A Simple, Practical Act of Love

No Perfume, No Cologne First Service

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Let’s put our messages on love into practice with an experiment in April.

I know three people whose allergic reaction to perfume and cologne have kept them away from Bethlehem recently. Others find it difficult, but not impossible, to attend our services. I don’t know how many more may be affected or kept away.

At my request, the elders have authorized me to call for an experimental scent-free service during the month of April. The scent-free service will be the first service on Sunday mornings (9:00 A.M.). The first service is best, because the odors from the first would linger in the second.

Here is how we are asking you to minister in love to those who would like to try to come to Bethlehem without allergic reactions to chemical fragrances. Beginning April 2, the same Sunday that Daylight Savings Time begins, please do not wear perfume or cologne to the first service. This does not include hairspray or deodorant. But it will help if those items were unscented. We are trying to be reasonable and caring.

If any of you feels that you cannot be yourself or cannot “dress up” without perfume or cologne, we are asking you during the month of April to attend the second service. If you would like to talk to someone who is allergic in this way you could ask me and I could connect you.

Some questions answered:

1) Would a mask for the allergic person help? Sometimes, but not in every case. And sometimes the mask becomes part of the problem, collecting the smells and keeping them active later in the day. Moreover, the clothes of the person and the family gather the smells and take them home.

2) Could we have a fragrance-free section in the sanctuary? Not the way our air-flow works. The air is pretty well distributed by the blower system. The people affected are much more sensitive than we might think.

3) Have those involved been prayed over by the elders in the hope of being healed? In some cases yes. In others the offer is extended and in time we hope this can happen. We do believe that the Lord is able to heal. But he may be eager to give several hundred of us the grace to make this little sacrifice as a significant demonstration of his love.

4) Is it right to put demands on the whole church for just a few people? Not in every case. For example, if a person were allergic to the carpet, we probably wouldn’t pull it up (though we did try to choose carpet at the beginning that was environmentally inoffensive). However, not wearing perfume and cologne seems to the elders a relatively minor sacrifice in order to give a potentially wonderful gift to a few people. Besides, we can choose the service at 10:30 if we feel we should wear a fragrance.

When the University of Minnesota decided to make Ford Hall “fragrance free” for the sake of “those disabled by environmental illness,” some were angry at the infringement on their rights to wear Chanel No. 5 or Old Spice. Doug Grow told the story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I hope and pray that you will not be angry. I hope you will feel, as the elders and I do, that it is a small thing to ask, and a loving thing to do.

We are aware that it may not be of any help. That is the nature of keen allergic sensitivities. So we are only asking for a month’s experiment for now. If it does not help, we will probably discontinue it. If it helps we will probably continue.

Trying to help with you,

Pastor John