On the Sin of Fornication

Christians! Christian women, virgins, youths, men! Come to your senses! Where are you going? Can't you see, don’t hear how all of humanity is already dancing to the “tune” of Satan? Do you not understand what kind of "culture" is flooding the world?

Woe to you, woman, when you wear immodest clothes and enter the company of men! And do not be fooled: when you do this — exposing your body, pulling it into tight-fitting clothes, trying to reveal the charms of your figure — then there is inevitably a prodigal passion, a desire to provoke a voluptuous attraction in the hearts of men

Every Orthodox Christian believer is probably familiar with the story of how St. Theodora of Tsaregradskaya (December 30) passed through the tollhouses, and how much fear she suffered.

Readers have learned from her own experience, what a terrible test the human soul is subject to on its departure from this world.

But how many, reading this Life, pay attention to one very significant episode? . . . After passing through the tollhouse of fornication, adultery, and the tollhouse of sodomy, the Angels leading Saint Theodora told her:

“You saw the terrible and disgusting tollhouses of fornication; know that it is a rare soul that passes them freely: the whole world is immersed in the evil of temptations and filth, almost all people are lovers of pleasure. The thought of the heart of man is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21); few become dead to their carnal lusts and few pass through these tollhouses. Most of those who come here perish. The authorities of the tollhouses of fornication boast that they alone, more than all the other tollhouses, fill the fiery kinship in hell.”

According to the predictions of many Holy Fathers, one of the characteristic signs of the demise of the world will be the widespread and terrible dominance of debauchery, the vile carnal licentiousness, indomitable voluptuousness. Revelation depicts this last extreme corruption of the world in the image of a woman sitting on a crimson beast (Rev. 17:3), a great harlot who is dressed in purple and scarlet, decorated with gold, precious stones and pearls, holding in her hand a golden bowl filled with filth and the impurity of fornication (Rev. 17:4).

It symbolizes a city that reigns over earthly kings, a sort of “Babylon”, the capital of the last human race (Rev. 18:2), which has become the dwelling of demons and sheltering all unclean spirits,  the wrathful wine of fornication, being drunk by all the nations. The kings of the earth will fornicate with this city, the merchants of the earth will be rich in its great luxury (Rev. 18:2–3).

We all know well how the reign of "Babylon" and the feast of the "great harlot" ends. But it is not yet known which city will be awarded such gloomy glory at the end of the world, and indeed, whether it refers to any particular city, or whether it is just an image of the world power of evil, which is about to reign over the world. But it will not be an exaggeration to make an assumption now: the whole modern comfortable lifestyle, with all its luxury, with material wealth, the wonders of technology, “stunning” design, dazzlingly bright colors and “heartbreaking” sounds, all modern porn business, a mass campaign against morality, preaching and advertising sadism, violence, cruelty, shamelessness, unscrupulousness, shamelessness, irresponsibility, aimlessness and the like of evil - all this is the very same "drink from the golden cup of the great harlot", from which all the nations of the earth drink generously. For today, many earthly merchants are getting hold of and getting richer due precisely to “porn business”. What “master” of advertising in our time can get by without playing on this passionate string of men's hearts?

Once upon a time, the world fell into carnal sensuality and intemperance, angered the Creator and brought terrible punishment on mankind - a flood, and only eight souls were saved in the Noah's ark. A terrible punishment was incurred by the corrupt Sodom - burning sulfur that incinerated it. And again, the world makes God angry with the same sins, only more elaborately. But today the Lord no longer sends flood water and heavenly fire to us, but leaves mankind, departs from it and lets them drink to the bottom the "cup of abominations and uncleanness" chosen by our family. God leaves us to know the very depths of evil and apostasy, to see in all exposure that abyss of complete disgrace, to which a rational being who has followed his self, spontaneity and made friends with Satan can descend, allows Him to taste all the bitterness of deceiving freedom, the poisonous taste of self-will.

And this is also a kind of flood, a flood, destroying the last humanity! The vile, stinking streams of debauchery, voluptuousness, refined sadism and all kinds of perversion flow out, emanating from the widely revealed satanic bowels. But the worst thing about all this is that our hearts, our souls, serve as a conductor of these dirty wastewaters; our will, our reason, our desires and arbitrariness help out this breath of hell. Forgetfulness of God, slander of His ministers, hatred of His Church, newly invented theories and philosophical teachings, pseudoscience and anti-culture, demon-inspired “wisdom” of this age, the "values" of paganism resurrected from the grave of oblivion - all these tools have cracked the locks and gates of conscience and shame, morality and honor, kindness and mercy, and — as from a bursting sewer — from the passionate depths of the heart destructive waters pour. 

Of all carnal movements, of all our earthly desires, prodigal lust is the strongest, most powerful passion. The desire for copulation — under the painful seal of the fall — evolved into the ugliest, God-hating variety of sins. And which of the people is free from this all-burning flame? Whose heart is not malleable, comfortable in lust for bodily beauty? What other passion draws us so much to ourselves, intoxicates, deprives our reason and firmness of will, our courage, if not this?

The Creator has put into the spirit of man the strongest ability — to love, to strive for the most beautiful, most perfect, not to dwell on oneself, not to shut oneself in oneself, but to stretch with all the forces of one’s being, to crave connections with a higher self, with the best, with the most beautiful. It is the power of love, the thirst for union with the Supreme Being, with eternal Beauty and Perfection, that is the life of the soul, its main center. It is this need that constantly disturbs the human spirit, lives, torments, makes us thirst, lust and seek, and it leads the seeker correctly to the highest Love, highest Bliss, communion with the highest Beauty, communion with the Highest Good — God. And that is precisely why the enemy of God and the insidious seducer of people — the devil — is trying hard to steal, distort, defile, direct along the wrong path — to commit the most heinous, ugly act, this main stream of our spiritual energy. He teaches us to bury the heavenly gift in the earth, replaces the thirst for life with lust for decay, the desire for eternal bliss turns into a desire for momentary pleasure.

The spiritual power of love and striving for a higher, spiritual, divine Beauty has turned into a crude carnal attraction to the external attractiveness of the human body. And now, a man without honor lives with the cattle and becomes like them (Psalm 48:13). The prodigal infection was so assimilated to man, so rooted to his heart, that this sin became the most direct and widest, most cherished road leading to the moat of destruction, and the lure of the prodigal pleasure — most conveniently luring its countless victims into the enemy’s net, into hell fire. And there are fewer and fewer of those who resist the mass hypnosis of the fornication sorcerer. You are ever less likely to see someone’s life boat floating against the current, a rower who is intensely resisting the stormy, all-encompassing onslaught of the stream of voluptuousness. 

Satan, like Nebuchadnezzar, sends his servants to force mankind to worship the "golden idol", or rather, a gross, moronic body, clothed in deceptive earthly luxury. And now all the peoples of the earth, obeying him, bow to the idol of the flesh "to the loud sounds of music." And in order to draw the remaining loyal people to this evil, the villain orders them to make it "seven times stronger" to melt the fiery furnace of temptations, to use all the human passions to set in motion the insidious seductions of "modern culture". So the last Christians, conscientiously preserving chastity, are truly likened to the three youths in the Babylonian furnace. But even they will only be able to survive the all-devouring flame under the cover of the Grace of God.

What about the “modern culture” prevailing in the world? Some of the modern Fathers directly call it “anti-culture”, “culture of decay”, self-destruction. We constantly hear slogans glorifying the “culture of sex”, proclaiming “sexual freedom”, “free love”, even “sexual revolution”. Even the most seemingly “civilized”, “cultural” nations are sure that they have finally thrown off the yoke of the gloomy wildness of the Middle Ages and made a step towards a new, higher culture of relations. A stunning discovery was made: it turned out that monogamous marriage is a “relic of the past”; ordinary family life and family obligations - “prejudices”; the desire to hold off carnal desires, curb passionate desires - "a dangerous exercise that can injure the psyche"; modesty is called the "inferiority complex", which must be "fought hard", even resorting to psychiatrists for help; keeping oneself in the strict framework of decency is now considered to be “lack of freedom”, “lack of communication”, suppression of the prodigal attraction to one’s neighbor, removal from swagger and dangerous intimacy in relationships - “backwardness from life”, “unnaturalness”, “savagery” and almost “schizophrenia”.

And now we have entered a new era - “free humanity”, everywhere it sounds: “freedom!”, “Down with prejudice!”, “Closer to nature!”, “Down with shame!”, “Back to nature!”. Women and men, young and old, begin to exercise in suppressing shame, learn to trample all modesty, which they are ashamed of more than they were ashamed of vices before, are in a hurry to corrupt or otherwise hide and present themselves to those who are tempted in love, who have seen “life”. Television, newspapers, advertising, and indeed almost every word, the action of modern people directly or indirectly directed to voluptuous sin. Modern humor, pungent feelings, plots of works of art, joy and sadness, the concepts of tragedy and happiness revolve mainly around this passion - fornication.

The monk St. John Climacus said:

“The good Lord also reveals great Providence for us, that the shamelessness of females is held in by shame, as if by some kind of rein; for if women themselves resorted to men, then no flesh would have been saved." [2] 

Oh St. John! We, the unfortunate, have already lived in such times when many women, like shoes worn by horses, abandon shame and, correcting all honest notions of morality and decency, possessed by the spirit of fornication, walk about almost naked along the streets of crowded cities, along the dusty roads of villages, not embarrassed by the passionate, inflamed, lust-filled views of men and adolescents. Many young and old ladies, very provocatively dressed, are not blushing from such immodest attention of the crowd, but they are also trying to turn prying eyes to their bodies and provoke their immodesty in every possible way. And they blush most often when they do not succeed . . .

Yes, the world is rushing into the abyss. And we do not turn the word to the unbelieving pagans of our time, for what can be taught to a person who does not recognize the Creator over this world, does not regard himself and his neighbor as the creation of the Good God, who considers the whole universe to be a product of chance, and humanity to be a spawn of chaos and nonsense, and himself a distant a relative of animals and cattle, reptiles and various "ciliates"? Such anthropology does not deserve criticism. The whole life of such people with all their many-sided “culture” and noisy “progress” can be characterized briefly and exhaustively: “magnificent dumb bestiality!” No, it only makes sense to a believing person to warn them about the tragedy that is befalling this world!

Christians! Christian women, virgins, youths, men! Come to your senses! Where are you going? Can't you see, don’t hear how all of humanity is already dancing to the “tune” of Satan? Do you not understand what kind of "culture" is flooding the world? Remember the “Revelation” of the holy apostle and evangelist John the Theologian: what is said there about the last days of the world, about those one hundred forty-four thousand redeemed who are standing before the throne of the Lord, that is, those who will escape the wiles of the devil will be saved. St. John heard a voice from heaven: These are those who are not defiled with their wives, for they are virgins ... (Rev. 14:4). Is it not indicative that the main trait of the redeemed is indicated precisely as chaste purity, impurity from prodigal sin (by which, of course, one should also understand marriage unsullied by treason). How, therefore, the last humanity will be tempted by fornication!

How many today, consciously or not fully aware of their guilt, are participating in the kindling of this new “Babylonian furnace”! But do we not know how destructive it is to tempt one's neighbor? Do we not remember the words of the Lord: Whoever seduces one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better if they would hang a millstone on his neck and throw him into the sea (Mark 9:42). Also: Woe to the world from temptations, for temptations must come, but woe to that person through whom the temptation comes (Matthew 18:7). Woe to you, woman, when you wear immodest clothes and enter the company of men! And do not be fooled: when you do this — exposing your body, pulling it into tight-fitting clothes, trying to reveal the charms of your figure — then there is inevitably a prodigal passion, a desire to provoke a voluptuous attraction in the hearts of men, that is, the very temptation for which there will be woe to you!

Maybe there is no clear intention here to draw someone into sin, but this does not detract from guilt. Even the secret voluptuousness that we do not fully recognize is nevertheless poison poisoning our heart, and this voluptuousness manifested in our outward behavior becomes already a temptation, a stumbling block for our neighbor, poison poisoning the souls of people around us, and therefore it is already considerable sin. The Lord said: Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28). 

Therefore, we can say:

"Woman, you went out of the house in erotically attractive clothes, you walked around the city half-naked, today you showed your physical beauty to many, and you delighted many with the pleasantness of your appearance. So know that on this day you have committed adultery with many! And woe to you, that through you, temptation walked through the streets today!"

Even at home, among relatives, it was not appropriate for Christians to walk half-naked or in tight-fitting clothes, underwear, etc. The Old Testament strictly forbade seeing the nakedness of one's neighbor: “Do not reveal your sister’s nakedness,” and other similar prohibitions against other relatives are found in the book of Leviticus (Lev. 18:6-17). 

They say: "it's hot! stuffy!" Well, you can sew wide, light clothes; they are much cooler than tight clothes, tightly compressing the flesh, and protect the skin from harmful rays from the sun. (According to doctors, after summer vacations, when thousands of people walk naked in the sun, the percentage of cancer increases sharply.) In addition, it was hot in the summer a hundred, two hundred years ago, but our ancestors would not dare to go in shorts or swimsuits around the house, much less out in the street.

St. John Chrysostom especially severely denounced the girls who were so “frivolous” in their appearance, and called their behavior a grave sin. He says,

“No one accuses me of excessive harshness of the word, if I called this sin the gravest ... When you see a maiden basking in clothes ... she steps in a proud tread, and voice and eyes and with clothes she prepares a destructive cup for those who look at her with shameless eyes, more and more she digs holes for those passing by and from here sets up the snares, then what do you call her a virgin after that, and do not classify her as a harlot? Not so much are the latter really seduced, but the first, everywhere spreading wings of pleasure."

No, it was not “prejudice” that forced women throughout all ages among all cultural nations to cover their bodies with wide and long clothes, and married women to hide from strangers' gazes even with their hair. Only the darkest nationalities, mostly descendants of Ham, did not know these orders (for some reason, this boorish culture in the twentieth century began to prevail in the world: modern music, dance, and clothing, and lifestyle, and most "sex culture" is from pagan African tribes - direct descendants of the Ham).

No, not “notoriousness” explains the worship of our very recent ancestors before women's modesty, shyness. It was not the lack of culture or “unenlightenedness” that made people blush when someone suspected them of unchastity. And by no means did the “savagery of morals” compel them to strictly suppress the lust of bodily beauty and lascivious movements in the heart. No, it’s different here: the fallen humanity has become more inclined towards carnal voluptuousness, it is quickly ignited by this sensual fire. Often, just one look at a beautiful naked body instantly captivates the heart, fills the soul with a voluptuous muddy dope, intoxicates the mind, paralyzes the will, and we are immediately inclined to the desire for sin. And the very acceptance of this desire, agreement with it - there is captivity, there is the beginning of the fall, there is betrayal, betrayal of the love of God. How easily our soul sells its superiority for “lentil soup” like the unfortunate Esau! How gravely the holy king and prophet David fell, to what gloom this great God-inspired husband came to, having accidentally seen the naked body of a washing beauty from the roof of his palace (2 Kings Chap. 11).

Another terrible example: the holy ascetic, the strictest of the ascetics, James the Faster (see His Life on March 4), the bearer of great blessed gifts, who prayed to expel evil spirits from the possessed, was seduced by the beauty of a young girl, from whom he had cast out a demon. He was clouded by carnal lust for her to such an extent that, having raped her, he killed her and threw her body into the river. Subsequently, in their fall, both King David and the Monk James brought God sincere repentance, suffered many deeds and labors, and were forgiven by the All-Merciful God, and again acquired the Grace of the Spirit. But today, when humanity is so far removed from holiness and does not know what is the spirit of repentance, today what terrible lawlessness can the temptation sowed everywhere bring and bring? And how many will be able to repent after their sins?

Do not desire your neighbor's wife, says the tenth commandment of the Law of God (Exodus 20:17). But what a reason for violating this commandment is given by those men who let their wives walk around the streets in a half-naked state! It would seem that a man should be extremely indignant if his wife “flirts” with other men, especially showing them bare parts of her figure. But today everything is turned upside down! And the husbands themselves take their wives to the streets of the cities almost in beach suits and, having completely forgotten about concepts such as shame and honor, allow an extraneous obscene look to prodigally evaluate her "female charms"! Do you want men on the street to mentally commit adultery with your spouse? But this is something like pimping! As you can see, our ancestors understood human psychology much better than our contemporaries; they distinguished sin from permissible, innocent from vicious, dishonorable from worthy much more subtly. In our rude and wild runaway, sin and evil are considered only that which is done by the deed itself, and only if it entails grave consequences. Most of the most serious moral crimes and mortal sins (according to the teachings of the Divine Revelation) are now revered only as "innocent pranks." We no longer have to speak about “honor” and “chastity”; only one name is left of them. 

Probably many will answer this with the words of the Apostle: Everyone is tempted, carried away and seduced by his own lust (James 1:14). Yes, exactly, but the submitting temptation to sin provokes sin, throws the seed of spiritual death. But lust, having conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin gives birth to death (James 1:15). Even if the one whom they tried to seduce, persists, overcomes lust, looks away, forbids his heart to lust, and with such temptation he will be exalted even more in virtues, according to the word: Blessed is the man who endures temptation because, having been tested, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord promised to those who love Him (James 1:12), however, the one who seduced served as a tool of the devil - an ancient tempter.

And what a great sin is committed by those who display erotic, pornographic films on television or preach the prodigal sin through radio broadcasts, or in periodicals and other media! And not only the publishers and employees of such publications are guilty, but also sellers of kiosks, buyers and subscribers of these vulgar, corrupting human souls with magazines and newspapers. The same applies to the owners and organizers of erotic dance schools, mentors of the “erotic education” of youth and other figures who directly or indirectly work in the fields of this hellish craft! All these worthless people directly fall under the anathema of the Church, must be excommunicated from it, expelled from its saving fence, according to the 100th rule of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (as distributors of images, “charming eyesight, corrupting the mind and igniting unclean pleasures”). Separation from the Church means that these people no longer have the right to go to the church, resort to the help of a priest at home, submit notes through someone to the church with their name to commemorate at the service, to be buried in the church, at home or in the cemetery and even to be buried in an Orthodox cemetery. If they decide to enter the temple, light a candle, etc., not repenting, not wanting to change their lives, then this will only exacerbate their guilt before God!

Every Christian who looks through these products, profanely defiles his soul, himself infuses deadly poison into his heart, which even with increased healing will not be easy to expel. Do not fool yourself, as if “we are only spectators, but we are not going to do such a thing in life, and everything presented on the screens is just a dramatization”.

As the famous Christian apologist Tertullian said:

"That which is unacceptable in reality should not be acceptable in fantasy ."  

If the sin shown before our eyes, inserted into a bright, literally mesmerizing frame, as we believe, does not force us to crave it in practice, then on what principle is advertising based on which different companies spend countless millions of dollars? After all, we all know that even hidden, uncontrolled by consciousness, it eats up, bites into the subconscious and forces you to crave the advertised thing. So the seed of sin sown at some point, the strong lust of its sweetness, advertised by these pictures, may not immediately grow a poisonous sprout. The soul, having once delighted in the idea of sin, is already beginning to search for a repetition of the experienced sensation, as if intoxicated with a drug. And when we get to a grave fall by deed, we may not even remember, we won’t even guess where and when this deadly disease had infected us.

Holy Scripture says:

"The flesh desires the opposite of the spirit, and the spirit desires the opposite of the flesh: they oppose each other." (Galatians 5:17) 

This is an immutable law of our current being. However, the philosophers of the world, its various "sages," who claim to have a good understanding of man and his psyche, often accuse Christianity of allegedly contrasting the spiritual with the physical and thus cutting off the natural and characteristic of man, making him live "unnaturally". They undertake to protect the "simple man", "such as he is - with all his human weaknesses and inclinations" from the "strict", "fanatical" teachers of Christianity who constantly demand to cut off something, always want to forbid something, to convict him in something, to punish this poor person. Yes, now love for a person “as he is” is being preached more and more often: they must, they say, love him simply, without embellishment, without redoing in his own way, love him with all the flaws and oddities. But this is not love for man! This is actually a cold indifference to his fate and, even deeper — a secret, mocking hatred of him! 

A good doctor will never allow a terminally ill patient — who is dying — to live in the image of healthy men, on equal terms with them, but strictly forbids him to eat certain things, or to do anything that further aggravates the disease. And only an extreme enemy can offer and force the seriously ill patient to taste the food that kills him, patting him on the shoulder with friendly words and saying: “my friend, you are completely healthy!”

We are all infected with a deadly disease, and therefore we must warn each other, as we would warn a friend, forbidding one other to do anything that would aggravate the disease. The only person who can neglect treatment and caution, is the one who does not consider the disease to be dangerous, or the one who has given up on life.

Of course, those people who do not believe in God, who consider the whole world to be random chaos, and who think a person to be an ordinary animal — they just won’t understand what spirituality they are talking about, and when they speak of a soul they only mean a person’s ability to think and feel. They don’t even want to hear about original sin, or the Lord’s redemption of mankind. For them, every whimsical movement of the flesh is “natural” and every sin has its “mitigating circumstances”. But for the most part, modern humanity has precisely “waved a hand” to its salvation, subconsciously knowing that it is on the path to hell, but adhering to the principle of “perishing, with music”, once again illustrating the well-known theme: “feast during the plague”.

The leaders of modern anti-culture urge people to “return to nature”, to “pristine nature”, to free themselves from everything “artificial”. But which of these non-Orthodox people correctly understands what his nature really is? What is natural and unnatural in us? What do they know about the primordial nature of man? They say now cynically: "what is natural is not ugly." But the trouble is precisely that man — by entering the fallen state — has acquired what is most ugly and most unnatural, contrary to nature itself. And this fallen state has become so closely associated with man, that after remaining so long in evil, it has become like our second nature.

Our nature was so imbued with this poison, that Christianity no longer speaks merely of healing a person, but of the Resurrection from the dead, of the incorruption of an old man and of the birth and growth of a new one (see Ephesians 4:22-24). St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) writes:

They are very mistaken. Those who recognize carnal wishes as inalienable properties of the human body, and their satisfaction as a natural necessity, are mistaken in their doom. No! The human body has descended to become like the bodies of cattle and animals, because of the fall. Naturally, carnal wishes are to the fallen nature, as the properties of an ailment are to an ailment, but they are unnatural to human nature in the state in which it was created . . .

Namely, according to the disobedience of the commandment of God, in paradise, 

a man lost the Holy Spirit who dwelt in him, who made up the soul of the whole human being, and was left to his own nature, infected with sin, who entered into fellowship with the nature of demons! From submission to death and sin, the components of man were divided, and they began to act against one another: the body resists the soul; the soul is in a struggle with itself; her powers are bickering; the person is in the fullness of the disorder. The power of desire painfully turned into a feeling of insatiable lust; the power of courage and energy turned into various kinds of anger . . . the power of language, alienating from God, losing the ability to control the power of will and power of energy.

No, Christians do not oppose the spirit to the body! On the contrary, Christianity teaches us to strive for a harmonious reunion of all human forces — both spiritual and physical, to seek their real reconciliation, when they complement and enrich each other, in a single impulse rushing toward what is the Highest, and Divine, making up a single choir — harmoniously tuned strings, so that on this ten-stringed psalter the Holy Spirit sings the sweetest song. (see Psalm 32:2 and 143:9)

Yes, man is the pinnacle of divine creativity; he was created in the image and likeness of God. Not only his soul, but also the body is involved in the artistic wisdom and power of God. True and supreme beauty is hidden in a man, enclosed in his body. The Creative Power of God created the human body according to the laws of beauty and proportionality. The beauty of it is a testament to the Divine Wisdom, and therefore only selfless enjoyment, pure contemplation of this beauty, without any immoral use of it, is permissible. But the sinfulness of man, his self-will, has overshadowed the true beauty in him, and now it is necessary to strive to clarify and purify it. Clement of Alexandria appealed to his contemporaries:

“Do not force beauty, man! Be the king, not the tyrant of your beauty. Then I will only admit your beauty when you keep its image clean; only then will I revere beauty in you — the true prototype of beautiful things." 

However, although the beauty of the human body is from God, and there are still those beautiful contours, bends, shapes, and lines that our admiration can carry, for the greatness of the Creator, the beginning of the Highest Eternal Beauty, these are just foggy shadows, a weak, blurry silhouette. The beauty in us is distorted, trampled upon, defiled by a retreat from its Creator, from the First Image. Our very concept of beauty and our striving towards it are already distorted.

Adam and Eve in paradise were naked and not ashamed, but this holy innocence and purity were lost through the sin of unbelief, disobedience, and the first people breaking the first covenant with God. Everything in a person became painful, defiled, devoid of holiness, for the most part, obscene. As a result of this distortion, there was shame and remorse, as a sense of disorder, violation, and unworthiness. The coarsening of the flesh should now hide the soreness of the soul, and the flesh itself — a reflection of the passion rooted in the soul — should hide behind clothes. 

“Clothing is a monument of the fall,” says St. Philaret of Moscow. The clothes are a kind of penitential mourning, a humble cover, a burial shroud reminding us that we are far from free. We have no right to relax, to give free rein to our wishes. It is instructive, for example, to have such a monastic rule: that a monk does not take off his leather belt day or night, which symbolizes the curbing of lust. But after all, every Christian must also constantly keep his lusts in strict control! 

For those who love to shamelessly look at half naked virgins in so-called “beauty contests”, it would be appropriate to recall one episode from the life of the holy martyr Thekla (September 24). This holy virgin — a Christian — was distinguished by extraordinary beauty. Because she practiced the Christian faith, pagans tortured the courageous confessor for a long time, until finally they exposed her to all the people, completely uncovering her young body. As the writer of her life tells us,

Only shame was her cover, and she repeated the words of the prophet David: "the shame of my face covered me..." (Psalm 43:16). Hungry furious animals, lions and bears were released upon her; stepping out of their locks and seeing a girl standing without clothes, they bowed their heads to the ground, looked down, and as if ashamed of maiden nudity, backed away from her! So wordless animals were accusers and judges of people at this sight: being bloodthirsty by nature, the animals took on the temper of a chaste man, while people, being intelligent, were likened to wild beasts”

(see The Lives of the Saints, September, as written by St. Demetrius of Rostov) 

The modern "sex education program", which is now being introduced in secondary schools, also includes the theme: "How to overcome shame." It is clear that feelings of shame and conscience are excruciating for a person. They create in us some kind of internal discord, struggle, pain, anxiety, and restlessness — or “discomfort”, as they now like to express themselves. But these mysterious signals “disturbing” us from the depths of our nature are extremely necessary and saving, as physical pain is also necessary, since they detect a wound, disturb and force one to seek medical treatment, do not allow the disease to lurk and secretly sow death. Therefore, a feeling of shame is inherent in every mentally normal person, it is just "natural" for our unnatural state!

Even from the point of view of medicine, it is known that in early childhood the processes of excitement prevail in the central nervous system, and socio-cultural mechanisms contribute to the formation of active conscious inhibition, which lies at the heart of the development of the basic elements of any culture. Culture necessarily includes a system of prohibitions, “taboos” in all spheres of human life. According to the creator of genetic psychology, J. Piaget, "the cognitive qualities of a person are determined by his ability to self-restrict." Thus, the direct connection of temperance, chastity, and the ordering of human feelings with one's creative and intellectual abilities is not known to Christianity alone.

Anyone who wants to overcome shame and avoid “remorse”, gain freedom, and overcome the “inferiority complex”,  should learn this not from the Satanists of our time, like Nietzsche and Freud with their followers, but start living the fullness of the Holy Life of the Holy Orthodox Church, which is the Body of Christ! Here alone can a person regain human nature in all its holy pristine purity and beauty — not to mention deified, glorified, ascended to heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God the Father!

In exposing one’s body, in sensually uninhibited behavior, there is opposition to the will of God, and a protest against the penance of the human legally imposed on the human race (recall the “leather robes” imposed on the forefathers by God Himself [7]), non-admission of guilt, refusal to see one’s fall, damage, and the renunciation of humility.

Any diligent adornment of one’s body, a desire to attract the attention of a crowd, to make one admire it and its “charms”, is an action that is illegal from a spiritual point of view, seductive, and God-hating, because it is not repentant. 

The apostles also commanded: So that also wives in decent attire, with bashfulness and chastity, would adorn themselves not with braiding hair, not with gold, not with pearls, not with valuable clothes, but with good deeds (1 Tim. 2:9-10). Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. (1 Pet. 3:3–4).

Tertullian also said that "it is not enough for a Christian to be chaste; he needs to look that way." "The purity and simplicity of a Christian woman should be so great that their abundance spread from the heart and to her appearance, her clothes." A man, according to Clement of Alexandria, must first of all take care of the beauty of the soul, consisting of justice, judgment, courage, chastity, love of goodness, and modesty. Only then can he take care of his bodily beauty, and it does not consist in decorating the body, but in the care of his health.

It is also useful to note that when the Angels of God appeared to holy people in the form of beautiful youths, they were always clothed in long light robes, but without any special ornaments. Demons are most often shamelessly naked (as the icon painting depicts them) or discharged like gypsies. Those who enter Christianity are naked only at Holy Baptism, but this is in order to emphasize the new birth, the return of innocence, the forgiveness of original sin, and also to remind us of the coming before God, before whom all our sins and all our souls are exposed. Shame here reminds us of the need for atonement, of our guilt before God.

It is significant that in the satanic rituals of initiation into sorcerers and priests, the initiate must be completely naked “to be free from all the conventions of the world” — this is how it is explained.

The Apostle called: I implore you, brethren, by the mercy of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, for your rational service, but do not conform to this age (Rom. 12:1). And how many of the most beautiful young men and women brought their virgin, purest, most beautiful, fragrant bodies, like bouquets of snow-white lilies, to this living, holy sacrifice, pleasing to God! They were ground by the bloodthirsty jaws of an evil dragon, who is obsessed with the demons of this world. They were torn to pieces in the most severe way, stained with their own blood and became even more beautiful, adorned with many precious stones, making their beauty imperishable. These martyrs are those who found the highest price for their beauty, melting it in a cleansing fire and now shining in its unspeakable radiance, without the slightest flaw.

The Apostle says: Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit living in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you are bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God both in your bodies and in your souls, which are the essence of God (1 Cor. 6:19–20).

But now: this Christianity came into the world, brought the Light of true culture, the dawn of the New Era, the grape bunch of the Promised Land, the oil-bearing branch of the hope of eternal Life - the Red Sun passed over the decrepit earth, warmed humble hearts, revived those who were thirsty for heavenly being, and leaned toward the horizon, hiding for the time being — for the time being — leaving us with “freedom of choice”. We have freedom, we have knowledge, everyone has heard a call: the Lord is calling him to the “Quiet Light” in the joy of heavenly dwellings, and Satan is also calling - the fallen tributary in the dungeons of hell, into the abyss of darkness!

That’s freedom! Freedom to impose bonds on your longings, freedom to break these bonds, and with them clothes from your destructive aspirations! The freedom is to have fun, laugh, play with your life, trample and corrupt in yourself everything that remains of the past honor and beauty — in this momentary, fleeting life — and forever paying for this miserable mirage of bliss, in eternal torment. Freedom — to endure in a short stream of time the fire of passions, the flame of temptations, not to succumb to sweet deception, seductive singing of sirens, not to exchange your birthright for a miserable fleeting "pleasure"! Freedom — choose Eternal Life or eternal death! 

It is in the face of this freedom that temptation passes, and temptations must come in order to experience our choice, but nonetheless: Woe to that person through whom the temptation comes!

Source: Holy Fire (Russian)

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