Wearing Wedding Rings
QUESTION: What is your position on wearing wedding rings? Many people wear them to show that they are married. Is this wrong?
ANSWER: In our church we do not support the use of wedding rings. We do not see it as necessary in this country. It may be required or considered essential in some countries, or it may be necessary due to safety issues or to avoid disrepute; however, that is not the case here in America. For many people, just wearing a wedding ring does not stop the advances of another person. Instead a person’s attitude is the best indicator as to whether or not he/she is “available”; and that does not necessitate a ring.
Here is an experience that illustrates this concept. This is taken from Ellen G. White Biography, Vol. 4, The Australian Years, pp. 194-197:
“In writing to Ella about the great event [W. C. White’s wedding], the groom told how the service itself was performed by a Methodist minister, Mr. Palfryman, an old friend of the Lacey family. There was no Seventh-day Adventist minister in that area qualified according to the laws of Tasmania. All went off well. The rooms in the Lacey home were nicely decorated with ferns and flowers. There were ten members of the family present, and eleven friends of the bride who were invited guests. As they were in a British country, they were married with the wedding ring.
“This was a point of some concern to the bride before the wedding. She was aware of Ellen White’s counsel addressed to American ministers laboring in Australia, written from Melbourne on August 3, 1892, and published in a pamphlet. Ellen White had found a growing feeling among some of the American workers that the wives of Seventh-day Adventist ministers should, in Australia, wear the ring. She said Americans could make their position clear by stating that ‘the custom is not regarded as obligatory’ in their country, and added:
“‘I feel deeply over this leavening process which seems to be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. In countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so conscientiously, but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring will increase their influence one jot or tittle.’—Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, No. 3, p. 6 (TM, pp. 180, 181).
“In May Lacey’s heart there was no problem relative to this counsel. She had no desire to wear the ring, and so she hesitated about having the wedding in Tasmania, where she knew her father would be greatly disturbed if she did not wear the ring, especially over the fact that she would be traveling on ships and trains with an American almost twice her age. Before consenting to have the marriage at her home, she talked it over with Ellen White, and then on February 13, 1895, wrote to William:
“‘I have talked with your mother on the matter of a wedding ring and showed her what you said on the subject. She says she has no objection whatever to my wearing one. To tell you the truth, I had not given that matter very much thought, but I believed that it would be better to have one, as without doubt, in the colonies, if I was to travel with you not wearing the sign that I was your wife, people would be led to imagine all sorts of things, and we should in many instances lose our influence for good that we might otherwise have over the minds of others. I am very glad you look at the matter in the way you do. I have wondered sometimes what you thought about it. I feel sure that, as you say, God will not be displeased with me for wearing it. ‘
“[Years later, W. C. White, on Ellen White’s request, responded to an inquiry from a minister’s wife in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the point: ‘Now regarding the question raised in your letter. The wearing of a gold ring as a matter of ornament is a useless practice, and contrary to the Bible instruction regarding the simplicity of dress and apparel. The wearing of a ring as a token of loyalty in those countries and among those people where such a custom is so thoroughly established that departure from that custom will be universally misunderstood is, in my opinion, quite another matter, and I think that if you should follow the counsel of men and women of experience who have labored in great Britain and in India, the Lord will not count it to you as a violation regarding the simplicity of women’s apparel. Possibly you may be interested in the story of my wife’s experience with the wedding ring. While she was attending Bible school in Australia, I became well acquainted with her, and when the time drew near for our marriage, I proposed that it be in Tasmania at her father’s home. Regarding this she was not enthusiastic, and upon inquiry, I learned that her father had very decided opinions regarding the duty of the wife to wear the wedding ring, and my wife, knowing that Americans looked upon this matter differently than the British people, supposed that I would object. She did not care for it personally, but I purchased a ring, and we were married with it because her father’s family and all her friends regarded it as essential. After we had been married a few months, and had settled down in our home where we were well known, she laid aside the ring, and when I asked her why she took it off, she said it was in the way when she was washing. I don’t know what became of the ring, but she has not worn it since. I think that in this experience it was her desire to follow the instruction of Paul when he wrote, ‘whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ By the wearing of the ring during that portion of our experience where its absence would have been wondered at, and caused unnecessary prejudice, and by laying it aside as soon as that experience was terminated, she has felt that she was doing that which would best serve the cause of our Master.’—DF 121, WCW to Mrs. W. E. Ingle, April 14, 1913.]” 4 Bio 195-197.
In conclusion: We believe that wedding rings should not be worn where it is not obligatory or necessary.