This is an example of a conversation you could have with a loved one. Many naturists, us included, are “closeted” (to borrow popular terminology) and have moments when they are required to “come out of the closet” to their closest family and friends, at the very least. While each conversation should be from the heart and not following a script, I want to provide this sample to give just a few ideas that could then be tailored to a specific situation and person with whom you are speaking.
I recall doing this with Mrs. Phil, over three years now. I had prepared some notes to keep my thoughts in line. I was so nervous, but spoke from the heart, and maybe you know the story. If not, you can read about it in the beginning. We’ve both learned a lot more in the last few years, but most of the message remains the same.
Here is what a conversation from a Christian perspective might look like. In fact, I probably need to have this type of talk with a few people soon.
Me: Hey friends. Thanks for sitting down with us. You know we greatly value our friendship and trust you guys. It’s because of our close relationship that we want to let you know some things about us that you weren’t aware of before. You know that we’ve grown in our beliefs about God and life in the last few years, but you don’t know the whole story. One of the areas where we’ve drastically changed our beliefs is when it comes to the body and how we view the human body. So, I’m just going to rip the bandaid off and let the chips fall down where they may, and tell you that we now consider ourselves Christian naturists.
Them: Naturist? I’m not even sure I know what that means. Is it bird watching? What’s that have to do with the body?
Me: I thought maybe you wouldn’t know the term. Saying it another way, we are nudists. Like, we go to nudist or naturist resorts and nude beaches and stuff. When we went to Idaho a while back, it was to enjoy natural hot springs in the buff with other people of a like mind.
Them: Whoa! OK, this is not at all what I expected. That sounds incredibly dangerous and I’m not sure how you reconcile that with your faith.
Me: I know it’s a bit out there! But it’s a good thing not to judge something you don’t understand. Believe me, I’ve been right where you are, thinking it’d be an oxymoron for a Christian to be a nudist or even a naturist. I thought they were out there rationalizing their own perverted behavior. But then I studied it more, and got to know some, and found it to be the complete opposite. That was projection on my part. I was the one with perverted thinking, having been conditioned like the rest of society, to immediately and always tie sex to nudity.
We don’t see the simple nude as rude, lewd, or obscene in and of itself. In the same way that a naked tribe would think nothing of it, or in pioneer days, bathing in a stream, or nude baptisms for the first few centuries, which is an often forgotten practice. Even our Lord, Jesus Christ was publicly naked in key moments of his ministry. His birth, baptism, the washing of feet, his cruxifixction, and resurrection, leaving burial cloths behind and being mistaken for a gardener who worked without ever soiling the expensive clothes of that day.
It was Pope John Paul II that said, “There are circumstances in which nakedness is not immodest. If someone takes advantage of such an occasion to treat the person as an object of enjoyment (even if his action is purely internal) it is only he who is guilty of shamelessness, not the other…Sexual modesty cannot then in any simple way be identified with the use of clothing, nor shamelessness with the absence of clothing and total or partial nakedness…Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment…There are certain objective situations is which even total nudity of the body is not immodest.”1
His Theology of the Body is relatively unknown in protestant circles, but very important to consider and understand. It goes to show that our ideas of modesty are off base and unhelpful, and the wake of purity culture is all the evidence that’s needed to make this point.
Sin is in the mind before any activity. We must have renewed minds. You can lust in a fully clothed situation, and you can also not lust in a nude one.
Now we not only believe you can have and enjoy non-sexual nudity in mixed company, but we have had incredible experiences for years with these types of situations, and never had a problem. In fact, we’ve had rich moments of spiritual encouragement with other Christian naturists that have enhanced our faith. That level of vulnerability is so rare. It’s stripped of any pretense and gets right down to the heart level when there is literally nothing to hide.
Them: Wow. I have so many questions. Let me ask a very personal one: you don’t get aroused at these places?
Me: No. That seems to be everyone’s fear at the beginning. It’s amazing how “normal” it becomes when everyone is nude, doing normal things we would normally be doing clothed.
Them: I guess that’s cool. You’d mentioned to us before that you used to have issues with pornography and that you don’t anymore. Did you just replace porn with being around actual naked bodies? I’m just trying to wrap my head around this bombshell.
Me: Great question, and I’m so glad you asked it. My desire for porn has vanished, in large part due to my experience with exposure to simple non-sexual wholesome nudity. And I’m certainly not alone in that. Thousands of other men and women who had porn compulsions have overcome this, and one of the main catalysts for change for them has been embracing the philosophies of naturism. You know we’ve been talking publicly about “Imago Dei” and the image of God. This explains why it’s become part of our every day language. That original intent of God’s is now deeply embedded in us. You might think we can never have such a utopia this side of heaven, but we long for the restoration of innocence and all the wrongs being made new again. We ache for the ideal that was Eden. The world isn’t going to get it, but we at least can and we do.
We would be adamantly against anything that degrades and dehumanizes another human being. We are against any objectification of any kind. Since making they shift in our minds, we see objectifying behavior rampant in the fully clothed or textile world. We opt to choose love over lust at all times.
It must be stated that we believe the notion that is so common in Christian books, teachings, and conferences, that all men are visual and can’t help themselves but to react sexually to visual stimuli is a lie that must be rejected. It has caused much of the very problem it set out to address. Jesus said it is a matter of the heart, not the eyes.
Them: It’s starting to make a bit more sense, and I’ve stopped seeing you as crazy the more I hear you talk. What else has this new belief taught you?
Me: Well, it’s a new belief to us, but it’s an old one, the oldest. We see it as God’s original intent. Many Christians seem to have their starting point from Genesis 3 and the fall, skipping right over Genesis 1 and 2, where God created humans as the pinnacle of all creation, naked and unashamed, and called it not just good, but very good. The nude human is literally the crowning glory of creation, beautiful as a sunrise. Seeing it this way changes everything. Then notice it was sinful man that created clothing, when they tried to sew fig leaves to cover up. The text says it was out of fear, not shame. When they tell God they were naked (a term unfamiliar to them before eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil) God asks them, “Who said you were naked?” Have you ever thought about that question? Or have you glossed over it like I used to? Who’s the only other character in the story that could have been influencing their thinking with lies? Yeah, the serpent. Evil still speaks all sorts of lies, and when we agree with them, bad things happen.
Them: You are literally blowing my mind right now, but I’m starting to see some things I’ve never even considered before.
Me: Exactly. We’ve found many benefits. Not just for the body, but also for the mind, the soul and spirit. When we are naked in nature, we feel grounded and connected to our Creator at a deep level. It’s a very spiritual experience, not unlike the prophets of old. Isaiah was ordered by God to walk completely naked for three years. When Saul stripped down in public, people asked if he was now among the prophets. Common nudity was normal back in Bible times. We are so incredibly private now. Ask any nurse who has seen lots of non-sexual nudity if it’s a big deal for them, and they’ll tell you it’s not.
Them: I remember now one time at a wedding you said your advice to the new couple was “sleep naked.” We thought that was funny and crazy, but you were serious!
Me: Oh yes! When you let the body breathe as it’s supposed to, there are many health benefits. It’s also the most effective stress reliever I know of. My mental health has greatly improved through this practice. It has a healing effect that’s well documented. Whether it’s anxiety or even PTSD, naturism has helped millions of people around the world. One of the greatest things has been overcoming the body shame that is heaped onto us today from the earliest of ages. Now we are so much less judgmental and see everyone as God sees them, fearfully and wonderfully made, beautiful, made in his image and worthy of respect and dignity. I mean, my wife would tell you that she’s gone from always thinking she was fat and prideful to seeing herself as beautiful and holy. That transformation cannot be understated. She lived with poor self esteem for most of her life, and the body acceptance that comes through naturism is unrivaled in countering this cultural baggage and giving body shame a death blow, like it did with me and porn.
Them: I can’t believe this! My jaw is like on the ground right now. But thank you for trusting me with this.
Me: No, thank you for being the type of friend we can open up to about this. You see, we’ve wanted to tell you this about us for some time now. But we realize how misunderstandings can cause friendships to end, and we didn’t want to risk losing our friendship. That sounds negative, but we want to share this with you because we don’t see it as a negative at all. It’s a positive thing, in so many ways, and we want you to know the whole truth. The naked truth, unvarnished. We are still the same people you know and love. We believe from the bottom of our hearts that this change in thinking has made us better versions of ourselves, better Christians, and better people as a result.
Them: That’s really cool. But I’ve gotta ask, what about the kids?
Me: Here’s one of those misunderstandings that can take place. These resorts we’ve gone to are actually family-friendly. There are people of all ages, all naked as created running around, skinny dipping, playing volleyball and pickleball and hiking, etc. Kids that grow up with all of that don’t have as many of the hangups about the body as those who don’t. Think about it, when we are so private and awkward about having matter of fact dialogue about the body and body parts and the like, they are going to learn about sex from their friends. I would rather teach them myself then have them be curious and turn to immature kids for their sex education. Just a little research shows that this can have a very positive effect on children. So at home, we actually will be around the home “comfortable” even down to nothing. Our youngest daughter has gone with us to resorts and gatherings. It’s been good for our boys to see what a real female body is in their mother, and not just the airbrushed models that Hollywood and Madison Avenue endlessly promote. It’s helped them too with their own issues of lust at their delicate age.
Them: Interesting. That’s a lot to take in. Not that I’m wanting to join you and try this, but how would I learn more?
Me: Well, that’s the last thing I’d like to tell you about. Since we’ve been doing this for years, we have started a blog to help people reconcile their faith with naturism. It’s called Aching For Eden, and there is a bunch on there, as well as a resource page with tons of information to explore.
Now I realize that this is a best case scenario, and that is sometimes not the case. We haven’t had the liberty yet to tell a lot of people, but with everyone we have talked to, it has gone remarkably well. I have friends who would testify that it’s not always the case. It’s important to be careful about who you share with and how you do it, always relying, of course, on the promptings of the spirit. I hope that everyone we open up to will be understanding and not judge without further exploration into a largely unknown subject. The strategy should be continually bathed in prayer and in love.
1John Paul II, Love and Responsibility (London: HarperCollins, 1981) quoting from the section “The Metaphysics of Shame,’ in order from: p 190, p176, p 190, p 191.