Jehovah`s Witness/Wedding rings

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Question
Hi Brenton,

It has been a while since I have written, but I just read a Q&A here on wedding rings.  It seems that they originated as pagan symbols and yet JWs accept them. Is that no hypocritical on your part to accept that but say that other pagan ideas such as Christmas trees are forbidden and then you condemn the rest of us for having Christmas trees?

Answer
Hello Henry,

thank you for asking that question and allowing me the opportunity to answer it.

From what I have read most people do seem to believe that the ring on ones finger originated in ancient Egypt.  However some authorities say that the exact origin is unsure  as per these two quotes.  It is really unknown just how or when the ring on a finger become connected with weddings.  There are several theories on that. It seems the Egyptians  believed that there was a vein that ran directly from the third finger—this excludes the thumb—of the left hand, straight to the heart.  In some places it is thought  that the ring replaced a coin when the bride was purchased from the father.

http://www.jtv.com/library/wedding-ring-history.html    “Though the exact origin is unknown , historians primarily believe ancient Egypt started the tradition ...”

http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/christian_dress/4.html  “The story of the finger ring is in a way like the ring itself, without beginning and without end. No one can tell for certain how far back the ring goes.”

(also see article form the Watchtower  bellow)

Now for me, my wife and I do not wear wedding rings. That is a choice we made.

What is the difference though between the sue of wedding rings and the Christmas tree? Weddings are not umbilical. They are sanctioned by our creator (Matthew 19:4-6 “ 6. . .Did YOU not read that he who created them from [the] beginning made them male and female 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? 6 So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.”)

Christmas is umbilical.  The basic story of Christmas is correct.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph, some shepherds were notified about the birth by angels.  That is where the similarities end.

The birth did not happen in December.  That date was adopted because of the pagan celebrations of the solstice and Saturnalia. Both celebrations had to do with the birth (renewal) of false Gods. Jesus was born very late September early October.

The unknown number of  wise  men (astrologers) did not turn up on the night of his birth and give presents.  That happened some time after the eighth day after his birth.  As Gods condemns astrology, the star was not form God

So Christmas is not honouring Jesus but honouring false pagan gods.  To me that is the main difference.  Weddings are sanctioned by God and Christmas is not.

The following article   from a 1972 Watchtower (January 15) will discuss this question. Please take note of the areas I have put in bold and underlined. Italics original.

QUOTE

Many sincere Christians have asked this question out of a desire to avoid any custom of which God might disapprove. Some of the questioners know that Catholic prelate John H. Newman wrote: “The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, . . . sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.” (An Essay on the Development of the Christian Doctrine , 1878) While the facts prove that many of the current religious practices Newman lists definitely were adopted from pagan worship, is that true of the wedding ring?

Actually there are conflicting ideas as to the origin of the wedding ring . Let us give a few examples: “Originally . . . the ring was a fetter, used to bind the captive bride.” (For Richer, for Poorer ) “The ring is a relatively modern substitute for the gold coin or other article of value with which a man literally purchased his wife from her father.” (The Jewish Wedding Book ) “The wedding ring is supposed to be of Roman origin, and to have sprung from the ancient custom of using rings in making agreements.” (American Cyclopædia ) “Various explanations have been given of the connection of the ring with marriage. It would appear that wedding-rings were worn by the Jews prior to Christian times .”— The International Cyclopaedia.

It is thus seen that the precise origin of the wedding ring is uncertain. Even if it were a fact that pagans first used wedding rings, would that rule such out for Christians? Not necessarily. Many of today’s articles of clothing and aspects of life originated in pagan lands . The present time divisions of hours, minutes and seconds are based on an early Babylonian system. Yet, there is no objection to a Christian’s using these time divisions, for one’s doing so does not involve carrying on false religious practices .

Of course, our concern is greater as regards the use of wedding rings, since this relates, not to minor secular matters, but to the marriage relationship, which the Christian rightly views as sacred before God. Really, the question <is not so much whether wedding rings were first used by pagans but whether they were originally used as part of false religious practices and still retain such religious significance . As has been shown, the historical evidence does not allow for any definite conclusion on this. What does the Bible say about the use of rings?

The Bible shows that some of God’s servants in the past wore rings , even ones that had special meaning attached to them. Wearing a signet ring could indicate that one had received authority to act in behalf of the ruler who owned it. (Gen. 41:42; Num. 31:50; Esther 8:2, 8; Job 42:11, 12; Luke 15:22) So, while wedding rings are not mentioned, these true worshipers clearly did not scruple against using rings for more than mere adornment.

Some persons say that a wedding ring represents one’s unending love and devotion in marriage. The increasing divorce rate in many lands where married persons usually wear a wedding ring proves that this meaning is more imagined than real. Nonetheless, for the majority of persons, including Christians, in lands where wedding rings are common, the ring is an outward indication that the wearer is a married person. In other localities the same point is shown in a different way, such as by a woman’s wearing a certain style of clothing.

Of course, a wedding ring is by no means a Christian requirement. One Christian might decide not to wear a wedding ring, because of conscience, personal taste, cost, local custom, or some other reason . Yet another Christian might decide to indicate his married status by means of a wedding ring. Hence, in the final analysis the decision is a personal one , to be made in accord with the conscientious views one holds.

End quote

To emphasise again the difference between wedding rings and Chrustmas customs the difference comes if the custom “originally used as part of false religious practices and still retain such religious significance "

Another  quote form January 15 1969 Watchtower

Quote
         Christian Weddings Should Reflect Reasonableness


Then there is the tradition of the wedding ring. A study of the subject would likely leave you confused as to the origin and meaning of the wedding ring; the claims are many, the facts muddled. Even if the Bible does not directly mention wedding rings, it is plain that Jehovah’s servants could wear rings . (Job 42:11, 12; Luke 15:22) But what if people in one’s land believe that a wedding ring symbolizes a couple’s unbroken faith, love and devotion? Christians do not attach any symbolic meaning to a wedding ring, even though they cultivate these qualities in marriage, and even if many in the world are hypocritical in claiming to manifest such. A wedding ring ensures nothing. It merely serves public notice of married estate. It is not improper for a Christian to give evidence of his or her married status by wearing a wedding ring, be it on the right hand, as in Germany, or on the left. Yet this is not a necessity where it is not a legal requirement. So the couple can decide what to do in accord with their financial situation and personal preferences.

End quote

I hope that has helped show the difference between the two customs and how we view the wedding ring.

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Brenton Hepburn

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I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .

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I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

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I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

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