"Jewelry Idols" and Makeup according to
Ellen G. White

By Robert K. Sanders


Ellen G. White (EGW) made it clear that gold jewelry, gaudy lace and bracelets were idols and those that wear them had a "weak head". What many people are unaware of is that Ellen herself wore a gold chain, lace, a cameo broach, and a gold watch.


Jewelry and the Spirit of Jesus

EGW: Those who have bracelets, and wear gold and ornaments, had better take these idols from their persons and sell them, even if it should be for much less than they gave for them, and thus practice self-denial. Time is too short to adorn the body with gold or silver or costly apparel. Manuscript Releases Volume Nine, Chapter Title: "Ellen White on Jewelry", page 117, paragraph 1.

NOTE: Ellen exerted all the control she could muster to keep women under her bondage. Ellen labeled wearing bracelets, gold, and ornaments as idolatry and warned them to remove these idols, as time was short. Ellen was wrong in saying that these items were idols. There is no Bible support for this charge. If the people were making gods and worshiping them as in Moses' time then this would be a correct admonition.


EGW's Weak Head Condition and Proud Heart Indication

EGW: We warn our Christian sisters against the tendency to make their dresses according to worldly styles, thus attracting attention. The house of God is profaned by the dress of professedly Christian women of today. A fantastic dress, a display of gold chains and gaudy laces, is a certain indication of a weak head and a proud heart. Selected Messages, Book 3, Chapter Title: "Dress and Adornment", page 244, paragraph 1.

NOTE: Ellen condemned her Christian sisters for wearing gold chains, gaudy laces, and saying they had a weak head and a proud heart. Ellen had a talent for identifying people with a weak head as she judged herself as such: She wore a gold chain strung down the front of her and had a weak head for doing so. The Bible tells us; Mat 7:1,2 (NIV) ""Do not judge, or you too will be judged." "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Ellen judged herself.

Ellen Wearing Her Gold Chain and Gaudy Lace


Ellen G. White wearing gaudy lace which she says is a indication of a weak head.


Ellen G. White proudly wearing her gold chain "idol" with her twin sister Elizabeth Harmon Bangs seated.


EGW: "...a display of gold chains and gaudy laces, is a certain indication of a weak head and a proud heart." Selected Messages, Book 3, Chapter Title: "Dress and Adornment", page 244, paragraph 1.

EGW: To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith. Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 366.


Ellen White wears a expensive pin with stones! Ten dollars was a lot of money in 1891

EGW: Sister Kerr took me into her parlor bedroom, and opened a box of ruches [A STRIP OF LACE, NET, RIBBON, OR THE LIKE, USED IN PLACE OF A COLLAR OR CUFF.] for the neck, and desired me to accept the entire box. Her husband is a merchant in Honolulu, and though not a believer, he is a very liberal man. She also presented me with three yards and a half of silk, costing three dollars a yard with which I was to make a sack. [A SHORT COAT OR JACKET FITTING SOMEWHAT LOOSELY.] I saw that she was very desirous that I should have this, and I could not refuse without greatly disappointing her. It was beautiful silk left from a dress which she had. She also gave me a silk scarf, and a ten dollar pin, composed of white stones, very plain and serviceable. I thought I could not accept this, but she looked so sorry, that I finally did take it, and have worn it ever since, for it is handy and becoming, while it is not showy at all. Letter 32a, 1891, pp. 2, 3. (To J. E. and Emma White, December 7, 1891).


Old Testament People Wore Jewelry


Gen 24:52-53 (NIV) "And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things."

Note: God did not forbid people to have jewels in the OT.


Israelite Children:

Exo 3:22 (NIV) Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."

Note: God told the Israelites to put the silver, gold and clothing on their children. God would not have told them to do this if it was sinful.


Isrealite Women:

Isa 3:16-23 (NIV) "The LORD says, "The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald." In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

NOTE: Some read these verses thinking that God was condemning them for wearing jewelry. Not so. God was condemning these women for their attitude of being haughty and flirting with their eyes, and removing their jewelry and fine clothes was to be their punishment. If you notice the list included common clothing, such as robes, cloaks, veils capes, and shawls. Also purses, and mirrors were included. The church leaders that use these verses to condemn jewelry should also condemn the wearing of common clothing, mirrors, and purses to be consistent with the text.


Israelite Maids and Brides:

Jer 2:32 (NIV) "Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments?"

Note: Seventh-day Adventist pastors are not allowed to have a ring ceremony using wedding rings. For many years the SDA pastors were not allowed to baptize anyone wearing a wedding ring. Some pastors had the baptismal candidate put tape over their ring so they would not have to take it off as some candidates rebelled at removing them and refuse baptism if they had to take them off.


Men of the OT wore Jewelry:

Exo 33:4 (KJV) And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.

Note: The NIV uses, "no one put on any ornaments" instead of "no man" as the KJV uses. In any case both men and women wore ornaments.


The High Priest wore Jewels:

Exo 28:17-20 (NIV) "Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings."


Joseph wore jewelry:

Gen 41:42 (NIV) "Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck."


Daniel wore jewelry:

Dan 5:29 (NIV) Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

NOTE: In the OT people were praised and given gold and jewelry and fine clothes. God never regarded it as being sinful. In fact at times God commanded the wearing of Jewelry.


New Testament People Wore Jewelry

1 Tim 2:9,10 (NIV) "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes," "but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

Note: Paul in writing to Timothy was concerned about women who were wearing expensive clothes and jewelry in place of good deeds. Looking good in expensive clothes, braiding the hair and wearing gold does not take the place of good deeds of those who profess to be Christians. Paul was not condemning jewelry or expensive clothes as being sinful. In fact Timothy did not command women not to wear jewelry.

Seventh-day Adventists have made a major issue against wearing wedding rings, earrings and jewelry as well as makeup. Little is said about women wearing expensive clothes, and nothing about them braiding their hair. Perhaps if they condemned braided hair, they would have to condemn Ellen White, as she wore her hair braided as pictures of her has shown.

1 Pet 3:3-5 (NIV) "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes." "Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." "For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,"

Note: Peter is saying the same as Paul; just wearing gold and expensive clothes does not take the place of a Christian woman's inner beauty. Peter does not condemn women that braid their hair, wearing gold jewelry and wearing fine clothes. Peter brings this as an example of OT women who were submissive to their husbands as having this inner beauty and these OT women wore jewelry and it was never called sinful for them to do so.

If you judge people wearing jewelry, you are judges with evil thoughts!

James 2:2-4 (NIV) "Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in." "If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"" "have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

Note: The Apostle James does not condemn the man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, but condemns those that discriminate between the rich and the poor. James could have said to the rich man, if you were living after 1844, and you were wearing a gold ring and fine clothes to the Seventh-day Adventist church, their prophet Ellen White would have told you that you were practicing idolatry and had a weak head.



Does the Bible Condemn Makeup as a Sin?

Makeup can include wearing perfume, rouge, eyelid colors, mascara, powder, lipstick, nail polish and etc.

Many look at women that wear makeup as having a low spiritual relationship with God, being vain, or unsaved. Is this a Bible concept or is it a personal misconception of Scriptures?

Many Christians have gotten this concept from their church creeds or have misinterpreted the Bible. Sin is only what God calls a sin not the church. Some use the example of wicked Jezebel to discourage the wearing of make up. Just look how sinful she was and she painted her face before she was killed.


Did Jezebel paint her face or her eyes?

Some women will use mascara but will not use lipstick because Jezebel painted her face. And of course no Christian woman wants to be like or look like Jezebel. The problem with this concept is the KJV mistranslated "face" when it should be translated "eyes" as shown in the NIV translation. So to be like Jezebel you need to stop using mascara and it would be all right to use lipstick.

2 Ki 9:30 (KJV) "And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window."

2 Ki 9:30 (NIV) "Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window."

God did not condemn Jezebel for painting her eyes, but for her wickedness. Ladies if you choose to follow Jezebel as an example for not making up your eyes then you must not do anything with your hair. Cutting, styling, dying, and etc would be out of the question.


God compares his people to a woman

Jer 4:30 (NIV) "What are you doing, O devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why shade your eyes with paint? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life."

God was not condemning wearing jewelry or makeup, in comparing his people to women wearing jewelry, but was showing his people that going about all dressed up did not change their relationship with him. God was calling his people to return to him, and not to take off their jewelry and makeup.

There is not one text in the entire Bible that forbids the use of makeup or jewelry. Teaching the doctrine of not wearing jewelry and makeup, makes a person more holy and righteous is not biblical. Does God want people to look drab? Of course wearing makeup and jewelry can be over done. I am sure God does not want Christians to look like clowns or streetwalkers. And of course if wearing makeup and jewelry is for the purpose to show that you are better than others this would be wrong. It is the inner person that is to have the meek and quite spirit.

Robert K. Sanders, Founder and Editor of Truth or Fables, 1997–2012
Life Assurance Ministries assumed ownership of Truth or Fables in 2012
© 2016 Life Assurance Ministries. All rights reserved.