What does the Bible say about jewelry and is it a sin to wear jewelry? Did you know that wearing jewelry was perfectly acceptable in Biblical times and that the Bible is filled with references to God’s people wearing jewelry? Jesus even told the story of the prodigal son depicting the father receiving his son with blessings and gifts; one being a ring. In fact jewelry was typically given as a gift and a blessing and only taken away when pride and sin had entered into people’s hearts. Lets take a look at a few of these scriptures.
47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her arms. 48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son.
God blessed Joseph greatly because of his faithfulness. In this passage above, we find Joseph accepting jewelry as a gift from Pharaoh. If God forbade jewelry, it would seem to follow that Joseph would have rejected this gift because Joseph was faithful to God above all.
In the passage below, Isaiah compares righteousness and salvation to a bride and bridegroom who adorn themselves with jewelry. It doesn’t seem logical that Isaiah would compare a sinful activity to the salvation and righteousness of God.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
In Ezekiel, God talks about how he has blessed his children with bracelets, necklaces, earrings, jewels and crowns…
11 And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.
God continues on in this chapter and describes how the people had abused His blessing. Without taking into account the entire chapter in context, people will often take the passage below and think God is unhappy with the people for wearing jewelry, but in context we see that is not the case. In fact these were blessing from God, which He had to take away because of the sin in the people’s hearts.
15 “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. 17 You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. 18 And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. 19 Also my bread that I gave you I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord GOD.
One strong argument for forbidding jewelry is in 1 Peter 3:3 and 1 Tim 2:9, and if read alone, then at first glace it would appear that we are being told not to braid our hair, wear jewelry or wear nice clothes.
1 Peter 3:3
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear
1 Tim 2:9
likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire
Taking these scriptures in context with just the few scripture in the Bible on jewelry above we see that we are not be told not to wear jewelry, or not to do our hair and wear nice clothes. What we are seeing was a church whose women let vanity get out of control; a church who became over indulgent. Remember that it was a time when it was the custom (very Roman) to show how much you had, so you over did everything because you wanted to show how much you could afford. What Paul and Peter are talking about here is this is not the beauty that a Christian should strive after. We are to be more concerned with the inward beauty, rather than the outward beauty. This is not saying we shouldn’t look nice, but instead look at our hearts and be careful not to abuse our blessings and show off what we have in vanity.
When you think about how you dress in the manner of moderation and modest, then you realize it goes beyond just wearing jewelry. In truth we can make a law about to not wear jewelry, but then we substitute an expensive watch or extravagant showy clothes to fill the sin of vanity in our hearts. The “thing” of blame may be different, but the sin is the same.
1 Samuel 16:7
the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance,but the Lord looks on the heart.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.