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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #45 on: July 21, 2010, 02:58:05 PM »

Part 2

     2.    I believe that there are two very WRONG REASONS that have been advanced by Seventh-day Adventists for the removal of the wedding band in North America:
          a.    That the wedding band is "bad" because it had its origin in paganism.
          b.    That the wedding band is "bad" because it is a part of the total "Jewelry Question"—and SDA Christians are called to lay off all forms of jewelry.
          c.    Let us first examine the validity of each of these arguments.

There can be no question but what the wedding band had its origin in paganism; that fact has been too carefully documented historically to be seriously challenged or doubted:
          a.    For example, Roman Catholic Cardinal John Henry Newman, in discussing various pagan customs which crept into the early Christian Church, states:
               (1)    "The ring in marriage [among other customs] are all of pagan origin."
               (2)    He claims, however, that the adoption of them by the Church of Rome "sanctified" them and made them legitimate.(23)
          b.    O. A. Wall, in an historical study, demonstrates in rather vivid and explicit clinical detail just how the wedding band came to be worn.(24)
     4.    Certainly SDA church members and prospective converts ought to be acquainted with the pagan origin of this custom. But solely of itself, is this a good and sufficient reason to urge the abolition of the custom? I think not. And for these reasons:
          a.    I have no trouble accepting the fact that Mrs. White was probably clearly aware of the pagan origin of the Christmas festival in general, and of the Christmas tree in particular.
               (1)    Yet she approved (and in the case of families with small children, even urged) the recognizing of this festival in the homes of SDAs, and she approved the use of unadorned Christmas trees even within the sanctuary of the SDA houses of worship, where offerings for missions might properly be placed among the boughs!(25)
          b.    I also am satisfied that Mrs. White and the early SDA church leaders were probably aware of the pagan origin of the practice of placing spires or steeples on the top of houses of religious worship (and of affixing crosses to them as well).
               (1)    Yet when the "Dime" Tabernacle was built in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1879 (it seated 3,000 and was one of the largest SDA church buildings ever built), it had not one but a number of steeples or spires adorning it; and on top of the main clock tower there appears in old photographs of the structure something that very distinctly appears to be a Maltese or Celtic cross. At least four other lesser spires are also apparently adorned with additional ornamentation!
               (2)    Also, I understand that when the South Lancaster, Mass. Church was built in 1899 (adjoining what is now the campus of Atlantic Union College), that it, too, had a similar spire arrangement; and many SDA houses of worship built in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s resembled these two pioneer churches in Battle Creek and South Lancaster.(26)
          c.    I conclude, therefore, that--on the basis of the practice of the prophet of the church in our midst in the latter part of the 19th century--the origin of a custom or practice in paganism was not, alone, in and of itself sufficient reason to abandon it.
     5.    Some—perhaps many—in the SDA church in North America have tacitly concluded that the wedding band is a ring; that rings are a part of jewelry; that jewelry should not be worn by good SDAs; and therefore the wedding band should not be worn by SDAs for this reason.
          a.    It is apparent that the publishers of Testimonies to Ministers were of this conviction, for in subsequent editions of that work they have added, at the conclusion of this single statement on the wedding band on p. 181, cross- references "for further study" which deal not with the wedding band but, rather, with statements on jewelry in general!
          b.    There is evidence, however, that there was a distinction between the two in Ellen White's thinking.
               (1)    A survey of her statements upon jewelry in general make it clear that she made no exceptions for any category of ornamentation—she unsparingly condemned it in a total and forthright manner.
               (2)    Yet she never linked—in print or in oral instruction—the simple, non-jeweled wedding band with jewelry in her prohibitions against the latter. Not once.
               (3)    And she did make provision for the wedding band, when society was perceived as making it socially obligatory and the SDA Christian could, in good conscience, wear it.
     6.    A scant thirteen months after the death of the prophet, her son, Elder W. C. White, was writing to a church member in Florida in response to an inquiry concerning his mother's position on the wedding band vis-a-vis jewelry. He wrote:
          a.    "Mother was always opposed to the wearing of jewelry of any sort as a matter of ornamentation. When we were in Switzerland [in the 1880s], one of our Swiss ministers took a very radical and harsh attitude toward the wearing of the wedding ring. Mother [Ellen G. White] reproved him, and protested against that kind of work, and we all understood from what she said that it was right for us to discern a difference between wearing rings as a matter of adornment and wearing the wedding ring as a token of loyalty to the husband. In some countries custom has led people to put special emphasis upon the wearing of the wedding ring as a matter of loyalty. While serving in Australia, Mother encouraged our brethren [American missionaries serving there] not to press the matter of our sisters laying aside the wedding ring [there], but when some of our American sisters, wives of ministers, put on the wedding ring because they were criticized while traveling among strangers, Mother advised that this was not necessary."(27)
     7.    It seems unwise, then, to me at least, to employ what I perceive as unsound arguments—origin in paganism or linking the simple, non-jeweled wedding band to ornamental jewelry—in trying to persuade members and prospective members to abandon, in North America, the wearing of the wedding band.
          a.    Does that mean, then, that there are no sound arguments that may be usefully employed?
          b.    By no means. Let me share an approach with you that I employ in personal work which has never yet failed me (when presented in the right way, and not in the wrong way!).
     8.    There are RIGHT REASONS, in North America, for a minister to work—in the right way— toward encouraging members and prospective members to abandon the practice of wearing the wedding band. In my opinion they involve:
          a.    The question of financial stewardship.
          b.    The question of avoidance of idolatry.
          c.    Questions associated with the dress-code for Christians.
          d.    The question of one's personal influence, within the church and without.(28)
     9.    The question of financial stewardship:
          a.    The doctrine of stewardship holds that the Christian does not own anything; all the possessions he may have are owned by God, and as a "steward" he manages these goods for the "real" owner, recognizing that ultimately he is accountable for the faithfulness in which he operates in this trust-relationship.
          b.    Stewardship is not concerned merely with 10% (tithe) of a Christian's money; it is concerned with all of it. God should be consulted, and His will followed, as far as it is possible to ascertain it, in the expenditure of every penny.

Of course, if the individual already owns a wedding band before coming to Christ, and becoming acquainted with the claims of Christ upon one's pocketbook, the question of stewardship does not apply; it is moot.
          d.    But for those contemplating marriage, it is a serious question which cannot be evaded.
          e.    Many couples are pressured by jewelry salesmen into expensive purchases for engagement/wedding band sets which they cannot afford; some are still paying for them when the marriage disintegrates and a divorce is sought.
     10.    The question of avoidance of idolatry.
          a.    Wedding bands, with their big stones, beautiful diamonds, jewels, etc., can easily become an idol for some Christians.
          b.    Idolatry was condemned in both Old and New Testaments—and in both the warning is given that it leads to eternal destruction.
          c.    The danger of idolatry is probably one of the biggest reasons why the church historically has frowned upon jewelry and taken a negative attitude toward anything that "smacked" of jewelry.
          d.    Of course, a minister cannot tell a church member whether or not his or her wedding band is an idol—or merely an object of sentiment. But the Christian must honestly face the possibility that idolatry could be involved here, and honestly face God with a heart willing to be led by the Holy Spirit.
     11.    While Ellen White appears to have excluded the wedding band from the category of ornamental jewelry, it is nevertheless a legitimate consideration to examine its relationship to the dress-code of a Christian. Andrews University Religion Department professor Carl Coffman, in instructions to prospective young ministers, has made some helpful, if pointed, suggestions for consideration:
          a.    Ellen White discusses a "sacred circle" about Adam and Eve before sin in Eden.(29)
          b.    In Genesis 3:7-10 two points are worth noting especially:
               (1)    With the entrance of sin, the circle was severed, and deterioration began.
               (2)    An external covering was formed to take the place of internal purity.
          c.    With the passage of time, far more than clothing was added externally:
               (1)    See especially Isa. 3:16-23.
               (2)    It is a human characteristic that the less one has on the inside, the more he seems to feel he needs on the outside.
               (3)    Note, also, that God did not approve.
          d.    The great object of the plan of restoration is to restore inward purity.(30)
          e.    Hence, we have the New Testament counsel:
               (1)    "Women again must dress in becoming manner, modestly and soberly, not with elaborate hair-styles, not decked out with gold or pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, as befits women who claim to be religious." 1 Tim. 2:9-10, NEB.
               (2)    "In the same way you women must accept the authority of your husbands, so that if there are any of them who disbelieve the Gospel they may be won over, without a word being said, by observing the chaste and reverent behaviour of their wives. Your beauty should reside, not in outward adornment--the braiding of the hair, or jewellery, or dress—but in the inmost centre of your being, with its imperishable ornament, a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value in the sight of God. Thus it was among God's people in days of old: the women who fixed their hopes on him adorned themselves by submission to their husbands. Such was Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him 'my master.' Her children you have now become, if you do good and show no fear.

In the same way, you husbands must conduct your married life with understanding: pay honour to the woman's body, not only because it is weaker, but also because you share together in the grace of God which gives you life. Then your prayers will not he hindered. 1 Peter 3:1-7, NEB (note especially verses 2-4).
          f.    The great object of restoration is to restore inward purity. The restored "sacred circle" of holiness is God's circle of genuine safety about any married couple.
     12.    The question of a Christian's influence—within the church and without—must be studied and safeguarded:
          a.    In at least two of Paul's epistles he expresses a concern for the Christians of his day that they safeguard their influence, and not become "stumbling-blocks" to their fellow (and weaker) Christians. (See especially Romans 14:21, 13; and 1 Cor. 8:9).
          b.    He elaborates the doctrine of "expedience" by stating that although some things are "lawful" for him to do—perfectly all right in and of themselves—yet he will not do them because it is not "expedient"—a weak brother in the church might take offense, and be led astray. (See I Cor. 6:12; 1 Cot. 10:23)
          c.    In 1 Corinthians Chapter 8 his ideas are most fully developed along the line of the Christians's responsibility for the stewardship of his personal influence, in the context of an immediate, local problem in Paul's day: whether or not a Christian should eat foods that had been consecrated to pagan idols before ever sold on the public market:
               (1)    Farmers often received higher prices for food if first offered to heathen deities by pagan priests.
               (2)    Sometimes it was the best, choicest food. (Nutrition is a legitimate consideration and concern for a Christian—get the best food possible.)
               (3)    Paul's position: it is perfectly permissible for a Christian—legally—to eat this kind of food, because he knows it isn't poisoned, and idols do not exist in the "real" world in which the Christian operates. And if these were the only considerations, there is no impediment to his eating food "offered to idols."
               (4)    The "rub" comes, however, in the fact that not all Christians of that day had this knowledge. Some still believe that eating this food is a betrayal of Christ and their faith in Him. If they ate it, their consciences would be defiled; and if they saw you eat it, it might be enough of a stumbling-block to cause them to lose their way spiritually and be lost eternally.
               (5)    And so Paul said, Even though it is perfectly all right for me to do this, I will protect my influence—and my weak brethren—and refrain from doing something that otherwise would be perfectly acceptable.
          d.    Many in the church today, incredibly, are saying in effect, How close can I live to Satan, and yet win eternal life?
          e.    For Paul, the question was, How close can I live to Christ, so that in every aspect my influence is going to tell for Christ in a way that won't offend anyone weaker in knowledge than I am?
          f.    Paul made it abundantly clear that the issue was not eating the food itself; and he did not restrict anyone on that ground. But there was a moral issue: we are responsible in great measure for the effect of our influence upon others, within and without the church.
          g.    A Christian wearing the wedding band, in North America, where there are many "weak brothers—and sisters" who are morally offended and affronted by a fellow church-member wearing it, needs to ask God (not any mere man): What is the effect of my action upon others? How can I best preserve my influence and credibility among the church of Christ?
     13.    There are moral issues involved in the wearing (or non-wearing) of the wedding band, as we consider all of the ramifications, even though the matter in and of itself may be merely a matter of culture or custom.
          a.    And there are questions that each Christian must ask himself—and God—in this context.
CONCLUSION: There are perhaps five questions/issues that we must finally consider—
     1.    The question of PERSPECTIVE:
          a.    It is well for each Christian to keep the wedding band question (which, as already noted, is a part of the greater, overall dress question) in proper perspective.
          b.    In 1883 the then-General Conference president, George I. Butler, wrote concerning the importance and necessity of keeping the various aspects of the dress question in an overall perspective:
               (1)    "The dress question should never be exalted to an equality with the great moral questions of the Bible, such as keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Meekness, humility, charity, goodness, patience, and other Christian graces, are ever more important than the cut of the clothes we wear or the eating of certain kinds of food. We should give those subjects just the place God gives them in His word; and if we will notice closely, we shall soon discern that that place is not near so prominent as that which He gives to the great moral principles of His law, and the teachings of Christ. We claim that Sister White in her teachings has ever taken this position."(31)
     2.    The question of MOTIVATION:
          a.    That God is generally more concerned with the motivation which prompts the deed, than with merely the deed itself, cannot be seriously challenged:
               (1)    "The Searcher of hearts weighs the motives."(32)
               (2)    "It is the motive that gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth."(33)
               (3)    "Many acts which pass for good works. . .will . . . be found to be prompted by wrong motives."(34)
               (4)    "It takes patience to keep every evil motive weeded from the garden of the Lord."(35)
          b.    If you tend to FAVOR the wearing of the wedding band, ask yourself, "Why?"
               (1)    Is it because you desire, like ancient Israel, to be like the nations around us, so that you will not appear singularly different?
               (2)    Is it because you desire to hide your identity as a Christian who is in the world but not of the world?
               (3)    Is it because you desire to draw attention to yourself (one of the main reasons God disapproves of ornamental jewelry)?
               (4)    Or is it because you desire to exhibit loyalty to your spouse, avoid, bringing discredit against the cause of Christ, and to meet the reasonable expectations of society?
          c.    If you tend to OPPOSE the wearing of the wedding band, again, ask yourself, "Why?"
               (1)    Is it because you enjoy being the policeman of the church, and you enjoy castigating and censuring the "liberals" who "need to be straightened out"?
               (2)    Is it because such acts tend to reinforce your security found in self-righteousness, and a legalistic spirit affirms you as "good" because you do some good things?
               (3)    Is it because such opposition reinforces in you a conviction that you are better than others, and—like the Pharisee in Christ's parable—you are thankful you are not as other men are?
               (4)    Or is it because you discern in the adoption of this custom a lowering of the necessary and important standards of the church, bringing its good name into question (if not disrepute), and diluting the effectiveness of its witness by the adoption of a custom which you discern to be a leavening influence among God's people?
          d.    Can you honestly face your motive, whatever your position may be?
     3.    The question of HONESTY:

Intellectual honesty is an absolute imperative. Can you pray—honestly and sincerely—this prayer suggested by Ellen White?

"Each day, each hour, let the heart go out after God: 'Here, Lord, am I, Thy property; take me, use me today. I lay all my plans at Thy feet; I will have no way of my own in the matter. My time is Thine; my whole life is Thine. Let the heart be constantly going forth to God for strength, for grace every moment."(36)
          b.    Now, while it is true that there are some places in the world where the wearing of the wedding band is not only appropriate but necessary, it is probably also true that there are some places where it is not yet necessary today.
          c.    Ellen White clearly indicated that, in her day, there were places (the United States was particularly singled out) where—at that time—the custom was not imperative, obligatory, or necessary.
               (1)    In such places she saw the adoption of an unnecessary custom as a leavening agent within God's people. And such (as history has since borne witness) it has become. It has, indeed and in fact, opened the door to jewelry generally:
                    (a) The wedding band itself has become conspicuously larger in size, has become noticeably more ornate, and has even become encrusted with precious and semi-precious stones—on the fingers of Seventh-day Adventist Christians.
(b) And it has paved the way for the tacit acceptance of other rings (engagement rings, class rings, friendship rings, etc.) on the hands of Seventh-day Adventist church members.
          d.    With the lessening of opposition to the wearing of the wedding band on the campuses of some of our colleges in North America in the early 1970s, we find a more complex problem with jewelry in the early- and mid-1980s.
     4.    The question of ATTITUDE:
          a.    The attitude of the individual church leader or member--whether such is for, or against—is crucial.
          b.    In the context of the advocacy of diet reform, Ellen White wrote some counsel equally applicable to those who seek legitimate dress-reform:
               (1)    "We must go no faster than we can take those with us whose consciences and intellects are convinced of the truths we advocate. We must meet the people where they are. Some of us have been many years in arriving at our present position in health reform. It is slow work to obtain a reform in diet. We have powerful appetites to meet; for the world is given to gluttony. If we should allow the people as much time as we have required to come up to the present advanced state in reform, we should be very patient with them, and allow them to advance, step by step, as we have done, until their feet are firmly established upon the health reform platform. But we should be very cautious not to advance too fast, lest we be obliged to retrace our steps. In reforms we would better come one step short of the mark than to go one step beyond it. And if there is error at all let it be on the side next to the people."(37)
               (2)    "Our ministers and teachers are to represent the love of God to a fallen world. With hearts melted with tenderness let the word of truth be spoken. Let all who are in error be treated with the gentleness of Christ. If those for whom you labor do not immediately grasp the truth, do not censure, do not criticize or condemn. Remember that you are to represent Christ in His meekness and gentleness and love. We must expect to meet with unbelief and opposition. . . . But though you should meet the bitterest opposition, do not denounce your opponents. . . . We must manifest patience, meekness, and long-suffering."(38)
               (3)    "In the advocacy of the truth the bitterest opponents should be treated with respect and deference. . . . Therefore treat every man as honest. . . . The influence of your teaching would be tenfold greater if you were careful of your words. Words that should be a savor of life unto life may by the spirit which accompanies them be made a savor of death unto death. And remember that if by your spirit or your words you close the door to even one soul, that soul will confront you in the judgment."(39)
               (4)    "Be sure that you do not make the word of the Lord offensive. We long to see reforms, and because we do not see that which we desire, an evil spirit is too often allowed to cast drops of gall into our cup, and others are embittered. By our ill-advised words their spirit is chafed, and they are stirred to rebellion. Every sermon you preach, every article you write, may be all true; but one drop of gall in it will be poison to the hearer or reader. . . . [We should use] words that will reform but not exasperate. The truth is to be spoken in love."(40)
          c.    Paul advises us that the three greatest gifts, or qualities, or attributes, in the Christian life, when all is said and done, are faith, hope, and love.
               (1)    But even here, one is more important than another: "The greatest of these is love." [1 Cor. 13:13, emphasis supplied]
               (2)    If (God forbid!) one is forced to choose between the doctrines and standards of the faith, and Christian love, then love would have to be the most important. (It is not, however and fortunately, an either/or dichotomy!)
     5.    The question of CONSCIENCE:
          a.    Whether the custom of wearing the wedding band in the United States in the 1980s is as of imperative obligation as it was in Australia in the 1890s (when and where Ellen White permitted it), is probably an issue that today cannot be objectively "proven."
          b.    The human mind is perfectly capable of believing anything it wants to believe; and the corollary also is true; as Ben Franklin once suggested, "Man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."
          c.    Ellen White left the matter of the wearing (or non-wearing) of the wedding band, in her day, at the altar of conscience. Her example is safest for us to follow today. Let us leave it where she left it.
          d.    But let us also be sure that our conscience today is alive, active, acute, and operating well; may it not be slumbering, or—worse yet—seared with a hot iron. [1 Tim. 4:2)
          e.    The only safe course for any Christian to follow is to inquire of the Lord, in the quiet privacy of the soul, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
          f.    And our only safe response, after our Lord answers this prayer (and He will, if we are totally honest with Him), is that of Mary of Nazareth at the wedding feast of Cana: "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it!" [John 2:5]
     6.    By all means, let us have convictions. And let us express these convictions to others who may not share them—in the right manner. But let us validate our convictions by the inspired word, let us evaluate our logic and our argument by reason, and let us validate our evidence by demonstrable fact. But let our advocacy be always in love, being "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." [1Peter 3:15] And then, having given our reason, let us kindly, lovingly, leave the matter at the altar of individual conscience.
     7.    "As for me and my house," after having weighed carefully all of the evidence, pro and con, in the light of what I hope is an enlightened and progressively sanctified conscience, my personal position, policy, and practice—in North America—continues to remain one of endeavoring to persuade our members and prospective members to discard the practice of wearing the wedding band.
          a.    Having said that, I must say more: I am totally persuaded that this must be done in the right way, and for the right reason.
          b.    And in the end, the member (or prospective member) must "be fully persuaded in his own mind." [Rom. 14:5]
          c.    And, ultimately, the decision of what you will do must be left with you, to be made prayerfully as well as personally, alone with God. And so I say to you:
               (1)    It is not wrong to have things of a sentimental value; and many who no longer wear their wedding bands in public retain them as a keepsake in a bureau drawer, to look at occasionally.
               (2)    Your church or your minister will not dictate your response. We ask only that you allow God to lead you—totally—in your decision.
               (3)    And whichever way you decide the matter,
                    (a) I will respect your decision,
(b) I will support your decision—even if opposite from my position,
(c) And I will accept you, totally, unconditionally, both as a person, and as a fellow brother or sister in Jesus, who, with me, is seeking to climb the upward path to eternal life.
First Draft: Jan. 19, 1983
                    For circulation privately to White Estate Trustees and staff, for reaction and counsel
Second Draft: Feb. 29, 1984
                    Presented to students in the SDA Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Mich., in GSEM 534 "The Writings of Ellen G. White," on March 6, 1984
Third Draft: Mar. 9, 1984
                    For NAD study committee
          Drafts in 1983 and 1984 inadvertently contained a technical error. On pages 4 and 5 agenda proposals were inadvertently taken to be actual committee actions and were presented as formal actions. This draft corrects that inaccuracy, which is deeply regretted. R.W.C.
Fourth Draft: Feb. 13, 1985
                    For GSEM 534 class discussion
Fifth Draft: Nov. 29, 1987
                    For GSEM 534 class discussion
Sixth Draft: Dec. 10, 1897
                    Minor editorial changes


1."North America Adopts Adornment Action," Adventist Review, Dec. 4, 1986, pp. 9,10.
2. See Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 180, 181.
3. A subsequently edited version of this statement of "Counsel Regarding the Wedding Band in North America," adopted by the GC Officers and North American Union Conference Presidents, Oct. 2, 1972, was communicated to Union and Local Conference Presidents by GC Vice President Lowell Bock on Nov. 8, 1972, with a circular letter advising that since this acting had not been officially adopted by the Annual Council [or North American Division, which then existed virtually only on paper], "this statement does not enjoy the force of policy."
4. The text was published in Adventist Review, Feb. 12, 1987, pp. 28, 29, and in Ministry, April, 1987, p. 25.
5. See RH, July 10, 1855, pp. 1, 2; an extract was subsequently reprinted in RH, Nov. 30,1972, p. 6.
6. Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, Series A, No.3, pp.6, 7.
7. Pp. 180, 181.
8. NADCA Agenda item 71-293.
9. As Agenda item 72-411, the original proposal was more liberal than the amended version voted. The original proposal included a further clause ("nor forbidden to hold church office") which did not survive debate. The question of whether or not to ban wedding-band-wearers from local church office has yet to be addressed definitively at the General Conference or North American Division levels.
10. Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 180, 181.
11. William C. White [WCW] letter to D.C. Babcock, Aug. 6, 1913, p. 1.
12. Arthur L. White [ALW] letter to Walter F. Wright, Feb. 22, 1971, p. 1.
13. Ethel May Lacey letter to WCW, Feb. 13, 1895.
14. ALW, loc. Cit.
15. WCW letter to Mrs. W. E. Ingle, Apr. 14, 1913.
16. ALW, loc. Cit.
17. Desire of Ages, p. 487:3; emphasis supplied.
18. WCW letter to M. W. Crother, Dec. 30, 1906.
19. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 4, pp. 636, 637; emphasis supplied.
20."What Are Our Tests of Fellowship?" The Ministry, Oct. 1951, pp. 12, 13.
21. Adventists and Labor Unions in the United States (Washington, D. C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1984), p. 48, footnote 23. Kistler also devotes space to a consideration of the wedding band in Chapter 3 ("With or Without a Ring?") in his more recent work, Marriage, Divorce, And. . . (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1987), pp. 43-59.
22. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5, p. 708:1.
23. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1960), pp. 351-53.
24. Sex and Sex Worship (St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Company, 1932), pp. 529-32.
25. The Adventist Home, pp. 477-83.
26. See Roger W. Coon, "Paganism, Culture, and Commitment: How Far Dare a Conscientious Christian Go?", Pacific Union Recorder, June 1, 1986, pp. 4-6; a synopsis of this article was published ten days later under the title, "Reviving Ancient Paganism?", Adventist Review, June 11, 1987, pp. 8-10.
27. WCW letter to J. W. Siler, Aug. 9, 1916.
28. William ["Skip"] MacCarty, now associate pastor, Pioneer Memorial SDA Church, Andrews University, pioneered in the development of many of the following ideas while senior minister of the Wasatch Hills SDA Church, Salt Lake City, UT, in the 1970's.
29. See especially Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 310:4-311:0; the context--the parable of the man without the wedding garment--is interesting!
30. See especially ibid., p. 310:3.
31. Review & Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883, p. 10.
32. Gospel Workers, p. 275.
33. The Desire of Ages, p. 615.
34. Gospel Workers, p. 275.
35. Sons and Daughters of God, p. 312.
36. The Upward Look, p. 237.
37. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3, pp. 20, 21; emphasis supplied.
38. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, p. 120.
39. Ibid., p. 122.
40. Ibid., p. 123.


(The text of this action was also published in AR, 2-12-87,28-29) MINISTRY/APRIL '1987

            APPENDIX C

The First edition of the SDA Church Manual was published in 1932. Subsequent editions were issued in: 1934, 1938, 1940, 1942, 1951, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1981, and 1986. The SDA Encyclopedia notes that minor revisions were made in the editions of 1934 and 1940, and a major revision occurred in the edition of 1951, preceding the publication of the article on "Church Manual" in the 1976 Revised Edition.

In 1946 the General Conference Session voted that all further revisions of the Church Manual must be approved in advance by the GC in world session. At the next quadrennial session (1950) major changes were approved, and published in the edition of 1951. Since the GC Session of 1958 it has become standard practice to publish an updated edition of the Church Manual in the year following each session (quadrennial through 1970, quinquennial since).

Through the years there have been only two statements relating to the wedding band which have appeared in various editions of the Church Manual, if my research is correct and complete:

        (1) Ring Ceremony: From the first edition of 1932 through the edition of 1942 there was no section in the Church Manual on "Church Standards" (as there has been since 1951), but Section X dealt with "Marriage." This statement (which included a section on divorce) covered parts of seven pages in the editions of 1932, 1934, 1938, 1940, and 1942. The last portion of the first section on marriage cited an "Autumn [now Annual] Council" action from 1925, which was worded:

            "'Resolved, That in the marriage ceremony simplicity be observed, and that some simple formula as that in the "Manual for Ministers" be used; also that we look with disfavor upon the ring ceremony, and upon our ministers officiating at the marriage of believers with unbelievers or with those not of our faith.' Autumn Council Actions, 1925, pp. 12,

            This statement appears on p. 175 of the editions of 1932, 1934, 1938, and 1940, and on p. 187 of the 1942 edition, with no change of text between 1932 and 1942. (The next edition was published in 1952.)

        (2) Marriage Ring: With the major revision of the Church Manual in 1952, the compilers devoted an entire chapter to "Standards of Christian Living," one section of which dealt with "Dress." It consisted of a statement of seven paragraphs, the fifth of which reads:

            In some countries the custom of wearing the marriage ring is considered imperative, having become, in the minds of the people, a criterion of virtue, and hence is not regarded as an ornament. Under such circumstances, we have no disposition to condemn the practice."

            [This statement appears on p. 202 of the editions of 1951, 1959, and 1963; on p. 212 of the editions of 1967 and 1971; on p. 225 of the edition of 1976; on p. 222 of the edition of 1981, and on p. 146 of the edition of 1986, with no change of text between 1951 and 1986.]

To summarize, then: Only two statements have ever appeared in the Church Manual, from the 1st edition of 1932 through the latest edition of 1986: (a) from 1932 to 1951 the church said, simply, "we look with disfavor upon the ring ceremony;" and (b) from 1951 to 1987 it declares "we have no disposition to condemn" the wearing of a wedding band by SDA church members in such countries where the custom is "considered imperative." (The determination of which country is which is wisely left to the individual church member by the church.)

Therefore, when arch conservative opponents of the wearing of the wedding band by SDA Christians today affirm "The Church Manual has been changed," they are right. . .and wrong. A change was indeed made 36 years ago, from a statement which discouraged the performing of ring ceremonies at SDA weddings, to a recognition that cultural differences must be recognized must be recognized by the world church in determining the "rightness" or "wrongness" of a member's wearing a wedding band. But it is important to note that this change (a) is not one of recency, as some critics allege, nor (b) was it a reversal of an alleged earlier proscription against SDA's wearing wedding bands, as these critics also allege.

If the various editions of the Church Manual contain other references to the wedding band than those cited above, their respective Tables of Contents fail to indicate the page upon which the statement is to be located, nor were they detected in a rather exhaustive search of each edition which this researcher examined individually.

I have yet to find any statement in any edition of the Church Manual which prohibits or even discourages the wearing of a wedding band by an SDA Christian in any country, although it seems reasonable to infer an unspoken discouragement from the statement on ring ceremonies and the statement that approves of the wearing of a wedding band in cultures where it is deemed necessary.

Roger W. Coon
Ellen G. White Estate
Washington, D.C.
November 29, 1987


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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #46 on: July 21, 2010, 04:35:55 PM »

So we are getting a new calendar ...when....the days and months are named after pagan gods.  We got the prctice of singing hymns from pagans, they sang them to their gods and hymnals?  If we go back and rid our lives of all things with pagan origins, I think we will be in a world of trouble.  As it is now, we are just inconsistent.  In allthis copying and pasteing, is somebody explaining why the is all onl good for NAD?  I t was really consistent for anyone to even say fromt he beginning that the corporate policy should only apply to NAD.  It truly is nto an issue anywhere else.  What is the problem?
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


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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #47 on: July 21, 2010, 05:08:05 PM »


That was quite a run down. It is also amazing to see, find and read all the justifying comments and actions, and reasoning of what we know to be considered that God stated when he said my people will not wear the gold.  You see Harley, it never stopped even with the "gold", it gave way now to the diamonds, rubies, and the likes of it all as all visulized in the great number on HOpe channel of self proclaimed rules set by individuals that claim SDA is their religion ...and that is all it is. I have no problem deciding what God asks and commands, but it is quite amusing to see what all man has derived to take on Vanity, wasted money, and actually worthless, seditiment for their own theories and etc. etc. You know it is a simple things, it just what each individual chooses to do to suilt thereself. I choose not to be a stumbling block to no one and take the chance that EGW says she would not take and why should we try may cost our Eternity.   It is no problem for me but I aim to please the one who sustains me to the best I can. I know Him and am in dire sorts when I know I did not do what my conscience has been taught. Talk about feeling distraught, I know how that feels when I don't. Wearing the ring all lead to the common sense that none is any different, earring, and spreading it on your chest, on your ankles rings on your toes, then standing out your bleached hair, with yakkie clothes all fit the same picture according to the scripture..put them all together and you got.....a hussy lol  How can you condem one and not the's all gold, now silver, now jewels and now SDA are lit up lol. all displayed on Hope..amazing where it all led to. So does one still not consider that it would cause a stumbling block...It sure did. It is obvious in that whole report of man's own desires.. to be truthful, I like it, its pretty but I know when to not go there. My priority is Jesus and if he gives me a crown I am not sure I could wear it but give it back in humbleness for what and where he let me come to Him.  I feel the subject so well stated in Bible  has been made confusing, sad and lost obedience by the people.

edited to add an s to give. and added thought on the subject so well stated....
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 07:16:19 PM by tinka »


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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #48 on: January 25, 2011, 03:01:14 PM »

One of the saints who was preaching to Seventh-day Adventists from other countries about the evils of using wedding rings worth about $50 was sporting a ROLEX watch worth $15,000. He was annoyed when someone suggested his watch could be regarded as inappropriate jewelry. Did he have a reason to be annoyed?


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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #49 on: January 25, 2011, 03:44:50 PM »

One of the saints who was preaching to Seventh-day Adventists from other countries about the evils of using wedding rings worth about $50 was sporting a ROLEX watch worth $15,000. He was annoyed when someone suggested his watch could be regarded as inappropriate jewelry. Did he have a reason to be annoyed?

No, he did not have reason to be annoyed.  He should have pawned that ROLEX and gave the money to missions if he felt that way about inappropriate jewelry.  Just my humble opinion.


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Re: Wedding Rings
« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2011, 08:14:31 PM »

I cannot believe that someone would spend $15,000 on a watch but I am sure some spend even more. No different then the price of wedding rings! They are in the same boat of wasteful spending, vanity and the frown of Jesus. Then there is the sports cars, hobbies, elaborate housing etc. It's all in the same category. How can this preacher stand in front of the poor in the audience with good mind.

A good wife can make her home of great comfort and ease with the cheapest of household furniture and essentials where it looks very homey and comfortable and clean and inviting. Our daughter has a home where she bought most all at goodwill and auctions and then remade them over. Her house looks like a million dollars.  I designed and sewn the drapery all in victorian for her. some with material either 50-60% off. One chair cost about $3 at second hand store and the material about $20.  It is now a beautiful white tucked high back comfortable cushioned chair. A preacher needs a watch to know when to cut it off but not to the tag of $15,000. Would this keep a person from what a chance to take!!!
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