1) Introduction

Posted: 04/25/2012 in Uncategorized

Christianity cannot oppress people. If any church, doctrine, or custom oppresses, discriminates, or coerces, then it is in error. Christianity is a religion of liberation in Christ, and this involves repentance and a belief in the Gospels. Another word for this process is submission. That is to say, the believer submits his or her mind and heart to Jesus Christ and to His teachings as recorded in the Bible. The believer also heeds the leadership of appropriate churchly authority (such as the desert fathers and mothers, the early Church fathers, the holy elders of the monasteries, as well as the spiritual role-models of our own time). The purpose of legitimate authority is to love the sinner, to teach truth, and to guide individuals and communities on their spiritual journey.

The word submission has been misunderstood and abused in many churches and by many authorities. This is an especially sensitive issue when discussing the relationship between men and women. All Christians, men and women, are to submit to the commandments of God — the most comprehensive commandment being to love one another. Unless the individual submits to, obeys, follows, and imitates Christ, then there is no basis for a Christian lifestyle. Moreover, submission to Christ is a voluntary decision: nobody can force Christianity on you.

The topic of proper clothing for Christian women, whether at home or in church, and including the headcovering or veil, is intricately woven into the fabric of God’s creation and the Christian lifestyle; the relationship dynamics among Christ, man, and woman; and national or local heritage and customs.

Various scholars and writers have done research in this area and have formed different conclusions. This complicates the quest for truth. Even among scholars who can read the original Greek texts, there is sometimes disagreement over the correct translation of essential words. Additionally, some scholars do not compare and contrast English versions of the Bible, but rely on one or two versions which they prefer. No matter what conclusion is reached, each scholar is able to give very convincing arguments for his view. What can the average Christian do?

Walking and PrayingAfter gathering my research material, I decided to write this paper as a matter of exploration, logical thought, and possible interpretations and conclusions. In order to maintain cohesion, however, I decided to emphasize St. John Chrysostom as a recognized theologian in the West and East. Since I lack knowledge of Greek, and since I am on a personal quest and not writing a thesis, I felt a need to anchor myself in the thought of one early Church father. Although this choice weighted my paper in a certain direction, I have also shared my personal concerns. Anyone who would like to test a different direction is welcomed to access my bibliography — I used online sources specifically so that the reader could check my references and agree or disagree with my assemblage.

It is not my purpose to pass judgment on anyone: not on women who wear fashionable clothing or on women who wear plain clothing. This paper is not focused on right and wrong, or on establishing a universal dress code for all Christian women. This paper is focused on learning about woman as created by God and her place in the church, particularly regarding submission, modesty, and the veil or headcovering. Let us attempt to walk a few miles in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul and St. John Chrysostom.

In order to discuss appropriate clothing for the Christian woman, we must first understand the concept of submission and how this relates especially to the wearing of a veil or headcovering.  The Apostle Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to the community in Corinth.

  • A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. (1 Corinthians 11:7-12)

The above passage is important because it addresses the general condition of man and woman in God’s creation, and not specifically the marital relationship.  There is an order or arrangement of interdependence and mutual respect between man and woman, each gender having an allotted responsibility as well as accountability.  This order is not meant to be predatory and tyrannical on the part of the man, or manipulative and seductive on the part of the woman, but built entirely within the love of God.  Then, this condition is reinforced or given particular expression in marriage. 

Harold G. Mackay [S-22] describes the three Divine Headships:

“Three headships are here enunciated. God–Christ–man. 

The thought in headship is authority, control and the related subject of subjection, subordination. The Christian man is under the headship of Christ; the woman is to he under the headship of the man; even as Christ, for the carrying out of the redemptive purposes of God, placed Himself, when here on earth, completely in subjection to the Father. The reference to Christ eliminates all thought of inferiority, for there could never be the introduction of any suggestion of superiority or inferiority in the Godhead. But, that the eternal counsels of grace and salvation might be fulfilled, the Son took the position of subordination during His earthly sojourn. What a perfect Example! What an incentive to emulate His obedience!”  Harold G. Mackay

Male leadership in the marriage and family does not mean authorization to sexually and physically abuse, to dominate through mental cruelty, to squander the family’s finances, or to exploit the wife and children as household servants. Male leadership means that the husband and father must submit to and imitate Christ in all his interactions.  The man is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, and he is to respect all women as created by God.

Christian submission, whether by the man or the woman, is a voluntary and conscious decision to follow Christ.  All Christians submit to the Ten Commandments and to the teachings of Christ as expounded in the Gospels. Submission involves an awareness of order, attitudes, values, principles, virtues, and the development of a loving disposition toward all people. 

This is in contrast to the unconscious or non-voluntary submission of the world to the world.  That is, the submission to self, to other people, and to systems.  We all submit to something or to someone.  If we do not submit to Christ, then we submit to: (A) our own self-centeredness, self-gratification, self-promotion, impure desires and passions, fantasies and delusions; (B) other people such as professors, bosses, experts, doctors, politicians, celebrities, and idols; (C) systems such as governments, political parties, universities, corporations, scientific theories, the status quo, or a subculture.   Additionally, some of these forms of unconscious submission are actually situations of bondage of the heart and mind.  Submission to Christ, however, results in the liberation of man and woman to discipleship. 

The order of creation and relationships, and the quality of discipleship, are given fuller explanation by St. Hilary of Poitiers in On the Mysteries.

“In Adam’s sleep and the creation of Eve we should see a revelation of the mystery hidden in Christ and the Church, since it contains an analogy pointing to faith in the resurrection of the body.

For in the creation of woman dust is not taken from the ground as before; a body is not formed from earth; inanimate matter is not transformed by the breath of God into a living soul.

Instead flesh grows upon bone, a complete body is given to the flesh, and the power of the spirit is added to the complete body. 

[…]

And since Jew and Greek, barbarian and Scythian, the slave and the free, men and women, are all one in Christ, since flesh is recognized as proceeding from flesh, and the Church is the body of Christ, and the mystery which is in Adam and Eve is a prophecy concerning Christ and the Church, all that has been prepared by Christ and the Church for the end of time was already accomplished in Adam and Eve at the beginning of time.”  Hilary of Poitiers

3) The Veil in Corinth

Posted: 04/25/2012 in Uncategorized

The Apostle Paul was not interested in women’s fashions.  Regarding the veil or headcovering, his emphasis was on the nature of woman as created by God, and on her honorable place in the scheme of salvation through Christ.  The Christians in Corinth had a lot of problems, perhaps reaching a level of chaos.  This is important to note, because some scholars argue that the Corinthian neglect of the woman’s veil was an issue of fashion or culture, and not of sanctified masculinity and sanctified femininity [S-31].  To further illustrate and prove the extent of the problems in Corinth, we need to look no further than the incidents of alcohol abuse in the church gatherings.

  • In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact that your meetings are doing more harm than good. First of all, I hear that when you meet as a church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it; there have to be factions among you in order that [also] those who are approved among you may become known. When you meet in one place then, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper, for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.
  • Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you. (1 Corinthians 11:17-22)

In the biblical days, both nature and symbols mattered.  This was probably more conventional and recognizable than it is today, because our society has largely lost any sense of propriety or etiquette. Moreover, the distinctive spiritual roles of man and woman as holy mystery have been superseded by civil and legal rights.  Some of these rights were enacted precisely because of the mishandling of the concept of submission (by Christians and non-Christians).  This is not to argue against certain rights as guaranteed by secular governments, but only to note that in a true Christian community, or in a true Christian relationship between man and woman, such rights would be unnecessary.

  • Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given [her] for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:13-16)

In his appeal to nature, St. Paul asserts that the man’s hair will not grow as long as the woman’s.  We also know that men face the possibility of baldness because of testosterone, while women do not experience this. St. Paul finishes his explanation by affirming that longer hair and veiling for the woman are ordained by God–one as nature and the other as symbol.  Not only is this beyond fashion and culture, but it is also beyond human argument.  Fashion changes, cultures vary, but the symbol of the veil does not change because it is of the Church.  In fact, even the angels are interested in this.

  • ….a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10)

Scholars differ as to why the woman’s veil is important to the angels.  The most common explanation is this: the woman should wear a headcovering so that the angels can identify her as a Christian and protect her.  An obvious question, however, is how the angels are able to detect the veiled Christian woman from the veiled Muslim woman.  Given that headcoverings were worn by women of various cultures throughout the centuries, we must also question how the angels detected the Christian woman from the veiled non-believer.

Allow me to offer two other explanations for consideration.  Firstly, Michael Marlowe [S-31] agrees that the angels watch over us and that they are attracted to worship and prayer.  He suggests that St. Paul might be referring to Isaiah 6 in which the seraphs are described as covering their faces and feet with their wings in the presence of God.  Therefore, if the angels cover themselves, then it is even more crucial that the woman cover herself. 

Marlowe’s explanation adds sophistication to the explanation that the angels identify the Christian woman by her use of the veil.  We might imagine that if the angels are drawn to Christian worship as opposed to the worship of other religions, then the angels are able to detect the prayerful and obedient Christian woman by her headcovering.  Geoffrey F. Miller [S-30] further clarifies this by stating that the angels are attracted specifically to celebrations of the sacraments.  This would seem to reinforce the argument that the veil should be worn in church, but perhaps not necessarily at home or in public.

Secondly, St. John Chrysostom, in Homily 26 on the Veiling of Women, says, ‘For although thou despise thine husband, “saith he,” yet reverence the angels.’

4) The Veil and Prayer

Posted: 04/25/2012 in Uncategorized

In this section, I will attempt to adddress two questions. (1)  Should women wear a headcovering only in church, during all times of prayer, or always?  (2) Is there a specific style or type of acceptable headcovering?  In answer to the first question, I will offer an excerpt from Donald P. Goodman III [S-2] who analyzed the writing of St. John Chrysostom on this issue.  Chrysostom advocated for wearing the veil always, but he may have applied an atypical understanding to the Apostle Paul’s instructions.

According to my facial reading of the text, it was clearly not St. Paul’s explicit intention to mandate continual veiling of women. St. Paul was never timid when it came to legislation, and we may safely assume that had he meant that women must be veiled at all times, he would have said so. Instead, he mandated only that they be covered at the time of prayer, referring to the law of nature itself to justify his command. So, is St. John Chrysostom really arguing that St. Paul mandated continuous covering, and if so, can his reading be defended? 

There is a certain logic to St. John’s argument. Essentially, St. John Chrysostom sets up a syllogism based on the words of the Epistle. The major premise is from verse 6, that “if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn.” The minor premise is from verse 15, that “if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her,” which implies that a woman being shaven is a disgrace. St. John’s syllogism, then, on which he rests his argument, is as follows

  1. An uncovered woman is like a shorn woman.
  2. A shorn woman is disgraced. 
  3. Therefore, an uncovered woman is disgraced. 

Now, it seems to me that a disgrace brought deliberately upon oneself is a sin; therefore, a woman being uncovered would be a sin. This reading is certainly justified by the text, and not as radical as might at first appear. Is this the correct interpretation of St. John Chrysostom’s comment? Is his comment decisive on the topic?

He makes another argument in favor of his point by referencing St. Paul’s rhetorical style. St. John Chrysostom claims that St. Paul “by reducing it to an absurdity … appeals to their shame.” St. Paul is, then, making a reductio ad absurdum argument, a rarely successful type of argument and certainly not compelling in this case, but an argument, and a valid reading of St. Paul’s text. Nevertheless, St. John Chrysostom claims that verse 6 – “if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn” – is “a severe reprimand,” being equivalent to “if thou cast away the covering appointed by the law of God, cast away likewise that appointed by nature.” This reading assumes, of course, the validity and truth of the syllogism given above, but it does make sense of the verse based upon that assumption.” Donald P. Goodman III

                                                                                                                                                                  Rather than elaborate on Goodman’s analysis, I will let the reader decide for himself or herself if Goodman has arrived at a valid conclusion.  As mentioned in the Introduction of this paper, an online bibliography is provided for anyone who wishes to pursue this topic in more depth.

Next, in answer to the second question—if there are any criteria for the style or type of headcovering–it seems that we must distinguish whether we are using a verb or a noun.  While I cannot read Greek, part of the answer may be derived from whether we read a covering for the head (the act of covering the head) or a headcovering (the covering itself).  In other words, is the covering specifically a veil, or are other types of covering acceptable (scarf, handkerchief, dolie, mantilla, shawl, cap, bonnet, or hat)?

Whatever the correct choice(s), the Christian understanding of the headcovering is that it covers the head, the hair or some of the hair, but not the face.  In that way, the Christian headcovering is different from the type of Muslim headcovering which covers most of the woman’s face as well as her head.  Chrysostom, in Homily 26 on the Veiling of Women, advocated for a veil and even gave instructions on how it should wrap around the head and neck.  However, some scholars think there was possibly an obsession or fetish regarding a woman’s hair in those days, similar to today’s fascination with a woman’s breasts.  In our quest for truth and accuracy regarding the headcovering, it may not be possible for us to know all the variables at work during the early era of the Church.

Throughout the centuries, however, various cultures have personalized the headcovering.  In many instances, it is actually pretty.  The question arises as to how much flexibility there is regarding fabrics and colors, and how to prevent the headcovering from becoming an expression of vanity and class status.

The woman’s headcovering has fallen into disuse except among Christian minorities in third-world countries and in former Communist countries.  In American churches of all denominations, it is rare to see a woman wearing a scarf, mantilla, or hat.  However, if we take the Apostle Paul seriously regarding God’s divine order for man and woman, then we must address the lack of headcoverings in today’s society.

Should headcoverings be revived or encouraged?  Colin B. Donovan [S-9] discusses this in terms of the headcovering’s lost significance and conflict of meaning.  Is the headcovering a culturally-determined symbol or is it spiritually significant and to be adopted across cultures?  Can some other symbol replace the headcovering [S-36]?  Again, if we take St. Paul literally, it would seem that the headcovering itself is the ordained symbol.  St. Paul did not discuss other possibilities, nor did the early Church fathers (specifically, St. Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine are in basic agreement).  Those who think the headcovering is arbitrary or optional might be committing the same errors as the Corinthians [S-31].

The passing of time, the changes in society’s values, and the ignorance of Christians themselves has caused the headcovering to lose its significance in today’s churches.  Not only has the headcovering lost its meaning, but a mandatory reinstatement of the headcovering would involve dealing with a conflict of meaning.  While the truth of the symbol remains, the manifestation of that truth (the headcovering itself) is misunderstood.  In fact, the headcovering today means the opposite of what it meant in the early centuries of the Church.  Most women would feel degraded if obliged to wear it [S-9, S-36]. Mandatory reinstatement of the headcovering would create an obstacle to the very purpose it is designed to achieve.  Moreover, headcoverings are associated with Muslim women, and a Christian woman should never be mistaken for a Muslim.

Yet, we cannot ignore the instructions of St. Paul or any portion of the Holy Bible.  Allow me to offer an excerpt from Donald P. Goodman [S-1] as a possible solution.

“Would it be necessary for a woman to cover her head all the time?  Based on the studies we presented before, this would seem the norm in a Christian Civilization, but, alas, these times have passed.  Progressivism has gained control of the Church and convinced Catholics to adapt themselves to the Modern World.  This is, in fact, what they did.  Unfortunately we live in days where only Muslim women still wear veils all the time.  So, until we are in conditions where this situation might change, what would seem appropriated for Catholic women to do?  I will distinguish between the ideal and the feasible.

Ideally speaking, for women it would not seem to be necessary to follow the custom of the veil in its patristic rigor.  While some Fathers who spoke on the topic seem to advise always keeping the hair covered when in public, their justification for this can be differentiated from the justifications of both the Apostle and the medieval thinkers.  While the fact of a woman having something over her hair is always justified by the divine analogy of Christ to the Church and God to man, the fact of a woman having her hair tightly bound was justified as a prevention of lustful behavior.  These rationales are clearly different, and therefore require a different approach.

In the realm of principles, the divine analogy remains valid; the symbolism that represents it must be maintained.  This is the explicit command of St. Paul in the Scriptures, and therefore of God Himself, as well as the primary intention of the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church.  So the requirement of women having something on their heads, at least in the ideal world of a rebuilt and united Christendom, should not be abrogated.

The justification of prevention of lust may not, however, be so stringent.  These proscriptions of the Fathers may well have been due to the constraints of time and place rather than the universal truths of God and man, as the Apostle’s law is.  Perhaps this looseness of the hair had been adopted as a sign of pagan resistance to the Christian moral law; perhaps there was simply a great cultural sensitivity to women’s hair in the patristic age.  Whether or not this strict rule must be applied, then, depends upon the examination of the conditions of our own time, taking always the wisdom of the Church as our guide.

[…] What part of this ideal may be put into practice in our days?

We do not live in a rebuilt and united Christendom.  In fact, we live in a degraded and dead, or nearly dead, Christendom, which is showing no immediate signs of revival.  As the world descends back into pagan chaos, how can this Christian doctrine of the veil be implemented in the daily lives of the faithful remnant?

To begin with, there can be no real reason for a failure to implement this custom at least within the confines of a church. In church, at least, the great truths of the Faith are still recognized by some, and the symbolism of the veil will be neither lost nor misinterpreted as an attempt to be holier-than-thou – except, perhaps, by those of bad will, who resent anyone who attempts a greater conformity to Catholic tradition than they themselves. Furthermore, wearing the veil within a church is within even a clear and uninformed reading of the Veil Text, as we saw in a previous article.  The wearing of the veil in such contexts is, therefore, even according to those who might disagree with the tradition outlined in this series, simply an exercise in obedience to Holy Writ, and can be opposed by no one of good will.”  Donald P. Goodman.

The wearing of the headcovering is not mechanically or magically operative, nor is it a matter of identity with national or ethnic custom.  Even among those who favor revival of the headcovering, care must be taken not to impose sharia on the Church.  Sharia is not the same as submission to Christ.  “A woman should not wear the veil on her head, until she is wearing it first on her heart” [S-8].  To change the hearts of both men and women (through education and guidance), might be the only effective path to revival of the veil.

Both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter instructed women to dress in modest attire.  Spiritually, the concept of modesty includes the qualities of self-control, sobriety, and honor.  Regarding actual items of clothing, it means to wear a decent and proper garment.  In the biblical and patristic days, this generally meant to cover the body completely.  Unlike the veil or headcovering, however, modest clothing is not ordained by God.  That is, modesty is a Christian value or moral (not an established symbol), and it is open to societal influences of time and place.  Most modestly dressed women in America today do not cover the entire body from head to toe.

According to the early Church fathers, modest clothing should adhere to the following guidelines.  (1) The woman should not look like a prostitute or slut.  (2) The woman should not use a style of clothing intended to entice men.  (3) The woman should not lie or deceive through her appearance (i.e., attempt to make herself appear more beautiful than she really is), just as she would not tell lies with her words.  (4) The woman should not wear extravagant clothing to display her wealth or status, or to attract attention [S-3, S-4].

The wearing of modest clothing is somewhat complicated by whether consideration is given to the concept of formal and informal clothing [S-5].  In other words, are there some forms of clothing acceptable for wearing at home which would not be appropriate for Sunday services?  Are there different forms of clothing for different purposes; such as in the office, at the beach, at a birthday party, at an awards dinner, in the courtroom, at the county fair, etc.?  How does the woman exhibit modesty in these different situations? 

Essentially, the rule for modesty inside a church is this: the woman’s clothing should be appropriate to a state of repentance, supplication, and worship.  The woman is to put on Christ (Galatians 3:27), and to give no consent to worldly or carnal desires [S-11].

Several early Church theologians place emphasis on the woman’s responsibility not to sexually entice men, intentionally or unintentionally, by her manner of dress and adornment (jewelry and cosmetics).  A woman is not responsible for a man’s sexual appetite or personal weaknesses, but she is responsible if she maliciously toys with the susceptibility of another human being.  It is cruel behavior, and it is contrary to Christian charity and meekness.  While such behavior is inappropriate, we must not judge or categorize all such women.  Some women who have been sexually abused tend to act out their trauma through provocative behaviors.  In these cases, they probably need psychological help and spiritual guidance.

It is perhaps more difficult to understand why a woman’s unintentional enticement of men is also regarded as inexcusable.  It seems to be a matter of a lack of discretion.  Regarding excessive attention and money devoted to sexy clothing and adornment, such lack of discretion seems rooted in self-infatuation and thoughtlessness.  The woman is so absorbed in vanity and pride, that she lacks sensitivity to those around her.  Her faithfulness is not to God, but to herself.

Modesty is a part of the social environment of the Church. Charles Cuthbert Hall described sin “…as the essence of selfishness and repudiation of sovereignty…”  Additionally, he stated that the “…most lamentable aspect of sin is not personal but social; not the mere guilt or the mere destruction of the actual sinner, but the menace to society involved in the presence of all sin and in the person of every sinner” [S-25].  The lack of modesty, therefore, affects the woman and everyone around her—including the honor of her husband and children.

The topic of modesty, including the wearing of jewelry and cosmetics, was so important (and problematic) that both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter wrote about it.

  • It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument. Similarly, [too], women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. (1 Timothy 2:8-10)
  • Your adornment should not be an external one; braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

The emphasis is on the development of the interior disposition rather than the exterior appearance.  The woman is to focus on Christian virtues and to do good works.  Some of the early Church theologians carried this further, stating that a lack of modesty came from the devil and that the woman would be punished for her transgressions [S-3]. It is almost frightening to read some of these remarks.

However, it is St. John Chrysostom who clarifies the role of the devil and the consequence of punishment.  In Homily 8 on First Timothy, Chrysostom discusses two basic reasons that a woman wears seductive or extravagant clothing:  (1) for the purpose of attracting sexual partners, (2) for the purpose of receiving admiration.  Furthermore, Chrysostom notes that some women will lie regarding their motivation for dressing in this manner.  They might claim, for example, that they bought that sheer blouse because they liked the color or that they did not really notice how short their skirt was.  Chrysostom states that although they can lie to themselves and others, they cannot lie to God and they will be held accountable.  

The judgment or punishment that such women will reap is due to their seductive behavior and the destruction of another human being, as well as their lies before God.  In a sense, it is not necessarily the clothing itself, but the seductive powers behind the clothing and the deceptive intention of the clothing.  Among some women, this is conscientiously rebellious and defiant behavior.  Are these extreme cases the ones to which the early Church fathers refer?  It is possible that these women are promiscuous and some are home wreckers. There are possibly other types of cases, however, in which the behavior is not malicious but rooted in emotional disturbances.  

Chrysostom discusses adornment in Homily 10 on Colossians.  Here, Chrysostom shows some psychological insight into the love of adornment.  This kind of love is rooted in pride and produces anxiety.  This type of woman devotes excessive time and money to her appearance.  She is constantly anxious about her looks.  Chrysostom further states that the love of adornment also involves “countless other passions.”  Perhaps, some theologians simplify this love as immoral or as the mark of the devil because it is so complicated and difficult to analyze adequately.  Today, for example, we know that some women undergo expensive and painful plastic surgery more than once—perhaps due to pride or perhaps due the complicated pressures of our society.

Nevertheless, Chrysostom is adamant that adornment is inappropriate for the Christian woman.  He seems to say that even if the average or virtuous woman wore adornments, the mere wearing of such would eventually cast her into a state of vanity and pride.  Chrysostom compares adornment to mammon.  Adornment, like money, has a polarizing and corrosive impact on the owner’s priorities and interior disposition.  Can adornment become the woman’s master, similar to the love of money?

  • No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Does adornment carry the same negativity today as it did in the biblical and patristic days?  To some extent, this might be open to debate.  Whether right or wrong, accessories and cosmetics have become standard to women’s wardrobes.  It might be a matter of whether women should totally abstain from adornment, or whether there are certain norms and limits of Christian modesty which can be applied to adornment.  

What is the devil’s connection to clothing and adornment?  Regarding church attendance, the woman’s clothing and accessories can be a distraction to prayer—to her own disposition as well as to others’ ability to pray and to stay focused on the service.  The devil understands the effectiveness of prayer, and delights in seeing Christians become distracted.