Our worship of God is solemn, to say the least. It is generally understood that there is to be no talking during the liturgy, that our every movement should be done with reverence and that our minds and hearts should be turned toward God especially at this time. Orthodox Christians will not even cross their legs in church, so as not to look casual and relaxed when they are supposed to be giving God their full attention.
All of this mindfulness is part of maintaining a modest and humble attitude. The Orthodox Christian faith teaches that in order to worship God, we must first put aside our earthly cares, vanity and pride. It is good to see Christian believers worshiping God reverently and also treating those who are worshiping with them reverently. I believe this type of humility reflects the love of God in Christ and the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
A challenge we face is that our modern culture, especially in the west, is highly irreverent, overly casual and does not value meekness or humility. Consequently, there is a lot of pressure, overt and otherwise, to conform to what is socially "normal." This affects us on many levels, but I would like to focus on how it affects the way we choose to dress and carry ourselves.
We can easily forget that certain clothing, although socially acceptable, is not appropriate for Christians to wear. And Christians really need to be careful not to compromise their morals for the sake of dressing fashionably, especially when they are choosing what to wear to church.
I have found that it is generally agreed upon by Orthodox Christians that wearing shorts to church is unacceptable. You just never see it. Therefore, even on the hottest days, the men in church will be wearing long pants. Now, we women have an advantage in that we can wear dresses and skirts. The sad thing I see all too often is that women are not being mindful of the length of their skirts and honestly...they'd be better to just wear shorts in that case!
I know it's not the 1800's anymore and no one expects a woman to cover herself from the top of her neck to the tips of her toes. Nonetheless, I think it is more than reasonable to expect a skirt to show no more than a woman's knee. Ladies, I'll be blunt: we don't want to see your thighs in church. It's distracting for everyone. It's just as distracting as if a man were to show up in shorts and a tank top.
I've written about modesty before, and I wish to openly address this issue again. I beg you, Orthodox Christians that as you are being mindful of your life, to pray and fast and give alms, be mindful about letting the clothing you wear reflect a humble heart. Do it out of your personal desire to honour God, as well as out of respect for those around you.
© Photo: Borja Santos - http://www.rnw.nl/africa