What does the Bible say about wearing jewelry? What does the Bible permit and what does it discourage in connection with our personal appearance?
Does the Bible permit the wearing of jewelry? The answer is yes, as long as it is not taken to an extreme.
We clearly see the answer in Ezekiel chapter 16, which is an allegory of God’s dealings with the nation of ancient Israel. This chapter figuratively describes how God picked up a newborn female baby, abandoned to die on the street. He cleaned her up, fed her and provided for her.
In this charming allegory, we see that God provided beautiful jewelry for her: “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” (verses 11-13). Later in the allegory, God marries the woman who symbolizes Israel. If God did this for His bride, it cannot be sin.
What did Paul and Peter mean?
Paul here expresses general guidelines for female dress, and instructs that the wrong kind of ostentation is to be avoided by Christian women. He is not prohibiting expensive clothing or beautiful arrangement of the hair in principle, but excessive concern about appearance at the expense of more important things, such as godliness and good works.We should not misread the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, where he instructs that “the women [should] 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.”
Paul here expresses general guidelines for female dress, and instructs that the wrong kind of ostentation is to be avoided by Christian women. He is not prohibiting expensive clothing or beautiful arrangement of the hair in principle, but excessive concern about appearance at the expense of more important things, such as godliness and good works.
Similar counsel is given by the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:3-4: “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.”
Note again that Peter is writing about priorities; the point is not that a woman must not beautify herself with good clothes, jewelry or beautiful hair. The teaching is that the inner person is more important than the outer and should therefore be given greater effort and emphasis.
Both men and women honor God by dressing and grooming themselves in a way that is attractive and modest. Appropriate wearing of jewelry that is not overly ostentatious is not prohibited in the Scriptures. However, we must always keep in mind that the inner person is more important than the outward appearance.