I know we’ve already discussed whether new Christians coming from cultures where bare breasts are regarded as the norm should be asked to cover up once they become believers. The actual conversation is worth reading and can be found here on this thread which diverged. Most people agreed with Raving Evangelical’s well put scriptural stance that these people are not sinning as this is not immodest in their culture; one person (Doz) argued that according to scripture they are being immodest and should cover up.
However – what about in our own society? There is such a thing as Christian naturism. Perhaps they make some good points that the rest of us can learn from even if there’s no way we could imagine ourselves joining in a ‘clothing optional’ activity such as tennis or hiking. Here are a couple more arguments from both sides of the fence:
Question: “Can a Christian be a nudist? What does the Bible say about nudity?”
Answer: There is nothing essentially sinful about nudity (Genesis 2:25). Adam and Eve did not realize they were naked until after the Fall (Genesis 3:7-11). Before the Fall, they were naked, and it was good (Genesis 1:31). Sin is what caused nakedness to become a problem. Sin introduced lust, immorality, and perversion into the human race. As a result, we can no longer look at a nude person of the opposite sex in a pure manner. God made clothing for Adam and Eve to resolve this problem (Genesis 3:21). If God approved of nakedness, He would have simply told them that being naked was okay, and they did not need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. The fact that God clothed Adam and Eve indicates that God expects us to be clothed. Nude beaches, nudist colonies, and all other forms of public nudity are not honoring to God. A Christian should definitely not be involved in nudist “activities.”
A theological treatise supporting Good Nudity can be found here, authored by Pastor Jeffrey S. Bowman, M.A., L.M.T (degrees in theology from Fuller Seminary). It’s copyright so I can’t just quote it, but it includes examples of nudity in the Bible including Saul and his Prophets, Isaiah, Peter, David, Paul and Barnabas (actually I’m not sure they were actually naked – see Acts 14:14).
Pornography Prevention. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hear of the effects of porn in the lives of people. Loss of jobs, obsession with the Internet, and unrealistic sexual expectations are caused by the porn industry. No matter what you think about porn, it has harmed people and their reputations. Many men (and a growing amount of women) in our culture “salivate” at any sign of skin. Why is that? We suggest that the mind has been conditioned by our culture to equate nakedness with sex. “Madison Avenue” does this deliberately because “sex sells.” We have discovered that social nudity and other forms of Good Nudity counteract this and renew the mind to the goodness of the body. In a nude setting all is seen. People who have battled porn learn that all bodies are good. Because our society doesn’t have or appreciate simple good nudity (i.e. non-sexual nudity) the only thing it has is pornography. As soon as people step into the context of the good nudity found in naturism they discover the lie of the world regarding the body. The grip of lust is broken in the heart by the goodness of seeing the body in all ages, sizes, shapes and colors.
This point is a valid one I think. We have so much discrimination in our society based upon people’s appearance, and so many people are uncomfortable with their bodies, not really accepting ourselves as we are despite God declaring his physical Creation ‘good’. This lack of acceptance was also described today in the Sydney Morning Herald, in an article discussing the discomfort many women have choosing swimwear. There is a lot more pressure on men these days too, than perhaps there was once.
I can’t imagine myself going nude to tackle these issues, but the issues they raise of body, age and people acceptance are valid, and it is not clear from scripture that basic simple nudity is wrong just on its own. So – cultural definitions of modesty are one thing, but can a Christian actually be a nudist? And is even asking this question just an example of trying to become legalistic about scripture?
NOTE: If we get spammed or visited by trolls because of the terms used in this article, I’ll shut the thread down. Hopefully this won’t be an issue, but we’ll see.