Tuesday, May 18, 2010

hats in church

I grew up not being allowed to wear hats in church. I always hated that, so in middle school I found 1 Samuel 16:7 (which says that God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance) as my battle cry for the ridiculousness of not allowing middle schoolers to wear hats.

When I got to Moody this past fall, I quickly learned that they adopt the same policy towards hat-wearers. At Moody you can't wear a hat in the cafeteria or in classes. Naturally, I fought against the rule. I made a bunch of comments about how legalistic it was and complained a lot about how it was creating a legalistic culture.

Frankly, I think it is a legalistic argument to not allow someone to wear hats in "God-centered" environments. I've heard every argument there is for why it makes sense, and I disagree with them all. However, I now realize that I was just as off base with my response to the rule.

In Romans 14, Paul addresses the issue of clean/unclean foods. He says he is convinced that no foods are wrong to eat (which Jesus also taught in Matthew 15). While the hat argument doesn't deal with food, the principle still applies. Wearing a hat doesn't defile a person, the heart does. But after Paul makes that statement, he also says that if another believer is distressed about what you eat, then you're not acting in love if you eat it.

In other words, if one believer thinks it's wrong to wear a hat, regardless of how wrong I think they are, I'm not acting in love if I deliberately wear a hat around them.

This is convicting for me. What about you? Have you ever struggled with a similar issue? How did you respond?


  1. I never heard that the no hat in a building (including church) was a religious issue. I always heard that it was just proper etiquette.

    More to your point, if it is wrong for one to wear a hat if it offends someone, is it conversely wrong for a woman not to wear a burqa if it offends someone for her to show her face?

    While I would not deliberately seek to offend anyone, I would use common courtesy to guide my actions but my conscience as it relates to me would be the ultimate decider on what I would do.

  2. I got my ear pierced when I was 18, apparetnly guy's ear rings get the same prejudice as hats do in churches and Bible colleges...who knew? Either way, I had the same struggle you did with this whole mantra of what it is to honor God with how you look.

    The outward appearance verse I think is the keystone to every physical appearance arguement. And I quoted more pationately than Jn 3:16! Not only did the don't offend a brother pwn me but so did the thought that went along with it... "it's not about you." I realized I was arguing not to keep them from sinning but to keep my ear ring in. PWN'D! Great post thanks for sharing!

  3. When does the majority rule? If the majority aren't offended, but one is, who should leave? Just made me think. good post

  4. As I'm writing this....I'm wearing a hat. j/k. Good blog.

  5. Good thoughts. Thanks for posting!

  6. Haha and i'm actually wearing a hat too...

  7. If that is the rule, then you should obey it.

  8. I think you have to be careful with that statement, because not every rule needs to be obeyed. Wisdom and discernment are necessary when deciding when to drop frustrations and follow the rules, and when to go against the rule.

    Paul instructed the church at Rome to drop their frustrations when dealing with the question of what to eat and not eat. I think Paul's argument there is what we should apply to the 'hat in church' debate.

    But in Acts 15 and Galatians 1-2, Paul is fighting against a false Gospel. The legalistic Jewish believers were trying to force rules on Gentile Christians. This was a false Gospel according to Paul, and as a result the early church had the Jerusalem Council and the the letter of Galatians.

    When rules interfere with the Gospel they have to be fought against. But when rebelling against a rule is done simply because of personal conviction, then it's probably wise to submit to the authority God has placed over you.