Continuing our interview series of posts, we talk to our online friend, Greg Cook. We’ve had many good chats with him and he’s been an encouragement in our life. We especially appreciate his vulnerability to answer the question of what it’s like to go it alone when it comes to naturism, which is true of many married men.
Q: Can you briefly tell us when and how you came to embrace naturism?
A: Briefly? LOL This has been a lifetime journey for me. I actually started thinking about nudity as a young child. My earliest memories are of me looking for the naked people in the stacks of National Geographic magazines my mother had at work. Even at that young age, the idea that people lived nude like that fascinated me. While nudity in our home was a non-issue, no one simply went nude, but the older I grew, the more I explored nudity on my own.
At 10, a friend and I started “streaking” our neighborhood (streaking was a thing then). I also explored the woods nude alone when camping with the Boy Scouts. Later, I explored the woods nude while visiting family that had land, and I started going nude at home when no one else was around. At 14, I started sleeping nude. At 16, when I could drive, I drove around looking for nearby secluded places to be nude.
In my early 20s, the internet went live and with it, I began to explore non-sexual nudity online only to discover naturism.
It never dawned on me that others were like me or that my interest had a name. I knew naturists existed. I just didn’t realize I was one of them.
It took me three years of in-depth research, Bible study, and fervent prayer to finally accept the label because I wanted to do right by God. I wanted to make sure this wasn’t something sinful.
2- Romans 14:23 says that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. In what ways do you see naturism as more than a preference, recreational activity, or relaxation technique?
Good question. Many people seem unwilling to explore this aspect. As for me, I think I could write a book on the subject.
First, believing naturism to be a mere “preference, recreational activity, or relaxation technique” is a conviction, and as long as that conviction doesn’t go against God’s precepts, it’s valid. Having said that, to me naturism is more than a mere “preference, recreational activity, or relaxation technique.” Since the Lord established naturism as the norm in the Garden, He demonstrated what His will was and whats is best, and He hasn’t changed His mind. Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t change His will or nullify it.
Furthermore, although the common teaching is that we need clothes because of sin, the truth is, we need Jesus because of sin. Clothing doesn’t stop sin at all.
People still lust, still molest, still rape, and more. Jesus Christ restored to us everything that Adam and Eve lost through sin.
All of this is to say that naturism is God’s will and was God’s idea because God established it as the norm in the beginning, and since our sin doesn’t change His mind, we benefit most by living the way He intended. For me, naturism is about agreeing with God about what is good. He was the one who “saw all that he had made and declared it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
3- Your wife currently does not participate (though we pray she will someday). This is sadly the case for many men for a number of reasons. How do you cope with this reality and how would you encourage others in the same type of situation?
For many years, I coped with it by trying to suppress my own convictions and preferences and live by hers. I went out of my way to try to please her and do everything she asked of me, even at one point trying to give up naturism altogether. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me because I always found myself slipping back into doing what was actually in my heart to do.
For instance, she’d say, “I don’t want you to be nude in our backyard. Someone might see you.” I’d comply for a while but then start going nude in the backyard whenever she wasn’t around. She’d come home from the store and find me nude and get upset.
I made many promises to not go nude and broke most of them, often going nude behind her back, because my heart wasn’t in it, and I was making promises that went against my own convictions and preferences. When my wife finally got to her wit’s end, she gave me an ultimatum, it’s either naturism, or her – give up naturism, or she’s leaving.
Naturally, I tried even harder to stop being a naturist, stop thinking like one, stop wanting to be nude, stop thinking it’s good, and so on. Unfortunately, I ended up depressed and having to resist suicidal thoughts. Why? In John 8:32, Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” so denying the truth kept me bound up. I was being double-minded, believing nudity is good but trying to live as if it were evil. James 1:8 says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways,” and living this way left me very unstable. I actually created a schism in myself, and in Mark 3:25, Jesus said, “A house divided against itself will not stand.” I was basically, and literally, destroying myself.
The depression finally began to lift the moment I began to realize that I was being a hypocrite, saying I believed nudity was good but trying to act as if it were not.
I needed to be true to myself no matter what it cost me. As I reviewed my life, I realized I needed a backbone, as I’d always been a pushover. I needed to be able to say, this is what I believe and if you don’t agree, that’s fine. I prayed fervently about my next step. I felt led to simply accept my convictions and do my best to live by them while at the same time being considerate of her.
As I began to live out my freedom, my wife made more threats to leave, but this time I had a backbone and laid it all on the line. “I am a naturist and I can no longer deny that. If you feel so strongly against it that you feel you have to leave, then you’re free to go. I won’t try to stop you.” Along with this, I reneged on every promise I ever made concerning this issue. I explained that I was wrong to make promises I don’t intend to keep and which go against my own convictions, so the only promise I will keep is the promise to never make such promises again, and instead, I will live by my convictions from now on.
As one might expect, she wasn’t happy to hear any of this, and she wasn’t prepared to deal with it. She didn’t know how to respond and believed that I was saying I would disregard her and do whatever I wanted. That wasn’t the case, because my convictions include being respectful, honorable, and considerate of others.
My new way to cope with this was a game-changer for us both.
It forced me to step up and be a man, to admit this is who and how I am and it’s ok, and it forced her to either learn to accept it or else leave. She chose to stay. Naturism has continued to be a challenge in our relationship, but it’s easier and less confrontational now, as we both know where we stand now and we both know what to expect now.
In sharing my testimony, I hope to “encourage others in the same type of situation” to know what they believe and why and to have a backbone about it. Isaiah 7:9 says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you won’t stand at all.” Let that sink in. I also encourage you to live out your convictions boldly, fearlessly, and unapologetically. Realize that not everyone will like you or what you stand for. Jesus even warned us, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets,” (Luke 6:26). In fact, sometimes those people will be people you know and love as Jesus said, “Your enemies will be right in your own household!” (Matthew 10:36).
Our goal isn’t to please others all of the time but to live lives that please God. As John Lydgate said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time,” so aim to please God and you won’t go wrong. Just realize that sometimes doing what you want is what pleases God “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
Editor note: For more on this subject see “A Message to Wives” from Mrs. Phil.