I was sitting next to a woman I had never met before and we were talking about her kid. I found my eyes slide over to her left hand to look for a wedding ring. It wasn’t there. Just a bare finger. I suddenly found myself thinking she was divorced, or had a kid out of wedlock, judging her situation, her life, her choices. Then in the next breathe, she mentioned her husband. I realized that a wedding band or engagement ring mattered to me. It was a determination of worth and success, of doing things right. So I asked myself the question, “If you’re married and don’t wear a ring, are you really still married?”
If you’re married, it’s generally taboo to take your wedding band off and go out in public. Usually, and stereotypically, this behavior is in tandem with promiscuous gentlemen looking for sex outside their marriage, to put it bluntly, or at least that’s what the movies tell me. Yet both this stranger and even my own mother have gone without wearing their rings. Not because they were unhappy in their marriage or didn’t want people to think they weren’t married. For my mom, her rings became too small as her hands began to change with age. For the stranger, I don’t know why, but it really didn’t matter.
Yet I find myself questioning ever taking your ring off. Isn’t it insulting to your spouse when you don’t wear your ring? But you’re married even when you’re not wearing your wedding ring, popping off your precious band doesn’t undue the binding the Lord has done, meaning there’s a paradox here. On the one hand, the wedding band and engagement ring are symbols of love, commitment, a covenant with God between two souls who wished to be bound together on this earth for as long as they both shall live. Yet, lurking beneath this celebrated and beautiful symbol of union, is a complex social expectation, one of negativity and pain and confusion.
The wedding band and engagement ring have become for many men and women, a difficult thing to behold. I was the maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding in the fall. At the rehearsal dinner, I found myself in a conversation with the bride and her soon-to-be-sister-in-law. Both were talking about their rings, showing how they caught and glimmered in the light. The weight of having something so expensive on their hand. Despite the boyfriend I had left back at home, I found myself feeling inadequate without a ring on my finger. As if where I was currently, a new relationship, still growing in love and commitment just wasn’t, enough. As if it wasn’t as meaningful in that moment. Which was silly, and would still have been silly even if I hadn’t been seeing anyone at the time.
The thing is, we’ve placed this value upon the wedding ring that God never intended. It has become a source of judgement, pain, and division, a means for boasting, perceived wisdom, and exclusion, of insincerity, sin, and purity. A skewed symbol of completeness that if your ring finger is bare that means you’re somehow less whole than if you had one. And if you’re married and you take your ring off, it’s like putting on a mask of deceit that hides your marital status from the world.
Even though I’m not yet married, I can sure tell you that the meaning of marriage is not a wedding ring. It’s an additive, one that society has subjected us to think is valuable. God doesn’t care about your wedding band, or whether you even have one. He cares about your heart and what’s inside it. Married or not.
I’m sure when I am married I will wear my ring. Though I hope and pray it is out of humbleness. And I hope and pray even more that people look for what’s inside me first, rather than what’s on my left ring finger.
Thoughts, questions, concerns? Tell me what you think! Let’s discuss! Leave a comment below. Get a little heated. Agree. Disagree. Throw your opinion out there. Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right. It doesn’t really matter, it’s my opinion anyway. I’m just glad you decided to join the conversation.