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Jewelry and Adornment

Early Church Fathers Quotes On Jewelry:

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195):

It is childish to admire excessively dark or green stones, and things cast out by the sea on foreign shores, particles of the earth. For to rush after stones that are pellucid and of peculiar colors, and stained glass, is only characteristic of silly people, who are attracted by things that have a striking show. Thus children, on seeing the fire, rush to it, attracted by its brightness; not understanding through senselessness the danger of touching it. Such is the case with the stones which silly women wear fastened to chains and set in necklaces.

But these women, who comprehend not the symbolism of Scripture, gape all they can for jewels, adducing the astounding apology, “Why may I not use what God has exhibited?” and, “I have it by me, why may I not enjoy it?” and, “For whom were these things made, then, if not for us?” Such are the utterances of those who are totally ignorant of the will of God. -ibid

For God has given to us, I know well, the liberty of use, but only so far as necessary; and He has determined that the use should be common. And it is monstrous for one to live in luxury, while many are in want. How much more glorious is it to do good to many, than to live sumptuously! How much wiser to spend money on human being, than on jewels and gold! -ibid

And let not their ears be pierced, contrary to nature, in order to attach to them earrings and ear-drops. For it is not right to force nature against her wishes. Nor could there be any better ornament for the ears than true instruction, which finds its way naturally into the passages of hearing. -ibid

Love of dainties and love of wine, though great vices, are not of such magnitude as fondness for finery. “A full table and repeated cups” are enough to satisfy greed. But to those who are fond of gold, and purple, and jewels, neither the gold that is above the earth and below it is sufficient… Such people are ready to die with their gold. -ibid

To such an extent, then, has luxury advanced, that not only are the female sex deranged about this frivolous pursuit, but men also are infected with the disease. -ibid

Wherefore the wearing of gold and the use of softer clothing is not to be entirely prohibited. But irrational impulses must be curbed, lest, carrying us away through excessive relaxation, they impel us to sensuality… But there are circumstances in which this strictness may be relaxed. For allowance must sometimes be made in favor of those women who have not been fortunate in having godly husbands, and adorn themselves in order to please their husbands. But let desire for the admiration of their husbands alone be proposed as their aim.-ibid

The Word prohibits us from doing violence to nature by boring the lobes of the ears. -ibid

But women who wear gold seem to me to be afraid, lest, if one strip them of their jewelry, they should be taken for servants, without their ornaments. -ibid

The Instructor orders them to go forth “in becoming apparel, and adorn themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety,” “subject to their own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold,” he says, “your chaste conversation. Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 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.” For the labor of their own hands, above all, adds genuine beauty to women, exercising their bodies and adorning themselves by their own exertions; not bringing unnatural ornament wrought by others, which is vulgar and superficial, but that of every good woman, supplied and woven by her own hands whenever she most requires. For it is never suitable for women whose lives are framed according to God, to appear arrayed in things bought from the market, but in their own home-made work. For a most beautiful thing is it thrifty wife, who clothes both herself and her husband with fair array of her own working; in which all are glad–the children on account of their mother, the husband on account of his wife, she on their account, and all in God. -ibid

Not to deck and adorn herself beyond what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion. While she devotes herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than impertinent trifling.-ibid

Tertullian (A.D. 198):

Therefore a woman, taking counsel from the apostles’ foresight, will not too elaborately adorn herself, that she may not either be crowned with any exquisite arrangement of her hair. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 102

For they, withal, who instituted them are assigned, under condemnation, to the penalty of death, –those angels, to wit, who rushed from heaven on the daughters of men; so that this ignominy also attaches to woman. For when to an age much more ignorant (than ours) they had disclosed certain well-concealed material substances, and several not well-revealed scientific arts–if it is true that they had laid bare the operations of metallurgy, and had divulged the natural properties of herbs, and had promulgated the powers of enchantments, and had traced out every curious art, even to the interpretation of the stars–they conferred properly and as it were peculiarly upon women that instrumental mean of womanly ostentation, the radiances of jewels wherewith necklaces are variegated, and the circlets of gold wherewith the arms are compressed, and the medicaments of orchil with which wools are colored, and that black powder itself wherewith the eyelids and eyelashes are made prominent.-ibid

Nay, rather banish quite away from your “free” head all this slavery of ornamentation. In vain do you labor to seem adorned: in vain do you call in the aid of all the most skilful manufacturers of false hair. God bids you “be veiled.” I believe (He does so) for fear the heads of some should be seen! -ibid
Let us only wish that we may be no cause for just blasphemy! But how much more provocative of blasphemy is it that you, who are called modesty’s priestesses, should appear in public decked and painted out after the manner of the immodest?-ibid

Cyprian (A.D. 250):

The characteristics of ornaments, and of garments, and the allurements of beauty, are not fitting for any but prostitutes and immodest women; and the dress of none is more precious than of those whose modesty is lowly. Thus in the Holy Scriptures, by which the Lord wished us to be both instructed and admonished, the harlot city is described more beautifully arrayed and adorned, and with her ornaments; and the rather on account of those very ornaments about to perish. “And there came,” it is said, “one of the seven angels, which had the seven phials [vials], and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show you the judgment of the great whore, that sits upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication. And he carried me away in spirit; and I saw a woman sit upon a beast, and that woman was arrayed in a purple and scarlet mantle, and was adorned with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of curses, and filthiness, and fornication of the whole earth.” Let chaste and modest virgins avoid the dress of the unchaste, the manners of the immodest, the ensigns of brothels, the ornaments of harlots.

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