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THE USE OF JEWELRY: BIBLICAL AND ELLEN WHITE'S VIEWS

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THE USE OF JEWELRY: BIBLICAL AND ELLEN WHITE'S VIEWS

The American Journal of Biblical Theology Volume 18(39). September 24, 2017
Opeyemi T. Oladosu
THE USE OF JEWELRY: BIBLICAL AND ELLEN WHITE’S VIEWS
INTRODUCTION
Wearing of jewelry has been a subject of controversy among Christians
of all ages. While some denominations advocate a non-use of jewelry others
lend a support towards a modest use of it. There has been a polarization of
views on this subject. Many keep asking, why do not some believers wear ear
rings, wedding bands and necklaces? Does God instruct not to use it? This
article: “The Use of Jewelry: Biblical and Ellen White’s Views” will examine
critically and objectively biblical texts and Ellen White’s perceptions on jewelry
and its use.
Generally, the words ‘jewels’ or ‘jewelry’ translated in the Old Testament
do not refer primarily to precious stones as such, but simply to some type of
personal adornment fashioned from a precious metal, such as gold or
silver.
1
However, from time immemorial, people have sought to enhance their
appearance through the use of jewelry, make up, ornamented clothing and
other adornments.
2
It is noted that these “ornaments sometimes symbolized
wealth or favour, or were worn as amulets by pagans”.
3
The Use of Jewelry in the Old Testament
The following uses for jewelry in the Old Testament, is based primarily on
the work of Angel Manuel Rodriguez:
1. Personal beautification- Rodriguez mentions the high priest’s costume.
It is specifically noted that one of the basic purposes of this special and
unique attire was to beautify this religious leader. (Exodus 28: 2).
2. Currency- Rodriguez argued that the ‘gold nose ring weighing a beka
and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels given by Abraham’s
servant to Rebekah was a payment for watering his camels (Gen
24:22).
3. Evidence of Wealth- In ancient Mesopotamia, the bride price paid by a
prospective groom’s family included clothing, jewelry, food, drink, and
1
Siegfried H.Horn, “Jewelry”, Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Dictionary. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald
Publishing Association.
2
“What does the Bible say about: Jewelry, Make up & Other Adornments. ``www.Biblicalprophecies.net.
(Assessed on 10/12/2013).
3
Ibid.
The American Journal of Biblical Theology Volume 18(39). September 24, 2017
Opeyemi T. Oladosu
oil. Jewelry was also part of the dowry paid by the bride’s family. (Gen.
24:53).
4. A symbol of social status- It was used by the people belonging to the
high strata of society particularly those from the palace. In 2 Samuel
1:10, King Saul wore a crown and armband. Rodriguez asserts that the
jewelry mentioned in Ezekiel 28:11-19 (in connection with the King of
Tyre) signifies royal or princely status.
5. Jewelry also served as a sign of authority.
6. Jewelry had religious significance in the Ancient Near East. Jewelry
identified the religious beliefs or position of the wearer, such as the
Israelite high priest. It was assigned supernatural abilities and was worn
to protect the wearer from various forms of evil. Rodriguez identifies some
of the jewelry mentioned in Isaiah 3:16-21 as supernatural ornaments,
also called amulets. It is these amulets that the Old Testament condemns
as idolatry.
7. Jewelry was sometimes used as an offering to the gods to be placed on
their images in their temples. While the Old Testament does not mention
this use directly, the Israelites did occasionally bring jewelry to God, as in
Numbers 31:50.
1
In his book, Jewelry and some Christian Virtues, Oyinloye asserts that
the use of jewelry did not originate with man but God. He argued that God did
not only create precious stones but demonstrated its usage. Ezekiel, in his
presentation of Lucifer under the symbol of the king of Tyre, portrayed him as
one graciously bedecked with highly priced stones (Ezekiel 28:12,13). The
passage indicates that the jewelry actually started in heaven with a “covering
cherub”.
2
It is further noted that Lucifer was the only heavenly being adorned like
that. This was since every precious stone (jewel) that Lucifer was adorned with
reflects certain characteristic of God. The gold he was ornamented with
symbolized “righteousness” (Rev 3:18; 19:8). The blue colour of his sapphire
stands for “true-blue loyalty”. (Psalm 89:2; Esther 8:5; Num 15:38,39). It then
follows that Lucifer could perfectly wear the jewels in heaven being perfect in
the beauty of character in an unfallen society dwelling in the presence of God.
3
Extra biblical sources on man’s usage of jewelry traced its origin to
superstition. Jewelries were worn not for adornment but to ward off evil forces
1
Scott Severance, “What Does the Bible Say About Jewelry?” www.scottseverance.us/ministry/jewelry.html
Assessed on 10/12/2013.
2
J. M.A Oyinloye, Jewelry and Some Christian Virtues. (Lagos, Nigeria: Emaphine Reprographics Limited,
2002), pp. 5,6.
3
Ibid. p.6.
The American Journal of Biblical Theology Volume 18(39). September 24, 2017
Opeyemi T. Oladosu
because it was superstitiously associated with magical powers. Thus wearing
of jewelry is idolatry because the wearer puts his trust in the created thing and
not the Creator. Oyinloye stresses that wearing of amethyst is believed to
prevent drunkenness and diamond was worn for strength in battle. Ruby was
for love and happiness. The jewel is also believed to protect the wearer against
betrayals and poverty. All these show that jewelry invented by man was not
strictly for beauty but for idolatrous purposes.
1
Jewelry Spoken of in a Negative Sense
In 1 Peter 3:1-6, Peter contrasts true beauty with false. He says, “your
beauty should reside, not in outward adornment the braiding of the hair, or
jewellery [sic], or dress but in the inmost centre [sic] of your being, with its
imperishable ornament, a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value in the sight
of God” (3:3,4, NEB). In other words, real beauty that lasts comes from inner
virtues, not outer appearance.
2
Further, 1 Timothy 2:9,10 says “I also [in
addition to asking men to pray] want women to dress modestly, with decency
and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but
with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship”.(NIV)
Rodriguez argues that Paul is listing a general principle in 1 Timothy 2:9a and
following it up with specific examples (braided hair, jewelry, and expensive
clothes).
3
Ellen White’s Teachings on Jewelry:
Having examined the biblical teachings on jewelry and its use, the focus
will now be on what Ellen White teaches about jewelry. Ellen White teaches
compliance with the Scriptural injunctions, avoidance of costly adornment, and
inner beauty.
1. Compliance with the Scripture: Ellen White affirms the words of
Peter in 1 Peter 3:1-6. She comments, “it is God who condescends
to give us these instructions; they are the declarations of Infinite
Wisdom, and those who disregard them do so at their own peril and
loss”.
4
White stresses, “all that we urge is compliance with the
injunctions of God’s word.
5
According to her, those who are too
1
Ibid., p.8.
2
Severance, p. 41
3
Severance, p.42.
4
E.G White, Testimonies for The Church. Vol.4, (Canada: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948) p.645.
5
Ibid., p.644.
The American Journal of Biblical Theology Volume 18(39). September 24, 2017
Opeyemi T. Oladosu
conscientious to wear jewelry are regarded as narrow-minded,
superstitious, and even fanatical.
1
2. Avoidance of Costly Adornment: White posits that Christians are not
to decorate themselves with costly array or expensive ornaments.
2
She maintains that “to dress plainly, and abstain from display of
jewelry and ornaments of every kind is in keeping with our faith”.
3
3. Inner Beauty: White posits that “there is an ornament that will never
perish, that will promote the happiness of all around us in this life,
and will shine with undimmed luster in the immortal future. It is the
adorning of a meek and lowly spirit.
4
Further, she buttresses that “the
apostle (Paul) places the outward adorning in direct contrast with a
meek and quiet spirit and then testifies of the comparative value of
the latter: ‘In the sight of God of great price’.
5
4. Wedding Ring: Mrs. White discouraged the wearing of wedding ring
except:
i. In countries where it was seen to be a matter of imperative
social obligation, and
ii. Where Christians could wear it in good conscious.
6
In Testimonies to Ministers, E .G White made the following
statements:
Some have had a burden regarding the wearing of a marriage ring, feeling
that the wives of our ministers should conform to this custom. All this is
unnecessary. Let the ministers wives have the golden link which binds their
souls to Jesus Christ, a pure and holy character, the true love and meekness
and godliness that are the fruit borne upon the Christian tree, and their
influence will be secure anywhere. We need not wear the sign, for we are not
untrue to our marriage vow, and the wearing of the ring would be no evidence
that we were true. I feel deeply over this leavening process, which seems to
be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one
penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. In
countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn
those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so
conscientiously; but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring
1
Ibid., p.645.
2
E.G White, Evangelism (Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1946) p.269.
3
Ibid.
4
Testimonies, Vol.4, p.643.
5
Ibid., p.645.
6
Oyinloye, p. 11
The American Journal of Biblical Theology Volume 18(39). September 24, 2017
Opeyemi T. Oladosu
will increase their influence one jot or title. If they are Christians, it will be
manifest in their Christ-likeness of character.
1
Admonition to the Youth:
Ellen White counsels the youth, “Dear youth, a disposition in you to
dress according to the fashion, and to wear lace and gold and artificial for
display, will not recommend to others your religion or the truth that you
profess. People of discernment will look upon your attempts to beautify the
external as proof of weak minds and proud hearts
2
.
Self Denial:
White counsels that “those who have bracelets, and wear gold and
ornaments had better take these idols from their persons and sell them, even
if it should be for much less than they gave for them, and thus practice self-
denial. Time is too short to adorn the body with gold or silver or costly
apparel”.
3
In correcting those who use jewelry, Ellen White counsels that those who seek
to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of
his love and compassion, present His example and sacrifice, reveals His
Spirit, and they need not touch the subject of dress at all. When the heart is
converted, everything that is out of harmony with the Word of God will drop
off.
4
Conclusion
It is observed that there is no express command in the Bible regarding
the use of jewelry. Likewise, it is evident from Ellen White’s writings that she
discourages the use of jewelry but encourages inner beauty which fades not
but rather glorifies God. It is good to look beautiful. However, natural beauty
without artificial enhancements is better.
1
Oyinloye, pp.11,12.
2
E.G White, Testimonies for the Church. Vol.3 (California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948) p. 376.
3
E.G White, Selected Messages, Bk 3. Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
4
White, Evangelism, p. 272.
The American Journal of Biblical Theology Volume 18(39). September 24, 2017
Opeyemi T. Oladosu
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Doug Batchelor, “Colourful Cosmetics and Jewelry,
www.amazingfacts.org/media/…/e/…/colourfulcosmetics-andjewelry.aspx
“Jewelry”, www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/christian-dress/5.html.
Oyinloye, J. M.A. Jewelry and Some Christian Virtues. Lagos, Nigeria:
Emaphine Reprographics Limited, 2002.
Scott Severance, “What Does the Bible Say About Jewelry?”
www.scottseverance.us/ministry/jewelry.html Assessed on 10/12/2013.
Siegfried, H.Horn, “Jewelry”, Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Dictionary.
Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
“What does the Bible say about: Jewelry, Make up & Other Adornments.
www.biblicalprophecies.net. (Assessed on 10/12/2013).
White, Ellen G. Testimonies for the Church. Vol.3 California: Pacific Press
Publishing Association, 1948.
________. Evangelism. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing
Association, 1946
________. Selected Messages, Bk 3. Washington, D.C: Review and Herald
Publishing Association,
1980.
________. Testimonies for The Church. Vol.4, Canada: Pacific Press
Publishing Association, 1948.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Colourful Cosmetics and Jewelry
  • Doug Batchelor
Doug Batchelor, "Colourful Cosmetics and Jewelry, www.amazingfacts.org/media/…/e/…/colourfulcosmetics-andjewelry.aspx "Jewelry", www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/christian-dress/5.html.
Jewelry and Some Christian Virtues
  • J M Oyinloye
Oyinloye, J. M.A. Jewelry and Some Christian Virtues. Lagos, Nigeria: Emaphine Reprographics Limited, 2002.
What Does the Bible Say About Jewelry
  • Scott Severance
Scott Severance, "What Does the Bible Say About Jewelry?" www.scottseverance.us/ministry/jewelry.html Assessed on 10/12/2013.
  • Ellen G White
White, Ellen G. Testimonies for the Church. Vol.3 California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948.