*** w52 4/15 pp. 254-255 Questions from Readers ***
Questions from Readers
• Is it proper for men to tip their hats to women?—G. S., Missouri.
Some say hat-tipping started in the days of armored knights. In a book on customs we read: "In the presence of his superior officer the ordinary soldier would indicate his inferiority by removing his protecting helmet. Until the day that armor was laid aside forever no man dared appear helmeted before his king. Again habit became custom, and when equals met each knight removed his metal casque out of respect to the other." Another book on the subject indicates it started even before that time: "Some authorities suppose that this custom did not originate until the days of chivalry and knighthood during the Middle Ages, but there is evidence that it was common among the Greeks, Romans and certain other ancient peoples. At any rate, it is believed that later it became customary to remove the headgear to show deference to a superior or as a mark of respect to a person of distinction. It was only a step further to lift the headdress as an act of politeness or gallantry to ladies. After the introduction of men’s hats a few centuries ago, raising the hat or completely removing it became a general method of greeting women. The practice retains some of its earlier significance and many people still take off their hats to salute distinguished persons of either sex. Respect for the national flag is shown in the same manner."
Incidentally, not only is patriotic significance given to this gesture as shown by its being done for the flag, but also religious significance is accorded to it in that Catholic men tip their hats when they pass the Catholic church. They do this as an act of worship toward the bread and wine that is inside the church and which according to their belief becomes the actual flesh and blood of Christ. So in doing this they believe they are paying homage to Jesus Christ, who they think is inside the church in the consecrated wafer.
Man and woman were not created equal in power and glory; the man came first and was given special prerogatives. As Jehovah is the head over his wifely organization, and as Christ is the head over his espoused church, so the man is the head over the woman. It is the woman that is commanded to show respect and recognition of the man’s position of headship, and women who rebel at it are not so much rebelling against men as they are against God.—Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:2-10; Eph. 5:33.
But in his world Satan has reversed matters. Starting in Eden, he has pushed the woman ahead of the man, exalted her above man and used her to bring about the downfall of men dedicated to Jehovah. He has flouted God by reversing the position of the sexes. But he is very subtle about it, camouflaging his work under the guise of harmless custom. Many customs are harmless, but when they contradict a theocratic principle Satan is behind it to discredit God. He is a past master at such deception. (2 Cor. 11:14) In this particular matter of hat-tipping he appeals to the vanity of women and the so-called gentlemanly qualities of men, and any man who does not comply with the subtle custom is considered crude and discourteous, disrespectful of womanhood. So out of a fear of what others may think the majority fall into conformity.—Prov. 29:25.
To refrain from tipping the hat to a woman does not mean one disrespects her. Frequently it is the ones who are excessively courteous and gallant to women who show the least respect for womanhood. They use these flattering gestures and forms of outward courtesy hypocritically, as an opening wedge for improper advances that ultimately show disrespect and lead to misuse of women. It is not good to flatter people, to turn their head; it is to their harm. Specifically, why would a woman want this special show of respect from a man? One woman said in response to this question: "You don’t know how important it makes a woman feel to have a man tip his hat to her." That is sufficient reason for Christians to refrain from the custom. It is not in the interests of the individual to make him feel important, whether the individual is male or female.
Some might argue that the friendly nod of the head came from the practice of bowing—but the nod is given regardless of sex, by both men and women. It does not exalt the woman. If hat-tipping were done by both men and women to each other, as mutual greeting and show of respect for each other, at least it would not be exalting one above the other. When a customary show of respect is performed between men as well as between man and woman, when it does not set the woman apart for special honor because of her sex, then it does not seem Scripturally objectionable. Hat removal would be too inconvenient for the woman? Then why is it the man that is supposed to rise when a woman enters a room or comes to or leaves the table, and never the woman? Is it too inconvenient again? Is she pinned to the chair, as the hat is pinned to her head? What custom does exist whereby women show respect to men? The absence of any is not just by chance, but is by satanic design to untheocratically elevate the woman above the man. In many ways Satan has taken the woman from the position assigned her by God, taken her from the home and its duties and put her into politics and commerce and religious leadership, and thereby caused much of the modern breakdown on the family front.—Heb. 13:4; Rev. 2:20.
The surface courtesies that are flattering to human vanity are not what real Christian women want; instead they cherish the respect and love of one Christian toward another, and which are shown in weightier ways than the untheocratic customs of Satan’s lustful world. Both men and women should stay in the place God assigned them, in human relationships and divine worship. Only such as are content with these assigned places will live in the new world. Open or subtly disguised creature worship and exaltation will have no place there. It has no place with true Christians now.