Orthodox Wisdom

Why Should We Dress Modestly? - Fr. Daniel Sysoev Answers

Fr. Daniel Sysoev (+2009) was a priest, husband, confessor, and martyr. His great love for God and his fellow man led him to write many texts and convert many to the Orthodox Faith, including personally baptizing over 80 Muslims. Because of this great missionary fruit, he was murdered by an enraged enemy of Christ in his own mission church. Fr. Daniel is not yet canonized as a Saint but his witness, both before and after his repose, has given the faithful confidence in his holy prayers.

Full Text:  

Why should we dress modestly?  

Some people tell me that new converts for some reason come to church every week dressed in long skirts, and they ask me why this is necessary. Zeal in the beginning of a person's entry into the Church is something that is absolutely essential. If a person does not begin his spiritual life zealously, he will never end it well. It is simply indispensable, even when it comes to those details that seem unimportant, such as wearing a skirt. But actually it is not an altogether trivial thing: at times it can be very beneficial for young ladies, if they are habitually flirtatious, to dress in some worn-out skirt; I am sure you will agree that this produces an entirely different feeling. Some find it useful to dress in loose, unfitted jackets for this very same reason: a person has been accustomed to wearing fine clothes. This in and of itself is not virtue: it is a method for overcoming one's passions. If we see it this way then, naturally, everything will be fine.  

That being said, when we go to church we should try to dress nicely but not provocatively, because we must go to the house of God as if to a feast. But nevertheless, the outward, ritualistic side of the Church, which people ridicule today, has a real, spiritual significance. It is not about the clothes themselves, but about the heart of the person who dresses up for these reasons. When a person dresses like a peacock, that is one state of soul; and it is another state of soul when a person dresses simply. Eventually a person should arrive at a normal state of soul, when he will be indifferent to what he is wearing: if the clothes are clean--glory to God. Being a new convert has its advantages, but it must grow into wisdom; not lukewarmness, as many think, but into wisdom. One should not wear pants to church, but we are lenient with women in that regard. In Deuteronomy it forbids women to dress in men's clothing and men to dress in women's clothing: The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God (Deut. 22:5).

If a man came to church dressed as a woman he would be thrown out, and rightly so. Clothing must convey the difference in gender. I think that for our climate--and this is my personal opinion--we should have Orthodox fashion designers. For the winter there should be an outfit made from pants and a skirt--both at once--so that no one freezes. This would be a marvelous solution. It would be very beautiful and remarkable. It would convey femininity, and on the other hand it would keep women from freezing in their pantyhose.

For the rest of the text, please check the YouTube upload of this recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BliiHVYngc, or purchase the book, "Questions to Priest Daniel Sysoev" at https://mission-shop.com/product/questions-to-priest-daniel-sysoev/.

This channel is dedicated to sharing the writings and lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church. Glory to Jesus Christ!


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