Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Dress in Church


Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: My acquaintance assures me that women of all ages are bound to attend services in church with their head covered by a scarf. Tell me, is this so, and what in general is permitted to wear when one goes to church, both for women and for men.

Answer: The necessity of women covering their head during prayer (in church and at home) has its foundation in the First Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (cf., 11:3-16). Inasmuch as woman was created from man and as the helpmate of man, she must demonstrate this in her external appearance, and above all – to cover her head during prayer. Inasmuch as this ceremonial statute has a spiritual-symbolic meaning, it must be fulfilled regardless of age. The Church is the preserver of the best traditions, and therefore one needs to dress traditionally: women – a skirt or dress of sufficient length, men – trousers (it’s not proper to enter a church in shorts). Even summers it’s improper to bear one’s arms. Sports clothes do not befit the conditions of a church. Unusual, attention-attraction apparel is undesirable. And, of course, one mustn’t come to church in torn, dirty clothes. The main thing to remember is that church is the house of God, and one must enter it with reverence.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

With regard to the wearing of headscarves, the following observation may be relevant:

See: Meeting with Orthodoxy / Saints and shrines] in Russian -
MEMOIRS OF ARCHBISHOP John of Shanghai by
Vladimir Len: dated 20/02/2010 at Православие.Ru (Pravoslavie.ru)

[Встреча с Православием / Святые и святыни]
ВОСПОМИНАНИЯ ОБ АРХИЕПИСКОПЕ ИОАННЕ ШАНХАЙСКОМ
Владимир Рэн

“....The only thing Vladyka opposed was when on the following day at the end of the Liturgy women venerated the Cross without removing their lipstick. He said: “Please remove lipstick from your lips when venerating the Cross”. However the same women attended services without headscarves. And strict archbishop John of Shanghai never reprimanded them because of that, since he had seen himself that before the revolution, only peasants' wives who lived in the countryside wore headscarves, whereas ladies in the cities would usually come to church wearing hats, or bareheaded. Young girls, teenage girls and unmarried girls had never worn headscarves in Russian churches up until 1917. Therefore, after 1920, scattered worldwide, Russian women of the first emigration wave never wore scarves, whereas hats in church were very few and far between. Girls never wore either."

Anonymous said...

We should not bear arms in church?

John said...

The current policy of Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco (where St. John served and where his relics are) is that women should cover their heads and wear skirts in church.

Darlene said...

None of the women wear head coverings in my church except me and one other, and she only when at the Chalice. Even the Matushka doesn't cover her head.

As far as pants go, they are permitted and some of the women wear them. During others services, women, and even the men. are dressed very informal, some wearing jeans.

What do I know? I am just a clueless convert. :) My conviction to cover my head came from the Mennonite tradition and reading the Holy Scriptures.

Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

Fr. Job doesn't get out to other Orthodox Churches much does he? Them days are gone forever.

Esteban Vázquez said...

Well, maybe the problem is that some of the other Orthodox Churches don't get out to Fr Job much.

James said...

The issue was explained to me thusly: St Paul, in advocating the covering of female heads, was addressing an issue which was a source of contention and discord in his day. By the time of St John Chrysostom, the contention was gone; the issue was de facto resolved in favor of head covering. Chrysostom taught that Christians should not make an issue out of it, pro or con. As always in the Church, contentiousness is to be avoided. Now, some have made an issue of head coverings once again. St John (Maximovitch) showed himself to be a disciple of both Ss Paul and John in refusing to make a divisive issue out of uncovered heads. Men and women should quietly obey their bishops and parish priests in regard to attire and seek to draw as little attention to themselves as possible. I know of a matushka who actively and vocally discourages the wearing of headscarves: well, that, at least, is ridiculous. We would would all do better to mind our own business, and not to bother with what others are or are not wearing.

Anonymous said...

Jesus said love one another, not "wear a head scarf." These are the kinds of arguments that alienate people from the church and also perpetuate divisions between Christians that detract from love, unity, and peace.

Peter said...

The ever-memorable father Anthony Alevizopoulos, head of anti-heretical struggle and widely recognized as one of the greatest theologians of the State Church of Greece of the 20th century has written that the scarf is a local custom of the time (in the Bible). He brings it as an example of one of those customs which was not kept in the Church. And the truth is that in many places this custom was effaced, as we know. Unfortunately, people do not read the Fathers in spirit but "to the letter". I suppose some converts still need to shake off their Protestant past.

ortodoxia said...

I'm orthodox too, but I don't agree with dress codes.
The attitude is important, as a girl you don't wear in the church clothes to attract boys' attention. As a man, even in shorts you can have a reverent look, if all you look in the church is God.
The most important thing are the thoughts and the feelings that drive you to the church...

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