Last month I said on this blog that a lot of British people seldom wear shoes in their homes, but have no rule about it. I wonder if part of the reluctance to adopt a hard and fast rule is because we are a Protestant rather than a Catholic culture.
Without wishing to simplify things, the Catholic Church tends to be a little more keen on rules than most Protestant churches. The Catholic Church has definite requirements for it's members. They are required to attend mass every Sunday, to attend confession at least once a year and to keep the necessary fasts and feast days. Of course not all Catholics keep these obligations, but the individual Catholic knows whether or not he or she is doing these things.
In contrast in the evangelical denomination I attend, there is no definite list of what is required of members. I find it rather difficult to know exactly what I am expected to do. I find this tends to collude with my natural laziness and fails to give me much discipline and has therefore contributed to my general lack of devotion. I find I am rather drawn to Catholicism with it's rather more formal disciplines.
I think there is something to be said for rules. They instill a discipline as we keep them.
A family without a shoes-off rule may generally take their shoes off and this helps to keep the house clean. They let guests and visitors come in with their shoes on and this might in itself not make much difference to how clean the floors are. However, their willingness not to require shoes-off of visitors will likely lead the family to be less strict about their own shoe-removal. They will find themselves sometimes keeping their shoes on and being less bothered if their children fail to remove their shoes.
The presence of a rule creates a boundary that ensures consistency.