Jewelry on Trial

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The Rules of the Court

Allow me to start with a legal principle known as “burden of proof.” If a policeman gives you a $500 ticket for walking on a public sidewalk – you will surely take it to court to contest it. Imagine your surprise if the judge hears your case and then says “alright, what evidence do you have that you are allowed to walk on a sidewalk – cite the law that gives you the right.” You know intuitively, that it is the policeman’s job to tell you why you are not allowed to walk on a public sidewalk. It’s not your burden to prove your liberty, it’s his to prove your restriction. Biblical interpretation is no different. Whoever makes the claim “Christians aren’t allowed to wear deodorant” must prove it in Scripture. If he can’t prove it, then we can wear deodorant (providing we do it with a heart that pleases God).

In this case, some Christians say “you shouldn’t wear jewelry.” So let’s hear their case, in their own words. This article was taken from “The Holiness Handbook.” I will keep their words in red, with no alterations, and my responses in black. I will attempt to fairly understand and respond to what they have to say, without taking them out of context or misrepresenting their arguments. After I examine the case against, I will also build an independent case that Bible has a lot of positive things to say about jewelry.

The Case Against Jewelry, Examined

Like the use of cosmetics, the problem with wearing Jewelry is that it represents pride and rebellion against God and his creation.

This first sentence is their main claim, but at this point it’s just an assertion. Let’s see how they defend it.

Pro 8:13  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

 Mar 7:22  Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:  Mar 7:23  All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. 

Pride also demonstrates a love for the world more than for God.

Yes, we agree that pride is sin, and it takes many forms. Pride can take the form of obsession about how good you look, and pride can take the form of being unwilling to hear the ideas of fellow believers, because you view your own ideas as so superior that no one could ever have a better argument.

 1Jn 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  1Jn 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  1Jn 2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

Amen! We shouldn’t love the world, nor should we lust to commit sexual immorally, or to do any other form of evil. So far nothing has been said to show that the Bible teaches jewelry is a form of pride or lust. There are many things that non-believers do, which Christians are right to do. We eat steak, we wear tennis shoes, we paint our houses. None of these things are inherently prideful or lustful, despite the fact that unbelievers do them too.

Evidently it is easy for the modern church to justify themselves in wearing jewelry and makeup as their use demonstrates no conviction for wearing them. Proverbs 21 explains that “every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord pondereth (weights or judges) the hearts”. You can justify it as right in your mind now, but can you do so in judgment before the throne of God?

At this point they “beg the question.” They assume that their belief is true, and then ask how people can justify themselves before God. It’s like the pro-abortion politician saying “how can you sleep at night knowing that you are trying to deprive women of the right to medical care?” Well, I don’t think that abortion is valid medical care, so I sleep just fine. Also, I don’t think that my $50 titanium wedding ring is any more sinful than the $500 military uniform I got married in. The Bible God gave me gives me no reason to believe differently that I have found. Finally, I don’t plan on justifying myself before the throne of God. I would be weighed in the balance and found wanting. In the unlikely event that I have not been completely overwhelmed by God’s majesty, I plan on pointing to Jesus and saying “I’m with Him.”

Some people even use the union of marriage as a justification for wearing wedding rings. Do you actually need a ring to let others know that you are happily married and not looking for a new partner? If that is all that stands between you and adultery, that ring can slip off very easily when you justify it.

Notice that we still don’t actually have an argument linking jewelry to pride or any other sin yet, they’re still just assuming the two are connected. No, a wedding ring doesn’t protect you from sin, but it does deter many people from making romantic advances (both as a reminder to the wearer and a signal to others). That makes a wedding ring not an imperviable barrier to sin, but a guardrail. Deciding to make a rule against sleeping in the same house as your girlfriend doesn’t mean you could never fall into sin, but it is a decent guardrail. They seem to be making an argument against all guardrails, because “if you want to sin, you’ll find a way – so why take precautions?” Also, I bought my wife a wedding ring not primarily to keep her out of sin, but to lavish my love on her in a tangible way that she can see every time she sees her hand. I wear my wedding ring not primarily to keep me from sin, but just because I am grateful for my wife. I’m happy to belong to her and she to me. I’m happy to let everyone know that I’m taken by her.

 Pro 21:2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. Pro 21:3  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Pro 21:4  A high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

I agree that pride is wrong and people are often wrong too. They still haven’t linked jewelry to pride.

1 Peter 3:3  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

 1Timothy 2:9  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.  2:10  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

This is the first attempt they have made to link jewelry to pride. As these are their only New Testament verses, let’s address them in detail. The first passage deserves some expansion:

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord… -1 Peter 3:3-6

Ok, so this passage is talking about wives winning unbelieving husbands to the Lord through their respect and character. Peter says (paraphrasing), “you’re not going to win your husbands to God by looking great, you’re going to win them by humility and respect.” Peter isn’t talking about separation from the world here, he’s addressing how a wife can win her husband. He says don’t focus on the outward, focus on the inward. But is he saying that it is wrong to wear gold or braid “plait” your hair? He gives us a big clue when he lumps them together with “putting on of apparel.” Is he saying it’s wrong to put on clothes? Not likely. It’s more likely that he’s saying “don’t focus on your clothes, focus on your heart.” If you use this verse as an argument against wearing jewelry, you must agree that it is an argument against wearing clothes as well.

Here’s another clue. He references the holy women of old and refers to Sarah, in particular, as an example of a respectful wife. Ok. So let’s see if any of the holy women of old wore gold, in addition to their clothes and their respectful spirit. If he thinks Sarah is a holy woman, don’t you think that her mild-mannered daughter-in-law, Rebekah, would also qualify? Here are some snippets from where Abraham sent his trusted servant to find Rebekah in Genesis 24.

v. 21 -22 “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not. And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;… v. 29-30 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well… v. 46-47 [the servant retelling his story] And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also. And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.”

Here is a holy woman of old, who demonstrates deep respect for her husband-to-be throughout the story. If you read the whole passage, you will see that she is clearly modeling the attitude Peter is encouraging. And she does so, while wearing golden jewelry, given to her by Abraham, through his servant. The passage mentions the jewelry three times, so we don’t miss that it is given and worn as a symbol of Abraham’s (and Isaac’s) lavish love, not as a symbol of Rebekah’s pride.

Let’s look at 1 Tim 2:8-10 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, 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.”

Paul is talking here about the roles of men and women in the greater context of God’s authority structure. In a manner very similar to Peter, Paul says to women that they ought to wear appropriate clothing and not fixate on their outward appearance at the expense of the expense of their ability to do good works. We can safely use Scripture to interpret Scripture and say that Paul is saying the same basic thing as Peter. Is Paul’s intent really to ban a certain type of hairstyle? That seems improbable. The ancient custom of lavishly braided hair, often interwoven with silver, was incredibly time consuming. Paul is saying that a Christian woman should be doing good works, not spending an hour a day on her hair. And she shouldn’t be spending her money to bedazzle herself in gold and pearls to impress the neighbors. She should focus on good works.

These passages teach that the inward is more important than the outward. They do not teach that jewelry is a sin. But even if they did teach that all of the things in the verses were banned (including clothes, so I’m skeptical of that interpretation), they don’t use the word jewelry, they only mention gold and pearls. They don’t use any broader language that suggests any problem with steel necklace with a small wooden cross, or a WWJD silicone bracelet, or a $50 titanium ring, or a pair of silver earrings. You could easily use these verses to say that Christians should wear, simple, inexpensive jewelry to accompany their simple, inexpensive clothes. Oh, and these verses only address women, despite the fact that men in that day also wore jewelry of various types.

Do I think that these passages don’t mean anything? Do I just ignore them because they suggest that there are problems with jewelry? No. They challenge me to separate myself from the world. Our culture’s rule of thumb for an engagement ring, is that a man should spend three months of gross income on it. In my case, my wife and I knew that would have been a waste of money, so I spent 1/25th of the “recommended” amount, and still got my wife a ring that lavishes my love on her like in the story of Rebekah. As a Christian, these verses challenge men and women to focus on the inward, and the eternal. But if spending $500-$1,500 on your wife once is sinful, then what about the husband’s classic car or gun collection? What about a modest $5,000 wedding? I submit that none of these things are necessarily sinful, because 1 Tim 6:17 teaches that God gave us “richly all things to enjoy.” God doesn’t want us to always eat beans and rice so we can give away every cent to the church, he wants us to enjoy the world he made, while remembering that the one to come is much more important.

The next few verses are their defense from the Old Testament. Notice that none of these Old Testament verses are commands, rather they are stories. The describe things that happened, they don’t prescribe an action generally. They aren’t even Old Testament laws. They are stories about jewelry that was associated with something bad – see the article on the questionable principle of “guilt by association” for more on the problems with that logic. In one story, the jewelry was wrong, in the other, it was merely inappropriate for the occasion. In the final story, the jewelry wasn’t wrong at all. Let’s examine.

 Genesis 35:4  And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

In this case, we know that the earrings were related to the idolatry they were practicing. Two verses earlier, Jacob says “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:” So Jacob asks them only to get rid of their “strange gods,” he doesn’t mention to get rid of their jewelry. In response, they get rid of their idols and their earnings, one specific piece of jewelry. It stands to reason that the earnings were a part of their pagan worship or had pagan symbols on them. They knew that the two were connected, so when they heard of one, they immediately thought of the other. We know that his family didn’t get rid of all of their jewelry, because his son, Juda, had bracelets and a signet ring that play a part in a story just three chapters later in Genesis 38:18 (that unfortunate incident with Tamar). This verse isn’t a command against earrings, or a linkage of earrings to pride. It certainly is not a biblical precedent for getting rid of all jewelry.

Exo 33:4  And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.  33:5  For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.   33:6  And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

This passage suggests that taking off jewelry is a part of repentance. However, this passage is wildly misleading out of context. God has just threatened to destroy His people based on their construction of the golden calf (which they did use jewelry to construct, but they also used jewelry to construct the tabernacle at God’s direction). They mourned and took off their jewelry as a sign of morning. In the biblical tradition of wearing rags and ashes to show sorrow, jewelry wouldn’t have been a part of that outfit. However, when the morning was over, they put their ornaments back on. How do we know that? Because in Exodus 35:22, “And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the Lord.” There was a freewill offering of golden jewelry two chapters later to help build the tabernacle. They actually brought so many bracelets, earrings, and rings that Moses eventually told them to stop. This was not a confiscation of “evil jewelry,” this was a bunch of people who now loved God more than their jewelry. But in the end, God told them to keep (and wear) the rest of it – He didn’t need that much.

 Isa 3:16  Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:   3:17  Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.  3:18  In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,   3:19  The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,  3:20  The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,   3:21  The rings, and nose jewels,  3:22  The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, [v 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. 24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.]

 Definitions: Cauls – a jeweled netting for the hair.  Round Tires – round pendent for the neck (moon shaped) . Mufflers – An ornament worn by women.   Wimples – a woman’s garment or shawl.

This is a passage about God judging a generation of women who are proud and following false gods. He says that they have tried to beautify themselves, and he will make them ugly. We know this is the point, because he says he will give them scabs on their head. He will also “take away the bravery” of their jewelry. Maybe that means he will literally take it, or he will take away it’s ability to beautify them. In addition to the jewelry, he will take their clothes, nice smells, and hair and replace them with rags, stench, and baldness. Surely, having an unscabbed head, or clothes, or a sweet smell, or hair can’t be wrong? Yet they are all mentioned in the same breath as the many articles of jewelry. That’s because these things aren’t sin, they simply add to the beauty of a woman. But when that woman trusts in her beauty instead of God, and particularly if she worships idols, they may all be taken away. If this is a scripture is used against bracelets, it must also be used against changeable clothes, hoods, hair, shawls, perfume, and beauty of any kind.

Essentially, this is an article about why pride is bad. Much of what they say on that point is correct. They then try to link pride to jewelry but offer no credible evidence to that effect. They just assume that it is connected somehow. The closest thing they have to a biblical command against jewelry, in 66 books of divine revelation, is a pair of verses which, if interpreted as an absolute command against jewelry is also a command against clothes. Even at that, their passages only ban gold and pearls, and only for women. I do not believe that they have come close to fulfilling their burden of proof. If they had stronger arguments – they would use them.

The Case for Jewelry

I do not believe that Christians are commanded to wear jewelry. I also acknowledge that someone may have a valid personal conviction against it (although you should check to see if your “personal conviction” is just peer pressure). However, I do think that there is a strong positive case for jewelry in Scripture. Not that we must wear it, but that wearing it can be a good thing. In the same sense that we are not obligated to marry, but the Bible says marriage is a good thing.

Although, it is up to the critic to prove that jewelry is wrong, I can offer some independent evidence that jewelry is acceptable. I do acknowledge that I bear the burden of proof for this section, because I am making the claim that jewelry is good. However, even if you disagree with what I say here, if you acknowledge that I have successfully dismantled the biblical case against jewelry (part 1), then it would still fall into the broad realm of a Christian liberty, to be exercised with deference to other Christian principles. I have arranged these arguments from the most circumstantial to the most direct.

A. The Bible Never Forbids It

By Jewish accounting, there are 613 commandments in the Old Covenant. God banned innocuous things like pork and mixing wool and linen in order to make His people separate from the world. If jewelry was so inextricably tied to idolatry and pride, as some claim, then why did God not have a single commandment against it? There isn’t even a cautionary warning like Proverb’s warnings about wine. The New Testament is equally silent, except for lumping it in the same category as clothes (previously discussed).

B. The Bible Depicts Jewelry in Many Neutral Contexts

Mantels or “cloaks” show up in several stories. Sometimes they are torn in symbolic mourning. Sometimes people hide in them or use them to conceal their face. Sometimes they are used in metaphors: Psalm 109:29 “…cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantel.” These mantels are not morally good in their own right. They are functional, and somewhat ornamental. In the same way, jewelry appears in many stories. Jewelry is used to make the golden calf – which was clearly a bad thing. However, note that the problem was not that they wore jewelry, the problem was that they took it off and melted it down into something that was not jewelry. The jewelry is neutral here. It is destroyed in order to do evil. The same stock of jewelry is also used to make the tabernacle (previously addressed). The children of Israel take off their jewelry when they mourn (previously addressed). Judah’s signet ring and bracelets confirm Tamar’s story (Genesis 38). In all these instances, jewelry is neutral. Furthermore, in James 2:2, the apostle address the issue of the church giving more honor to a man wearing a gold ring than to a man in poor attire. In Roman culture, a gold ring was not only decorative, but also a sign of authority, which only certain people were legally allowed to wear. Clearly this church had not been taught that gold rings were wrong, or they would have been tempted to disrespect the man with the gold ring, instead of honoring him. James corrects them for honoring a wealthy person more than a poor person, but he doesn’t say anything to suggest that this man’s wearing of the gold ring was wrong. Jewelry, and the person wearing it, are not depicted as bad, only the attitude of the congregation was bad.

C. The Bible Compares Morally Good Things to Jewelry

In addition to the myriad of good things compared to gold, precious, stones, and etcetera, the Bible specifically compares morally good things to jewelry. Proverbs 1:8 “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Proverbs 25:12 “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, 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.” In this passage, the jewelry of both men and women is compared to “salvation” and “righteousness.” If you expand the definition of jewelry to include jewels themselves, the biblical are even more numerous. You may recall that a virtuous woman is compared to rubies. Although the Bible sometimes uses neutral metaphors “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.” The Bible stays away from comparing inherently bad things to God’s things. It never says, “the Lord has given me an idol of salvation, and a graven image of holiness.”

D. The Bible Depicts Godly People Using and Accepting Jewelry

The Bible is replete with stories of godly people wearing jewelry. Rebekah wore jewelry, as previously mentioned. Jeremiah 2:32 says “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” The Hebrew word for “ornaments” here is the exact same one used in the Exodus passage where the Israelites temporarily took off their jewelry. Jeremiah is putting a young woman’s jewelry is the same category as a bride’s wedding attire. Jeremiah is saying he doesn’t expect to see a bride without the equivalent of a wedding dress and he doesn’t expect to see a young woman without jewelry. In Esther 8:2, the king gave Mordecai his signet ring. Joseph wore not only a ring, but also a “gold chain.” Genesis 41:42 “And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;” One could argue that godly people in the Old Testament do things that are today considered immoral, such as polygamy. However, the Bible is careful to record the problems that practices like polygamy caused. The Bible makes no effort in any of the aforementioned stories to show that some problem arose because of the jewelry.

E. The Bible Depicts Jewelry as an Appropriate Part of Physical Beauty

The Song of Solomon is loaded with both metaphors comparing attributes of the lovers to the beauty of gold, jewels, silver, and jewelry. 5:14 “His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl:” The lover also glories in the jewelry that his beloved actually wears. 1:10-11 “Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.” 4:9 “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.” Even the this proverb compares physical beauty to a gold ring: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22)” The lack of discretion is compared to the pig, but the ring is compared to her beauty.

F. God Bedecks Godly People with Jewelry (Metaphorically and Literally)

In Exodus 22:22 God commands his people to ask for gold, jewels and other things from the Egyptians, which they were then to commanded to wear (despite the association with pagan Egyptian culture). “But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.” When God talks about redeeming His people in Isaiah, He talks about them being blessed so abundantly that their children adorn them like jewelry. 49:18 “ Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. 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.” Most dramatically, God says this of how he tenderly cared for Isreal in her youth: Ezekiel 16:11-13 “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work…” This idea is echoed in Revelation 21:2, when John sees the heavenly city coming down “as a bride adorned for her husband.”

G. Jesus Only Ever Referred to Jewelry Positively

Jesus made at least three references to jewelry or jewels. He tells us not to cast our pearls before swine in Matthew 7:8. This implies that owning pearls was something Jesus thought some of his hearers could relate to. It would be odd of him to say that if he thought owning pearls was evil. And why would a person own pearls, but to wear them? Jesus also told the story of a prodigal son, in which the gracious father gave his repentant son a ring. Luke 15:22 “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:” I have heard that this was a “functional” signet ring, not a mere decorative ring. However, that is not suggested by the text. The father didn’t say put “my ring” on his hand, he said put “a ring” on his hand – implying that any nice looking ring would do. In the parable of the lost coin, earlier in Luke 15:8, Jesus references a piece of silver jewelry that women wore. They would tie their wedding dowry around their forehead, as pictured. He compares God’s efforts to recover a lost soul to the way a woman would search to find a single missing coin. Unless this is the only exception, Jesus never compared sinful items to God’s kingdom. On the odd occasion where he compared a sinful person to God (the unjust judge), he wasn’t emphasizing the sinfulness of the judge, but rather the judge’s willingness to listen to a persistent person. Even here, he isn’t comparing something godly to something sinful, he’s comparing something godly to a righteous trait that even a sinner has.

Jewelry on Trial

Conclusion

Let’s recap. Jewelry is not forbidden and is sometimes portrayed in a neutral way. Jewelry is sometimes compared to morally upright things, both in the Old Testament and the parables of Jesus. Exemplary characters in Scripture used jewelry, and the Bible never records any ill effects of that behavior. The Bible depicts jewelry as a normal part of looking your best. The Bible records that God uses jewelry as a token of his favor and blessing. Jesus talked about jewelry, to an audience wearing jewelry, and only referred to it positively.

What can we then say about jewelry? Is it a great moral good? No. But the fact is that many people, and especially women, care about their appearance. Stripping holiness women of jewelry hasn’t stopped them from spending time curling their long hair, pursuing their skin-care regimen, straightening and whitening their teeth, or shopping for clothes and shoes that they don’t objectively need. Holiness people still send plenty of time and money on their appearance. And the Bible doesn’t say that any of that is a sin, it just says to prioritize good works over good looks.

So jewelry can be several things. I can be just an accouterment to an outfit, like a necktie or a hairbow. It can be gifted to express love for someone else, just like the gift of a vacation or a new car. It can be an outward symbol of our core beliefs, like a cross pendant, or a purity ring (this is no different from a “Jesus Saves” shirt or an American flag hat). Neither a neat outfit, nor lavish love, nor expressions of core beliefs are condemned in Scripture. If you don’t want to wear jewelry, that is fine. But if you want to condemn jewelry, you will do so with your feet firmly planted in midair. For such a position is not grounded in the Word of God.

-Nathan Mayo

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