Marriage and the Wedding Ring
"So God created man in his own image,... [one] male and [one] female created he them" (Genesis 1:27). "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mark 10:9).
These Scriptures teach us that the marriage union and relationship was inspired by God, instituted by God, preserved by God, and can rightly be dissolved only by God. Any two persons entering into the marriage union should realize that marriage is an institution of God and that the One who designed and authorized marriage has the authority to determine the standards of marriage.
The divinely provided seal for the marriage union is the promise of exclusive life long marital love and fidelity on the part of those entering into marriage. When these promises are made, each marriage partner becomes a seal on the heart and on the arm; the other partner (Song of Solomon 8:6 seal in the life preserving qualities successful marriage and to seal out intrusion of love destroying elements.
Marriage promises are made to be kept, not to be broken. Marital love and fidelity are designed to be preserved, not to be lost. The breaking of the marital commitment serious that the Lord Jesus said, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another committeth adultery: [lives in a state adultery] and whosover marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery" (Luke 16:18)
When God's standard of beauty of life and character are upheld, it is not necessary to wear ornamental things for real enduring attractiveness and attachment to each other. In fact, the Bible in a number of places condemns the wearing of gold and other how of jewelry. Neither does the Bible make any exceptions for the wearing of gold for symbolic reasons. When the wedding ring is worn because of its supposed or real symbolism, it opens the way for the wearing of other jewelry, for there are all kinds of rings and pins which are said to have symbolic significance.
The Apostle Peter wrote to Christian 'women that their beauty should reside, not in that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of [fashionable] 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" (I Peter 3:3, 4). In this same
text, Peter avers that omitting the wearing "gold and other ornamentals, coupled with a life of inner purity on the part of a believing wife will aid in the winning of an unbelieving husband. The absence of the wedding ring on part of men and women of integrity and moral purity may also at times provide valuable opportunities for witnessing to those who may wonder why we do not follow customs of the world.
The modest appearance and good behaviour of men and women does much to motivate attitudes of purity toward each other. Moreover, the Christian woman properly veiled as Paul taught in I Corinthians 11:1-16, and adorned "in modest apparel, with shamefacedness [reserve and timidity] and sobriety.., which becometh women professing godliness" as Paul also wrote in I Timothy 2:8, 9 will also contribute much to right thinking and noble living on the part of men.
In his booklet on Light on the Wedding Ring, Methodist E.B. Anable writes, "..even in these times of looseness a woman with no earthly adornment, emblem or symbol, but modestly clothed and with the grace of God in her heart may walk the streets of our land unashamed and unmolested. Her long dress with sleeves and decent shaded hosiery, plus real dignity and deportment, will proclaim every where that she belongs only to God and her husband... Here is a genuine protection more visible than a tiny metal loop, and recommended by a power---greater than all solidly symbols and customs put together."
From sucular history we learn that the ancient pagan Romans were probably responsible for beginning the use of engagement and wedding rings. Originally the wedding ring was placed on the third finger of the left hand because of a superstitious belief that a vein runs from this finger directly to the heart. Although this superstitious idea is no longer believed by most people, wedding rings are still placed on the third finger of the left hand by the majority of the wearers.
The roundness of the ring is said to represent eternity and symbolizes endless love and that the couple is united forever. This symbolism is also unscriptural for the Bible declares that marriage is only for as long as either of the marriage partners lives physically. Therefore, the wearing of engagement and wedding rings is a worldly practice which is of heathen origin.
The wedding ring has little protective and permanent value as is proven by the more than one million divorces in America annually, most of whom doubtless were wedding ring wearers.
God warned the children of Israel, "After the doings of the land of Egypt wherein ye dwelt shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you shall ye not do, neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments and keep mine ordinances" (Leviticus 18:3, 4).
The Prophet Jeremiah cried out, "Thus saith the Lord, learn not the way of the heathen.. .For the customs of the people are vain... "(Jeremiah 10:2, 3).
The beloved Saint John calls upon us to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; ...for all that is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (I John 2:15-17). The Apostle Paul says, "Be not conformed to this world..." (Romans 12:2).
"Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife [not some other man's wife] even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband [not some other woman's husband]" (Ephesians 5:33).
Aaron M. Shank
The following letter is part of a reply to a response to the article "Marriage and the Wedding Ring" printed in the March 1984 issue. This letter is an answer to typical arguments in favor of wearing jewelry.
A Biblical position on the non-wearing of jewelry, especially such a cultural practice as the wearing of the wedding ring, is maintained by few groups today. In fact, it is a distinction that is lost when nonconformity in attire is lost. It is just one of the many unscriptural cultural practices that are readily accepted when separation is lost.
Brother Aaron rightly contends that an inner principle is disbelieved or dead if it does not find outward expression. We want the inner ornamentation and the outward expression of this principle. This letter emphasizes the Scriptural balance we desire to maintain. Ed.
Greetings. Thank you for writing and commenting on my article on "Marriage and the Wedding Ring" published in the Eastern Mennonite Testimony, March, 1984, and for the article you enclosed relating to the subject of the wearing of jewelry.
In response to your suggestion that I misinterpreted I Peter 3:1-4 by applying it to the non-wearing of jewelry, which you imply related only to the inner life, I will say that if you read my article carefully, you will notice that I did very much like Peter did when he wrote about "outward adorning" and the "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." Peter's argument was that people with inner values need not, and from a Biblical standpoint, must not, wear adorning items on their bodies.
In addition to the teaching against bodily ornamentation, my article also speaks of "...beauty of life and character..." "... a meek and quiet spirit...," "... men and women of integrity and moral purity..," "... good behavior of men and women...," "... the grace of God in her heart...," etc. But the article, like Peter's admonition, enjoins the right kind of outward expression with the possession of the right kind of inner spirit. In fact, I believe that an inner principle is disbelieved, dead, or dying if it does not find consistent outward expression.
For anyone to contend that it is all right to wear gold and other ornamentation when the Bible says it shall not be worn constitutes a denial of the Word of God. Your argument that it is all right to wear jewelry because Peter also said, "not the putting on of apparel" and we all wear clothes, indicates a lack of spiritual perception and sound interpretation. Peter is dealing with jewelry and superfluous ornamental items of dress in this passage. Apart from the necessary items of dress which the Bible commands, there are literally tons of superfluous and ornamental items of dress worn on bodies today to which this Scripture would relate. These items are fostering pride, and I believe are just about as enslaving to the soul as are liquor and tobacco....
In Christian Love and Hope
Aaron M. Shank