Jewelry has been worn by both men and women throughout history for decorative and symbolic purposes. However, there are some verses in the Bible that specifically discuss men wearing jewelry. This article will examine these verses in depth, look at the historical context, and present the key biblical principles related to a man adorning himself with jewelry and precious metals.
In today’s society, it is common to see men wearing rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets as fashion accessories. However, many Christians wonder if this practice aligns with biblical values. Though the Bible does not explicitly prohibit men from wearing jewelry, there are some verses that provide principles for discernment.
By examining scripture in context, we can gain wisdom to guide our decisions about appropriate jewelry and adornment. The heart issues of vanity, idolatry, and living as wise stewards are at the core of this discussion. Our outward appearance reflects the condition of our heart. As believers, we are called to focus on inward beauty, righteousness, and bringing glory to God.
- Though the Bible does not prohibit all jewelry for men, principles of modesty, avoiding vanity, and good stewardship of money should guide discernment.
- Scripture warns against outward adornment becoming a distraction from a man’s godly character.
- Passages referring to jewelry were directed at cultures that often associated jewelry with wealth, idolatry, and immorality.
- Principles for women wearing jewelry in moderation transfer to men as well.
- The highest priority is cultivating inward righteousness, not drawing attention to ourselves.
Old Testament Verses About Jewelry for Men
The Old Testament contains a few verses that specifically mention men wearing jewelry. To properly understand them, we need to examine the context and culture they were written in.
In Genesis 35, Jacob told his household to remove their foreign gods and earrings before going to Bethel to worship God:
So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem. (Genesis 35:4 NKJV)
This indicates that in their culture, earrings were associated with foreign gods and idol worship. Jacob called for symbolic purification from idolatry by removing these jewelry items before worshiping the one true God.
Likewise, when giving instructions for the ephod (sacred vest) to be worn by the High Priest, God directed that it should have two onyx stones with the names of the sons of Israel engraved on them:
And you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth. (Exodus 28:9-10 NKJV)
However, these engraved stones were specifically for the High Priest, who served as an intermediary between God and His people. This symbolized the tribes of Israel being brought before the Lord.
In Exodus 33, God commanded the people not to wear jewelry after their idolatry with the golden calf:
Now the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.’” So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb. (Exodus 33:5-6 NKJV)
Again, this jewelry was connected with idol worship and provoked God’s anger. Removing it demonstrated repentance. This verse does not prohibit all jewelry in every situation but makes the point that outward adornment should not distract from focusing on God or reflect a rebellious heart.
One of the strongest statements warning against men’s jewelry is in 1 Peter 3, which will be examined more closely later. Overall, these Old Testament verses prohibit jewelry in the context of avoiding idolatry, purification, and angering God – not necessarily a universal ban. However, they do condemn the vain obsession over externals versus inward holiness.
New Testament Principles About Outward Adornment
Building upon the foundation of the Old Testament, the New Testament affirms the priority of cultivating godly character over external decoration. Scripture emphasizes that our bodies and spirits belong to God, so we must honor Him in how we dress and present ourselves.
1 Timothy 2 instructs that women should focus on good works and godliness more than outward beauty in their appearance and dress:
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. (1 Timothy 2:9-10 NKJV)
This principle applies to men as well. Though directed at women, it confirms that followers of Christ should care more about inward righteousness than outward adornment.
1 Peter 3 contains a parallel passage about women’s beauty coming from inner qualities rather than external jewelry and decoration:
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 NKJV)
Verses 5-6 make it clear these instructions apply to holy women who trusted in God and lived in submission to their husbands.
But then verse 7 transitions to direct a warning specifically to husbands:
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7 NKJV)
In the original Greek, “likewise” refers back to the wives’ submission, modesty, and priority of inner character over outward appearance. Husbands are to live with understanding toward their wives and give them honor.
The implication is that men should also avoid becoming distracted by vain focus on externals and outward beauty. Rather, they should demonstrate modesty and cultivate godly reverence, wisdom, and righteousness in their hearts.
This passage does not condemn jewelry altogether but warns against obsession over adornment rather than humble devotion to God. It cautions that vanity and arrogance hinder prayers. The principles clearly apply to men as well as women.
Addressing Culture and Motives
To properly interpret verses about jewelry, we must understand the cultures and motivations being addressed.
In Biblical times, jewelry was frequently associated with wealth, immorality, idolatry, and distraction from inward holiness. It could reflect pride and vanity when people obsessed over appearance and materialism.
Excessive jewelry also violated principles of modesty and moderation. God calls His people to be wise stewards who generously help others rather than living in decadence. Scripture repeatedly condemns self-indulgent materialism, greed, and showing off wealth in unwise ways.
However, in modern Western culture, moderate jewelry on men is not necessarily associated with immorality or idolatry. When worn modestly and in balance, it does not necessarily reflect vanity or violation of biblical values.
Thus, the intent behind wearing jewelry is key. If driven by arrogance, vanity, greed, or immodesty, it would clearly violate scriptural principles. But some wear rings, bracelets, or necklaces for sentimental reasons, subtle fashion, or as tasteful accessories withoutvain obsession or showy extravagance.
Principles for Application
Based on the full counsel of scripture, here are some principles to guide men in discernment related to wearing jewelry:
- Avoid any jewelry associated with immoral behavior, drug culture, idolatry, occult symbols, or offensive messages contradictory to Christian faith.
- Do not obsess over jewelry or become vain/arrogant, seeking identity from externals versus inward Christlike character.
- Exercise moderation and modesty, avoiding extreme extravagance, lavish showiness, or wearing of jewelry primarily meant to flaunt money or attract sensual attention.
- Make sure priorities are in order by taking care of obligations to family, church, and those in need before spending discretionary income on luxury accessories.
- Carefully consider if wearing expensive designer jewelry reflects values of good stewardship, generosity, and humble focus on eternal priorities rather than worldly status.
- If married, discuss with spouse and consider her perspective. Demonstrate unselfishness and sacrificial love in decisions.
- Err on the side of conservative application of principles rather than seeing how close one can get to “borderline” behavior.
- Remember that spiritual battles are won or lost in the unseen realm of the mind and heart. Outward adornment should never substitute for inward righteousness.
Practicing Discernment with Freedom in Christ
Sincere Christians can thoughtfully disagree on whether it is permissible for men to wear any jewelry. Passages commanding removal of jewelry were in specific historical contexts. While we should understand and apply the principles behind them, we are not bound to the exact legal requirements given to ancient Israel.
However, it is wise to prayerfully evaluate current cultural associations and motivations to ensure our application lines up with scriptural values. It is more important to cultivate hearts focused on honoring God than debating peripheral details of outward adornment.
Believers have freedom in Christ, through the new covenant of grace. But Paul warned the Corinthians that not all things lawful are beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). Christians must ensure their exercise of liberty does not cause others to stumble or demonstrate lack of self-control.
Out of sincere love, believers may choose to voluntarily limit personal freedom by avoiding certain practices that could offend fellow Christians or diminish their testimony as salt and light to the world.
This applies to discernment over jewelry as well. The highest standard is living according to Kingdom values and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, with goal of pleasing the Lord in all we do.
What does the Bible say about men wearing jewelry? Though scripture does not categorically prohibit it in all forms, important principles can guide discernment.
The key is examining personal motives and cultural associations to ensure jewelry does not reflect vanity, immorality, greed, materialism, or arrogance. Scripture calls for both men and women to place highest priority on developing Christlike character rather than obsessing over externals.
But with prayerful wisdom, jewelry can at times be appropriately worn in moderation without violating biblical values, if coming from a pure heart of sincere faith.
Above all, our lives should point people to Christ – not to ourselves. Our goal must be presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. By His grace, the Holy Spirit produces inner beauty and righteousness that far surpass any outward adornment.