Engagement rings?

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Emmanuel

Puritan Board Freshman
Should a Christian man buy an engagement ring for his intended wife?
There is certainly no Biblical obligation, so is this a custom that Christians should follow?

Pros:
1. It serves as a statement of the man's ability to provide for a woman––a token that he can support her financially.
2. The act of wearing the ring proclaims that a woman is "spoken for," thus limiting the attention that other men pay her.

Cons:
1. They are a frivolous expenditure, and the money could be more effectively given to the church, etc.
2. There is no precedent in Scripture.

Have we all been suckered by De Beers, or is there merit to engagement rings?
 

jrdnoland

Puritan Board Freshman
Should a Christian man buy an engagement ring for his intended wife?
There is certainly no Biblical obligation, so is this a custom that Christians should follow?

Pros:
1. It serves as a statement of the man's ability to provide for a woman––a token that he can support her financially.
2. The act of wearing the ring proclaims that a woman is "spoken for," thus limiting the attention that other men pay her.

Cons:
1. They are a frivolous expenditure, and the money could be more effectively given to the church, etc.
2. There is no precedent in Scripture.

Have we all been suckered by De Beers, or is there merit to engagement rings?
I would go with the Pros. It's a beautiful expression of love to your betrothed. God first, spouse second. You must love her as Jesus loves His church. He didn't spare any expense for His bride and I don't think you should either. There will always be the poor to take care of but you will only have one wife, you'd don't have to spend a fortune, but to skip it entirely may not be wise either.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
I think its completely up to the couple. I don't have one and I don't want one (which I think relieved my fiance!). We will be getting wedding bands though.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
2. There is no precedent in Scripture.
Why is this a factor? Unless we are discussing Lord's Day worship, we need to say that if it is not forbidden it is allowed. Signing your name on the marriage certificate has no precedent in Scripture either.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Should a Christian man buy an engagement ring for his intended wife?
There is certainly no Biblical obligation, so is this a custom that Christians should follow?

Pros:
1. It serves as a statement of the man's ability to provide for a woman––a token that he can support her financially.
2. The act of wearing the ring proclaims that a woman is "spoken for," thus limiting the attention that other men pay her.

Cons:
1. They are a frivolous expenditure, and the money could be more effectively given to the church, etc.
2. There is no precedent in Scripture.
Using your Cons arguments, one could argue for almost anything Christians spend money on. We should live in smaller houses, not drive cars, not have a computer, tv, not go out to restaurants, movies, or almost any other entertainment, etc. The point is that almost every expense other than the bare neccessities could be chalked up to "frivolous expenditures".

My advice on buying the ring would be to buy the ring, but don't overspend to the point you put yourself in debt. Save up some money and get your fiance something she and you will both be proud of for the rest of your lives, but obviously it's not mandatory by scriptural standards.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Should a Christian man buy an engagement ring for his intended wife?
Duh. Yes.

Dudes. If you can afford it at all, you gotta get her that ring. Have you seen the way a gal lights up with your ring on her finger? It's totally worth it. And whatever she may say, in our culture (assuming North American) it tells her she's valuable to you.

Okay, Kathleen doesn't want one. She's a rare exception (and, I'm sure, a very fine catch). But generally speaking, there may be logical reasons or spiritual-sounding reasons to forego that diamond, but logic is not what your sweetheart is looking for when you propose.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
From a pragmatic point of view, an engagement ring gives a girl a safety net if you prove to be a bit ferrety.

But to think that an expensive ring is the proper proof of your commitment savors to me a little too much of Orwell's, The greatest of these is money. So I am very glad that when I asked Heidi if she wanted a modest engagement ring, she said no, and that I paid no attention to the persuasive efforts of parties who thought they had some stake in the matter.
 

jpfrench81

Puritan Board Sophomore
Granted, there is no Biblical mandate to give an engagement ring. But in our culture, why wouldn't you get one? Imagine how self-serving it would sound to convince your bride-to-be that engagements rings are just a modern cultural convention so you don't want to buy one for her! We can always spend our money on "better" things, but I don't think an engagement ring is a poor use of money. Some people spend too much on a ring, but I have no regrets over spending some hard-earned cash to buy a nice ring that I thought my wife would like and symbolized to some degree how precious she was too me. If my wife had told me she didn't want an engagement ring, then that would be one thing. But I think most girls would be offended today if they weren't given an engagement ring, even it is simply a cultural thing.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
In spite of its pagan origins & associations, I think that it is a good idea, but not a necessity.

Full disclosure, I didn't buy one. My wife & I had wedding bands only. I did buy her a very expensive diamond some years latter when I could afford it.
 

Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Cultural, generational, ethnic and societal thing. It is, in my opinion, a very good thing that young ladies getting engaged are no longer thinking "pear-shaped, diamond-shaped, brilliant-cut, how many carats????? Perfect? How many flaws???" Platinum setting? White gold? Yellow gold? Matching bands? My senior year of college - and I got engaged just after it ended - that's all friends were talking about. Mine was modest compared to everyone else's, but I didn't care.

Still, it's the custom around here to have some sort of engagement ring. They've become much more modest than they were in my day; no one's walking around with 3-carat, baguetted-up, major platinum bling on their hand, even if they can afford it. Some people are spending more than the honeymoon costs on the dress, which makes no sense to me... :confused:

Margaret
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
In order to be biblical, an engagement ring should go on the nose rather than the finger.

In all seriousness, there are several passages about how God beautifies his bride with costly garments and jewelry (for example, Ezekial 16:8-14). I don't buy the argument that it is somehow more pious to do without such gifts. If you have the means and your fiancee would be receptive, why not?
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
To clarify, I don't think its 'better" to go without one. In our situation, I've never really wanted one and so it seemed silly to spend money on something that I wasn't excited about. (And I told him this - he didn't try to squirrel out of getting one)
 

Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
1. They are a frivolous expenditure, and the money could be more effectively given to the church, etc.
Oh, please. So are flowers--and I've never heard anyone say that giving flowers to your wife is a frivolous expenditure. If they did, their wives would never forgive them.

2. There is no precedent in Scripture.
So? What does that have to do with buying potatoes from Idaho?
 

Laura

Puritan Board Junior
Ditto what Kathleen said. My mother-in-law ended up offering me hers as she was getting a new one for their 30th anniversary. I thought that was much more meaningful than going along with the expensive tradition, and I was very much the one persuading my husband that he need not worry about it. But if your fiancee is not one of the exceptions like Kathleen and me---if she does not *ask* you please not to get her one---I think it is a good idea to do so. Scripture does speak of the adorning of a bride, and frankly, whether or not your wife is big on jewelry, she may not be very happy with you in the long run if you see "impractical" things for her as frivolous expenses! I understand the concerns about needing to save up for more "practical" expenses upon getting married and setting up house together. If those concerns are looming large and a diamond ring seems foolish in light of them, maybe you could reach a compromise like someone said, about buying a nice piece of jewelry later on when you can better afford it.

Btw, it is a well known fact that Jonathan Edwards did not skimp on his wife's jewelry. And he was probably more serious about temperance in things earthly than all of us, so...
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
Gentlemen if you live where it is the custom, unless she says she does not want an engagement ring, buy her one. It does not have to be extravagant. I gave Molly a simple ring that is now part of the set of rings she wears on her left ring finger. We added another simple ring on one of our anniversaries. All together they make a beautiful but simple statement of the way a marriage grows in beauty over the years. It has been 22 years and a couple of months now that we have seen the Lord at work in our lives since marriage.
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
Should a Christian man buy an engagement ring for his intended wife?
There is certainly no Biblical obligation, so is this a custom that Christians should follow?

Pros:
1. It serves as a statement of the man's ability to provide for a woman––a token that he can support her financially.
2. The act of wearing the ring proclaims that a woman is "spoken for," thus limiting the attention that other men pay her.

Cons:
1. They are a frivolous expenditure, and the money could be more effectively given to the church, etc.
2. There is no precedent in Scripture.

Have we all been suckered by De Beers, or is there merit to engagement rings?
Simple answer: Yes.

Typically, in my experience, highly pragmatic guys develop reasons for not getting an engagement ring. The fact of the matter is, that unless the women this man is considering marrying has explicitly said "Eh, I don't care about engagement rings", he should get her an engagement ring. The emotional and cultural power an engagement ring has is phenomenal. By power I intend meaning - engagement rings are loaded with meaning. They get passed down through generations, etc. etc. In the West, so long as the tradition continues, engagement rings are a must. (In my opinion - as a married man who ate hot-dogs for months to get the right engagement ring.)
 

Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
Oh, please. So are flowers--and I've never heard anyone say that giving flowers to your wife is a frivolous expenditure. If they did, their wives would never forgive them.
And the rings last longer! I am personally grateful that Brad gave me a ring. He bought me a new stone for a Christmas present and we reset my rings for our tenth anniversary. I love my engagement ring, it symbolizes Brad's love for me.
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
We are free to but not obliged to. Puritans did not on the whole wear wedding rings to dissociate themselves from marriage as a "sacrament" a CofE teaching
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
If you can buy an engagement ring, you should. My husband bought me a set of rings. The wedding ring locks into place around the engagement ring, so the set was complete on our wedding day.
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
In our culture, if you don't get an engagement ring for your future bride, then it may mean a lack of commitment. The ring itself signifies the promise and intent to marry. And as a woman, I would question a man's level of commitment if he did not get one. There are many ways to be pragmatic and save money, but an engagement ring is not one of them, In my humble opinion. You don't have to get an expensive ring, the point is simply to just get a ring. It shows your future Bride that you are serious and that you do intend on marrying her. And I agree with others that have pointed to Scripture and showed how Christ adorns His church, and how the Bridegroom often adorns his bride. It is a means by which to show her that she is beloved.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I generally find even teacups and socks and postcards to be meaningful symbols of daily realities; but the commercialisation of this particular cultural symbol -- its current context of uncommitted people going into debt to have inordinate fantasy weddings, having to put on a lavish show because there is nothing more wonderful behind it, and then getting divorced -- has made it seem very inadequate and rather arbitrary to me; and not being a big wearer of jewelry (though I do enjoy looking at it), a preference for engagement rings is something I don't personally have. (I do think an heirloom ring would be very nice, but that wasn't an option.) Yvonne, your post made me smile over the differences in people, because I would personally tend more to question the clear headedness of someone who would wish to spend hundreds of dollars merely to prove a commitment to me, of which I was as perfectly assured as I could be or I wouldn't consider engaging myself to him at all :).

Ruben lost his wedding ring several years ago -- when he told me about it months afterward, I laughed. I would probably cry if I lost mine (which I am informed is technically a very modest 'promise ring'), but I would still have Ruben; so it would be okay, really.

Ruben has always been generous to people in need; that's one of the reasons I knew it was safe to love and trust him. Truly I find giving to the poor a more beautiful and meaningful, and less arbitrary, symbol of the faithfulness of the man I love than flowers or jewelry. (& Jonathan, I've never had flowers from him; though I do have a rare snow leopard, and I did once receive a couple plants which I managed to kill promptly. I'm sure that someday he will buy me another little bonsai tree for the snow leopard to climb and hopefully, despite the slow painful death even the unkillable aloe my grandmother recently gave me is experiencing -- I couldn't help but water it -- I will keep this one alive: I thought my former little tree was like a symbol of glad fruition, and immediately all the white flowers perished, and I tried to prune it on a symmetrical plan, and wound up reducing it to a symmetrical stump -- I watered it with my tears, but it still didn't revive.)

However if any should still doubt the loyalty of my husband of nine plus yrs, he assures me that should I die, and should he manage to get my dead body out of the house without spending a cent, though he would never remarry, he would certainly remarry someone just like me if he did, who does not prefer an engagement ring. :p
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I get the impression that folks think that getting an engagement ring means spending lots of extra money. A man does not need to spend a lot of money on an engagement ring to make the point. I am not a jewelry person, and personally, I could have done without it. It was however, very important to my husband. For that reason, it is important to me.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I haven't read the thread, but I say buy one...don't be a cheapskate. It does no harm, and is a token of love to her; it shows her that you value her, no matter how small or large the stone is.
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
I get the impression that folks think that getting an engagement ring means spending lots of extra money. A man does not need to spend a lot of money on an engagement ring to make the point. I am not a jewelry person, and personally, I could have done without it. It was however, very important to my husband. For that reason, it is important to me.
Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking! Engagement rings don't have to be costly at all, in fact you can find one for less than a hundred dollars. If anyone knew me really well they would know that I'm an incredibly simple person and I never wear fine jewelry or even expensive clothes. But when it comes to an engagement ring and a wedding band, I think it's incredibly important to have one! To me, it really does symbolize the commitment between a man and his wife, and not only for their sake but for others as well.

And, Heidi, it is interesting how we each have a different view of the ring and it's value. I'd agree with you that there is a certain romanticism with weddings in our culture and often idolatry with the act of getting married. And it's unfortunate that many of these costly weddings will eventually end in divorce. Yet, because our culture has abused and idolized weddings, I don't think that it's wrong for a Christian couple to celebrate marriage and to rejoice with others, especially when it is our God-given joy! So often we as Christians want to distance ourselves from all things that appear "worldly" or "frivolous". Yet, to the Christian these things can be good and glorifying to God if used properly. In my opinion, the Christian man should be the one to buy a ring for his bride, because we have a higher view of marriage and it's purpose! The ring symbolizes more for us then they do for the unbelieving couple. All to often we spend money on "pragmatic" things and yet when it comes to our families or spouses we tend to be frugal. Yet, I'm of the persuasion that we should give most liberally to our spouses and families first. Those that are dearest to us, should be the recipients of our greatest gifts. Just as Christ adorns the bride because she is beloved to Him, so we should do with those whom we love and cherish. I used to be one of those people that didn't want an engagement ring, but I've come to believe that there is more symbolism and meaning in having a ring than without one!
 

Jen

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking! Engagement rings don't have to be costly at all, in fact you can find one for less than a hundred dollars. If anyone knew me really well they would know that I'm an incredibly simple person and I never wear fine jewelry or even expensive clothes. But when it comes to an engagement ring and a wedding band, I think it's incredibly important to have one! To me, it really does symbolize the commitment between a man and his wife, and not only for their sake but for others as well.

And, Heidi, it is interesting how we each have a different view of the ring and it's value. I'd agree with you that there is a certain romanticism with weddings in our culture and often idolatry with the act of getting married. And it's unfortunate that many of these costly weddings will eventually end in divorce. Yet, because our culture has abused and idolized weddings, I don't think that it's wrong for a Christian couple to celebrate marriage and to rejoice with others, especially when it is our God-given joy! So often we as Christians want to distance ourselves from all things that appear "worldly" or "frivolous". Yet, to the Christian these things can be good and glorifying to God if used properly. In my opinion, the Christian man should be the one to buy a ring for his bride, because we have a higher view of marriage and it's purpose! The ring symbolizes more for us then they do for the unbelieving couple. All to often we spend money on "pragmatic" things and yet when it comes to our families or spouses we tend to be frugal. Yet, I'm of the persuasion that we should give most liberally to our spouses and families first. Those that are dearest to us, should be the recipients of our greatest gifts. Just as Christ adorns the bride because she is beloved to Him, so we should do with those whom we love and cherish. I used to be one of those people that didn't want an engagement ring, but I've come to believe that there is more symbolism and meaning in having a ring than without one!
That was a good way of putting it. To us, my engagement ring is a visible symbol of the reality that we're pledged in marriage to each other. And not only is it the pledge, but to my fiancé, it is as much a sign of my desire to marry him as it is that he desires to marry me. Because of the way the timing worked out (we got engaged earlier than planned), we were engaged for about a month before I actually got the ring (in whose design I had no say -- by choice), and we were both pretty happy to have it. It's definitely less about me and more about us.

If the woman decides that she doesn't want an engagement ring, that's certainly not wrong by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think I'd look askance at a young man who tries to weasel his way out of one because he thinks it unnecessarily frivolous or whatnot. It's a symbol, and symbols are important.
 
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