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Gnostic Heresy – Alive and Well

In my Personal Manifesto of a Christian Naturist, point #19, I stated that, “I believe dualism and Gnostic heresies have crept back into the church and most are unaware of it.” As I wrote the little “manifesto” piece, I remember wanting to throw ideas out there that would cause people to go deeper and explore further rationales. A couple of people have asked for an expansion on what I meant by gnositic heresies. This article is my attempt to answer their questions.

I must admit, I am no expert or scholar when it comes to understanding Gnosticism beyond what one can find in commentaries and reference books. Before embracing naturism, I was one of those church leaders who assumed these wrong ideas had been dealt with by the early church fathers. David L. Hatton and others turned me on to the idea that the heresies had “crept back into the church.” It didn’t take me long to subscribe to that notion and realize that I too had been unknowingly complicit in perpetuating Gnostic heresy myself for many years!

So what does it mean? That is the question! The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge.” Gnostics taught that there was a mysterious or special knowledge reserved for those with true or awakened understanding which could save one’s soul. They accepted the Greek idea of a radical dualism between God (spirit) and the world (matter). For our purposes, the Gnostic application would be spirit=good; body=bad. The goal is to free the spirit from it’s embodied prison.

The ethical behavior among the early proponents of this false doctrine varied immensely. On the one hand, you have those that avoid all “evil” matter in order to be seperate and avoid contamination. This even led to ascetic practice and literally beating their bodies into submission. The other end of the spectrum was a sort of libertinism and freedom to participate in any and all indulgences. Since they believed to possess insight regarding their divine nature, it didn’t matter how they lived. Obviously, both of these extremes exhibit grossly flawed thinking.

Both Paul and John countered these heretical teachings (Col. 2:8-23; 1 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 2:16-19; Titus 1:10-16; 1, 2, 3 John). Jesus in Revelation 2, had strong words opposing the Nicolaitans, who many believe to be a Gnostic sect. True to the definition of the word “heresy,” this teaching caused division in the church fellowship. Gnostic texts in the Apocrypha are not recognized as Scripture and were refuted by early church fathers such as Irenaeus, Against Heresies; Hippolytus, Refutations of All Heresies; Epiphanius, Panarion; and Tertullian, Against Marcion.

Chad W. Thompson in the very first chapter of his book, That Famous Fig Leaf, points out the ways Gnosticism led to some interesting conclusions within the church, infecting it with a negative view of sexuality. A church father, Origen, reputedly castrated himself believing both his body and sexuality to be his enemy. Clement of Alexandria taught that Christ didn’t even have a physical body.

After giving a few more examples, Thompson describes an evil and surprising result:

The Gnostics also devalued women, as it was their bodies that tempted men to sin. Ninth-century church father Theodore of Studius forbade monks from having even female animals, insisting that by becoming monks, they had “renounced the female sex altogether . . .” In the eleventh century Pope Gregory VII wrote, “The church cannot escape from the clutches of laity unless priests first escape the clutches of their wives.” Pope Urban II, a contemporary of Pope Gregory, ordered any priest who violated celibacy to be thrown into prison, and his wife and children sold into slavery. To Augustine, one of the most influential extra-biblical writers in Christian history, the body “presseth down the soul.” Augustine became the bishop of Hippo, and believed the penis was evil, semen was cursed, and intercourse was infected by sin even in the context of marriage.

While these ideas seem outlandish today, the dangerous doctrine of Gnostic dualism is still alive and well.

Again, Hatton mentions this throughout most of his writings. I will pull several quotes from this 20 page article on his website. He does not mince words when he confesses the following:

Our scrupulous loyalty to a prudish view of the body wasn’t just poor theology. It was an unwitting—perhaps sometimes even an idolatrous—cultural investment in heretical error.

We’ve been trained by the body taboo of church tradition to guard our speech. But no redemptive good news about our sexual nature ever came from the body shame language formulated by that taboo. Within evangelical hymnody, homily, and humor there is a subtle array of Gnostic attitudes toward the material world in general and toward the human body in particular. We often claim biblical ground for trivializing “this world” as “not our home” and for preaching a Greek dualism that neglects the importance of the body and its inherent sexual character. Pulpits are parodied for skimming over sexual issues with evasive wittiness. Expected laughter from the pew confirms the stereotype. Absence of a substantial and thorough evangelical theology of sexuality—or even a sound theology of our physical embodiment—is telltale evidence that this caricature of our uneasiness with sex is real. But this comical avoidance, and the attitude it betrays, is no joking matter in our present social climate. It’s an inexcusable offense that has surely offended our Creator for a long time. Immersed in this prudish mindset, past Bible teachers, if not lulled into Gnostic thinking themselves, have showed little concern for a creational view of the material world or for an incarnational view of the human body. The legacy of this doctrinal deficit sets an agenda for remedial theological work, starting with a godly, pure-minded attitude toward the body and its sexual physiology. Only divine truth about our sexual embodiment can drive out the false spirit of Gnostic prudery and body shame. 

His reference to divine truth is not one that is concealed for those lucky enough to have the secret insight. No, that would sound just like the Gnosticism we are siding against! He’s advocating for the simple truth revealed in God’s word and in the Edenistic ideal. He’s pleading for Christians to look beyond our culturally biased perceptions, and see humanity as God sees us.

Hatton does not trace the origin of this heresy back to the early church, but much earlier, as early as you could go… way back to Genesis and the creation story:

Three relationships simultaneously fell apart when Adam and Eve ignored God’s direct, personal guidance by imbibing that fruit: separation from God, discord with each other, and estrangement from their own bodies. Evangelical teaching on the restorative dimensions of Christ’s redemption focus almost exclusively on those first two categories. We basically ignore the third. But of the three, Adam and Eve’s bodily alienation was recorded as the first and immediate result of their gnosis-based independence in morally determining what was “good and evil.”

So this is not a new problem. It’s been around forever. It rears its ugly head and causes havoc upon all of humanity in its wake. All the ills of society, when you boil them down, are an affront to the image of God (imago dei) stamped both on our bodies and our souls. To ignore the issues of the body, is to surrender this part of ourselves to Satan’s plan and away from God’s design. So we reap what we sow, and living within the world’s system in a hyper-sex crazed culture (again, nothing new), we are forced to try to either frantically avoid all that is deemed as evil or succomb to it’s powerful allure.

Legalism or libertinism ensue. Angelism or animalism become the only apparent choices, neither one being the healthy alternative of a godly view of incarnational truth.

What’s the answer then? If this kind of thinking is so ingrained in us, how can we ever expect for the majority of Christians to experience an improved perspective? There simply are no easy answers. This view of the intertwining of body and soul is not a hidden truth. It’s been there all along! The serpent attacked the first moment he could, and he hit hard. Naturists don’t have secret knowledge. They are simply as body-friendly as God intended us to be. It’s not difficult when you accept the truth, it’s just agonizingly hard for many to see because we are blinded and conditioned by both society and by church teaching through man’s traditions.

You can read the whole of Hatton’s argument here, but I’ll close this article with this quote:

Having their sacred idol of a cultural body taboo prophetically smashed may be the need of some Christians. But the bulk of the church must be led gently, gradually. Habits of chewing legalistic fruit from “the ‘gnosis’ of good and evil” which perpetuates body shame are deep-seated. An iconoclasm of Gnostic attitudes must begin theologically and progress pastorally. What we must not do is to try preserving the status quo in a peaceful religious ghetto. God expects us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  We must work toward banishing Gnostic ideas from the Christian church, along with Gnostic porno-prudery. Both have clearly dishonored our Creator. Both have utterly failed to bring godly change to our sex-obsessed, sexually aberrant culture.

May we do our part to tactfully buck the system that has failed the world practically from the start. May we be advocates for a healthier and holier view of both body and soul.

Naked Modesty

Modesty. It was a term I grew up with my whole life. It was drilled into me as far back as I can remember. As the oldest of four daughters in a conservative Christian home, it was always impressed upon me that I was to set the example of how a Godly young woman should behave, talk, and dress. Along with my natural inclination to being a rule follower, I was comfortable with that and never questioned any of it. It’s what I was taught in church, at home and at my Christian school. I was comfortable with “dressing appropriately.” I was a good judge of modesty for myself and others. In fact, I was downright judgmental! I never stopped to question what modesty meant. The context it was used in, in my mind, it always meant dressing appropriately. It wasn’t until my husband and I became naturists that we began diving into Scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:9, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes…” In reading other versions of this text I came across Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrase of this verse and I love it! 

“And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 

So is modesty more about how we dress or more about how we act? A year ago I would have said it was absolutely about how we dress. Today, I’ve changed my mind about this and so many other things!  Modesty is an attitude of the heart and includes thinking of yourself and others rightly. A holy humility. What are your thoughts when you see the heavy girl wearing a bathing suit that’s two sizes too small? What are your thoughts when you see the man who looks differently than you? Do you play the judge? It devastates me to say I did, for years! 

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV), “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

To avoid attention-getting behavior, whether in a boastful tongue or in a gaudy style of clothing, is the modesty meant in Scripture.

David Hatton says, “For centuries, modesty was understood in those same terms, until the Victorian era gave the word a new meaning to match its prudish view of the body. In spite of this altered definition, the older meaning was retained as late as 1828, when Webster’s Dictionary continued to define modesty with no mention of clothing’s ability to produce a modest condition in the way it hid the body: “MODESTY, n. [L. modestia.] That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one’s own worth and importance. This temper when natural, springs in some measure from timidity, and in young and inexperienced persons, is allied to bashfulness and diffidence. In persons who have seen the world, and lost their natural timidity, modesty springs no less from principle than from feeling, and is manifested by retiring, unobtrusive manners, assuming less to itself than others are willing to yield, and conceding to others all due honor and respect, or even more than they expect or require. \ 2. Modesty, as an act or series of acts, consists in humble, unobtrusive deportment, as opposed to extreme boldness, forwardness, arrogance, presumption, audacity or impudence. Thus we say, the petitioner urged his claims with modesty; the speaker addressed the audience with modesty. \ 3. Moderation; decency. \ 4. In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.”

I love this! I love that historically, modesty was never about what we wear (or don’t wear). I’ve seen first hand how one can be completely nude and still completely modest! In the same way, I’ve seen how one can be completely covered and very immodest! As a naturist, I dress appropriately for the situation. I wear clothes to church because that’s what is appropriate for that situation. A few weeks ago we had naturist church with some friends. To that, I wore nothing. That was appropriate for that situation. Did I sit in the textile church and judge people based on what they were wearing? The old me would have, but the new me doesn’t even really notice what people are wearing anymore! 

Even the great Mark Twain wrote, “Modesty antedates clothes and will be resumed when clothes are no more. Modesty died when clothes were born. Modesty died when false modesty was born.”

Some may ask, what about when what you are wearing causes men to stumble? Well, I believe that if a man is going to lust, it isn’t really going to matter what I am wearing. I have heard from multiple men that when they were struggling with lust, it didn’t matter that the woman was wearing jeans and a hoodie, the lust was still there. Meaning that lust is more an issue of the heart and mind than an issue of clothing or lack of. How could it be that my husband used to struggle greatly with the issue of lust in a fully clothed world before we entered this lifestyle, and now with a renewed way of thinking we can visit a naturist resort and he has no sin issues? He has changed his way of thinking. Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We have tested what we believe to be true by going to a naturist park. Several times I’ve asked Phil if being there caused him to sin. The answer has always been the same, “Not at all!” I know he feels more alive when we spend time at that park. We love it there and we are making lots of friends! We feel like God is pleased with our new way of thinking. 

Our true modesty comes when we can look beyond what someone is or isn’t wearing and see the person that God created. When we can look beyond what the world sees as flaws and see the unique beauty that our Creator put in each and every one of us. We are all the same and we are all different and we each have amazing things to offer the world if we can get over ourselves and look past the outer facades and into the hearts of the people all around us!

Introducing Naturist Quote Graphics

We are happy to announce that we are designing social media graphics of some of our favorite naturist quotes. We want to do our part to promote the positive aspects of this healthy lifestyle. Feel free to share these wherever you’d like to! We will be designing more as time allows.

What are your favorite naturist quotes??? Sound off in the comments with the quotes you’d like to see designed as a social media graphic.

Without further ado, here’s the first batch of graphics:

Have you no shame?

Let me use this meme from our ever-growing memes page as a springboard for today’s post.

Have you no shame?

Why would I want any?

I absolutely love that attitude and believe it to be the godly response to an ungodly question. What really is a shame is that we as a society ask such questions and think this way. We’ve equated a portion of the image of God in us (the body) with the feeling caused by our wrongdoing. Allow me to try to explain a bit better…

It sounds a whole lot like the scene way back in Genesis with our first ancestors in Adam and Eve. Shame is not of God. However, it shows up on the scene fairly early in the human narrative. Let’s examine this phenomenon.

God utilized the refrain “it is good” after creating something, but after creating both the male and female form in his image, he says “it is very good” in Genesis 1:31. They are the crowning glory of creation and were so in the unclothed state in which we are born in and the same state in which we shall depart this life (see Job 1:21).

Genesis 2:25 states that Adam and Eve were naked and without shame. In fact, shame did not exist at this time, neither did the concept of clothing, or the word “naked” when you think about it.

The crafty serpent convinces both Eve and Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and their eyes were open to a whole new world. 

When a child does something strictly forbidden by their parent, what is the first thing they do? They want to hide the evidence, cover up the infraction, bury their face in their hands. Not much has changed.

Adam and Eve miss their regularly scheduled walk with God, so God calls out to them. They are hiding (Gen. 3:8-10). In my “Personal Manifesto of a Christian Naturist” point #11, I maintain that they covered themselves out of fear, not shame. The editor of fig leaf forum argued this point with a critic:

There we have it—right from the mouth of Adam. It wasn’t shame at all.
It was fear. They realized that they were vulnerable, open,
unprotected—and guilty—so they ‘covered’ themselves and hid. They were
attempting to cover and hide themselves from what and whom they feared
(Genesis 2.17; Genesis 3.9-10). I believe Scripture categorically
states within these passages that fear is what was motivating Adam and
Eve after their fall, not shame.

The text could easily have had Adam saying, “I was ashamed because I
was naked, so I hid.” Then my critic would have some ground to stand
on. But it doesn’t say that. The Hebrew word that is translated
“shame” in Genesis 2.25 occurs 114 times in the Old Testament, yet
it’s not used again to indicate shame until Judges 3.25! The text says
that Adam was “afraid.” The Hebrew word translated “afraid” in Genesis
3.10 occurs 192 more times in the Old Testament. Not once is it ever
translated as any word even remotely close to meaning “shame.”

Genesis 3.21 does indeed tell us that God clothed Adam and Eve with
“garments of skin.” Again, my critic seems to insinuate that mankind’s
shame was the motivation behind this action. If we are to rely
strictly upon what is actually revealed by Scripture in our search for
understanding, and not on tradition or presumption or speculation,
then I must conclude that there is no evidence that Adam and Eve were
ever ashamed of their nakedness. Not before the fall. Not after the
fall. Rather, they were fearful because they were naked. Are we then
to assume that God covered them because He was ashamed of their
nakedness? I don’t see how Scripture would support this possibility
either. Only two chapters earlier, in Genesis 1.31, “God saw all that
he had made, and it was very good.” Scripture says “all”—including the
naked man and the naked woman.

Humans are the only creatures that cover up. My dog may hide if he understands that I am displeased with him. My kids? Well, as a parent, I am more pleased by the better response of my kids owning up to their mistakes than hiding or trying to cover it up. There is something about being uncovered and laid bare before the one to whom we must give an account (Hebrews 4:13), because after all, nothing is ever hidden from God’s sight. It’s always better to be open and vulnerable, not just in the outer garments, but also in the inner spirit (which is of great worth in God’s sight – 1 Peter 3:4).

An example is from church history of genuine and complete openness devoid of shame would be in regards to baptism. Dr. Michael Wilson writes: In the first four centuries of the Church many of our Christian forbears found no contradiction whatsoever between nakedness at worship, and holiness. Rather, they found deep theological significance in nakedness at baptismal rites. These were not private occasions. Baptismal candidates found themselves ‘naked in the sight of all, and unashamed,’ as Cyril of Alexandria reminds his flock.1

Our experience at naturist parks and nude beaches is that shame is practically absent. What’s often in its place is an innocent joy. In this regard, it’s really quite different than the public pool or a “textile” beach. This is one of the parts of the lifestyle that I love so much! We can be naked and unashamed and full of joy and life. It’s almost as if it’s the way we were created! In a fallen world, can we restore the innocence of Eden? Jesus says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

We hold on to that promise, knowing that we too are being made new. The sins we commit in the body are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Jesus bore our guilt and our shame and nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). We can live free in the knowledge and experience of close relationship with the God of Eden, without the need to hide a thing.

Are there verses that equate nakedness with shame? I would say no, but others who only look on the surface, would say yes. However, upon closer examination, taking the verses in context, you will discover that there is always something else at play that is causing the shame other than the simple state of nakedness. (Read this article from nakedandunashamed.org about each of these verses.)

Much can be said on this subject, and semantics do play a part. However, the subtle distinction between fear and shame, hiding from nakedness or because of wrongdoing is an important one. David L. Hatton puts this whole scene from the fall in such beautiful poetic form:

ORIGIN OF BODY SHAME

Dressed up as a serpent in crafty disguise,
A demon attempted, by using his lies,
To blot out the beautiful image that God
Had made of Himself out of hand-woven sod.

As naked as truth from the day of their birth,
And destined by God to be rulers of earth,
Both Adam and Eve were alive by God’s breath,
But Satan used knowledge to put them to death.

The serpentine liar pretended to heal
Their blind faith in God for what’s moral and real.
His trick by that Gnostic fruit opened their eyes,
Remaking their minds independently wise.

“You see for yourself, God left both of you nude!
Your unhidden bodies are shamefully lewd!”
Our first parents listened to what Satan said,
For now their life-bond to the Maker was dead.

The diet of conscience controls how it guides,
Which sins it allows, or what goodness it hides.
So, God found and asked them, with leaves round their waist,
“Who said you were naked? What fruit did you taste?”

Some call it God’s will to keep chewing that fruit,
Embracing its scruples in zealous pursuit,
Maligning His gift of our wonderful skin
By calling the sight of its nudity sin.

But others discover a godlier view,
Rejecting this prudery’s body taboo,
Resisting the porn that is wedded to shame
Passed on from the devil’s original claim.

These temples are sacred, not sordid, unclean.
If you would be holy, don’t call them obscene.
Our hearts can be dirty, or lustful and bad,
But bodies are closest to truth when unclad.

— David L. Hatton, 1/23/2009from Poems Between Birth and Resurrection ©2013 by David L. Hatton (www.pastordavidrn.com)

_____________________

1 Margaret R Miles, Carnal Knowing – Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West. (Boston: Beacon Press. 1989) p 33

Charles Spurgeon on Christian Liberty

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is considered by some to be the greatest preacher in history. Once the pastor of the largest Protestant church in the world, he was also a champion for Christian liberty.

While this blog is devoted to Christian naturism (or biblical naturism), C.H. Spurgeon had nothing to say on the matter. However, I found an excerpt from a lengthy letter that he wrote to the Daily Telegraph on September 23, 1874, responding to his critics about cigar smoking. I thought his arguments and logic for smoking to the glory of God to be very powerful. I also surmised that one could insert naturism in place of cigar smoking, and that the same point could be made in the same flow of logical thinking.

First, here’s the quote untouched:

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to smoke tobacco is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin. Together with hundreds of thousands of my follow-Christians I have smoked, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it. There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. The expression “smoking to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.1

Spurgeon also said thist: Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God.2

As I read this quote, it became quite apparent that as Spurgeon smoked cigars to the glory of God, I practice naturism to the glory of God. As surely Spurgeon used the cigar smoking and camaraderie that comes with that practice as an opportunity to be a light and example to others that may never enter a church building, I do the same with naturism.

But there are always critics and people who will project their own sin onto others and call out what others do in Christian liberty as if it were sin. So let’s apply and adapt the quote from Spurgeon, replacing smoking with practicing naturism and see how that would read:

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to {practice Christian naturism} is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin. Together with hundreds of thousands of my follow-Christians I have {been socially nude}, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it. There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. The expression “{practicing naturism} to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing {times I have obtained through social nude fellowship} I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.

And: Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that {chaste social nudity} makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to {practice Christian naturism} to the glory of God.

I don’t know what Spurgeon would think of me changing his words, but I think the same could be said of naturism as he said about cigar smoking. I am against any pharisaic and legalistic adding the precepts of man to the commands of God. I hope you’re with me on that!

________________________________

1 G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, vol 5 (London: Cassel, 1923), 138-40.

2 Quoted in Justin D. Fulton, Charles H. Spurgeon, Our Ally (Chicago: H. J. Smith & Co., 1892), 345.

The “comfortablist” and the hot springs (Jason’s interview)

Today, as are interviewing our friend, Jason. We met Jason online and later spent a week with him and his wife and some other couples down in Florida. We have yet to visit their favorite hot springs…

Q: Would you tell us how you got into naturism?

A: I grew up in a Christian home where no one was ever naked and clothing was always required. I started sleeping naked when I was about 8 or 9, but locked my bedroom door because I didn’t want anyone to know. Once, I visited my cousin and it was summertime and there were a bunch of kids at his house. We stripped down and ran around like “lost boy” from Peter Pan all day. I suppose nudity was always intriguing to me. I found it curious that our local library hid the photography books that depicted nudity and that those books had to be requested from a librarian. It seemed to me that nudity was natural — the way God meant us to be from the beginning. I never could see the lie that humans’ bodies were shameful after the Fall. 

Q: How did you bring this viewpoint into your family? 

A: We moved across the country several years ago and decided that since we were getting a new start, we’d try to change the way our children grew up and understood the body. We wanted them to have a better experience — one that didn’t involve delving into pornography for answers about our bodies — than we did. We didn’t want them to be ashamed of their bodies or be led down a road to sin, so we had a family meeting and announced that, starting then, we were making it a baseline that “bodies are good” and meant to be seen.

“bodies are good”

We brought all of the children to a few places where we could all be naked naturally so that we could adapt. And we started being naturally nude more around the house so that they would feel comfortable to do likewise if they wanted.

Q: Do you have a better term than naturist?

Around our house, we usually use the term “comfortablist.” If it’s more comfortable to be naked, be naked! There’s no law that says you have to be naked all the time, but if it’s practical, why not? If there’s no good reason to wear clothing, then don’t. I look for the day when our society returns to this practical wisdom.

Q: What are some benefits you’ve seen from this way of life?

A: We have a large family with lots of boys and girls. Practically, it has made for much less drama for our children. We don’t have to deal with squeals of “he saw me naked!” from the girls when the bathroom door is opened anymore. And for the teens, we have seen a very positive  response in the way our boys treat their sisters as well as other girls. They also have not had issue with pornography addiction. Once the human body is no longer hidden away, the mystery does not draw you into obsession. Our children have been taught to appreciate the beauty of God’s design without cause for lust.

We’ve made it a point to teach our children that “Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code.”

When our children are learning about classical art, there’s no need to hide their eyes from depictions of nudity, as do so many Christians we know. They’re not shocked by the sight of bare bodies and this allows us to discuss, in more depth, the artworks themselves.

Q: One thing you have shared with us is that you frequent hot springs with people from all walks of life and different beliefs. How has this provided an opportunity to represent not only body positivity, but also an authentic Christian example for people who might otherwise not be so open to learning about Christianity?

A: After we moved to the Pacific Northwest, which is known as the least-churched region of our nation, I wanted to change our circle of influence. I ended up co-founding a hot springs adventure group with a focus on body positivity and a welcome to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. That has been remarkably successful. We have had men and women from all walks of life as well as a full spectrum of age groups join and participate in our group. It was a little rocky at first, but we established a “Naked is Natural” philosophy and it has led to lifelong relationships and friendships and a place where so many have experienced safety and peace of mind in experiencing the goodness of natural nudity.

“Naked is Natural”

My wife and I have had many opportunities to share Jesus with members of this group and see lives changed.  Someone I once knew called this “proximity evangelism.” If we aren’t near people who need Jesus, how do we show them His love? If we’re too scared to jump into the activities where the lost are, how can they have an opportunity to know the freedom and joy of Christ? Just last weekend, a couple who described themselves as “ex-Catholic” spent the weekend in our cabin and they were very curious to find out “what made us tick.” This led to a welcomed discussion of the things of God deep into the wee hours of the night. The next morning, one of them remarked, “If we had only known you twenty years ago, our lives would have been so different.”  I replied, ‘We are all alive now and it’s not too late!”

If not for our willingness to follow Jesus into baring our bodies, we would not have had the opportunity to bare our souls.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

A: If someone reading this is questioning, I just want to encourage them to make the leap. There are too many benefits to taking the bold step to step out of our clothing and step into God’s greater plans for our lives. Don’t allow anything – clothing included – to stop you from pursuing Jesus wherever He goes and wherever He leads.

An “Eden” Experience (Interview of Bob Horrocks)

Continuing our series of interviews, today Bob Horrocks joins us to answer questions pertaining to Christian naturism. Bob is an online friend who lives “across the pond,” so we unfortunately haven’t had the privilege of meeting in person.

Q: Could you briefly tell us your profession, and how you came to be a naturist?

A: My name is Bob Horrocks and I have been an ordained Anglican minister since 1982. I am currently serving as a pioneer, mission-focused Chaplain to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands off the North-East coast of Africa which although having their own government comes under the jurisdiction of Spain. I’ve been here for nearly four years now. I became a naturist around 2005 after finding myself on a beach on holiday which unknowingly turned out to be a naturist beach. I was lying on the beach with my wife when a man walked past naked. I nudged my wife who was deeply engrossed in a book and seemed disinterested. After looking around I realised everyone else I could see had no clothes on either. Wanting to go for a swim I decided, “when in Rome do as the Romans do” and stripped off my costume. I walked rapidly across the beach and into the sea up to my waist, no matter how cold it was. The experience was fine. I enjoyed swimming around and realised that nobody was watching or bothering and life on the beach was normal except for no clothes. I sauntered back to my towel, dried off “au naturel” in the sunshine, and later went for another more relaxed swim. Later in the holiday I did the same on another beach. It was an amazing relaxed and freeing experience but as a Christian minister should I have been doing this? I went back to studying the Bible afresh with newly opened eyes and quickly discovered that God was fine with us being naked. The issues of shame that had been instilled in me since childhood were simply products of culture and not issues of Christian living according to the Bible.

Q: Why do you think people see Christian AND naturist as an oxymoron?

A: Most Christians in western culture have been brought up in a culture which has historically come to view the body as something to be hidden away under clothes. Nakedness has been equated to sexual expression and a culture of shame has grown up around the naked human body. Christians have been partly responsible for this in their attempts to control people’s sexual expression and thereby actually increasing the sexualisation of the human body. Clothing actually does nothing to supress lust and often accentuates it. Christians have fallen into the trap of equating nakedness with sin alongside a culture which uses intimately revealing clothing and nakedness to entice and seduce. Such a heady combination has created an unhealthy and unbiblical attitude to the human body.

Q: You imply in your book that you are a Christian before you are a naturist. Would you care to elaborate?

A: Whatever labels we or others place upon ourselves the key is what comes first and foremost in our lives. “Who are we?” is the real question here and I can say that first and foremost I am a Christian. My identity is in Christ and with Christ, everything else is secondary. Christian is the noun which describes me and other additions are simply adjectives describing the type of Christian I am. I can therefore say that I am a naturist Christian. That can be elaborated in order of importance in additional ways such that I could say that I am an Anglican, Evangelical, Charismatic, Naturist Christian and so on.

Q: What are some ways you would say naturism has enhanced your faith?

A: Naturism has been a revealing experience in many ways. It has helped me to see further beyond the cultured blinkers of both church and society revealing more of the real focus of our faith in Christ. My studies of the Bible have enabled me to strip away the accumulated layers which have hidden some of the truth and theology of the Scriptures. Being naked in nature has been somewhat of an “Eden” experience walking naked with God in the garden. Spiritually it has awakened my senses to the beauty of God’s creation and His image reflected in our own bodies.

Q: What would you say to someone who is having trouble reconciling naturism with Christianity?

A: Read your Bibles with an openness to God’s Holy Spirit to see what God is actually telling us. God is the one who brought all things into being and created us “naked and unashamed”. God is the one who pointed to the author of sin when he asked Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” In our bodies we reflect the very image of God. To hide away that image and to equate it as being sinful is a blasphemous action which calls into question any sense of God’s perfection. 

For a more detailed analysis read my book “Uncovering the Image” by Bob Horrocks.

Click on the image to download a free pdf:

Or buy a hard copy via Amazon.

Note from Phil O. and The Mrs: We recommend Bob’s book!

A Message to Wives

April 2019, Phil told me he had an idea of what we could do for our 20th wedding anniversary. I was excited to hear his thoughts! He told me there was a Bed and Breakfast that was about 3 hours from our house that was part of a vineyard. I thought it was weird that he wanted to go to a Bed and Breakfast because we had talked before about them and how we didn’t really like the idea of them. He then told me that it was clothing optional.

I immediately said no, never! I was so angry.

I couldn’t believe that he was suggesting we go to this place! I told him to drop it, it wasn’t even an option. I would NEVER do that!! I thought that was the end of our discussion on social nudity of any kind. We ended up camping on private land for our anniversary and Phil spent basically the entire time nude. I did not! Then October 18th came. You can read that story here. When Phil told me he was a nudist and had an online group of Christian naturist friends, he gave me three options of what to do with that information. 

  1. I could forbid him from being part of this group with which he had developed relationships.
  2. I could allow him to continue to participate in the group and not participate myself.
  3. I could join him.

I want to go through some of my thinking with you and then share with you why I chose what I did. (If you’ve been following our blog you know I chose #3.)

I knew I couldn’t choose Option 1 because he had said that the naturism mindset had helped free him from a 20 year porn addiction. How could I spit in the face of that and not allow him any part of this lifestyle? That would be cruel and insensitive on my part. I knew the struggle he had been dealing with, partly anyway, and I had prayed for his freedom from it. How could I be the one to judge if this was the answer God was providing, as wrong as it felt to me at the time?

I knew I couldn’t choose Option 2 because some amount of trust had been broken. He had been participating in this group without my knowledge for several months and I didn’t even really know what the group was! And last I knew before that day, he had a porn problem. I didn’t trust him enough to choose Option 2. There was no way in the world I was going to let him be involved in something like that where I couldn’t monitor what was going on and who he was seeing.

I kept telling him that I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. I didn’t want to participate with him because I felt like it was wrong, but I didn’t feel like I could remain married to him and go with Option 1 or 2. For a couple days I considered leaving him. It felt like my world was crashing in on me. I just knew he was going to ruin our lives. Someone was going to find out and tell our pastor or our families and then the whole world would know and everyone would hate us. I didn’t want that for my kids and I didn’t want it for me!

However, during the first couple weeks of this journey, we spent hours and hours and hours reading together and praying together. I had never felt so close to Phil spiritually as I did during those two weeks. God continuously spoke to my heart and told me to trust Him and to trust Phil. This was so hard! Satan didn’t want that battle won. There was more than one occasion that I was in a spiritual battle. Satan wants to keep us trapped. He wants to keep us living in bondage to anything that allows us a closer relationship to the Lord. The way I thought about myself and my body was unknowingly keeping me from having a closer relationship with the Lord. The addiction that Phil had was keeping him from a closer relationship with the Lord. When we trap ourselves into a certain way of thinking without leaving room for the Holy Spirit to speak truth to our hearts, that is bondage. Even when that way of thinking has been drilled into you your whole life! We need to step back regularly and examine the things we have been told. We need to make sure the Scripture supports the narrative. I came across a quote that a friend posted recently that spoke to this.

“The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh Biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.” – John Stott, in a Christianity Today interview.

I chose Option 3 just a week into our studying and praying. Phil was telling me he’d been on a journey of discovery and that he had been studying Scripture and praying. Part of the reason I fell in love with Phil was because of his deep faith and devotion to the Lord. When I married him I was submitting to him as the head authority in our household under God. I don’t know how many times I said, “You wouldn’t knowingly lead us astray right?. Of course the answer was always no. There comes a point, even if I’m not 100% comfortable with the direction God is leading me in, that I have to surrender and hand over the reins to one who is more capable than I am at taking care of my family. I pray often for God’s protection over my family and his favor. I know that He will take care of us and if the time ever comes that we are outed and we have to give an explanation for why we believe what we believe, I know the Lord will take care of us then too.

Since putting my trust in the Lord and my husband, I can tell you the rewards have been great!

Phil’s victory over his addiction continues, I am free from my negative thoughts about myself and my body. Our marriage relationship is the best it’s ever been. We are honest with one another and our communication has drastically improved! He and the Lord have an amazing relationship too. I am constantly seeing the things God is teaching him and I love who he has become as the spiritual leader of our home! The Lord is leading me through my husband into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. Our children are seeing the differences in us as well and are digging deeper into their own relationship with God. God is on the move in our family and we are embracing the journey! I’m very thankful I listened to the Holy Spirit and followed my husband’s lead. God put us together for a reason.

Wives, if your husband is on his naturist journey and you are saying, “no, I will never do that!”, firstly, I get it! However, I encourage you to stop and take a step back. Don’t just say that because you’ve spent your whole life wearing clothes and people have always told you that naked was sinful. Take the time and dig deep into Scripture and see what the Bible actually has to say about it. Ask your husband for some reading material on the subject or just go find it yourself so he doesn’t know you’re researching and pressure you. HUSBANDS, DON’T PRESSURE YOUR WIFE WHILE SHE IS ON HER OWN JOURNEY! There is a lot of reading material on our resources page that you can check out. The reading that helped me the most was www.mychainsaregone.org

Please feel free to reach out to me via our contact page. That goes directly to my email. I would love to talk with you and help you however I can on your journey. I won’t pressure you either, but I will encourage you. Our support and respect for our husbands is so important to them! If your husband is a Christ follower and is striving to love you like Christ loves the church, he desires good things for you and it is very likely that the Lord has led him on this path. As the wife of a Godly man it is our job to respect our husband as the spiritual head of our home under God. God placed your husband there to be your protector and to help lead you. In my very humble opinion, the least we can do is a thorough investigation into naturism and Scripture with an open mind and heart. At a minimum, you have spent time reading God’s word and in prayer and that is always a win! Realize that God may want more for your life, and He may be using your husband to lead you there. Don’t disregard what God may be trying to do especially if you haven’t taken the time to do the in-depth studying. If you are starting your journey, please send me an email and let me know so I can be praying for you! May the Lord bless you as you prayerfully consider these things!

David L. Hatton’s “Meeting at the River”

David L. Hatton’s “Meeting at the River” is a sort of parable-like fictional narrative with opportunities to present ideas throughout. I liken it to William P. Young’s The Shack, in that regard, although a completely different subject matter. Here is Hatton’s own description of the book:

“In this semi-autobiographical, fictional tale and intellectual treatise, my divided view of the body is challenged by an encounter with the past. As a bivocational pastor and nurse, I’m shocked when some from a religious crowd in ancient dress disrobe at my favorite swimming hole to be baptized totally naked! Antiquity offers a fatal blow to the old wall in my mind that keeps my experiences of hospital nudity from confronting the taboos of my upbringing. When that wall topples, I gain a new perspective on life in Bible times, a deeper theological appreciation of human embodiment, and a pricked conscience about the root cause of our culture’s obsession with pornography. Join me in unlearning deceptions as old as Eden, in relearning truths as relevant as our children’s future, and in facing the test of my transformed thinking by the further challenge of four skinny-dipping Bible college students.”

With that backdrop, I’d like to share some of my favorite selections from my reading of the book and what it means to me. 

“When certain portions of the body are concealed and considered evil to look upon, the normal curiosity of youth about what is hidden leads to temptation.

Then, upon exposure, the sight of those forbidden areas can wound the conscience. Even worse, these conditions empower the wicked to make a show of those hidden parts for truly corrupt purposes, even to enslave young souls in lustful thoughts.”

This is the elder speaking at the river to explain what a healthy and godly view of the body is. His words certainly resonate with me. This was my experience growing up. From the first time I saw “certain portions of the body” at an early age and was taught to avoid it, temptation abounded. I was a young soul enslaved in lustful thoughts, and grew into a man who was equally enslaved. After embracing a renewed view of the body, I was elated that these problems vanished. As Hatton so eloquently put it, “Prudery lays the groundwork for a pornographic mindset.”

“When sermons teach that [Bathsheba’s] beauty caused King David’s lust, they expound not the words of Scripture but the minds of preachers.”

I had been conditioned to only react one way (sexually) to any sight of nudity. This nagging issue stunted my spiritual growth, strained my marriage, and affected how I saw members of the opposite sex (even fully clothed). I hated myself for how I would objectify women and wanted to rid myself of this bondage once for all. But common methods afforded by the church world didn’t work. The problem was never in the dress or undress of women around me or on screens. The problem was my own mind.

“When people teach that the human body is dirty or obscene, it creates fertile ground for pornography. This is why porn addiction is so strong in our society, even among Christians. Our culture is inundated with a sexualized view of the body. I’m sorry to say that the church has been a key player in spreading that idea.”

I’m sorry to say that so have I. But that will be no more. As a Christian leader, I used to think I was a pretty good guy with a bad secret. But now I know that in reality, I’m a pretty bad guy with a great secret. The great secret is that God forgives and renews, and lustful thinking does not have to be a lifelong struggle. I used to think I’d never kick my bad habits. I’d hear older men speak of ongoing issues with their thought life. I didn’t want to be that, and by God’s grace I won’t be. 

Then comes the issue of prudery for the sake of modesty. As if there’s not enough guilt and shame going on without adding a bunch on top. Hatton addresses what modesty actually is and should be understood as being:

“Holy humility is the divine modesty humans need. When fully embraced, it brings death to shame. By humbly and gratefully accepting what we really are, we never feel less than we are when naked, nor more than we are when finely dressed. This bathing at the river, where nothing is hidden, quickly unravels the immodesty of pride. At the same time, being accepted in your humble nakedness, by friends and family and others, is healing. It breaks the bondage to ungodly shame over the size or shape or blemishes of the body that God has given you.”

Some of the modern attempts at modesty actually fly in the face of what Paul was instructing Timothy and the church in the New Testament. They are a source of pride, and not humility, which is the point. Simply covering certain body parts may actually incite more lust, drawing attention to it and stimulating the imagination, than if the mystery were revealed and the humble unclad body were seen in its entirety. 

It’s sad how much of an effect our culture has on us. Without a renewed mind, we could be tempted to think that anyone who does not look like a model is less beautiful. I reject that notion outright. Body shame is shameful. All humans are God’s image bearers and deserve respect as such.

“Christians will never have a radical reformation in how they view the naked body, until they can distinguish their devotion to culture from their understanding of Scripture.”

The twisted part of Christian thought when it comes to the body is that a girl in a bikini in a suggestive pose is somehow more decent and less obscene than a woman wearing no clothes just going about her day as normal. Which is natural and which is unnatural? The thinking is backwards. I’ve been complicit in both spreading that idea and falling victim to it’s deceitful outcomes. I used to always repent of my secret sin. Now I must repent of having taught the dangerous ideas that once entrapped me and enslave so many today. As Hatton summarizes: 

“God cannot bless the deception of body shame. Nor does He ever cease to bless our naked flesh as a sanctuary for His presence. He never calls what is good evil. Nor will He sanction errors about His incarnated image, even if His own children preach them. Such lies are a great stumbling block, leading multitudes to trip and fall into the very pit they warn against. And because church leaders have adopted and spread this as though it were part of the Gospel itself, then it is their duty to repent and make restitution.”

The Exact Opposite (an interview)

This is the first of several interview posts that we will have from time to time. Today we are interviewing Jim and Kim. They were online naturist friends that became friends IRL (in real life). They are wonderful people, and were instrumental in our own story and journey into Christian naturism. So let’s jump right in!

Q: Jim, would you briefly tell us how you got into naturism?

A: It’s a bit of a long story, but I will attempt to give you the cliff notes version. I had been a pastor for about 13 years, and my wife and I were visiting in the home of some friends when during the course of the visit our friends asked us if we would be willing to help them out with a family issue. They went on to inform us that their relatives were nudists and asked us if we would be willing to have a sit down with them and try to talk them out of being nudists from a Bible basis. We agreed that we would indeed try to help them out of this lifestyle that we believed to be straight out of hell itself. We asked them to give us a week to do a thorough Bible study on the subject and that we would circle back around with them to review our findings. What we found during our Bible study certainly did not match what we believed and had been told our whole lives.

What we found in the Word of God was the exact opposite of what we thought we would find. 

We went back the next week to go over our findings with our friends who were equally as shocked. When asked what to do about what we had learned, we responded that we have always believed that if God is for something, then we are for it. And if God is against something, then we are against it. It was very clear to us that God intended us to be naked and not ashamed from the beginning, and we could find nowhere in scripture that He had ever changed His mind. In fact, we now believe that it is Satan who convinced Adam and Eve to cover themselves in fear (based on God’s “who told thee” question) and that is it Satan who is happy with people hiding the image of God in their bodies.

Q: Wow, we just love that story! Well, what are some benefits you’ve seen from this way of life?


A: We have found several important benefits. The first is that living as God intended from the beginning brings a closeness to God, nature, and other people that just cannot be found any other way. The body image / self image improvement that comes from accepting the beauty of God’s most important creation with all of it’s “flaws” and without any of society’s expectations is so liberating that it perfectly represents the Bible as it states to know Christ truly makes one “free” indeed. The health benefits from vitamin D absorption through the skin make it clear that God intended your skin to be naked. Lastly, the porn proofing of society through the commonplace of nonsexual nakedness simply cannot be denied. When nonsexual nakedness is common then women (and men) are no longer viewed as sexual objects, but rather just another part of God’s beautiful creation. We have found that children who are raised in a naturist lifestyle have less self image problems, less porn problems, less gender confusion issues and overall are better adjusted kids with a way less sexualized view of society.

Q: Excellent points! On the flip side of that, what are perhaps some of the greatest misconceptions about Christian Naturism?

A: By far and away the biggest misconception that we have found is people’s belief that naturists are a bunch of sexual perverts and deviants. 

In the vast majority of cases there is absolutely nothing that could be further from the truth.

True naturists are way less sexualized than society as a whole due to the commonplace of nonsexual nakedness. We have found that when someone hears that you believe in a biblical naturist lifestyle, in most cases, they instantly label you a pervert in need of repentance, not realizing that they themselves are the one’s promoting Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve rather than God’s original intent.

Q: That’s unfortunately too true! You’re on a mission to change that. Can you tell us about your site www.nakedandunashamed.org?

A: The website was created as a resource for the Biblical view of the naked body. We have listed the occasions in scripture where nakedness is found and have shown the commonplace of nonsexual nudity in Bible times… both Old and New Testament. We have also listed the occasions where God commanded nudity, influenced nudity through the Holy Spirit, and shown overall that the naked body is neither a sin nor a shame. We have also examined the verses that are taken out of context and/or misdefined to be used to defend Satan’s view of the body.  We regularly add articles written to take a more in depth view of the scriptures, as well, and make practical application of the information.

Q: It’s a great resource for sure, and we’re thankful for it. What’s your hope for the church in regards to a Biblical view of the body?

A: Our hope is that more and more Christians will take an honest and open look at what the Bible has to say about our naked bodies. We also pray that Christians will decide to actually love each other unconditionally… even those with whom they disagree. We have found that is not the case with most people, but it is what God demands of us. Whether you agree or disagree with the Word of God regarding naturism we pray that you will retain a sweet spirit towards all people.

Q: Amen. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?


A: We have found that the knee jerk reaction to naturism of most Christians is shock and rejection of a fellow Christian. Most will not even have a civil discussion based on the objective authority of the Word of God, not our opinions or thoughts of what we wish the Bible said. We have found that those who will at least look at the Bible on the subject will come away with a new view of God and His most prized creation… you!