DM in Fall 2012
When to take off the wedding ring?
This is a debated subject.
When is the right time to remove one’s wedding ring?
Is it okay to take it off when the divorce papers are filed? After discovering infidelity? Only when the official papers are signed?
This subject is not settled in Scripture. So, I will offer the following thoughts as my own. They are my opinion and how I dealt with this issue in my own life.
First, I am tackling this issue as an elective issue. What I mean by that is sometimes even married people do not wear their wedding ring for legitimate reasons (e.g. a mechanic might not want to loose a finger, etc). I am not dealing with those sort of situations when formulating my answer. The situations I am considering are the ones that do not pose bodily harm to the ring wearer.
My position (opinion):
Keep the wedding ring on unto the official divorce end.
If you are still officially married, I believe you are still married in the eyes of God. Adulterous betrayal, for example, gives the faithful spouse permission to obtain a divorce without any shame (e.g. Deut. 22:22, Jer. 3:8, Mt 19:9). However, one remains married until one exercises that permission officially and legally.
So, it is wise to signal the truth of one’s marital status by continuing to wear one’s wedding ring. This marker makes the point that you are not available for another mate as you are still married. The last thing a faithful spouse needs is the added confusion during this time that comes with people acting towards him/her as if he/she is single (when the faithful spouse is not).
Finally, wearing my wedding ring to the bitter end was a matter of integrity for me. I gave my cheating ex-wife the opportunity to repent all the way to the official end of our marriage. My point in wearing my wedding ring the whole time was to take a stance that I walked away knowing I kept my vows until I was officially released by God and the state. It gave me peace doing so then and now.
I know some Christian counselors suggest removing the wedding ring as a consequence for the cheater to see. I disagree with that advice as I just stated. Personally, I consider that as an encouragement to live a lie–i.e. advertise that one is single when one is actually still married.
No good comes from living a lie.