (such as not kissing before marriage or “courting” rather than dating).
Yet, the problem with purity culture was not its call for Scripture to guide our sexual behavior, but rather the excesses of the movement, which placed undue burdens on people and encouraged mistaken beliefs about sex.
Maybe purity balls are cringey to some. Maybe you wouldn’t make the decision to take your daughter to one. But in a culture where nearly 1 in 4 children live without a biological, step, or adoptive father at home, people should reconsider mocking Johnson for being an engaged dad who would take his daughter to a nice dance.
Media attacks against Johnson for being an attentive father and husband have been par for the course of his speakership. Last month, Rolling Stone ran an article mocking Johnson for having anti-porn software installed on his phone and his son’s phone. Within days of becoming speaker, Johnson was criticized for being in a covenant marriage with his wife, Kelly, which makes it slightly harder to get a divorce and urges marital counseling first. These are attempts at hit pieces—but all they prove is that Johnson loves and wants the best for his family.
Apparently, corporate media journalists expect Americans to be up in arms upon hearing of a father raising his children to be virtuous and to live with integrity. Only time will tell, but I believe these journalists are mistaken.
Johnson is exactly the type of man we need in public life right now. Research has shown a connection between fatherlessness and poor grades, increased anxiety, violent behavior, drug use, criminality, and even suicide. While the American family is suffering, Johnson offers an inspiring example of positive male leadership.
Johnson leads his family with love, humility, and strength. He doesn’t just tell his son not to look at porn—he takes preventative measures and models how to live virtuously himself. He doesn’t just talk about the harms of divorce—he commits to his wife with the strongest marriage contract available. These actions show an inspiring depth of character.
The Left can continue its slanderous crusade against Johnson, but one thing is clear: Johnson is a good father and husband. If that is what the media wants him to be known for, so be it.