Christian Nudity

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.”

From www.gotquestions.org/Christian-nudist.html.

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).

This group of Christian Naturists points out that:

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.

From //www.oursunhome.com/christian_nudist.html

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?

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RavingPente

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.


25 thoughts on “Christian Nudity

  1. Some African tribes have women and men going round bare-chested.

    Well, it’s plain wrong to tell a woman to cover her body in a culture that presents clothed women as prostitutes.

    What I am saying is that the sex-workers in that society are fully clothed. Mean-while the moral upright women go around topless.

    This is my considered judgment … Paul is quite clear that the only restrictions on women and men regarding their clothing is that men should dress as men and women should dress as women. But I wouldn’t even go so far as to say women in dresses and men in trousers.

    My wife is obviously a woman, whatever she is wearing.

    I wouldn’t wear a dress though …

    I haven’t seen anything that really goes with my eyes.
    😉

    Shalom

  2. RP said “Raving Evangelical’s well put scriptural stance that these people are not sinning as this is not immodest in their culture”

    I will offer a slight correction to this. I just don’t think that the Scriptures have a lot to say about the matter (apart from what Bull has already stated). The original post was in response to Doz’s questionable theological development and interpretation from the scattered references he supplied.

    This not quite the same as whether I think nudism is or is not a bad thing. I don’t know enough about this sub-culture and the rationale for it. Suffice to say I don’t believe there is any lifestyle choice that will make someone immune to sexual temptation.

  3. Sorry RE if I wasn’t clear – I didn’t mean to say that you had any stance at all on nudity in a nudist sub-culture. I was attempting to sum up your stance on people dressing according to their culture where the _dominant_ culture includes what to us would be partial nakedness but to them is normal dress. If you would like to supply me with a phrase that will fit into the post above, I’ll edit it and put in your replacement.

    I agree that there is no lifestyle choice that would make someone immune to sexual temptation, and I think we’d be very foolish to think there would be.

  4. You know Bull, I think you’ve summed it up quite well for me referring to Paul on the issue of dressing according to the dominant culture – let the men dress as men and the women as women, whatever that means is generally accepted in the culture of the day (today, obviously including jeans etc for women). And it sure has changed over the centuries, for both men and women.

    The issue of Christians being nudists is a different one. Perhaps irrelevant to everyone here, since I’m not aware of anyone here wanting to choose that lifestyle – although since we can’t actually see eachother in cyberspace, who knows?? Heretic, stop it!

  5. I agree that there is no lifestyle choice that would make someone immune to sexual temptation, and I think we’d be very foolish to think there would be.

    – RP

    Patently false. Any society where women were forced to wear beards (long ones) would see reduced sexual temptation all round.

    In fact I hear it works the other way as well. Adam Spencer, commenting on the end of “Movember” (which involves men (I assume) raising money by growing mustaches) quotes his wife as saying that mustaches are the best contraceptive ever.

  6. I don’t feel as if I’m in a position to judge the norms of other cultures.

    However generally I would go along with the notion that since God clothed us, and it is a given that the human sin nature doesn’t vary from culture to culture except in the exercise of its imagination I’ll go with God preferring that we are clothed with some degree of modesty.

    I think this is a toughy.

    Nakedness seems to represent different things, and also how you dress.

    Nakedness/scarlet dress represents one thing, while nakedness sack cloth and ashes something else.

    One seems to be dressing up our sin, and legitimising lust etc, while the other seems to be a recognition of our destitution before God without His blessing.

    I think one of the biggest stuff ups the catholic church has made – tht is all of the them – not just the pope’s lot – is how we tend to make sex god whether for or against it.

    I have a lot of outrage and anger towards my brethren over the general mistreatment and abuse of this issue.

    So nakedness is one issue, but on its own its boring and not too relevant. For me it is the other stuff that comes with it.

    And the naturist argument does not win me, simply because I see that as yet another argument to justify doing something that some people want to do which at face value I think there is some difficulty with from a scriptural view….yawn.

  7. RE:

    Suffice to say I don’t believe there is any lifestyle choice that will make someone immune to sexual temptation.

    Absolutely right.

    While we’re on the subject … my Bible tells me that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. Which means He was tempted sexually as much as we are.

    Discuss.

  8. And wasn’t John semi-naked and covered in bushes and insects (can’t remember which NT book this is in).

  9. I think MN has made a highly relevant point that nakedness means different things in different situations:

    Nakedness seems to represent different things, and also how you dress.

    Nakedness/scarlet dress represents one thing, while nakedness sack cloth and ashes something else.

    So of course nakedness itself means nothing. The context gives it its symbolic meaning, if it is present – and in scripture it usually is.

    The Christian naturists seem to also be saying they are expressing themselves symbolically, the absence of clothes meaning that they are hiding nothing from one another.

    I am not so sure. There are many ways of hiding things, and physically hiding them is only one way. Mostly our motivations are hidden in our hearts until some circumstance reveals them. Nudity is no guarantee that our hearts are an open book, though for some people, to look upon people naked may help them to accept people more fully in other ways as well as just the physical.

    Re the nudity issue – I don’t think I could say its intrinsically wrong if its done in a setting where others aren’t going to be offended; mostly it depends upon where people’s heads and hearts are at, I think.

    Whereas the mind in any setting can become lustful. Why else would they have needed to cover up table legs with table cloths in the past because of fearing people’s imaginations would be harmed if they didn’t? What sort of extreme caused that little bit of cultural silliness?

  10. Jesus was a man, presumably he was tempted in the same ways as all men. This shows its no sin to be tempted. It’s how we deal with the temptation that determines whether sin is birthed or not, whether in the mind or more externally. To be tempted by someone will inevitably happen, to choose to entertain lust towards them or whatever the sinful activity is as a mental pleasure – to go over it and over it – then the mental path to physical sin has begun. Jesus did not sin, so he did not entertain the temptation, I think.

  11. yes Jesus could be tempted but no overtaken. CS Lewis says “You don’t know the power of temptation until you battle with it and don’t give in to it.” He says people that always give in don’t practice that muscle and learn to turn from sin. I think that’s how he puts it.

  12. I think we should acknowledge that there are two different concepts involved: modesty (which relates to the social context) and chastity (which is – for christians – a virtue and of course a hard to achieve one). It is then for us to look around and decide by which means (according to the amount of covering up) we may not lead anyone into wrong directions (ourselves included).
    My personal opinion is, that in current western type societies, nudity ( also certain almost-nude, hot clothings and gestures) makes people seem “cheap”, “always say yes” and “easy prey” in the eyes of others.
    Girls I met and whom I valued highest were often those, who had an air of spirit and confidence on them and seemed less or not at all concerned with “looking hot” or behaving “cool”. But,you see that does not mean that they were conservatively clothed or behaving, it didn´t just came in as a central thing – the attention was caught somewhere else…

  13. I don’t understand why some Christians want to run around naked anyway. What’s the point of naturism? Swimming naked I can kind of understand, but playing tennis and doing the grocery shopping starkers is another thing entirely. I reckon there is something sexual in it for them but they’re just not admitting it.

  14. I don’t know – depends on their situation. How do I put this?? If it were a bunch of 20 year olds, it might be a different case from a bunch of 50-70 year olds. 🙂 They enjoy not being ashamed of their bodies; they are not necessarily in what the modern world would think of as good visual shape. And there are also people who really are genuinely not at all self concious about their bodies, at any age. Nudity just isn’t an issue for them, even in mixed company. I’ve known several.

    When I went to a nudist beach – no I wasn’t nude – it was one of those beaches where you can dress or not as it suits you, but nudity is allowed. Most of those going nude were up the back of the beach amongst the sand dunes, taking the occasional dip in the ocean. They were mostly middle aged or older people.

    When I was in Europe, an office trip that I unfortunately couldn’t go on myself went on a tour that included spa facilities (we helped design them amongst other things). It was normal for mixed groups to go nude in a steam room. Our team were from London, but were more conservative – only one woman was game to go in nude in a mixed group but all the men went in. In other countries in Europe, this was apparently not the big deal it was for us.

  15. Yes RP on the mediteranian (sic) people wear barely anything and other hot climates. It’s what your used to I guess, topless bathing was banned in the 70s, although some of my friends would stroll around secluded beaches like that, i didn’t walk around though, just laid down. I didn’t realise this was such an issue until now. Men really are visual creatures, that’s for sure. Girls, around here, NOrthern beaches don’t tend to do that anymore.

  16. Also a few years ago a friend of mine was stalked after she sunbaked, in seclusion, she is a beautiful girl and anyway, that spooked me a bit. It actually happened to her a couple of times

  17. So what’s the conclusion? I have to answer to God for a few things one day – I need to prepare my line of defence!!!

  18. “So what’s the conclusion?”

    I think the conclusion is ‘it depends’.

    No one’s game to get purely legalistic over it – which is a good thing! Whatever the context, considering other people is a good thing. 🙂 This would have to include sweaty men on hot days or at concerts keeping their shirts on, in my book! Nothing worse than having a half naked person who has just been for a run dripping sweat all over the place, if they aren’t about to jump in the water or take a shower. (My father used to think this was funny when I was repulsed by it as a kid.) Nudity or semi-nudity isn’t always attractive.

  19. I think it’s time to have a real Christian Nudist pipe in.
    I am just that. A Christian all my life, lived the “legalistic” lifestyle, been there, done that. Avoided pork (still try to, don’t care for it) kept the seventh day sabbath (Saturday) and many other things Christians do not currently follow. And clothes. Wore suits every week to church, spent much money.

    But things changed. I had this tendancy to go nude since I was a kid. But it took some serious bible study and research into naturism to seriously look at this from the proper perspective. I could no longer just listen to someone say “God clothed them, therefore it’s law” when no law was given. Laws of the Old Testament are ignored all the time by current Christians, laws such as “no eating pork”. But funny thing is, no real law one way or the other stating no nudity per se. Nothing direct. But we treat God’s clothing A&E as an unspoken law that will be dealt with by severe punishment.

    But current Christians easily (and conveniently) forget that Jesus Christ replaced Adam in our lives. He is the Second Adam. (See my article The Second Adam for further on this). Somehow, we feel we are STILL under the curse of Adam when we say we are under Christ.

    BTW, even if we ARE under Adam (which means we are not under Christ) God still did not say that we MUST be clothed at all times under penalty of law. And the reasons why God clothed them had absolutely NOTHING to do with sex! God told them to have sex! Lots of it! Have many children!

    So I started my long education on this and today, I lead a small group of people in a group called Christian Nudist Convocation where we gather at naturist (nudist) resorts (not colony) to further our understanding of Christianity and naturism.

    I hope I can be of more service to you.

    Boyd “Live Nude and Prosper” Allen

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