Is it a sin to wear jewelry?

Question:

Do you think its wrong for girls to wear earrings? Is there anything in the bible against that?

Answer:

The simplest and quickest answer is no. The bible offers a very broad spectrum of the use of jewelry from which we can draw some conclusions. Below is a short exploration of this wide range of jewelry or other esthetic ornaments:

  • Jewelry was worn by prominent figures in the bible. Joseph and Daniel both wore necklaces (Gen 41:42, Daniel 5:29) Rebecca the wife of Isaac and Abraham’ daughter-in-law was given a nose ring by Abraham’s servant (Gen 24:22,30,35) who ‘worshiped the Lord’ right after inserting the nose ring (Gen 24:47-48). Solomon’s bride is decked in jewels (Song 1:10-11) Mordecai and the prodigal son wore rings. (Esth 8:1-2, Luke 15:22)
  • Some jewelry was associated with the worship of idols. Jacob asks for a purging of false gods in his household and when the idols are being thrown away they are followed by earrings which were associated with idolatry in that specific situation (Gen 35:2-4)
  • Jewelry was used as an allegory/analogy for beauty, splendor, and aesthetic goodness. Salvation is called by the prophet Isaiah as something so beautiful it is comparable to bridal jewelry (Isa 61:10). The prophet also speaks of God restoring Israel’s sons and so that all nations would see them like ornaments on a necklace (Isaiah 49:16-18). A parents instruction as considered as beautiful as ornaments (Prov 2:7-9, Prov 3:21-22) Good and timely words are also considered as good as jewelry (Prov 25:11-12) The book of Solomon is filled with the use of ‘jewelry’ as identifying something that is beautiful, often in allegorical form (Song 1:10-11, Song 4:9, Song 5:10-12, Song 7:1) God’s people are considered to be beautiful like jewels in a crown (Zech 9:16). Jewelry is impossible to forget for a bride and when Gods people forget Him it is as bad as a bride forgetting her ornaments (Jer 2:32).
  • Hebrew worship often involved elaborate forms of ascetic beauty. The temple itself was decked out in brilliant jewels and gold (Exodus 35:22-25, 2 Chronicles 3:6). The most precious things in Israeli possession, to be used in the Tabernacle or Temple were made of gold and finely crafted ornaments (Exodus 25:18, 24, 29, 31) The priestly Ephod itself was a gigantic necklace consisting of braided gold chains and a plethora of brilliant gems (Exod 28:15-27). Offering to God often included the giving of precious metals and ornaments (Exodus 35: 22-23, Num 31:49-50). Earrings were worn by the Ishmaelites and some given to Gideon as an honor offering, though out of these he made himself a golden ephod that became more of a curse than a blessing (Judges 8:24-27).
  • Jewelry taken away during punishment. In early Israeli history they made a golden calf and began to worship it, after this sinful event God commanded the Israelite’s to remove their jewelry as He punished them. Twice more in the scriptures God is described as taking away jewelry and other luxuries from Israel when the nation is in sin, both of these times other things such as clothes, purses, fragrances, and more are taken as a punishment for disobedience. (Isaiah 3:17-25, Ezek 23:25-26)
  • Jewelry gien as a sign of blessing and prosperity. This by far is the most comprehensive allegorical passage noting many types of body ornaments, such as bracelets, nose rings, earrings and necklaces, all of which ‘God himself’ says he gave to Israel as a symbol of the blessing he gave to the nation. (Ezekiel 16:5-17)
  • Jewelry is used as a symbol of wealth but it is not to be used to in honoring the rich above the poor. (James 2:2)
  • Jewelry can be misused. External things like jewelry in addition to expensive clothes are not to be valued as a sign or standard of beauty, instead the inward things like a gentle/quiet spirit. (1 Tim. 2:9-10 , 1 Pet. 3:3-5)

The Bible is never outright forbids the wearing of ornaments or calls any of it a sin, be it earrings, rings, necklaces or bracelets. At the same time it warns us that we ought not be preoccupied with cultivating our beauty with merely trinkets and ornaments.

To those that think the Bible forbids all jewelry:

There are very few negative passages on jewelry, let’s examine them one at a time. First, there is a mention of earrings that were associated with idol worship. However, there are many occasions after where jewelry is used and/or mentioned as something good or beautiful, so clearly not all types of jewelry was linked to idolatry. Clearly when Abraham’s servant put a nose ring into Rebecca and thanked the Lord he was not pushing her toward idolatry.

Second, God did tell the Hebrews to take off their gold ornaments after they sinned with a golden calf, however, this is more in part due to the mourning and humiliation which is a response to sin and not because ornaments were sin. In the Hebrew culture sorrow was often shown by the spreading ashes on your clothes clothes and tearing them, but this does not mean that wearing good clothes is a sin. The other two times the bible mentions God taking away jewelry, it again mentions God taking away other normal things like scarves, perfume, mirrors, clothes, and health. Clearly in those situations God takes away things that are good or valued from people who reject Him as a punishment. None of these passages, or any other say jewelry is a sin.

Third, 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and 1 Pet. 3:3-5 do not classify jewelry as sin, or else expensive clothes and braids would likewise be sin. I have heard many religious people say a necklace is sin, but I have never heard them condemn nice clothes or braided hair. In fact, the majority of people I have met who think jewelry is forbidden by these New Testament passages are dressed in very fine clothes such as those mentioned by Paul and Peter. I have often heard it said that “God deserves our best dress” so we need to dress up in the best clothes possible. Yet it is hypocrisy to demand churchgoers to wear suits/ties or nice dresses and then claim jewelry is a sin because it’s too decorative. Either all are forbidden or none. That is the value of truth and we must be honest with it.

To those that think the Bible encourages all jewelry:

Jewelry and ornaments are always associated with beauty or splendor. However, this is exactly where 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and 1 Pet. 3:3-5 play a weighty role. These passages, especially aimed at women, don’t condemn jewelry but they do condemn our fallen attitude towards beauty. It’s largely due to our twisted perception of beauty that many of the early church fathers spoke against ornaments. Its normal and good for girls/women to want to be beautiful, but the fascination with appearances can often become prideful and idolatrous. Instead of recognizing that the biblical standard of beauty is described as being inwardly submissive and humble, many women give in to a vain standard of outward beauty and then idolize that feeling of being adored. I know of many girls who wouldn’t ever leave their house without spending an hour or two of enhancing their physical appearance. In my mind that does not represent the image of beauty, but rather it implies the young woman has a sense of low self esteem or preoccupation with her image and identity (and of course similar issues apply to men and “manly” identity issues).

In both of the passages above, the apostles speak to all women and girls to tell them that clothes, hair, & jewelry don’t define beauty, they are merely trinkets. If you don’t have humility and gentleness in you, then no amount of pampering your outside will make up for it. In fact, if you lack inward beauty, indulging of your outside will likely make things worse. Furthermore, some types or styles of ornaments can be associated and complimented with excessive sensuality or provocative dress, these are definitely not helpful to becoming a gentle and humble young woman.

Status is another issue. James speaks of rings being a status symbol. Our dress including jewelry is often an indication of our identity, describing to the world who we are. (Or who we think we are.) I spent my teenage years re-learning everyday where my place in the social ladder was. A large part of this social hierarchy and devaluing of people “below you” is helped in part by expensive jewelry. I know of girls who are rejected, mocked, and excluded because they don’t dress the same or wear jewelry (and vice versa). Then both groups of these girls can turn around and state that they are “christian.” It pains my heart to see silly trinkets serve as a separation of classes and as a means of dividing and separating people. Whatever your preference is, whether you do/don’t wear jewelry, fighting with other girls about it, or even looking down upon them is not gentle or beautiful.

I grieve when I see large amounts of money being spent on the decorations of one person while others in this world suffer from poverty and malnourishment, that could easily be cured. This of course applies – perhaps even more – to men who spend even more on their “man toys,” among other things. Though it could be argued that the more expensive things, like homes and cars, are necessities to living in the modern world, while expensive jewelry is neither necessary for life, nor really useful. The actual “rock” or “precious metal” has no inherent worth of its own – it has no use other than representing great value, a power that was arbitrarily conferred on it by society. Because of this, it is arguable that when a woman or man spends a great deal of money on an expensive object of jewelry, the only thing they are buying is a personal feeling of superiority over others, whether in social status, wealth, or beauty. . And this is not beautiful. In the end it is hard believe that a woman is gentle and humble if she spends all her time and money on her external appearance. So my advice is that if you find yourself spending too much on external appearance and ornaments, it may be time to step back and reassess what you believe about beauty. As a guy I can say there is nothing more beautiful than a gentle and quiet spirit.

 

5 responses

  1. You helped me, though my pastor said those who wear earings and braid or fix their hair with attachment will go to hell. He said he saw it in books and videos of people that die and saw heaven and hell. Jesus gave them the message that we should stop using all these things otherwise hell is the final place for such person.

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