One of the best things about being in Christ is that we have so much freedom in Him! We don’t have to be slaves to the world’s ways. We don’t have to celebrate the same way the world does or live by the world’s expectations. We no longer need to feel pressured by advertisers or marketers. Our only goal is to please the Lord! What lightness and freedom that brings! Even as we plan a wedding.
But now that we know Christ, we can be content without spending thousands and thousands of dollars. Our greatest treasures are in heaven. We no longer have to be super attached to things of earth. A diamond is beautiful – but there is nothing wrong with having a cubic zirconia ring – no one has to even know. I have a friend who has a lovely sterling silver and CZ bridal set that was $25 and I would never have known it wasn’t an expensive diamond ring set costing thousands of dollars. That’s a picture of her set on the right.
It is also okay not to have an engagement ring at all. An engagement ring isn’t a biblical concept or requirement. Or you could choose your own stone that means something special to you and your fiancé.
Perhaps you could be content with a small diamond, if you really want a diamond. Did you realize that Walmart has engagement rings, bridal ring sets, and wedding rings that are quite affordable? The ring below is a 1/2 carat TW diamond set in 14 kt yellow gold and is available at the moment for $348 at Walmart. They also have sterling silver CZ rings that are only $20-40.
An engagement ring does signify to others in our culture that we are engaged. It’s not wrong to have one if you would like to have one. The symbol of being engaged with a ring is an important one to many of us. But we also want to be wise stewards of our resources and not go into debt. Living within our means according to biblical financial principles is more important than spending money we really don’t have. I’d love to see my Christian sisters encourage their men to find ways to celebrate engagement that don’t create financial bondage.
Let’s also keep in mind that the size of an engagement ring has nothing to do with the depth of a couple’s love for each other or how much your fiancé loves you. The size of an engagement ring also has nothing to do with whether the marriage will last longer.
It is very possible to make a diamond ring into an idol. Let’s keep things in perspective, precious sisters. If the ring is more important to me than Christ, or the ring is more important to me than the guy I marry and his character, that is a big problem! The goal is to set my heart on Christ first and then to love my man. The ring can be fun and a beautiful way to celebrate your upcoming marriage as well as your commitment to each other. Enjoy and cherish your ring. But be sure that a ring never takes precedence to your love for God or your fiancé.
The ring pictured on the right is a one carat cubic zirconia ring that costs $460 – I believe it is set in white gold. Something like this, or the other options at birkatelyon.com or another site, could be a wonderful way to celebrate your engagement without creating unnecessary and stressful debt.
HISTORY OF DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RINGS
Interestingly, until about 100 years ago, the vast majority of men didn’t propose marriage with diamond rings.
Check out what the American Gem Society has to say about the history of diamond engagement rings:
In 1947, De Beers launched its now classic slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.” This campaign spurred even more sales. The implied durability of a diamond conveyed the meaning in the American psyche that marriage is forever. A diamond’s purity and sparkle have now become symbols of the depth of a man’s commitment to the woman he loves in practically all corners of the world.The opening of the DeBeers mines in Africa made diamonds more accessible. In the 1930s, when demand for diamond rings declined in the U.S. during hard economic times, the De Beers Company began an aggressive marketing campaign using photographs of glamorous movie stars swathed in diamonds. Within three years, the sales of diamonds had increased by 50 percent.
WE CAN MAKE OUR OWN DECISIONS LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
The ring to the left, pictured on a model’s hand, is from Diamond Nexus (man-made diamonds they claim are better than CZ). This particular ring is $413. It could be interesting to shop around and see what is available that is not from the diamond industry. Some believers want to avoid diamonds because of the human cost and abuse that can be involved in mining them.
Another advantage of having a less expensive ring is that it is more modest and goes along with God’s design for women to be beautiful – which is that we don’t depend on expensive clothing, expensive jewelry, or elaborate hairstyles for our beauty. Good deeds are to be our ornaments (1 Tim. 2:9-10).
Yet another factor to consider is that if you and your future husband may be involved in ministry, elaborate and expensive rings, jewelry, clothing, makeup, and possessions speak of earthly wealth not heavenly wealth. These things may not be appropriate in a number of cultures for missionaries. And, you may be a target of thieves if you have a very expensive ring, as well. Many missionaries don’t wear any jewelry, makeup, fancy clothes, and many of them don’t have fancy possessions of any kind.
Even if you are not a missionary, some believers today are opting to move away from materialism and consumerism in order to have more minimalistic lifestyles even in the West. This can be a wonderful idea for Christians because we are to be free from the love of money and the pull of earthly things. But it may not be for everyone. For more information on Christians who practice minimalism, check out this post and the related link.
We don’t have to follow the pressures of our culture and of a jewelry company.
It’s great that their ad campaign helped their sales. But we get to decide how we want to handle our engagements in ways that simply honor Jesus. We don’t have to feel compelled to spend money we don’t have for unnecessary reasons. And we don’t have to feel compelled to spend money we do have on expensive rings, either. How much is spent should be a matter of personal conviction for each couple, and especially, for the groom who is buying the ring and who knows his particular budget and motives.
There is so much joy in spending our money wisely and being godly stewards, seeking to honor Christ with our spending decisions. It is okay to let your boyfriend know if you would like to do something less expensive for a ring if he has already been talking about marriage if you truly are okay with that.
We can examine worldly expectations and decide which ones we want to keep and which ones we don’t.
I will be talking in future posts this month about a number of cultural wedding traditions and ways that believers in Christ may decide to change things to be more reasonable financially. Of course it is easy to get swept up in the glitz and glamour of an expensive wedding. But if you have tens of thousands of dollars in debt as a foundation for your marriage, that is a whole lot of unnecessary stress. Financial issues and debt are one of the greatest causes of conflict in marriages.
My desire is that we might live within our means and spend money in ways that honor our Lord. We can still have beautiful weddings and engagements that are very meaningful and memorable without having to give in to greed, debt, selfishness, idolatry, or the world’s ways of thinking. We can joyfully and cheerfully stick to an appropriate budget and focus primarily on our walk with Christ, our own spiritual health, and being a blessing to our men and others in our lives.
Let’s lay down our expectations of spending in extravagant ways and focus on creating a strong marriage that will last and bring honor and glory to God.
If your boyfriend surprises you with a ring, I vote to be happy with it, receive it graciously, and not ask for something more expensive. 🙂
I do believe it is wise in our culture for both spouses to wear wedding rings. They need not be fancy. But it is an important symbol that tells everyone you are taken and you are living out your commitment to your spouse.
If you would like to share your story about how you and your fiancé handled the engagement ring issue in a way that fits your budget, you are most welcome to share.
Dream Disney Weddings – some thoughts about expensive weddings and whether they are necessary