Ellen G. White Writings

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The Wedding Band, Ellen G. White, and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Page 13

grace of God which gives you life. Then your prayers will not he hindered.” 1 Peter 3:1-7, NEB (note especially verses 2-4).

f. The great object of restoration is to restore inward purity. The restored “sacred circle” of holiness is God’s circle of genuine safety about any married couple.

The question of a Christian’s influence—within the church and without—must be studied and safeguarded. In at least two of Paul’s epistles he expresses a concern for the Christians of his day that they safeguard their influence, and not become “stumbling-blocks” to their fellow (and weaker) Christians. (See especially Romans 14:21, 13; and 1 Corinthians 8:9). He elaborates the doctrine of “expedience” by stating that although some things are “lawful” for him to do—perfectly all right in and of themselves—yet he will not do them because it is not “expedient”—a weak brother in the church might take offense, and be led astray. (See 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:23)

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 8 his ideas are most fully developed along the line of the Christians’s responsibility for the stewardship of his personal influence, in the context of an immediate, local problem in Paul’s day: whether or not a Christian should eat foods that had been consecrated to pagan idols before ever sold on the public market. Farmers often received higher prices for food if first offered to heathen deities by pagan priests. Sometimes it was the best, choicest food. (Nutrition is a legitimate consideration and concern for a Christian—get the best food possible.) Paul’s position: it is perfectly permissible for a Christian—legally—to eat this kind of food, because he knows it isn’t poisoned, and idols do not exist in the “real” world in which the Christian operates. And if these were the only considerations, there is no impediment to his eating food “offered to idols.”

The “rub” comes, however, in the fact that not all Christians of that day had this knowledge. Some still believe that eating this food is a betrayal of Christ and their faith in Him. If they ate it, their consciences would be defiled; and if they saw you eat it, it might be enough of a stumbling-block to cause them to lose their way spiritually and be lost eternally. And so Paul said, Even though it is perfectly all right for me to do this, I will protect my influence—and my weak brethren—and refrain from doing something that otherwise would be perfectly acceptable.

Many in the church today, incredibly, are saying in effect, How close can I live to Satan, and yet win eternal life? For Paul, the question was, How close can I live to Christ, so that in every aspect my influence is going to tell for Christ in a way that won’t offend anyone weaker in knowledge than I am? Paul made it abundantly clear that the issue was not eating the food itself; and he did not restrict anyone on that ground. But there was a moral issue: we are responsible in great measure for the effect of our influence upon others, within and without the church. A Christian wearing the wedding band, in North America, where there are many “weak brothers—and sisters” who are morally offended and affronted by a fellow church-member wearing it, needs to ask God (not any mere man): What is the effect of my action upon others? How can I best preserve my influence and credibility among the church of Christ?

There are moral issues involved in the wearing (or non-wearing) of the wedding band, as we consider all of the ramifications, even though the matter in and of itself may be merely a matter of culture or custom. And there are questions that each Christian must ask himself—and God—in this context.

Conclusion

There are perhaps five questions/issues that we must finally consider—

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