Not Hats, Hearts (ATP)
Is it disrespectful for a man to wear a baseball style hat in Church?
1 Corinthians 11:4-5
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
To my knowledge, and I may be wrong, these are the only New Testament scriptures on the subject. At the very least, if there are more there are very few. I would start off by saying that we never build doctrine based on one or obscure scriptures. I can securely say that this is not a doctrine that God cares a lot about. So in order to answer this I will have to rely on my knowledge of God’s character. Is it wrong for a man to wear a hat and a woman not to? My answer is… wait for it… it all depends.
I don’t believe the principle of these scriptures is dealing with the heart of God but rather the heart of man. I don’t believe that these are dealing with instruction on headwear at all. These scriptures are dealing with authority structure and honoring that, but we must also keep in mind that here specifically, Paul was dealing with cultural ordinances not specific direction from God.
Culture is the key. There were many aspects of biblical culture we do not adhere to today. It is true, there are some fanatics who dwell on stuff like this but the Bible simply does not give clear incite into these things. I would suspect that this is because it’s not what God really cares about. So you may wonder, why mention it at all? We have to keep in mind that though scripture is for us, they were also letters written to specific people and specific times. Paul was actually writing to the the Corinthians about stuff they were actually dealing with in their church and culture.
We know cultures change and that’s not necessarily bad. There are Christians in Africa that live very different from you or I. That doesn’t mean they or we are wrong, we are just different. Even in America things are vastly different than they were 50 years ago. There was a time when men wouldn’t even leave the house without a tie or a hat on. In of themselves cultural aspects of society are neither good nor bad. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
I love what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” He is not advocating, as some would claim, that it’s ok to drop your moral standards and sin freely, but to be considerate and sensitive to the people you are ministering to. I wear a suit when I preach to bring honor to my Heavenly Father because that is honorable in our culture. However if Jesus called me to preach on a beach in Fiji (Jesus please!), I would probably not.
The heart is all God really ever cared about. What I mean by heart is, why are you doing what you are doing. If a guy walked into my church for the first time with a baseball cap, I would be ticked if someone in my congregation said anything about it at all. Now if it were a ten gallon hat and half the church couldn’t see, this is a little different. I’m not going to lose a potential church member because they want to wear a hat!
I do want to speak about honor though. When I first came to the church, I looked much different than I do today. I shaved my head bald, had earrings, wore cut up jeans and flip flops, and stunk of a hangover. I’m very glad no one looked down on me. Instead I was made to feel loved and welcomed. No one ever said anything about it. As I grew in the Lord, sitting and hearing the Word, God started speaking to me about how I looked and what I wore. I found myself not comfortable in the same clothes or doing the same things. God pricked my heart and I changed.
God will lead us to change things about us though I am not saying specific clothing is more or less godly. He will tell us individually what He desires in us. What He leads me on may not be the same across the board, but it will affect what I do. Paul became what was needed to reach and win the lost. I find myself much more conservative now, but then again, I couldn’t see myself pastoring then. A pastor should not look wild, they should be respectable and palatable in general.
Should we wear earrings or hats or certain clothes? I don’t think it matters if it doesn’t matter. I love the direction given to the Romans in Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” In all we do, let’s be considerate of others, with a desire to win them to the Lord and help them grow in that relationship. That is what God really cares about, not about hats, but about hearts!