Bible Review 9:1, February 1993

Rings of Gold—Neither “Modest” Nor “Sensible”

By Cynthia L. Thompson

Several passages in the New Testament discourage Christian women—and men—from adorning themselves with gold rings. But by the time the Christian movement became more secure—and wealthier—one Church father said gold rings were all right—at least for limited purposes.

The many gold rings that have been recovered from the first few centuries of the Common Eraa gorgeously illustrate what the debate was all about.

Many New Testament books reflect Christian origins among the poorer (or more frugal) classes. For example, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about how they are dressed:

“Consider the lilies …. Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith?” (Luke 12:27–28).

More specifically, women were admonished to adorn themselves “modestly and sensibly” and not with “gold” (1 Timothy 2:9). Wives were told not to festoon themselves with “decoration of gold” (1 Peter 3:3).

Men too were told that “gold rings” and “fine clothing” would only lead to unjustified distinctions and evil thoughts:

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