Monday, June 10, 2013

(Part 1) Do the scriptures really teach...

...that God forbids the wearing of jewelry?

1 Timothy 2:9-10 "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."

1 Peter 3:3-4 "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and or 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."

"Not with...but with" and "let it not be...but let it be" are key phrases in these scriptures yet so misunderstood. These expressions are not intended to prohibit the first item. Instead, the second item is emphasized as being far more important than the first. Consider John 6:27 "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath the Father sealed." Does this scripture forbid working for food, or is it just emphasizing the spiritual food? Again, in 1 John 3:18 "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." Does this mean that we should not tell people that we love them, or that our words are meaningless without action?

Many places in scripture show that God uses jewelry as a blessing to His children.

Genesis 24:47-48; 41:42; Psalm 25:12; Proverbs 1:8-9; Song of Solomon 1:10; 7:1; Isaiah 49:18; 61:10; Jeremiah 2:32; Ezekiel 16:8-14

If God forbade the wearing of jewelry,

would not Abraham's servant offering of it to Rebekah and then worshipping God be irreverent and inappropriate?

would Joseph have accepted Pharoah's gift of jewelry?

would David compare wise behavior to an earring of gold?

would Isaiah compare a bride and bridegroom adorning themselves to the salvation and righteousness of God?

would a comparison be made of a maid forgetting her jewelry to God's people forgetting about Him?

would God offer jewelry as a gift or reward?

Some would argue that while wearing jewelry was acceptable in the Old Testament, it is forbidden in the New Testament. The scriptures used as the foundation for this argument are 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4. It is said that there are no scriptures given in the New Testament to indicate the acceptability of wearing jewelry. What then, do we do with the account of the lost son in Luke 15?

In verse 22, we read that the father placed a ring on the hand of the son. Now, it has been argued that the ring was a signet ring; one that allowed the son to do business in the name of the father. There is, however, nothing in this passage to indicate such a thing. According to Strong's, the ring was a finger ring and the verse reads that it was given by the father. Again, if Jesus forbade the wearing of jewelry, would He have used the giving of a finger ring in relating the joyous occasion of welcoming a son back home.

James 2:1-4 talks of a man coming into the assembly wearing a gold ring and bright clothing, and of a poor man in dirty clothes. To give the man with the gold ring and the bright clothing the better seat would be showing partiality. It is not the gold ring and bright clothes that are evil, but the partiality shown. What I am afraid has happened in the COG is that the partiality has flipped. Those who do not wear jewelry (and dress according to the standard preached) are considered to be "walking in the truth", while those who wear jewelry either "lack understanding" or have "walked away from truth". Some are proud in wearing their jewelry; others in not wearing it. An individual's spirituality or relationship with God should not be based on such things.

Another argument against the wearing of jewelry is that God took the jewelry away from His people in Isaiah 3:16-24. What is not mentioned by those who use this passage, is the reason God took the jewelry away. Verse 16 provides that reason. "Because the daughters of Zion are haughty" It was not that God deemed the jewelry to be bad, but instead, the behavior of His people. (Kind of like the gun argument I keep reading about on the internet. You know, "Guns don't kill. People do.") As it is with the guns, so it was/is with the wearing of jewelry.

Let's move on to another argument. Because the purpose of jewelry is nothing other than decorating ourselves with, spending money on it is not being a good steward. As I pondered this argument, the thought of our houses kept coming to my mind. Decorations, inside and outside of our homes, are not necessary expenditures. According to the logic of the argument, are we then not good stewards because we have spent money on interior/exterior decorations for our houses? Hebrews 3:6 reads that we are the house of God so I find it reasonable to compare our bodies to our houses. They are both temporal structures that serve as dwelling places. We justify decorating our houses, yet condemn adorning (decorating) our bodies.

Houses such as the Biltmore in North Carolina, or the brightly decorated houses people flock to see at Christmas time, are exclusively presented to draw crowds. It is not the residents of the houses that people go to see; but the houses themselves. We decorate our houses according to our tastes. That is okay. Can we overdo our decorations? Absolutely! Many people do; of their houses and their bodies. Therein lies the key to the meaning of the original scriptures leading to our topic of the wearing of jewelry. Is "what" people see so overdone that the "who" is hidden?

The following is a conversation I had with a friend concerning this topic:

My friend: "When I think about times in the Bible where certain behaviors are called out, I almost wonder if the thing being called out is really the sin, or if it's the abuse or misuse of the thing that itself becomes sin. I just wonder if we sometimes take things too literally when maybe they were used as examples due to the culture, etc.? When I read that, I think about how COG teaches against jewelry because of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4, yet skim over "putting on of apparel." Apparel is necessary and a good thing, yet we're taught that gold or jewelry is taboo."

Me: "You are correct in your thinking. The ladies in Greek and Roman culture were very showy in their appearance; especially their hair. Most of the jewelry they wore was stranded through their hair. Today, jewelry is worn on other areas of the body. Peter and Paul were not commanding the ladies to stop wearing jewelry, but encouraging them to keep their outward adornment modest in order for others to be attracted to the beauty of Christ within them." (Let me add right here that broided and plaited mentioned in both scriptures are defined by Strong's as "braided, twisted or interwoven". We could add the question. Why, then, is braiding the hair not preached or taught as being forbidden?)

My friend: "If you believe that wearing jewelry is not wrong, why don't you wear it?"

Me: "I am a married woman in love with and committed to my husband. While he and I do not have the same understanding on many spiritual matters, it would be disrespectful of me to go against him in matters which do not affect my walk with the Lord. I know from experience that I cannot begin to make him understand or agree with me on this issue, so I choose not to go there."

It is amazing what we learn when we take the time to study for ourselves. In the COG, it is acceptable to wear an "engagement watch" (or a watch period) but not an engagement ring or wedding band. Why? They are both pieces of jewelry. This is just one of the areas where logic goes out the window.

Having been raised in a COG congregation all my life, I have consistently heard preaching against wearing jewelry. For most of my years, I simply accepted the teaching as I have other teachings. Even my private study time was based on studying according to what I was taught. It was only just a few years ago that I started becoming frustrated because things were no longer making sense. I made the decision to listen to the Lord and ask him to guide my thoughts in my study. It caused friction in some of my relationships and the ability to talk about spiritual matters of importance to me has been greatly hindered.

People need to be challenged in their thinking. In these matters about which I am posting, I encourage my readers to examine yourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart. It is not my place, nor the place of anyone else, to tell you what is right or wrong for you. We need to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit AND be allowed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives.

Now, I have been told that if I disagree with what is taught or preached, I should keep it to myself. I have to tell you that I cannot go along just to get along. God wants us to think wisely. According to Romans 12:2, we are to be "transformed by the renewal (not the removal) of our mind." If asked where I stand on a topic that is preached or taught, I will give an answer; even if it is not the one folks want to hear. It benefits no one, and actually has the potential to cause confusion, when something is preached or taught using scripture as a foundation, when the scripture in no way supports the teaching.
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