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Wedding Bands--Skeel

Vacationing at the beach this week, I noticed something I notice every year: although they have been happily married for many years, neither my brother-in-law nor my sister-in-law wears a wedding band.

I’ve always been strongly pro-wedding band. A wedding band says nothing about the quality of the marriage, of course; and for those who are not married but wish they were, it may be an unhappy reminder. But a wedding band signals a commitment both to one’s wife or husband and to the importance of marriage. In communities where a large majority of children are born and raised outside of wedlock, the statement seems especially important.
Yet professing Christians have not always favored wedding bands. Many English Puritans refused to wear them in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Wedding bands were not called for in the Bible, in this view; they were inappropriately ostentatious and possibly even idolatrous.
Let me venture a prediction: as an increasing number of American states legalize gay marriage, and the divide between religious and secular marriage grows, many professing Christians will rethink the significance of wedding bands. I suspect that the vast majority of us wear wedding bands in 2009, and that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are part of a very small minority. In ten or twenty years, they could have much more company.


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Comments ( 3 )

I've noticed that many of my colleagues who are gay but in committed relationships wear wedding bands. I haven't discussed this with them, but I think it's a means of expressing their commitment to the world in a way that is unavailable to them by more typical means (i.e., traditional state-sanctioned marriage). I think this is not inconsistent with an idea reflected in your post: people who believe more strongly in the importance of marriage as a social institution (which is not necessarily related to whether they are happy in their own relationship) are more likely to publicly signal the fact of their marriage via wearing a wedding ring.

I just discovered your blog and think it is fantastic.

I'm a bit lost on this latter half of this post though. You endorse wedding bands and then point out that Christians have not always favored them. You then say that as the number of religious and secular marriages grow, the prevalence of wedding bands might decrease. Are you saying that Christians will continue to wear wedding bands and the fast growing group of non-traditional couples will not (thereby the % of married folks wearing bands will decline relative to the married population), or are you saying that Christians will rethink their current preference for wedding bands and instead revert to the position that they are unnecessary and ostentatious?

John, thanks for the kind words, and sorry about the lack of clarity in this post. I meant to predict that Christians may begin having second thoughts about wearing wedding bands as marriage is expanded to include gays and perhaps other non-traditional couples. I wouldn't expect Christians to universally abandon wedding bands, but I suspect the percentage of people who wear them will decline in the next decade unless the current expansion of secular marriage reverses.