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Author Topic: Wedding Rings  (Read 22133 times)

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Bob Pickle

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2010, 05:30:32 PM »

The fact of the matter is that both historically and today, the wearing of jewelry cannot be separated from pagan worship.

I believe that you can find other items also that are connected with both pagan worship and the Lord's people.  What about the use of altars in Old Testament times?

I don't think that is a good comparison. But it is helpful to note that God was very specific about what the Israelite altars were supposed to be like. They couldn't just have any kind of altar.

People in India still worship their jewelry today, and people in this country still attribute occultic powers to jewelry, just like has been done for millennia.

We can find plenty of reasons why we should obey the Lord on this matter, or, if we want to, we can find plenty of reasons to disregard His instruction.
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Murcielago

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2010, 07:09:46 PM »

So fundamentally what we arrive at is that there is no Biblical injuntion against the wearing of jewelry?
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tinka

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2010, 07:53:42 PM »

Like i said everyone that wants to enjoy it --wear it. You won't be taking it with you either way. There is plenty of and more then plenty that shows what God's will is against it. All the down falls, pit falls and it is definitely amazing that to be an adventist in this day and time. EGW felt it was bad enough then and she really thought Jesus would come quicker then this generation. But I put her talk like she portrayed it in her day and of course it brought out the jesting of it. I figured it would. but I know her writing was in the same sphere as John the Revelator as in future visions he only knew to call the last people as the 12 tribes that messengers would be sent to. Now in reality, in these latter days, the tribes are scattered everywhere and who knows what lands but God knew where all tribes of all people from all generations are scattered and told John there would be messengers sent and were sealed in past tense for latter time for future purposes. So poor John he could only present his vision from what he knew in his day.and the rest of us can just figure it out --with all good sense.  That is the way of wearing of the gold. it presents reasoning everywhere.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2010, 07:57:35 PM by tinka »
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princessdi

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #33 on: April 30, 2010, 08:42:19 PM »

The short and correct answer is a resounding "yes!".  But hey why let the truth get in the way of a good discussion.  LOL!!!

So fundamentally what we arrive at is that there is no Biblical injuntion against the wearing of jewelry?
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It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world.  If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty. - Mohandas K. Gandhi

Little Grasshopper

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #34 on: April 30, 2010, 09:09:40 PM »

Early Adventists borrowed the belief from the Puritans.

Here's the source for the following quote:

http://wedding-traditions.suite101.com/article.cfm/history_of_wedding_rings_in_the_united_states

"During early colonization, Puritans did not wear any jewelry, including wedding rings, because they believed that excess adornment of the body was a sin. In addition Puritan culture eliminated the need for marital identification since adultery was punishable by death and thus rarely occurred."

For political purposes, Adventists don't point to the true source for the "no wedding ring" doctrinal belief because public executions for adultery have lost their popularity these days.

However, the next time someone starts telling you about how they want to save the "traditional marriage" be sure to factor in the accompanying need to save the "traditional execution" of the adulterer -- or the execution of someone out-of-favor who is merely accused of such.
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Bob Pickle

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2010, 05:40:04 AM »

I think Peter and Paul's admonitions qualify as being God's instruction to Christians against wearing jewelry.

If the absence of more explicit commands seems to some to permit indulgence, shall we own slaves if we cannot find just as explicit a prohibition in Scripture against slavery?

The short and correct answer is a resounding "yes!".  But hey why let the truth get in the way of a good discussion.  LOL!!!

So fundamentally what we arrive at is that there is no Biblical injuntion against the wearing of jewelry?
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tinka

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2010, 06:22:09 AM »

A justify er of ones own theories can come up with every man made written article they can produce to get the meaning they want to believe. That is typical. They do the same thing as the snake handlers when out of context. The lawyers also do this in courts of law by using other cases heard instead of each individual truth statistics to win there cases. So there really is no point in a conversation of right or wrong when the answer is plain before your eyes in many many places in scripture.  The articles to believe were from Paul of the Bible and the SP where we were shown the pit falls of lost salvation through vanity & stewardship of moneyand putting forth no sacrifice of ones own desires of vanity.  As far as the Puritans goes they were right in one thing and they read correctly about adornment but the rest was written by some one similar to what posts on here. Just someones view!  Did you ever read what outsiders say about the Adventist. They wright we are a cult. Is that true. No! I am beginning to see that maybe not all are true Adventist posters on here but sound as Adversaries.

and Di it comes again to me as before, are you sure you should be a Sabbath school teacher? Your views are very liberal opinionated and do not back up with scripture your beliefs and you really have a problem with calling sin what it is. Actually, your immediate conversations are always justifying wrong doing to many topics. and you have had a lot of difficulty understanding the documents presented on the 3abn saga as you do not read before you speak and I have to say that several have been extremely polite in explaining over and over what you really do not venture in to know for your self.  

Character really has come out in posts and I find quite interesting. I do not hide my character and realize the opposition does not like it. I admit when I am wrong and did not put together a scenario correctly but will stand up for what is right as long as the documents prove it. My mind is open to all truth but when you get adversary to Bibical and SP and jesting of EGW words then I can come loose as I realize that many may watch that do not post and afraid that some will get wrong doctrine of "everything goes in this walk of life". and the adversary is just not going to get away with it.

a simpleton knows that "vanity will not get you into the gates. Does it say that your riches will go with you to Heaven? OF course not but you got the jest that it will not. So why get around it the best you all can come up with.
No jewelry is scriptural. No wedding rings! Enjoy if you choose, That may be all the enjoyment you will get. Why gamble, why take the chance why be a stumbling block to someone else that you will be accounted for.
Jesting of bonnets as you do a follow up of ....YEEEESSS!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2010, 06:30:38 AM by tinka »
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Murcielago

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2010, 09:53:04 AM »

"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 God." 1Timothy 2:9,10

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 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 God's sight." 1Peter 3:1-4

These passages are clearly talking about beauty coming from being clothed in good deeds and attitude rather than nice hair and apparel. They do not forbid the use of jewlery, braided hair, or nice clothes, but state that a woman's true beauty should come from good deeds, and a gentle, quiet spirit. I notice that both passages speak of braided hair and fine clothes in the same context as jewelry. Should braids then be forbidden to Christians? In the debate over jewelry I don't recall any equal fervor over braided hair.
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tinka

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2010, 01:02:44 PM »

Yes, it is a little confusing..to some
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Johann

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2010, 01:45:26 PM »

Back in 1954 during the summer session at Emmanuel Missionary College when most of the students were gone a number of foreign delegates on their way to the General Conference Session in California stopped by the college and asked if they could stay overnight at the dormitory. The dean asked some of these ordained ministers if they were really Seventh-day Adventists and they said they were.

- But you wear rings? he protested.

- We only wear wedding rings like all of our married members do where we come from, replied one of them.

Male college staff  sporting expensive watches, golden cuff links, and selected tie clasps as well as some female staff in dresses and make up resembling highly decorated Christmas trees were judging these fellow believers because they were wearing simple wedding rings on their fingers. These American superior Adventists knew the Spirit of Prophecy writings well enough to avoid placing anything on their fingers. By placing all of their decorations elsewhere they felt certain they were pleasing the Lord.

Such is life.

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Bob Pickle

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2010, 06:14:19 PM »

"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 God." 1Timothy 2:9,10

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 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 God's sight." 1Peter 3:1-4

These passages are clearly talking about beauty coming from being clothed in good deeds and attitude rather than nice hair and apparel. They do not forbid the use of jewlery, braided hair, or nice clothes, but state that a woman's true beauty should come from good deeds, and a gentle, quiet spirit.

I think these passages are clearly telling us to stay away from jewelry, "expensive clothes," and elaborate hairdos.
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Harley

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2010, 11:43:13 AM »

"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 God." 1Timothy 2:9,10

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 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 God's sight." 1Peter 3:1-4

These passages are clearly talking about beauty coming from being clothed in good deeds and attitude rather than nice hair and apparel. They do not forbid the use of jewlery, braided hair, or nice clothes, but state that a woman's true beauty should come from good deeds, and a gentle, quiet spirit.

I think these passages are clearly telling us to stay away from jewelry, "expensive clothes," and elaborate hairdos.

I thought when Ellen White wrote about wedding rings it was not the custom to wear them in America, but was in other countries, so she said it wasn't necessary here but could be excused there. It is the custom here now though.

When I was married I wore a wedding band. It was not fancy. It was not expensive. I didn't wear it as a decoration. I didn't wear it to be beautiful. It was a tool. I wore it to tell men I was taken. I did that because our society expects it and  I worked with the public and lots of strangers.  When I didn't men tried to flirt with me and ask me out. It is not good to tempt people or cause them to sin.

Do you think that was a sin for me to wear a wedding band?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 11:47:45 AM by Harley »
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Harley

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2010, 11:57:23 AM »

"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 God." 1Timothy 2:9,10

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 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 God's sight." 1Peter 3:1-4

These passages are clearly talking about beauty coming from being clothed in good deeds and attitude rather than nice hair and apparel. They do not forbid the use of jewlery, braided hair, or nice clothes, but state that a woman's true beauty should come from good deeds, and a gentle, quiet spirit. I notice that both passages speak of braided hair and fine clothes in the same context as jewelry. Should braids then be forbidden to Christians? In the debate over jewelry I don't recall any equal fervor over braided hair.

I don't recall ever hearing any discussion about why men wear ties, or suits, or why they are considered appropriate when the subject of women's dress and styles comes up either. Aren't suits a subject of fashion and the times also?  I always thought ties were stupid and unnecessary and just a decoration ;) I also think men who want their wives to dress like pilgrims or a puritan (like Ellen White in her day) need to follow that same dress code and not expose the shape of their buttocks, shoulders or chests to public view, or their arms or throat. Buy a long coat, get a hat, cover your arms, don't expose your throat, sweat to death, etc. Lead your woman by example! Be strange, draw attention to yourself, be a laughingstock and then try and call that being modest and humble, when it's the opposite.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 12:04:40 PM by Harley »
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tinka

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2010, 12:21:26 PM »

Have not our sisters sufficient zeal and moral courage to place themselves without excuse upon the Bible platform? The apostle has given most explicit directions on this point: I will therefore . . . 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." Here the Lord, through His apostle, speaks expressly against the wearing of gold. Let those who have had experience see to it that they do not lead others astray on this point by their example. That ring encircling your finger may be very plain, but it is useless, and the wearing of it has a wrong influence upon others.  {4T 630.1}
It is not where man has decided what was revelant but what the word of God says and the SP.
The red is all I need for my knowledge that states what is right in the eyes of God. The rest is sure "Vanity". How can it not be but ones own justifications.

I think in Early Writings she give one of the most important views of wearing the gold and taking the chance on your own reasoning for it. I will have to look it up. It was at her baptism as she commented on the other women not giving up their rings that she was baptised with. To me there is no other excuse for it. It is plain enough for me. I have never worn a wedding band and neither has my husband and we do not have to prove our marriage by gold other then promise to God and signed documents.
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Harley

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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2010, 02:57:10 PM »

Tinka, this may help you. It did me. :) Part one (it's too big to post all of it)

THE WEDDING BAND, ELLEN G. WHITE,
AND THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH

A Few Personal Observations by Roger W. Coon
Former Associate Secretary
Ellen G. White Estate
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

INTRODUCTION
     1.    Immediately upon the adjournment of the 1986 Annual Council Session of the General Conference at world headquarters in Washington, D.C., at 12 noon on Nov. 11, the "year-end meeting" of the North American Division Committee was convened (at 1:30 p.m.) to transact the business of this Division of the world field.
          

a.
   The first substantive issue to be discussed was the question of Division policy concerning jewelry/adornment in general, and the wedding band in particular.
          

b.
   The "lively" debate of three hours duration focused largely upon whether candidates for baptism and church membership should be permitted to continue wearing a "simple"[non-jewelry] wedding band if such had been their practice before. (1) [See Appendix A]
               (1)    Some 14 years earlier the General Conference Officers and North American Union Conference Presidents had met (on Oct. 2) prior to the opening of the 1972 Annual Council, to consider how the church in North America should relate to the growing practice of members wearing the wedding band.
               (2)    They reaffirmed their opposition to the wearing of ornamental jewelry (and an action to that effect was taken subsequently by the 1972 Annual Council).
               (3)    They voted a non-binding Statement of "Counsel Regarding the Wedding Band in North America" which:
                    

(a) Recognized that some conscientious SDA Christians felt that cultural conditions in North America were substantially different from those obtaining on this continent in 1892 when EGW counseled Americans not to wear the wedding band, but added that she would not condemn those living in countries where the custom was culturally obligatory from so doing.(2)
                    

(b) Recognized that there existed no prohibition to the wearing of a simple wedding band in the Bible, the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, or the S.D.A. Church Manual.
(c) Recognized an "apparent" consensus still existing in North America which made little or no distinction between the wedding band and ornamental jewelry.
(d) Urged SDA ministers to continue discouraging the wearing of the wedding band among their church members in North America.
(e) Instructed SDA ministers not to perform ring ceremonies at weddings of members in North America.
(f) Yet, finally, took "the position that a person who on the basis of conscience feels Obligated to wear a plain wedding band should not be denied baptism."(3)
          

c.
   After more than "two dozen speeches, remarks, and declarations," many still opposing any liberalization from the previous de facto total ban against SDA church members wearing a wedding band in North America, a resolution reaffirming the 1972 counsel statement was adopted as church policy in North America, along with continuing explicit opposition to the wearing of ornamental jewelry and an "appeal for a commitment to simplicity in lifestyle . . . to halt the rising tide of worldly attitudes and practices" of recent years.(4) [See Appendix B]
     2.    Publication of this policy, known to be controversial when it was adopted, resulted in an expected hue and cry of opposition by ultra conservative elements within the church, whose statements were generally characterized as strident (if not bellicose and belligerent), highly emotional, and not well supported factually.
          

a.
   Much of the argumentation of the opposition was based upon four assumptions, none of which is true:
               (1)    That Ellen White, during her lifetime [1827-1915] consistently forbade the wearing of any wedding band at any time and in any place within the SDA Church, that she classed the simple non-jeweled wedding band in the category of ornamental jewelry, and that she wrote extensively and repeatedly against the practice of the wearing of the wedding band.
               (2)    That the General Conference, from its earliest days, adopted an official policy against the wearing of any wedding band, and that this policy continued until the 1986 action in Washington which overturned more than a century of precedent to the contrary.
               (3)    That the SDA Church Manual historically always reflected the GC policy against wearing wedding bands, until it was forced to reverse itself by the more recent liberalization policy.
               (4)    That the wearing of a simple, non-jeweled wedding band in North America is now no longer to be discouraged by pastors in that Division of the world field.
     3.    What are the demonstrable facts?
          

a.
   Ellen White:
               

(1)
   Recognized that in her day the custom of wearing a wedding band was considered de rigueur throughout the British Empire, Europe, and in many other parts of the world—a cultural imperative—and she accepted the status quo as applicable to SDAs in such places.
               

 
   

(a) In this particular context EGW did not equate the wedding band with articles of ornamental jewelry proscribed by Scripture.
(b) She reproved a Swiss SDA minister as being an extremist for publicly urging SDA married women in his country to remove their wedding bands because he viewed them as jewelry.
(c) She voiced no objection to the wearing of a wedding band by her future daughter in-law, when asked counsel by the young woman (an SDA) prior to her marriage to widower Elder William C. White in Australia, in 1895; and the couple were subsequently married in a ring ceremony in the State of Tasmania.
               

(2)
   Wrote once (and only once) on the subject, in 1892, in a testimony addressed jointly to SDA church members and SDA missionaries from North America resident in Australia, in which she:
                    

(a) Told the Americans they did not need to wear it in Australia because it was not then a custom of imperative obligation in America, and that Australians would understand that distinction; and
(b) Told Australians she had no disposition to condemn them (or others living in a country where the custom was "imperative") if—in such places—the SDA Christian could wear it in good conscience.
          

b.
   The General Conference:
               

(1)
   Has never explicitly addressed the question of the rightness or wrongness of SDA Christian church members wearing a wedding band, as such; in countries where it is considered a matter of imperative social, cultural obligation, it "had no disposition to condemn."
                    

(a) From 1925 through 1986 it has asked SDA ministers not to perform ring ceremonies.
          

c.
   The SDA Church Manual, reflecting the position of the General Conference (for which it serves as the official "constitution"), has referred to the wedding band in only two ways in its entire history:
               (1)    From 1932 to 1951 it reiterated the 1925 Annual Council action which looked "with disfavor upon the ring ceremony" at, SDA weddings, and
               (2)    From 1951 to 1986—the most recent edition—it recognized that in places where the wearing of a wedding band was deemed a matter of imperative social, cultural obligation the church "had no disposition to condemn this practice." [See Appendix C]
               (3)    The Church Manual will not necessarily be affected by the 1986 NAD policy action because the CM speaks for the world church, whereas the NAD policy seeks to apply an unchanged GC policy to the North American field.
          

d.
   The 1986 NAD policy reaffirmed the recommendation ("counsel") voted by the GC Officers and North American Union Conference Presidents in 1972, that in North America "we discourage the use of the wedding band" in SDA churches; and that "discouragement" is still the official policy of the church in North America.
               (1)    The only thing that changed in 1986 was that the wearing of a simple wedding band would now no longer be a bar to baptism and/or church membership.
     4.    For the past two decades, especially, the question of "to-wear-or-not-to-wear" has increasingly polarized congregations (especially in North America, where the issue is most acute).
          a.    It has threatened the life and vitality of the local church in many places.
          b.    Churches have been sundered, with "a great gulf fixed" between two opposing camps.
               (1)    Members often tend to defend their personal position to the death.
               (2)    Such tend not to listen to fellow members with opposing views, and to dismiss out of hand evidence and arguments offered by such.
               (3)    The result is two sides not talking to—but, rather, past—each other, a virtual "dialogue of the deaf."
               (4)    And they tend to consign opponents to hopeless oblivion.
          c.    As a result, the topic has been artificially (and unnecessarily) inflated to an importance vis-a-vis the subject of salvation, all out of proportion to that which it properly deserves; and other important issues, of greater significance, which should be discussed, are either relegated to the background, or are not considered at all.
     5.    This presentation, therefore, does not purport to be either the "General Conference position," nor the "White Estate position."
          a.    Rather, it represents the present thinking of one minister, as he reflects upon experiences and problems with which he has had to deal in the past 40 years of service to his church. I here speak only for myself.
          b.    My own personal policy—and practice—in North America, for the past four decades has been consistently to discourage the wearing of the wedding band by members and candidates for baptism and membership, for reasons which I think are still rational, valid, and compelling.
               (1)    And, after having made the approach which I share later in this paper, I have yet to be turned down for the first time!
          c.    I have, however, increasingly resisted efforts of those who share my conviction that compelling arguments may still be offered for the non-wearing in North America, where such have gone about their task:
               (1)    In what (for me) is the "wrong" way, rather than the "right," and
               (2)    Using what (for me) are "bad" reasons/arguments, rather than the "good."
          d.    Neither I nor my wife have ever owned or worn a wedding band, though we lived in another culture on another continent for 12 years, and though we have both traveled and worked since on all six continents of the world.
     6.    In this paper, therefore, we will examine, successively,
          a.    The historical background of the issue among Adventism.
          b.    The contribution of Adventism's prophet, Ellen G. White, on the subject, from the perspective of both her teaching and practice.
          c.    Suggestions for those who join me in continuing to seek to discourage the wearing of a wedding band by SDA Christians, in North America, with regard to what I view as:
               (1)    The "right" way, rather than the "wrong," and for
               (2)    "Good" reasons, rather than "bad."
                    
I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE QUESTION
     1.    Seventh-day Adventism arose in the middle 19th century in New England as a result of the "Advent Movement" generated by William Miller, a Baptist farmer-turned-preacher who heralded the return of Jesus Christ to earth, first, "about 1843," and later on October 22, 1844.
          a.    The Millerites were almost universally ultra-conservative in their individual life-style.
          b.    Most (including Ellen G. White herself) came out of a very strict Methodist background which frowned on jewelry, card-playing, gambling, dancing, cosmetics, etc., as being "worldly." As such, many still heeded the admonitions of Methodism's founder, John Wesley:
               (1)    Review and Herald editor James White published a long statement "On Dress, From Mr. Wesley's Advice to the People Called Methodists." And in it Elder White encouraged SDAs to plainness in all aspects of their unique life-style.(5)
          c.    The wearing of the wedding band seems not to have been practiced by the earliest SDA founders and pioneers who for many years lived and labored exclusively in North America.
     2.    In the last half of the 19th century, however, the USA became a "melting pot," as wave after wave of immigrants arrived on our shores, first from Europe, then from other continents.
          a.    Such immigrants, quite understandably, brought with them their former national customs, including that of the wearing of the wedding band.
          b.    Some of these were converted to the SDA Church.
               (1)    Often, out of deference to local customs and traditions, they would remove the wedding band, lest anything be allowed to come in to mar the precious unity of believers in Jesus.
          c.    SDAs, responding to a growing awareness of their obligation to take the Advent message to all corners of the world, began to send out missionaries, first to Europe, then to other continents and island fields.
               (1)    Here they often came into contact with local national customs other than their own (including—in some quarters—the wearing of the wedding band by married women, and even men, as a matter of imperative social obligation).
               (2)    Apparently, in a desire to meet the spirit of the apostle (and missionary) Paul (see 1 Corinthians 9:20-23) some SDA missionaries apparently adopted the custom of wearing the wedding band.
                    (a) And also, apparently, when they returned home to North America they continued the practice, to the growing concern and disapproval of their less-traveled fellow believers.
     3.    The question of the propriety of this custom within Adventism—in North America, and in other places—was raised increasingly during the succeeding decades of the 19th century.
          a.    By the 1890s, Adventism's prophet and co-founder of the church, now residing in Australia, penned her one-and-only statement of counsel upon the subject.
               (1)    It originally appeared as "Letter 2b, 1892," written on August 3, from Preston [Melboume], Victoria.
               (2)    It was addressed to "My Dear Brethren and Sisters." The context strongly suggests that the immediate intended audience comprised:
                    (a) Primarily Australian Adventists.
(b) Secondarily American Adventist missionaries in Australia.
(c) Ultimately the church back in North America.
               (3)    It was first published July 21, 1895, by 0. A. Olsen.(6)
               (4)    And it found final published form, in 1923, in the posthumous compilation, Testimonies to Ministers, as the eighth (and final) paragraph of a testimony with the overall title "Economy to be Practiced in All Things."(7) [See Sec. II, below.]
          b.    The wearing of the wedding band was here discouraged by Mrs. White, except:
               (1)    In countries where it was seen to be a matter of imperative social obligation, and
               (2)    Where SDA Christians—in that context—could wear it in good conscience.
          c.    Mrs. White did not (in this, her only statement on the question) place the question on the level of the 10 Commandments (where no exceptions to the rule are permitted, at any time, in any place).
               (1)    It was not given the status of a black-and-white moral issue, such as the total prohibitory ban against Sabbath-breaking, lying, stealing, adultery, etc.
               (2)    This is not to say, however, that there are no moral issues involved in the total consideration of the question of wearing the wedding band.
          d.    While in Australia, Ellen White's son, Elder William C. White, a widower, remarried; and his mother expressed no objection to her new daughter-in-law's wearing of a wedding band after their marriage. [See Sec. II, below, for details.]
          e.    However, Ellen White herself never wore a wedding band, either in America, or in Europe (1885-87), or in Australia (1891-1900).
     4.    During the 20th century the question of "to-wear-or-not-to-wear" became increasingly a matter of agitation and irritation in North America.
          a.    With the passage of each succeeding decade the numbers within the SDA church who declared that the wearing of the wedding band had now become a matter of imperative social obligation in America grew increasingly larger and more vocal.
               (1)    And, today, there are many who allege that, as far as the custom goes, America in the 1980s is now at the point where Australia was in the 1890s.
          b.    Cross-cultural currents continued to take many North American SDAS abroad to lands where the wearing was held to be socially obligatory, and to bring many non-North Americans to the New World, where—increasingly—many if not most in local churches continued to resist the practice as a form of "creeping compromise" with the world.
          c.    In 1930 an Australian SDA minister was elected president of the GC. Upon arrival in the USA his wife continued to wear her wedding band.
               (1)    And some in the churches felt this justified their adopting the custom.
          d.    Some local churches (and even some local conferences) went so far as to take matters into their own hands, and (illegally) pass restrictive, punitive regulations to preclude wearers of the wedding band from:
               (1)    Baptism,
               (2)    Membership in the SDA Church,
               (3)    The holding of local church office, and
               (4)    Employment by any agency or organization of the SDA Church.
          e.    In 1969 the North American Union Conference Presidents in Council reviewed the matter of "to-wear-or-not-to-wear":
               (1)    They recognized "that custom in North America is changing somewhat."
               (2)    They still felt, however, that the custom was not yet "obligatory" or "demanded" by custom on this continent.
               (3)    They therefore continued to "discourage" its use in their territory.
               (4)    They requested SDA ministers not to perform ring ceremonies.
               (5)    They suggested that among members who felt it to be all right to wear the wedding band, they be counseled to remove it:
                    

(a) During the rite of their baptism, and/or
(b) While serving as an officer in a local church lest the consciences of fellow church members be affronted and offended.
          f.    On August 9, 1971 the North American Division Officers considered a proposal which, had it been voted [it was not adopted], would:
               (1)    Discourage the wearing of the wedding band whenever and wherever possible.
               (2)    Remind pastors of the fact that the Church Manual did not prohibit baptism for those who felt they could wear the wedding band conscientiously.
               (3)    Urge pastors "against establishing individual standards" [tests of membership or officership] in this matter.
               (4)    Remind pastors of the earlier decision that they not conduct ring ceremonies for church members.
               (5)    Discourage church employees [denominational workers] from wearing the wedding band on the grounds that to do so would exert an undesirable influence.(8)
          g.    As already noted, on Oct. 2 1972 the General Conference Officers voted a Statement of "Counsel Regarding the Wedding Band in North America," recommending that the practice need not constitute a bar to baptism/membership of conscientious Christians who felt that they must continue to wear it. But even in opening the door of accommodation ever so slightly, the leaders were concerned that the church not "lower its standard, blur its identity, or muffle its witness."(9)
          h.    Finally, again as already noted, on Nov. 11, 1986, the North American Division Committee voted to make the "counsel" of Oct. 2, 1972, the official policy of the Division.
     5.    There is a growing number in the SDA Church today who affirm, vigorously, that the custom of wearing the wedding band in North America in the 1980s is as obligatory socially as was the custom in Australia, the British Empire, and Europe in the 1890s, which was addressed by Ellen White.
          a.    Others, with equal vigor, aver that the two decades are not properly to be so equated.
          b.    The fact remains that it is probably impossible to "prove" either position.
          c.    We therefore turn next to a detailed examination of Ellen White's position.
                    
II. ELLEN WHITE'S POSITION ON THE WEARING OF THE WEDDING BAND
A.    The Published Statement
     Some have had a burden in regard to 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. The fact that a disregard of the custom occasions remark is no good reason for adopting it. Americans can make their position understood by plainly stating that the custom Is not regarded as obligatory in our country. 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 will increase their influence one jot or tittle. If they are Christians, it will be manifest In their Christlikeness of character, in their words, in their works, in the home, in association with others it will be evinced by their patience and long-suffering and kindliness. They will manifest the spirit of the Master, they will possess His beauty of character, His loveliness of disposition, His sympathetic heart,(10)
B.    An Analysis of the Passage: EGW Raises at Least FOUR Major ISSUES:
     1.    The Issue of INFLUENCE: she holds that the wearing [by American missionaries in Australia in 1892] is unnecessary for the following reasons:
          a.    If the church worker has a pure, holy character, it will be evident in fruitage in his life.
               (1)    Therefore his influence will be secure.
          b.    The fact that non-compliance [by Americans in Australia in 1892] occasions public comment is insufficient reason for adoption of the custom:
               (1)    Americans can always say plainly that it is not [for them, in1892, in Australia] a national custom, even in their own country.
          c.    The irrelevance of the custom:
               (1)    Wearing is not a proof of marital fidelity.
               (2)    Abstinence from wearing is not proof of marital infidelity.
          d.    Compliance [by Americans, in Australia, in 1892] will not enhance their influence "down under":
               (1)    If one is a Christian, the evidence of Christ-likeness will be borne as fruit in the character.
               (2)    The true Christian will always manifest the Spirit of the Master by reflecting His beauty of character, loveliness of disposition, and sympathetic heart.
     2.    The Issue of LEAVENING OF THE CHURCH [in America]:
          a.    The wearing of the wedding band [in America by SDAs, in 1892] is another example of conformity [there] to custom/fashion, insidiously coming in among our people [there] [since the wearing of it is not a national custom there in 1892].
     3.    The Issue of STEWARDSHIP of Finances:
          a.    Not one penny should be spent [by Americans, in 1892] for this purpose.
     4.    The Issue of INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE:
          a.    We recognize and accept the fact that the wearing of the wedding band is a matter of imperative social obligation in some countries [in 1892].
          b.    As such, we have no burden to condemn the wearing of it, under those circumstances.
          c.    We leave this matter, therefore, at the altar of personal conscience, to be decided between the individual Christian and his God.
C.    Ellen White's Position in Europe [1885-1887]:
     1.    Mrs. White served as a missionary in Europe for two years.
          a.    During this time she had to meet the wedding band issue there.
     2.    In Basel, Switzerland, a series of meetings was held late in 1885. A Brother [a European SDA minister] was preaching on the subject of plainness of dress. One evening he denounced the wearing of jewelry, including the wearing of rings. One worshipper spoke up to inquire if he included the wedding band. He responded, "Yes, everything." It created no small stir, because in Europe the wearing of the wedding band was not viewed as a matter of ornamentation, but rather, as a token of marital fidelity. The question was referred to Mrs. White. According to her son, W. C. White (who was present), "She said that where the wearing of the wedding ring was demanded by custom as a matter of loyalty, our preachers should not press the matter of its being laid aside."(11)
D.    Ellen White's Position In Australia (1891-1900]:
     1.    Mrs. White's son, Elder W. C. White, was a widower while serving with his mother in Australia. He fell in love with, and became engaged to, Ethel May Lacey. May was a British young woman, born in India, educated in Britain, and now [in 1895] living in Tasmania, Australia. (In all three of these countries the culture not only accepted but demanded wearing of the wedding band as a sign of marital fidelity.) May's father was in the British police service, and he had now retired in Australia.(12)
          a.    Anticipating a problem, because she was British (and knowing of Ellen White's objection to American missionaries in Australia wearing the wedding band), May went to her future mother-in-law (Mrs. White) to seek counsel. Shortly thereafter May wrote to her fiance, "Willie," and reported the interview: "She [EGW] says she has no objection whatever to my wearing one."(13)
          b.    The couple was married at the bride's home in Tasmania. As there were no SDA ministers on that island at that time, the service was conducted by an Evangelical clergyman; a ring ceremony was performed. May subsequently wore her wedding band on the trip from Tasmania to Australia's mainland; and for several weeks thereafter she continued to wear it.(14)
          c.    Then, a little later, May removed her wedding band. Noting that fact, her new husband inquired as to the reason. She replied simply that it had gotten in the way while she was doing the family washing.(15)
          d.    She never again wore this simple, plain band of gold, neither in Australia, nor on the journey from Australia to the United States, nor during her subsequent years in America. Her wearing of it, in Australia, in the 1890s, was in total harmony with the EGW counsel as published in the single statement in TM 180-81.(16)
                    
III. A POSITION FOR NORTH AMERICA—A Personal Statement
     1.    I have served in North America as a pastor of three churches in Southern California (four years), as a professor of religion at Pacific Union College (eleven years), and—most recently—as senior pastor of the GC "headquarters" church in Takoma Park, MD (three years).
          a.    In addition, my wife and I spent twelve years as missionaries in West Africa.
          b.    And in our present work (I in the White Estate, she as an assistant auditor in the GC Auditing Service), we have traveled together in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
          c.    Neither of us has ever worn (or even owned) a wedding band.
     2.    I am, however, willing to grant any SDA member his or her private conviction that the wedding band is, today, in North America, a matter of imperative social obligation.
          a.    Although I do not myself yet see it that way, and although my policy and practice in North America continue in the direction of discouraging its wearing (for reasons to be set forth in detail below), I resist relating in any kind of judgmental, condemnatory manner toward those who feel that they in good conscience should wear it.
          b.    In seeking to persuade wedding-band wearers to become non-wearers, I have strenuously endeavored to conduct myself in the right way (and not in what I perceive as the wrong way), and I have endeavored to use what I conceive to be the right reasons (even as I have endeavored to avoid using what I strongly believe to be the wrong reasons).
          c.    Let me explain what I mean by this statement.
A.    The "Wrong" Way Versus the "Right"Way
     1.    The WRONG WAY—for me—is to impose coercion in order to achieve conformity.
          a.    This may be done overtly or covertly.
          b.    Its most frequent manifestations are in refusing the "offender" the privilege of baptism, church membership, church office, or even social fellowship with other believers within the local church community.
     2.    Ellen White made it clear while she was alive that "it is no part of Christ's mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, that seek to compel the conscience. . . . Christ is ever. . . seeking to win by the revealing of His love. . . but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love."(17)
          a.    In 1906 (while the prophet was still alive), her son, Elder W. C. White, received a letter from an SDA member in Grand Rapids, Mich., inquiring as to the propriety of selecting as a church officer one who wore a wedding band.
               (1)    He replied: "In the teaching of the gospel we must always be outspoken regarding the principles of simplicity in dress, but we need not enter into the specific work of saying that individuals [who] wear the wedding ring . .. are to be disciplined by the church. . . . I have seen very devoted, earnest people wearing the wedding ring, wearing the gold watch, wearing the gold chain, and I felt no burden to say to them, You must lay it off."(18)
     3.    In 1881 Ellen White wrote concerning another item in the category of dress, the "reform dress" which she had advocated for some time. Certain statements made concerning the attitude of some church members pressing this reform unduly in her day seem (to me, at least) to have somewhat of a parallel in the discussion today on the non-wearing of the wedding band:
          a.    "Some who adopted the reform [dress] were not content to show by example the advantages of the dress, giving, when asked, their reasons for adopting it, and letting the matter rest there. They sought to control others' conscience by their own. If they wore it, others must put it on. They forgot that none were to be compelled to wear the reform dress."
          b.    "It was not my duty to urge the subject upon my sisters. After presenting it before them as it had been shown me, I left them to their own conscience."
          c.    "Much unhappy feeling was created by those who were constantly urging the reform dress upon their sisters. With extremists, this reform seemed to constitute the sum and substance of their religion. It was the theme of conversation and the burden of their hearts; and their minds were thus diverted from God and the truth. They failed to cherish the spirit of Christ and manifested a great lack of true courtesy."
          d.    "Some were greatly troubled because I did not make the dress a test question, and still others because I advised those who had unbelieving husbands or children not to adopt the reform dress, as it might lead to unhappiness that would counteract all the good to be derived from its use."(19)
     4.    An important distinction needs to be made between the teachings of the church and the tests of the church:
          a.    William H. Branson, while President of the General Conference [1950-54], addressed clergy of our church on this subject.
               (1)    He distinguished between Bible doctrines--the acceptance of which is a test of church fellowship, and therefore is required—and the teachings concerning certain standards—which the church advocates, but finally leaves to the individual conscience of the member (or prospective member).
               (2)    He wrote: "Some of these [latter] matters that are not tests for membership should be taught but not enforced upon the people. After proper instruction is given, then the matter of compliance must be left to the individual conscience." Not every teaching is a test.
               (3)    And he pointedly warned pastors and laity alike that for them to impose their own private tests of membership or officership in the church would serve only to "bring in confusion," and would thereby make them out of harmony with the body of the church generally.(20)
          b.    In 1984 Andrews University Professor Robert C. Kistler, in a slightly different context, came to the matter directly in his book on labor unions:
               (1)    "It is important to differentiate between what is a teaching of the church and what is a test of fellowship. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has some teachings which it encourages members to follow, but will not disfellowship them if they do not. Such teachings are regarded as a matter of individual conscience reflecting growth in grace rather than as a doctrine of the church. In addition to [the teaching against labor] union membership, such teachings would include the desirability of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet; the teaching in North America against the wearing of wedding rings; the blessing that comes from giving generous offerings to the church s program in addition to the practice of tithing, and similar points."(21)
     5.    It cannot be too strongly pointed out that:
          a.    The Church Manual is the only constitution of the SDA Church.
          b.    Tests of membership and of officership for the church at large can only be voted by a General-Conference-in-Session (after which they are incorporated into the Church Manual).
          c.    The world church has never yet made the non-wearing of a wedding band either a test of baptism, or membership, or of officership.
          d.    For any local congregation, or conference, or union conference, to adopt (publicly, or privately) any other test than those published in the Church Manual is not only immoral but unconstitutional as well; and effectively places that unit of the church in rebellion against its duly constituted authority, leaving it wide open for disciplinary action by the next higher body!
     6.    What do I envisage as the RIGHT WAY?
          a.    Ellen White, in her one-and-only published statement on the wedding band, laid down two conditions where it might be worn without her prophetic condemnation:
               (1)    In countries "where the custom is imperative," and
               (2)    If persons in such places "can do so conscientiously."
          b.    Ellen White left the matter at the level of the individual, personal conscience.
          c.    It is my own deep conviction that we should follow her example in this.
          d.    Paul made it abundantly clear in Scripture that some issues are solely to be settled within the precincts of a man or woman's own conscience. [See Romans 14:5]
          e.    I believe that the minister should explain the whole matter to the member (or prospective member)—including good reasons for removing the wedding band [see below]—in an atmosphere of love, kindness, and acceptance. It is an educational activity. But, once explained, the minister should leave it where God's prophets have left it: at the altar of personal, individual conscience. That, for me, is the RIGHT WAY.
B.    The "Wrong" Reason Versus the "Right" reason:
     1.    The Christian religion is a "reasonable" religion; and the Apostle Peter urged all sanctified Christians to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15)
          a.    

And lest any Seventh-day Adventists adopt the Jesuit-inspired dictum that "the end justifies the means," and thereby be tempted to use a bad argument to support a worthy cause, Ellen White added this pointed testimony:

Agitate, agitate, agitate. The subjects which we present to the world must be to us a living reality. It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound. These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honor the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny. With those who have educated themselves as debaters there is great danger that they will not handle the word of God with fairness. In meeting an opponent it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction in his mind, instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer.(22)
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