The Apple Of God's Eye

August 7, 2009

Does The Bible Forbid Christian Women From Wearing Jewelry?

Does the Bible forbid women from wearing jewelry? They have heard the teaching that God forbids Christians to wear any jewelry or wedding rings. This belief was the common teaching of the 19th Century, but it has been retained by only a few denominations today. This doctrine stemmed from the principle that because the wearing of jewelry, rings, and other adornments was abused by the world, then jewelry and adornments were sinful of themselves and should never be worn.

However, the Bible teaches that the material things are not sin, but it is the IMPROPER USE of them that is wrong. It is the ACT OF ABUSE, of MISUSE, that is a sin or violation of the spiritual intent of God’s law.

There are two texts in the New Testament relating to the use of adornments for Christians: I Timothy 2:9-10 and I Peter 3:3-5. Neither text specifically mentions wedding rings, and neither passage condemns the PROPER USE of jewelry, as some erroneously suppose.

The apostle Peter wrote that women should not adorn themselves with plaited or braided hair, which, among the Greeks, was a custom in which wreaths and costly jewelry were intertwined with the hair. The biblical prohibition of such a practice becomes plain when one considers that a woman’s hair was given her to be a glory and an honor (I Cor. 11:15). The addition of costly or distracting and unnaturally bulky adornments took away from the natural and intended beauty God imparted to women. However, there is no scriptural prohibition against the use of a flower or other MODEST adornment worn in the hair.

The wearing of gold ornaments and pearls in connection with costly array was forbidden by the apostles. Gold and pearls are not sin, for God sanctified the use of gold in the Temple. However, their great expense was not becoming to Christian women who were to put their treasures into spiritual traits of CHARACTER – which God views as of much greater worth.

The two verses mentioned before contain no prohibition on wearing a moderate amount of relatively inexpensive – but not “cheap” or poor quality – adornments. A string of inexpensive pearls would not violate the principles that the apostle set forth. However, for a woman to bedeck herself with cheap, gaudy objects for VANITY’S SAKE is just as wrong as putting her treasure in expensive jewelry.

The “putting on of apparel” mentioned by Peter is explained by the apostle Paul to include inappropriate or lavish clothing worn for VAIN GLORY. In these verses, the principle is always that women should be TEMPERATE in the expense and taste of their jewelry and adornments, and MODEST in their apparel. The fact that only specific, costly, or unnatural adornments are mentioned clearly implies that the apostles NEVER meant to forbid all jewelry. Since no word is said about wedding rings, although wearing them was a universal practice of that day, neither Peter nor Paul meant to outlaw them. Christians may rightfully wear them.

As absolute proof that Christian women may wear jewelry, Peter says that his description aptly pictures “the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.” Yet, those women wore jewelry! (See Gen. 24:47, 53.) Moreover, Exodus 3:22 shows that God instructed the Israelites to take jewels from the Egyptians and to put these jewels of silver and gold on their sons and daughters. And in Ezekiel 16:9-14, God says that He figuratively bedecked Israel with earrings, bracelets, a crown, and other jewelry.

In summary, modest use of jewelry is not condemned in the Bible; only such use of jewelry as detracts from a woman’s modest character is rejected.

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