Some religious leaders argue that some believers are more faithful to their looks than their creator. Jeff Andrew Lule talked to some of them.
Today, fashion has penetrated every corner of society and religious denominations have not been spared. A dominant fad is the wearing of jewellery, which has become part and parcel of many people’s dress code, including men.
People wear necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, anklets, and other trinkets.
The Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church, for example, is particularly wary of jewellery, whether inside or outside church.
The head of the SDA Church in central Uganda, Bishop James Kaggya, quotes 1Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fi ne clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self; the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is great in God’s sight.” “In creation, God commanded everything to be created and it was all good.
But on the sixth day, God used His own hands to create man. He plucked out one of his ribs and created the woman. What can we add to God’s perfect creation as human beings?” Kaggya asks.
“What is the meaning of jewellery before God? What is decoration and how can you decorate a human being? Of what purpose is it for one to decorate themselves when they have a bad heart?” he questions.
Kaggya says some people unintentionally worship their expensive jewellery, while others put on jewellery just to show off.
No wedding rings?
The SDA Church does not use wedding rings to solemnise marriages. Kaggya says faith through good deeds is more important than jewellery. He says many wedded people with rings commit adultery.
However, Kaggya concedes that those who want to wear the rings can do it as they wish, but it is not part of the church’s principle.
The retired bishop of Mityana Diocese, Wilson Mutebi, says the Anglican Church does not have a law on wearing jewellery in church or outside.
“Every disciple of Jesus Christ is expected to follow His footsteps. They must emulate Jesus in order to easily preach the gospel to the public. They must always judge themselves — whether their actions glorify God,” he says.
Mutebi says the changes in culture and modernisation have altered many things. But true disciples of God adapt wisely to avoid being misled.
“What matters is the faith not physical appearance.We cannot stop people from putting on jewellery; many ladies wear it to show love to their husbands. But we condemn men who do it,” he says.
The retired bishop of Rwenzori Diocese, Eustace Kamanyire, says there are no written rules on jewelry and dress code for people in church, but that people need to dress decently, even in their communities in order to glorify God.
Mufti Zubair Kayongo says jewellery distracts others while in prayers and it is one of the reasons Muslims separate men from women during worship.
“Our religion allows women to put on jewellery outside the mosque and for their husbands in their homes. That is why we ask them to cover their heads and put on long outfi ts during prayers, so as not to distract other women admiring hair styles,” he says, adding that women need to dress modestly, with decency and do good at all times.
Kayongo says the Muslim faith condemns men who behave like women. He says such people cannot be allowed to enter the mosque.
Pr. Franklin Mugisha Mondo of Empowerment Christian Prayer Centre International, says jewellery is used as a symbol for certain groups, though many think it is just a fashion.
“Some evil groups use jewellery as symbols to easily identity with one another in society. One just looks at a symbol on a necklace and a ring and quickly knows that they are from the same group,” he says.
“Since some of us know these things, whenever I see such people come to my church, I just know that they need help. I just pray for them and later counsel them, depending on their problems,” Mondo says.
He asks people, especially the youth to avoid putting on jewellery that has weird symbols like snakes and dragons.
The spokesperson for Kampala Archdiocese, Msgr. Wynand Katende, says adorning jewellery is not bad since it is part of beauty.
“We are God’s children who need to look good. Others wear jewellery to express love for their loved ones. We have no problem with jewellery in the Catholic Church if it is not exaggerated,” he says.
Katende adds that some people spend hours trying to look good in jewellery, which sometimes results into idolatry, thus forgetting about God.