Jewelry: A Clarification and Appeal

Lack of consistency has caused embarrassment and even hardship.

By the staff of Ministry.

Action voted at the North American Division 1986 annual meeting.—Editors.

At the 1972 Annual Council the General Conference officers gave counsel regarding the wedding band in North America. An examination of this statement reveals the following salient points:

1. Ministers were counseled not to perform ring ceremonies since the wearing of the wedding band still "is not regarded as obligatory" or an "imperative" custom in North America.

2. Pastors, evangelists, and Bible instructors were urged to present to candidates for baptism the biblical prin ciples regarding display and ornaments, encouraging careful self-examination concerning the motives involved, in deciding whether to wear the wedding band.

3. Baptism was not to be denied to converts who conscientiously felt they should wear the wedding band.

4. Church officers, ministers and their wives, teachers, and other SDA workers were urged to give strong support to the standards and principles that have distinguished the remnant church.

The Annual Council of the same year also stated very clearly its position on personal adornment as follows:

"That in the area of personal adorn ment, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings (including engagement rings) should not be worn. Articles such as watches, brooches, cufflinks, tie clasps, etc., should be chosen in harmony with the Christian, principles of simplicity, modesty, and economy."

It seems, therefore, that in 1972 the church had a strong desire to maintain a high standard in the matter of personal adornment. Yet it also recognized the simple wedding band as being in a category distinct from that of jewelry worn for ornamental purposes.

The Church Manual likewise states the principles involved in the matter of personal adornment (see pp. 145, 146—"Dress"). Included in this particular section is the following statement:

"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" (Church Manual, p. 146).

During the intervening years large numbers of members who have come from areas in the world where wearing a wedding band is an accepted and necessary symbol of marriage have joined the church in North America. A growing number of employees from such areas have also come to serve the church at all levels. In North America there are many loyal, clear-thinking members who believe that conditions have changed greatly since 1892 when Ellen White's counsel was given and that her statement "In countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so conscientiously" is now applicable in North America.

Across the division the position con cerning the wedding band has not been uniform, and possibly it never will be. However, there has developed an ambivalence on the part of many, and the lack of consistency has caused embarrassment and even hardship and misunderstanding. It has also obscured the church's position on the wearing of jewelry.

In the light of these and other factors, it is

VOTED, 1. To reaffirm the principles regarding personal adornment as outlined in the Church Manual, the 1972 Annual Council action, and the General Conference officers' statement of October 2, 1972.

2. To affirm that the wearing of jewelry is unacceptable and is a denial of the principles enunciated in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy concerning personal adornment.

3. To recognize that, in harmony with the position stated in the Church Manual (pp. 145, 146), some church members in the North American Division, as in other parts of the world, feel that wearing a simple marriage band is a symbol of faithfulness to the marriage vow and to declare that such persons should be fully accepted in the fellowship and service of the church.

4. To make an immediate appeal to our people for a commitment to simplic ity in lifestyle and by pen, voice, and example to halt the rising tide of worldly attitudes and practices that have made their subtle appearance within the church in recent years.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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By the staff of Ministry.

April 1987

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