Jewelry has been worn throughout history for cultural, religious and personal reasons. As Christians, how should we think about wearing jewelry in light of what the Bible teaches? In this comprehensive post, we will explore the various passages in Scripture that mention jewelry and adornment, examine potential principles we can derive, and consider practical applications for today.
Jewelry usage is actually not discussed frequently or at length in the Bible. References to jewelry in Scripture span a wide range of contexts – from positive descriptions of how God adorned ancient Israel, to instructions about proper moral conduct, to prophetic critiques of pride and misplaced trust.
- Our hearts and priorities matter more than outward adornment
- Avoiding vanity, pride and misplaced trust in riches is crucial
- Moral purity supersedes external beauty
- Wisdom, discretion and modesty are paramount
- Jewelry is neither intrinsically good nor bad
The Bible does not strictly prohibit wearing jewelry. However, Scripture clearly condemns reliance on external adornment over inner godly character. Motives matter. As we will explore, improper attitudes like pride and vanity are rebuked, not jewelry itself.
With the right perspective, jewelry can be appreciated appropriately as God’s provision. The materials for jewelry originally come from God’s creation. Skillful craftsmanship that glorifies God is commended. But Scripture consistently elevates internal godly virtues above outward appearance.
Let’s now dive into some of the key biblical passages that address jewelry and consider how we can apply their principles today.
The Bible Positively Describes Jewelry in Some Contexts
First, it’s important to recognize that jewelry in the Bible is not inherently negative. God Himself adorns His people with precious metals and stones in prophetic visions. Jewelry also appears in positive contexts such as the High Priest’s garments, the bride in the Song of Songs, and the description of the New Jerusalem.
God Adorns His People with Precious Jewels as a Mark of Beauty, Value and Redemption
“I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth…” (Ezekiel 16:11-13)
Here God describes how He lavished His bride Israel with beautiful jewelry and fine clothing. He adorned Israel as a display of her beauty and value to Him.
“You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” (Isaiah 62:3)
This regal language communicates the preciousness of redeemed Israel to God. Like rare jewels, God considers His people beautiful, valuable and worthy of honor.
“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl…The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” (Revelation 21:21)
The over-the-top opulence of the New Jerusalem painted here with shiny pearls and streets of gold underscores the incredible riches believers have in Christ! He clothes His people with salvation, righteousness and honor (Isaiah 61:10).
The Ephod, Breastplate and Other High Priestly Garments Included Jewelry and Precious Metals
God commanded that Aaron’s priestly garments be beautifully adorned:
“So they shall make holy garments for Aaron…They shall take the gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and the fine linen, and they shall make the ephod…It shall have two shoulder straps joined at its two edges, and so it shall be joined together…You shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel… And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD…You shall make the breastplate of judgment…And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel…” (Exodus 28:2-12, 15)
This priestly dress was resplendent with intricate gold embroidery, colorful fabrics, and engraved gemstones representing each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The majesty and beauty of these garments set the priests apart and pointed to the glory, perfection and holiness of God. This sacred raiment was not for vain display but to honor the Lord.
The Bride in Song of Songs Wears Jewelry on Her Wedding Day
“His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me… Make me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death…Go forth, O daughters of Zion, and gaze on King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day of the gladness of his heart.” (Song of Solomon 2:6, 8:6)
This marital jewelry is linked to love, commitment and intimacy. The significant coronation crown emphasizes the kingship of the bridegroom and the royalty conferred on the bride as his wife.
The New Jerusalem Contains Foundations Adorned with Precious Stones
Revelation 21 continues describing the jaw-dropping majesty of the New Jerusalem, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s redemption:
“The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire…the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl.” (Revelation 21:19-21)
The enormous gemstones and pearls underscoring this passage emphasize the incredible beauty, value and permanence of the eternal city where God dwells with His people.
So in various contexts, the Bible has positive things to say about jewelry – appreciating its beauty and craftsmanship, its symbolic meaning pointed to God’s truth, and its use honoring the Lord.
But Scripture also includes warnings about the misuse of jewelry and other outward adornment. Let’s explore those next.
The Bible Warns Against Vanity, Pride, Misplaced Trust and Moral Defilement Associated with Jewelry in Some Contexts
In other passages, the Bible communicates strong cautions about the potential risks associated with jewelry – when it reflects vanity, provokes pride, replaces trust in the Lord, or implies moral defilement.
Ezekiel Condemns Judah’s Pride in Beauty and Jewelry to the Exclusion of Inner Holiness
The book of Ezekiel contains stark warnings to Judah about their pride:
“Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,’ says the Lord God. ‘But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot…and passed your beauty on to every passerby…’” (Ezekiel 16:14-15)
“Moreover the Lord said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes…the Lord will take away the finery: the bangles, the pendants, the earrings, the bracelets, and the veils, the headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands…instead of well-set hair, baldness.” (Isaiah 3:16-17, Ezekiel 23:40-42)
Here the people are not condemned for wearing jewelry itself. The issue is their arrogant hearts – trusting in outward blessings over inner righteousness, and taking pride in beauty over pursuing holiness.
Proverbs and 1 Peter Warn Against Placing Identity and Focus on Outward Adornment Over Inner Virtues
Proverbs speaks candidly about the fleeting nature of physical beauty compared to lasting godly character:
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
Peter also elevates the primacy of hidden virtues of the heart:
“Do not let your adornment be 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)
Outward presentation is fine but should not override or distract from cultivating inner holiness and purity of heart. True beauty in God’s eyes flows from reverence for Him.
James Rebukes Favoritism Toward the Outwardly Wealthy and Ornate in the Church
The book of James includes a stern warning against showing favoritism or partiality based on outward appearance:
“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing fine clothes and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:2-4)
Favoring the outwardly rich and adorned over the humble poor demonstrates misplaced priorities. James calls out this ungodly perspective and commands believers to honor all people regardless of appearance.
Old Testament Prophets Rebuked Israel for Adopting Pagan Adornment and Thus Defiling Themselves
The prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and others confronted Israel’s slide into idolatry and its external manifestations:
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
“You also took your beautiful jewelry made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them.” (Ezekiel 16:17)
“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; they prostrate themselves, yes, they worship.” (Isaiah 46:6)
In chasing pagan gods, the people adopted pagan practices like idol worship and sexual immorality. Their jewelry became connected with these defiling acts as they used gold, silver and precious stones God gave them to craft idols.
So the jewelry itself wasn’t intrinsically evil. The problem was its association with unrighteousness and its use as an instrument in corrupt practices. When God’s people defiled themselves, He judged their tainted adornment as well.
The common thread running through these warnings against misuse of jewelry is what matters most: the heart.
Principles for Today: It’s About Heart Posture More Than Outward Appearance
As we’ve seen, jewelry in Scripture is neither categorically condemned nor endorsed. God Himself dignifies His people with precious adornment. But He repeatedly elevates inner righteousness above external beauty.
I suggest a few principles we can apply:
Examine your motives. Ask yourself, why do I want to wear this jewelry? Is it to glorify God, honor my marriage, express thankfulness for His provision? Or do I crave vanity, status, attention or riches? Pray for wisdom to understand your motivations.
Avoid materialism. In whatever situation, be on guard against covetousness, greed, or trusting in wealth. “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Seek God first.
Pursue modesty. Dress and adorn yourself in a way that reflects humility and self-control, not sensuality. Your manner of living and eternal investments matter most.
Major on inner virtues. Focus most on cultivating a gentle spirit, compassion, righteousness, godly character. Outward sparkle is fleeting, but “charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
Use jewelry to honor God. If worn, let your jewelry symbolize your devotion to the Lord, your marriage covenant, your eternal hope in Christ. Allow it to point to gospel truths and God’s glory.
Value people over appearance. Remember that every person has inherent worth because we’re all made in God’s image. Don’t judge by outward appearance. Show honor and generosity freely.
So take courage! God loves you fully as His treasured child. Abide in Christ, who adorns you with true righteousness and beauty. And in all things, pursue His kingdom first.
In summary, jewelry itself is not intrinsically good or bad according to Scripture. The Bible elevates inner godly character over outward appearance. Passages on jewelry tend to emphasize motives and heart posture more than prescribing rigid rules.
When worn with wisdom, humility and purity, jewelry can reflect God’s beauty and creativity. But we must guard against vanity, pride, greed, materialism and misplaced trust in externals versus spiritual riches in Christ. Remember, He adorns us with imperishable jewels of salvation, righteousness and honor.
Our eternal position comes through faith in Jesus, not external appearance. So walk in joyful assurance of your identity in Him, keep your focus on heavenly treasures, pursue reverence for God above all else, and let this gospel truth shine ever brighter. To God alone be the glory!