July 8, 2016

Our Old Hat Society

So I'm just listening to a sermon about Head Coverings where the pastor pointed out up until the 1960s, women regularly wore hats to church. He mentioned that we get the tradition of asking men to remove their hats when they're indoors from the head covering passage. There's just one problem - the evidence for that isn't particularly plentiful.

Imagine you're a time-traveler who has just arrived at this very day, this very hour, this very minute only in the 1950s. You're literally out of place - someone who stands out - just because of what you're wearing and what you're not wearing. Imagine that all the men are dressed like Frank Sinatra - suits, ties, hats. And the women are dressed like Jackie Kennedy - dresses, gloves, and hats. Everybody wears more formal clothes. And since it's a crowded street and you bump into a young couple and knock them over. The young man's hat goes flying, but the young woman's hat is secured to her head thanks to her hatpin - so it stays fashionably in place. Is she going to say: "Thank God that my symbol of submission to my husband's authority over me didn't fall off my head! It would have been disgraceful!"? What about the man? Would he say: "I can't believe that you knocked my symbol of submission to Christ's authority over me off of my head, I know it's disgraceful to be covering my head, but how it be shameful to show that Christ is the authority over me?" Don't worry, they didn't see hats that way back then and the fact that we think that's what they mean now just shows us how easily it is to misappropriate a confusing passage.

I think the flaw is reading the idea that ever since the year 55 a.d. people have been wearing hats per the instruction of the head covering passage. There are plenty of reason to wears hats and religion isn't necessarily always the first or most important one. After all, religions the world over have rules about hats and other things, it's what they do. Hats were functional back in the day. It helped to keep it's wearers warm in cooler weather, which was good because they didn't have Air Conditioning and Heating systems like we do today. They also protected their wearer's hair from pollution, dust, and other debris that could accumulate throughout the day in a dirty city. Hats were also something of a status symbol, a rich man had a rich man's hat, a poor man had a poor man's hat. Hats were also fashionable. Sometimes fashions go the way of the cone-shaped hat, but some tend to stick around for longer.

I remember asking my grandmother what she remembered from her youth about wearing hats, everybody used to, she told me. It was just the fashion of the time. But fashions change. When the fashion of wearing hats went out, not even the religious crowd would be seen wearing their hats. So the religious reason that we teach - the symbol of the authority of one person over another - was meaningless and/or long forgotten by then. So it seems the religious reason has  been rediscovered - but I can't help but wonder if we're reading the authority of one person over another into the passage as it were. How is it that we can plainly see that hats are a symbol of submission to authority when the last generation to wear them obviously didn't and let the tradition die in the first place?


  1. Thoughts to ponder. I saw your reply to me on lifesitenews (unruhka) I'm no longer wearing a head covering. For me, it all started over my love for Amish books. Having a biblical command was a reason I could give for covering my fine, thin hair, to my family's evident disgust. I had to wonder, why so violently opposed to a biblical command? Now, maybe it's not. We can't know for sure. But my reasons for now rejecting it are prideful and most of the reason I wore it before were also prideful. Overall, I look better without one, and after some flak I got in the Wrapunzel blog for suggesting a site that sells simple linen expandable headbands (linen Is incredibly healing and doesn't slide on the hair), I threw in the towel. Besides, that site was all about vanity, not modesty, so it could not help me in my journey to true modesty. If I'm no more distinct than those wearing it for vanity and pride, what's the point?

    1. I live near an Amish population, I can see the attraction with having something that sets you apart pretty evident. Like if the secular fashions changed and hats were brought back big time, you'd have a whole group of women who wear hats just to wear hats, and a whole group of women who wear their coverings to affirm the symbol, but it might not be obvious as to who's who. In the old days - when puritanism was the major form of Christianity, it was said that one could tell which denomination or sect a woman belonged to depending on the style of her bonnet, each one had different rules about what was commonly acceptable or to be considered too decorative. Interestingly, in a documentary I saw about the Western/Wailing Wall the same phenomenon existed, one could tell which sect each Jewish man belonged to by the style of his head covering, each group had different standards. There's a security in the identity of being Amish and wearing Amish clothing, being Hutterite and wearing Hutterite clothing, but Christians lack that cohesion, some wear tichels, others hijabs, others veils, there's not something that serves the same purpose. No unity, no identity, no security, and nothing that stirs up curiosity. When you see one Amish woman, it's obvious she's different. When you see three or four around town, you get to wonder why they do this or that. When someone asks an Amish woman why she dresses as she does, she has an answer. But when there's just one woman who wears a head covering, it could very well be considered that person's individual taste, something that others just aren't into in the same way and not really worth asking about.
      Coincidentally, I think when I pointed out that there can be an unhealthy amount of pride in head-covering, I was blocked. I don't think I said anything that outlandish, but what sounded like a reasonable statement to me must have been taken as a grave insult. I've been blocked for half a year or so now.