Q: My question has to do with the wearing of jewelry by Adventist members and the baptizing of new members who wear jewelry. Isn’t Fundamental Belief No. 22 (Christian Behavior) very clear about outward adornment? And in our Church Manual, it seems very clear that “the wearing of jewelry is not in keeping with our faith.” Why is this being allowed by leadership and not being addressed, if in fact this is still one of the foundational teachings, not only of our Church, but even greater, of the Bible? — Josh, from the United States
A: Josh, you are right that the topic of adornment is addressed both in our Fundamental Beliefs and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual.
Fundamental Belief No. 22 states: “We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects of personal and social life. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things that will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives.
“This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit …” (Read a PDF of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs).
And in the Church Manual we read: “‘To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith.’—3T 366. It is clearly taught in the Scriptures that the wearing of jewelry is contrary to the will of God. The apostle Paul admonishes us to dress ourselves ‘in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing’ (1 Timothy 2:9). The wearing of ornaments of jewelry is a bid for attention not in keeping with Christian self-forgetfulness.
“In some countries and cultures the custom of wearing the wedding ring is considered imperative, having become, in the minds of the people, a criterion of virtue, and hence it is not regarded as an ornament. Under such circumstances we do not condemn the practice.
“Let us remember that it is not outward adornment that expresses true Christian character, but “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).” — Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, p. 147 (Read the Church Manual online).
It’s important to keep in mind that while our Fundamental Beliefs and Church Manual describe our church standards based on Scripture, it remains with the local church pastor to teach these Biblical standards to members (and potential members), with carefulness and sensitivity. Hopefully when people see where true beauty lies, their attraction for artificial adornment will fade away. We are not saved by not wearing jewelry, but God longs for us to value simplicity in our Christian life and witness.
The church’s Biblical Research Institute offers some very helpful resources on this subject here.