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THE ISSUE OF THE WEDDING RING: SOME COUNSELS FROM THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY
You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.
In this edition, we continue with our series on Christian Adornment. The topic for this study is: _The Issue of the Wedding Ring: Some Counsels from the Spirit of Prophecy._ In our previous study, I made it very clear from Scripture that the wearing of jewellery such as earrings and other ornaments can be traced directly to paganism. We discovered that on several occasions that God's people were found adorning themselves with jewellery was when they had left the worship of Jehovah and ventured into idolatry. In this study, I want us to consider two very important follow up questions that relate to our previous study:
1) If the Bible frowns on the wearing of Jewellery and other ornaments, then why do some Seventh-day Adventists wear wedding rings?
2) What about wrist watches? Don't they also fall under the category of ornaments?
Friends, I will first want to consider and address the issue of the wedding ring. In dealing with this question, I want to first say that the term wedding ring is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. If we trace the historical line of God's children from the time of Adam, through to the time of Abraham, through to the people of ancient Israel, and through to the New Testament era, there is not a single place in the whole of the Bible, where God's people wore a ring on their finger to tell everyone that they were legitimately married.
As we noted in our previous study, the wearing of wedding rings has come through a long history of pagan customs. This can be clearly verified through several articles on church history. Here is one of such quotes: "The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holy days and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the field, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, THE RING IN MARRIAGE, turning to the east, images at a later date ... are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church" (Essay on the development of Christian doctrine, by Cardinal John Henry Newman, p 359; Capital Emphasis Added).
The issue of the wedding ring, similar to the hot issue of whether women should be ordained as pastors or not, has troubled the Seventh-day Adventist church for a long time. In 1925, the Adventist Church placed a ban on wearing the wedding ring. It was not until 1986 that the North American Division voted to lift the restriction of wearing the wedding ring.
In the ensuing debates among our pioneers in relation to this issue, Ellen G. White wrote the following counsels for the church:
A) "To dress plainly, and abstain from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind is in keeping with our faith" (3T, 366.1).
B) "We warn our Christian sisters against the tendency to make their dresses according to worldly styles, thus attracting attention. The house of God is profaned by the dress of professedly Christian women of today. A fantastic dress, a display of gold chains and gaudy laces, is a certain indication of a weak head and a proud heart" (3SM 244.1).
C) "Those who have bracelets, and wear gold and ornaments, had better take these idols from their persons and sell them, even if it should be for much less than they gave for them, and thus practice self-denial. Time is too short to adorn the body with gold or silver or costly apparel" (3SM 248.1).
D) "Have not our sisters sufficient zeal and moral courage to place themselves without excuse upon the Bible platform? The apostle has given most explicit directions on this point: I will therefore . . . that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. "Here the Lord, through His apostle, speaks expressly against the wearing of gold. Let those who have had experience see to it that they do not lead others astray on this point by their example. That ring encircling your finger may be very plain, but it is useless, and the wearing of it has a wrong influence upon others" (4T, 630.1).
E) "Some have had a burden in regard to the wearing of a marriage ring, feeling that the wives of our ministers should conform to this custom. All this is unnecessary. Let the ministers wives have the golden link which binds their souls to Jesus Christ, a pure and holy character, the true love and meekness and godliness that are the fruit borne upon the Christian tree, and their influence will be secure anywhere. The fact that a disregard of the custom occasions remark is no good reason for adopting it. Americans can make their position understood by plainly stating that the custom is not regarded as obligatory in our country. We need not wear the sign, for we are not untrue to our marriage vow, and the wearing of the ring would be no evidence that we were true. I feel deeply over this leavening process which seems to be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. IN COUNTRIES WHERE THE CUSTOM IS IMPERATIVE, WE HAVE NO BURDEN TO CONDEMN THOSE WHO HAVE THEIR MARRIAGE RING; LET THEM WEAR IT IF THEY CAN DO SO CONSCIENTIOUSLY; but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring will increase their influence one jot or tittle. If they are Christians, it will be manifest in their Christlikeness of character, in their words, in their works, in the home, in association with others; it will be evinced by their patience and long-suffering and kindliness. They will manifest the spirit of the Master, they will possess His beauty of character, His loveliness of disposition, His sympathetic heart" (TM 180.2; Capital Emphasis Added). simple country wedding dresses
Beloved, it is clear that the counsels we have gone through from Sister White influenced the compilation of the following statement that we find in the current Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual: "In some countries and cultures the custom of wearing the wedding ring is considered imperative, having become, in the minds of the people, a criterion of virtue, and hence it is not regarded as an ornament. Under such circumstances we do not condemn the practice" (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual 19th Edition, p 147). This statement in the church manual actually implies that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not wholly condone the wearing of the wedding ring except in countries and cultures whereby the ring is viewed as a criterion of virtue, and hence regarded as imperative for Christian witness.
Friends, based on what we have gone through so far, I believe we have all been exposed to some good counsels that will guide us as to whether we should wear the wedding ring or not? I believe we can also now understand why some Seventh-day Adventists wear the wedding ring. Personally, my wife and I do not wear the wedding ring. We sincerely believe that the wedding ring is not a criterion of virtue in the culture in which we live. I think that each couple should sincerely answer this question for themselves; that is, whether the wedding ring is actually a criterion of virtue in the culture in which they live or it is not. Now, in contemplating the way to go, we must do well to ponder upon the words of Scripture, and the Spirit of Prophecy counsels on the subject; and then with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, do what will bring glory to the living God.
At this point in our study, I want us to consider the second issue of wrist watches. It is an undeniable fact that wrist watches have a definite purpose of giving us ready access to time. I remember wearing wrist watches for some time until I found them unnecessary because I could tell the time readily from my mobile phone device. But friends, even though wrist watches are not bad in themselves, there is still the need for us to be careful in our purchase of them as some of them are actually very costly due to their ornamental make up. In our purchase of wrist watches, we should not be seeking for costly ornamental watches that will attract the attention unto ourselves.
Today, a lot of ladies wear ornamental watches just to match up with their dress colour, bags and shoes. It will interest you to know that some of these watches don't even work. Well, they are only placed on the wrist just to serve as an ornament. But beloved, this is a serious issue. You see, wearing a wrist watch designed with colourful ornaments that cannot actually tell the time may even be worse than wearing an earring or a gold chain. As children of God, it is our solemn duty to be careful in observing the principles of proper stewardship concerning our entire adornment. The time has come that we must ever place before us the counsel of Sister White that "Time is too short to adorn the body with gold or silver or costly apparel" (3SM 248.1).
Exhortation: This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach (1 Timothy 4:9-11).
In our next study, we will consider the topic: Is it Sinful for a Woman to Wear Trousers? The Bible Study references for this study are Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 10:31-33. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.
Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.
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