A Marriage Symbol
When I write about how Anabaptists need reformation regarding communion, baptism, and the head covering, I speak with passion because I feel strongly about it. I feel there are some deep issues involved that need repenting of.
My next topic that I will be addressing is not of that nature. It is an issue that I would not consider to be wrong or right but yet needs to be addressed simply because some in the Anabaptist denomination have decided to call something sin that God has not. We do this with a number of our applications of real Biblical commands at times, but this particular one has been debated a lot in the last few years and that is why I am addressing it specifically.
Those of you that are familiar with my blog know that I like to take a topic and break it down into several posts addressing that particular topic. So my next several installments will be regarding the wedding band.
Recently I read a BMA publication regarding the wedding band and some of what I will be writing in the next several posts is in response to that. You can find that publication here .
First of all I would like to say what the wedding ring is not. It is not a preserving factor in marriage. Wearing something that symbolizes that you are married does not have the power to keep your marriage intact. It is not for warding off ungodly men or women making improper advances. Whether or not you are married may not matter to someone who does not see God’s plan for marriage as being only between one man and one woman. It is not even necessary to be worn as a reminder to the wearer of the commitment made to their spouse. If that is the only thing that reminds you that you are married, your vows most likely meant little to you and your marriage is probably on shaky ground already.
What is the purpose of the wedding band then? The only legitimate purpose that I can see for the wedding band is simply to make the statement “I am married”.
Is it wrong to want to let people know that I am married?
Most cultures have some outward way of letting people know whether they are single and available; or married and unavailable. Not every culture is the same. For some it is a necklace with a specific symbol. For some it is a toe ring, others wear a ring on their right hand because the left hand is considered unclean. Even some groups within Anabaptist cultures symbolize marital status. For Amish and some stricter groups, men grow a beard after marriage. For Amish women, the color of the covering worn in church changes from black to white after she is married. In many cultures, including American, a ring worn on the third finger of the left hand symbolizes that you are married.
But in many of our conservative Anabaptist circles, we have nothing that gives a statement of marital status.
Is it necessary to have a symbol specifically for the purpose of stating “I am married”? Is it wrong not to? Since the Bible is silent on this, I would be reluctant to say you must have some outward symbol that says you are married.
However, having an outward symbol could have helped dispel some awkward situations where young men have either approached a young lady or asked another person about a young lady they had interest in– only to find out she was married. It can be embarrassing and awkward for a long time for both parties after such an occurrence.
Another reason for having a symbol of marital status is because of the “appearance of evil”. A number of years ago I read a Mennonite publication that warned young married couples not to show affection in public because someone might mistake them for a dating couple and that it could give the “appearance of evil”. But wouldn’t it be more logical and sensible to have some outward symbol that lets people know you are married and let them see that Anabaptists do show love and affection in marriage? In this day and age, married couples that show affection are rare-why not be the example the world needs to see?
That said, I still think it should be a matter of personal choice about whether one chooses to wear a symbol of their marital status. Those that have had an experience like the former example mentioned above, are often the ones who have said that they wish they had something that stated outwardly that they are married. And young married couples should at least have the option of being able to have an outward symbol instead of feeling guilt for showing affection to their spouse in the presence of others.
Since the American culture recognizes the wedding band as being the symbol of marriage (and we have no symbol in our own sub-culture), it would make sense that we would use what is recognized by society around us. Some argue that we should not follow a “Christianized” pagan custom1 ; but that is a rather weak argument considering we celebrate Christmas which is also a “Christianized” pagan custom. 2
The Bible is silent on the subject of wedding bands, but the reason so many Anabaptists reject them is because they reject the wearing of most jewelry (I say most because many conservative Anabaptist groups are generally accepting of things that serve a purpose, such as watches, decorative hair clips, headbands, brooches for special occasions, etc). The Bible is not silent about jewelry so it would be good to do some studying to see what Scripture has to say about it.
In my next few articles, I will be doing that.
1. Marlin M. Miller, Should Christians Wear the Wedding Band? pg.4
Does God Hate Jewelry?
Anabaptists have historically preferred to be adorned simply and with humility. Our preferences/beliefs have been to not be prideful in our clothes or outward look, nor to draw attention to ourselves. While I believe this to be a Biblical tradition, I think we need to also be careful not to raise our applications of this higher than Biblical commands and end up with pride in our plainness.
Anabaptists have also traditionally rejected jewelry in their quest to be adorned simply–including wedding bands– referring to 1Peter 3 and 1Timothy 2 as the main source of this application. Before I look at those two references, I’m going to take a look farther back to see if there is an opinion of jewelry expressed throughout the rest of Scripture outside of those two verses.
Is God in opposition of jewelry in the Old Testament?
Jewelry and gold is mentioned many times in the Old Testament and there are too many references to do a thorough examination of them all in a blog post. But you can look at a number of them and get a feel from the examples given to get a general picture of what the Old Testament viewpoint seems to be.
The first thing that stood out to me is that there are a number of references that give examples of jewelry being given as a gift that is precious to the receiver. It is often indicated to be a gift that pertained to betrothal and marriage and is not spoken of negatively. Gifts of jewelry symbolized love, beauty, prosperity, and timeless value.
One example is of Abraham’s servant, in Genesis 24, when he was sent to find a wife for Isaac. When he first met Rebekah, he gave her a gold earring and two bracelets. Later, he also gave her jewels of silver and gold and clothing. Rebekah’s mother and brother also received “precious things”.
In Ezekiel 16, God depicts what all He did for Israel in a beautiful simile of an orphaned baby left to die. He describes what He does for her as she gets older and becomes His bride. He decks her with ornaments, He puts bracelets upon her hands, a chain on her neck, a jewel on her forehead, earrings on her ears, a crown on her head, and decked her with gold and silver. At the end of the description, it says, “and thou wast exceeding beautiful”.
This simile does not portray jewelry worn on a woman as being a negative thing. In fact, it sounds like God saw it as a thing of beauty.
Here are a few other examples of passages that reference a groom and bride wearing jewelry as well.
Isaiah 49:18 “…as I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.” (Emphasis mine)
Isaiah 61:10 “…he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
There are many examples of the Israelites wearing different types of jewelry throughout the OT. Jewelry seemed to be representative of more than just beauty. It often seems to be evidence of times of prosperity. In Genesis 41:42, it also seems to represent authority when Pharoah took the ring from his own hand and put it on Joseph. He also gave him clothes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
Another example of jewelry being portrayed as a positive thing is in Proverbs 25:12. “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”
Interestingly enough, it doesn’t say that an earring is like a rebellious son or a foolish advisor. Rather, earrings and ornaments are put in comparison with someone who is a wise reprover offering advice to an obedient person.
We also find no mention of jewelry being forbidden in the Mosaic law anywhere. If God hated the sight of it, surely He would have made some mention of that fact somewhere. It seems like there should be a “Thou shalt not hang any ornaments on thyself” command somewhere.
What about all the times the OT describes God taking away jewelry?
When one of my daughters turned eighteen, we gave her an iPhone for her birthday. It was something she had really wanted and we wanted to give her a good gift. However, if she becomes so enamored with that phone that she no longer does her responsibilities around the house or it leads her into sin, I would have no qualms about taking that phone away from her again.
If such a scenario were to happen, would that mean that all iPhones are universally bad? Would it mean that all iPhones will cause all people to sin? Obviously not. And if this were to happen, it would not even mean that my daughter could never have an iPhone again. I would probably set some limits or turn on more restrictions and give her another chance at some point because I love my daughter and my goal is not just to take away things she enjoys.
When Israel fell into idolatry and sin, we often see God taking their gold and their ornaments. Ezekiel 16:15-19 describes how the very things God had given to Israel were being used to commit idolatry. The “fair jewels of gold and silver”, the garments, and the fine foods that God had lavished them with were all being used commit spiritual fornication. In verse 39, God says that they would be stripped of their clothes and their jewels and would be left “naked and bare”.
In Isaiah 3:16-26, God takes away all kinds of jewelry as a punishment. But He also takes away scarves, veils, headdresses, perfume boxes, purses, mirrors, outer garments, robes, etc. It would be difficult to argue that this is a reason to condemn jewelry because then you would also have to condemn all the other things that were taken away.
In the BMA publication , Should Christians Wear the Wedding Band, this statement is made: “We find, then, that in the Old Testament God soundly condemned jewelry when it caused them to become prideful and led them into idolatry.”
I disagree with this conclusion. God condemned the idolatry, not the jewelry. Jewelry and fine things represented their prosperity. Even when it led to pride and God took away it all away again, He did not condemn jewelry any more than he condemned the scarves, headdresses, and perfume boxes, etc. He condemned the sin and did what He needed to get their attention.
Did New Testament people wear jewelry?
There are not very many references to gold or jewelry in the New Testament. Two references that I don’t usually hear much about in regards to this subject are Luke 15 and James 2.
In Luke 15, we read the story that Jesus told of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son returns home, the father tells his servants to put the best robes on him, shoes on his feet, and a ring on his hand. Interestingly enough, Jesus does not seem to think it was sinful that the father gave his son jewelry. It was an act of love and each gift that the father gave signified something. The ring most likely a signet ring represented family authority.
James 2 warns against having respect of persons and two types of men are compared. One man wears a ring and has fine clothes. The other is a poor man with “shabby clothing” (ESV). If we show partiality to one over the other, we commit sin and are “convicted by the law as transgressors”.
James never condemns the man wearing the ring, only the act of showing partiality to one man over the other. Is looking down on those who wear a ring any better than those who look down on poor people in “shabby clothing”?
What is my response to a visiting Anabaptist couple that comes to my church with wedding rings on? Do I regard them scorn or contempt because they don’t come to the same conclusion of Scripture that I do? Do I feel that other visitors without wedding rings on are a little more superior in regards to holiness than those with rings?
Assessment and Conclusion
I don’t find jewelry being condemned by God anywhere in the Old Testament. Did jewelry hold the propensity to lead people into sin? Yes, it did. But the clothes they wore, the fine foods they ate, the perfumes, the mirrors, etc., can also cause the same inclination. The root and the common denominator of it all was a tendency to think in times of prosperity, “We don’t need God”. When God saw their hearts becoming proud, self-sufficient, and forgetful of Who gave them all they had, He took away the very things He had given.
Jesus had ample opportunity to preach against jewelry if He felt it was a complete sin. Even when he mentioned a ring in a parable, He said nothing negative about it because it was worn for a purpose.
I will be addressing the main selections that Anabaptists use to oppose the wearing of jewelry (found in 1Peter 3 and 1Timothy 2) in later post.
Missing the Point
A choir met in a conference room of their hotel to practice for their evening program. As they finished the last song for their practice and waited as the choir director gave them some final instructions. “Please remember, choir, as you are getting ready for the program tonight, don’t forget what our purpose is. We are trying to bring a message in song to the homeless men at this shelter that don’t know God. We want them to hear a message from God and for their lives to be impacted. You may be the only “Jesus” they’ll ever see.
“So now as you go to your rooms to get ready, don’t just focus on your outward appearance. Remember it’s not the way you comb your hair, it’s not about how well your shirt is tucked in, it’s not about ironing your pants with a perfect pleat in the front. None of that is what matters to these guys. Getting your heart ready is more important. Spend time in prayer, put on a gentle, meek spirit that displays the love of God to these men. Getting your ‘inward man’ dressed is most important because we want them to see Jesus in us.”
As the choir members moved to their rooms, Tim grumbled to Dave and John, “I don’t know what the big deal is. I always iron pleats in my pants. Now suddenly we aren’t allowed to anymore?”
Dave replied, “I don’t care what he says, I’m ironing my pants. And combing my hair.”
John responded, “I don’t think that’s what he meant. He wasn’t saying we couldn’t do anything about our outward appearance. He just meant that our main focus shouldn’t be on that. I’m going to try to get ready quickly and then go spend some time praying.”
“You mean to tell me you’re going to do like Dave, too, and still iron your pants?” Tim questioned, rather taken aback.
“If I have time I will. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.”
Tim answered quickly, “I’m not. I don’t want to get in trouble. I may not like it, but if I’m going to err, I’d rather err on the side of safety. I am going to tuck my shirt in though. It would just seem weird not to.”
Now from this story, answer three questions:
1. Is the choir director’s preference that men everywhere would stop ironing pleats in their pants, or just the members of his choir?
2. Would the choir director also prefer women to refrain from ironing pleats on their clothes?
3. Which of these three boys is understanding and following the choir director’s directions best?
Some of the questions themselves seem pretty ridiculous. But when reading Scripture, this is often exactly what we do. We choose one thing to focus on, misread, misapply, and make decisions accordingly.
Now read this passage:
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward– arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel– 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:1-4 NKJV)
Now imagine that scenario with the choir members –only put it in this passage. Why only focus on one thing said by Peter in this selection? Why do we see this selection mostly as proof not to wear gold? Is that what Peter meant? Should we also no longer arrange our hair, or put on nice clothes?
Suppose we ask those same previous questions again, only worded to fit this passage?
1. Is Peter’s preference that women everywhere would stop wearing gold, or just the women with unsaved husbands?
2. Would Peter also prefer that men cease wearing gold?
3. If three women were to have a conversation (about wearing gold rather than ironing pleats) like those three boys were, which would be most understanding and following Peter’s directions best? The first one who defiantly says she is going to wear gold–and arrange her hair– no matter what this passage says; the one who wants to “err on the side of safety” but is still going to “wear nice clothes”; or the one who says she is going to make sure she is going to put on the “hidden person of the heart” and not put her focus on the outward appearance?
Questions one and two miss the point altogether because that’s not what Peter was attempting to address in this passage. The questions about the choir director were obviously silly in the first story, but yet these are the type of questions people focus on when focusing only on the directives given in 1Peter 3:3.
Let’s not miss the point of the passage in our effort to prove that we shouldn’t wear gold.
Does 1Timothy 2 Forbid Wedding Bands?
Does Scripture ever contradict itself? Sometimes it appears to, but we can usually find God’s opinion of a specific subject by looking through Scripture in its entirety first. When we can see God’s consistent viewpoint on something, it’s not usually too hard to reconcile the “exception” by interpreting it according to the rest of Scripture. One example of this would be the way Anabaptists view the “exception clause” (Mat. 5:32) and the “abandonment clause” (1Cor. 7:15) in accordance with the rest of Jesus’ commands regarding remarriage.
I have attempted to do this in regards to a Biblical view of jewelry. In a previous post, I tried to find Scriptural evidence of God hating or condemning the wearing of all or any jewelry. I could not find condemnation or any direct commands stating that God hates jewelry or that He hates when people wear it. I have made the observation in the afore mention post that jewelry was often given as a gift of love, and it represented beauty, prosperity, and was an item of timeless value.
When people became prosperous, they tended to forget the One who had given them all they had. They became proud and turned to idolatry. God punished them by taking away all their fine things, which included their jewelry.
I did a brief consideration of 1Peter 3:1-4 here.
Though much of the verses in 1Peter could be interpreted the same as 1Timothy, I’d like to take a closer look at 1Timothy 2:8-10.
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. (NKJV)
Literal or figurative? Some or all?
Can we take these verses literally, or do we need to read more into what is said? Should some of this directive be interpreted more in a cultural sense than taken literally?
I ask these questions because it seems we have a double standard and hypocrisy regarding these verses. Most of us would say that we believe these verse literally without adding or detracting and that we do not believe that they are cultural commands.
But yet we pick and choose what we think should be literal, figurative, or cultural.
I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of any conservative Anabaptist men who were refused membership or communion because they didn’t “lift up holy hands” while praying. Nor have I heard of women refused because of braiding hair or wearing clothes that were expensive. I have, however, heard of people being turned away for wearing a wedding band because it is made of gold.
If these verses are to be taken only a literal sense, then only gold and pearls are forbidden, (and only to women) but one could still argue for silver, rubies, diamonds, etc., because these are not listed. Women should then be forbidden to braid their hair, but all other hairstyles are all right. Perm it, poof it, part it, make it as elaborate as you wish– just don’t braid it!
We could even ignore all the other things that women do today for “beauty”– such as hours spent tanning, make up, hair coloring, plastic surgery, etc. The list go could go forever because styles change and what is considered beautiful today will be different in ten years.
If, however, I interpret verse 9 in principle, rather than only in a literal sense, without mentioning any specific cultural trends, it might look like this:
“Women, you need to dress modestly, with a proper outward look, and use moderation, rather than extravagance, in all you do. Don’t do your hair in elaborate hairstyles–trying to draw attention to yourself; don’t deck yourself with the latest, popular, or expensive jewelry; don’t dress yourself in expensive clothing. But rather, focus on dressing yourself with the good works of a woman who professes to be godly.”
The focus is on moderation and propriety. It’s about humility and not trying to draw attention to your outward appearance. Paul mentions the three things–hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing– that women tend to go overboard on in the midst of their appreciation and love of beautiful things. He mentions braiding because braiding trinkets into your hair was the elaborate style of that particular culture. He mentions gold and pearls because that was some valuable jewelry of the culture then. The desire for expensive clothing and a tendency toward immodesty is a universal problem that crosses all cultures.
Paul is not writing this to make a statement against gold or pearls. He is making a statement against women’s tendency towards extravagance in appearance.
You cannot make a prohibition against all gold and pearls without also making a prohibition against all braiding as well. With that, we should also make application about how much our clothing should cost with rules against expensive name brand shoes or clothing. And maybe men should have rules that state they are only to pray with raised hands.
But I don’t think these verses were intended to be a ban against specific things. Paul could have said, “The wearing of all jewelry is wrong.” But he didn’t. He mentioned a few specific things that the women of that day tended to go overboard in and pointed them to something better. He didn’t say men should never pray with their hands by their sides, but said what he would like to see them doing (and personally, I wish we would do more of this!).
I have a hard time seeing how we can make these verses into making a ban against only certain things, but not others, in regards to women’s outward appearance. Our focus should be on moderation and modesty in outward beauty. And most of all it’s about women focusing on making the inward person beautiful by adorning herself with good works. Do we focus so much on what all women need to “put off” that we forget that what they are to “put on”? Isn’t that what the focal point of that verse is supposed to be?
Specific directives to men and women
Interestingly enough, the two verses that we use as an argument against jewelry and wedding bands are only directed at women. Does that mean that men should be allowed to wear jewelry but not women? What about lifting our hands while praying? Are only men commanded to do this, but women should not?
Could it be that Paul addressed men and women separately just because he is addressing specific things that they need to be reminded of? In Ephesians 5:33, men are reminded to love and women are reminded to reverence. Just as women tend to love naturally, they also are more likely to show emotion while praying. Men need to be reminded to show love their wives and apparently also need to be reminded to raise their hands while praying without doubting or wrath. Women need to be reminded to show reverence to their husbands and also to use moderation in appearance.
Men have worn jewelry throughout history and yet Paul doesn’t address that. This seems to fit with the idea that only women are warned about outward appearance because they have the most natural tendency toward extravagance in outward appearance. This, however, is only a generalization. Some women may need to be reminded to lift their hands and show emotion in prayer without wrath and doubting and some men may also need to be reminded not to focus on their outward appearance too much.
What impression do we leave with others?
For those of us who have been taught most of our lives that jewelry in all forms are sinful, the idea of wearing any jewelry doesn’t even sound appealing. I am not suggesting that we need to endorse or encourage our people to start wearing all manner of jewelry. But at the same time, I can not see how we can Biblically deny a simple wedding band that states the marital status of the wearer.
I have been in conversation with couples who wore a wedding band and the only thing that stood out to me from the conversation was their love for Jesus. I have also been in conversation with women who claim to be followers of Jesus who are so covered in flashy jewelry that it’s hard to see past the outward look to see the inward.
However, I have also observed those same two types in our Anabaptist circles. There are conservative women who display Jesus so clearly by the way they adorn themselves and by the inward spirit that manifests itself outwardly in good works and behavior that it leaves you with no doubt that they are godly women. Then there are also those women, dressed within church standards, that portray a different spirit altogether. Even staying within church standards does not hide the spirit of a woman whose focus is only on her outward appearance and who is trying to only adorn the outward as much as she can get by with. Her shallowness shines through–without having to wear jewelry.
If you feel that by wearing a wedding band, it could cause you to be proud or vain, then don’t wear one. If not wearing one causes you to be proud and view yourself as being more holy than others, you may as well be decked with jewels because you are missing the whole point of adorning yourself with a meek and quiet spirit.
When Wedding Rings 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 always 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.