Normal vs. Natural

One of the criticisms of naturism is that it is not normal. The argument goes something like this, “It’s not normal behavior to go around without clothes on. It’s not what normal people do.” This is somewhat true, that is, in our culture. Some cultures would venture to say that it’s not normal to have clothes on, but that is for another article. We will focus this post strictly on our Western modern cultural landscape.

The truth is, nudity, especially social nudity is not normal. That is why nudists and naturist are on a mission to “normalize nudity.” The various hashtags abound on social media in efforts to sway public opinion.

My argument for this post is that it’s ok to be different. Normal is oftentimes boring, and sometimes just plain wrong. Booker T. Washington is credited as saying, “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.” I love that quote and it goes to show that “normal” is popular, and popular, though widely accepted, isn’t always best.

That’s why I want to introduce a better question. I don’t want to ask if ditching clothes is or isn’t normal. I want to ask of the two sides (clothing compulsive vs. clothing optional), which is more natural? We know textiles win the debate about which is normal. Although, it’s funny how many normal people, really like to get “comfortable” when they have sufficient privacy. It’s comical to me how during the pandemic and the onslaught of zoom calls, how normal the joke about not wearing any pants flowed!

But which is more natural? This is where naturists excel. Both words naturist and natural share the same root word as they are tied to nature. Normal people do generally like the call to nature, and all things organic, but they draw a line before going all crazy hippie like the abnormal naturist contingency. (I realize not all naturists are hippies or crazy.) In fact, we tend to break many of the stereotypes and certainly prove to be a wide cross section of society at large.

It’s been said that humans are the only “animal” that wears clothes. It’s true, some people dress up their pets. (And that’s all sorts of weird!) It’s also true that we don’t have fur to cover us. Animal kind is definitely very natural in the sense that they are free to roam without any artificial coverings or costumes about them. And yet, we don’t see a dog and say, look a naked dog. We just call it dog. When you stop and think about it, hiding yourself under layers and layers of clothing is unnatural. It may be normal, but it is not natural, especially in certain instances, say work, sport, swimming. The ancients knew this, and we have all but forgotten it… sadly.

Naturism is not the “sensible” option for the masses, those that perpetuate this unnatural body taboo. However, which perspective is more healthy and should be considered normal? I imagine this humorous exchange between a “normal” person and a “natural” person or naturist:

“Normal” person: “Are you seeing this??? That woman is stark naked!!!”

“Natural/Naturist” person: “Who that? Oh, that’s Jessica! Her husband is Ronnie. They live in…”

This makes me chuckle because there is such a contrast between the two perspectives! Expanding on this and thinking a bit more deeply on the matter would “uncover” these differences as well:

Normal men see a clothed woman, and imagine her naked, wishing they could see her body.

Natural/Naturist men see a naked woman and imagine who the person inside the body is, wishing to know her story.

Normal men obsess about the body. 

Natural/Naturist men aren’t phased by it.

A normal dad might yell at his kids if they walk in on him in the bathroom, “What’s wrong with you??? Get out of here!”

A natural/naturist dad would greet them with a smile and probably a funny one liner like, “Top of the morning to you!” in a funny voice. OK, maybe that’s just me!

Yes, naturists usually have a great sense of humor and like to have a good time. That can lead to being a bit weird. But, personally, having lived both a normal existence and a couple awesome years more natural as a naturist, I’d hang up my normal hat for good if I needed to. 

If it’s normal to follow Hollywood and Madison Avenue’s lead in objectifying and dehumanizing women, and if it’s normal for Christian men to outwardly buck at this cultural norm, but inwardly be so overcome by lust, going along with the culture, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather be natural and see all people as made in the image of God and worthy of respect and dignity.

If it’s normal to wear a soggy bathing suit when swimming, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather be natural and feel the sensation of water all over my body, and be able to air dry and soak in the sun without any hindrance.

If it’s normal to hide our bodies and genitalia from our children, thinking it’s immodest and obscene and teaching them the same, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather be natural and show them what real bodies look like, and teach them that it’s ok not to have super model figures. I’d rather porn-proof my boys this way, satisfying their curiosity and making commonplace nudity the norm, so the allure of pornography loses its power entirely. I’d rather my daughter grow up confident, accepting her body as it is, and loving herself for who she is.

If it’s normal to make snap judgments about others on the basis of their appearance, then I don’t want to be normal. I’d rather converse and get to know the whole person and base my judgments off of that discovery!

There’s a great post on the nudeandhappy.com blog. I especially appreciated this part, “Psychologically, it’s not always [easy] to be seen as the weirdo… Let’s face it though. There are millions of nudists around the world. You have dozens of naturism federation and associations that promote wholesome, simple and social nudity. You are NOT a weirdo. I actually believe that the textiles who find the naked body disgusting or harmful are the weirdos, but this is my point of view.” Well, it’s mine too!

I think the point is clear. Normal is easy, and it’s overrated. Many years ago, Arby’s (say what you want about them) had a clever slogan – “Different is good.” Standing out is better than fitting in. The gain from conforming to cultural, social, and religious norms if not worth the pain of the twisted view of the body which results from these standards. The body is wrongly deemed improper, lewd, and obscene in and of itself, ignoring entirely the embodied soul’s actions which can be good or bad. People are ultimately responsible with what they do with their bodies. Evil can occur whether one is clothed or naked, just as good can be accomplished in both states.

The question boils down to whether you like the normal (status quo) way things are in the world today. I don’t. I’m quite annoyed with things as I look out at the world (a divine discontentment you could say, or a holy dissatisfaction). I’m good in my own little world, but society is not! I’ve heard it said many times now, that if everyone was naked like naturists prefer life, the world would naturally be a happier place. Natural is better, kinder, and more life-giving. Between normal and natural, for me, there’s not question. I’m done being normal!

6 thoughts on “Normal vs. Natural

  1. Gregory Cook

    Another excellent, well written, and thought provoking article. Many do argue for what’s normal while at the same time telling their children, if so and so jumped off a bridge would you do that, too?

    One challenge is that when you are for what’s natural, they can easily counter it with, ok, so let’s stop cutting our hair or nails, shaving our faces, legs, armpits (for females), etc. Let’s not wear deodorant or use soap and shampoo. All of that is unnatural. Going further, let’s stop creating tools and building houses to live in and go live out in the wild like all animals naturally do. We could, of course, argue that it’s natural for humans to do these, natural for them because their humans, not animals.

    At the same time, that’s why I go one step further and argue instead for what’s most beneficial. Scripture argues, you say I have the right to do whatever I want, but not everything is beneficial. In other words, that’s an important thing to consider when choosing what we do and don’t do. Wearing clothes might be normal in modern culture but nudity is far more beneficial. Likewise, one could ask, nudity might be more natural but the real question is, is it beneficial? And, of course, our answer is emphatically YES! 😀

    The fact is, the benefits are so numerous that it would take many articles to discuss all of the specifics.

    Like

  2. michaellmayfield

    “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2a) is another way to say, “Don’t be normal.”
    The Christian life is not normal:
    Put Christ first…not normal.
    Flee immorality…not normal.
    Be a servant…not normal.
    Love one’s enemies…definitely not normal.
    Rejoice always…not normal.
    We must balance not being conformed to this world with not letting our good be spoken of as evil. (Romans 14:16) We must rely on the Holy Spirit to accomplish this task.

    Like

  3. John

    This article caused me to ask myself a question: WHY did God create Adam and Eve naked and have them live in the Garden of Eden in that state? The “WHY” of things seemed to be very important.
    David Hatton, in his book “Who Said You Were Naked?” calls the Trinity an “open society of Three”. Nothing is hidden from each other in the Godhead. And as stated in Hebrews 4’13: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. It certainly appears that the”normal” intention was that since the Trinity is completely open and exposed and vulnerable with nothing hidden, the LORD certainly wanted that same relationship with His creation and wanted us to have that with each other.
    It sure seems we have become very abnormal as human beings in all the false identities we hide behind in many of the ways we clothe ourselves and hide behind those identities.
    As for me, I prefer Father God’s “natural” state which was His everyday “normal” for us.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s