Question about Orthodox teaching on wearing a Cross at all times

Hi everyone,

I am a devout Roman Catholic that has a very high respect for the Eastern Church and used to go to the Catholic Mass on Saturday Evenings at home in London and then went to the Divine Liturgy with a Greek Orthodox friend on Sundays, I have a profund interest in Orthodoxy- but as a faithful Catholic.

I wear a Greek Orthodox Cross, which would be worn by Eastern Catholics as well as Orthodox. The Catholic Church encourages us to wear “Sacramentals” but there is not the same emphasis on wearing a Cross all the time, like in the Orthodox Church- it’s optional but I know a case example in Russia an Orthodox person from abroad went to receive Holy Communion and was asked by the Priest where their Cross was. I know that the Orthodox are rightly taught to wear the Cross from Baptism until death and never to remove it.

My question is, when it is stated by the Orthodox Church that the Cross must be worn at all times and never to be removed- what is the position on wearing the Cross during sexual relations for example? Would a Married Orthodox couple continue to wear their Crosses during sexual intercourse, I know they are married and given God’s blessing but what would the official line be. I have a great respect for the Orthodox custom of wearing the Cross at all times but I have wondered about this, also many Orthodox men or women who have “sex” outside of marriage or commit inpure actions would the “wear the Cross at all times” even though these things are sinful be correct? Would the Church not expect them to be removed? There is no official teaching in the Roman Church on this and I suppose most people would remove the Cross out of respect for it being Holy if they knew they were going to commit something inpure or unholy- how does this work in Orthodoxy?

Forgive me if my question seems strange, it is just a question I ask out of curiosity and a desire for knowledge about the Eastern Church. Of course Catholics can answer but I was looking to hear from members of the Orthodox Church and their take and teachings on this.

Regards and blessings in Christ

Xristos Anesti!


Hi Fraz,

Though encouraged by some, wearing a physical cross at all times is not an official teaching or requirement of Orthodoxy. It’s more of a pious tradition and it happens in other Christian religions as well. For example, I knew a Catholic man who had a chain with a Miraculous Medal and the medal of his patron saint which he was adamant about never, ever taking off.

I’ve never heard or read of any kind of “requirement” that Orthodox wear a cross at all times. I’m sure that priests encourage this, but the wearing or not wearing of a cross is not what makes one an Orthodox Christian. Unless there is such an “official” requirement, or something in the canons specifying that, I’m pretty sure that removing one’s cross during sleep or during sex is quite alright. I do know of Orthodox Christians who claim never to remove their cross–ever. And I know of many who do remove their cross and some who don’t even wear one. Go figure…:shrug:

In Christ,

I guess there’s similar custom in the Orient (or at least in my family). We’re given a medal of Mary and a medal of our namesake, which I distinctly remember my grandfather wearing his until his death, and all my living nuclear family still wears theirs. As someone previously said, it’s an act of piety, not requirement.

You can remove it whenever makes sense (for instance, I used to spar and they make you remove any “loose jewelry”). In regards to removing them during sexual intercourse, why would that make any sense? God gave us sex, it is a good and holy thing - it is a Puritanical idea that a cross or images of saints would need to be removed when having sex (also a superstitious one). As for wearing it during a pre-meditated sin, that is again the point - hopefully the individual will reflect upon what they’re wearing and cease from doing it - if not, hopefully it brings them to sorrow of their sins at least.

Yeah, not a requirement. Mine, however, never comes off unless it interferes with shaving, in which case I take it off for a second and put it back on after I’m done. I’m married, and, to be delicate, no, neither of us take them off. Mine stays on when showering, usually when shaving, when eating, when sleeping, when sinning, when confessing, at home and Liturgy, etc. etc.

One sins with and without knowledge. One of the prayers we pray before receiving Communion says “Have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, in word or in deed, in knowledge or in ignorance…” So we don’t take it off if we recognize we’re going to sin (well, some might) but don’t we need it then even more? And one has already sinned while wearing it, because we sin without our knowledge or intention hundreds of times a day.

Now, to purposefully defame a holy object would add to the sin, but that’s a different type of situation. For example, there’s a difference between someone who’s committing adultery, remembers their cross on, and then continues to sin with the sort of desperate, addicted-type “Help me one day to finish this” or just quickly switches their thoughts to something else and someone who remembers the cross and loves the fact that they’re wearing something holy while acting in such a disgusting manner.

Thanks all for all your answers!

God bless you all!

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