How important can a wedding ring be in a society that’s all about individuality and self-expression? It’s a fun part of the wedding, especially for women, but does it really matter? And for many others, isn’t a wedding ring just an outdated symbol of ownership?
I knew a man once who regularly removed his wedding ring when going out with the guys. Was he planning on being unfaithful to his wife? No, I’d never do that! But he loved exchanging looks and conversation with women who thought he was single and attractive.
After all, just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu, right? There was no intention of having sex with that other person. What harm could there be in a little frisky conversation? So goes the logic of the flesh (on the road to Hell).
Maybe you’re not that guy (or woman) but you just don’t see the importance of wearing your wedding ring all the time. You’re committed, all the way, and your wife/husband knows it – never needs to doubt it – because when it comes to your marriage commitment, it’s rock-solid. No ring could ever add to what you both know is already there.
There’s some truth in this kind of thinking. A wedding ring doesn’t make you more married than you already are. The one person on earth to whom my wedding ring is least important is the person to whom the symbol applies. Don’t get me wrong, Lisa wants me to wear my wedding ring and I do, all the time. I’m one of those who never takes it off. But, it’s not me she’s concerned about. There’s a sense in which the last person who needs me to wear my wedding ring is my wife. It’s not really for her.
The owner of a bakery does not need to be told or reminded that he sells baked goods and he certainly doesn’t need the sign out on the street to inform him of what goes on inside his store. He’s the one person who doesn’t need the sign because he has intimate knowledge of everything it represents.
And so it is with marriage. The last two people on earth who need a ring to tell them what has transpired between them, is a married couple. They know what they did on their wedding day – vows and oneness.
“The two shall become one.” It’s a spiritual and physical reality that no band of gold and diamonds can make more real to the married couple.
If it’s not the substance of a marriage then what, exactly, is that band of gold? It’s a symbol based on tradition in western societies and it has a very specific meaning for anyone who sees it. The ring sends a clear message: I am spoken for. Status: Married. And, as such, total strangers are to treat you differently than someone without one.
The woman I chose isn’t here with me now but as you can see, I have made a choice, which places me off limits to you and places you off limits to me. I have someone who is counting on me to be faithful to her, just as I promised on our wedding day, and as this ring bears record.
The wedding ring is a public statement to total strangers that you have entered into a covenant with another person.
Other cultures have other ways of indicating married/single status. Whatever culture you live in, you are responsible for communicating the message of your marital status in the way that is clear within that culture.
Who doesn’t like to walk into a room and be admired? Our flesh loves that kind of notice, doesn’t it? That’s why many Christian men and women take great pains to enhance the best features of their physic – I want people to think I’m sexy, wealthy, beautiful, and desirable – an inclination that the Bible speaks directly against throughout the Proverbs and in 1 Timothy chapter 2. We are not to make ourselves alluring to others.
We’re instructed in Romans 13:14 to, “. . . make no opportunity for the flesh.” If you have a practice of not wearing your wedding ring, at the very least, you’re keeping vital information about your potential availability from every stranger who meets you. So wear your wedding ring.
If you’re doing it on purpose to deceive others and garner attention on any level, it’s just plain old sin and repentance is required, after which, put on your wedding ring and keep it on.
You may have a job that makes wearing a ring a hazard and must be removed as a matter of policy or safety. You may engage in legitimate activities that require removing your ring. Wear it when you are able. Wisdom and reason are always necessary when applying a principle.
The wedding ring is a public record of a private reality . . . and it is about ownership, but it’s not outdated as some say. Lisa literally owns me. My heart and my body are not my own. I can’t do whatever I want with them because I’ve voluntarily given them to my wife.
Lisa knows my heart. She knows I’m committed down to the last breath I take but, everyone else? You can’t see my heart and I can’t see yours. God looks on the heart, we’re told in 1 Samuel 16:7, but man looks on the outward appearance. What else do we have to go on? So wear your wedding ring and without uttering a word, consistently tell everyone you meet one of the most important things they will ever learn about you: I’m married and off limits! #MarriageIsForLife #BeFaithful
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).