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Undressed for Worship

The main focus of this post will be the following video. We, at Aching for Eden, have produced this video to share a very important point regarding the practice of naturism as a Christian. I will leave it at that, and let you watch the video, and then I’ll discuss some more.

The premise of this video is simple. If you were to play the sound clips for any practicing Christian, they would be able to identify the sounds of worship to God. As soon as they learn that everyone in the audio was naked, their knee-jerk reaction will be to protest. To them the two notions are incompatible: one cannot be naked in mixed company and worshiping God at the same time. However, does it sound any different than any worship service in any church anywhere? At face value, if we did a blind test side-by-side could you tell the difference between Naked worship and clothed worship? No! They are the same. More importantly, God accepts them both as worship.

Well this begs the question: can people lust in a naked worship service? The answer, is yes. My follow up question is: Can people lust in a clothed worship service? The answer is also yes, absolutely! Do they? That depends entirely on the person. No external factor should be able to cause a human heart to lust or not. A lustful person will lust. A person whose mind has been redeemed on the issue of lust, who has been healed from the sexual brokenness of our world will remain mature, innocent, and pure in any and all settings. The depraved mind cannot control itself. The redeemed mind cannot be controlled. 

I’m not saying we can be perfect, or that we will never sin. But I am saying that I used to struggle with lust a lot over a span of 20 years, and now I don’t anymore (Praise God!). I mean it’s a night and day difference, to the point that I can even worship freely with others of a like mind even completely naked and not fall into sinful thoughts or behavior.

That’s becuase it’s a mind and heart matter. Jesus and Paul seem to agree with that statement:

“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Mark 7:15 ESV

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Titus 1:15 ESV

In my experience in various nude worship gatherings, my brothers and sisters are simply worshiping the Lord. No one is there for any purpose other than to worship in that moment, and after that moment, they lead lives of worship. The thought that this concept is so radical and an impossibility is no more than a projection of one’s own imagination, and proof that the objecting person has not worked through the issues regarding the body that plague so many today. I’m so grateful to have this tremendous healing and be able to enjoy a mature purity. Does this come across as arrogant? It may, but I hope it doesn’t. I do not mean to boast in anything but the love of Christ. I would hope rather that it comes across as an invitation to see there is a better way to live, free from the sexual hang ups and brokenness that abounds in the world and frankly in our church pews. I’ve often said I would wish this upon my worst enemy, if I had any. It’s my wish that all who are exposed (no pun intended) to these truths prayerfully consider them and overcome the traditions of men in favor of the mystery of God revealed in our very bodies.

I love the way Christopher West sums up his fascinating book, “Our Bodies tell God’s Story” and this too is my prayer for you dear reader:

Perhaps we’ve been caught up in a thousand lies about the meaning of our bodies and our sexuality. But it doesn’t matter how dyslexic or even illiterate we may have been in reading the divine language of the body up to this point in our lives. As John Paul II boldly proclaims, through the gift of redemption there is always the possibility of passing from error to the truth; there is always the possibility of conversion from sin to sexual purity as an expression of life according to the Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Convert our hearts from lust to love. Impregnate our sexual desires with divine passion so that, loving as God loves on earth, we might one day rejoice in the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb in heaven. Amen.

That’s a great place to end, but if I could throw one more grenade of unorthodox truth in the mix, it’d be this one. Frank Viola and George Barna (non-naturists) have in their book “Pagan Christianity” a whole chapter devoted to “Costumes: Covering Up the Problem.”They conclude:

What’s the big deal about “dressing up” for church? It is hardly a burning issue. However, it is what dressing up for church represents that is the burning issue. First, it reflects the false division between the secular and the sacred. To think that God cares one whit if you wear dressy threads on Sunday to “meet Him” is a violation of the New Covenant. We have access to God’s presence at all times and in all circumstances. Does He really expect His people to dress up for a beauty pageant on Sunday morning? Second, wearing attractive, flashy clothes on Sunday morning screams out an embarrassing message: that church is the place where Christians hide their real selves and “dress them up” to look nice and pretty. Think about it. Wearing your Sunday best for church is little more than image management. It gives the house of God all the elements of a stage show: costumes, makeup, props, lighting, ushers, special music, master of ceremonies, performance, and the featured program. Dressing up for church violates the reality that the church is made up of real people with messy problems—real people who may have gotten into a major-league bickering match with their spouses just before they drove into the parking lot and put on colossal smiles to cover it up! Wearing our “Sunday best” conceals a basic underlying problem. It fosters the illusion that we are somehow “good” because we are dressing up for God. It is a study in pretense that is dehumanizing and constitutes a false witness to the world. Let’s face it. As fallen humans, we are seldom willing to appear to be what we really are. We almost always rely on our performance or dress to give people a certain impression of what we want them to believe we are. All of this differs markedly from the simplicity that marked the early church. Third, dressing up for church smacks against the primitive simplicity that was the sustaining hallmark of the early church. The first-century Christians did not “dress up” to attend church meetings. They met in the simplicity of living rooms. They did not dress to exhibit their social class. In fact, the early Christians made concrete efforts to show their absolute disdain for social class distinctions. In the church, all social and racial distinctions are erased. The early Christians knew well that they were a new species on this planet. For this reason, James levels a rebuke to those believers who were treating the rich saints better than the poor saints. He boldly reproves the rich for dressing differently from the poor. And yet, many Christians are under the false delusion that it is “irreverent” to dress in informal clothing when attending a Sunday morning church service. This is not dissimilar to how the Scribes and the Pharisees accused the Lord and His disciples of being irreverent for not following the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-13). In short, to say that the Lord expects His people to dress in fine clothing when the church gathers is to add to the Scriptures and speak where God has not spoken. Such a practice is human tradition at its best.

The practice of naturists runs contrary to this and puts everyone at the same level so to speak. It humanizes more than most anything I know. It makes us appreciate the real person, not some facade. Naturists interpret modesty as it used to be defined, as an attitude or state of being, not what we wear or how we adorn ourselves.

I realize God does not show favoritism and accepts all who approach him. But may I be as bold as if to say that those who worship him literally and figuratively uncovered and laid bare (Hebrews 4:13) may be more effectively  honoring God over those who dress up in their Sunday best to look good for worship. It’s all in the motive. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe there’s some truth there.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Normal vs. Natural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Normal men obsess about the body. 

Natural/Naturist men aren’t phased by it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

This is an incredible guest re-post from our personal friend, Matthew Neal of “The Biblical Naturist.” (See the original post here.) Matthew’s blog has so much great content presented as an honest evaluation under the strictest rules of interpretation demonstrates that God’s Word actually supports the naturist perspective of the human body and permits naturist practices. He has graciously given us his permission to re-blog this article here.

Why would a God-fearing, Bible-believing, Christ-following Christian choose to be a naturist?

I suppose all sorts of reasons might pop into someone’s mind if they were of the opinion that biblical Christianity and naturism were incompatible. I also suppose that all of those reasons would amount to—in one way or another—discounting one or all of the descriptions given in the question posed above.

In other words, I suspect that most would assume that if a person chose to be a naturist, they would only do so if they were NOT genuinely God-fearing, Bible-believing, and/or Christ-following!

So, are professing Christians who practice naturism really only deceiving themselves when they claim to still fear God and believe the Bible? Can they be real Christians at all? Are they really harboring evil desires or secret sins that are being expressed outwardly through the acceptance and practice of social nudity?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. And—for the record—I do consider myself a God-fearing, Bible-believing Christ-follower. Do I have a hidden and sinful motivation for being a naturist?

The Apostle Paul made and interesting statement in Gal. 1:10… “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (NIV)

Some people must have accused Paul of preaching the Gospel in order to gain the accolades of people. Paul responds—in so many words— “You’ve got to be kidding!” If I was looking for applause, I’d do it some other way!” Or as Eugene Peterson phrased it in The Message, “If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave.”

Well, I can relate to that sentiment! I would put it this way:

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were only trying to gain the approval of people.

Trust me. I’ve endured more criticism, faced more condemnation, and suffered more intentionally personal and hurtful attacks as a result of my becoming a naturist than anything I’ve ever done in my life! If I was motivated by a desire to be popular or make people like me, this is a stupid way to do it. I’m not that dumb. An over-inflated ego is not my motivation.

Of course, that’s not the only motivation that people may have presumed to be in my heart; there are other motivations that I have been accused of as well. I can tell you that in each case, if they had been true of me, they would not have led me to embrace naturism.

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were actually a voyeur, eager only to see more naked flesh.

Voyeurs do not do “their thing” publicly or openly. It is a secret fetish. To be sure, when I was still struggling with pornography, I did lots of voyeuristic things in private or with my computer… never openly, though. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to openly admit that I wanted to look at naked women for the sake of sexual arousal. If that were still my motivation, I still wouldn’t admit it… and I certainly wouldn’t ever ask my wife to accompany me to a naturist resort just so I could ogle the other women there!

Here’s the really interesting thing… when I have been at naturist resorts, the women are indeed pleasant to see, and I do appreciate their God-given beauty, but I can assure you that I’m not fantasizing about them or acting out in any way in response to the sight. I have not had any problem with spontaneous arousal, nor has it given me any sort of adrenaline rush.

Oddly enough, when you realize that you actually do have permission before God to see a naked body, it rather loses its mystique and emotional power in your life. It literally becomes somewhat mundanely and simply “human.” That’s certainly what I experienced!

And another thing… now that I am no longer indulging in pornography, I see a lot less nudity than I did before! Becoming a naturist actually had a role in the death of my interest in porn. To me, that’s a tremendous blessing from God!

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were an exhibitionist.

Wow! What a horrid thought!

First of all, I’m nothing special to look at. Secondly, I take no particular pleasure in being seen… naked or otherwise. I just don’t mind being seen naked. I don’t care what you think of my body. I certainly have nothing to prove with the “size” of my “manhood” (trust me… nothing much could be “proved” by it anyway!). I have no desire to shock anyone with my nudity. I have no desire to offend anyone with my freedom to be nude.

However, I don’t believe for a second that seeing the unclothed human body (mine or anyone else’s) is any sort of danger to anyone. We let our kids play with dogs, don’t we? Sure, dogs are not naked because they have coats of fur, but the coats are conveniently designed to not cover their genitals. The male penis (and scrotum) is in full few. The female vulva (and nipples!) are there for all to see. No harm done to innocent children. For crying out loud, that’s how we look at them and say, “Oh, that’s a boy-dog!” Why should we think any differently about human genitalia?

I don’t need you or anyone else to see me. It certainly won’t hurt you to, though. I don’t make a big deal out of it and I don’t want anyone else to, either.

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were sexually perverse.

I am sexually satisfied with my wife. I do not have an overactive sex drive. I am not looking for “greener pastures.” I have no interest in more exotic “positions” or experiences. I have NO interest in swapping partners (aka “swinging”) with other couples. I have zero sexual interest in men. I’m about as plain and straight as they come. If anything, I could wish that my wife and I “recovered” a little quicker so that we could enjoy our own sexual relationship more frequently! In other words, I’m not looking for anything “new,” I’d be happy to be up for a little bit more “old!”

Naturism is simply not about sexual conquests or titillation. Some may indeed pursue it for that reason, but I have no patience for such people and I count them a threat to the spiritual, emotional, and sexual purity that can be experienced in naturism.

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were a pedophile.

This is without a doubt the accusation that has been the most hurtful… especially when it came from extended family members.

I am not a pedophile. I love and protect my children. I love and protect others’ children. I have absolutely no compassion for those who would abuse children for their own sexual indulgence. I have never in my life experienced even one moment of temptation to think about my own children or any other children that way.

And for sure, if that were my motivation, I would never share my interests in naturism with family members.

That’s enough about that one. I’d better stop before I really lose my cool…

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I didn’t believe the Bible with all my heart.

That might be surprising, but it’s true. I believe the Bible is our only trustworthy source for moral absolutes. The opinions of men and the mores of society are not reliable. In fact, they reliably lead us away from moral truth.

Consequently, I searched the Scriptures diligently and thoroughly to determine if God had established any sort of moral requirements regarding clothing. I was committed to honestly discover if He ever condemned nudity or commanded that we always keep our bodies covered. I studied the Bible to discern what God’s attitude is towards my body, irrespective of my state of attire.

To my surprise (given my upbringing, I never would have guessed it!), the condemnation of nudity, the requirement of clothing, and divine disapproval of the naked human form were all missing in God’s Word! These are all man-contrived ideas! And as such, they do not deserve my loyalty. Instead, they deserve my active rejection (Col. 2:20-23).

If I didn’t believe the Bible was my only moral guide for life—if I thought that societal (or even religious) norms were to be my guiding standards in life—then I most certainly would not be a naturist.

But I do believe the Bible with all my heart. So… I really can be a naturist… and… a God-fearing, Bible-believing, Christ-following… Christian. 

Matthew Neal

If I led a Marriage Retreat

If I led a marriage retreat, what follows is what I would want to say and do. It’s not what I would actually do, but it’s what I would want to try out and see how many lives and marriages would benefit from it.

We would gather in a conference room as is typically done. Then my wife and I would announce we’d be right back to begin and exit briefly. Moments later, we come back and stand in the front of the room, stark naked. Jaws would drop, eyes would be shielded, and tensions would rise immediately. If not thrown out by this point, I would begin to diffuse the situation. Here’s what I would say:

This will be the most unorthodox and possibly life-changing marriage retreat you’ll ever encounter. The most memorable one for sure! In case you haven’t noticed by now, my wife and I, your leaders for this weekend, are completely naked and exposed. And yet you are all still alive! Relax, no one is going to die. Just imagine that we are some painting in a museum or a sculpture, and you’ll be fine, I promise. We will be sharing our story honestly with you which also makes us even more vulnerable than we already are!

Before we do that, can I make a few observations? Normally we separate men and women to talk of sensitive information apart from one another. This is usually done after the ice has been broken with some sort of game. I’d say the ice is broken already, and it hasn’t done much good to be separate to talk about intimate issues in the past, so while we’re being open and transparent, let’s all stay together and talk very frankly with each other.

My wife and I are naked, and we are unashamed, just like Adam and Eve were described in Genesis 2:25. This is why my wife and I like to refer to the very comfortable-for-us state of undress not so much as nude, but rather “as God intended.”

Like Job said in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.” Is there a textile industry in heaven? Fashions? Brands? Models? I seriously doubt it! I hope not! So if this is the way we are born, and it’s what heaven will be like, why not start getting ready for it?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this was God’s ideal before sin. And now that we are on this side of the fall, it’s all changed, and we can’t regain that innocence. Some might even accuse me of immanentizing the eschaton (look it up!). I mean, Jesus did teach us to pray in Matthew 6 saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”! And we all usually try to improve things here on earth, bringing a bit of heaven on earth. That’s not a bad thing. There is enough hell on earth as it is!

You may also be thinking that God invented clothes when he made them skins. But no, Adam and Eve invented clothes when they sewed together fig leaves. God’s skin aprons improved their fig leaf invention, and set them up to have protection and warmth in a new harsh environment outside of Eden. This was an act of grace.

You may think they covered themselves out of shame. You’ve heard this a million times and you agree with that notion. But the text says they hid because they were afraid (Genesis 3:10). Shame is not mentioned, except for the fact that they were naked without shame (Genesis 2:25). They were married. Did they suddenly have to cover up in front of one another? No one else was around! In fact, God asks them in Genesis 3:11, “Who told you that you were naked?” Who is the only other character in the Garden? The serpent– the one who hates the image of God, and has used this type of brokenness to his advantage and our detriment ever since the beginning.

We can do this debate thing and present arguments for all the objections that certainly are rising up in you right now. We can talk about the commonplace of nakedness in Bible times, the euphemisms used in the Bible to denote sexual acts over simple nakedness, the universal practice of nude baptism for centuries, and much much more. Many books have been written on the topic. But I have a greater goal in mind for this moment. This is not why you are here. The fact is, you are married. And if you’re anything like us or most of the Christians I know, there are some common misconceptions about the body as the image of God that you may be believing that are hurting your relationship. These are very serious matters and get overlooked in our churches. Some of you guys are caught up in pornography and feelings of lust as you objectify other women. You know it’s not God-honoring, you don’t even like it, but you don’t know how to stop. It makes your wife feel terrible about herself. Some of you ladies won’t even undress in front of your husbands with the lights on. You are both accosted by baggage that stems from issues regarding your bodies and sexuality. Like gnostic heretics of old, you tend to view the body with a dualistic split, the body as bad and the spirit as good, and you wish you could unify the two so they can be intertwined as a whole and call it good.

Well, you can! And that would be correct. That’s what God did. In Genesis 1:31, after God created woman he called the crowning glory of his creation “very good.” And I don’t think God is one to change his mind on something of such great importance! The godly and holistic approach is to not separate body from the soul, from the whole person. When you separate body from soul, we have a name for that – death. Bodies are not bad in and of themselves. What you do with your body may be wrong, a twisted distortion of what God intended for good. But your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

This woman you see before you in all her glory, is beautiful, is she not? Well, she didn’t believe she was for over 20 years of her life! That’s tragic. What’s even more sad is that it’s typical, and it grieves the very heart of God. You are all made in God’s image, imago Dei, and precious to Him, and fearfully and wonderfully made. As for me and my house, we now see beauty in everyone, as we see others as God sees them. We should not take our cues from Hollywood or from a sex-crazed culture with their phony and shallow definition of beauty, or their ideas about sexuality. You are beautiful… full stop! Body acceptance is extremely important, and a spiritual issue in your Creator’s eyes. Be body positive with yourself and others. Be body friendly to yourself. Love yourself, the someBODY who God made you to be. You were bought with a price, and that price was Jesus’ own life (see 1 Corinthians 6:20). Christopher West points out that if you are punched in the face, you don’t make a property damage claim, but rather a personal assault claim. Our bodies are an intrical part of who we are as persons. It’s part of our personhood. When we divorce body from soul, it becomes less important what we do to or with our bodies. I’m convinced and convicted that we have gotten this all wrong. There is a hole in our theology, to quote a friend. We should treat our bodies and other people’s bodies as more sacred. The answer to our struggles is not to reject the body, but to redeem our bodies.

Ladies, some of you are like my wife, who thought that to despise her body was a mark of humility. It’s not. It just isn’t. Humility isn’t hating yourself. It’s thinking rightly about yourself. God said to love your neighbor as yourself. Hating your body isn’t noble and it spits in the face of your maker. You can’t love others well if you don’t love yourself in a holy way.

Our culture tries hard to send my wife and your wife messages all day, every day, on how they need to work hard to be more attractive. The standard is young skinny, airbrushed, and photoshopped models. It’s not even real! An impossible standard, and not true or natural beauty in my opinion. In fact, I tell my wife all the time, “You are the standard by which all beauty is measured.” Does she have stretch marks? Yes, she’s had four babies. That’s beautiful. Does she carry more weight? Have cellulite? Yes, and that’s ok. Even the model is insecure about some body part. We all have the same parts. Some parts are bigger, some are smaller, some sag, others don’t. It doesn’t matter! We are beautiful as the pinnacle of God’s creation and vary in our beauty the way that no two trees are alike. I love that!

What else do you notice? She is not just a collection of body parts. She has a heart. She is my wife and your friend. But if you were to objectify her, reducing her to an object or a piece of meat, that would be demeaning, but typical in our sex-obsessed culture. She doesn’t have to be naked for you to do that! In fact, now that she is and leaves nothing to the imagination, the simple and natural beauty kind of loses its allure to be sexualized doesn’t it? 

Plus she’s not up here in any sort of seductive pose or inviting you in with her eyes or expressions or anything. She is simply being, a human being. And you guys, being in a public setting are honoring her, and respecting her and not resorting to any animalistic behavior even though there is a naked woman who is not your wife right in front of you in person. Perhaps if she was a stranger, not a friend, and on a screen, and you were not in public, but in complete privacy, the story would be different. What’s up with that? 

My story is that I was addicted to porn. It was a struggle, I thought it would go away when I got married. It didn’t. I was in church leadership and I had this gnawing problem in secret. I tried all the things they say to do, even accountability. But it doesn’t work, none of it does. You can cheat it if your mind is depraved enough. If you don’t address the root of the issue, it’s only better temporarily on the surface. You can brush cobwebs back, but unless you kill the spider, you’ll deal with cobwebs forever. The only thing that works was being made free in Christ. The truth set me free, not for a brief and momentary victory, but a forever change. I don’t think the same way anymore. My mind has been renewed. I can appreciate beauty as a creation of God, an icon of his image, but no longer reducing it down to an idol for self-gratification. Romans 1 describes those with a depraved mind as exchanging the truth of God for a lie, and worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator. We can’t lust and worship at the same time!

I don’t bounce my eyes when I see a beautiful sunset! I praise God for it. What boggles minds is that I can look upon a clothed or even a naked woman, without lust in my heart. Like a former alcoholic who can walk down the liquor aisle at the super market without any temptation, I have no desire to cheapen God’s gift or disrespect another human being, most importantly my own wife. 

We act as though lust is the only sin that Jesus cannot help us overcome this side of heaven. We throw up our hands and say it’s a fallen world, so don’t even try. But we don’t do that with any other sin! We renew our minds and God does the work for us without our help.

Or you can choose to stay in bondage. You say it will always be a struggle, and it will be. You make extra rules God never imposed to serve as safeguards, and just like with every rule ever made, it gets broken. Thank God for grace and a better way forward!

Now having been surprised into freedom, as this woman’s husband, I’ve committed to her that only she would be responsible for causing me to become aroused. This may vary from person to person, but I determined that I will not masturbate. This amazing woman, who I love and with whom I have a deep relationship, she has a direct role in every one of my sexual responses. I have this not as a rule that I must abide by, and struggle every day to maintain. No, it’s actually a joy to live by that commitment. As I said, that didn’t used to be the case at all. I cheaply would give away my release of personal gratification to many other strangers on screens because of looking lustfully at them. Jesus (in Matthew 5) would call that adultery. I cheated on her. Never in person, but it’s still cheating! I’m done trying to justify it. Jesus was right. It’s not a victimless act! It hurt this woman. It hurt me too. It made me less of a husband, father, and leader. I decided I didn’t want to be an adulterer any longer.

I decided to reject the lies that as men we are wired to be visual and to react sexually (either in thought or deed) whenever I see exposed skin. We have been conditioned by our society and if we are being honest our teaching in the church supports these worldly views, which are dehumanizing at the core. It’s an old gnostic heresy, thought to be done away with, but it’s alive and well in this room today.

Puritan and Victorian attempts at modesty aim to cover up what is deemed a temptation. But the truth is, whatever is covered is automatically objectified.  Imagine if we had a body taboo for elbows! We’d suddenly treat elbows as if they were seductive and ask women to cover up their elbows so we could control ourselves. That’s crazy! We can control ourselves without your help. Some of you ladies are well intentioned, but dressing modestly can become a prideful way to try and take the place of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need your arbitrary dress code standards to make men pure. Only men can control their thoughts. But if we tell men, that every man battles impure thoughts every day, they will battle impure thoughts every day! And then they’ll lose and blame the woman for not dressing appropriately enough to meet some arbitrary standard!

Cultures that commonly expose the breast, have an innocence about it and don’t sexualize it or fantasize about it. It’s a problem in OUR thinking and in OUR conditioning.

The sight of someone (who is naked or clothed) does not cause you to lust. That’s a lie that needs to be completely rejected. By that logic, we would have to conclude that the sight of banks causes greed, or the sight of bakeries causes gluttony. We better take down all the signage and cover those places under a large tarp! Or do our actions regarding their visual stimuli actually matter more than the supposed temptation they produce? James actually says each man is tempted, not by God or anyone other than himself and his own lust (my paraphrase of James 1:12-15).

Bathsheba is often blamed for David’s sin of adultery because she was bathing on the roof in full view of David. This was common. Bathing on the roof or in the river in mixed company was standard operating procedure in those days. David is the guilty party here. He saw and wanted to take what wasn’t his for his own satisfaction. That’s why the prophet Nathan strongly rebuked David and called Bathsheba an innocent lamb (see 2 Samuel 11 and 12).

Guys, some of you need to take a hard look at yourselves, and how you view women. Take note throughout the course of one day, how many times you objectify other women and have thoughts of lust or coveting. Then you need to think about renewing your mind on the whole way you view all of it, the way you are right now with my wife here. You are honoring her and respecting her as made in the image of God and worthy of dignity on the merits of that fact alone. She is my wife, and you are respecting that fact too in my presence and in the presence of your wife. Your wife is beautiful too, but I don’t want her, because she’s yours, and I have all I need right here.

My wife doesn’t have to “put out” enough to “protect” me and help me stay pure. That’s my job. If I was going on a business trip, bless her heart, she’d make sure to have sex with me the night before. She learned this at various marriage retreats. The problem is, that fix (sex not for relationship, but out of duty) is only good for about 20 minutes, if your mind is depraved enough! Now that I’ve renewed my mind, I don’t need “protective” sex to remain pure. And it’s so easy now that I changed the way I think on these things.

I’m sure your minds are blown! I can’t read your minds, but I’m guessing this isn’t what you expected for this marriage retreat. I hope it challenges you to make changes and helps more than any other instruction we could have brought.

Our best advice for any marriage is to start sleeping naked, both of you. It’s incredible! And pajamas are really weird. You’ll have health benefits and feel closer together if you’ll do it. What about the kids? Don’t worry about that. In fact this is one of the best way to porn-proof your kids. I wish we had done this when they were younger.

Hey, I know it was so awkward when we came out here like this. A few people went storming out of here, and I bet this struck a real nerve with them and maybe you too. But as time has gone by, is it a little less awkward? Did you even forget we were naked as you listened to our story? Continuing to talk frankly, if some of you guys with conditioned reactions that immediately equate nudity with sex got tight in the pants at first, I bet by now you’ve relaxed, as the non-sexual brand of nudity has been normalized for you.

You know, if you all chose to get naked right now like we are, without the shame society imprints on us, many untruths would become demystified. There are ideas we hold as true that need to be challenged and then disregarded. I’m sure if we all were undressed, you’d gain a confidence you didn’t know you had, and you’d start to worry less about things that really don’t matter. Our conversation would improve and we’d share deeper insights from the heart with each other. We’d realize how much we hide behind our clothing and our fake personas. We’d be more real and authentic.

This is how God sees us. We don’t have to dress to impress, and nothing we can put on would even accomplish anything to that effect. Hebrews 4:13 says everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. I love the old hymn: when he shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in him be found. Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

I would not be doing my job well today if I didn’t share what the Bible says we should clothe ourselves in. It does command us to put on certain clothing:

  • We are to be clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:49)
  • Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14)
  • The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53-54
  • We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
  • All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27)
  • Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12)
  • Dress with decency and propriety (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
  • Let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 5:5)
  • To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine line is the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8)

Notice these are all attributes and are more important to God than any threads we could wear to cover our skin. The clothing we are commanded to wear is symbolic, metaphorical, attitudes, decent qualities, good deeds, virtues, and Christ himself.

This is the true sense of modesty! Modesty really means a holy humility. Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code. 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.”

Friends, we must not approach the word of God solely from a perspective tainted by cultural bias. The world around us is hyper sex-crazed with their cheap version of sexuailty that is far from God’s ideal based in a loving, committed relationship of marriage. The church often is hyper-prude in it’s ideas and methods for curbing any sort of impurity. Again, Hatton explains, “both views promote an unholy, God-dishonoring treatment of the human body based on exactly the same vain imagination. Prudery hides the body, calling the Creator’s design a lustful indecency. Pornography flaunts it, using prudery’s definition to turn the beauty of God’s handiwork into a stimulus for impure sexual thoughts. Both these ways of treating the body are an unnatural, unrealistic abuse. Though they seem to be opposite, they are conceptually identical. Both are ungodly, and both are based on a dysfunctional view of humanity’s physical embodiment. Wherever a wholesome, godly view of the naked human body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view is embraced, the resultant religious zeal of prudery inevitably plunges a society into the hellish depravity of pornography.”

If we could leave you with a gift that would revolutionize your marriage, bring you closer together, closer to your Creator, and closer to fellow image-bears around you, it’d be a wholesome and godly view of the body. That and a renewed mind. If you trust us and resonate with what we are saying, try it for yourselves. Your body acceptance and confidence will rise to new heights and your temptation for impropriety will vanish overnight. We love the Lord, and we love each of you. It’s up to you if you want to research for yourself the ideas we’ve expounded on today that perhaps have gone against everything you’ve ever heard your whole life. That’s how it was for us, but we studied and prayed and are so glad to have been shown a better way. We pray that you don’t reject it outright, but that you would consider everything we’ve shared, and that ultimately it will bless your lives, your faith, and your marriage and family life.

Why I Promote Naturism

This article comes to us via our friends at www.nakedandunashamed.org. We’ve condensed it, but we would encourage you to read the whole thing, especially the personal story at the beginning of the article, which we have omitted from this version. After their story, our friends conclude the following reasons for why they continue to promote naturism:

So, why do we keep promoting biblical naturism knowing that well-meaning Christians can turn on you and accuse you of terrible things that are not true? We’re going to give you a few of the reasons that we continue to actively promote biblical naturism.

1. Because the Bible tells us that God created us naked and not ashamed and called it “very good”.

God doesn’t do anything by accident so if He created us naked then He did it because that’s how He wanted us. We can accurately infer that He did so to display His highest creation, His most valued of all that He created…the one creation on the planet that He made in His own image. When you read further into the account, after the first sin, you will see that God asks Adam and Eve who told thee, also inferring that Satan is the one to convince them to cover their naked bodies and hide themselves in fear. We also find nowhere in scripture that God ever changed His mind, in fact what we do find is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that God never changes. Well, if God wanted them naked and Satan convinced them to cover, then I am going to promote the ideal that God wanted not the lie that Satan promotes. 

2. Because we want people to not suffer the addiction to pornography that so many Christians seem to suffer from. 

If the only time we are naked is for sex, then we create a situation where as soon as we see someone naked, we have a sexual response. If nakedness is common and nonsexual then we immediately begin to desexualize nudity. There is so much more about defeating porn addiction on the MyChainsAreGone.org website that we highly recommend reading through the site and implementing a naturist lifestyle as God’s method of defeating a sexual view of the body. Remember that Adam and Eve were naked in the garden and not for sexual purposes, but for gardening.

3. Because we do not want people to view the body as a dirty, sexual, shameful thing to be covered and hidden like it is some sort of evil. God created the body…in His image, it is a beautiful thing. 

He put it on display just as He did the animals, the trees, the mountains and the rest of His creation. He even left fur off of us so that we could be viewed in our entirety…Imago Dei…God’s image in us. It doesn’t sound like God views us as a dirty thing that needs covered…maybe we had better begin viewing God’s creation the way He does, not the way the world, Hollywood and Satan does. 

4. Because right is right no matter who opposes it and wrong is wrong no matter who promotes it. 

In this politically correct, censored world that we live in it is extremely hard to take a stand against the mainstream. You can be de-platformed today just because you believe in real science and medicine. In the Christian world, you can be de-platformed just as quickly if you actually take the Bible as it is written. Well, just because the majority is against it does not make it wrong. Just because it is misunderstood does not make it wrong. In fact, quite the opposite is typically true. If the majority is against it, then you can almost be assured that it’s right. When I was growing up my father had a rule, that if the majority were doing something then we weren’t. If the majority was against something, then it was a pretty good idea to do it. He said that there were exceptions to the rule, but as a rule the majority were wrong.

So, someone has to take the unpopular, but biblically accurate view and promote it. Someone has to take the unpopular, but scientifically and medically accurate view and promote it. Someone has to take a stand for Truth! Well, we decided a long time ago that as for me and my house…we will serve the Lord. That has certainly been an unpopular choice occasionally, but it has also been well worth it, with many rewards from God for doing so.

We will not allow those who criticize us for believing the Bible and for taking God at His Word to stop us from promoting His Word and His way. There are simply too many benefits from living as God intended to let others intimidate us. We promote living as God intended so that others may enjoy those same benefits. We promote living as God intended in the same way we promote salvation by grace rather than works, the same way we promote creation over evolution, the same way we promote faith over fear. We promote a godly view of the body because it’s simply the right thing to do and because it’s the Truth.

5. Because of all of the physical and mental health benefits that are derived from spending as much time as possible naked and not ashamed.

Study after study has been done in the scientific and medical communities that show there are significant health benefits to being naked. Stress is greatly reduced, vitamin D production goes up dramatically and is shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, strengthen the immune system reducing the severity and longevity of flus and viruses and create an overall sense of euphoria helping both physical and mental health. One study linked the removal of layers of clothing with removing layers of stress. Your skin is the largest organ on the body and benefits from being allowed to breathe…keeping it wrapped up in clothing promotes a swampy, bacteria ridden environment. An article titled Dressed to Kill links tight clothing such as bras and underwear to certain cancers like breast and testicular cancer due to reducing the lymphatic systems ability to drain. Sleeping naked has been shown to improve sleep and help with weight loss. Toxins are removed from the body through the skin and circulation is improved. The list of health and wellness benefits is long and distinguished…it’s almost like God created our bodies to be naked. Here are just a few links to articles showing some of the medical and scientific benefits to being naked:

https://www.healthline.com/health/reasons-to-spend-more-time-naked

https://www.today.com/health/health-benefits-being-naked-how-stripping- down-good-you-t44911

https://www.thehealthjournals.com/the-benefits-of-being-nude

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-reasons-why-you-should-get- naked-more-often.html

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/being-naked-is-good-for-your- health

There are many more articles and studies that can be read on the subject as there is a mountain of evidence to the mental, emotional and physical benefits of being naked.

6. Because God gave us so many illustrations of the common place of nonsexual nakedness in the Bible without His condemnation, some at His leading and some at His command that it is obvious to anyone who takes an honest look at the Bible that nakedness is not sin.

So, we start our view with the fact that God wanted us naked and not ashamed, we continue with the fact that nowhere in the Bible does God condemn nakedness and we end our view with God’s preference on nudity from all of the examples of nudity in scripture. 

My father always taught that God teaches through direct command, principle and by example. We cannot find any direct command in scripture regarding simple nonsexual nudity, however we have principle from the fact that God wanted us naked since the beginning of creation and we have tons of examples of nakedness throughout scripture from Creation all the way through the New Testament. 

The bottom line for us is that if God is for it then we are for it and if God is against it then we are against it. We decided a long time ago that we would promote a

Godly worldview no matter what anyone else thought. We have kept to that on the mountain and through the valley.

But here’s the real point…what other people have called negative in our life has in the end always turned out positive. The valleys have all led to new mountain tops. We trusted God through the valley, and He has always led us to a new higher mountain. We walked far enough that Satan’s attack faded, and the victory came into view.

Remember, that when you run smack into the devil, at least you know you’re going the right direction!

Onions are terrible!

Onions are terrible! Sounds like something a kid would blurt out definitively. But are onions really terrible? Though it’s the predominant view among children, you certainly find throngs of people who would claim the opposite to be true, that onions are awesome! Diced raw, sautéed, julienned, onions are celebrated by many a trained palate. Perhaps it’s the immaturity of children, or the fact that they haven’t even tried onions, that prevents them from enjoying such a delicacy. And it’s not just onions, but also vegetables such as brussel sprouts that would also demand protest (I may be inclined to agree on that one!).

You may be asking what the point of all of this is. The same way that many children believe and are almost encouraged to perpetuate the opinion that onions are terrible, that statement falls very short of being true, especially across all demographics. I wonder if we do the same  with other more important things than food based on spiritual immaturity or popularly held beliefs or traditions of man.

Adam Young is a counselor with a podcast called, “The Place We Find Ourselves.” Episode 59 is part of a powerful series on spiritual warfare. It introduces the concept of making and breaking agreements. I’m convinced that a big part of our story boils down to agreements that we made and maintained until we realized they were a bad deal. Like a bad contract, they are binding until the agreement is terminated. “Onions are terrible!” is an agreement, however it is not one that causes much trouble. My issues with lust, objectification, and porn stemmed from much more nefarious agreements:

  • As a man, I’m wired to be stimulated visually.
  • When I see bare skin, the only “natural” response is to be tempted to react sexually, in deed or thought.
  • This is every man’s battle, so it will be a constant struggle.
  • Anyone who says he’s conquered lust has to be lying or delusional.

Mrs. Phil (who likes brussel sprouts, by the way) also made some agreements for most of her life. Here are a few of the agreements she had to break:

  • I’ll never be good enough.
  • I’m the fat sister.
  • She (anyone) is so much prettier than me.
  • Self love is arrogance, and I’m supposed to be humble.
  • I’m solely responsible for protecting my husband’s purity.

As you can see, these are all statements far more terrible than onions could ever be. How damaging to our relationship with each other, with God, and even with ourselves!

On the surface, many of these agreements appear to be noble (see Colossians 2:23). They are even taught passionately in our evangelical Christian circles. How messed up is this?  If our enemy, who despises the image of God, wants to destroy that aspect of our thinking, he’s done a tremendous job, right from the start.

The good news is that our minds can be renewed! We can wage spiritual warfare by breaking those bad agreements and the bondage that comes with them! From one kid who grew to love onions to the next, we can change our minds on any and all ideas that need renewing! That’s true repentance, changing your mind.

That would be the end of my article usually, but I may include one bonus agreement that I entertained years ago, and succumbed to it’s falsehood instead of rejecting, and exchanging it for the truth:

  • Anyone who calls themselves a Christian naturist is probably a pervert, a pedophile, or at the very least someone who is justifying their sinful nature.

The truth is, I’m none of those things, and I’m writing this article from inside a hot tub at a naturist park. I’m fully convinced this is one of the best places to write!

Sharing the News

It wasn’t long after Phil shared with me that he was a naturist and I decided to join him that we started talking about telling our parents. I have a very close relationship with my parents and I knew this wouldn’t be something I could keep from them. I think it was probably around 2 months in that we decided to have the conversation with my parents. We asked if we could come talk to them and they immediately asked if we were moving. We assured them we weren’t. We went to their house and spent the next 3 hours small talking and naturism was never brought up. I was waiting for Phil to start the conversation and he thought since they were my parents that I was going to start the conversation. We ended up leaving without doing what we had gone over there to do! We were both kicking ourselves, so we called them up and said, “Ok, we didn’t even talk about what we wanted to talk about because we chickened out. Can we come back?” They laughed and said they thought we had and of course we were welcome to come back. We turned the car around and began to pray for courage for us and understanding for them. We spent the next 2 hours telling them our story and sharing with them our understanding of Scriptures that we felt not only allowed us to be naturist, but convicted us to be. They didn’t say much. My dad asked a few questions, but my mom was pretty quiet. I have seen that face before. It’s her, “I’m disappointed” face. It broke my heart. She kept saying, “you are adults”, but I knew she was struggling. Who could blame her?! I had struggled too. I knew it would take some time. My mom is my best friend and I prayed this wouldn’t change that!

Over the next couple weeks my mom was very distant. Usually we talk several times a week if not daily, but she stopped calling and when I called she was short and tried to get off the call quickly. It was awkward. My dad told me that she was struggling because she was fighting what she had been taught her whole life too, and what she had taught me. He told us to temper our excitement when we were around her and probably not even to talk about it. I was devastated and continued to pray that this wasn’t a permanent change in our relationship.

Over the next few weeks God gave Phil and me a couple opportunities to talk with my parents again. My dad has had a much easier time dealing with the news than my mom and for that I am so grateful. I could sense my mom beginning to see my heart behind this decision and how it was making me a more confident woman and how my relationship with Phil was thriving. Slowly she began to call again and our conversations returned to normal. A couple of weeks ago we spent the day together and were able to make some jokes about being naked and had a couple good spiritual conversations. It was a great time!

We told my parents quickly, but it took quite some time to build up the courage to tell Phil’s parents. Phil’s family has been in ministry forever. Currently his dad is a Bible college professor. We were anxious about how they would react. We didn’t decide to tell Phil’s parents until several months later. Phil called and asked if we could come talk to them, but they ended up coming to us to watch our daughter’s basketball game. After the game we came back to our house and sent the kids upstairs. We shared basically the same thing we had shared with my parents, but with even more conviction. They were shocked, but seemed to take it pretty well. However, the next morning I called my mother-in-law to ask her a question about something unrelated. She sounded like she was emotional. I asked if she was ok, and she said she had just gotten off the phone with my mom. She need to talk to someone and my mom was the only person she knew she could talk to. I was grateful that she felt comfortable enough to reach out to my mom, but really wished I had been able to give her a head’s up at least! My mom was caught off guard a little bit. We decided later that it was a God thing because if she had known that we had told them she may not have taken my MIL’s call. My mom was able to share with Phil’s mom about the changes she had see in us, and that while it’s scary, she felt we had matured and were being smart. I think this gave my MIL a little bit of peace of mind. We have been able to make a few jokes about it now with Phil’s parents and things seem to be fine. We haven’t had another opportunity to talk seriously about it with them again, but I know eventually God will provide the time for that.

I am grateful for the way God has prepared the path before us in having these conversations. At the moment, only our parents, our children, my friend, and one of Phil’s friends are the only ones who know about this journey outside of our naturist friends. We look forward to the day we can share this journey with others, but like we’ve said before, because of our situation, we are unable to right now.

I am so grateful to our parents for their continued love and acceptance of us, even if they don’t full agree with us… yet! God is good and I rest assured in the confidence that He will continue to be good, forever and ever!

Instant Family

Have you ever met someone in person for the first time and felt an instant connection? I’ve only had that experience a few times in my life. Once as a 3rd grader at a new school, I met my best friend. We are still friends today. The others have been when I have met my fellow Christian naturists. If you have read our other blogs you know we went to Florida last year to a Christian naturist marriage retreat with some other couples we had been talking to online. When we showed up in Florida and were greeting each other, one of the ladies introduced herself and as she hugged us she said a phrase that has stuck with us, “Instant Family”. That phrase has become what we use to describe how it feels we have met others who are of like mind concerning the body.

It might feel this way because, well, they’ve now seen me nude. Although, most of my family hasn’t seen me that way and it doesn’t make them any less my family. And I have friends who don’t yet know about our naturism that I consider family, so I don’t think this is why.

I believe it is more about the spiritual connection. Many of these people we have chatted with online and have built up a friendship long before we have been able to give them hugs in person. We have had silly conversations and joked with one another. We have had deep spiritual conversations concerning many different topics. We have mourned with one another in times of loss and rejoiced in times of celebration. They know things about me that only a few outside of my naturist friends know. When we are given the opportunity to meet up in person it is something we look forward to with great anticipation!

There was a time maybe a year ago as we were really just starting our journey, that because of some internet glitches, we lost contact with some people (one in particular whose story is similar to mine and was helping me deal with the emotions and struggles I was having). I was devastated! I remember telling Phil through tears, I don’t know if I can do this without her to help me through it! She had literally become like a big sister to me! Thankfully, this glitch didn’t last long and we were able to get back in contact, but it did confirm in my heart that there was something special about the relationships we were building on this road.

This same friend was one that met up with us in Florida and after that experience she wrote some beautiful words about the experience. One of the things she said was this, “I am convinced that there is an intimacy that we are missing out on walking around in our clothes. It is an intimacy so deep that we don’t even miss it until you experience it. But it is there buried deep in our core waiting for us to come home…”

We have heard other friends say the same things. That this connection is very rare in the outside world especially so quickly. During these times we can be naked physically and spiritually and emotionally. During these times, I have never been more vulnerable. I’ve also never felt more safe. It’s here that I am accepted for who I am in so many ways. I am loved without having to prove my worth, because to my Christian naturist family, I am worthy just because I exist. God feels the same way about me and you. We don’t have to work hard to impress Him. We don’t have to say the right things, or look the “right” way, or go through the right motions to prove our worth, because in reality we never could anyway. God wants us as part of His family so much so that He offers us a lifeline through His Son. He loves us just as we are and desires a relationship with us that is so deep that we feel safe being vulnerable and naked in every way before Him. We should live in the confidence of His love for us!

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven. Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:13-16

Lust, Modesty, and Purity

Today’s post comes thanks to the interaction with a reader of the blog. Having written us via our contact page, we corresponded back and forth a bit, and then he sent me some memes he had created on the topic of lust.

This interesting debate on Fig Leaf Forum between the editor and a pastor further revealed to me how big of a problem lustful thinking is. For those who have been conditioned to believe that lust is the only “natural” reaction to seeing a naked body, it is almost incomprehensible that this notion is not true. However, we know from experience that there is another response, and it is the more natural response. It is simply to see the other person as a whole person and do so with honor and respect. It’s actually really easy! The pastor in this “debate” (if you can really call it that) is so hung up on the issue of lust throughout the whole exchange (most likely revealing his own personal struggle). The editor tries repeatedly to get him to debate the actual texts in Scripture and points out over and over that we are in agreement over the damaging affects of lust. They should not be debating that issue at all. It’s a classic case of an apples and oranges logical fallacy. I encourage you to read each section of the debate, and you’ll see my point clearly. This pastor is not alone in his beliefs. These attitudes are pervasive in the church. David L. Hatton in Meeting at the River drops this insight, “Widespread religious support for a demonic lie cannot alter its falsehood.”

The following memes are meant to shine a light at the misconceptions of lust, modesty, and purity that are rampant among these churchgoers, well-meaning people intent on following Christ. (I have to keep reminding myself that I went most of my life thinking the same way as they do!)

You’re not going to change my mind on this one, because it has been renewed (See our Renewed Minds blog post). Romans 14:5 states that everyone should be fully convinced in their own minds concerning matters of opinion. I am fully convinced on this issue. For years I tried the body taboo mentality for purity’s sake, but it only ever produced a fetish-like behavior. Strict adherence to arbitrary rules of “morality” brought on a constant struggle to maintain purity of thought at all times– and this in a very sexualized world that does not abide by the same rules. Every man’s battle and bouncing my eyes (popular thinking in Christian circles) would result in some victories and many defeats, and a whole lot of guilt and shame. This is not selling the idea that body taboo works very well!

This is why. Our culture, society, and frankly Christian teaching on the matter has all contributed to us being conditioned to believe that nudity is always linked to sex. Practically the only times people are nude is to shower or to have sex. Folks are even compulsive about wearing clothes to sleep in when God gave us the best pajamas we could ever need (our skin)! With the exception of the occasional doctor visits, there really isn’t much instance for nudity outside of sexual situations. This is where the church goes wrong, thinking that the way to be pure is to limit the visibility of human flesh as much as possible. This completely disregards the incredible nature of the mind to retain and ruminate on images once seen. It negates the face that we have endless limits to our imaginations. It also sets us up for a train wreck of epic proportions when the very thing that it tries to eliminate is being delivered onto the same track of mind. If our minds are perverted, regardless of any man-made effort to the contrary, they will stay that way, UNLESS we renew our thinking.

The problem is that both purity culture and big porn agree on the subject of body taboos. Purity tries to avoid the body as much as it can, calling it dirty, while porn exploits it and makes it obscene. The church and pornographers should not be in agreement, but they are! Again, David L. Hatton explains:

The pornographic view of the body has a twin called “a prudish view.” They come from the same womb. They are two sides of the same coin, and when that coin is spent, whether it’s heads or tails, the purchase is a distorted portrait of our bodies. This is because both views promote an unholy, God-dishonoring treatment of the human body based on exactly the same vain imagination. Prudery hides the body, calling the Creator’s design a lustful indecency. Pornography flaunts it, using prudery’s definition to turn the beauty of God’s handiwork into a stimulus for impure sexual thoughts. Both these ways of treating the body are an unnatural, unrealistic abuse. Though they seem to be opposite, they are conceptually identical. Both are ungodly, and both are based on a dysfunctional view of humanity’s physical embodiment. Wherever a wholesome, godly view of the naked human body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view is embraced, the resultant religious zeal of prudery inevitably plunges a society into the hellish depravity of pornography.

I love this meme, because I’ve lived it out. The averting your eyes “trick”, buddy system accountability, and everything else that is taught to help maintain purity is just plain weak. It doesn’t get to the root of the issue. It’s like putting a small band-aid on a festering wound. I can’t help but think about the Duggars. The reality TV family has shared publicly that if they are out for a walk and the ladies see someone that doesn’t meet their standards of modesty the will use a code word and discreetly say “Nike!” so their men will look down at their shoes and not be tempted to sin. It’s an effort to “protect” the men, but it’s ridiculous! That’s no way to live. It’s also quite prideful to think that your conservative dress code can stop someone from sinning. That’s kind of trying to take the place of Jesus, isn’t it? Was Jesus’ sacrifice not powerful enough to transform men’s lives? I guess in every area except when it comes to lust! In Michelle Duggar’s own words, “By keeping those private areas covered, there’s not any ‘defrauding’ going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don’t believe in defrauding others by the way we dress.” Defrauding is just a very weird term to me. I sincerely hope Josh Duggar is doing well and no longer struggling, but having grown up with this teaching, it did not save him from any scandal. Only the new purity tactic of seeing everyBODY as made in the image of God is fool-proof.

Our friend took this image from our memes page and added these words over the top. If it were true that false solutions to lust were effective, those who live with the most strict of dress codes would be the purest among us. That is simply not the case! And it’s typically oppressing the women and repressing the men. I’ve met several Christian naturists that come from mennonite and even amish backgrounds. They are so much happier and free as naturists, and they attest that in the strict conservative setting lewd behavior is quite prevalent and always in secret. Sad, but true.

Raise your hand if you conquered lust because women covered up. [insert crickets sound] I’m happy to say that I HAVE conquered lust. I could never make that claim before, but I can now. Trust me, it wasn’t because women were covering up. I had the ability lust, objectify, and dehumanize any woman in my mind no matter what she was or wasn’t wearing! I’m certainly not proud of that, but that’s how it was for me. I did NOT conquer lust because of my own great effort. Honestly, I was surprised into freedom! It was a work of God that he did without my help. I changed the way I thought of the body. I renewed my mind and began to see others as made in the image of God, deserving the honor and respect that they are due as fellow image bearers. I broke the hellish agreements I had made that kept me in bondage. I rejected the lies that say we are wired to respond sexually to visual stimuli. It’s so wonderful to be free from that vicious cycle of lust and shame. If you’ve never read “The Chain” on mychainsaregone.org, do it now!

This one brings up a good point about lust, modesty, and purity. I think that what’s perverted is to see Bathsheba as the guilty one! As Chad W. Thompson writes in “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. (2 Samuel 12:1-4)

We tend to take Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30 literally, concluding that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has committed adultery in his heart. We make others cover up to safeguard ourselves from falling into this adultery of the heart. We take the easy route and blame others for forcing us to think impure thoughts. That’s insane. What we have failed to do, is work on our own hearts, and not look upon others with lustful intent. We interpret this passage as not looking at all, but all of a sudden this very taboo creates a powerful allure and temptation. This is all because of a literal interpretation that ignores the fact that you can see another human unclothed without falling into lust. To interpret the very next verse literally would mean we would all have to gouge out our eyes. We’re quick to point out Jesus’ hyperbole here. Can we be consistent? He didn’t say if your right eye causes you to stumble, force women to cover up so that you aren’t tempted, and if you are tempted, get onto them for not being modest enough. He simply said not to look lustfully at other women, and if you can’t then it’d be better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown in hell. No amount of covering is going to purify your mind for you and stop you from objectifying women! It’s better to ask God to help you see others as a work of art, the pinnacle of His amazing creation. I don’t respond sexually to a beautiful sunset. No, I praise God for it. Human beings as the crowning glory of His creation deserve the same respect and admiration, do they not?

This one is a bit strange, but it sort of summarizes what I’ve been saying throughout this post. I guess it’s pointing out which is the most strategic position. If we would embrace the created value, beauty, and goodness of the whole human, things would be a lot better. Think of the whole world adopting this view. Gone would be the porn industry, human trafficking, pedophilia, etc. That’s not going to happen, but it can one by one, on an individual basis as has been the case with me.

If you stumbled onto this page not knowing what to expect and these thoughts have surprised you in any way, I want you to know that there IS a better way. It’s only better because it’s the way God intended us to be from the very start. Sin has so marred a world and twisted and perverted all that He made good. In fact, he called the first man and woman who were naked and unashamed “very good.” Did God change his mind? Or did we?

What’s so good about Christian Naturism?

How has my life changed for the better since adopting this lifestyle? For one, it’s like coming home. It feels like I am the way God made me to be all along. Growing up and through my teens, I skinny dipped, and went out streaking in the woods. Then I came to believe the lie that such activity is childish and slightly deviant. I since have broken that agreement, and am thankful to embrace the naked truth! The other day when walking a trail at our park, I felt so alive and appreciative of God and his blessings (forget the fact that it was only 50 degrees out and I didn’t have a stitch on!).

What else? There’s a lot more. For instance, nudity has become totally and utterly demystified. This paradigm shift breaks the conditioned link between the body and sex, as well as the dualistic view that the soul is good and the body is inherently bad. Relearning for myself that the body and soul are intertwined and made for good has been revolutionary for me. This means I no longer objectify anyone or lust in my heart. Before, it was automatic, and if I was aware of it, then I felt guilt and shame over those thoughts. Simply put, I’m a better person, a better husband, and father. Before, I was powerless to help protect my boys against filling their minds with porn, as so many do. My weak instruction would’ve been “do as I say, not as I do!” But now I’m able to be honest with them and tell of my former struggles and how I’ve been surprised into freedom by changing the way I thought about the body, the image of God, and the renewing of your mind.

I now see everyone as beautiful and a fellow image bearer. Judgmental attitudes are greatly reduced, as a result. Instead, a healthy (and holy) respect is elevated in the place of judgment. You begin to see the whole person, not just the outward appearance. (Didn’t God say that while man looks at the outward appearance, he sees the heart? Yes, according to 1 Samuel 16, this is a godly trait!)

I did not care for legalism before my change in embracing naturism, but even so, I probably was legalistic in places. Now I really can’t stand either legalism or libertinism, but I feel compassion for other believers who are trapped in this type of bondage. It truly saddens me now, and not just in the area of body positivity. I’ve seen how attitudes against a wholesome theology of the body stem from deep man-made traditions and ignore solid biblical exegesis and historical context. 

I have a deeper appreciation for grace than I did before. Far too many Christians accept the grace and love of Jesus, but instinctively hold on to a system of law that has already been fulfilled in Christ. Gratitude for the work done on our behalf, that we could never do on our own is a much better way to live and please God, over a rules-based behavior that stems from unwanted guilt and shame.

I have a keener awareness of the enemy’s schemes and how he deceived the whole world (John 8:44; 1 John 5:19). Since the very beginning, our adversary has viciously attacked the beauty and innocence of the spousal union as God’s ideal. He hates the image of God, and so tries to distort and pervert it however he can.

In the relational arena, I’m more open and honest than ever before, and long for others to enjoy the deep and rich blessings God offers like I do. Because shedding clothes is an act of vulnerability, they are oftentimes not the only things to fall off. Small talk, triteness, and phoniness are likely to vanish from conversations with those of a like mind. Instead, our conversations are with substance and from the heart. Some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet are naturists (Christian or not). I think this is one reason why. 

While interacting with those who are not Christians, there is an opportunity to shine a light and to dispel some of the baggage that people associate (in many cases rightly) with this term and those who claim it. With true Christ followers, the fellowship with those brothers and sisters who are free with their bodies in non-sexual social nudity is a thing of beauty. It’s rare to achieve that level of unity in the textile world.

My wife and I have both gained a greater confidence. This is an area I didn’t not lack as much as Mrs. Phil did. When you can be naked around other people and be unashamed, there’s not much you can’t do!

On that note, we are not the most in shape people. Body acceptance has been a huge blessing. Naturists are on a mission to put an end to body shame, and are accepting of all body types. That said, we do see the importance of taking good care of our bodies and want to improve that area for reasons of good health. Our word for this year (see our blog about our words for the past two years here) is “temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16 proclaims that our bodies are the temple of God. This implies so much more than the “don’t drink or smoke” and “get in shape” declarations that often come from this verse. However, there is some good sense in taking care of our bodies as we also care for our souls.

It seems obvious, but this “city boy” is much more appreciative of God’s creation and I feel more drawn to be in His nature He created for us. I have less need for all the extra trappings and materialistic distractions people become obsessed with and need to accumulate and maintain. I focus more on what is important and not on the things that may steal my joy for no reason. I realize how insecure the general population can be, and appreciate knowing and being secure in my identity in God. 

These are all very good benefits. What’s not so good? The misinterpretation and undue judgment against Christian naturism is a truly unfortunate reality we have to deal with. My friend Matthew Neal’s words from his blog really resonate with me:

Right now, people perceive of my wife and me as a godly couple who serve the Lord faithfully and are raising a family to love and serve God. This, I trust, is genuinely true. It is not diminished in the least by the fact that we have visited naturist resorts and have no requirement for clothing in our home.

But if those facts were known, the same people who view us as godly now might begin to perceive us as perverse and ungodly people who are damaging our own children and leading them astray—ideas which are patently false.

  • So by withholding some information, people continue to believe the truth.
  • By revealing information they are not prepared to comprehend, people would believe a lie.

I genuinely wish I could tell everyone about my beliefs about the body and my practice of naturism. I don’t think there has been any other decision in my life (besides my faith in Christ and my marriage) that have had a more profoundly positive impact on my life. And while I’m constantly alert to opportunities to invest related truth in others’ lives, I’ve determined that—at this point in time—full disclosure would be more of a hindrance to truth than a help to it.

If this got out to the wrong people at this stage in our lives, we would sadly suffer for it. We have several friends who have had to endure various levels of persecution because of this lifestyle that is misunderstood and where intentions are grossly misconstrued. Those friends, like us, have weighed the pros and cons and have come to the conclusion they will not compromise their beliefs due to the ignorance of others.

Speaking of friends, here is what some other friends think is the good stuff when it comes to naturism. 

One friend said:

For me it is a self-selected symbol or token of my openness and humility before Him and His will, in preparation of my knowledge that one day I will stand naked before Him at the judgment day, not being able to hide anything from Him, inside or out. In like manner it is also a symbol or token of my love for Him, choosing to shun the influence of shame where God never intended it to be. I choose Him over culture, I choose Him over the masses, and I choose Him over myself. I am one with Him.

Another said:

We have grown closer to each other and to God. We are more open with each other and with God, we don’t seem to try to hide as much from Him (I know not possible anyway). We have developed deeper, more meaningful relationships with our naturists Christian friends than our textile friends and we believe closer to God because of that. Probably the biggest area is that we have learned to study God’s Word better and deeper for ourselves rather than simply trusting the church’s / pastor’s / professor’s response.

One friend got straight to the point saying:

Connection. Connection to God. Connection to self. Connection to others. Connection to creation.

One friend confessed the following:

Choosing to think and live this way with no shame nude before the Lord ultimately freed me from the last residue of porn deep in my mind, heart and soul and for this I am so thankful to the Lord’s holy light shining on the deep dark part of me in order for it to be expelled permanently. This is part of the nude journey with the Lord that so many believers in Christ are afraid to take, but looking back it was worth the spiritual struggle for this true God and Christ centered freedom.

Another also testified:

I’ve had much less issue with lust, because when you desexualize the nude body, it beautifies God’s original design of being “very good” and frankly, I believe it has created a deeper intimacy with my wife and I due to the fact that in a very tangible way, there’s even LESS between us. We’re better connected as spouses and as followers of Christ!

Lastly, this friend said:

One thing that being nude around others has shown me is that God’s creation is good, and He called it good, not me, and his creation includes me and everyone else around me. God’s creation isn’t just good, it’s also beautiful, and nudity makes me appreciate God’s creation!

We wholeheartedly agree with all of these. We are grateful for our friends who share not only our opinions on the body, but who also have the same conviction to live out those beliefs and model them to others. Having studied, prayed about, experimented, and lived out this lifestyle for a while now, we are fully convinced in our minds that it is God’s will for us. I wish others would be open-minded enough to explore it as honestly as we have.