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.