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What’s the deal with “no jewelry”?


What’s the deal with “no jewelry”? A lot of people in the Bible wore it, and it’s so pretty! And why are wedding bands “OK” to wear, but other jewelry isn’t?

Steve Answers:

The whole jewelry issue can be confusing.

A lot of people end up doing whatever they want instead of seeking to live for God in this area of their lives. They figure that the inconsistency or hypocrisy surrounding this issue provides them with an adequate excuse to do their own thing.

Do you have a personal preference when it comes to jewelry? I’m asking because sometimes we take our preferences and then try to prove that we are right by quoting a Bible text to justify them. Do you think jewelry is OK to wear or not OK to wear? Does it depend on the definition of jewelry? Does it depend on the situation? Is it up to somebody else to decide all of this for you? Or is it completely up to you to decide?

During my personal devotional time this morning, I read a few chapters at the end of the Bible. Here are a few of the verses I read that might include the topic of jewelry, although I don’t think jewelry is the main issue in any of them.

“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). Here’s something considered good, the New Jerusalem, and she is adorned for her husband, which is Christ, according to Ephesians 5:25-33. Jewelry fits into the category of adornment. H’mmm.

“The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4). Please don’t confuse this description with the first one! This description of a sexually impure woman riding a beast serves as the opposite of the bride adorned for her husband. Yet both of them are “adorned.”

“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones” (Revelation 21:19). This description of the New Jerusalem includes 12 precious stones for the foundation, plus 12 gates with each of them being a single, giant pearl (see Revelation 21:21). And the city itself is made of pure gold (see Revelation 21:18). It sounds like God goes all out with the precious things He has created for His precious children.

I’ve heard some people argue that when we get to heaven, we can wear jewelry. But because of our tendency to be so selfish, we should go without jewelry on earth and wait until we’re in heaven to start wearing it. I’m convinced that we do have a selfish nature, but I’m not so convinced that means we should wait until heaven to wear jewelry. Taking off jewelry doesn’t remove my sinful nature. In fact, it might feed my ego to parade around not wearing jewelry. Besides, there are plenty of “acceptable” things I can use for adorning myself without using jewelry—expensive clothes, ties, scarves, pins, belts, watches, etc.

Ezekiel 16 contains a story about God and His people. It’s an allegory that begins with God’s people portrayed as a newborn baby left in a field to die. But God came along and rescued this baby, brought her to health, and beautified and nurtured her to womanhood. God even adorned her with jewelry. But she left God and prostituted herself to other men. Because she continued to do this, God brought her to judgment and stripped her naked, including removing the jewelry He’d given her.

In this allegory the issue isn’t jewelry! That’s an extra, literally. The issue is that God’s people left Him and went after false gods.

Isaiah records a similar story. Because God’s people quit being loyal to God and went after the things of this world, God announced that He’d come in judgment on them. He threatened to take away food and water, wise leaders, and warriors. And then He claimed that He would strip them of all their clothes, also taking away their ornaments, including “jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the veils; the headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands; the perfume boxes, the charms, and the rings; the nose jewels, the festal apparel, and the mantles; the outer garments, the purses, and the mirrors; the fine linen, the turbans, and the robes” (Isaiah 3:18-23).

It seems consistent in both Ezekiel 16 and Isaiah 3 that jewelry isn’t the main issue; it’s an extra! The main issue is that God’s people leave Him and follow the ways of the world. In judgment God strips them bare. Jewelry is just part of that. The bigger part is that God takes away all their clothes, not just their jewelry. The biggest part is the fact that who they are on the inside is worse than being bare on the outside.

What an indictment! If God strips you bare on the outside, and the outside is to reflect what is inside, then, according to God, you’ve got nothing to wear on the inside! That’s far more serious than the topic of jewelry. Jewelry is a minor thing. When you make it a major thing, you’re majoring in minors, which means you’re missing out on what’s truly important.

You’ve probably heard this text: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). That means there are no secrets for God—He knows you even better than you know yourself. But it also means that what you look like on the outside does make a difference to people! They aren’t God, so they do look at the outside. We can’t help it. And even Samuel, God’s prophet on a mission, got fooled, because he looked at the person’s outside. (Read more in 1 Samuel 16:1-13.)

Now we’re getting to the practical part. What do other people see when they look at you? And, what are you trying to communicate when you get dressed or when you shop for things to wear? Do you want to look attractive? To whom? Do you want to look ugly? Why would you want to do that? Maybe you could care less what you look like, and it shows! Perhaps you dress to identify yourself with a certain group, maybe with attitude. Do you dress to please the opposite sex? Do you want to dress for the approval of your parents? What if your money for clothing comes from your parents and you have to get their approval on what you buy, at least somewhat? Do you take pride in buying from thrift stores? Do you take pride from wearing recognized name brands?

I’m hoping that by now you can see that jewelry is just one subcategory of whatever you wear and how you dress. It does matter to God, because He doesn’t want you to dress differently than who you really are on the inside, and He knows who you are on the inside. It does matter to others, because we make an impression on others by how we dress, including any ornamentation, which includes rings, scarves, tattoos, bright colors, watches, name brands, ties, etc.

If you think that what you wear doesn’t matter at all, try wearing a crown on your head for a day and see if people relate to you differently! I own three wigs that I wear when I want to get a reaction. Man does look on the outward appearance!

You asked specifically about wedding rings and whether or not they are jewelry. I’ve heard arguments that they are and arguments that they aren’t. Let me ask you this question about wedding rings: Where do people buy them at the mall? Maybe that can give us a clue about the general understanding of whether or not wedding rings are jewelry, so we won’t be so silly when we discuss it.

Let me give you two other verses that would be worthwhile for you to look up on your own, since they are often quoted when the topic of jewelry is discussed. They are 1 Timothy 2:9, 10 and 1 Peter 3:3, 4. Look at each word in those verses. Then read the verses before and after them, because although they sound similar, their contexts are very different! I think that you’ll find that, once again, jewelry is not the main thing in either passage, and that jewelry is only a subcategory of how you dress.

Don’t major in minors. Try things out and be willing to adjust. Since God knows what you’re like on the inside, be completely honest with Him. Since people don’t know what you’re like on the inside, how you dress—including how you adorn yourself—will communicate to them what you’re like.

Are you dressing like a child of God? Can others tell by looking at you? What can you do about that? What will you do about it?

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