As an Orthodox Christian woman there is no specific requirement on coverage. Within my parish (local custom can vary widely by parish, country, and Tradition) there is no absolute requirement that women cover their heads during a church service, unless they are reading during the service. So what’s up with me? A woman who refuses to leave the house without her hair covered?
While covering my head isn’t a requirement, it is a known and common practice within the churches following the Russian Tradition. In more ethnic churches than my convert heavy one, you may find head covering a requirement for women. Some parishes may also require that men and women stand on different sides of the church. The important point here is that during church services like the Liturgy, women covering their heads is a common site. So is seeing women without anything on their heads.
Within the Orthodox Tradition there is also an understanding of Personal Piety. While there is always a general rule, there is always pastoral discretion. It’s the whole, let the weak man eat nothing but vegetables and the strong man eat whatever he likes, thing (Romans 14:2). Personal piety recognises that people practice and live their faith differently. Some may have more strict fasting and prayer rules than others. The bottom line is ask your priest. This is true for a good many things within the Church. You could file my modesty standards under personal piety, though it doesn’t fully explain everything.
So if I’m not required to cover more than the rest of the world what on earth am I doing? Is it because I hate my body? Common question. Short answer: Absolutely not! Do I have purple hair? Never dyed it. I don’t dislike my body and I don’t hate my hair. But it is all mine. Not a single person has any right to any part of me. For that matter they don’t have any right to see any part of me either.
While covering my head started out as a way to remember the presence of the Almighty, it has also come to be a silent protest. It is a silent protest against the claim that confident women display much, or most of their bodies. It is my way of disagreeing with the idea that because I cover myself, I am no longer liberated; I am practicing self-oppression.
Many thanks to Laura who comment on the About the Blog page and said,
I know women raised Christian who became Muslims and chose to veil, or, of course, Amish women. But a sassy facially pierced Canadian who chooses to cover as a Christian is *very* interesting. Could you please write a post about that?
Well Laura, I hope this answers a question or two. I’ll be doing a post on why I don’t think piercings are an issue and what my husband thinks about my particular eccentricities soon.