Can a Christian Wear Jewellery / Ornaments? Bible Study

Shyju Mathew

"Experience the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit."

July 10, 2013

“Can a Christian wear jewellery?” is one of the frequently asked questions that we thought of addressing through this post. While there are many Pentecostal groups that are against believers wearing jewellery or ornaments, we need to understand what the Word of God says.

ring with a small diamante

Is Bible against us wearing ornaments? What is the background or base of this concept?

Origin & Intention of the Belief

There are many reasons as to why this belief originated of which the most obvious one was the social status that was connected with gold and silver. The rich or the higher castes in the society had good quantity of jewellery to boast of, while the poor who came to church had none.

When the Indian Pentecostal fathers came to the Christian faith, many of them came from influential and high caste families who threatened to strip them of their inheritance and wealth for stepping out of their religious systems to embrace a new faith. The church fathers also noticed that the caste distinction inside the church was hindering fellowship between the non-ornament wearing lower caste believers and the ornament wearing higher caste believers.

Hence, in an effort to remove the barrier within the church and also to make it easy for new converts from both castes, the church fathers came up with the system of giving up their ornaments/jewellery when a person got saved and baptized. The intention was to unite the body of Christ, remove discrimination and act as a sign for outsiders of their consecration.

The Argument for Removing Ornaments

Many hold different verses from the scripture to prove removing of gold is what God wants. I’d like to mention a few of those without trying to go into every detail.

From the Old Testament

Moses rebuked the Israelites for building a calf of gold to worship and as punishment powdered their gold and made them drink it. But the problem with quoting that verse as a principle to remove your jewellery is that Moses did that because the gold had become their God and neither does mean that they did not wear gold again. In fact, even today I believe that anytime gold takes the place of God and if you are obsessed by your outward adornments then it is best you give them up for life or at least till you overcome that weakness in your life.

In the New Testament… many mostly quote 1 Pet 3:1-5 “3 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands..”

With this passage, we have to consider the verse in context or take it literally. Both would have more questions we will need to address for example, if we take the verse literally as if Peter was laying down rules for us to follow then: 1. Peter is speaking only to wives. That means this does not apply to husbands or even single women. 2. Wives cannot braid their hair. (Which is not apparently an issue with those that speak against gold.)

Or the other side of understanding the verse is that Peter is talking against the use of fancy hair style or any kinds of ornaments that draw attention to one’s self and forgoes modest and respectful presentation. Please note that he does not say not to wear gold, only mentioning that it should not be the focus. So then it is up to us to decide which of the interpretation we want to choose because both cannot be correct! Either you say don’t wear gold (and don’t braid your hair) and that it would only be applicable to married women or you understand the scripture wholly. You cannot say Paul says not to wear gold but it is ok to braid our hair and wear costly sarees!

Prerequisite for Salvation?

The problem starts when what was done as a solution to cultural issues becomes a prerequisite for salvation. This, to the extent where many are not baptized or allowed to partake in the Lord’s table when one wears ornaments or is not wearing a white dress code.

The key here is this: Paul was not establishing a set of rules, but the Bible is clearly encouraging us to cultivate inward holiness and not focus on the outward beauty. We should dress modestly and discreetly doing all things for the glory of God.

How About Those Who Have Heard From God?

My mother is one of those people who does not wear ornaments but the background is that she was someone who loved ornaments and looked down on those believers who did not wear ornaments. So when she was filled with the Holy Spirit, she was foremost convicted about her sins in that area and she took it upon her to let go of what she was most in love with.

But the problem becomes when we begin to expect everyone else to do it. When it came to my wife wearing ornaments many people expected us to follow our church and parents. However, upon seeking God, the Holy Spirit reminded that she was washed by the blood of Jesus and that ornaments were not a prerequisite for her walk with God. And I, as her husband supported it wholeheartedly because I have personally witnessed that Tiny is not someone who is obsessed with ornaments.

At some point we need to let go of the fear of man to do what Bible says and not what majority does. [tweet this]

If you are a woman reading this article, and if the Lord has led you to remove or not wear jewellery then I want you to know that I respect you. In fact my problem is not with you but with a man-made rule and self righteousness and (sometimes even hypocrisy) that is associated with it.

It is fine if your church wants to follow that but it is also right to respect other churches who don’t follow that. And to say that they would not go to heaven because of them wearing ornaments is to insult the power of the blood of Jesus that was shed and saves all those who believe in His name.

Here are other verses you may have missed:

Ezekiel 16:8-15, NASB

“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine, declares the Lord God. Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing.”

Song of Solomon 1:10-11, NASB

Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, Your neck with strings of beads. We will make for you ornaments of gold with beads of silver.

Isa 61:10 NASB

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isa 49:18 NASB

“Lift up your eyes and look around; All of them gather together, they come to you. As I live,” declares the LORD, “You will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride.

In Psalm 45:13,14 the Holy Spirit gives a description in type of the church of Jesus Christ, “The King’s daughter is all glorious within. Her clothing is interwoven with GOLD. She (the church) will be led to the King (Jesus Christ) in embroider work“.

Was Jesus Against Ornaments?

In Luke 15 Jesus takes the example of the prodigal son and in fact this is one of the scriptures that is most used to understand the Father heart of God. And please note Jesus would not use an illustration that He does not believe in. For instance, I would never buy you an alcohol or use that as illustration if I didn’t believe in it. But here Jesus is very clear on how the Father restored the returning son. The father brought the best robe and put a ring on his hand.

In fact Jesus in heaven has a golden sash around His chest (Rev 1:13) and a golden crown on His head (Rev 14:14) and is building us a city with streets are of pure gold. (Rev 21:18)

And in the New Testament…

James 2:2, is clear that people with gold and fine clothing was also a part of church and was admonished not to look down on those that could not afford to be dressed well.

God is not against gold; but gold or any other accessories, this also includes watches, cellphones, cars etc. However if those things replace the place of God then they are going to be part of God’s wrath. (James 5)

The 3 ISM’s in the Church

Beware of the 3 ism’s that exist in the churches today:

Legalism: where believers feel that their admittance into heaven would be determined by their own work or performance rather than by simple faith in Christ’s atonement.

Elitism: where superior doctrines, strict holiness standards and being part of a particular denomination and church alone makes one’s way into heaven.

Judgmentalism: where believers are taught that other Christians are hell-bound because they watch television or wear jewellery.

Removing gold does not indicate “separation from the world”. Galatians 6:14 shows “I am dead to the world (its traditions, its culture, its lust of the eyes, its lust of the flesh and its pride of life) by the Cross of Jesus“. Now these are the areas that we must live in consecration. According to Galatians 5:1, Christ has freed us with freedom. Paul says, “Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery“. “This is the freedom with which Christ has freed us”.

What If You Are Already NOT Wearing Jewellery

I hope that is because you are convicted personally by the Holy Spirit. However there are many who may be following it even though the Holy Spirit has not convicted them mostly because they are comfortable in following their parents or church in NOT wearing.

I would like to say that if you believe that you have to wear white in order to attend a church gathering, then you should do just that. Kindly take time to study from Romans 14.

Your heart’s belief is critical and by simply going against your conscience you can be sinning [tweet this](1 Corinthians 8:7, Romans 14:23).

Romans 14:22 says, “You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.

vs.23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”

I want to say, please continue in whatever you feel is right. But be kind and humble enough not to condemn others or sell your conviction as a rule of the Bible. Let love lead.

To Those Who Believe in Wearing Jewellery

Do not look down on those who are convicted to live their Christian faith without the ornaments. “…But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.” Romans 14:14

And in wearing ornaments see that you do in a way that glorifies God. “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honour the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honour the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:7

Do not become obsessed with jewellery or do it in extravagance. See that your passions don’t take over your eyes from God. In everything we do let us walk closer to Jesus.

I humbly close this subject with one more verse, Romans 14:19 “So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Be blessed.