Have You Read The Wedding Ring?
Description: This article is mainly for Seventh-day Adventists, but the principles apply to ALL Christians, namely, should Christians be wearing wedding rings?
Categories: Adults: Misc., Bible: Misc.
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Submitted by: Morrissey | View Member Profile | View Other Posts
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I just recently finished reading a little booklet (64 small pages long) from Amazing Facts called "The Wedding Ring And Adornment: An Analysis and Appeal" by Clyde Morgan. I was pleasantly surprised at how broad was its coverage, as I was expecting a one-sided handling of the matter. I found quite a few surprises in this little book that I'd like to share with you all here (a little book report / summary / highlights).
Page 5, in the preface, is this statement: "The controversy surrounding the wedding ring has plagued the Christian church since its inception. As the church moved through history, her different groups broke away from the standard convention that the wedding ring was to be avoided because of its pagan origins." So this is saying that in the past, the Christians regarded the wedding ring as not a good thing, and that its coming in as a good thing was much later.
On page 9 begins a history of the wedding band. It tells that "the wedding band appears to have arisen in the ancient Near East before being picked up by the Greeks and passed on to the Romans. Cardinal Newman says it came into the Christian church from pagan Rome, but apparently it was not adopted until some centuries after Christ." Therefore the term "wedding ring" is not going to be found in the Bible. However, we do have record of Jacob's family and the Children of Israel wearing all manner of jewelry, only to strip it ALL off on two occasions (the first lists only strange gods and earrings) that indicate strongly that it was not the ideal to wear jewelry for adornment. These are Genesis 35:1-2, 4 and Exodus 33:1-6.
1Peter 3:3 specifically mentions that we are not to wear gold (KJV). The book goes on to document how the vast majority of churches arising from the Reformation did away with all jewelry because of the Bible injunction not to wear gold. On page 14 is this statement, "The churches, including our own, that believed God had asked them to leave off jewelry, included the wedding ring in this category. No distinction was made between the wedding ring and other jewelry. This was a later, more modern innovation. At about the same time that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was officially forming (1863), the prohibition against the wedding ring was beginning to break down in the very churches from which many of the Adventists had come. It was breaking down in the Baptist churches as early as 1857, and had broken down in the Methodist and Presbyterian churches by 1872 and 1873, respectively. All of these churches, without exception, soon went on to adopt jewelry in all of its various forms." (Emphasis supplied by Morrissey)
But Sister White, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made it plain from a number of angles that the wedding band IS jewelry and as such is very much unnecessary AND causes a trend and trap to others (just as the above bold sentence shows is what happened). Here is one of her statements, "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." Emphasis supplied. (This appeared on page 15 of this booklet, and the reference is "Extravagance in Dress," Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 8, 1880.)
There is ONE statement in Sister White's writings that gives the appearance of allowing for the wedding band in certain countries. This ONE statement caused many to itch to overlook all the other statements and to use this one statement as an excuse for so doing. This came to a head in the North American Division in October of 1972. Quoting from this same little book on page 18, "Pressure grew for the church to change its stand on the wedding ring. Finally in 1972, the church officially addressed the issue. At a meeting of the General Conference officers in October, they gave counsel on the matter. They first quoted Ellen White's 1892 statement (found in Testimonies to Ministers, p. 180-181 and quoted on pages 48 & 49 of this book) followed by her 1880 statement (found in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 630, and quoted on page 46 of this book)." Then the actual wording of the resolution is quoted. It is more than a page long, and is followed by yet another resolution in 1986 which is quoted a few pages later. Both resolutions are overwhelmingly on the side of DISCOURAGING the use of the wedding band along with all other forms of jewelry. Quotes are given from church leaders showing that people have jumped on certain statements within these resolutions to justify the wearing of not only the wedding band, but all manner of other rings and jewelry as well. It is pointed out that this was NEVER the intention of the original resolutions, as can be seen by a careful reading of them. Hence, the very actions that the church took to seek to STEM the tide of display and worldliness has been used to the opposite effect. This again is an illustration of what one foot in the direction of jewelry does - it leads to more and still more. The author also points out that it is not plausible to make a distinction between the wedding band and other jewelry when the BIBLE makes no such distinction. We are to go by the Bible first, and according to that standard, there is no place for the wedding ring or any other such jewelry in the light of the very clear testimony of the New Testament (as well as the overall "this is not really best" light of the Old Testament on the matter).
But why then did Sister White make that one exception? This is dealt with in surprising depth in the last half of this booklet. The entire quote can be found in Testimonies to Ministers pages 180-181. In reading it fully, one finds that the overwhelming thrust of this whole statement is decidedly AGAINST, not for, the wedding ring. However, provision is made for people who already have their wedding ring and who live in places where the wearing of it is thought very needful and where persons can wear it without any offence to conscience. In her other statements, she says clearly that the wearing of the wedding ring opens the door to the wearing of all other jewelry, as indeed history shows this to be exactly what has happened! When reading the full statement, one is tempted to think that it contradicts itself right in the same paragraph, since one sentence says people wondering if you are married or commenting on the lack of the customary ring is no good reason for wearing it, yet in another sentence she gives room for the wearing of it in certain countries. The answer to this is given by the author - and I believe it is a very good answer.
Quoting from the book on page 55, "But why allow an exception? There are Biblical precedents for this. While I am not suggesting that the gravity of the two matters are parallel, but only that the exception principle is the same, I would point you to the matter of divorce and remarriage. In Moses' time he permitted rather 'easy divorce'. A man simply had to write out a certificate of divorce, hand it to his wife, and send her on her way. Centuries later, Jesus, in commenting on this, did not condemn Moses for permitting it, but said, 'From the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.' Matthew 19:8-9 Jesus called people to a higher standard, a reform back towards God's original plan. I would suggest this is the model for what we see in this case with the wedding ring accommodation. The exception is not the rule; it is an exception. God's will is in a different direction. The Bible and the inspired counsels through Ellen White clearly indicate that God is calling His people to a higher standard."
I have to agree, and more so. For Matthew 19:8 also says that it was for the hardness of their hearts that Moses was told to allow this divorce provision, AND that it was not thus from the beginning. This to me means that there are other areas where God makes allowances and exceptions that are only because of "the hardness of their hearts" and NOT because it is best! (Slavery is another example in addition to that of "easy" divorce, since we know from the overall principles of Scripture that the buying and selling of human beings is NOT what God intended as the BEST! while provision was made for it because of the hardness of the hearts on the matter in Bible times.) So it only makes sense to me that the one little exception - out of the piles of evidence in the other direction - on the wedding ring, only shows that indeed, rings and ear rings and so on, are one and all NOT what God really wants His people to wear, as the wearing of ANY such articles only encourage more and more non-Biblical adornment and display in dress. Therefore, it is best to keep away from jewelry period.
Please visit www.amazingfacts.org for their catalog and perhaps to order the book "The Wedding Ring" for yourself.