Jewelry is readily available throughout the world. Some of it is unaffordable to a common person, while other jewelry is dirt cheap. There are people who choose not to wear any jewelry at all, but others could not imagine going out the door without having on jewelry. While putting items of jewelry on the human body might be stylish, is it acceptable in God’s sight to do so?
One passage that comes to mind is 1 Peter 3. In the context, Peter is writing to Christian wives about the manner in which they should try to influence their husbands to serve the Lord. “ Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3,4).
The Spirit’s message through Peter is about adornment, hair, jewelry, apparel, the heart, and beauty. Some Bible students conclude that Peter’s inspired words forbid women (and men) from wearing jewelry of any type. The apostle surely told our early sisters not to have their adornment be one of wearing gold (3:3). In the same breath, so to speak, he informed them that they should not be adorned by “putting on of apparel” (KJV). If Peter’s words mean that the wearing of any gold is strictly forbidden, then the same would apply to clothing: wearing any and all clothes would be off limits as well. They stand or fall together. Since it is the clear case that it is not sinful to wear clothes (1 Timothy 2:9), then by the same reasoning it is not sinful, in and of itself, to wear gold or other types of jewelry.
What is the point of Peter’s words to our sisters in the Christ? They ought to have chaste conduct (3:1,2). Rather than gaining a reputation because of their hairdo, fancy jewelry, or eye-catching clothes, they should be identified and known by their pure heart coupled with a gentle and quiet spirit (3:4). They ought to put their emphasis on the inward beauty of the heart, not the outward beauty of the skin or the appeal of man-made, wearable items.
We see no biblical reason for saying that there is something wrong with any female or male making themselves look presentable and even attractive. However, our priorities must be in order. Jesus once said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life . . .” (John 6:27). The Master does not restrict His disciples from laboring in order to have food for the physical body; but He wants us to put more focus on spiritual food, that is, spiritual matters. We conclude the same about wearing nice clothes and jewelry. Those matters ought to be secondary to maintaining and demonstrating a pure heart that pleases our God.
Now consider 1 Timothy 2:9,10, where we read, “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” Paul had just appealed to brothers who pray to be holy (2:8), and now he speaks of what God expects of women.
Part of a woman’s character is determined by how she presents herself to others. And, part of her being seen by others includes her clothing and whatever else she puts on her body. All children of God need to dress in such a way that they do not draw undue attention to themselves or incite lusts in others, causing them to have inappropriate thoughts (Matthew 5:28).
And what about wearing jewelry? Again, Paul’s Spirit-guided instruction is for sisters not to adorn themselves in gold or pearls or costly clothing (2:9). “Costly” by what standard? What might be expensive to one person may be counted as cheap in another’s eyes.What is considered as exquisite attire in one culture may be thought of as commonplace in another.
Was not Paul, like Peter (1 Peter 3:3,4), showing where a Christian’s emphasis ought to be in how they present themselves before others? Paul spoke of hair, clothes, and jewelry – all matters that pertain to physical appearance. He spoke also of godliness and good works – matters that pertain to one’s spiritual character. Now where should a saint’s focus be: on physical attractiveness or on spiritual attractiveness? It is obvious: godliness plus good works are far more important than good looks and a good wardrobe. You and I can be saved without wearing jewelry or costly clothes, but we cannot be saved without godliness, right?
Jehovah said that He decked out the children of Israel in nice clothes and jewelry, making them famous because of their beauty (Ezekiel 16:9-14). That does not sound like God views outward beauty, nice clothes, or wearing jewelry as being inherently wrong. On the other hand, wearing too much jewelry or ridiculously gaudy stuff, the type that causes us to turn our heads and do “a double take” because, well, that is what we notice first and remember most about the person – that would be an immodest way for Christians to present themselves.
If you do not want to wear jewelry, you will get no objections from me. If you go beyond that and start a campaign to persuade others that it is sinful to put items of jewelry on their bodies, we believe that you have gone beyond what the Bible reveals. If you and I do choose to wear jewelry, we should ask ourselves why we do so, if we are being good stewards with our money, and if our jewelry is what defines us in our minds and in the sight of others.
— Roger D. Campbell