Saturday, March 21, 2009

On Guys Wearing Hats in Worship

Recently, I have had several people comment on one of our musicians wearing a hat in worship. Just so you know the context, The Vine is the name of the worship service and it is a contemporary worship service. The guy wearing a hat is not wearing a ball cap or a cowboy hat. It is one of those nice dress hats. He is a very eccentric person, but I believe him to be very committed to Jesus. In fact, he is so committed to our worship service that he has made other sacrifices just to play in the praise band. He is a very nice guy with a loving heart. I am sure that he in no way wants to hurt anyone by wearing a hat. He believes he is expressing his personality on stage.

It seems the two opinions are a follows. (1) Guys should not wear hats in worship because it is disrespectful. (2) There is nothing in the bible that says wearing a hat is wrong, so it should not matter what other people think. If this person wants to wear a hat, they can.

In trying to figure out the best way to approach this issue in a way that helps both this musician and the those with the complaints, and most importantly gives honor to God, which is what I believe worship is all about. In order to get some grounding for how to approach this issue and I believe this must begin with the Bible. Of coarse, I have not found anything that specifically answers this question, but there is one that seems to address some of the factors involved. The passage comes from 1 Corinthians 11. Paul writes,

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, [a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

    7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own [b] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

    13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

In 1 Corinthians it seems Paul is addressing several problem areas in the Corinthian church and worship practices seem to one of those areas. He actually writes about worship practices all the way through chapter 14. In chapter 11, it appears that the Corinthians church has disregarded common practices of the day. The issue in question seems to be made clear in verse 13. "Is it proper for women to pray to God with her head uncovered?" It seems that Paul answers the question in verses 14-16. He concludes that the common practice of the other churches is for a guys head to be uncovered and a woman's to be covered. It appears that Paul sticks to tradition in answering this question.

Paul's explanation for why he concludes what he does begins in verse 2. I think he is stating the traditional opinion that a man is honored without a head covering and a female is honored when her head is covered. The reason flows from the order of creation. God-Male-Female.

You will notice that Paul admits in verse 10 that a woman should have authority over her own head. In other words, a woman should have the freedom to cover their heads or to leave them uncovered. Paul also expresses a similar truth to that in Galatians that there is no male or female in Christ, everything comes from God. Paul points out that nobody is independent of anyone else. Paul's conclusion then is not based on Men being superior to women, but on following a cultural norm. It really appears to me that Paul wants to offend the least amount of people by telling the Corinthians they should follow customs because nobody is independent of anyone else.

I believe this truth stems from one that Paul made just one chapter earlier. He says, "I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." In chapter 10 Paul is saying that there are no such things as idols, therefore the meat should be fine to eat, but as to not offend, if someone is offended by the eating of meat that comes from the market, which has been involved in temple sacrifice, then don't eat it. The same truth applies here. While women are free to uncover their head, in this context it is not beneficial.

What mat we conclude about the question, "Should Guys Wear Hats in Worship?"

  1. I don't believe God really cares if we wear a hat in worship or not. It should be a non issue.
  2. In the south especially, cultural norms say that men should not wear hats in worship.
  3. Our musician is free to wear a hat if he wants to,
  4. However, Paul's advice would be to follow cultural norms so that the least amount of people are offended and distracted in worship.
  5. Worship is about God and his saving work in Jesus. Everything that is done in worship should honor God. When we take away from others honoring God, we should think and pray about making a change.

I think my next step as the pastor in the worship service would be to express these five things to our musician and let him think and pray about wearing the hat in worship. I would love comments about this blog and reflections.


Erica Williams said...

I think the judging should be left to God and us each concentrate on our own personal relationship with God. I feel that The Vine is a place of worship where what is worn or how you want to worship is not judged.

Anonymous said...

I think that Paul said enough. Who wants to hear, that person will hear and obey. By obeying we show that we honour God. If we care more about us than God's word or other saints, then we show where our heart is.