This is a discussion going on in the Faith Issues section. Since I am currently not practicing Eastern Orthodoxy, I wanted to bring the discussion here. This is not an intent to bash Eastern Orthodoxy at all by me. In fact, it is a reflection on the tradition, where Eastern Orthodox women did head cover. JamesR speaks well beyond his years, as he recognizes the fundamentals of the exploitation of tradition. Quoting:
Some people are frequently attracted to Orthodoxy by smells and bells and not for its deep spirituality and theology.
What I have found interesting is that precisely those who are most advanced spiritually seem to be the most insistent on such things as head coverings on women, beards on priest, riassas on clergy, etc. Of course, these things alone are useless if one is not striving to follow the commandments of Christ, repent of their sins, etc. But, if one reads the lives of contemporary saints and elders, including that great Elder Paisios who is so full of love for everyone, one can find many such instructions and comments encouraging the strict observance of what we have received from the apostles, both external and internal.
So, once again, we see another false dichotomy.
You have just proven my point. Obsession with these externals almost always leads to spiritual pride. When you presume to judge the spirituality of another person, clergy or laity, you are guilty of spiritual pride. Who are you to judge who is advanced spiritually or who really understands the teachings of our Church? I know one thing one sure way to know that a person is not really spiritual is that they claim to be spiritual or judge the spirituality of someone else. The truly spiritual person is so consumed with the knowledge of their own sins that they are too busy to judge the spirituality of anyone else.
Fr. John W. Morris
Look I don't have a dog in this argument, but let me tell you of my own weakness.
First I have to open the doorway of understanding. If a woman comes into church with a tight skirt and low cut shirt, men will "notice". I think we all agree on this. She stands out and causes brothers to fall.
If a man sits at a table full of nuns who are all covered, dressed as a nuns, and near the same "age of your particular attraction" (yeah right but stay with me here) a man "MAY" notice who is the prettiest, but will be reminded by her faith and her position. It's almost like having a smack upside the head to quit being a fleshy beast when seeing their clothes and covering.
If a man sits at a table full of nuns and a "normally dressed" parishoner of the same "age of attraction" joins the group - and is wearing pants, make up, and is not covered - the man is most likely to focus on her and hopefully the wheels won't start turning.
If a nun happens to visit a male monastery, she won't invoke nearly as much as a parishoner who would have long hair and/or pretty hair and figure hugging clothes.
On Mt. Athos, a woman with long beautiful hair flipping it all over would be nearly considered pornographic, as she would be causing some temptation. In fact there are many parts they are not allowed at all.
In our culture, we see women uncovered all the time, so here is my story -
I was once out on a Mennonite charity function and I was around no other women for 5 days 4 nights than covered modest dressed Mennonite women. (My wife was raised Mennonite). Anyway, let me tell you -
We went to a gas station thereafter, and just a "regular worldly dressed woman" came in. (no revealing clothes or anything out of the "norm"). Brothers, I was struggling... I had no idea I had that type of problem! It was hair, regular non tight pants, regular shirt.... I seriously realized I had a deep spiritual problem in this area!
I don't know if its me isolated, but I believe we men "look" more than we think we do. The impact of seeing somebody like that is what I'm comparing to after sitting at a table of nuns. I also am curious if hair uncovered (a woman's glory) is a distraction to men in the church.
Men if your wife normally covers her hair, and you see her take it down, it grabs your attention doesn't it? It feels special because it is "saved" for you. Some on this board could probably vouch for this who have wives that cover except in privacy.
I'm not making any statements towards the EO church or what they should do. All I can say is if I ever re-attend the church, as a sinner, uncovered hair would cause me some distraction (very small, but existing).
Please be forewarned, I'm trying to delve into the depths of sin. I don't frown on any of these women, but am only speaking of my weakness, and the weaknesses I've heard other men express on occasion.
If I could just add to this,
The Orthodox head-covering has NOTHING to do with "modesty" and not arousing men. Corinthians makes it clear that it carries mystical significance; St. Paul never said anything about it relating to men.
If that were the case, I'd find a woman dressed in some exotic head-covering to be more arousing and distracting than a woman dressed like "normal."
I think we need to keep the real meaning behind the head-covering in mind when discussing this.
I sent JamesR this link:http://www.orthodox.net/cotc/modesty.html
which shows other Orthodox Christians discussing the modesty in head covering (some). I bolded JamesR's words.
James brought up an ABSOLUTELY fantastic observation. Sin, leads people away from God, and causes us to be distracted from our target. I completely honor Eastern Orthodox nuns as they don't pose (much) distraction for men. With head coverings, like any other accessories, men can be exploited. Lacy stylish coverings can be worn in such a way to "attract" men.
Also, I am going to be fair and NOT post photos of "super models in coverings slothered in make up", but "real women".
For me this would represent young women dressed fairly conservatively. The one on the left and center seem to be attempting modesty. The one on the right, covers her head and neck, but leaves a low cut shirt exposed. Does this make sense? The other two however, appear to have rather tight clothing, would this cause distraction to any other guys here? The color of head covering can even cause distraction. Would these girls compete with head coverings, clothes, etc., with their sisters in Christ? Do they want to stand out?
Would this outfit cause you distraction men? Semi-tight and see through holes on the sleeves? Though conservative, there is a lot of neck showing. NO not low cut. But would it cause you to be distracted in church?
Would this nun cause you to fall like any of the others? She is younger, yet her garments would remind me of her place. She isn't in stylish clothes for distraction and modestly dressed. Even if you began to slightly fall and just her face causes you to lust, would you not get a "spiritual smack" upside the head by her garments? She's not competing with her sisters either in clothes. She's not trying to stand out either.
Is a black lace veil that matches an outfit and worn this way being used to "enhance" her beauty? Note the "bling" on the veil, and that it matches the lace on the low cut bust area. Would this be distracting for you men? Women do you see this as a submission to God and for modesty, or to give an accessory to an outfit? (Not judging to young lady, I respect she even covers)
All I can observe from all of this is that if a standard head covering and conservative clothing (similar to nun), that much distraction and competition can occur.
These are some of the arguments I've made in the past on the way Mennonites dress, as it is not for self gain, is not worldly, is not fashionable. However, most grow to be "family women".
Old order Orthodox are fairly similar. THERE WERE NOT ANY GOOD PHOTO EXAMPLES. This is the best I could find.
The way they wear their veils is not for self gain. The dress seems plain enough.
I do not judge these women. I believe they are trying. But I do not think that many women understand how much they can make a brother fall, even if in small ways. I absolutely can't believe the bikini girls next to the bishops though DURING services (probably Theophany). I'll spare you those photos. Every man in that church was probably falling, including the clergy.
So that's my opinion on the matter. I believe women should consider that men fall on very little things and also that the scriptures AND in most of the tradition of the EO church is about covering and modesty.