Virginity Pledges Can Work for Some

"I think it's an excellent thing to do at such a young age," he said. "The basic principle of abstinence resonates a lot better. You are not tempted and you are more open to hear about things, more of a blank tablet."

"There's a great mindset in this country to follow your heart," said House, 17. "We are given two organs: The heart is for emotions, but our brains are to make decisions."

Purity Promises: Saving Sex for Marriage

His friend Brook Jefcoat, 17, also made the commitment. "My parents back me 100 percent," she said. "You see the stuff on the news about girls getting pregnant and not caring want they are doing. I didn't want to have sex with any guy except the person I love. It's a sacred thing for a husband."

When promises get broken, Cort reassures they can start anew. "We don't want to alleviate the guilt entirely -- to some extent it's a healthy factor," he said. "But we don't want them to feel like it's an unpardonable sin."

When students go off to college, it's hard to know whether those who pledged remain virginal. "They could be pulling the wool over our eyes," said Cort, "but based on the character they have displayed, most keep the commitment."

Even Wilson, whose three oldest daughters are committed to purity, understands that his two youngest daughters might not choose the same path, even though the Colorado Springs Purity Ball has been a ritual in their lives for more than a decade.

And if, like other more public Christian families, a daughter were to get pregnant, Wilson said it wouldn't shake his faith.

"We'd move in and love her and lavish her," he said. "Look at the Palins. What did they do with their daughter? They didn't throw her out. They built relations with the young man and encouraged the growth of life and the choices before them. We are about the success of our children."

Meanwhile, as the Dorscht family helps their five daughters fight the pressures to conform to an increasingly sexualized childhood, they say the annual purity ball is a way to set them on the right path.

"Every girl wants to be a princess," said Nancy Dorscht. "Society tells us that we don't measure up all the time, so it's really precious to put the beauty in them."

As for purity, "what is on the outside, follows on the inside," said Dorscht, who isn't worried about whether her girls make future virginity pledges.

"It's not for us to make that commitment for them," she said. "We want to walk with them through everything with openness and honesty and establish some of the major fundamentals. My husband is committing to the girls to really care for them so they don't have to look somewhere else."

ABC News researcher Nancy Quade contributed to this report.

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