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?