Why Malayalee Pentecostals not wear Ornaments
Why Keralite Pentecostals do not wear ornaments?
In Kerala many pentecostal groups do not wear ornaments. If you ask "why you are not wearing ornaments?", the new generation has no answer to that question.
Now I remember the story of a Pandit (or called Poojari which means the person perform the rituals at the temple). One pandit in a certain village bought a cute pet cat. This cat used to eat with the Pandit and sleep with him. Wherever he goes, the cat follows him. Pandit loved the cat and took care of it.
As part of the worship ritual, this pandit has to offer milk to his God in the temple. As soon as the cat sees the milk, it drank the milk. This cat doesn't know whether it is offered to God or cat. Few times the cat came and drink the milk which is to be offered to the Image of God. To avoid such embarrassing situation Pandit started to tie the cat to a tree before he perform his worship rituals. It was his habit to tie the cat before he perform the pooja (worship). After the worship, he release the cat. Years passed and the the pandit died. His son started to perform the worship rituals. He continued the custom and tied the cat before the worship.
And it become the part of the worship ritual. Years passed and the the cat also died. Now the children of the pandit does not know why they tie the cat before the worship. They thought and felt to complete the ritual, they have to tie a cat. They couldn't find a cat in their village. They felt that their worship is not complete and did not find satisfaction. So they brought a cat from the near by village. After bringing the cat, they tied it to a tree and did their worship ritual. Now they are satisfied.
Originally, to avoid the cat from drinking the milk, which was set aside for the worship, was the basic idea to tie the cat to a tree. But now it become part of the ritual.
I found many of the decedents Malayalee Pentecostals are in the same boat where the decedents of the above pandit. Many of them does not know why the forefathers decided to avoid ornaments. Now many of the new generations pastors as well as believers searching bible to find out why they are not wearing ornaments. Few denominations of Kerala Pentecostals will not baptize you if you are wearing ornaments. (Now new generation or some new groups allow to wear ornaments)
Ornaments became a cause for sin
Exodus: 331-6: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ 2 I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 3 Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”
4 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.
The context/background of the above passage is that Aaron made a statue of Golden Calf and the Israelites stared to worship that image and that made God angry. So it is a commandment of God to put off the ornaments.
Few reasons for not obeying this commandment is that:
1. This is an old testament Commandment
2. We are in New Testament covenant and it does not apply to New Testament Christians.
3. If it is valid, then we have to obey all the old testament covenants like Sabbath and circumcision of flesh etc. Pick and choose is not allowed in obeying the bible.
But the Old Malayalee Pentecostal leaders decided to obey this commandment to keep themselves away from sin and it became a criteria for all the people who wish to join the Pentecostal church or to get baptized under Pentecostal belief. This was a unanimous decision of Pentecostal leaders of that time.
Ornaments and Pentecostals in Kerala
To know the reason for abandoning ornaments well, we need to understand the social as well as the cultural situation of the time when our our forefathers came to faith and received the gift of Holy Spirit. Social status at that time was determined by the amount of Gold and Silver ornaments one wear. In marriages, a part of dowry was given as gold ornaments. The weight of gold ornaments determines the status of the family in the society at that time. Those who are rich used to wear a lot of gold ornaments. Those who are poor used to wear ornaments made of glass, plastic or stone beads. In marriage and other occasions gold and silver ornaments were given as gifts.
When our forefathers came to faith, many of them were denied possession and wealth from their parents and relatives. Their new found faith and speaking in tongues were treated as madness. In marriages and special occasions, they were not invited and denied entry. Most of them have to rebuild their life from scratch. But they were so strong in their faith. They found happiness in Jesus and the worship in spirit more than anything else. They left everything for their faith. Many of them were thrown out of their family. They spend many days without food or shelter. Many were eating leaf or root of plants to survive. When they were not able to eat food, how do you expect them to wear ornaments.
They took a joint decision to abstain from divorce, wearing ornaments, remarriage of divorced, smoking, drinking wine, going to theater to watch commercial movie, watching drama or dance along with unbelievers etc. as it diverted their attention from God to worldly things. It was a requirements for the believers to avoid such things to get baptized and to join a Pentecostal church. If anyone found violating these teachings, were not allowed to say testimony in the church and were dismissed those who did not heed the correction. It was done to keep the holiness in the community and gathering intact.
At that time there were miracles happened among them. Many of those who were afflicted by the evil spirits were delivered by the ministry of anointed pastors. There were well known prophets among them. Fasting prayers and conventions conducted frequently and many came to Pentecostal faith.
One of the Bible verse used to point out why they should not wear ornaments were 1 Timothy 2:9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
Wearing white dress was a peculiar tradition in the Pentecostal faith which is fading now a days. In the olden days when they gathered together, they were wearing white dress as much as they can to separate themselves from others. It was insisted by the leaders to be white (pure) inside and outside. Their Love of God stood above all things.
They realized that love of God is more precious than silver or Gold. To maintain equality, they decided not to wear Gold or Silver or other ornaments. They wanted to have a separate identity. They decided that if someone who is not willing leave ornaments for the sake of God, he/she is not worthy to follow God or accepted in their community. To weed out the half minted people and create a strong and faithful group, they decided that anyone want to join them must abstain from wearing any kind of ornaments. If you are not willing to give up your ornaments, you are not worthy to follow Jesus. That was their reason to abstain from wearing ornaments. Whether they are in USA or UK, North India or in South India, they keep their identity and the rules set by their forefathers. Not only ornaments but also drinking wine, smoking cigars, watching movies, speaking abusive words etc. are treated as sin and such people would not allowed to join them.
The basic aim for abstaining from ornaments is that to keep a separate identity from the world and sin. Otherwise the leaders could have advise the believers that they could wear cheap ornaments made of plastic or natural materials. But they wanted to keep an identity. This identity is a declaration to the world that you are committed your life to Jesus and you will serve Him all through your life. In your happy days and in your sorrowful days, in your abundance and in your scarcity you will follow Jesus and his teachings. It is the evidence of your commitment. The responsibility of being separated and recognized as a Pentecostal is also a way of keeping themselves from self-destructive habits, such as smoking, drinking, and other worldly desires.
Just like when a Sikh who wear turban, white bana, kara, beard etc., he is declaring that he is committed and have dedicated himself to the Guru and shall serve all.
So not wearing ornament is your commitment to do good and follow Jesus and serve the mankind. If you are willing to do that, you are welcome to join the Pentecostal group. A committed group.
Giving below the reasons to abstain from ornaments.
1. God is more than anything else and it is a commitment to God all through his/her life.
2. They are willing to spent a portion their income for spreading the Gospel.
3. Maintain Equality.
4. To test the Love of God. (whether you love God more than gold or silver)
5. They found that there is no use in stacking money by amassing Gold or Silver.
6. They find it useful investing money in the Kingdom of God.
7. It is better to invest in property and education of children than buying Gold which will reduce its weight through constant use.
8. Many of them were very poor to buy gold or silver.
The Origin of Ornaments
Recently we understand that from the Dead Sea Scrolls we found the Second Book of Adam and Eve. In the 20th Chapter Vs. 31 says "And when they looked at the daughters of Cain, at their beautiful figures, and at their hands and feet dyed with colour, and tattooed in ornaments on their faces, the fire of sin was kindled in them."
Ornaments were introduced by Satan to the Sons of Cain who were sinful. They put on ornaments, painted their bodies, dyed their hair and skin with colours to attract people. Honestly, use of ornaments, dyed hair, coloured body parts and hands were used to attract the opposite sex. It is a tool of Satan. Hence it is advised not to be an agent of Satan wherever you are.
History of Pentacostals
Ornaments and Israelites
In Exodus 33: 3-6 we can see that the Israelites stopped wearing ornaments right after the incident of Aaron made a The Golden Calf which displeased the God. Please read the following verses which clearly says why Israelites stopped wearing ornaments. I recommend you to read the complete chapter of Exodus 32 and 33. Here is the reproduction of Exodus 33: 3-6 . 3“Go upto a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way.”
4When the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning, and none of them put on his ornaments. 5For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the sons of Israel, ‘You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you.’” 6So the sons of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. (New American Standard Bible)
Arguments and counter arguments
There are lot of arguments and counter arguments in the comment section below. One argument written by Mr. Prakash is reproducing here under for your reference which I think very valid:
Its not only Malayalee Pentecostals who are not wearing ornaments, lot many churches around the world are following this because this is from Bible.
However this custom came from the beginning of Pentecost revival during 1904 - 1910 in Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, California where wonders and miracles were clearly manifested like growing of hands, formation of eyes for the people born blind etc.
Holy Spirit compelled the people to avoid ornaments to see the such a glorious presence of God. Many people who got anointed trowed away their ornaments because holy spirit compelled them to do so. Smith Wigglesworth of Bradford, UK or the Apostle of faith aroused around 14 people from dead also in favor of the same teaching.
Even the book published by Harvard University [Heaven Below by Grant Wacker] on Pentecostals says that during beginning of Pentecost no one degraded themselves by wearing any form of adornment in America.
Robert Felix Cook or cook sayipp got anointed from this revival and got a vision to go to Kerala and influenced the Pentecostal fathers like K E Abraham , Ommachan sir etc. which resulted in abstinence from ornaments.
And now new generation says they believe in Jesus but want to live like gentiles. If you believe in Jesus believe in each and every word he told . Ornament wearing is a sin yes (There are 100+ references in bible), but you need to show that you are a true child of Jesus in every aspect of your life.
As Malayalee Pentecostal people including many pastors forgot the real meaning of spirit filled life and God is doing wonders in China [Brother Yun], Africa and other place
I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it
I recommend you to go through the arguments and counter arguments written in the comment box below for more insights. You are also welcome to share your thoughts.
© 2010 Neha J