15 August 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

Recently my 20-year-old daughter showed up with her eyebrow and nostril pierced. I could just barely stand her wearing rings and bracelets, but now she has created permanent holes in her face that will never go away. It reminds me of a wall defaced by graffiti! Imagine meeting Jesus at his second coming with this junk attached to her face!

Signed, Appalled Mother

Dear Appalled, 

Lots of parents, not just Adventist ones, are upset about their children’s fashion choices. I wouldn’t be surprised if your parents were upset about yours when you were young!

But the Adventist discomfort with jewelry probably has more to do with the culture in which the church originated than with the Bible. Interestingly, the meaning of wearing jewelry in 19th- and early 20th-century America, when Ellen White wrote, wasn’t reflective of Bible times: there are multiple references to the heroes of the Bible, both men and women, wearing jewelry. In fact, when God wanted to illustrate to Israel how much he loved them, he said, 

I adorned you with jewelry, and I put bracelets on your wrists and a chain around your neck. I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head.… (Ezekiel 16:11-12). 

The most willfully misused text in this regard is 1 Peter 3:3-4:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.

This passage isn’t about jewelry. It’s about developing a good, Christlike character. Have you ever heard a Seventh-day Adventist preacher address that part of the text without scolding women about jewelry? Why are we upset about a nose ring or eyebrow ring (acceptable from a biblical point of view) and not the wealthy church members who drive a car meant to flash their status or wealth? Are they not violating the spirit of 1 Peter 3:3-4—demonstrating a “gentle and quiet spirit”?

Of course our appearance does have spiritual implications. If we intentionally try to make others feel inferior by flaunting our beauty, wealth, or privilege, or display a blatant sexuality, these may imply unchristian values. But even these judgments are subjective enough that we probably ought, as Paul says in Romans 14, to “stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

The bottom line is this, mom: Whether you love her fashion choices or not, your daughter is an adult and she has chosen this as her method of self-expression. Is scolding her, scowling whenever you look at her face, and constantly showing her disapproval, likely to help you keep a relationship with her? Choose support rather than alienation when you can’t control her choices. 

Aunt Sevvy

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