by Abbott Tryphon
The Old Testament is filled with the image of God’s people being a holy people, set apart. The ancient Israelites were not like their neighbors. Their values and their faith impacted everything about them. They dressed differently than many of their neighboring pagan tribes. Their worship was centered on the God that had revealed himself to them and made them his chosen people. Their spiritual and moral views reflected this relationship with the One God that had entered into communion with them and who had revealed Divine Truth through the prophets.
The Church is the continuation of the Church of the Old Testament and as such, we are the chosen people of God. Our lives should reflect this truth in everything we do and in the moral standards that guide our daily living.
These standards of faith should even govern the way we dress. It is not only Orthodox monks and priests who should hold themselves to dress codes that reflect modesty and purity. We are all called to be a people set apart from this world. Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world and we need to dress in a way that does not bring temptation to others. For the Orthodox Christian, tight and revealing clothing are not appropriate. We should not reserve modest clothing for church services or when making pilgrimages to our monasteries.
The center of our being is in the heart and the attention of the mind must be fixed in the heart. What happens in the heart assists us in the battle against the passions and assumes a rational character. Modest attire for the layman is just as important as the robes of a monk in aiding the quest for living a life given over to being, in every way, God’s chosen people.