Is It Sinful To Wear Jewelry ?

Some believe I Timothy 2:9 and I Peter 3:3 condemn all wearing of jewelry. At first glance we might think such a position is correct, but let’s take a closer look. First, notice the last item condemned in I Peter 3:3 is the “putting on of apparel.” Surely I Peter 3:3 can’t be forbidding women from wearing any clothing at all, as that would contradict I Timothy 2:9 which says for them to dress in “modest apparel.”

A key to I Timothy 2:9 and I Peter 3:3 is to understand that both texts are in the classic "not this but that" form which is usually emphasizing the latter over the former, but not restricting the former as an absolute. John 6:27 (“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life …”) is a good example of this type of wording that helps us see this point. Jesus is obviously not forbidding all labor for food as he commands us to earn a living in passages like I Timothy 5:8 and II Thessalonians 3:10. Instead, in John 6:27 Jesus is saying that spiritual work is more important than physical/secular work.

Likewise I Timothy 2:9 and I Peter 3:3 aren’t condemning all wearing of jewelry, but the over emphasis on it. Notice that I Peter 3 goes on to say in verse 5 that “for after this manner in the old time the holy women also … adorned themselves,” and Genesis 24:52-53 records for us that the holy woman Rebekah wore jewelry. So the example of Rebekah proves that I Peter 3:3 is not condemning all use of jewelry.

Having said all that, I Timothy 2:9 and I Peter 3:3 are teaching that Christians should dress modestly – and that means we should have enough clothes on to discourage lust, not wear expensive clothing in order to attract attention, and keep the jewelry down to a minimum. Our emphasis should not be on the outward appearance, but on the “hidden man of the heart” (I Peter 3:4). Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians are violating these two passages without regard for spirituality.

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