By Arthur Vess
I. The Old Testament
If the great leaders and holy prophets of the primitive, Old Testament times, saw and rebuked the destructive female vanity as revealed in all forms of jewelry and immodesty, what excuse should our leaders and preachers of modern times have for coddling vanity and excusing the excesses of pride? After being instructed by the New Testament writers, and the words and examples of all times, are we less alive in our minds and consciences than they were?
The mixed multitudes, with their vain notions and jewelry, clung to the ancient Israelites in their journey out of idolatrous Egypt toward Canaan. Being like the nations about them, got the Israelites into more trouble than all else. The same problem faces every Christian and Church today. What has driven God out of all the modernistic Churches, if it has not been conformity to this corrupt old world? One group of the Israelites gave up their jewelry to a compromising preacher with which to mold the "Golden Calf;" while another group gave up their jewelry to build the temple and preserve its honor and divinity. To which crowd do you belong?
Isaiah's Condemnation -- Isaiah 3:12-26
Without smooth words, the Messianic prophet, Isaiah, warned the proud, vain "daughters of Zion" against their grinding the faces of the poor in order to bedeck themselves with vain jewelry and fine clothes. He was old fashioned enough to come right out into the open and name their instruments of vain pride. He had not "learned better sense, nor found "bigger texts." He named "tinkling ornaments, bracelets, chains, ear-rings, nose jewels, rings, curling pins (irons), etc." Isa. 3:16-20. He lists rings along with all the other heathen jewelry without any exceptions for the wedding bands or "leg bands." He was speaking directly to married women who had sons and husbands who were in the wars of that time. He says their vanity was the cause of the wars. The vain demands of modern women have been a major cause in our present war. In Java the vain American flappers danced while Japanese soldiers conquered the island. Because of these things, "Your men shall fall by the sword, and your mighty men in war." No nation has ever survived the immorality due to the vanity of its women. Shall we as Holiness Churches follow the road which has destroyed Rome and many other great nations?
In Revelation 18:11-14 we have a description of the modern Church, as the modern Babylon which tumbled into oblivion and hell. Here John speaks of "The merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, silk, scarlet, odors, ointments, wine," and other wealth and luxuries, as the cause of the fall of the modern Church. This is being fulfilled before our eyes.
There are only a few modern, more or less despised holiness churches which have partially escaped this awful pride, vanity and condemnation. Then must we join the Babylonian Church by permitting our women and men to join in the wearing of gold and superficial ornaments as symbols of their purity and piety? Shall we permit emblems of Satan to mark our loyalty to God? Which are more loyal to God and their husbands, those who do, or those who do not wear the wedding rings? Honesty allows only one answer.
II. The New Testament On The Ring Issue
In the New Testament we have many general passages which may be applied to the subject in hand, such as: "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." "He that is the friend of the world is an enemy of God." "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it." "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and I will receive you." There are many other passages which cover the principle, but let us be more specific.
Saint Paul's Ruling
I Timothy 2:8, 9, 10, 15. "In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or (not with) gold or pearls, or costly array. But which becometh women professing godliness, with good works, etc." In verse eight we observe that this admonition to married women on dress and jewelry is as obligatory as it is for "men to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands." Praying men and modest, sober women without vanity, are here coupled in equal importance. Praying men do not endorse vanity and pride in women.
In verse fifteen, Paul plainly reveals that he is speaking especially to married women and mothers. We wonder why he did not think to make the exception for the wedding ring or put in a "bigger text." He knew that if our saintly wives and mothers wore the rings, all others would wear them. Why not?
Saint Peter's Standard
In First Peter three, verses one to six, we read: "Likewise, ye wives (married women), be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they may also without the word, be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste conversation (behavior) coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and the wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man (nature) of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner the old time holy women also who trusted in God adorned them selves, being in subjection to their own husbands Even as Sara obeyed Abraham calling him lord whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well and are not afraid with any amazement."
Let us make a careful and outline study of this passage, using as the intended subject:
How To Win An Unsaved Husband To Christ
I. By showing to him all due respect and consideration. v. 1 II. By careful, holy living. vv.1, 2 III. By leaving off all vanity in adornment. v. 3 IV. By heavenly adornment and radiance. v. 4 V. By following the example of other holy women, Sara as an example. vv. 5, 6
I. First in order and importance, a woman must show all proper respect and consideration to her own husband if she is to have any influence over him as a wife or Christian. A willful, rebellious or disrespectful attitude will drive him away so that she can never win him to Christ. A real husband loathes and abhors a mannish, bossy wife. She must win him as a wife before she can win him as a Christian. She is to respect him above all other persons, but not worship him as her god. She must be careful to avoid all appearances of undue friendship with other men, good and bad, even toward her pastor. A fine, Christian wife or husband who has to live with an incompatible and sinful companion, may let the desire for pure, Christian affection become a snare to their souls. That godless, brutish husband may take warning lest he drive his pure wife out of his life and arms into the bosom of another lover. Such as been done. The pastor of such wives will have to observe unusual care lest he offend the unsaved husband or blight his own character and influence. "But let the wife see that she respect her husband" at all cost, or all her efforts to win him to Christ will utterly fail.
II. By careful, holy living, in every manner, she may win him. This will require more than for the wife who has a Christian husband. To live holy in a home where all the aims and desires of the husband and wife differ, requires abundance of grace and patience. Sainthood has proved that a woman who can live holy here, can live it anywhere. Her husband may ignore the preacher, the Church and all else; but he must live under the daily rebuke and invitation of the holy life of his wife. "That they, without the word, may be won by the behavior of the wife; beholding her chaste conversation, coupled with fear." It takes much grace to live with a sinful companion. She may occasionally have to say, "Husband, forgive me for not holding up under pressure," but do not get discouraged; when he cools off, he knows where the blame lies, though he may not admit it then. The trials may be many and hard, but when she sees him tumble into the altar and pray through; or, when he calls her at midnight to pray for him, the "toils of the road will seem nothing." Then to see the change in his temper will make her glad that she kept sweet or said, "Forgive me." When he breaks out in prayer, she will be glad that she kept the family altar up without him. When he goes with her to worship, she will forget the times she went alone. Living holy will accomplish miracles.
III. She is to win him by leaving off all worldly adornments and show of vanity. The vanity of worldly women is the amusement of all men everywhere. The wife must leave off all these things, or leave off the salvation of her husband, children and others. He may protest, but he knows that none can be true to Christ until she has left off all sinful persons and things. If she mocks her piety with her vanity, he will do it with his lips. You may offend your husband by leaving off your wedding ring, but you cannot afford to offend God, who only can help you to win your companion. Only God can and will save him on his own terms. If you cannot give up your idols, he will not give up his. If you will stand for right in the right spirit, even an ungodly husband will see your "boldness and take knowledge of you, that you have been with Jesus." You may win him by surrendering privileges, but you will never win him by surrendering principle. You will drive God out and your companion away. The man must accept God's standards just as the woman does. The woman cannot hope to bring her husband to all God's standards unless she holds to them herself. Back to the Word: "Whose adorning, let it not be the outward adorning of the plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel." The word is very pointed here, and refers directly to mothers and wives. You can never win him by putting on gold and fine clothes, with or without his consent; but you can drive him away by surrendering to his or your own pride and vanity. Remember, that the wearing of gold is strictly forbidden as a means to winning your husband to Christ. St. Peter did not say to put on gold to win your husband, but to put it off. A thousand dollars reward for the wife who won her husband to Christ by use of a ring or any other charm. Many husbands have been driven to hell by the vanity and pride of their wives, but none have ever been won to Christ by such folly. Many a woman has gotten the dress or ring she demanded, but lost God and her husband.
IV. Win him by heavenly adornment and radiance. A resigned, radiant countenance in the hour of trial will do more to win an unsaved husband than the glitter of gold. The radiant, angel face of the Martyr Stephen won the "chief of sinners." Saul of Tarsus could not behold the shining, victorious face of Stephen and hear his prayers for his persecutors and get by with it. He got such a dose of Stephen's radiance until he later tumbled from his horse, on the road to Damascus, where God found his man, and his man found God. And again we read: "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." It is not what we put on for a show of love or loyalty; but that which radiates from the inner life that affects men and moves God. It is that hidden sincerity revealed in holy conduct, rather than any outward tag of loyalty. A pure, incorruptible heart, and a meek and resigned spirit need no outer symbol. An outer show of religion or loyalty contradicts its sincerity. Like humility, it is an unconscious quality. To be able to remain quiet under pressure, and to have hidden virtues, is the most convincing evidence of true piety known to man. No jewelry of any sort is needed to prove the love and loyalty of a wife to her husband; nor of the Church to Christ; but inner purity, which affects all the outer radiance and conduct, is demanded of Christ of his Church and by husbands of their wives.
V. The wives may best win their unsaved husbands by following the example of other holy women, of all ages, who have been uniform in the inner graces and outer adornments. All over the country and around the world, and through the ages, saintly women have had certain marks of purity and piety. None have needed any outer and voluntary show of their virtues. Listen: "For after this manner the old time holy (sanctified) women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands." Here Saint Peter makes a sweeping statement: that holy women of all ages have adorned themselves in modest apparel, without the wearing of gold or fussing with their hair. In the "old time, holy women," with power with God and man, have been marked for their freedom from the shackles of worldly fashions and show. Holy women, holy on the outside, because they are holy on the inside first, need no placard. The writer of these lines will pay for the time and traveling expenses of any honest man or woman to travel all over the nation, to our churches and camps, if he or she finds that the saintly women are clamoring for, or wearing the wedding band, or any other ornamental jewelry. Women who "trust in God" are worthy of the trust of their husbands and all others; and need no tags of gold to remind themselves or their husbands of their loyalty. If they are pure inside, they need no ring; if they are not, the sign is only a covering for their sin.
The soldiers of our recent war testify that their easiest victims were those who wore the wedding bands. It is an easy matter to put on or remove the wedding ring as the occasion demands. If our chaste wives who wear the wedding band, only knew the vile suggestion of the finger in the ring in its heathen origin, they would remove the ring, regardless of their religious standards.
Why do the same compromisers who see no necessary relation between inner purity and outer adornment, demand an outer and heathen symbol as a proof of inner marital affection? "Wisdom is justified of her children."
Finally, Peter gives Sara as an example of the old time, sanctified women who loved and respected Abraham and worshipped God. The demand for divorces in the world, and the demand for wedding rings in the holiness movement, show that something is radically wrong with the love and loyalty of our modern wives, -- and their husbands. A revival of purity in religion will destroy this inner pollution and its outer shams.
A man in Illinois, who was saved the first time in his fifties, was asked why he got saved at home. He replied, "My wife has been so different of late, she lived me under conviction." When his wife was asked what had made her so different as to win her husband to Christ after all the years, she answered: "I read in 'The Loophole,' the chapter on 'How to Win an Unsaved Husband to Christ.' I tried it, and it worked." There is no substitute for holy living, on the inside and the outside.
This soul is worth the book. We hope that it has hindered no sincere soul.