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Is wearing earrings a sin?

Angel-devil earrings
Angel-devil earrings

Anyone claiming there's no talk about earrings in the bible doesn't tell the truth. Earrings are mentioned in several places in the Bible. Throughout this post, the unanimous message from the early Christians, church fathers and various past Bible commentators is elaborated in various ways. Links to the publications from the church fathers are embedded within the text when applicable.

Adorning precedes destruction

Apocalypse horsemen (Dürer)

First, a warning to all of you dear readers. In the book of Kings you find Jezebel, who was soon killed after adorning herself (2.Kings 9:33). In Genesis, Judah committed adultery with Tamar after she "wrapped herself" so that Judah thought she was a harlot (Gen.38). The logic is that destruction follows adorning. This is well detailed in the Bible verses below:

30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life. (Jer.4:30)

Just prior to the fall of the Revelation Babylon, it's adornments are declared:

4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth. (Rev.17:4-5)

This world will eventually end. It'll be destroyed by fire (2.Pt.3:7). Such is the end of the Revelation Babylon (Rev. 17:16, Rev.18:8, Rev.19:3). It looks like the majority of the people on the planet earth have either adorned themselves or accept the idea of wearing earrings / makeup etc. What follows is the end of the world, a complete destruction. The good news is that there's still time to repent. Just like Judah said about Tamar: "let her be burnt", this never happened. They confessed their wrongdoings! In like manner, confess your sins to someone who has the Holy Spirit!

Jacob in Bethel

Let's start from Genesis chapter 35. It serves as a good entry point how earrings are handled among the pious. In the old testament, often times the people were heretics and hypocrites that usually serve as warnings, not as examples to follow (see 1.Cor.10:11). Although many people were leaving Egypt in Exodus, most of them died in the desert due to their unbelief. The kings of Israel and Judah were serving foreign Gods such as Baal. Sure, there were righteous kings like David but they were certainly a small minority as may be read from the Chronicles and the Book of Kings. Let's continue the account in Genesis:

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. (Gen.35:2-4)

For you see, pious Jacob commanded to take off all earrings. Even the believers fall into sin occasionally but they don't stay with the sin like worldly people. The true believers follow the example of Jacob even today although the vast majority of mankind do the opposite - they say it's all right to wear earrings.

What happened prior to this? Where did the earrings come from? Ambrose of Milan (337 - 397 A.D) mentioned in his work "Jacob and the happy life" the following, while discussing that Laban was a figure of Satan. Happy is he from who Satan finds nothing of his own! Or in Ambrose's own words:

How happy is the man in whom the enemy has found nothing that he could call his own, and in whom the devil has come upon nothing that he would recognize as his own.

happy was Rachel, who concealed the false idols of the Gentiles and declared that their images were full of uncleanness. (Ambrose of Milan)

How were they declared? For today's people, it's not necessarily evident. This declaration happened here; compare it to Leviticus 15:20:

35 And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched but found not the images. (Genesis 31:35, KJV)

20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. (Lev.15)

In fact, Rachel confessed that what was below her was unclean. She had the earrings underneath in the camel's furniture. This is how a sin is confessed: you declare it unclean! Now, the Devil (Laban) doesn't look for it in places we declare unclean (sinful). If our understanding is corrupt - we think it's okay to wear earrings - the Devil (Laban) finds his own!

One more time: what is sinful, is declared unclean. If Rachel didn't declare the love into the items as unclean (she wouldn't have stolen them otherwise), wouldn't Laban have found them with ease? And what would've happened? Jabod said to Laban: "32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live". Spiritual death is upon the people who claim sinful life is just okay - or upon them who pervert the Law (that is spiritual) to fit their purposes! Laban - Satan finds the items of his own and Jacob, as a figure of Christ, declares "let him not live". Fitly are the sins first confessed (declared as unclean) and then buried under the tree, that is, the gospel is preached.

How can we be sure that Rachel indeed had earrings hidden in the camel's saddle? Isn't teraphim a small in size? It's possible Rachel used the items in the wedding with Jacob (Bible is silent about that) and thus had some emotional bonds with them. "Strange gods which were in their hand" suggests, that they were no other than bracelets, rings and such. Earrings belong to this list. In like manner, the golden calf idol in Ex.32 was formed from the earrings. We'll come to it later. Do you know anyone wearing a literal strange god in his hand? Neither do I. Still, they were ordinary people just like you and me. The household gods even today are money and precious items. The money and riches are thought to protect during famine and hard times. This is regardless of how they look like.

Some might argue that the earrings in question had some images of strange gods engraved and they were thus inappropriate. Well, the Bible doesn't mention such a fact so it's not a biblical view. It's a "wish of the wicked" trying to nullify the actual Bible message. Even if they had some images engraven, why didn't they use some form of sandpaper and wipe those engravings off instead rather than throw them away? Thus we see this as a very weak and unbiblical argument.

Spiritual earrings

Jacob's family affairs in Bethel well portrayed how the pious handle earrings. Next, we shift focus on the spiritual side. It's written: "The law is spiritual". The Bible is the source of all heretics, hypocrites, man-made denominations and man-made sects. The real message is encrypted for the most - the majority just don't understand what's being told.

Rebekah and the jewels

Rebecca's earring
Bridal Adornment

Even during the time of Ambrose, the heretics apparently tried to approve the use of earrings with the example of some Bible passages. Perhaps among one of the most famous is the account of Rebecca. Ambrose has commented on this issue clearly:

In preaching against extravagance in dress, he imagines that the ladies will say to him, "Oh, but bishop, Rebecca had earrings and bracelets!" and he proceeds to tell them that Rebecca's earrings were pious attention and her bracelets good deeds ! (De Abrah. i. 9). Lives of the fathers, p.192 footer

One must notice that initially Rebecca had no earrings nor bracelets. Neither she put them on, but instead, a servant from the house of Abraham put on the precious items on her. This is how the gospel is spread: a servant from the house of Abraham - meaning the elect, the true Christians - preach the gospel, which in turn, brings forth faith in the hearers. The earrings is translated as a forehead jewel, nose-ring etc. In fact, this is a minor issue - since this jewel is understood spiritually. It's the wedding garment, the bridal garment - the true faith, which is required in the in the Lamb's wedding banquet. There's no man on earth who can put on such a jewel himself. Only Jesus Christ fulfilled the law whereas no man can do.

It's true that Rebekah had some kind of physical adornments. She was getting married. Usually there's all kinds of adornments on the bride and the bridegroom. However, do you keep wearing the wedding garment for good or just for the necessary duration? Similarly, adornments on Rebekah don't justify the use of earrings in everyday life.

Wedding dresses from the 1800's

Isaac is a type of Christ. Thus, Rebekah is a figure of the bride of Christ, meaning the true church. Christ himself doesn't look for a bride here on earth but He sent the apostles for the task. Jesus Himself went to heaven. In fact, His followers are the true servants from the house of Abraham who wish to spread the precious jewels to those without.

This forehead jewel / earring weighted half a shekel as we may read from the Bible. This signifies the temple tax (Ex.30:13-14). Jesus provides the other half so that a complete shekel is formed (Matt.17:27). The weight certainly approves the spirituality of the matter as it links to Exodus:

15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. (Ex.30:15)

More of this half of the shekel may be here, written by Ambrose of Milan.

End-time Rebekah

Rebekah has also a meaning for the end-time people. When the bridal garment is complete, the wedding banquet will soon start. In other words, the world will end soon after. Rebekah will meet her spouse once she has the ornaments. This is written by Isaiah:

18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth. (Isaiah.49:18)

Is that you? When those ornaments are worn, isn't it the last moment before the ceremony? When God's words will be fulfilled it will be the end. For the true Christians it will be a day of inexpressible joy.

Twofold nature of a man

Everybody is initially made of flesh and spirit. This is the division of a man set in the Paradise. The flesh represents the old and the spirit the young. However, today's prodigal sons have only the flesh and the soul, not the Holy Spirit but the spirit of the Devil. The half a shekel tax was targeting 20 years old people and upward (Ex.30:14). The adults never got into the promised land except for Joshua and Caleb:

29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.

30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. (Num.14)

This old part, old Adam, this which is figuratively described as at least twenty years old, will never make it to the promised land, heaven. It's called the flesh. Jesus, the true heavenly Joshua was an exception. Also, Caleb, the true end-time Christian church will also get to heaven without dying - they will be changed (1.Cor:15:52) when Lord Jesus Christ returns.

Our carnal body, flesh, is always prone to sin. If the flesh dominates a man, he can never enter the promised land. Indeed, he'll be lost on the way. This is what's called being slave to sin. If we want to get into the heavenly Jerusalem, Jesus must ride on the colt, foal of an ass (spirit), followed by the old donkey (flesh). If Jesus isn't present and the donkey leads the way, it will not get into the heavenly Jerusalem. Martin Luther mentions:

85. Now consider the spiritual riding. Christ rides on the colt, its mother follows, that is, when Christ lives through faith in the inner man we are tinder him and are ruled by him But the outer man, the ass, goes free, Christ does not ride on her, though she follows in the rear. The outer man, as Paul says, is not willing, he strives against the inner man, nor does he carry Christ, as Gal. 5, 17 says: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary, the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would." Because the colt carries Christ, that is, the Spirit is willing by grace, the ass, that is, the flesh, must be led by the halter, for the Spirit - chastises and crucifies the flesh, so that it becomes subject.

86. This is the reason Christ rides upon the colt and not upon its mother, and yet uses both for his entrance into Jerusalem, for both body and soul must be saved. If, here upon earth, the body is unwilling, not capable of grace and Christ's leading, it must bear the Spirit, upon which Christ rides, who trains it and leads it along by the power of grace, received through Christ. The colt, ridden by Christ, upon which no one ever rode, is the willing spirit, whom no one before could make willing, tame or ready, save Christ by his grace. However, the sack-carrier, the burden-bearer, the old Adam, is the flesh, which goes riderless without Christ; it must for this reason bear the cross and remain a beast of burden. (Advent Postil, First Sunday in Advent; Matthew 21:1-9)

Exodus earrings

Introduction to the twofold nature above serves as a prelude to the incident reported in Exodus Chapter 32. We learned from Genesis that Jacob buried the earrings among other gods in Shechem. Where did these Exodus earrings come from? They were borrowed from the Egyptians:

22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians. (Ex.3:22)

It's important to notice that the jewels were targeted to the sons and daughters. They were never meant to be put on the wifes! In other words, the young, representing the spirit, was the sole place for the jewels, including earrings!

35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:

36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. (Ex.12:35-36)

Why did God Himself command the people to put off the ornaments? In Exodus chapters 3 and 12 it was commanded to put them on. Isn't it contradictory?

therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. (Ex.33:5)

Exodus chapter 32 states that the earrings were in the ears of the wives as well. This was never the purpose. Only the sons and daughters should've worn them. Now the wives, signifying the flesh, were carrying the earrings as well! This adorning of the outward appearance wasn't intended to happen. In fact, the jewels are the same spiritual ones Rebekah wore. God doesn't contradict Himself but people tend to make mistakes due to the human nature. Thus, be sure the Ex.33:5 command to put off the ornaments means to get rid of the real, physical earrings just like Jacob did in Shechem. Moreover, the spiritual earrings, the Holy Spirit, should be worn instead!

2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. (Ex.32:2)

Ambrose, again, mentions in his letters about the Ex.32 earrings. Notice that in chapter 32 Aaron collects the earrings and in chapter 33 God Himself commands them to be taken off.

We can neither excuse this great priest (Aaron), nor dare we condemn him. It was not however unadvisedly that he deprived the Jews of their rings and earrings; for they who designed sacrilege could have neither the seal of faith nor ornaments of their ears. The patriarch Jacob too hid the earrings along with the images of the strange gods, when he hid them in Shechem, that no one might come to know of the superstitions of the Gentiles. And he said well, Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wifes; not as leaving the men their earrings, but in order to shew that they had them not. Fitly also are the earrings taken from the women, that Eve may not again hear the voice of the serpent.

Apparently the command in Ex.33:5 to put off the ornaments was quite well kept for some time. We may read a verse from the Book of Judges implying that the Israelites didn't wear earrings at that time:

24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) (Judges.8:24)

Ezekiel earrings

Prophet Ezekiel (Duccio)

One of the favorite passages among the wicked is Ezekiel chapter 16 for justifying the use of earrings. This how it says:

12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. (Ez.16:12)

The wicked tend to think for some reason that this justifies the use of earrings. Here again, it's mentioned that He put on the adornments, not the people themselves. Imitating God isn't something we should be doing. Yes, we should take the live of Jesus as our example. God created the world out of nothing and we don't have such power. Even this adorning is something we are incapable of performing - it's the task of God: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:44). God sends true believers to preach the gospel to those who He has appointed.

Ezekiel chapter 16 covers the Exodus affairs mystically. It's the Exodus in short form written in beautiful terms but also a brief history of the Israelites. Perhaps it also refers to the vast amount of prodigal sons today? St. Macarius (d.391 AD) mentions regarding Ezekiel chapter 16:

4. So likewise the Spirit utters warning to the soul which through grace knows God, which after being cleansed from its former sins and adorned with the ornaments of the Holy Ghost, and after partaking of the divine and heavenly food, does not behave dutifully with much discretion, and does not properly preserve benevolence and love for Christ the heavenly Bridegroom, and so is rejected and put away from the life of which at one time it was a partaker.

It's a different thing to trust your own beauty than to trust the beauty given by God. Worldly people claim earrings, makeup etc. contibute to their own beauty. This is what the wicked trust. Accordingly, the judgment follows:

15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty (Ez.16:15)

41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: (Ez.16:41)

Earrings as figure of sin

Exodus Passover is a figure of the New Testament Easter. Christ died for all of our sins on Easter. The sins were not his own. In like manner, the Israelites borrowed / plundered the Egyptians on Easter - they took the earrings and the like that were not their own.

The sins are only borrowed from those who are eternally doomed as they will have them back one day. Such are the prodigal sons that never return home. Such were the vast majority of the adult Israelites when leaving Egypt. Similarly they use or approve physical earrings for adorning the outward appearance but such jewels are "returned" upon death.

They're plundered for good from those who live a life according to God's word. They're taken away from them but they will never be having them back for all the sins are forgiven and they no longer burden.

Aaron the priest collected the earrings and thus the Golden Calf was soon formed. Similarly, if one piles up sin on top of sin, eventually a foreign god - an idol - is formed in place of the living God. The faith is lost and love into the world in place. Moses broke the tables of law and the golden calf. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, crushed the head of the serpent - so that the gospel may be preached; the golden calf is broken in pieces and is drank with water, that is, the living water, which is the gospel from a person with the Holy Spirit. This water cleanses the soul! This gospel breaks the ungodly life, the calf, and lets all the sins be forgiven - making the person walk in the light, makes the person a child of the living God.

Church Fathers

Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Commodianus and later many others, such as St. Bernard (d. 1153), have denounced the use of excess apparel, including also earrings.

Jerome: The mask of Antichrist

Such adorning is not of the Lord, it is the mask of Antichrist.

Catacombs of Rome:

The simpler manners of the Christian women, as compared with those of pagan faith around them, is indicated by the conspicuous absence of the rouge pots and jars of cosmetics, and many other articles of luxury...(p.388)

Theodoretus (Theodoret), Bishop of Cyrus:

Not impossibly the discontinuance of the use of cosmetics may have helped, if not caused, the cure.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux:

You see women of the world burdened, rather than adorned, with gold, silver, precious stones; in short, with all the raiment of a palace. You see how they draw long trains behind them, and those of the most costly materials, and raise thick clouds of dust into the air. Let not such things disturb you. They must lay them aside when they come to die; but the holiness which is your possession will not forsake you. The things which they wear are really not their own. When they die they can take nothing with them, nor will this their glory go down with them. The world, whose such things are, will keep them and dismiss the wearers naked; and will beguile with them others equally vain. But that adornment of yours is not of such sort.

Even Martin Luther, in the Large Catechism, the sixth petition, mentions "superfluous finery". Superfluous means unnecessary. Earrings are unnecessary for the everyday life.

This article is based on the one at You can find the original article from here. This change took effect because the whole site is closing soon. Let's continue the talk on earrings here.

Posted January the 8th, 2018. texts are all public domain free for all to copy and utilize. addr