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.

May 20, 2009

Should Christian Men Wear Earrings?

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Before I answer the question about men wearing earrings, we should first see that there is a need to keep a clear distinction between the two genders (male and female). God made two sexes. There is no third category, such as transsexuals.

Even today, there is a vast difference between men and women clothes and fashions, with each culture holding a clear distinction between male and female apparel. We need to accept that there is a gender distinction, a God-given male/female distinction that is defined by a culture and needs to remain a firm standard.

Zephaniah 1:8 states, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” The Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains “strange apparel” as “…garments forbidden by the law—e.g., men’s garments worn by women, and vice versa.”

Is it biblically permissible for men to wear earrings?

The Bible does not speak directly about the matter of men wearing earrings. However, we find guidelines in God’s Word to follow in such matters. For example, we read where the apostle Paul says that even nature (common sense) should teach us that “if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (I Cor. 11:14). When considered in context, it is obvious that Paul was saying it is shameful for a man to look like a woman.

This, then, is a basic guideline. Men and boys should appear obviously masculine and not easily mistaken as feminine. Or, said another way, men and boys should not look like women and girls. Even more clear, however, is the clear command not to cross-wear, that is, men are not to wear women’s clothes and women not to wear men’s clothes.

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

So why is it now common to see men wearing an earring? One is tempted to conclude that because men now wear them, then there is no longer any feminine association with this action. But getting caught up in fads is wrong and it is precisely here where Christians can get caught off guard. Woman’s apparel should never become acceptable to both men and women.

God’s Word does mention earrings worn by men in several places, but they ALL involve God’s servants telling people to remove or give up earrings. There were pieces of jewelry worn on the ear lobe in Bible times (Gen 35:4). While these were generally worn only by Israelite women, the men among the ancient ISHMAELITES apparently wore earrings too (Judg 8:24-25). There is one incident where the Israelites (young men and women) brought their earrings to Aaron in order for him to make an idol out of it. It must have been an Egyptian (pagan) custom for young men to wear earrings. See Exodus 35:22, Numbers 31:50,; and Judges 8:24-26.  Also, recall the story of the golden calf ( Exodus 32). Aaron fashioned it out of the Israelites’ earrings—including the men’s (verses 2-4). In this account, idolatry is linked to earring-wearing!

Popularity does not make gender cross-wear permissible.

Christians need to accept that certain things which are acceptable to people within a culture are not acceptable to God.Why? Because it has crossed gender lines and distinctions become blurred every time men or women wear other clothing or apparel like earrings from the other gender.

Wearing earrings is traditionally a feminine thing. Men just did not wear earrings (in the modern Western context). Women can wear big or small earrings. Both are considered feminine even though one might be popular and the other not. On the other hand, men can wear all sorts of hats or jeans, but not feminine hats or jeans. When men blur the line of gender distinction, they are rebelling against God’s command to not share styles and customs. This is why there should not be any cross gender custom change. It is not popularity that makes it right or wrong, it is God’s word. Because it started off in rebellion, it will remain an item that displeases God.

The Christian attitude should be one of modesty, humility, and service to God and neighbor. Making a male look like a female or vice versa, or going to extremes — being motivated by personal vanity — is condemned. Our CHARACTER, rather than our outward appearance, should be the outstanding and memorable quality about us.

Modesty is the biblical admonition

According to the Word of God, a Christian is not to appear strange or outlandish, either in his actions or attire. In that light, men should also not become all fussy, have their nails buffed and dye their hair. A man bag is still a pocketbook and nail polish is nail polish even if it’s clear and you’re an aggressive stock trader with a firm handshake.

The Bible does not encourage us to call undue attention to ourselves, and it certainly speaks against rebellion (see Romans 1:28-32 and II Corinthians 12:20). Instead, we are to avoid “all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22), and to be a light (Matt. 5:13-16). In short, God wants us to be good citizens and to set a clean and wholesome example of modesty and right behavior based on His law. Therefore, we ought to consider how our appearance will affect our relationship with others.

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