Does the story of Noah and Ham justify racism and slavery? Many used to think it did. Does it support the prudish view that you are not to see another person naked? Many today think it does. Upon closer examination, however, it does neither.
It comes down, like so many other objections, to simple Hebrew euphemisms. Watch the short video to see the explanation:
A perspective of Michael Heiser’s that I would agree with comes from his “The Naked Bible Podcast” (I love the name, and it’s not even a naturist podcast!) Here is a downloadable transcript. This great episode about this oft misunderstood passage rehashes the scholarly work of Bergsma and Hahn found here.
What IS clear is that there is something way beyond simple nudity at play here. And yet, this remains one of the most common objections of all against the practice of non-sexual social nudity. There’s not much else to say about this that is not covered already by the video or the podcast link.
One other resource that would be beneficial to anyone who brings this story up against Christian naturists would be “Who Said You Were Naked?” by David L. Hatton. While it does not bring up this story, it is a clarion call to those who have had those knee-jerk reactions like this of body shame and porno/prudery in their theological framework to think more deeply and be more body friendly like the God who created us is.
On page 192 he says:
When Gnostic prudery’s enchantment is broken, a mental veil is lifted. The blind legalism of deceptively “opened” eyes is replaced by a human-friendly vision of our incarnate nature. Body shame insulated us from a proper perception of ourselves. Body acceptance mentally restores not only a human-friendly attitude about our embodiment, but a Creator-honoring perspective on His handiwork.
A variety of resources and evidences confirms this awareness. One is a careful, thoughtful review of Scripture itself, but only when done with the culture-tinted spectacles of prudery removed. Then we will see that, unlike today, those in Bible times were familiar with routines that made occasional nudity a normal part of life. A human-friendly rereading of the Bible can also show us how God uses our physical sexuality to symbolize His divine plan for human salvation and how our bodies visually reflect certain divine attributes or convey divine message about Himself.
I agree with Hatton, not only on these points, but also the conviction he has written about– that once you know the truth, you must speak the truth as a way of making restitution for the wrong and harmful interpretations the church has historically baptized as gospel.
See all posts and videos in the “Objections” series here.
The book of Revelation was written in Apocalyptic genre. Our bookstores today don’t carry books in that category. There are no Apocalyptic sections or aisles to peruse. The highly symbolic nature of this style of writing is very foreign to us. Revelation also has over 400 allusions to the Old Testament. If we knew our Old Testaments better, our interpretations of this prophetic book would be more in tune with the author’s intent. As always, historical background and grammatical context are key to arriving at a good understanding of the intended meaning of the text. That was our approach to the following video.
I just love the way Jesus knows his original audience and shines a light directly on what needs to be addressed with scathing accuracy. That the World May Know with Ray Vander Laan points out the following details about Laodicea’s history:
Laodicea was renowned for three main industries:
A banking center for the province of Asia Minor, including a gold exchange; The textile center where glossy, black wool was woven into garments called trimata that were prized in the Roman world; The location of a major medical school known worldwide and where an eye salve called Phyrigian powder was made from a local stone.
Revelation 3:14-22 makes a lot more sense when you know these details.
In 60 AD an earthquake destroyed the city. Unlike surrounding cities, Laodicea refused funds from Rome to rebuild the city because they prided themselves on their own wealth. Their banking institution even minted its own coins that said the words, “We did it ourselves.” (See Bema podcast)! In their pride, they confided in themselves leaving little room for God (sounds familiar). They only sore spot was the source of water.
Laodicea was situated between Hierapolis and Colossae. Hierapolis was known for it’s hot mineral water and Colossae had cold spring water. Water had to be piped in from 6 miles to Laodicea. The mix of hot and cold caused the water in this town to be, you guessed it, lukewarm!
All of these facts make Jesus’ words sting all the more. In this passage, Jesus is not saying that nudity is a sin. Far from it. He’s comparing and contrasting several areas to point out the spiritual need of the people. They aren’t rich, they’re poor, spiritually. They aren’t healing blindness, they ARE blind, spiritually. They don’t have luxurious black wool garments, they are naked and need white clothes (Lookup Revelation 19:8 to see how the text itself interprets the fine linen we are to wear). Compare and contrast.
Some people insist on reading Revelation literally. Others spiritualize everything allegorically. I choose to read it naturally. If it’s a symbol (commonly known as one) let it be a symbol. If it’s a literal reference, let it be one. You can’t read all of Revelation literally. Otherwise (just one example) the flat earthers may be right about the four corners of the earth (Rev. 7:1)! We know that to be an expression meant to convey the idea of the whole world. That one is obvious. Psalm 50:10 is an example outside of Revelation showing how numbers need to be weighed, not measured. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What about hill #1001? Does he cease to own the cattle from then on? Or is all the earth the Lord’s and everything in it?
A strict literal reading might in some small way seem to indicate that nakedness is shameful. However, this is not the natural reading of the passage. The poverty and destitution associated with nakedness, before the invention of the loom, is what was shameful. Is being poor or blind a sin? No. Those are the other word pictures given in context. The point isn’t to show these pitiful conditions as sinful in and of themselves. The point was to show that when you trust in yourself and try to prove you have no need for God, you are actually to be pitied for your spiritual condition of weakness.
There is great danger in pride and self-confidence. Let’s not let that also define how we approach sacred texts, ignoring all the clues left to help us interpret Jesus’ words correctly.
We all know that feeling. We arrive at the area pool with our kids just hoping to get a couple hours of relaxation while they swim with their friends. Instead, the second we walk through the gate we are bombarded with the thoughts. “Wow, she looks great! How does she have 3 kids and still look like that? I have three kids, (or 2 or 1) and I look like a beached whale!” “I should have bought the black bathing suit.” “I should have just worn my shorts instead of this bathing suit.” “Ugh, why do I have to be so fat?” “I shouldn’t have eaten my birthday cake for the last 40 years. I hate myself for eating that cake.” Anyone else have this experience or one similar? I know it’s not just me. Should we take care of our bodies? Absolutely yes! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We aren’t all going to look the same in the process of caring for our bodies though. I am never going to weigh 140lbs but I can do healthy things to care for my body at 200lbs. Would God love me more at 140lbs? God’s love is not earned or lost. A good, loving parent doesn’t stop loving their child because of bad choices they make, or weight they gain. A loving parent continues to love that child! When our children are struggling is when we most want to wrap them up and snuggle them until they feel better. It’s when we want to speak words of life into their little (or big) hearts and spirits. In the same way when we are struggling, the Lord wants to comfort us! He wants to take our faces in His hands as he looks deeply into our eyes and tells us, “You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”
“You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”
I want to be seen like that! I want to see myself like that! I want to know I am a beautiful child of God who is known and loved and treasured! Not only that, I want to see others that way! For a long time, most of my life in fact, I was very judgmental. I know I’ve talked about this in the past. I love that the veil has been lifted from my eyes and I no longer look at people the same. God, give me your eyes to see your children the way you see them! Help me to see past the superficial things and ways of the world and into the heart and soul of those around me. Show me the hurting, the lost, the confused, the tired, the worn and weary and use me to pour out your love to them.
Can we have and develop empathy like this without naturism? Absolutely yes and many have! For me, though, God used naturism to open my eyes to what my attitude was like. No matter how we dress, sweat pants and a t-shirt, jeans and blouse, or jacked up for the red carpet, people are going to make assumptions about us based on our clothing. But clothes don’t make the person. We are all way more than the clothes we put on everyday. My clothes don’t show you what’s in my heart. My clothes don’t show you what my values are. You can only truly know who I am by connecting with me on a more personal level. Finding out what we have in common. With naturism right off the bat we know we have that in common and it opens the door for more conversations and relationship building. We have met so many amazing people at the naturist resort we frequent. Friendships are being built. Lives are being shared. We need each other on so many levels!
As I type this we are at a Christian naturist gathering. There are around 50 of us here. This week we have worshipped together, prayed together, fellowshipped together, eaten together, and grown together. While our official worship sessions are over for the week, the relationship building continues. Some of these people I am meeting for the very first time, but we already have an instant connection without knowing anything else about each other. As Christian naturists we are like-minded in that we believe we have all been created in the image of God and we are living that out by hiding nothing during this week of iron sharpening iron. We have spent hours in the pool enjoying the sunshine and discussing Scripture while all the kids splashed around. I imagine that is a picture of what heaven might be like except maybe Jesus will be floating around with us! There is no judgement here. There is love, acceptance, respect and appreciation for the bodies that God has given us. God is in this place with us. You can feel him. You can see him in the image bearers that are here desiring a deeper relationship and walk with the Father! God may not walk with us in the cool of the day in the same way he did with Adam and Eve, but there is no denying that he longs to be with us and is pleased when his children draw near to him. I believe in the same way we long to return to a Garden of Eden existence with God, he longs for that too! Until the day he returns for us, we are aching for Eden together.
All of the videos in the Common Objections series are important to me at a personal level. This is because they reflect they very way that I used to think. I’m certainly not the only one. They are common. I learned them from others. I was conditioned to think in a way that was prudish at worst or close minded at best. This strict upbringing meant to keep me away from lustful attitudes had the very opposite effect on me. These videos exhibit my new learning and what to me (and many others) is a better way of thinking. The lust issue goes away when a new and wholesome way of thinking emerges.
I have written about lust and my dealings with it and how I have overcome this sin at length on various posts. Here are the search results of all the articles tagged with the keyword of “lust.” This video is a short summary of both the problem and the solution:
I’m convinced that the solution to the problem of lust is to see others as God sees them. Last week’s article was about that, in case you missed it. The opposite of lust is love. You can’t be loving others and lusting after them at the same time. I think a big problem growing up with “purity culture” was that the church told us (in not so many words) that we would struggle big time with lust. If you believed that was true, it would become your reality. It was for me. I wrote the following into a sermon and I stand by it today:
I used to have a problem with lust. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. Lots of statistics would say that half of us men right here have the very same problem. It’s no surprise to hear that Catholic priests report this as the most common sin by far in the confessional. Popular Christian books say that it’s every man’s battle. And while I don’t agree with that notion now, I do think it WILL be a battle for you as long as you THINK that it will be. It doesn’t have to be. I once thought it was. I thought I’d struggle with this issue until the day I die. And I would have, if I had left it up to me, myself, and I. As long as it was ME fighting this war by my own strength, I’d be doomed to fail. I can only have so much willpower. I can do ALL the things the quote unquote experts tell me to do and still be one trigger away from failing again.
It’s defeatist to say all men are visual and can’t help themselves, they’ll always fight this impulse and compulsion. God helped me reject those lies and trust Jesus to be powerful enough to deal with this sin as he does any other sin! When you give it to God, he helps you see other people as he sees them, not like the world sees them, and that changes everything.
Let me put it this way. Do you struggle with the command not to murder your brother? Jesus tells us not to do that. If you’re like me, that’s an easy commandment to keep, because you have no desire to kill your brother (hopefully!). Jesus also says not to look at a woman with lustful intent. He says that’s adultery of the heart. When it comes to this, we often throw our hands in the air and say it’s hard, if not impossible to do. But it’s not! It’s actually easy! You can let God redeem your mind on this issue like any other issue and the desire will be removed from you. Praise God, I can thankfully tell you that I have no desire to lust after another woman, or even after my wife. Lust is selfish, and the opposite of love, so I don’t even want to lust after my wife. Let me be very blunt, I would rather die than objectify another human being!
Yes, I have other sin to deal with, but this particular sin that used to be a big struggle is over and done, I mean mortified and put to death! And it wasn’t willpower or software or accountability or trying really hard or anything I could do depending on my own power that killed this particular sin at the root. It was God! You have to let God kill the spider, not just brush away the cobwebs of lust prevention as they will surely grow back as long as the spider lives. You can bounce your eyes to death, and try to avoid all temptation, but you can’t. Or you can let God deal honestly with you at the core, the real problem- the issue, not the symptoms. All that is recommended to us by experts to deal with lust is as Dallas Willard calls it “sin management.” They are only coping mechanisms. But we weren’t meant just to cope in life. We’re meant to be responsible for our actions and to love others as God does. The trick was letting God do his work in my heart and mind to completely remove the desire to even be tempted in the first place. Charles Spurgeon said, “The swine rolls in the mire with delight, but the sheep abhors it… He is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and sin is destroyed in its energetic influence over his life.”
I stopped depending on my own understanding. I even stopped depending on the leading experts and what they sayto do or not to do. It was complete and total dependence on God to change the way I think, to renew my mind. He did it, without my help. He’s powerful enough to do just that. Now I can thank him for the incredible transformation in my life.
When there’s a real transformation or metamorphosis, a butterfly can’t go back to being a worm (or caterpillar). It can only pretend to be one again and crawl around on the ground again instead of flying. Isaac Watts wrote the hymn “At the Cross” where the first verse says: Alas! and did my Savior bleed and did my Sov’reign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?People have been offended by that language or “such a worm as I” – they’ve changed the hymn to say “such a one as I” so as not to be so strong. I say keep it as Isaac Watts wrote it! I was a worm! I had this sin that I tried to shake on my own over and over and couldn’t do it. And then I’d hear at every marriage retreat and men’s conference that just about everyone else struggles with this too. They say “boys will be boys,” but I have boys I’m trying to raise to be different. God changed me from worm to butterfly with his power, reconditioning me to see others differently. And now I can’t and won’t go back to how I was before. I can’t go back! It’s so much better to fly than to go around on my belly like the cursed serpent in the garden in Genesis 3. That’s low and it’s dirty. It’s a curse. It’s bondage! God does not want us to stay that way. It’s so much better and it’s God’s intent to let your heart soar. God’s ways are truly better than any man-made strategy, plan, or tradition, or method of sin management. Now, having surrendered it fully to God, purity is easy, and it’s out of pure joy that I keep Jesus’ command.
One question I got was over the bit about not lusting after my wife. I do desire her, more than anything! However I do not want my desire for her to be lust– I want it to be love, and it is, and it’s amazing! I think that will be a whole topic for another blog someday. For more on the difference between lust and admiring God’s created beauty in people see this fascinating piece (What A Beautiful Tree! Is That Lust?) from Fig Leaf Forum’s website.
See all the “Objections” series blogs and videos here.
We’ll have a regular blog post tomorrow, but today we wanted to have a special post to celebrate one year of Aching for Eden.
Thank you so much for reading. When we started this site a year ago, we had no idea if anyone would read or not! We’ve been blown away by the response, and we’d like to thank you for your continued interest.
We also are happy to announce that Phil is working on a book that chronicles our journey. More on that later, but we just wanted to announce that it is being written. For updates on this and everything else, be sure to subscribe to the page. That would make for a great and happy birthday! (You can follow us on the side bar or on the homepage.)
What’s been your favorite post? Let us know, or please comment below if you have any ideas for us as we move forward.
“…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b ESV)
This verse is more true than we think it is. We do not see people as God sees them. In the context of 1 Samuel 16, you have a perfect example of this being played out. The singer Ray Boltz described it this way in his song:
One by one, Jesse’s sons stood before the prophet, Their father knew a king would soon be found, Each one passed except the last, No one thought to call him, For surely he would never wear a crown. But when others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king
How does this play out in real life? We are conditioned by the world around us to see through the lenses of the world. It’s oftentimes a harsh, petty, shallow, and judgmental world. Snap judgments are made instantaneously, many times based on how someone is dressed or other superficial details we observe. We are unaware of how prone we are to agree with the standards of the environment we live in. God calls us to be aliens in a foriegn land (1 Peter 2:11). Being holy as God is holy means being set apart (1 Peter 1:16).
The whole goal of Christianity is to become more Christ-like. Philippians 2 begins this way: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV) The context continues showing how Jesus lowered himself, not considering equality with God as something to be grasped, but instead emptied himself, and gave himself for others. John 15:13 ESV states that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Furthermore, we see this beautiful example and exhortation in 1 John 3:16 NIV- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
True love is extending one’s self to serve others. I see the spousal love analogy (of a man giving himself in love to his bride) as a beautiful picture or image of how Christ gave of himself and sacrificed for his bride. He even said, “This is my body, which is for you…” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Your highest calling as a Christian (how Jesus summarized both the Law and the Prophets) is to love God with everything and then love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). How can we do this effectively? One thing we need to do is to stop seeing others the way the world does, and instead start seeing them the way God does.
Brandon Heath was on to something when he penned the words of his song:
Give me Your eyes for just one second Give me Your eyes so I can see Everything that I keep missin’ Give Your love for humanity Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted The ones that are far beyond my reach Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten Give me Your eyes so I can see
One last beautiful example is from Genesis 16. Abram and barren Sarai are trying to take God’s promise of being the fathers of a great nation into their own hands. They convince their slave Hagar to conceive a child for Abram. When she is pregnant, Sarai begins to mistreat her, to the point that she runs away. In the wilderness, exposed and vulnerable to the elements, the angel of the Lord comes to comfort her. He tells her to go back, and promises Ishmael (when born) will also have a great number of descendants as well. Verses 13-14 are often glossed over, but they contain the point I am trying to make.
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (meaning well of the Living One who sees me.); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:13-14 NIV)
Hagar was a slave woman, forced to conceive a child for her master, mistreated by her mistress to the point that she would run away to the desert to die. This is a person that the world has chewed up and spit out, so to speak. But God saw her. It affected her so profoundly that when others would turn a blind eye, God would see her.
One of humanity’s greatest needs is to love and be loved and to be seen (noticed, valued and appreciated). Steve Pokorny writes about having your vision redeemed (See book Redeemed Vision). His thesis is that we live in a pornified culture and are blinded by several messages the world bombards us with, that contradict the truth of how God sees us and others. Like the blind man in Mark 10:51, we too should cry out, “Master, Let me receive my sight.”
My mother knows that I am a naturist. The other day, she heard me preach in church about how I overcame the problem of lust in my heart and mind. We spoke a little more afterward about our plans for vacation in a naturist park, where we will gather with many other Christians and have daily times of worship and devotional thoughts and incredible fellowship. “And you’re all naked? How can you do that? You say there’s no lust? I can’t wrap my head around it.” she would say. I replied, “I know. That’s the problem.” This way of seeing others is crucial not just in naturism, although it was naturism that was a catalyst for my change in thinking about a great number of things. You have to see others the way God sees them (Imago Dei, made in his own image). He loves them. He doesn’t lust. You also can’t lust after someone and be loving (serving) them at the same time.
Sadly, my mom went on to say that she doesn’t even like to see her own body, and called it ugly. This breaks my heart. Because I know that when God sees her, he sees a beautiful person, survivor of breast cancer with a mastectomy, a work of art not just on the outside, but also on the inside. God sees the whole person for who they are and what value they bring to humanity. I see my mom the way God sees her. I only wish she could see herself that way. It’s the way I look at everyone now. I know I’m not God, but should that stop me from trying to be more like Him?
You’ve heard this a million times. Women should dress modestly so as not to tempt the boys to lust. Romans 14 is quoted in support of this claim, at least in part. It’s an often misunderstood passage, especially when it’s not read in it’s full context. A full reading of the text would straighten out many erroneous interpretations! You’ll have to read it on your own to see for yourself!
This short video aims to challenge the assertion that someone’s dress causes others to commit grave sins. It also points out a few of the often overlooked verses in Romans 14:
I used to look at this passage and think the weaker brother was the other person. Surely they are on the other side of an issue thinking, you are the weaker brother. No one thinks of themselves as weak. I thought the point is to accept one another, whether you are the weak or the strong one. We all think ourselves to be strong. Regardless, the instruction to both the weak and the strong is to accept each other. Well, I was wrong!
The weaker brother here is the one who’s conscience does not allow himself to eat food sacrificed to idols. The stronger brother is the one who has the freedom to do so, knowing that idols are not real and there is only one God, and in their freedom they are free to eat anything and answer to God with a clear conscience. The weak and strong are clearly defined. We tend to harp on the stronger brother (or sister) for being a stumbling block to the weaker, in many instances where we should not. For more on this, you can see what my friend, Matthew Neal on his Biblical Naturist blog, has done in a series called “You can’t do that!“
We gloss over the even more lengthy instruction to the weaker brother to not pass judgment on the stronger brother who has more freedom. We also forget that these are disputable matters. Any opposing view, belief, or even conviction gets thrown out under the stumbling block excuse. Yes, stumbling blocks become an excuse to stunt growth and keep the weak in faith… weak!
Much has also been written on this passage at www.figleafforum.com. With a free account, you can access the archive and search “stumbling block” or any other phrase to research on your own.
In Fig Leaf Forum, Issue 097, Stumbling Over The Issue Of Stumbling Blocks , Jeffrey S. Bowman says:
We must remember that stumbling is not to simply disagree with the actions of the person. Also, if someone “stumbles” over truth, are they really “stumbling”? Not as I understand it. Should we be silent on the truth because it might offend? I don’t think so. A disagreement of opinion is a totally different issue with a totally different approach.
In both texts Paul discusses the topics of eating meat offered to idols. He in essence says it doesn’t matter to God if you eat or not. In 1 Corinthians he even goes so far as to say there are no such things as ‘gods.’ They are made up in the minds of the people, so eating meat offered to them is no big deal. However, not everyone has such knowledge. In both places Paul defends the right to eat (or not). This is an often unacknowledged point of the texts.
…Paul would have been violating his own command if it meant not discussing meat eating with “non-eaters.” He potentially offended the non-eaters by discussing it and then telling them that the meat eating doesn’t matter, but truth is more important than cultural misunderstanding. However, he would not have eaten the meat in front of them. This is the point of not causing your brother to stumble.
In Fig Leaf Forum, Issue 099, Unexamined Stumbling Blocks, Steve of Colorado Springs CO writes:
Christians often equate all stumbling blocks with evil, but they err when they do this. Jesus Himself was prophesiedin Isaiah 8.14 (and quoted by Paul in Romans 9.32-33) to be the biggest stumbling block the world had ever seen, for He tripped up a whole nation: “They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame.'” Our Lord Himself is the stumbling stone in this text, and He was placed there by His Father.
…So what do you think this implies for us? If you believe that we also will be stumbling blocks in the paths of highly religious, legalistic tares in the Church, just as our Lord was in His day, you are right! In fact, the more we look like Christ—that is, the more righteously we live—the more this will be true. Legalistic tares in the Church will hate us as much as they hated our Lord.
In this article I quoted the great Charles Spurgeon on his take about smoking cigars to the glory of God, which may sound funny, but read his thoughts on Christian liberty and see if you agree! Romans 14:23 (ESV) is a great way to summarize the whole issue: “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
When it comes to so called modesty, this reigning philosophy actually does great harm. It places blame on girls for not covering enough of their bodies instead of making boys responsible for their own thoughts. As I’ve stated in other blogs the Duggars teach this religiously and it has not prevented tragedy.
Matthew West put out a satirical music video claiming “Modest is Hottest!” which backfired to the point he had to take it down. Victims of purity culture trauma and folks like myself who no longer like to designate anyone as “hot” as it is an objectifying term, saw through the well-done “light hearted” funny video and didn’t appreciate it. I have a great sense of humor. But I also have seen the futility of thinking that modest dress will curb anyone’s lust (which comes from their heart.) Churchleaders.com documented how this attempt at a silly little video fell so flat. It’s baffling still to me, how so many didn’t even see how his video could be anything but funny! I like Matthew West just fine, but I hope he learns from this misstep. It’s one prime and recent example among many as to why this commonly held belief is fundamentally flawed. There is a better way, and a time to grow up…
See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.
The next video in the Objections series comes from Revelation 16:15. What’s it say? What’s the objection? Let’s just watch to find out!
As we see in this short video, context is key to interpreting Scripture. We quoted commentator and scholar FF Bruce (a non-naturist to my knowledge) who gave the historical framework to understand what is really happening in the text.
I wanted to go just one step deeper. Notice the context of the passage in Revelation 16. It’s the 6th of 7 bowl of wrath. Our verse is a parenthetical in between verses 14 and 16 which talk about Armageddon:
14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Revelation 16:14-16 ESV
Now, this is not a blog on eschatology (study of end times). It’s about Christian naturism. So we won’t delve into what Armageddon is or isn’t. I have my opinions, but that’s for another occasion, suffice to say the verse in question is about being ready for the return of our Lord. Opponents of Christian naturism ignore this context and simply pluck it out of the passage and use it for their purposes in countering what they believe to be evil. As you see here, the ESV does not even mention “shame.” Where the King James Version mentioned “shame” the English Standard Version simply says “exposed.” Just as FF Bruce stated in the video, those temple guards who fell asleep on the job and weren’t vigilant had their (expensive) clothes taken away and burned as they left in disgrace. This historical background supports the context of being ready for our spiritual battle and be spiritually awake as we wait for the Lord and Armageddon (however that plays out). It does not work to just say nudity is shameful as proponents of body shame in the church tend to do.
Proof-texting is never a good idea. We aim to give context to the passages we quote from the Bible. We want our conclusions to match up with the revelation of God’s word, not the other way around. Too many Christians start with their ideas and use Scripture (out of context) to try and support our idea. Perhaps we will be accused of doing the same to support naturism. The truth is, we came to naturism after years of holding these same convictions about Bible interpretation and being against the ideas we promote on this blog. We started asking better questions, and applying the hermeneutical principles we said we believed, which resulted in being naturists by biblical conviction. (See my friend’s awesome posts about that phrase and his conclusions here.)
We will have more videos soon and more regular blogs every week for the foreseeable future. Thanks so much for reading and sharing these posts and videos with others!
See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.
I used to think the human body when undressed was lewd, obscene, and shameful. Nakedness was linked to sexuality in my mind.
I used to think Scripture condemned nudity after the fall.
I used to think that nudity is only OK in the context of marriage and it’s for your spouse’s eyes only.
I used to make exceptions in this black and white thinking when it comes to doctors and other professions that are used to non-sexual nudity.
I used to become aroused when I would see nudity in movies or entertainment, or worse when I would seek it out online. I was not “exposed” to non-sexual nudity.
Nudity used to be a perpetual stumbling block to me. Every woman was a temptation.
I used to believe that lust was every man’s battle. It seemed impossible to “cure.”
I used to be ashamed of my habits and compulsiveness. This secret sin was a millstone around my neck. I confessed to a few people, but nothing the best-selling Christian books recommended would help.
I used to think nudism was a form of pornography.
I used to think Christian naturists must be perverts trying to justify all sorts of evil intentions.
I, like so many other Christians, was ignorant of any sort of Theology of the Body.
I used to believe that God made clothes and mandated them for moral reasons.
I used to ignore the many instances of co-ed public nudity that took place in Bible times.
I never wondered how people knew who was circumcised in Bible times. How did this “private” state cause people to judge each other?
I used to see the world through shallow eyes. While at times I resisted these trends, in essence I still agreed with the overly sexualized culture as to what beauty standards should be.
I used to long for the freedom and oneness with God and his creation that Christian naturists professed, but could not fathom that being Christian and a naturist could be reconciled with my faith.
I used to know people need the hope and love of Jesus, and that I could be an example of a sinner saved by grace, but I lived in a bubble and was hardly ever around unchurched people. I knew the need to “be a witness,” but lacked the opportunity to do so.
I used to believe “purity culture’s” definition of “modesty” should be taught and embraced. I placed blame for temptation on others instead of taking responsibility for myself.
I now see the human body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good from the start, and worthy of honor and respect.
I now have studied this topic and cannot find any prohibition in Scripture.
I now see nudity as one of the purest forms of the invisible image of God made visible.
I now see those exempt are actually on to something, and instead the rules I used to abide by are not ideal. Nakedness need not be purely sexual.
I now am only ever aroused by my wife. I absolutely love this change, and obviously, so does my wife! I now hate seeing anything that is suggestive or objectifying.
Nudity is no longer a stumbling block and there is no longer any temptation. Praise God!!!
I now know that’s a lie, and Jesus is powerful enough to redeem and heal this and any impurity.
I am now proud to say that by God’s grace I am healthy and whole and completely free from the problems that plagued me. It saddens me greatly to see so many men without hope of true victory.
I now know nudism is the antitheses of porn.
I now know Christian naturists are the complete opposite of those wrong assumptions.
I now see Theology of the Body as extremely valuable for any believer and sorely lacking in Christendom.
I now know that Adam and Eve invented clothes and were influenced by the serpent to do so.
I now see these instances everywhere (prophets, even Jesus) and baptisms through the 4th century.
I have now researched Greco-Roman co-ed bathhouses and gymnasiums (the word gymno meaning bare or naked).
I now see all human beings as beautifully and wonderfully created in the image of God. I am repelled by judgmental attitudes and take a stand against body shame of any form.
I now know my faith is intact and congruent with who I am. Christian naturism has enhanced my relationship with God and others in many amazing ways. I was just too scared to see it due to my conditioning.
I now see that the church has such a negative connotation among many people. And yet, those who would never darken the door of a church are open to spiritual conversations, especially when they see a Christian who breaks the mold.
I now see that form of “modesty” being far from the original intent and one that oppresses and can even be a source of pride. One can be modest totally naked and likewise immodest with clothes on.
These are my thoughts. Instead of living with regrets, I have not only hope for the future, but also joy in the present.
Instead of living with regrets, I have not only hope for the future, but also joy in the present.
While mine is a male perspective, I find it very useful to feature a women’s perspective. Mrs. Phil has shared this point of view in her articles. For this post, I also wanted to include some words from a naturist lady friend of ours. Her opinions are insightful as well, and worth repeating here in conclusion:
Before: I used to think the body was sexual and had to be covered up.
After: now I’ve realized that the body just is a body. It’s my earthly covering and it’s glorious. Nudity doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be sexual!
Before: I used to think women looked better than me. That I never measured up, that I’m not as pretty as, not as skinny as, etc. Trying to look perfect is just exhausting!
After: After going to my 1st Naturist resort, I realized that all well-endowed women have breasts that hang like bananas or like grapes on a vine (Why do we even say the word sag? It’s so negative.) I realized I’m not the only one with cellulite and imperfections. I am still beautiful even if I’m overweight, have cellulite and a little too much cushion!
This one is very personal to me and touches my heart!
Before: I believed that it was okay for a man to be shirtless but not acceptable for a woman to be topless because of the thought that breasts are sexual and need to be covered unless breastfeeding.
After: I realized that we both have nipples and that our (women’s) breasts are just plumper and prettier! LOL
Europe really has this right because they have topless beaches. Why should I not be allowed to be topless at a beach when a man is topless too? We have the same nipples but just because my breasts are bigger it’s not allowed?!?
Before: I tend to only wear makeup when going to a special event. Usually I’m barefaced with just lipstick and blush. Lipstick makes me happy!
I could never compete with or look as *pretty* as someone with a lot of eye makeup. Obviously, a canvas with lots of colors and designs is looked upon more favorably than a canvas with two splashes of color.
After: After going to Naturist resorts, I found more women who embraced their natural beauty like me. It’s very refreshing to be around women like me! We were all on the same playing field, not that it’s a competition and I’m not comparing myself to others. It’s nice just to see the real person, not the fancy makeup! To see their natural beauty!
Before: In the textile world, I’m considered chunky and never get asked out.
After: At a Naturist resort, people get to see my natural beauty and my glowing personality. People want to be around me and think I’m attractive! (I’m not tooting my own horn, but sharing my experience. I believe God made us beautiful and I celebrate and acknowledge that!)
Another common objection to Christian naturism is that seeing a nude woman will provoke lust and cause a man to sin. Case in point: Bathsheba and David. Bathsheba really gets a bad rap, but really, David is the one at fault. After all, Bathsheba was just taking a bath. She was doing what people did in those days. David had a view of people’s rooftops and he watched, and what he did was the sin. Seeing isn’t the sin. Looking with intent or desire, and coveting what is not yours (lust) is. Public bathing was a common sight, whether a rooftop or river or creek. Witnessing a person bathing can be perfectly innocent. Coveting, adultery, and murder (as in the case of David) are clear violations against God’s commandments.
As Chad Thompson wrote on page 90 of his book, That Famous Fig Leaf:
The story of David and Bathsheba is often referenced as a biblical admonition of nudity, as if Bathsheba was tempting David by bathing in the courtyard. Yet every other woman in Jerusalem did the same thing. Whether male or female, rich or poor, outdoor bathing was universal to the ancient cultures of both Egypt and Israel. The second chapter of Exodus even recounts Pharaoh’s daughter bathing in the open river while Jewish commoners walk about. Women participating in the culturally natural phenomenon of open bathing was not anything King David wasn’t used to seeing on a daily basis. What led him to rape his neighbor’s wife was not her public bath, but the evil in his own heart. Furthermore, if Bathsheba had committed any sin by exposing her body in public, it would seem odd that Nathan made her the “innocent lamb” in his story.
Watch this video to see a surprising but true example of public nudity that was church sanctioned:
For more studies on baptism practices of the early church read this short paper here.
See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.