Hats in Church

womenhatPeople wearing hats in church is a weird deal. While growing up it was forbidden for men to wear hats in church, but women were able to wear them with ease and honor. The styles of the hats were different and women’s hats were specifically designed for “dress up” occasions. If a guy wore a Cowboy hat or a baseball hat that was considered disrespectful.

Over time the lines between the hats and the sexes have blurred. There are many more styles of hats than there used to be. Men wear hats as fashion statements. Women wear baseball caps and cowboys hats. Dress codes in churches have relaxed somewhat.

manhatI hear statements like “no hats in church”, “if women get to wear hats, shouldn’t men get to also”, “that hat is ok”, “that hat is worn the wrong way”.

Today, what defines respectful hat-wearing in church?



About pastorrobin

Hello. I pastor PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, TX. I am married to Erica, and we have 3 kids: Kennady, Jude, and Avery. All little ones! Visit our church site at www.psmchurch.com

Posted on March 5, 2008, in Church Business, Daily Word. Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I remember men’s hats also being for “dress-up”. top hats, derby, sombreros, etc

  2. I have always been confused by this. The Jewish men were not allowed to enter into prayer WITHOUT their head covered. However, if we enter into prayer WITH our head covered it is considered rude. I guess it is a cultural thing, but I know culture does not dictates what God feels…and that is what matters.

  3. I agree Pastor Dan that God is not bound by culture or custom. However, humanity has developed these trappings as a way of showing civility and respect. If I am going to court to meet the judge, I dress appropriately out of respect for the occasion. If I go to a funeral, I do the same thing out of respect for the family. Our worship service is specifically coordinated to be a meeting between humanity and God. Should I have less respect for a meeting between the congregation and our creator than I have for a human official? When the National Anthem is sung everybody removes their hat. Should we have less respect for communication with Jesus Christ than we have for a song? Our church will be what ever we allow it to be. For myself, I sure hope we can continue the American cultural etiquette of men showing respect for the House of God by taking off their hats in church. If a Jewish man attends I will support his right to wear his Jewish hat just as stridently as I protest the other men wearing baseball caps.

  4. I was visiting a PromiseGroup recently, and in that meeting, there were 2 ladies who do not go to our church. I can’t remember how this subject came up, but one lady was telling us how it was in “her church”. A person could not even cross their legs because it was a sign of disrespect—-laziness/casualness in God’s house. Many people these days absolutely show no respect in God’s house—or to God anywhere. I feel that the room that we worship in should be a place of reverence. AND I realize that we worship more than just in that room—outdoors, home, etc. Actually, I feel that all of the building should be shown more respect than the outdoors. There are many things (taught in the Bible) different in men & women, and many of them have been “reduced” by today’s beliefs. Some should stay the same. Most men, in other locations away from the church building, take off their hat to pray, for the National Anthem, etc. Why not do it in God’s house? The men that I have seen in some of our services who wear a hat don’t even take it off when praying???? Strange that others do when they aren’t even in the house of GOD. Not just hitting on men. There are things that we women need to work on, as well, at church and away.

  5. Anne Griffith

    Pastor, you REMEMBER men wearing top hats and derbies? When did you have tea with the Queen? I know I am older than you and I don’t remember men wearing top hats and derbies. I do remember suggesting to a cowboy I was waiting on in a restaurant that he might want to take his hat off at the table. He didn’t.

  6. Anne Griffith

    Oh, I get it, I get it. You remember that the hats were for dressing up only. In the words of Emily Latella (sp), “that is something completely different, never mind.” She was a Gilda Radner character. From Saturday Night Live. The 70’s. Before conversion.

  7. I Corinthians 11 (The first few scriptures)
    Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 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…Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her[a] for a covering.

    The tradition of men NOT wearing hats in church comes from the Bible…and some churches still adhere to the tradition of women praying with their head covered.

    What amuses me is that some churches are very strict about women having their heads covered (VERY Biblical) but the hats the women wear are so opulent (fancy) that to some degree they become eyesores which is clearly disapproved of in I Timothy 2:9. In the end, it is all about balance.

  8. Rob are you saying that all hats for women are ok?

  9. casey, I agree with your last paragraph. i don’t think modern women (last 50 years) wear hats to fulfill I Corinthians 11.

    this brings up a good point. there is a disconnect between the original intent and the new culture and custom. At what point is a new cultural norm accepted?
    Therefore, it is not offensive, disrespectful or disobedient to practice the said norm.

  10. this is funny…..here is my blog from about 2 weeks ago….

    for real?

    do you think that God gets offended when we leave our hats on to pray? what is the origin of this tradition?? the savior of the universe can’t hear our prayers if we have a hat on…?? i guess the deal is that it is “respectful”… ???????? ok…… i guess that is why i’m going bald….i am being cursed for praying with a hat on for all of these years…!!!

    what do you think?

    some traditions should be promptly flushed down the toilet….

  11. No, my understanding of the accepted etiquette of women wearing hats in church in modern America is that there are church hats that are appropriate while others are not. This comes from the past when women wore fancy hats that were attached to their hair and difficult to remove. The men on the other hand could easily remove their hats so the custom became acceptable for women to keep their hat on but the men removed their hats. Therefore, if a woman wears a baseball cap in church it is considered just as disrespectful as a man wearing one.

    God probably looks at us and scratches his head wondering how in the world it got so complicated. I do not believe God requires any certain wardrobe to be worn, or not worn, when we enter His presence. However, I come from a background that taught the church sanctuary is a sacred place and was to be respected as such, and that hats worn in the sanctuary was disrespectful. When I see anyone wearing a hat in service, except for women in a church hat, I assume they are either completely ignorant of church protocol, being rebellious, or expressing their contempt for our beliefs. This also goes for eating or drinking in the sanctuary. On the surface, this issue sounds trivial and really should not cause a spiritually mature Christian to waiver. There are much more important things to pray about. However, we should consider the vast majority of the new seekers attending who will also be repelled by this practice. Why alienate many because a few want to disregard tradition?

  12. We have a mixing of cultures and that is where it gets sketchy.

    To those who feel it is offensive, then it means a lot to them. They need to stick to those convictions. I believe that there is honor in that form of respectful worship. (this goes beyond hats)

    we must fear, respect, and honor God in the context, culture and language that you are a part of and understand.

    Apostle Paul said to fit the culture in which you enter to worship. so if they are eating meat that you normally don’t eat, then it is ok to eat that meat with them. Don’t judge them, and criticize their disrespect for food. on the other hand, when they come to your house, they should respect you and not eat the meat.

    Does that Biblical application fit the hat situation?

    In other words, in our church we have a strong contingent of older members that feel strongly about hats, and we have a strong contingent of younger worshipers that don’t understand it at all.

    how do the 2 get along in one house?

  13. we are God’s sanctuary—or His temple….. i agree that we should be respectful with our actions when we are “in” the physical building….. BUT shouldn’t we also be respectful and take care of his actual temple (our bodies)??? since we can’t wear hats then we shouldn’t eat butter, ice cream, cheese, or drink cokes….. i say we start a new movement….???

  14. NICE ONE JAKE! You are preaching to the fat choir and that one. I needed that.

  15. According to the sermon we heard just a few months ago, we ARE supposed to take care of our personal temple (our bodies). Maybe we should re-distribute that CD. I think some people did not get it/understand it. We do need to be examples in this direction, also.

    On the question of older members and younger members/worshippers, somewhere it says to respect your elders. πŸ™‚ Some of the younger people have never been taught “anything”. A few months back, I politely asked an adult to not bring soda into the sanctuary. We plainly have a sign referencing this. He really did not agree with me, but he did stop bringing soda in. If we all bring soda (and other food products) in, our carpet & chairs will eventually be a sticky mess. If we all wear baseball caps, think about that picture. Just another event of some type.

    Do we teach them or do they teach us??

  16. we teach them about the love of God…..what an interesting path this blog has taken!! i feel like singing “Jesus on the inside, working on the outside—oh what a change in my life” !!!! …gross… whoever wrote that song should have to walk the plank!! i think that the argument is about respect—and not right or wrong with God….am i right?

  17. and lastly…….WHAT ABOUT THE BALDING PEOPLE!! like me!!!

    1-our heads get cold
    2-we can’t style our hair fashionably

    which brings up the topic of —–WIGS!!! they cover your head!! are they disrespectful??…..and usually—not always—-but usually they look worse than a hat…..ok—i’m done…..

  18. Jake we do teach the love of God. But how does our generation show respect?
    respect is “the voice” of our love. it is how we express it.

    respect, to me, means going out of my way. Or doing something I wouldn’t normally do.

  19. Jacob, I agree that there are some situations in which traditions should be flushed. I know a guy that started a meeting of believers within a biker club. They did not meet in a church building, have nice worship music, or any traditional customs. God did meet them on their own level and hearts were changed. I also know Mike Weaver who started a church at the rodeos. His members were performing cowboys and they certainly had different customs. (they did take off their hats when they prayed though) But should My Church be voided of our American church traditions? The answer should be predicated on whether the tradition leads to spiritual growth or detracts from it.

  20. By the way, why is bald so bad? I’m done on this one also as work is piling up.

  21. The church I grew up in gave the women small prayer caps made of tulle to wear after they were baptized. My sister carries hers in her Bible. At the home they have for the elderly, there are people in their 90’s and up into the 100’s who look like the amish.

    FYI – They baptize by immersion three times forward in the titles. One dunk for each title. I guess that’s why they are called Dunkerds???

  22. Wow, this blog really got busy. My personal opinion is that culture has too much influence in our churches today. There are some “sacred cows”….some things about our faith and beliefs that should be untouchable. There are many things we say are our culture but they are actually our sin nature. We justify things because they are the norm in the world…we were never called to be a part of the world, we were called out of the world. We have created a fine line between the chruch and the world and at times there is no detectable difference. We watch the same things, do the same things, wear the same things, speak in the same manner…

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ”

    We cannot drive the darkness out of this world by becoming darkness we must become the brightest light.

  23. In my easter bonnet,with all the frills upon it I`ll be the grandest lady int he easter Parade. On the avenue,,,,,ect ect ect
    I love my PSM cap and wore it last week to Shelbys soccer game, It didn`t even mess up my wig.

  24. well put by rob…..the ultimate goal is growth in Jesus…. if your tree has fruit on it then you are doing well…. my hats off to all of you….hah

  25. Casey, I love your latest post!!!! Thought provoking for all!!!!! Wynnel, you are such a mess!!!! love ya, both!

  26. This has been a most interesting blog to read!

  27. Does the Steele-Lowery clan have lively conversations like this at family gatherings? πŸ˜€

  28. Never———–we are only wordy on the blog. πŸ™‚ Laddie, we always need more input. Come on join us daily.

  29. okay, I’m probably way late on this one and probably won’t be read, but …
    I was reared in a very strict independent, fundamental, legalistic family and my grandpa was church pastor. Even with a greater list of “don’t’s” than the freedom of “do’s” in Christ, hats was not one of those “issues”. However, my parents sent my twin brother and me to a private interdenominational boarding high school and that VERY STRICT institution required hats and gloves on the young women when attending church. I grew to love wearing hats – and that during the 60s when hippie garb was the norm. :0)

    THEN at 18 years old I was drawn by the Holy Spirit into a personal and amazing relationship with the Lord. WHAT FREEDOM! So, during the next year or so, I “tested” my family and church family with the norms of my upbringing. After an evening service one Sunday my dear grandmother tucked a little note (I still have it!) into the little pocket of my worn out overalls and told me to read it at home. Yes, I was wearing overalls in church – one of my “in your face legalists!” behaviors. :0) In the note she told me how deeply it hurt her to see me dressed like that in God’s house and that the Lord had convicted her of her “addiction” to watching “General Hospital” and that she was not going to watch it any longer because the content was displeasing to the Lord. I realized that my relationship with my grandmother was more precious than disappointing her with this attitude.

    Over the years God has worked to teach me to just rest in Him and to please HIM, not man. If we are truly in tune with pleasing our Father, then all this other stuff is foolishness.

    Judging people for the way they look, what they do – even if it’s an “in your face” attitude, rather than process what you are seeing on the outside, take that moment to pray that God will give you a heart of compassion for everyone, believer and non-believer, hat wearer and non-hat wearer, pierced, tatooed, strange clothes and “acceptable to you” clothing. After all, the carnal man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.

    Shouldn’t we who belong to Him focus on being a reflection of Him?

  30. What a great writing!! But your last sentence sums it all up!!!! thanks!

  31. I feel that you should take anything off that may distract you from the presence of God(such as hats, sunglasses,etc)…Jacob, you going bald has nothing to do with praying with your hat on(it’s in your genes)….you’d do it for your mom so why not for your Creator? Out of honor and RESPECT for some one besides yourself…

  32. not being sumissive ,is PRIDEFUL….and when you come to know Jesus….you can’t help but bow to his LOVE….FOCUS on your love for him and not your right to be who you are…for what are we without Him?

  33. Robin,
    I just checked your site for the first time in awhile, and I’m sure glad I did. Being involved in these Cowboy/ Western World churches, I get the chance to deal with this on a regular basis. A lot of the churches that I have ministered in over the years allow folks to wear their hats. However I notice that most Old Timers (like your paw) ha ha, will take theirs off. It’s in their raising. I can remember when I was a kid that it was bad manners to walk into a home, and for sure the church with a hat on. Not so many years ago we would not have had to have this discussion, as it would never have been considered.
    In our church, we have hat racks in the entry way, and people are glad to leave their hats there when they come in. If a visitor comes in, it is only a short while before they take it off on their own, because no one else has one on.
    To me it is a matter of respect. I know lots of men who take their hats off when they sake hands with a woman, so why not The House of God.
    You know they say that The Church is only a few steps behind the world in so many things that we now see as common place. Is it possible that we may also lose our respect for the House of God?
    Blessings, Mike Weaver

  34. From what i’ve read on this big contradiction of a tradition during the past hour is weird because everyone says something different. Such as:
    “I’m with a Orthodox Catholic Church and we HAVE to have a hat on, and we go by the same bible the westerns do.”

    “I don’t see how a school can go by the intentions of a church because a public school can not be religous bound.”

    “It’s just wrong to wear a hat in a building and there should be a law not to!”

    I read something very intresting like 10 minutes ago on a dad that stabbed his 19 yo son in the bullocks for wearing a hat in church. I don’t see what the big deal is considering there are so many religions that contradict the “so-called” bible verse that i have never seen that relates to the “taking your hat off in all buildings” rule. I see no reason why a peice of cloth stiched together with a cardboard front end stiched on. If anyone has a clear answer other than tradition or anything of the sort i would love to know.


  35. Actually 1st Cor 11:4 is about hair length not hats.


    This commentary explains it better than I can. Hope its OK to post

  36. wearing in hats in church there is no respect for god

    those who wear hats in church r not in line with god word

    robin the way u write is not in line with gods word!!!!

  37. i m sorry robin i thought u hate statment no hats in church

  38. I’m confused. Do you agree or disagree? I don’t remember saying something in scripture.

  39. First Post of the Year! This is a very interesting post. I think a big part of what’s missing is tolerance. Being raised and going to school with people of different faiths, and even different beliefs of people of the same faith taught me that we better respect each other, or else we will have many more sects of the same religion, thereby diluting it anyway.

    What believer is following everything in the Bible? Ultimately I believe its a personal relationship with God.

    Another point I’d like to make is that those “Holier Than Thou” types push people away from the church. Are we trying to win souls or scare them away?

  40. I was taught as a child that a man removes his cap or hat when he enters the church sanctuary./ a woman does the same unless she’s wearing a dress hat that is attached to her hair.

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