Ellen G. White Writings

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The Wedding Band, Ellen G. White, and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Page 16

Paul advises us that the three greatest gifts, or qualities, or attributes, in the Christian life, when all is said and done, are faith, hope, and love. But even here, one is more important than another: “The greatest of these is love.” [1 Corinthians 13:13, emphasis supplied] If (God forbid!) one is forced to choose between the doctrines and standards of the faith, and Christian love, then love would have to be the most important. (It is not, however and fortunately, an either/or dichotomy!)

5. The question of Conscience:

Whether the custom of wearing the wedding band in the United States in the 1980s is as of imperative obligation as it was in Australia in the 1890s (when and where Ellen White permitted it), is probably an issue that today cannot be objectively “proven.” The human mind is perfectly capable of believing anything it wants to believe; and the corollary also is true; as Ben Franklin once suggested, “Man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Ellen White left the matter of the wearing (or non-wearing) of the wedding band, in her day, at the altar of conscience. Her example is safest for us to follow today. Let us leave it where she left it.

But let us also be sure that our conscience today is alive, active, acute, and operating well; may it not be slumbering, or—worse yet—seared with a hot iron. [1 Timothy 4:2]

The only safe course for any Christian to follow is to inquire of the Lord, in the quiet privacy of the soul, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” And our only safe response, after our Lord answers this prayer (and He will, if we are totally honest with Him), is that of Mary of Nazareth at the wedding feast of Cana: “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it!” [John 2:5]

By all means, let us have convictions. And let us express these convictions to others who may not share them—in the right manner. But let us validate our convictions by the inspired word, let us evaluate our logic and our argument by reason, and let us validate our evidence by demonstrable fact. But let out advocacy be always in love, being “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” [1 Peter 3:15] And then, having given our reason, let us kindly, lovingly, leave the matter at the altar of individual conscience.

“As for me and my house,” after having weighed carefully all of the evidence, pro and con, in the light of what I hope is an enlightened and progressively sanctified conscience, my personal position, policy, and practice—in North America—continues to remain one of endeavoring to persuade our members and prospective members to discard the practice of wearing the wedding band. Having said that, I must say more:

I am totally persuaded that this must be done in the right way, and for the right reason. And in the end, the member (or prospective member) must “be fully persuaded in his own mind.” [Romans 14:5] And, ultimately, the decision of what you will do must be left with you, to be made prayerfully as well as personally, alone with God. And so I say to you, It is not wrong to have things of a sentimental value; and many who no longer wear their wedding bands in public retain them as a keepsake in a bureau drawer, to look at occasionally. Your church or your minister will not dictate your response. We ask only that you allow God to lead you—totally—in your decision. And whichever way you decide the matter, I will respect your decision, I will support your decision—even if opposite from my position, and I will accept you, totally, unconditionally, both as a person, and as a fellow brother or sister in Jesus, who, with me, is seeking to climb the upward path to eternal life.

First Draft: Jan. 19, 1983 For circulation privately to White Estate Trustees and staff, for reaction and counsel

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