The Scriptures teach us that the marriage Union and relationship was inspired by God, instituted by God, is preserved by God, and can rightly be dissolved only by God. So God created man in his own image . . . ; [one] male and [one] female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Any two persons entering into the marriage union should realize that marriage is an institution of God and that the One who designed and authorized marriage has the authority to determine the standards of marriage.
The Biblical seal for the marriage union is the promise of exclusive, lifelong marital love and fidelity on the part of those entering into marriage. When these promises or vows are made, followed by the pronouncement of husband and wife by an authorized administrator of marriage, each marriage partner becomes a seal on the heart and on the arms of the other partner to seal in the life-preserving qualities of successful marriage, and to seal out the intrusion of love-destroying elements (Song of Solomon 8:6). A certificate of marriage that is signed by witnesses and the administrator of marriage will provide legal proof of the marriage union.
Marriage promises are made to be kept, not to be broken. Marital love and fidelity are designed to be preserved, not to be lost. The breaking of the marriage union in favor of another marriage partner is so serious that our Lord Jesus said, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18). The term committeth means “to continue in a condition or an act.” Thus the remarried state of those who have former marriage partners living is declared by Jesus to be a state of continuous adultery.
When God’s standards for a beautiful character are upheld, it is not necessary to wear ornamental things for enduring attractiveness and attachment to each other. In fact, the Bible in a number of places condemns the wearing of gold and other items of jewelry. Neither does the Bible make any exceptions for the wearing of gold for symbolic reasons. When the wedding ring is worn because of its supposed or real symbolisms, it opens the way for the wearing of other jewelry, for there are all kinds of rings and pins which are said to have symbolic significance.
The apostle Peter wrote to Christian women that their beauty should not reside in “that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of [fashionable apparel] but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3, 4). In this same context Peter avers that omitting the wearing of gold and other ornaments, coupled with a life of inner purity on the part of a believing wife, will aid in the winning of an unbelieving husband. The absence of the wedding ring on the part of men and women of integrity and moral purity may also at times provide invaluable opportunities for witnessing to those who may wonder why they do not follow the customs of the world.
Modest appearance. good behavior, and pure speech do much to motivate attitudes of punty of the sexes toward each other. A Christian woman properly veiled (1 Corinthians 11:1-16), and adorned “in modest apparel, with shamefacedness [reserve and timidity] and sobriety . . . which becometh women professing godliness” (1 Timothy 2:9, 10), will also contribute much to right thinking and right living on the part of both men and women.
In his booklet Light on the Wedding Ring, Methodist F. B. Annable writes: “Even in these times of looseness a woman with no earthly adornment. emblem, or symbol. but modestly clothed . . . and with the grace of God in her heart, may walk the streets of our land unashamed and unmolested. Her long dress, with sleeves, and decent-shaded hosiery, plus real womanly dignity and deportment, will proclaim everywhere that she belongs only to God and to her husband. Sinners will know a block away that she does not belong to them! Here is genuine protection [more visible than a tiny metal loop, and recommended by a Power] . . . greater than all worldly symbols and customs put together.”
From secular history we learn that the ancient pagan Romans were probably responsible for beginning the use of engagement and wedding rings. Originally the ring was placed on the third finger of the left hand because of a superstitious belief that a vein from this finger runs directly to the heart. Although this superstitious idea is no longer believed by most people, wedding rings are still placed on the third finger of the left hand by the majority of wearers.
The roundness of the ring is said to represent eternity and to symbolize endless love and that the couple is forever united in the marriage bond. This is an un-Scriptural symbolism, for the Bible declares that marriage is only for as long as both of the marriage partners live physically (Romans 7:1-3).
From the Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th edition, Vol.23, p.351) we are told that “this use of the ring which was thus a purely secular origin received ecclesiastical sanction . . . from the eleventh century.” This was the age of great spiritual darkness, when the church was practicing much corruption and many pagan customs, some of which were never dropped by many of the Protestant reformers.
God warned the children of Israel. “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances” (Leviticus 18:3, 4).
The prophet Jeremiah cried out, “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen . . . For the customs of the people are vain” (Jeremiah 10:2, 3).
The beloved John calls upon us to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. . . . For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17). Apostle Paul says, “Be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).
The wedding ring has no Biblical sanction or sacredness. It finds its origin in paganism, which is against God.
The wedding ring is an ordinance of the world. God says we are not to keep the world’s ordinances.
The wedding ring denotes a false symbolism of unending, eternal union. God says that the marriage union is only for time.
The wedding ring has little protective and permanent value under test. This is proven by the more than one million divorces in America annually, of whom most of the involved persons were doubtless wedding ring wearers.
The wedding ring is often worn by persons who have already forsaken their lawful marriage partners and are living in what the Bible declares to be an unlawful relationship. In such cases the wedding ring might well constitute a symbol of hypocrisy.
The wearing of the wedding ring is the first step for many persons in the wearing of all kinds of other Biblically forbidden jewelry.
The wedding ring is not an essential part of a valid marriage. It is altogether unnecessary when marriage partners are guided by the Bible principles of true love and purity. It is less than worthless when marriage partners are not motivated by the Bible principles of love and purity and are not true to each other in their marriage union. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife [not some other man’s wife] even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband [not some other woman’s husband]” (Ephesians 5:33).
Some will protest, “But my preacher says it is all right.” Or “My church has promoted this practice for years. In fact, almost everyone does it.”
But the most important question is, “What does God say?” No preacher and no church can alter God’s Word.
Our Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4).