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Eugene W. Prewitt

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Adventist Adornment


Adventist Adornment

By Eugene Prewitt


When John Wesley began to take the Bible very seriously he discovered many aspects of the worldly life that differed from the life of the believer. He began to oppose the theater and dancing, jewelry and alcohol, immodest dress and racism. And in every case, he drew his ideals from the standard book, the Bible.

But not all studious men agreed with him. Spurgeon famously clung to his cigars though Wesley had taught the disuse of such “needless self-indulgence.”

Adventists concluded like Wesley on all the above points.

But maintaining our values was no natural effect of having once taught them. At the heart of the work, Battle Creek, there was need of vigilance and work to prevent things from slipping. (And slip, slip, slip, slip they did! See the final section of this article.)

Today Adventists are heavily divided in faith and practice regarding these points.

The purpose of this writing is to address the values we hold as a church regarding jewelry. And my aim is to do this in such a way as to meet the objections to such values I have encountered personally.

I will present the simple aspects of truth first and complex truths later.  In the first section find what the Bible says in its primary texts on this point. There I will also address a number of secondary passages from which we may infer useful information relevant to the primary texts.

In the second section, I will address several of the complexities with which the question of adornment has been shrouded.  Why, for example, might we refuse to baptize someone with simple earrings while inviting her husband into the font despite his ostentatious lifestyle and tastes? What does the wedding band issue have to do with jewelry more generally? What about the obvious truth that God enjoys gemstones and gold (as manifest in his construction of the heavenly Jerusalem)? And what about the question of very inexpensive and artificial “jewelry”?

In the third section I will address the contributions of Ellen White to our understanding of values generally and of this issue in particular. We will see that it is a rational approach to harmonize her teachings with Scripture without dodging their truest import.

Finally, I will conclude with some additional thoughts on why studious minds may conclude differently on points well established by the prophets. (This happens routinely). This concludes the introduction. Let us proceed to the simple truths of the Bible.

The Simple Truth

The Primary Texts

Jesus directly addressed the question of anxiety regarding adornment in his first recorded public sermon. There He contrasted the simple natural beauty of the lily with the glorious artificial adornment of King Solomon.

Guidance regarding choices of adornment comes later. Paul, when setting out his instructions for how the Gentile churches should be organized, directly instructed Timothy regarding the weaknesses and issues facing both men and women. The former were to be urged to be more forward in their religious life, to subdue their anger and not think it a mark of intelligence to doubt what God has said. And women were to adorn themselves, not with jewels and fashionably expensive clothing, but with a beautiful character.

 1Ti 2:8  I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 9  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.[1]

The verses are clear that women should “adorn” themselves with both modest clothing and with good character. But that clothing is not to include “gold, or pearls or costly array.” We observe that the forbidden clothes are compared to gold and pearls and contrasted with “modest apparel.”

When Peter addresses the very same issue he says about the same thing. Speaking to Christian wives who should be respectful of their own husbands, he testifies:

1Pe 3:3  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:”

These are, as the heading indicates, our primary passages that were written for the direct purpose of guiding our choices regarding what we wear and what we refuse to wear. Jesus and Paul and Peter all say about the same thing. Paul and Peter give more information and explain each other well.

And when John Wesley found these passages, they matched the general spirit of the New Testament as he understood it. Our lot is to take a humble position here. And this brings us to our secondary passages.

Secondary Passages

Our secondary passages fall into two categories: those that treat on Christian values directly and those that allude to dress and adornment indirectly.

In the first category are those showing our humble position mentioned earlier.

Php 2:5-7  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, … made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

We understand this lowly position to be a temporary one that will end at the right time, when Christ will return:

1Pe 5:6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Wesley understood the Christian life to be one of denying self and of repressing worldly desires.

Luk 9:23  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

1Jn 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

While we might look at perhaps a score of texts that describe the general idea that Christians should flee from their natural inclinations, these will have to suffice to show why so few enter the narrow way. We now proceed to our second class of secondary passages: those from which we might infer information regarding jewelry and adornment.

Secondary Passages involving Inference

It is important to separate primary from secondary passages for this reason: what God says to do (a primary text) can never be sensibly countered by what we infer from other passages. Too much of our own self gets into the business of inference. Let me illustrate by a bit of satire:

There is no need to get on the ark. Enoch was an ideal man and he never got on the ark. And more than that, he walked with God for decades. Adam became a godly man and he never got on an ark. In fact, even the builder of the ark, Noah, can’t produce any direct command from God to get on the ark. More than this, all scientists who have studied the potential for water drops to fall thickly and rapidly from the sky declare that it cannot happen. (The cooling of the night is too gradual to tip the dew point violently so as to replace dew with massive precipitation.) And measurements of humidity indicate that insufficient moisture is in the air to swamp the world even if it all turned to liquid. These things, each of them, authorize thinking persons to spiritualize Noah’s message. Instead of getting on his dry boat literally, his message should be understood as “get on board” or “get with the program,” a metaphor for being participatory in religious activities. This interpretation has been well accepted by theologians outside of Noah’s little circle, but also with a few of his construction workers.

What I am trying to show by the nonsense above is that inference allows us to mass a great deal of apparently valuable arguments that, at their base, are simply fallacious. When God has spoken, we must infer reverently (if at all) lest we despise Him inadvertently.

Now the Bible does have a fair bit of data about how godly persons have related to jewelry. And the story ends with the decent of a Holy City that features massive pearls, abundant gold and the largest gems in the universe (I speculate).

Rev 21:19  And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. . . :21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

And more than this, the saved will have harps of gold and crowns of gold as part of their reward. And Jesus Himself wears a crown. So from these things we may safely infer, I think, that God thinks well of His own creation of precious metals and gems and mother-of-pearl. And if we want more than an inference, we do have Genesis 1, “and God said, ‘it is good.’”

And reason affirms that the God who created broadbills and tanagers and pitas appreciates beauty.

So we can’t well say that Peter and Paul forbade us to wear jewelry on the basis of God finding it distasteful or evil. And such a conclusion, that God likes jewels, matches the idea that we have seen already that our earthly life of humiliation of self-denial will give way, by and by, to a life of being exalted “in due time” to reign with Christ on His throne. Its lowly-now-and-glorified-later.

But why did our primary texts say “not” to adorn ourselves with gold and pearls and expensive clothing? Such a question carries risks. God may have many reasons for telling us something. When He says “don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden,” our research may fail to find all of His reasons and may even fail to satisfy us while we stand looking at the tree. What I am saying is that obedience precedes thorough moral understanding in a life of faith. We should obey even when we fail to see the value of doing so.

In regard to our key texts, however, we do have some reasons. Peter and Paul both affirm the value of women having a meek and quiet “spirit” that beautifies the inner self as being a reason for choosing internal adornment over external adornment.

And among our secondary texts are two special ones that, together, may give greater insight into why Paul and Peter say what they do. Both are in Ezekiel.

In the first (Ezekiel 16) God illustrates his care for Israel by a story of a man that finds a bloody muddy infant girl that has been left to die. He cleans her, feeds her, raises her and, when the time is right, marries her. And as part of that metaphor, he decks her with jewels and uses some of the same words found in our primary texts:

Eze 16:10  I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11  I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12  And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13  Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.

Many have used this passage as evidence that God enjoys jewelry. And as we have already seen Revelation 21, how can we deny that it is true?

But the metaphor continues that though God gave the nation perfect beauty that was His own, yet the nation used the gold and gems and broidered works and expensive gifts to attract God’s enemies and to honor idols. And why? Because she, the nation, “did trust in [her] own beauty.”

Eze 16:15  But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. 16  And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. 17  Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them,

This picture plays out again a dozen chapters later. There we find the history of Lucifer’s fall. Notice the same plot, but literal this time, as in the metaphor above:

Eze 28:13  Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets[2] and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

But how was it that Lucifer was found to harbor iniquity? Part of it was Lucifer’s preoccupation with his own beautified person.

Eze 28:17  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

Here we have two classic stories of a beautiful servant of God becoming His enemy through temptations related to their beauty. And if that is the eventual result of beautiful bedecking (in metaphor and in reality) can we be surprised that God, through the heads of Gentile and Jewish Christianity, has asked believing women not to imitate the whore and the devil even in their first steps?

The first of these metaphors, of an apostate woman acting the whore, is repeated in Revelation in another of our secondary passages where the very words of Paul and Peter are used to describe her adornment:

Rev 17:4  The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5  And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

In another metaphor (of the prodigal son) a young man is given a good robe and is provided with a bracelet or a ring. And as a picture of how God exalts the one that humbles himself, the metaphor is fitting. But it would be a stretch, and an unwise one, to reason from the metaphor of God’s graciousness to lost persons that we are at liberty to exalt ourselves contrary to God’s directions. We wouldn’t want to make inference a tool for self-justification. Again, He will exalt us in due time. And today isn’t the time.

Let me say that again. The Bible’s prohibition of jewelry is not based on a supposed immoral nature of gems and metals. Rather, it is founded on the tendency of especially the female heart (for both primary passages are written to females) to find in outward adorning a poor substitute for inward holiness.

In a later section we will look at a few more of these secondary passages that are alleged to show God’s approval of women wearing gold and jewels. But before that, let’s deal with a few complex questions that plague any effort to resolve the question of whether believers[3] ought to wear jewelry.

The Complex Truth

The Difference between Morality and Church Order

We may disfellowship a man for operating a tobacco shop on Sabbath. But we won’t take away his membership for playing video games while pigging out on fried chicken. Both activities are disrespectful of the information God has given to the church.

Again, we will discipline the adulterer. But we will not discipline the man who admits to sometimes fantasizing about sex with various ladies.  Both are sin.

Again, the state will incarcerate the person that lies under oath in court. But the chronic liar in your home has nothing to worry about from the law.

These are all ways of illustrating an important idea: God enforces true morality in the judgment. That is where immoral thoughts, covetous thoughts, prideful thoughts and hateful thoughts will be condemned. Church laws and state laws, by way of contrast, defend much lower standards. They exist to allow the church and the state to function best as a body.

There is nothing inconsistent then in the church disciplining someone for wearing jewelry while neglecting to discipline her husband for his Lamborghini. The church is not, by setting a standard, competing with the judgment in an effort to condemn all wrong. There is a good reason why it does not discipline pride, gluttony, racial slurs, and hatred, though it should condemn each of these.

Simplicity in dress was chosen as a minimum guideline for church membership because of the very plain reading of the two primary statements.

But the high road of modesty is the goal set before believers. They have a long road ahead of them in learning about holy living even after being baptized. The church does not address these issues with discipline because it has been told to “judge nothing before the time.”

The Difference Between Beauty and Self-Exaltation

Which is prettier? A rosebud or a stud in the tongue? Beauty is a function of discretion. We discern attractiveness. And to be neat and attractive is certainly in harmony with God’s character. The priests were dressed that way.

Exo 28:2  And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

One part of this outfit even included solid gold and more than a dozen precious gems. And the sanctuary was incredibly beautiful otherwise with an appearance of massive gold to anyone who entered.

What I am trying to say is that our primary texts are not anti-pretty. The verses are not recommending the wearing of earth tones only. They are not advocating a principle that would rob our homes of flower gardens and solid-wood furniture.

What they are saying is that women should resist their natural inclination to use jewelry as a means of publicly exalting themselves.

And, again, some lines are easier to draw than others. So a school rule against chewing gum indoors is easier to enforce than a rule against depositing gum on furniture. But imagine a student group protesting the no-gum rule. “Gum isn’t the only gross thing on campus. What about spitting? What about hair all over? What about goo below urinals? What about teachers whose cars bellow smoke? What about students who leave crumbs on the floor after lunch? Why not ban all lunches?” Well.

The fact is that a few rules are all that man can well handle. And so we outlaw the gum and hope to teach people principles about all the rest.

So when Paul and Peter say “no” to wearing of gold and pearls and costly array, please don’t give them hassle for leaving many other unscrupulous behaviors unmentioned. This one has, quite reliably, served a purpose of showing which ladies were willing to give up all for Jesus. And so it seems picking on this point was well done.

The Truth is not Compelling

In heaven no one is going to say, “Will I get in big trouble if I do this thing?” Heaven is guided by the idea that men do what they believe would be pleasing to the King. Let me say this another way. It is not in God’s interest for you to think that every issue is, as they say, “salvational.” If you only do God’s will when you are afraid of eternal consequences for not doing so, you are not submitted to God truly.

If you understand this, then you can easily comprehend why angels don’t blaze the gospel into the sky at night and warn people in loud commanding voices to get ready for the end. That would be compelling truth. Men would submit, not because of love and trust, but because of fear and more fear.

This is why Jesus said that very non-intuitive truth that only those who are willing to do what God says will understand what God wants them to do.

Joh 7:17  If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

What I am saying, relevant to this article, is that if you are not pleased with the idea of denying yourself for Christ’s sake in the area of adornment, then the Spirit will not be giving you help in understanding regarding your duty.

Nevertheless, there are four issues that need to be addressed yet. These are:

  1. The Antitypical Day of Atonement
  2. Wedding Rings
  3. Texts Favoring the Wearing of Jewels
  4. The Current Reality of Many Inexpensive Pieces of Jewelry.

Four Specific Issues

We Live in the Day of Atonement

The people on the Day of Atonement were to humble themselves. But no recipe for this self-humbling on the Day of Atonement was provided for them. Consequently, they sought in other Scripture for help in knowing what to do. And they found the following story about the aftermath of the golden calf (which was made of bullion from golden jewelry) to be particularly helpful[4]:

Exo 33:4-6  And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

We live in the judgment time that was illustrated by the Day of Atonement. And this does have a practical application to our lives. While inferring a certain duty to strip ourselves of jewels while the judgment is ongoing would be a stretch (because inferring certain duty is always a stretch) still it matches well with what Peter and Paul gave as a more general instruction.

Our duty to keep the Sabbath, by way of illustration, has always been. But since 1844, it has been made a test for Christians. And in view of God’s special instruction in Exodus 33 above to those facing potentially lethal judgements, it makes sense that God would call His people back to holiness on the point of adornment especially during this time.

Let me say this again: While the Judgment is ongoing we are to be doing something analogous to “afflicting” our souls. And whatever that means, it most certainly means humbling ourselves. That is what every last faithful Hebrew did on the Day of Atonement anciently.

Lev 16:29  And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:

Lev 16:31  It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

Lev 23:27  Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Now our primary texts are quite related to this idea naturally. They speak of “shamefacedness” and “sobriety” and of a “meek and quiet spirit” in the context of submitting to one’s husband. In both Ezekiel 16 and 28 it was pride of appearance that came before the fall. And in Isaiah 3 it was “haughty” ladies that were to be stripped of their jewels. In short, jewelry is associated with self-exaltation in Scripture. Humbling one’s self is associated with the Day of Atonement.

And consequently we must be not surprised that the Jews generally removed their jewelry for that day. We are under no obligation to follow their example. But we are under the same obligation (to humble self) that led them to put their gold away.

And this is how I explain the very clear call in the Testimonies to come higher and to wear no gems or golden jewels. For more on this, see the section on the Testimonies.

But if the first and second and tenth commandment enforce the prohibition against wearing jewelry, the seventh requires that we honor our marriage vow everywhere we might go. And that brings us to the question of the wedding ring.

The Wedding Ring

It is just like the devil to put two things together that don’t belong. And in the case of the wedding band, he has done so. On one hand, we ought to follow any harmless custom that is designed to honor the sacredness of marriage. On the other hand, we should boycott the jewelry the devil uses to cheat persons who are seeking beauty.

But what to do when the custom is to have a ring to show the marriage?

For the sake of this article it is sufficient to ask the question. Even if wearing jewelry is contrary to God’s will for us now, it might be best to wear a wedding ring. (I don’t think it is.) And even if God wants you to wear a wedding ring, it would be no evidence that He wants you otherwise to be pierced and decorated.  So I leave the question for you. And if you have confidence in Ellen White, I assure you that relevant material is found there.

Texts Apparently Favoring the Use of Jewelry

We have briefly considered the ring on the prodigal son and the sapphire foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem. We have shown that humbling ourselves today is preparation for an exalted afterlife.

And there are a few more passages we could study. First, even good kings of Israel wore crowns. And Saul apparently even encouraged the wearing of gold on the part of the ladies. But as the behavior of the kings was never anything like faultless, and as showing off his jewels was the low point in the life of one of the best of them, I won’t spend any time here drawing significant inferences here.

But one difficult passage does come to mind. God invited the children of Israel to borrow gems from their Egyptian masters just before jettisoning them into the wilderness with those precious items decorating the bodies of their children.

Exo 3:21-22  And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

We remember that for these people these jewels were their pay for years of service. It was their wealth and when placed upon the children it showed that it was not being worn in self-exaltation. When God soon instructed them to build a sanctuary, this was precisely the kind of money that they brought to contribute.

Exo_35:22  And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.

In a similar way when the war against the Midianites had been waged successfully, the people brought an offering of thankfulness gathered of the very money they had at the time. (Jewels make good money, being light, precious, testable, Numbers 31:50.)

To summarize this data, God’s counsel to us in our primary passages not to adorn ourselves with gold is not counsel to avoid owning the same. Money and Jewelry serve two different functions even if composed of the same materials. (If we inherit family jewels, we will not wear them. But neither would we discard them.)

One of the more interesting verses showing a positive use of jewelry by a well-trusted servant is found in Genesis 24. Abraham, in his old age, didn’t instruct his servant how to secure a wife for his son. But the servant was his treasurer and so did have his money under his hand. And that money would have been precious jewels and gold.

Here is part of the story:

Gen 24:12  And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. . . .16  And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. . . .21  And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not. 22  And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 30  And it came to pass, … [Laban her brother] saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister…

Does this story tell us how Isaac acquired a wife? Yes. Does it give us any information about how God would have us dress? Not any at all. In fact, it isn’t even information on how to find a wife for your late-blooming son. The story shows God’s providence, but not man’s wisdom. It is, as they say, descriptive rather than prescriptive. It shows what happened, not what should have happened[5].

Our primary texts, by way of contrast, tell us what should be done generally by church women.

In a similar way the luxury of Solomon’s court is no guideline for us regarding what is best. His harem and their jewelry are of interest, but not in a way as to help us know how to dress. In the Bible there are a number of references to royal courts (of Pharaoh, David, Artaxerxes, Belshazzar) where jewelry was noted in the text. And in those passages both Joseph and Daniel, two of the most faithful royal slaves in scripture, were ceremoniously honored by these kings with golden neck chains of great value. Gen 41:42; Dan 5:29.

Now we don’t have any information on how Joseph felt about receiving such a chain. He certainly didn’t select it for himself as a way of looking more beautiful. But we do know something about how the 87 year old Daniel related to the promise of his king to give him one such necklace:

Dan 5:16  [Belteshazzar said], “And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. 17  Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

And again, when that chain was placed on his aged body a few minutes later, there is nothing in our primary texts that would suggest that he should vehemently refuse it. It would have been perfectly consistent to remove it when doing so would not appear impudent. Daniel didn’t put it on as a means of personal adornment.

When Solomon sought for ways of showing the great value of excellent words and of constructive criticism, his mind was drawn to gold ingots and jewels. These were the treasures of his time that men sought. And ears ought to seek for needed words in a similar way,

Pro 25:11-12  A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

But are we wise to counter this fine metaphor to the literal instructions written for our practice? Certainly not.

And that concludes our consideration of the data of texts that are supposed to favor the wearing of jewelry by believers. We find that faithful persons were sometimes gifted with gold, sometimes traded with gold, sometimes illustrated value with gold, and sometimes were corrupted by gold. But neither some nor all of these amount to God teaching us how to adorn ourselves. And where we do find passages that show the moral impact on ladies and Lucifer, we find nothing but encouragement to dress simply.

Finance and Cheap Jewels

The world has always been more or less artificial. Step off the vibrant tourist path on a Caribbean island and you may find squalor only meters away. Cruise ships have very cramped quarters for service personnel. And a $3,000 Rolex watch has an almost indistinguishable $20 knock-off manufactured in Asia somewhere.

If the Rolex was purchased for adult show and tell purposes then the spirit of our primary passages would frown on it. But what about the fake? The fake serves the very same purpose as the real and falls afoul of good principles for that very reason.

1Th 5:22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Cost is an issue raised in both of the primary passages, but particularly in relation to stylish clothing. But the cost was never the primary concern. It had nothing to do with the storylines in Ezekiel 16 and 28.

When you wear the cheap earring, you cooperate with a diabolical plan to fill the earth with vain searching. You say to your neighbors, “you need to wear it also.” And to those that despise the artificial, you tempt them to get something more precious.

The Testimonies don’t ask you to compare your needless expenses to the cost of repaving your church drive. Rather, they ask you to compare it to the value that money would have on the mission front (unless it is paying western wages there). That $500, for example, could employ a half-time worker all year in several of the countries of Southeast Asia. That $10 trinket could buy six copies of Ministry of Healing in Malaysia if you give it to the children’s offering this fourth quarter.

Now the truth about these things is not compelling. It is easier to see if you are searching for it. But as the church ought to present a united front to the world, God has given the church a gift that was intended to strip us of our excuses for not following the plain direct counsel.

That gift is the Spirit of Prophecy. I think it warrants a more thorough treatment here. After we look at what can be found there, we will return to review the ideas of the article and to close it.

Ellen White and the Bible for Adventists and Others

The Ellen White statements need not much comment to be helpful. The first shows God’s purpose in giving the Testimonies of Ellen White. The statements following reveal the plain requirements of God. And then the final section deals with a few faulty arguments drawn from her life and writings. All forms of emphasis are supplied.

“The Lord designs to warn you, to reprove, to counsel, through the testimonies given, and to impress your minds with the importance of the truth of His word. The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Man’s duty to God and to his fellow man has been distinctly specified in God’s word, yet but few of you are obedient to the light given. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse.5T 665.1

“Pride, self-love, selfishness, hatred, envy, and jealousy have beclouded the perceptive powers, and the truth, which would make you wise unto salvation, has lost its power to charm and control the mind. The very essential principles of godliness are not understood because there is not a hungering and thirsting for Bible knowledge, purity of heart, and holiness of life. The Testimonies are not to belittle the word of God, but to exalt it and attract minds to it, that the beautiful simplicity of truth may impress all. 5T 665.2

A New Believer “Much Adorned”

Today I have had an interview with one who is just taking her stand for the truth, but she is much adorned with gold bracelets and rings. I think she is good material, and will bear to hear kindly advice. The word must be presented: (1 Peter 3:3, 4 quoted). I believe that this sister has received the truth and will practice the truth. If she loves the truth she will obey the words of Christ. Letter 112, 1896, p. 3. (To Sister Wessels and Children, October 16, 1896.)

A Vanity that is Sinful Encouraged by Gifts of Jewelry

Shall those who profess the name of Christ see no attraction in the world’s Redeemer? Will they be indifferent to the possession of truth and righteousness, and turn from the heavenly treasure to the earthly? Can you, my sister, use the Lord’s money to purchase diamonds or any other jewels for any person? These cannot save one soul. They will not lead anyone to accept the saving truths for this time. Let us do nothing to encourage a vanity that is sinful. No, my sister, save the money you may be tempted to spend in this way, and place it where it will bring honor and glory to Christ. … 9MR 119.3

Jewelry and Expensive Dress Will Not Give Us Influence

We have not time now to give anxious thought as to what we shall eat and drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed. Let us live simply, and work in simplicity. Let us dress in such a modest, becoming way that we will be received wherever we go. Jewelry and expensive dress will not give us influence, but the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit—the result of devotion to the service of Christ—will give us power with God. Kindness and forethought for those about us are qualities precious in the sight of heaven. If you have not given attention to the acquirement of these graces, do so now, for you have no time to lose. 9MR 120.2

Where Elder Simpson Preaches, Jewelry become an Offering

Elder Simpson explains the prophecies by the means of charts, and makes it very plain that the end of all things is at hand. … The truth takes hold of hearts; and men and women give their rings and bracelets although no call has been made for them to strip themselves of these idols. The work is earnest and quiet. The people take off their jewelry of their own freewill, and bring it to Elder Simpson as an offering up of their idols. 14MR 250.4

First and Highest Thoughts of Most Women are of Display. Christians Must Not Ape Them

We see the world absorbed in their own amusements. The first and highest thoughts of the larger portion, especially of women, are of display. Love of dress and pleasure is wrecking the happiness of thousands. And some of those who profess to love and keep the commandments of God ape this class as near as they possibly can and retain the Christian name. Some of the young are so eager for display that they are even willing to give up the Christian name if they can only follow out their inclination for vanity of dress and love of pleasure. Self-denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty. To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith. Are we of the number who see the folly of worldlings in indulging in extravagance of dress as well as in love of amusements? If so, we should be of that class who shun everything that gives sanction to this spirit which takes possession of the minds and hearts of those who live for this world only and who have no thought or care for the next. 3T 366.1

Ten pages of one testimony in the 4th volume of the Testimonies is devoted to the topic of dress. Part is reproduced below though all is interesting. Here we find how serious the issue of dress is to God and man, and how displeasing it is to God when we neglect to do our part to repress fashion’s influence in cheapening the lives of church women.

God has been testing His people. He allowed the testimony concerning dress to become silent, that our sisters might follow their own inclination and thus develop the real pride existing in their hearts. It was to prevent the present state of worldliness that the reform dress was recommended. Many scorned the idea that this dress was necessary to preserve them from following the fashions; but the Lord has permitted them to prove that pride was cherished in their hearts, and that this was just what they would do. It is now shown that they needed the restriction which the reform dress imposed. 4T 639.3

Many a soul who was convinced of the truth has been led to decide against it by the pride and love of the world displayed by our sisters. The doctrine preached seemed clear and harmonious, and the hearers felt that a heavy cross must be lifted by them in taking the truth. When these persons have seen our sisters making so much display in dress, they have said: “This people dress fully as much as we do. They cannot really believe what they profess; and, after all, they must be deceived.…How little did those professedly believing sisters know of the sermon their dress was preaching! 4T 641.2

… Many unbelievers have felt that they were not doing right in permitting themselves to be slaves of fashion; but when they see some who make a high profession of godliness dressing as worldlings dress, enjoying frivolous society, they decide that there can be no wrong in such a course. 4T 641.3 …

Why will our sisters rob God of the service due Him, and rob His treasury of money which they should give to His cause, to serve the fashions of this age? The first and best thoughts are given to dress; time is squandered and money wasted. The culture of the mind and heart is neglected. The character is considered of less importance than the dress. The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is of infinite value, and it is the wickedest of folly to waste in frivolous pursuits our opportunities to secure this precious adorning of the soul. 4T 642.1

Sisters, we may do a noble work for God if we will. Woman does not know her power. God did not intend that her capabilities should be all absorbed in questioning: What shall I eat? what shall I drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed? There is a higher purpose for woman, a grander destiny. She should develop and cultivate her powers, for God can employ them in the great work of saving souls from eternal ruin.4T 642.2

On Sunday the popular churches appear more like a theater than a place for the worship of God. Every style of fashionable dress is displayed there. The poor have not courage to enter those houses of worship….

Not one word was said of Christ or of the sermon preached. How, thought I, can Jesus regard that company, with their display of ornaments and extravagant dress? What dishonor is shown to the house of God! Were Christ upon earth, and should He visit such churches, would He not drive out those desecrators of His Father’s house? 4T 643.1

…[if you have teens, read what I omitted here]…

Simplicity of dress will make a sensible woman appear to the best advantage. We judge of a person’s character by the style of dress worn. Gaudy apparel betrays vanity and weakness. A modest, godly woman will dress modestly. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire. 4T 643.4

There is an ornament that will never perish, that will promote the happiness of all around us in this life, and will shine with undimmed luster in the immortal future. It is the adorning of a meek and lowly spirit. God has bidden us wear the richest dress upon the soul. By every look into the mirror, the worshipers of fashion should be reminded of the neglected soul. Every hour squandered over the toilet should reprove them for leaving the intellect to lie waste. Then there might be a reformation that would elevate and ennoble all the aims and purposes of life. Instead of seeking golden ornaments for the exterior, an earnest effort would be put forth to secure that wisdom which is of more value than fine gold, yea, which is more precious than rubies. 4T 643.5

Peter gives valuable instruction concerning the dress of Christian women: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” All that we urge is compliance with the injunctions of God’s word. Are we Bible readers and followers of Bible teachings? Will we obey God, or conform to the customs of the world? Will we serve God or mammon? Can we expect to enjoy peace of mind and the approval of God while walking directly contrary to the teachings of His word? 4T 644.2

The apostle Paul exhorts Christians not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” But many who profess to be children of God feel no scruples against conforming to the customs of the world in the wearing of gold and pearls and costly array. Those who are too conscientious to wear these things are regarded as narrow-minded, superstitious, and even fanatical. But it is God who condescends to give us these instructions; they are the declarations of Infinite Wisdom, and those who disregard them do so at their own peril and loss. Those who cling to the ornaments forbidden in God’s word cherish pride and vanity in the heart. They desire to attract attention. Their dress says: Look at me; admire me. Thus the vanity inherent in human nature is steadily increasing by indulgence. When the mind is fixed upon pleasing God alone, all the needless embellishments of the person disappear…

The love of dress endangers the morals and makes woman the opposite of the Christian lady characterized by modesty and sobriety. Showy, extravagant dress too often encourages lust in the heart of the wearer and awakens base passions in the heart of the beholder. God sees that the ruin of the character is frequently preceded by the indulgence of pride and vanity in dress. He sees that the costly apparel stifles the desire to do good. The more means persons expend in dress, the less they can have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked; and the streams of beneficence, which should be constantly flowing, are dried up. Every dollar saved by denying one’s self of useless ornaments may be given to the needy or may be placed in the Lord’s treasury to sustain the gospel, to send missionaries to foreign countries, to multiply publications to carry rays of light to souls in the darkness of error. Every dollar used unnecessarily deprives the spender of a precious opportunity to do good. 4T 645.3

…The fact that worldliness and pride bear almost universal sway is no excuse for one Christian to do as others do. God has said: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”4T 647.1

…. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God.4T 647.2

Instructing New Converts on Idolatry of Dress

One of the points upon which those newly come to the faith will need instruction is the subject of dress. Let the new converts be faithfully dealt with. Are they vain in dress? Do they cherish pride of heart? The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life. In most cases, submission to the gospel requirements will demand a decided change in the dress. Ev 268.2

. . . Very specific were the directions given in regard to Aaron’s robes, for his dress was symbolic. So the dress of Christ’s followers should be symbolic. In all things we are to be representatives of Him. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty, and purity. But the Word of God gives no sanction to the making of changes in apparel merely for the sake of fashion,—that we may appear like the world. Christians are not to decorate the person with costly array or expensive ornaments. Ev 268.3

New Converts Confused by Adventists Wearing Jewelry

One Said, “We are not so Particular as Formerly”

A sister who had spent some weeks at one of our institutions in _____, said that she felt much disappointed in what she saw and heard there…. Before accepting the truth, she had followed the fashions of the world in her dress, and had worn costly jewelry and other ornaments; but upon deciding to obey the Word of God, she felt that its teachings required her to lay aside all extravagant and superfluous adorning. She was taught that Seventh-day Adventists did not wear jewelry, gold, silver, or precious stones, and that they did not conform to worldly fashions in their dress. When she saw among those who profess the faith such a wide departure from Bible simplicity, she felt bewildered. Had they not the same Bible which she had been studying, and to which she had endeavored to conform her life? Had her past experience been mere fanaticism? Had she misinterpreted the words of the apostle, “The friendship of the world is enmity with God, for whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”? Ev 270.1

Mrs. D, a lady occupying a position in the institution, was visiting at Sr. _____’s room one day, when the latter took out of her trunk a gold necklace and chain, and said she wished to dispose of this jewelry and put the proceeds into the Lord’s treasury. Said the other, “Why do you sell it? I would wear it if it was mine.” “Why,” replied Sr. _____, “when I received the truth, I was taught that all these things must be laid aside. Surely they are contrary to the teachings of God’s Word.” And she cited her hearer to the words of the apostles, Paul and Peter, upon this point, “In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but, as becometh women professing godliness, with good works.” “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.”Ev 270.2

In answer, the lady displayed a gold ring on her finger, given her by an unbeliever, and said she thought it no harm to wear such ornaments. “We are not so particular,” said she, “as formerly. Our people have been overscrupulous in their opinions upon the subject of dress. The ladies of this institution wear gold watches and gold chains, and dress like other people. It is not good policy to be singular in our dress; for we cannot exert so much influence.” Ev 271.1

We inquire, Is this in accordance with the teachings of Christ? Are we to follow the Word of God, or the customs of the world? Our sister decided that it was the safest to adhere to the Bible standard. Will Mrs. D and others who pursue a similar course be pleased to meet the result of their influence, in that day when every man shall receive according to his works? Ev 271.2

Sell Your Jeweled idols

Those who have bracelets, and wear gold and ornaments, had better take these idols from their persons and sell them, even if it should be for much less than they gave for them, and thus practice self-denial. Time is too short to adorn the body with gold or silver or costly apparel… Let us live simply, and work in simplicity. Let us dress in such a modest, becoming way that we will be received wherever we go. Jewelry and expensive dress will not give us influence, but the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit—the result of devotion to the service of Christ—will give us power with God. Kindness and forethought for those about us are qualities precious in the sight of heaven. If you have not given attention to the acquirement of these graces, do so now, for you have no time to lose. 3SM 248

Professed Christians Wearing Jewelry and “Costly Apparel”

… There are many whose hearts have been so hardened by prosperity that they forget God, and forget the wants of their fellow man. Professed Christians adorn themselves with jewelry, laces, costly apparel, while the Lord’s poor suffer for the necessaries of life. Men and women who claim redemption through a Saviour’s blood will squander the means intrusted to them for the saving of other souls, and then grudgingly dole out their offerings for religion, giving liberally only when it will bring honor to themselves. These are idolaters (The Signs of the Times, January 26, 1882). 2BC 1011-1012

Money Expended for Display and for Forbidden Ornaments Sufficient to Fund Benevolent Work

Let not the cries of the widow and fatherless call down the vengeance of Heaven upon us as a people. In the professed Christian world, there is enough expended in extravagant display, for jewels and ornaments, to supply the wants of all the hungry and clothe the naked in our towns and cities; and yet these professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus need not deprive themselves of suitable food or comfortable clothing. What will these church members say when confronted in the day of God by the worthy poor, the afflicted, the widows and fatherless, who have known pinching want for the meager necessities of life, while there was expended by these professed followers of Christ, for superfluous clothing, and needless ornaments expressly forbidden in the Word of God, enough to supply all their wants? We see ladies professing godliness wear elegant gold chains, necklaces, rings, and other jewelry … while want stalks in the streets, and the suffering and destitute are on every side. These do not interest them, nor awaken their sympathy; but they will weep over the imaginary suffering depicted in the last novel. They have no ears for the cries of the needy, no eyes to behold the cold and almost naked forms of women and children around them. They look upon real want as a species of crime, and withdraw from suffering humanity as from a contagious disease. To such, Christ will say, “I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: … sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” BLJ 269

Your Beauty Should Come From…

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. 1 Peter 3:3, 4, NIV. The pure religion of Jesus requires of its followers the simplicity of natural beauty and the polish of natural refinement and elevated purity, rather than the artificial and false.…A disposition in you to dress according to the fashion, and to wear lace and gold and artificials[6] for display, will not recommend to others your religion or the truth that you profess…. Simple, plain, unpretending dress will be a recommendation to my youthful sisters. In no better way can you let your light shine to others than in your simplicity of dress and deportment. You may show to all that, in comparison with eternal things, you place a proper estimate upon the things of this life. ..LHU 305

How Do Artists Draw Angels? Why?

“Female loveliness never appears to so good advantage as when set off with simplicity of dress. No artist ever decks his angels with towering feathers and gaudy jewelry; and our dear human angels, if they will make good their title to that name, should carefully avoid ornaments, which properly belong to Indian squaws and African princesses. These tinselries may serve to give effect on the stage, on the ball-floor, but in daily life there is no substitute for the charm of simplicity. A vulgar taste is not to be disguised by gold or diamonds. The absence of a true taste and refinement of delicacy cannot be compensated for by the possession of the most princely fortune. Mind measures gold, but gold cannot measure mind.HR November 1, 1871, par. 15

The Less we Bejewel and Paint Ourselves (as Heathen do) the Better

There should be perfect cleanliness, with frequent baths, clean and neat persons, homes, and grounds. Clothing should be simple, neat, and healthful. The fashions of that day had many things in dress that were wrong and harmful, and so too are some of the fashions today. God made for us beautiful bodies, and the less we deck them with foolish frills and jewelry and paint, like the heathen, the more pleasing we make ourselves and the better able we are to give God’s message. SWhite 64.3

Note that the statements above are not nearly exhaustive.

Now what of the idea that Ellen White used a pocket-watch with a chain, or that she wore a brooch as a simple clasp for her collar? What about the brooch that, though “serviceable,” had white stones in it that “were not showy at all?” (Ellen White wore this for a few weeks or more.) Ellen White sold one of her pocket-watches for the very reason that some persons thought her inconsistent to have it. There is, however, nothing inconsistent with having a golden pocket watch in one’s pocket while advocating the non-wearing of jewelry. Nor is there any inconsistency to wear a tasteful and simple clasp for one’s collar.

But these stories should hold little weight with anyone who is looking for truth in the Testimonies. Why? Because it is the ideas of prophets, not the practice of prophets, that is inspired.

Ellen White explained her view of such stories when the rumor spread around that she was a cheese eater. She had no value for a religion based on her example rather than on God’s instructions. Listen:

Oh, how it has hurt me to have blocks thrown in my way in regard to this subject. Some have said, “Sister White eats cheese, and therefore we are at liberty to eat cheese.” I have tasted cheese once or twice, but that is a different thing from making it an article of diet. Once when at Minneapolis, I sat down at a table on which there was some cheese. I was quite sick at the time, and some of my brethren told me that they thought if I ate a little cheese, it might do me good. I ate a small piece, and from then it has been reported in large assemblies that Sister White eats cheese.13MR 202.1

I have not had meat in my house for years. But do not give up the use of meat because Sister White does not eat it. I would not give a farthing for your health reform if that is what it is based upon. I want you to stand in your individual dignity and in your individual consecration before God, the whole being dedicated to Him. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”13MR 202.2

I want you to think of these things. Do not make any human being your criterion. …13MR 203.1


The Bible is a small book for the volume of issues that it addresses. Six thousand years of history and prophecy, with counsel on families and parenting and health and health care. Find there guidance for politicians and pastors, for generals and slaves. Learn how to form a character that amounts to a fitness for heaven. And learn how to get a title to the place.

On the issue of dress it speaks with authority. We find to the two primary apostles both teaching that women should seek “not” outward adorning of gold and pearls and fashionable clothing, but an inward grace of simplicity and meekness.

In the future we will be given mansions and crowns and a glorious existence. But today we are to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God.

In the past Lucifer thought too much of his beauty. He accentuated the same. And those thoughts corrupted the purity that was once his.

In the metaphorical past, God’s special nation thought too much about their beauty and privileges and was corrupted accordingly.

And anyone really seeking to see what the Creator said through Ellen White will find no confusion. He will find that Paul and Peter were speaking for God in way that should be respected. They will find that pride in dress as manifested in open disregard of those passages should be disciplined. And they will find that a slipping into carelessness regarding these things is a step in the wrong direction.

But if you want to wear jewelry specifically and or to dress like normal worldly people, you won’t see light in any of these things. You won’t discern the light in them. No one will likely be able to make you see it.

Nonetheless, lilies will still be more beautiful than Solomon and simple women more beautiful that decked ones. And these passages will still be in the Bible:

1Ti 2:8  I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 9  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

Luk 9:23  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

1Jn 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And this is why I believe that it is no coincidence that the persons you know who are more earnestly seeking to please God and to warn the world of the impending time of trouble, are also the least likely to be wearing jewelry.



[1] As the issue of ordination is current the Adventist church even today, some persons will think of it when reading this chapter. I will not address it as I swore off doing so after 2015. But the verses that conclude this chapter are, as I understand them, addressing the issue of teaching with authority as opposed to teaching generally (the “nor” being a “not both together”). And the saving in the final verse is referring to the woman Eve being saved by her seed, Jesus, on condition of living by faith. Though these verses have been handled roughly by those with an agenda, they are good solid Bible teaching.

[2] I affirm the KJV translators on this one. Lucifer was created with vocal skills, not with gem studs preinstalled.

[3] When the Bible warns men against domestic violence (1Ti 2:8) and women against showy adornment (1Ti 2:9) it doesn’t mean that women may beat up their husbands and men may don jewelry. It does mean, however, that domestic anger is largely caused by males and concern about jeweled appearance is largely a female concern.

[4] Not having the New Testament, they would also have placed more weight on the story of Jacob’s family burying their idols and jewelry (in Genesis 35) while seeking to be “clean” before God. They would also have likely considered, as opposite of the right spirit for judgment day, the “haughty” women of Isaiah 3 that were decked out in jewelry.

[5] And there is no evidence in this passage that Eliezer pierced Rebecca’s nose out at the well. The word translated “nose ring” in a few translations is generically a ring and usually refers to finger rings in scripture.

[6] Make-up.

(9) Comments

  1. I find it interesting to read two brother’s accounts of adornment within a week and two different conclusions.

    I think the deeper issue is one of influence. I learned long ago that the more forgettable my clothing and physical exterior (there are unforgettable outfits on both sides of the ditch), and the more I relied on the indwelling Spirit, the better influence I’ve had on others. People see you for who you are, not what you are striving to be. Slaves to fashion and appearance do not bring a spirit of peace along with their presence. They bring a spirit of competition and rivalry for attention. Their pride of appearance makes simple people uncomfortable in their presence. On the other hand, I will say that I’ve seen sincere folks striving to look holy and holier still with strange, ugly sacks that are to be considered garments, head coverings, and odd colors and shapes unbecoming to their persons, and NO ONE feels at peace in their presence or wants their religion, either.

    The Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts,” is a favorite of mine in this instance.

    ‘Tis a gift to be simple; tis a gift to be free;
    ‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be;
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
    When true simplicity is gained,
    to bow and to bend we will not be ashamed
    To turn, turn, will be our delight
    ‘Til by turning, turning, we come round right… ”

    However, I do believe we need more educating on the sin of pride of appearance, covetousness, and materialism expressed in our cars, electronic devices, and houses, to name a few categories. Whatever fosters pride, fosters covetousness.
    We are safe, however, to covet the best gifts–love, joy, peace.



    • Thank you. I think the EGW statements at the end do highlight this idea of influence, though scarecrow statements and clothing issues weren’t directly in line with the issue I wanted to settle. These are good points you add.

  2. What a beautiful, sound and very clear article on Dress and adornment. Your article was such an inspiring and though provoking article that I will most certainly share it with others. Your articles are very insightful and always a most definite blessing to read. Thank you for posting this. Many blessing to you.

  3. Hugely blessed as I was reading through this article. I think one biggest point that was latently brought out in this article is that of you and me having the will to obey God in what He enjoins upon us. If He sees the will in us to genuinely obey and do,all truth shall be laid plainly before us. Thank you brother Prewitt,may the LORD continue using you for His own glory. Maranatha.

  4. I think the biggest reason why church members resist the idea of being disciplined for wearing jewelry is because the way that churches go about disciplining it’s members. It is in God’s order that members be discipled as much as disciplined, yet they are not. It is in God’s order that members feel loved and supported as much as they are rebuked, yet they are not.

    These are the bigger issues that I think need addressed. I am sure that if members are mentored and helped just as much as they are lovingly rebuked, their responses to taking off their jewelry would be significantly different.

    May God help us.

    I do appreciate your thoughts on the limitation of laws, and using the minimum to set the standard to get a point across. This makes sense to me.

    But I wonder if an article such as this one should be accompanied by another article on the larger issue at hand.

    Your friend Rachel

    • Blessings to you, Rachel. I think there is a significant typo in your note, “members be disciplined as much as disciplined.” But I can’t fix it as I don’t know what you intended to say.

      I think I sent you an article a few weeks ago on discipline of children that made the point of how love should both precede and follow all church discipline. Maybe that is the article you think should go with this one 🙂

      But I concluded long ago that articles should be accurate rather than balanced or comprehensive. What I mean is that it is fair for an author (me) to impute to his audience some grace. So I am not obliged to review grace, pardon, love, faith, etc., in every topical article. Such a habit would be burdensome to the reader.

      Still, you are correct that when discipline is done well and kindly by converted persons, it works far better.

      Be faithful,


  5. Elmamarie Heldzinger - Reply

    Thank you so much for this beautiful exposition.
    I very quickly read through it and may have missed this Scripture, but there are two Scriptures through which God spoke to me on the topic of jewelry. The first is in Exodus, after the worship of the golden calf, when God wanted to destroy the Israelites. God then agreed only to go on with His people if they took off all their jewelry, which showed that they were in submission to Him. This really spoke to me. I want the presence of God with me. He said He will only go with His people if they will take off their ornaments. This is clear in the NLT text. Ex 33 I believe.
    The other is in Job 22:24,25. I must lay down my gold and the Almighty will be my gold and precious silver. I want God to be my gold and my ornaments.
    This is just what God told me as I was reading my Bible.

  6. Thank you, Eugene. There is a lot of time and prayer invested in your articles, and they are presented with humble love. They will bear fruit….

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