Is it wrong to wear wedding rings?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether it is wrong to wear wedding rings has been circulated in recent years. Wedding rings, which are widely recognized as symbols of marital commitment and fidelity, are not directly mentioned in the Bible. Therefore, any discussion on this topic requires an examination of biblical principles, historical context, and personal convictions. This essay explores the issue from a biblical perspective, using references from the Bible, and considers various arguments for and against the practice of wearing wedding rings.

Historical and Cultural Context on Wedding Rings

The tradition of exchanging wedding rings as a symbol of marriage dates back thousands of years, with origins in ancient Egypt, Rome, and other cultures. The ring’s circular shape, symbolizing eternity, and its placement on the fourth finger of the left hand, believed to have a vein directly connected to the heart, contributed to its significance as a symbol of love and commitment.

The Romans connected the giving of the wedding band to an exchange of valuables (gold and silver). They thought that this would help ensure the economic safety of the couple. With time, the wedding ring came into use in Christian ceremonies in the 9th century AD.

Biblical Times

In biblical times, there is no explicit mention of wedding rings in marriage ceremonies. However, there are references to rings as symbols of authority, wealth, and identity. For example:

  • Genesis 41:42 (NKJV): “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.”
  • Luke 15:22 (NKJV): “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.'”

In these passages, rings are used to signify status and honor, rather than marital commitment.

Biblical Principles

The Bible gives no reference that finger rings were used as betrothal rings. The signet ring is the earliest type of ring mentioned in the Bible and it was used to seal various contracts. It was a symbol of authority, dignity, and social status (Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:10,12; Luke 15:22). While the Bible does not specifically address the wearing of wedding rings, it does provide principles that can guide Christians in making decisions about cultural practices and personal adornment.

Modesty and Simplicity

The Bible encourages modesty and simplicity in personal adornment. For example:

  • 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NKJV): “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV): “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

These verses emphasize the importance of inner beauty and godliness over outward appearances and caution against an excessive focus on external adornment. The early Christian pioneers shunned the use of wedding rings along with all other jewelry out of obedience to the above scriptural commands.

Cultural Practices

The Apostle Paul addresses the issue of cultural practices and personal convictions in several of his letters. One key passage is:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (NKJV): “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”

Paul’s teaching suggests that Christians should consider whether a practice is beneficial and edifying, both for themselves and for others. This principle can be applied to the wearing of wedding rings, as it encourages believers to consider the impact of their actions on their faith community.

Arguments for Wearing Wedding Rings

Symbol of Commitment

One of the strongest arguments in favor of wearing wedding rings is that they serve as a visible symbol of marital commitment and fidelity. A wedding ring can remind the wearer and others of the solemn vows made before God and witnesses.

  • Genesis 2:24 (NKJV): “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

This passage highlights the unity and commitment inherent in marriage, which a wedding ring can symbolize.

Cultural Relevance

In many cultures, wedding rings are a widely accepted and understood symbol of marriage. Wearing a wedding ring can help communicate one’s marital status and respect societal norms.

  • Romans 13:7 (NKJV): “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

This verse supports the idea of respecting cultural customs and practices, as long as they do not conflict with biblical principles.

Arguments Against Wearing Wedding Rings

Pagan Origins

Some Christians argue against wearing wedding rings due to their origins in pagan practices. They believe that adopting symbols with pagan roots can compromise the purity of Christian worship and practices.

  • 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (NKJV): “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.'”

This passage encourages Christians to separate themselves from practices associated with idolatry and paganism.

Focus on Inward Commitment

Others argue that the true commitment of marriage is inward and spiritual, not outward and physical. They believe that wearing a ring might detract from the deeper, spiritual commitment that should characterize a Christian marriage.

  • Matthew 5:33-37 (NKJV): “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

This passage emphasizes the importance of sincerity and integrity in one’s commitments, suggesting that external symbols are secondary to the internal reality.

Personal Conviction and Christian Liberty

Ultimately, the decision to wear or not wear a wedding ring falls under the category of personal conviction and Christian liberty. The Bible provides principles but allows for individual discernment and conscience.

Respecting Different Convictions

Christians are called to respect each other’s convictions on disputable matters. Paul addresses this in his letter to the Romans:

  • Romans 14:5-6 (NKJV): “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.”

This passage encourages believers to be fully convinced in their own minds and to respect others’ convictions, recognizing that each person seeks to honor God in their own way.

Avoiding Judgment

Paul also warns against judging others over disputable matters, emphasizing the need for unity and love within the Christian community:

  • Romans 14:10-13 (NKJV): “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

This passage encourages Christians to avoid causing others to stumble by imposing their own convictions and to focus on building up one another in love.

Conclusion

The Bible does not provide explicit instructions regarding the wearing of wedding rings, leaving the decision to individual conviction guided by biblical principles. While some may argue against wearing wedding rings due to their pagan origins or a preference for focusing on inward commitment, others find them to be a meaningful symbol of marital fidelity and an accepted cultural practice.

Biblical principles such as modesty, respect for cultural customs, and personal conviction all play a role in this decision. Ultimately, Christians are called to make choices that honor God, edify the community, and reflect their personal faith. Whether one chooses to wear a wedding ring or not, the emphasis should be on the sincerity and integrity of their commitment to their spouse and to God. As Paul advises, let each person be fully convinced in their own mind and respect the convictions of others, fostering unity and love within the body of Christ.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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