Is it necessary?
Wearing Ornaments has become a perplexing subject to most of the believers. Nevertheless, it is a very silly problem, when we consider the great Salvation the Lord has given on the cross of Calvary, by giving up His own precious life. When we think of ourselves some thing great, only then we face such problems. If we have really experienced the great salvation with all its depth and value, there will not be such questions. All these occur because of the shallowness in spiritual life.
Nothing of God's creation is an abomination to us. God creates gold, silver, and all kinds of metals. If we use it for its own purpose, it is not at all an abomination. Even if we wear very simple crystal or steel ornaments for our pomp and pride, it may be a sin. We do not hate any metals. But every kind of metal has its own use. It is not for hanging on our body for display. Such practice will only lead us into trouble and harm. Â“I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earthÂ” Ezekiel 7:21. It is also the same with our apparels. We should not use our apparels for a display before others, but dress modestly. Â“I also 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 GodÂ” I Timothy 2:9,10.
I. Arguments from Creation
1. God formed Adam and Eve out of the dust, and clothed them with His glory. However, when they had sinned against God, they lost their heavenly glory and became naked. Genesis 3:7, Romans 3:23. They tried to cover their nakedness with the Leaves of the Fig Tree, but it ended in vain. The Lord made skin coats for them. But He did not adorn them with any kind of ornaments. There were plenty of jewels and pearls near the bank of the river Pishon. Genesis 2: 11,12. But God did not use any such things to adorn them. This shows that God never expected man to wear ornaments.
2. GodÂ’s works are perfect and beautiful. Ecclesiastes. 3:11. He does not need any bodies help or support to complete His work. He never does a mistake, which has to be rectified. When people pierce their ears and noses to hang ornaments, they are truly challenging the perfect ness of GodÂ’s handiwork. It is a rebellion against God.
3. Lucifer was the handiwork of God. He was created with all kinds of pearls and jewels with splendor and glory. But because of his beauty and glory, he exalted himself than God, and that caused him to fall. This destined him to eternal damnation. Isaiah 14: 11f , Ezekiel 28:11f. But God created man out of the dust of the earth, so that he may be humble before God. When we realize that we are just dust and worm, then the Lord will lift us up to the heavenly abode and make us to reside in the golden streets of New Jerusalem. Therefore, we have two options before us. Either we can choose the path of Lucifer or the will of the heavenly Father. What would you like to choose?
II. Arguments from History
1. Through the ages, man invented various ways and means to cover up their nakedness, after their fall. They tried leaves and barks of trees and bushes as ornaments hanged from neck to foot, to cover their nakedness, irrespective of their sex. Later on, there occurred various changes and alteration according to the modern inventions and discoveries. After the invention of metals, they began to use metals in the place of leaves and barks. Later they found some mysterious power in certain metals, which they used for protection from evil powers. Among such metals are gold, silver, and certain pearls. Thus, the use of metal ornaments came to existence. (Malayalam Encyclopedia. Refer ornaments)
2. Later, ornaments were used to display their pomp and pride. Ezekiel. 7:20. But God wants man to be humble before God. He grants grace to the humble. James 4:6. Thus, ornaments became a cause to sin. Ezekiel 7:19. If it is a stumbling to a believer, then it must be abhorred.
3. Wearing of ornaments has a pagan origin. People believed that all jewels and gems have some mystical power, which can protect them from evil powers. A young man who is fallen in love with a girl will put on her an ornament or ring, which will bring her spirit in to his control. 1 For the fulfillment of desires, people wore some kind of bang lets and rings.
4. Wearing ornaments has some Astrological effects. Astrologers believe that certain gems have some mystical influences on certain planets, which can bring good and evil on human beings.
The following chart depicts each planet and the jewels.
The Sun: a diamond or sapphire set in a ring of gold.
The Moon: a crystal in silver ring.
Mercury: a Â‘magnetÂ’ set in quicksilver.
Mars: an emerald in an iron ring.
Jupiter: a cornelian set in tin.
Venus: an amethyst in copper ring.
Saturn: a turquoise set in lead.
Therefore, wearing ornaments associates men with some superstitious beliefs and its influences. The major encyclopedias I have consulted have lengthy articles describing the superstitious use of finger rings and ornaments as charms, amulets, talismans, and as aids to the worship of various pagan gods. Wearing ornaments, thus become a kind of idol worship.
5. When we study the history of the Church, the early period, we see any apparent use of ornaments. Apostle Peter and John said to the Lame man, at the temple gate, that they did not have any silver or gold. Acts 3:6. They led a life of simplicity. Later, when the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian, Christianity became Royal. Believers became rich. Priests got all kinds of royal privileges. Churches were turned into big Cathedrals. People transferred their religion without any transformation of heart. Thus, all kinds of alien practices crept into the church. People lived with all their pomp and proud. They left the life of simplicity of the early church.
6. One of the prominent Canons of the Orthodox Church, known as Hudaya canon, states that when one is baptized, ornaments should be removed. In fact, such an act clearly implies, wearing of ornaments was strictly prohibited in the early churches. 4
III. Arguments from the Old Testament
1. We find in the Old Testament that ornaments were a stumble to worship God. When God commanded Jacob and his family to go to Bethel and worship God, they removed all the earrings and idols and buried it under an oak tree. Genesis 35:1-7. If it was a stumbling to Jacob to worship God, how much more to the New Testament believers!!
2. Israelites on their exodus, the women removed their earrings and made a golden calf of idol to be worshiped. It was become a great sin against God. Their ornaments became idols to them. Exodus Chapter 32. What is an idol to the New Testament believers? Â“A greedy man is an idolater.Â” Ephesians 5:5 Â“Greed is idolatry.Â” Colossians 3:5. If we love anything more strongly than Jesus Christ, it is an idol to the New Testament believer. Matthew 10:37. If, ornaments become an obstacle to love Jesus, for them ornaments are their idols. Idolatry is a great sin that God hates so much. If it is so, a New Testament believer should avoid ornaments.
3. For the people of Israelites, Ornaments was an obstacle for GodÂ’s presence. Â“When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments.Â” For the Lord had commanded Moses: Â“Tell the Israelites, Â‘you are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.Â” So, the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb. Exodus 33:4-6. This commandment was given not at this very moment. But, it was a commandment already given to Moses. If the people of Israel needed the presence of God, they had to remove the ornaments. According to the commandment of the Lord, they stripped off all their ornaments. Then, why cannot we, the New Testament believers follow that clear-cut commandment?
4. Bible says that, if our prayers are to be answered, we have to remove the ornaments. Â“Cast your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines. Then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him and He will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. Job 22:24-27. When Jesus is our gold, do we need any other gold? When we delight in Jesus, do we delight in gold? When we give importance to Jesus, only then He will answer our prayer.
5. Prophets of Israel strictly condemned the pomp and pride of Israel. Isaiah 3:18-26; Ezekiel 7:19-21. Their Jewry became their idol and caused them to do sin. If it was a cause of sin for Israel, how much more we have to avoid such kinds obstacles from our life?
IV. Arguments from New Testament
1. New Testament vindicates the vanity of using ornaments. Instead, it recommends using the ornaments of good works, gentle and quiet spirit, which are so great worth in GodÂ’s sight. I Timothy 2:10, I Peter 3:3; 1:18,19. We do not see any apparent use of ornaments in the early apostolic church. Rather, it is evident that they were very poor. Even Apostle Peter confessed that they were without silver and gold. Acts 3:6. Though, we are blessed materially, it is healthier to continue the simplicity of the early Church.
2. Apostle Paul gives a clear-cut commandment to avoid ornaments and expensive clothing. Â“I also 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 GodÂ” 1 Timothy 2:9,10.
3. Apostle Peter also gives a crystal-clear commandment to abhor all kinds of external decorations and fashions, instead internal beauty is strongly recommended. Â“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in GodÂ’s sightÂ” 1 Peter 3:3,4.
4. The Great Whore of the Book of Revelation is dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. We are sure that She is the counterfeit Church. Revelation 17:4. However, the original Church, the BRIDE OF CHRIST is dressed in Fine Linen, bright and clean. Revelation 19:7,8. Therefore, it is reasonable for a true believer to avoid all types of valuable clothes and ornaments, which display our pride and pomp.
5. According to the New Testament, if we love anything more than Jesus Christ is idol worship. Mathew 10:37. Â“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of meÂ…Â” Â“Greed, which is idolatryÂ”. Colossians 3:5. If so, if we love ornaments and obstinate to avoid it is idol worship. Nothing should be an obstacle to love Jesus Christ, for a New Testament believer.
V. Argument from Practical life.
We live in a crooked and wicked World. Life is not safe or secure. We see everyday looting and kidnapping. The main reasons for all these kind of violence are wealth and gold. A Malayalam Poet wrote like this: Kanakam moolam kamini moolam kalaham palavitham ulahil sulabham. Gold and Girl are the main causes for all kinds of wickedness. Therefore, for a safe and secured life it is wise to avoid all kinds of ornaments. Wearing ornaments will attract anti-social elements to us, which will be led to looting and murdering. Therefore, from the practical point of view, wearing ornaments should be avoided.
VI. Argument from Economics
According to Economics, utility and essentiality is the base for any commodity. Food is essential. Clothing is essential. A cottage is essential, a watch is useful, and a sandal is useful. Wearing ornament is not essential or useful. Instead, it brings harm and trouble to us. If we display ornaments on our body will not bring any benefit, instead if we invest it in a bank will bring interest. More over constant use of ornaments will decrease its value. Therefore, economically, wearing ornament is unnecessary for our day-to-day use.
VII. Some doubts and its Answers
1. Why God commanded Israelites to borrow jewelry from the people of Egypt, on their exodus? It is a good question. For the last four hundred years, people of Israel were in Egypt. Pharaoh tortured them, by making them hard labor. But they had never been paid. God never lets His people go unpaid. Though God commanded the people of Israel to borrow ornaments, the incident shows that the people of Egypt gave them ornaments by their own will. Exodus 12:35,36. I believe, at this very moment, God commanded Moses to tell the people of Israel, that they should not wear ornaments if God wanted to go with them. Exodus 33: 5. Despite of the commandment of the Lord, they began to wear ornaments, which cause them to do a great sin before God. Exodus chapter 32. God had an ultimate purpose for this jewelry; it was to build the Tabernacle.
2. Some question that Eliazer the steward of Abraham had given Rebecca golden jewelry, the bride of Isaac, and then why cannot we use ornaments to the brides. This is a good question. One thing we should know before we ask this question. The Old Testament Scripture is just a shadow of things to come. Hebrew 10:1, Romans 15:4. Though those events are historical facts, yet, we teach that Abraham, Isaac, Eliazer, and Rebecca are types for the New Testament. Abraham is a type of God the Father, Isaac as Jesus Christ, Eliazer as the Holy Spirit, and Rebecca the Church. Then, the ornaments given to Rebecca by Eliazer are the type of Holy SpiritÂ’s gifts to the church. Therefore, we cannot take it as literal ornaments in the New Testament period.
3. Another question comes from the story of the prodigal son. When the prodigal returned to his father, he was given a ring to his finger, then why we cannot use a ring. This is a parable told by our Lord Jesus Christ to reflect a spiritual fact. The Father is the Heavenly Father and the prodigal son is the sinner. When the prodigal son returned home he regained his the son-ship. The ring is the guarantee of his son-ship. The same way, when man is alienated from God, he lost his son-ship. When he returns to the Lord regains it. Our guarantee is not a literal golden ring, but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:16,17.
4. There is another argument from James Chapter Two verse two to four. Â“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, Â“Here is good seat for you,Â” but say to the poor man, Â“You stand thereÂ” or Â“sit on the floor by my feet,Â” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? They argue that in the early church, believers attended the worship service, wearing ornaments and valuable clothes, then why cannot we use ornaments. When we study this portion, we understand that it is speaking about discrimination in the church meeting. Here Apostle James is not speaking about a believer, but showing an example. These two persons are not believers, but two examples brought from outside. When people come from out side, we should not show any partiality or discrimination irrespective of poor or rich. Therefore, this topic does not teach to wear ornaments.
5. Some argue that the abhorrence of jewelry is only practiced among the Malayalee Pentecostals. In all the other places, even Pentecostals use ornaments. Are the Malayalee-Pentecostals the only perfect believers? No, this is wrong information. I heard from an American missionary that there are certain groups in the United States, who strictly abhors ornaments and sit on floor for their worship services. We never go after the majority but stick on the Scripture. Refer the book of Samuele Bacchiocchi, Christian dress and Adornment, United States.
6. Some people ask, Â“Why canÂ’t we use at least a wedding ring?Â” All over the world, People use ring as symbol of marriage covenant. Then why we, Pentecostal do not use it. This is a good question. There are various culture and practices around the World. However, we need not to follow all those things. We should not follow the majority also. The Scripture is our final authority. Follow it carefully. Wearing a Ring is not the guarantee to a strong married life. Unless a couple is tied with the cord of love, their married life will be a failure. The following points will prove the futility of the marital ring.
VIII. Origin of Wedding ring
These points are quoted from the Book of Samule Becchocche, an American Writer, and a Pastor.
a. The origin of finger ring is shrouded in pagan mythology and idolatrous practices. To invest a pagan symbol with a sacred Christian meaning can easily lead to the secularization of the symbol itself.
b. The Romans introduced the use of a plain iron ring to Â“tieÂ” the betrothal commitment of two lovers. However, that plain iron betrothal ring soon evolved into elaborate gold rings used to cover all the fingers.
c. There are three stages evolved in the Christian churches as happened in the Roman pagan world. In the first stage of the apostolic period, there was no apparent use of the marital ring. In the second stage of the third centuries, there was a restricted use of only one plain inexpensive conjugal ring. In the final stage from the fourth century onward, there was a proliferation of all kinds of ornamental rings and jewelry.
d. What happened in the early church has been repeated in modern denominations. In the first stage, no jewelry or wedding rings was allowed. In the second stage, a concession was made for wearing the wedding ring. In the final stage, the concession to wear the marital ring became a pretext for wearing all kinds of jewelry, including ornamental rings.
e. Â“MinnuÂ” is the marital symbol of Kerala Christians. It has a pagan origin. The shape of minnu is like CobraÂ’s hood. It is borrowed from Â“Hindu thaliÂ”. (Yuhanon Marthoma Metrapolita). Therefore, it is not Biblical.
It is quite clear that the early Church believers never used wedding rings as a symbol of marriage, nor we see any reference in the apostolic writings. It is a practice crept into the church after the third century, when the church became regal under the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine.
What happened in the Christendom will be repeated in Pentecostalism also. In the initial stage of Pentecostal movement, no such wedding ring or ornaments were allowed in the church. Now a day, such practices are crept into the Church here and there. If we relax in this regard, it will drag away the Church from its original purity and separation. The Church worship will be turned to a time of fashion parade. Therefore, it is wise to stick on the initial practice of Pentecostalism.
The New Testament as well as the Old Testament strongly abhors the use of ornaments and expensive apparels to display oneÂ’s pomp and pride, which is a great sin.
I would like to conclude it with an illustration. Once a little child put her hands into a crystal flower vase, which had a very narrow neck. So, she could not take her hand out. Since the vase was beautiful and valuable , she could not break it also. Her parents and neighbors tried their level best to remove her hand out of the vase, but all the efforts ended in vain. There was an intelligent man, who was watching everything. He took a golden coin out of his pocket, and showed it to the child. Suddenly they heard a Â‘clingÂ’ sound in the vase and the childÂ’s hand came out of it. In their surprise, they noticed a Ten Penny in the bottom of the vase. The child was catching hold of that ten penny for all this time. Therefore, she could not take her hand out. When she saw the golden coin, some thing better, and valuable than the ten penny, she dropped the penny and caught hold of the golden coin. The same way, when we recognize the heavenly glory as something great and valuable, we will not argue for this one caret of gold. The matter is that, one who truly realized the great redemption and its value may not cling on this ornaments or anything such. If Jesus could, gave up his own life for each one of us, why cannot we abhor all that belongs to the perishing world??