Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Are we to get instructions concerning our dress code from standards and traditions?

The word "Standard" according to the Webster's dictionary means something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example. As Christians, our standards are established by God Himself. The Holy Bible tells us, "Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor 6:20).
The issue of proper clothing is not a new subject. Since Adam and Eve sinned, the Holy Bible tells us, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Gen 3:7). However, although they were the only human beings on earth, God was not satisfied with the coverings they made for themselves and "the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them" (Gen 3:21).
God's message is clear: in everything we do, we should remember the Lord Jesus Christ even when choosing what to wear. We read in the Holy Bible how God was precise in telling the people of Israel what to wear and why? "Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God" (Num 15:37-40).
Later on we read in the Holy Book of Zephaniah that the people forgot God's commandments and started adopting the fashion of the countries they lived in "And it shall be, in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel" (Zeph 1:8). The choice of a strange apparel involves the choice to want to be as the nations of the world. The outward dress always reflects   the inward mind, and in turn acts upon it. An estranged dress betokens an estranged heart, which in turn reflects the state of the whole spiritual mind (Rom 13:14; Col 3:12; Eph 4:24). St Jerome says, "The garment of the sons of the king and the apparel of princes which we receive in Baptism, is Christ, according to that, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," and "Put ye on bowels of mercy, goodness, humility, patience," and the rest. Wherein, we are commanded to be clothed with the new man from heaven according to our Creator, and to "lay aside" the clothing of "the old man with his deeds" (Eph 4:22).
I guess if in our daily life we have always God before our eyes we will not have a problem deciding what to wear for we can just ask the question: If Lord Jesus Christ comes right now am I dressed appropriately to meet Him? And I don't mean here expensive clothes but rather decent clothes befitting a good Christian, a child of God.
Although we live in a secular society that forbids religion in the schools we find that some schools do have a dress code they pass out to the students at the beginning of each school year. To give you an idea, here is what one of the public schools sent home for parents to read and sign:
Appearance/Dress Code
The student dress code prohibits students from wearing clothes and accessories or from maintaining grooming practices that:
  • Present a hazard to the health or safety of the student or to others in the school
  • Interferes with schoolwork, creates disorder, or disrupts the educational program
In addition, students shall adhere to the following specific rules regarding dress, accessories and grooming practices.
  • Shirts and tops may not expose a bare midriff or bare shoulders or be deeply/narrowly cut in the front, back or under the arms. Clothing may not be made of see-through mesh. Clothing must cover a modest area of the legs. Baggy or saggy pants are not appropriate.
  • Negative Student Group/Gang Activity or Association apparel is not allowed
  • Obscene language or symbols are expressly prohibited
  • C
  • lothing backpacks or other accessories, or jewelry that display alcohol, drugs or tobacco and are deemed to advocate or encourage these substances are counterproductive to the District's curriculum goals and are prohibited
I hope that each one of us can repeat with Isaiah saying, "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness" (Isa 61:10).
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