Earrings in the Bible
The first mention of earrings is found in Genesis 35:1-4. This tells of when Jacob was instructed by God to take his family to Bethel. There, they were to be presented at the altar of the Lord. However, before they could be consecrated at that place of holiness, Jacob was given a very specific command. His household was told to “put away the strange gods that are among you… And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all the earrings which were in their ears: and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.”
Here, God’s people were asked to simply put away strange or false gods. In this process they removed their earrings from their ears. This brings up a connection between earrings and false gods. Earrings is connected with sin in this case appears to be the worship of self-adornment as a false god. This is similar to the proudful Israel that God judges (Isaiah 3:16-20).
Under similar circumstances a reformation took place in Exodus 33:1-6. Before entering the promised land, God told the Israelites, “I will come up into the midst of thee…therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee…And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the Mount Horeb” (Exodus 33:5, 6). They were required to strip off the ornaments before they could enter the Promised Land. So, was earrings a sin? Why did they have to strip it off?
In the New Testament, Paul wrote, “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 Timothy 2:9, 10). Paul commends women who profess godliness to not wear gold or pearls. This includes earrings made of these materials.
Peter wrote in much the same manner, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of 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” (1 Peter 3:1-4). The apostle’s words give heed to wearing of gold, such as earrings, which can lead to sin such as pride. Instead, Peter promotes the inner beauty which has eternal value.
The Real Issue
The wearing of ornaments in Scripture is associated with a focus on self rather than God. In the Old Testament, Hosea the prophet said that sinful Israel, “decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD” (Hosea 2:13). The New Testament writer John describes the scarlet woman of sin as “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls” (Revelation 17:4). By contrast, the true church is depicted in Revelation 12:1 as a beautiful woman clothed with the glory of the sun and without ornaments.
Any unnecessary adornment, such as earrings, has a tendency to lead to pride. Earrings in and of themselves may not be a sin, but they can lead to sinful behavior. The time and means invested in outward adorning replaces that which could be devoted to godly things. God desires our whole heart. May God’s people use every opportunity to glorify Him and not self.
“…whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In His service,