When Wedding Bands Are Condemned

This will most likely be my last post on the subject of the wedding band and it is mainly in response to some final arguments that I have not addressed yet that are presented in BMA’s publication, Should Christians Wear the Wedding Band? , by Marlin Miller.

While the Bible is silent on the subject of wedding bands, it is not silent about jewelry given to brides and worn by brides. Rings were also worn to symbolize things such as family line and authority (Joseph wearing the Pharoah’s ring, the prodigal son had a ring put on him by his father). For more on the subject of jewelry in Scripture, I address that here .

One argument used is that jewelry is “costly, making its purchase a poor stewardship”. (pg.8)  This would be a good argument against expensive jewelry, but what about cheap jewelry? Is cheap jewelry acceptable to wear then? There are wedding bands that are cheaper than a pair of Nike shoes or Under Armour apparel, but yet we don’t regulate the wearing of expensive apparel the same way that we do wedding bands (which is also warned against in both 1Peter 3 and 1Timothy 2).

Miller argues that wearing a watch is acceptable because is not for constant display (using the example of a person wearing long sleeves), whereas a ring is alwaysgold watch on display and meant to be seen at all times so therefore it is wrong to wear it. He also argues that there are many watches that are plain and not meant for jewelry. (pg. 12 )

I find this a bit contradictory. A watch and a wedding band both serve a purpose. Just because they do not serve the same purpose is not a good argument for prohibiting one. A watch is worn to state the time and a wedding ring is worn to state marital status. When the ring was worn in Jesus’ time, it was often a family signet ring stating your identity and the authority of that family line. It was worn with a purpose and with the intention of being on display. If Jesus didn’t condemn rings worn for display (since he had opportunity to do so in His parable of the prodigal son), and with a purpose, who are we to?

Also, not all people who wear watches wear long sleeves, so that is not a good argument. We don’t have a problem with our people wearing short sleeves while wearing a watch. (I don’t know of any churches that have a rule that says you must wear long sleeves if you wear a watch.) The same argument could be also be used to say that people sometimes wear gloves, therefore the ring is not always on constant display, so it should be acceptable as well. It just seems to be a rather illogical assertion.

If a watch is acceptable as long as it is plain and inexpensive, why could we not also put the same guidelines for rings? If a ring is plain and worn only for the purpose of stating marital status, why should it not also be permissible?

Miller also makes this statement on page 9, “…the purpose or motive for something does not define what it actually is. To say that a given reason for wearing jewelry makes it something other than jewelry is illogical.” (This was stated in response to the argument that a ring worn as a symbol of one’s marital status thus is not jewelry.) But then in arguing for the wearing of a watch, he seems to forget that according to this statement, a watch should also be prohibited. Instead, he contradicts himself and says that when a watch is plain and worn “solely for the use of the wearer as a timepiece”, it is not jewelry.

According to that same latter argument, we could also state that if a ring is plain and worn solely for the use of stating marital status, it is not jewelry.

Miller also makes this statement, “We have also seen that it has not been effective in bringing about that which it symbolizes, namely unending love. In fact, as the wedding band has grown in popularity (which should, in theory, result in a decrease in divorce rates), the popularity of divorce has grown also.” (pg. 13)

One can not argue that a symbol of something should bring about what it is supposed to be symbolizing. For example, should wearing a head covering be expected to cause a woman to be submissive? With this line of reasoning, if we were to notice Mennonite women were becoming less submissive, should that negate the wearing of all coverings since they are not “effective in bringing about that which it symbolizes”?

Wearing or not wearing a wedding band cannot bring about “unending love”. Miller makes mention of a man who has faithfully worn a wedding band for 30 years and yet flirts with other women (pg. 11). This is not anything unheard of. I also know of a very conservative looking elderly Mennonite man who has never worn a ring in all of his sixty plus years of marriage and even at his age, women avoid him because he still attempts to flirt and acts inappropriately. You can’t blame this man’s flirting on the fact that he doesn’t wear a ring anymore than you blame the other one man’s problem on his wearing the ring. Wearing or not wearing a wedding band does not take care of a heart problem.

I find the idea that some would argue that a ring should preserve, sustain, protect, or strengthen a marriage rather silly. A wedding ring is a symbolic gift of love and is only meant to state “I am married”. I have addressed the purpose of wedding bands here .

Miller also expresses concerns that allowing wedding bands could lead to other forms of jewelry. (pg. 14) He also makes mention that those churches that accepted the wedding band also now accept divorce and remarriage. It seems, just like many of our other rules regarding outward appearance, we tend to prohibit certain things not because it itself is wrong, but rather because of what it might lead to. This is making decisions based on fear. It is not trusting God to truly be able to change a heart and it is trusting in our rules to keep people where they need to be.

Has not allowing wedding bands had the ability to keep all forms of jewelry out of our churches? I’ve seen girls wearing all kinds of fancy things in their hair, such as colorful hair clips, hair pins lined with beads or designs, and decorative head bands. Our young people wear rubber bracelets with Bible verses, thinly braided friendship bracelets, women wear brooches with flowers, hearts, etc. pinned to their dresses at special occasions, such as weddings or sweetheart suppers. Many have fancy buttons on clothes are designed to look like pearls, diamonds, or other gems. All manner of fancy watches are worn by both men and women. Women carry fancy purses with “jewelry” attached in all colors, shapes, and sizes to match their outfits. Cell phone covers dazzle and sparkle, but yet somehow we consider this to be in a different category than jewelry. We may fuss about these things a little, but yet we don’t refuse membership like we do if someone wears even a plain wedding band.

I wonder if this makes any more sense to outsiders looking in than it does to me? Making a rule against wedding bands does not take care of a heart problem. Teach the principles of modesty, moderation, and propriety and focus on that instead of attempting to make a rule against every “pretty thing”that may show up in a “loop hole”. Maybe we should address the heart problems instead of letting “fear of what something might lead to” dictate our lives.

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5 thoughts on “When Wedding Bands Are Condemned

  1. Thanks for the series about wedding bands. I’ve enjoyed reading it and I agree with most of it. I love the way you reiterate that the outward isn’t as important as the inside. However when I mention that to some friends, they say “But the outward reflects what’s on the inside.” While I agree with that statement, I’m also slightly confused. People have so many different standards of what’s right with issues pertaining to outward stuff like jewelry, apparel, music, etc. Who are we to judge what the inside is like by merely looking at outward appearance?
    Not sure if this makes sense, but these are a few thoughts that have chased through my mind lately. 🙂 Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jenni,
      Thanks for that and I’m glad you enjoyed the series. I think you are right that we can’t always tell the inward by the outward. Only God can see the heart and only He can see the motive behind people’s decisions. Too often we hide inward sins by our outward look, so that’s not a guarantee of righteousness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good article. When BMA first started, they stated that their motto was the Bible plus nothing and the bible minus nothing. To apply that motto to the subject of wedding bands, the church can’t forbid wearing bands because the Bible does not forbid wearing of all rings. Neither can the church make a rule, written or verbal, that all married members have to wear wedding bands.

    On this subject, BMA has abandoned their motto and added conservative Mennonite tradition from 100 years ago to the Bible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Myron,
      Thanks for weighing in. I think our tradition is generally to think that adding to Scripture is not as bad as taking away from it. However, one is not any better than the other. You make a good point in saying that to insist that we MUST or MUST NOT wear a wedding band, is adding to God’s Word. And to turn people away from our churches, or refuse communion over something like this seems to be more of an impediment to the call of the Gospel than anything else that we may fool ourselves into thinking it might accomplish.

      Like

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