The Wedding Band, Ellen G. White, and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church



North America, Adopts Adornment Action

A newly written statement on jewelry spurred lively debate among delegates to the North American Division year-end meeting. Discussion lasted so long that NAD officers had to schedule an extra session. The document. “Jewelry: A Clarification and Appeal.” reaffirms and clarifies a 1972 Annual Council action that counseled against the use of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. That same action encouraged the selection of watches, brooches, cuff links, and tie clasps, with simplicity, modesty, and economy. WBEGWSDAC 17.7

The North American Division document also cites a 1972 General Conference officers’ statement that counseled ministers not to perform ring wedding ceremonies—and urged evangelists and pastors to encourage baptismal candidates to examine their motives in deciding whether to wear a wedding band. WBEGWSDAC 17.8

Although the GC officers’ statement spoke strongly against the use of jewelry, it drew a distinction between ornaments and the simple wedding band, providing for the baptism of converts who conscientiously felt they should wear a simple ring. WBEGWSDAC 17.9

The current NAD document also appeals to members for a commitment to simplicity in lifestyle and holds the wearing of jewelry as unacceptable. WBEGWSDAC 17.10

However, one clause in the NAD statement differed from the actions in 1972—and that difference sparked over two dozen speeches. remarks, and declarations. WBEGWSDAC 17.11

The clause states: “Some churches members feel that the use of a simple marriage band is a symbol of faithfulness to the marriage vow, and such persons should be fully accepted in the fellowship and service of the church.” WBEGWSDAC 17.12

NAD delegates approved the document by a substantial majority after a three-hour debate. WBEGWSDAC 17.13

Several delegates, like Leonard Newton, Northeastern Conference president, believed that the clause will lead to a greater use of jewelry among Adventists. “We didn’t have the problem of jewelry before the change in 1972,” Newton said. WBEGWSDAC 17.14

Other delegates, like Herman Bauman, Montana Conference president, expressed satisfaction because the document unifies the church position around the world. WBEGWSDAC 17.15

NAD president Charles Bradford insisted that their is no change in the church’s stand on jewelry. He argued that the difference in attitudes over the wedding band between native and foreign born citizens has actually weakened the church’s case against jewelry. WBEGWSDAC 17.16

“The increasing number of over seas church employees [who conscientiously wear wedding bands] coming to the United States to work in various church settings has caused conflicts with North American members [who traditionally have not worn wedding bands],” Bradford explained. “The 1972 statements [which tolerated the use of wedding bands] were never read carefully enough. They were never widely circulated.” WBEGWSDAC 17.17

“We gave attention to this issue because of the repeated appeals from church leaders for clarification,” he said. WBEGWSDAC 17.18

“We’re saying that there is a distinction. We can draw the line here and say, ‘Take off the earrings. Take off the class rings. Take off all the ostentatious brooches and the clasps.’” WBEGWSDAC 17.19

“The wedding band has never been an issue outside of North American. People were wearing it all around the world even back in 1892 when Ellen G. White wrote on it,” Bradford explained. “It was never an issue in England, France, Italy, and Australia. The members outside outside North America have been always persuaded that the wedding hand was a symbol of their marriage commitment.” WBEGWSDAC 17.20

Adventist Review, Dec. 4, 1986, pp. 9, 10.