Brelyn Bowman (neé Freeman) has been the talk of the town. The newly-married bride recently wed the love of her life and gospel singer, Tim Bowman Jr. in an elaborate wedding earlier this month. While over-the-top weddings usually go viral for many reasons in a YouTube crazed age, this couple's ceremony was a hit because of an unfamiliar appearance–a certificate of purity.
Never heard of it? Here's the simplest breakdown: a piece of paper signed by a medical doctor stating a woman's hymen is still intact; therefore, declaring her a virgin.
Brelyn's decision to present her father–Pastor Michael A. Freeman of the Spirit of Faith Christian Center–with the declaration came from her personal need to show her father the promise she kept nine years ago at the age of 13. She tells NBC Washington, “It's one thing to give your word; it's another to give proof.”
If you weren't one of the 3,000+ guests in attendance, news of Brelyn's presentation caused a firestorm of opinions when she uploaded a photo with her dad.
Her caption, "Dancing with my first love! I was able to present a certificate of purity to him signed by my doctor that my hymen was still intact," caught the attention of Twitter and Facebook users, reaching major blogs and media outlets, and the rest was history. The commentary on Bowman's decision to publicize her personal accomplishment varied, ranging from her family’s primitive thoughts on sex and the bride’s desire to broadcast her business, to others commending her for staying true to her religious beliefs. Brelyn used the attention on her wedding day to “make Jesus famous” and to share what she feels is a message on upholding the promises we make.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, her father shared that his other two children had also made a covenant on paper, with his oldest daughter giving him a certificate of purity at her own wedding, six years ago. “I was totally unaware of what was about to take place,” he said. “During the remarks, she shared that she wanted to honor me by not allowing any man to touch her before her husband...It’s not about what they [his children] did for me, rather what they did for themselves.”
In her exclusive chat with xoNecole, the newlywed clears the air on the backlash on her “I got a ring without giving up my thing” statement, the men in her life, and why she put purity on a pedestal.
In reading your story, a lot of people feel like something that's supposed to be sacred shouldn't be publicized. What are your thoughts as to why you chose to share your celibacy with the world?
I've been sharing this same message for almost 10 years now. In my Instagram bio it reads “preacher of purity.” So my motives in sharing my story was never for any glory to myself, but rather to honor God and my parents. However, I am grateful that my story has gone public because it gives young ladies and men the opportunity to know that purity is still popular and possible!
People have been saying couldn’t my father just take my word? Yes, he could have, but I wanted to make a public declaration of my faith on my own. It’s amazing that kids go to school and come home and tell their parents they are passing and have good grades, but yet, they still want to see a progress report or report card to prove it.
Let's talk about that agreement you made with your father when you turned 13. How did that come about?
The agreement was established with my older sister and brother when they were 13-years-old, also. This is something that my parents had raised us in–to value ourselves, to honor our body and God. Yes, of course, I wanted to have sex, but I made a vow to God that I would wait until I was married. Unfortunately, breaking a vow is not that important to most people today. I had to set rules and guidelines up for myself in order for me to accomplish this goal.
What exactly does that Certificate of Purity read?
It reads, “On the 10th of March 2006 I Brelyn Freeman, Made a vow to glorify God in my body and my spirit which are God’s because I have been bought with a price (Jesus). I have kept this commitment and present this certificate to my father, Dr. Michael A. Freeman, to show how I have honored God and my Earthy father in my body by maintaining my purity, and that my hymen was still intact on this 10th day of October 2015.”
Do you feel like your relationship would be perceived as not pure if you weren't a virgin? What does pure look like to you?
Purity is a state of mind. It’s wholeness, integrity and innocence. People have been putting a lot of emphasis on the word ‘purity.’ It’s not so much about purity, but rather standard and principle. This is a standard that I chose to follow, not an attack against anyone else. If someone has had sex before that, it doesn’t make them not pure. God is faithful and just to forgive them! They, too, can also make a new decision to start over and wait! This is not just a message for virgins, but for everyone not married!
There's also been a lot of talk of the double standards women face in us needing to remain virgins before marriage, but not men. Was your husband also a virgin at the time of your ceremony?
Yes, my husband was a virgin as well. Yes, I do believe it made it more special for us, however, I still stand on my prior statement that I am in no way condemning anyone that is not a virgin when they marry. Also, I believe that's it's okay for a virgin to marry someone who is not. I would've, if it had not been for Tim!
What is your advice on waiting until marriage to have sex? Do you believe it'll ultimately make the relationship stronger because you have make a covenant with God and chose to wait?
For me, waiting to have sex was a must. But that doesn’t mean if someone didn’t wait, they won’t have a strong relationship because we know it's much more to a relationship then sex. My advice is one, value yourself. Two, get a good team that will support you. Three, stay focused. Whatever you focus on will expand (whether good or bad).
Why did you feel the need to share a certificate with your father instead of your husband?
Firstly, the certificate was never a requirement. It was something that I chose to present to my father because I saw my sister do it. She was my example and has always been. I see the results that she has in her life and marriage of six years and I wanted the same things. The scripture says to follow those who through faith and patience have obtained the promise. I didn’t make the agreement with my husband when I was 13-years-old. I made it with my father.
Find the Bowman's on social media @brefree and @timbowmanjr and let us know your thoughts on this couple's viral celebration below!