“The Road Less Traveled” has been used as titles for both songs and books. The meaning behind it is rather obvious—going places most people don’t go.
There can be a lot of valid reasons a “road” is less traveled. I believe one of the major reasons is a certain amount of fear. In your mind’s eye think of a road trip across the border into Mexico and driving through areas controlled by the drug cartel while on your way to a resort vacation. No thanks! Or how about driving on one of those very high narrow cliff roads without guardrails and thousand foot drop offs? I’ll definitely leave that as a road to be less traveled by me!
However, many of the “roads” in life we decide not to travel on are really far less dangerous than we imagine. One of those is the road that leads to a family oriented naturist resort. For many, the journey on that road can seem as terrifying as the high cliff road and will surely end in disaster. But now imagine that dangerous narrow high cliff road was suddenly widened to four lanes and had steel and cement guardrails. Not so bad anymore ya think? And that road just might lead to some beautiful life experiences.
Now I’d like to explain why that road to the naturist resort is not dangerous at all. It simply comes down to one thing. Everyone enjoying social nudity at a naturist resort from management to employees, residents, and guests all know and understand The Rules of the Road.
Any road can become fatally dangerous when fellow travelers do not follow the Rules. Even your local neighborhood road can become fatal when someone disregards something as basic as a stop sign. Then there is the appropriate use of turn signals, brakes, and where to look with our mirrors when our eyes are not focused straight ahead on the road. The Rules of Road is what makes driving safe so we can get to our intended destination.
Just as a person needs to pass a test to obtain a valid driver’s license, so must a person pass a background check to enter a naturist resort. Problematic individuals just are not allowed in.
Then, the rules are further explained and reviewed with every initial visit. Some forbid cameras and phones entirely or in certain areas. And those that do allow them often require colored stickers to be placed over the camera to insure the privacy of guests.
Concerned about gawkers? If anyone is overtly staring in an inappropriate manner just report it to management and they will be quickly dealt with and removed from the park if necessary. And don’t even think of unwarranted touching by strangers. Guests and management would be on them like a chicken on June bug! They would get the boot for breaking the Rules of the Road. There’s definitely a lot of “Highway Patrol Troopers” at a naturist resort making sure your journey is safe.
Just as we drive around our local towns in our own vehicles, we quickly notice a wide variety of vehicles. Some are new, some are old, some are falling apart in various ways. Not much different in a naturist resort. The “vehicles” we live in as our bodies come in various models, some old and some newer. Some have obviously been to the repair shop, and others are in need of repair. Nobody cares what “vehicle” you live in! They are just happy you are there. And actually (to carry the vehicle analogy a bit further) a visit to the naturist resort is like taking your vehicle to the repair shop and getting it fixed, tuned up, detailed, washed, cleaned, and waxed and looking as if you’re brand new. You’ll feel like it too!
There’s no “road rage” at a naturist resort. People are naturally friendly because they know everyone understands the rules. This allows people to be open and accepting. No one is “honking” at you, or shaking their fist at you. No one is in a hurry, and most people enjoy “pulling over” for a chat.
In conclusion, I’d highly recommend you try traveling this road at least one time. I guarantee you’ll find plenty of guardrails along the way to keep you safe and enjoying your journey. You just might find you have discovered a road that you’d love to travel much more often.
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” —Jesus (Matthew 5:28 ESV)
My friend, Chris, gave this helpful analogy. He compared the situation many people have with lust to a desire or craving for food. Remember, lust simply means desire. In this example his wife has this “glorious” dinner planned and wants him to enjoy it, so she asks him not to eat anything between breakfast and dinner. She wants him to be very hungry come dinner time. He promises not to eat anything and save his big appetite (he really likes to eat). Then after skipping lunch and not eating all day, on the way home he drives past a burger joint. The belly starts to rumble, and the whole nervous system alerts him to the smell of these burgers. He’s so hungry. He could just get one burger, eat in the parking lot and then go home and eat a lot more. No harm, right?
At the red light he says, “I really feel that I want to eat a burger … you know what? Deep breath. I’m going straight home and I’m going to have dinner with my wife. And I go home and I eat, fulfilling my promise.” Not incredibly hard.
As soon as he felt that longing, some people would call it “sin” with the way they interpret lust. But at the red light, with the window down and the smell coming in, he’s ok in his promise made to his wife, because he’s not making a plan to act. In Chris’ explanation he says, “Keeping the promise to not form an intention to go and eat my big, glorious dinner is fairly simple, fairly easy. However, demanding that I not feel hungry when I smell food is unreasonable. The same goes for lust.”
Then, say, in a long line at the bank there is an attractive lady. Noticing her physical attractiveness is not sin. But entertaining ideas of how you could be together when she is not your wife—envisioning having coffee together and then maybe more—this is a different story. With this plan in mind, as soon as you talk to her to start a conversation with that intention, that’s wrong. Chris continues saying, “It’s not wrong to feel attracted to people. What’s wrong is forming an intention … That is what Jesus is getting at when he says lustful intent in your heart. As soon as you turn around, form an intention, you actually begin the first little smidgen of trying to do that thing, you’ve committed that sin.” It’s really not so hard this way, and it’s the way it ought to be. You just say no. You simply commit to the other—to the better choice—which also aligns with your promises.
I’ll wager very few people have ever asked that question.
Is the answer obvious? I don’t think so.
The way things are in our culture today, you might quickly conclude that God hates nudity because it’s so closely associated with perversion and sexual sin.
On the other hand, you might assume that because it is such a powerful tool for sexual temptation, Satan simply loves nudity! “The best tool in my toolbox!” you can almost hear him brag.
Stop and Think About It…
Perhaps the answer isn’t that simple. And certainly the Bible would have something to say about it, right? Well, I believe there’s plenty of evidence in the Bible to tell us who hates nudity, and who doesn’t.
Let me start with God and give the biblical facts, then I’ll give the facts as they relate to Satan. A simple examination of all the facts should lead us to the right answer.
God made us to look like Him; human beings are a divine “self-portrait.” (articles: 123)
Our image-bearing is utterly and completely unrelated to clothing. In other words, we are “in God’s Image” without clothes. Clothing contributes nothing to that fact.
God forbade murder for the very fact that our bodies are made in His image. Murder is the only destruction of the body (the soul and spirit are not destroyed) (Genesis 9:5).
God’s original design for human society was complete nudity (Genesis 2:25).
The creation, as God pronounced it (with the first couple completely nude) was “very good!” (Genesis 1:31)
Because God cannot change (Psalm 55:19), we must conclude that He considers the naked human body just as “good” now as He did before the fall. Man’s view of nudity certainly changed with the fall, but God’s view cannot and did not change.
The first overt evidence of sin in Adam’s life was the fact that he no longer accepted his own nudity as good and right (Genesis 3:6-7).
God’s question to Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” was not an affirmation, it was a rebuke (Genesis 3:11).
God’s next question—delivered without waiting for an answer to the first—was, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam’s rejection of his own nudity signified a rejection of God’s place of authority in his life.
God blessed the physical union of Adam and Eve, describing it as becoming “one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Through this union, He expected them to obey His command to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 9:1)
This plurality-expressed-as–a-unity (which may mirror the unity-in-plurality of the triune Godhead – Genesis 1:26Genesis 2:24) literally requires the nudity of the man and the woman. God approves of and blesses the union (Proverbs 5:18); he must also approve of and bless the naked state through which it is experienced (Hebrews 13:4).
The fruit of the womb are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Every baby ever delivered has been born with the mother’s naked body exposed. Every baby ever born has been born completely naked. This blessed and joyful nakedness is by the hand of God.
In all of God’s Old Testament laws and in all of the New Testament instructions, never once has God declared animosity towards simple nudity.
All bathing and the elimination of body waste of necessity had to outdoors when the Law was given, yet God never told them to avoid the exposure of their bodies to others (All He told them was to make sure they buried their feces! – Deuteronomy 23:13).
God actually commanded one of His prophets to prophecy nude for three years (Isaiah 20:2-3). God could and would never lead a prophet to actually do something which He hated.
Jesus Himself—Who never sinned—was nude on multiple occasions in His life on earth (birth, circumcision, baptism, foot-washing- John 13:3-4, crucifixion- John 19:23-24, and resurrection- John 20:6-7).
Satan’s View of Nudity
Satan is opposed to God. That which God loves and blesses, Satan hates and distorts (Matthew 16:23).
The very first thing that Satan influenced Adam and Eve to do after they submitted to his will was to cover their naked bodies (Genesis 3:6-7).
Satan was the “who” of “Who told you [Adam] that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). While we are not told in the text that this is true, Satan is the only player in the entire story (God, Satan, Adam, or Eve) who had the knowledge and motivation to tell Adam that he was naked.
While Satan’s specific words to Adam and Eve after the fall are not recorded, we can be certain that he did not (and has not) from that moment forward been silent.
Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). He has exerted influence of deception on the thoughts and actions of all mankind ever since the fall (John 8:44).
Satan hates marriage and the beauty of marital sexual union.
Satan has sought to dismiss, dishonor, or destroy marriage since the beginning (as contrasted to God’s will stated in Hebrews 13:4).
Satan desires to distort and defile sexual union since the beginning (Genesis 6:1-5).
Satan has been fully and completely defeated by a naked Savior (John 16:11)!
Although Jesus lay clothed in the tomb for three days, He left every stitch of that clothing behind when He came out of the grave (John 20:6-7), bodily risen from the dead! This, indeed, was the final and fatal blow to Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15)!
So what’s the conclusion?
When you look at the biblical data above, it’s pretty clear that the one who hates the unclothed human form is not God, but Satan!
How Satan Treats Nudity
How does that biblical conclusion square with what we see in our world today? It appears that the only place you find nudity exposed today is within the domain of Satan’s work! Pornography, sexual immorality, sexual perversion, even Satanism and witchcraft all use nudity.
But think about it… that which someone loves, they protect, preserve, and honor. That which they hate, they abuse, destroy, and dishonor.This is true for no one more than it is for Satan.
Tell me… does pornography and sexual immorality protect the nude human body? Does perversion preserve the human body? Do occultic activities honor the unclothed human body? No, no, and no.
Satan exposes nudity within pornography to dishonor the body. He uses it to distort sexuality… to bring destruction to the body. He uses it to deceive us into rejecting the sight of God’s image as found in the unadorned human form. We—the church—have God’s Word… we should know better!
The World Bought it All
Satan’s efforts have been very successful.
He has caused almost all of society to spurn the public exposure of the naked human body.
He has so distorted our understanding of its exposure that we only see sexuality there, ignoring or completely denying the image of God.
He has so deftly crafted an impossible standard of “beauty” that young women learn almost universally to hate the look of their own bodies, considering them “ugly.”
He has managed to get us to believe that seeing the sags and wrinkles of aging human bodies is somehow “disgusting” and repulsive… something you don’t want to see in others, and which you don’t want seen in yourself.
This is the world’s view of the naked human body. And this is Satan’s work.
Satan hates the naked human body. And for millennia, we have followed in Adam’s footsteps, listening to Satan’s voice urging us to participate in his insult of the Creator. Even the Church has been duped into promoting this offense against God… treating it instead as if it were a sign of holiness.
Testimony of a Hostile Witness
Satan’s abuse of nudity is compelling evidence that he hates it. And (if the scriptures provided above weren’t enough), it is also compelling evidence that the nude human form is actually dear to the heart of God.
If Satan hates that which God loves, shouldn’t we love that which Satan hates?
But What About the Animal Skins?
I can’t finish this article without saying something about the skins God provided to Adam and Eve for clothing after the fall. Almost all non-naturist Christians point to that passage and use it to claim that “God really doesn’t want us to be naked now after all!”
Is that what the Bible says? Allow me to quote the account in its entirety:
“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”(Genesis 3:21)
What do we learn from that brief account? Very little, actually. There is no command. There is no reason given. There is no proclamation of a shift in the divine perspective on the nature of nudity… although many people quote the verse as if there were.
Any and every understanding of why God gave them clothes must be “read into” the text, because the explanation of God’s purpose simply is not there! Quite frankly, alternative understandings actually fit the context better, but they too must be “read into” the account.
The only thing we can conclude for sure is that God does not object to clothing. But we would be in error if we allowed assumptions about God’s (unexplained!) action to overrule God’s clearly stated proclamation in reference to the Creation and its naked inhabitants before the fall. God never called the clothes, “very good.” Only nudity was ever described that way (Genesis 1:26-27,31, Genesis 2:25).
I See a Problem…
So… God looked at nudity and said “Very Good!”
Satan looked at nudity and said, “Very Bad!”
The Church today looks at nudity and says, “Very Bad!”
In the West, particularly in the United States, society has been convinced over time to accept several myths about naked bodies as truths. The acceptance of these myths as truth has lead to a myriad of issues, but those issues are another discussion. Most of these myths are derived from well meaning members of the Christian church over the last couple of centuries. Like the well meaning Pharisees of Jesus’ time who used man made rules to try to keep from breaking the commandments, many Christian use these myths the same way — as truths to try to keep themselves and others from sinning. Some of these myths are loosely based on scripture others are just based on speculation.
Naked Bodies are Not Natural. This one is largely based on tradition. They reason and argue that clothing and covering the body is the way it has always been. Many go so far as to believe that clothing is what separates us from the animals and is the beginning of a “civilized” society. After all, you never hear of anyone in “civilized” society growing up naked. It only happens with “those savages,” “those naked savages.” Yet, after man was created, naked by the way, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NAS95). “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 NAS95). God never changed his mind.
“If people were meant to be nude, they would have been born this way.” — Oscar Wilde
But that has not stopped the Church from pushing the second myth.
Naked Bodies were/are Commanded to be Hidden by God. Many people look at the passage in Genesis where God provides skins to Adam and Eve as proof that God wants clothed humans. In reality, Adam and Eve started it, not God. They are the ones who created clothing for themselves. They are the ones who invented clothing. “They sewed fig leaves together and they made themselves loin coverings”(Genesis 3:7 NAS95).
They sewed leaves together, who does that? In our current age hunters and snipers come to mind first. Why did they cover themselves? Were they hiding from other people? Who, since only they existed? From each other? From the animals? Maybe from the serpent? Or from God? Up until this point they had walked naked with God in the Garden. Now, Adam and Eve have made camouflage and are actively hiding from God. But, why? Why did they decide that they needed to hide from God? Again, these questions need more exploration, but now is not the time.
As the story progresses God asks the question, “Who told you that you were naked?” Reading between the lines we can expand the question, “Naked? I never said anything about you being naked. Who told you that you were naked?” In the book Uncovering the Image, Bob Horrocks points out that this question God did not, even as Adam and Eve had covered themselves, see their nakedness as a problem.
Yet, God does provide our first parents with skins of animals, surely that means we are to cover ourselves at all times. Paul Bowman postulates:
“It is reasonable to believe that if God had actually condemned nakedness he would have told Adam that, because he had sinned, he was no longer free to be naked and unashamed of his body, After all, God did decree several consequences of the sin they committed.” (Nakedness and the Bible)
Bowman goes on to point out that immediately following God giving them skins, he banishes them from Eden, and sets a guard so they cannot return. Why garments of animals skins outside the garden? We must look at one of the consequences of their sin:
“cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”” (Genesis 3:17–19 ESV)
It appears to me that this wasn’t and act to cover their sinful flesh but another of God’s acts of love toward his beloved creation, partial protection from the environment that was cursed because of them. There is also the belief in many circles that the animal skins were a foreshadowing of the shedding of Christs blood for our sins. Bowman also rightfully points out, If God had given Adam and Eve clothes intended to conceal their bodies — new and improved clothes at that — it would have been a ratification of their efforts to conceal their sin! It is unthinkable that God would ever reward sin, or even reward any efforts made to conceal the results of sinful behavior.”
Naked Bodies are Aways Sexual. Really? We are born naked, not sexual and Job says we return naked, not sexual. Bathing is typically done naked and is normally not sexual. Physical exams and surgery are at least partially if not totally naked, and definitely not sexual. Additionally, throughout the history of the world there have been many naked societies. If naked bodies were always sexual those societies would not have been able to exist because of twenty-four-hour-a-day sexual activities. Our western culture has driven and continues to drive the sexualization of the naked body. “Actually, the loin cloth on an otherwise naked body does call direct attention to the covered area, and it would therefore very likely create titillation by its removal in a sexual situation. On the other hand, observations of daily Life among naked tribes indicate the sight of genitalia in Nude society is not in itself erotic”, Aileen Goodson. “Complete nudity in itself is not erotic. It becomes so only when preceded by or contrasted to a state of dress. In this limited context then, all clothes become somewhat immoral, if we define immorality as inciting sexual interest. Habitual nakedness may indeed be capable of elevating man to a higher mental plane…” Dr. Marylnn J. Horn, “The Second Skin: An Interdisciplinary Study of Clothing”. Dr. Horn goes on to say, “It is the undressing, not the being nude, that is sexually arousing, because it leads the viewer to the association of a sexually intimate experience.”
Naked Bodies are Obscene or “Gross I don’t want to see that.” If humans are created in the image of God then this statement are a spit in the face of our creator. “How is it possible for the human body, which was created in the image of God, to be offensive to anybody? Satan would love to see God’s greatest creation be considered offensive”, (unfortunately, I have misplaced the reference for this quote). Our society is currently in a body image crisis. We see it in the way we treat our bodies from eating disorders to body modifications. Liz Egger laments, “As a naturist myself I find it astonishing that a religion can worship a particular deity yet regard its most miraculous creation – the human body – as obscene and wicked and so shameful that it should be hidden from view.” David Hatton rightly opines, “When people teach that the human body is dirty or obscene, it creates fertile ground for pornography. This is why porn addiction is so strong in our society, even among Christians. Our culture is inundated with a sexualized view of the body. I’m sorry to say that the church has been a key player in spreading that idea.” We need throw off the obscene view of our naked bodies and return to a healthy view of the naked human our form. We were created in the image of God, with penises, scrotums and a broader shoulders or with vulvas, vaginas wider hips and larger breasts. Beautifully made in our differences and similarities.
Naked Bodies Harm Children. Let’s be clear upfront. We are discussing NONSEXUAL nakedness. We have already pointed out that not all Nakedness is sexual.
There are not enough studies on the effects of exposing children to nonsexual nudity. Most of the child development experts, e.g. Dr. Spock, Dr. Brothers, and Dr. Dodson to name a few, have laid out the arguments against exposure to nakedness without any studies to back them up let alone justify their conjecture and opinions. Dennis C. Craig and Dr. William Sparks engaged in a five year study to explore how exposure to nudity affects children. Here are their own conclusions:
“The experts seem to agree that a child should not be overstimulated sexually. Since we consider that wise, we raise a few questions: Is it more detrimental to emotional growth to spend “all ones waking hours” attempting to see the hidden bodies of others than to be raised in a physically open family situation where nudity is taken for granted? Is it not possible that the child who casually learns about other people’s bodies has more time to spend on studies and other pursuits?”
“The experts warn about the terrible guilts and frustrations which will develop in a child exposed to nudity… We found normal childhood problems of adjustment, but we also found a group of adults seemingly satisfied with themselves, and very willing to raise their children as they were raised, with nakedness as part of their every day lives.”
“We were told that when children saw their parents nude , they would be overstimulated… But when we spoke to the adults who grew up in a nudist environment, we were told that it was more stimulating for them to goto a regular beach, where everyone wore suits, however small, than to play volleyball or sun at a nudist park where everyone wore nothing…”
“Without previous studies on which to base their conclusions, the experts told us that children, especially during the years from nine to thirteen, should not be allowed to see their parents nude because it would be harmful to them. It seems clear to us, now, after five years of study that this unfounded bias and conjecture has been very misleading. But, more than that, it has caused real harm to more than one generation of American children.”
“We live in a time when the human anatomy is examined, extolled, studied, and lectured about, and at the very same moment is also exploited, ridiculed, and excluded from social acceptance. We insult ourselves by calling our bodies obscene, pornographic, lewd, base, dirty, immoral, or evil, and in so doing deny the basic truth of our own existence. Our anatomy is us— and it is none of those terrible things.”
“There are some families who have learned what Margaret Mead and others were trying to tell us about the need for understanding our natures and not hating our physiology. These singular adults have created in their children individuals more resistant to the negativism of our modern society. They seem at ease with the rigors of living together in a society dependent, sours is, on our ability to relate to one another with love and understanding.”
“What we learned was that the viewing of the unclothed human body , far from being destructive to the psyche, seems to be either benign and totally harmless or to actually provide positive benefits to the individual involved.”
—Dennis Craig Smith and Dr. William Sparks, Growing Up Without Shame.
There are a few, very few, other studies out there that have taken on this issue and similarly concluded that nakedness harming children is in fact a myth and that exposure to real human bodies in a nonsexual setting can potentially be beneficial.
“The existence in so many places of the tendency toward nudity is not a testimony to the fallenness of man. It is rather a testimony of the original condition of man … The inner desire to be naked and unashamed is a longing to get back to our original perfection.” — Philo Thelos
How I went from a circumspect life to running around in my backyard in the nude.
This is a guest post, and a wonderful story from a new online friend, Chuck Douglas.
I believe our cultural and/or religious inculcation to avoid nudity or being seen nude, or seeing others nude, runs very deep for most people. Overcoming that, assuming one wishes to, isn’t quick or easy and even if we wish to, still isn’t easy. Most people are raised to believe that being nude is only about sex or bathing or maybe at the doctor’s office so social nudity runs against a lifetime of training for most of us. My parents were Mennonites-turned-Baptists and I was raised accordingly. Sex or nudity was a nearly forbidden topic and surely those people who were nudists could only be perverts. Because I was raised so strictly — movie theaters were places of sin and I never entered one until I was about age 17 — that I should develop a predilection for naturism seemed unlikely.
My interest in naturism did happen to begin in a rather unlikely way. Growing up under my parent’s strict rules I happily left home at 19 to embrace fun in whatever form would give me a rush. I had no taste for drugs and not much for booze, adrenaline was much better and legal. About a month after leaving home I bought a motorcycle and went motocross racing and later became deeply involved in the new sport of hang gliding. When I was young I’d give most things a go, dangerous or not.
Long about 1974 or ’75 I was at Torrey Pines State Park in San Diego to fly my hang glider. I was an early adopter of the sport of hang gliding and Torrey with its 400ft cliffs facing into the ocean breeze was a great place to fly. Below the cliffs was the well-known Black’s Beach, then an unofficial nude beach. I’d known since high school that there was a nude beach way down there below us but I had little thought to explore the possibilities.
A bit after taking flight from the top of Torrey Pines, the wind slacked, and my hang glider lost enough altitude that I couldn’t land back on top of the cliff. Black’s Beach here I come! Now, I still hadn’t really thought about the reality of landing on a nude beach, just the details of landing on a crowded beach. As I cruised in for a landing a number of people moved aside for me. I landed, put down my hang glider, and some guy stark naked walked up to me and said “Those things are far out! How much do they cost?!” I replied, “Doesn’t look like you can even afford a bathing suit let alone a hang glider!” He laughed and asked more questions. Then a very attractive young woman, totally nude >gulp<, walked over smiling and started asking questions about hang gliding. Hang gliding was new back then so it always attracted some attention when you flew and the location of a nude beach was no exception. More naked people gathered around the glider talking and asking questions as I set about folding up my glider. To say I was distracted by all the naked women around me would be an understatement. Up to that moment at age 23, I’d never seen another naked woman in person apart from my wife. I was enough of a gentleman to try not to stare but it was tough not to grab more glances than I should. But people were so polite, so friendly and a few suggested I shuck off my clothes and join their beach party. Perfect strangers invited me to their beach party! I grew up in California and no beach I’d ever been to was as friendly as that one. I noticed after a bit, too, that there was no “rocket in my pocket” as I might have expected. How can you be around so many naked people of the opposite sex and not be aroused? Had I been overwhelmed and struck impotent by a nude beach? It was puzzlement and my first inkling that nudism isn’t about sex.
Normally, packing up a hang glider back then was a 5-minute job but I took about 45 minutes that day do to the many distractions. The cliff path is a bit of a challenge anyway and I wasn’t anxious to start that trek. Carrying an 18ft long, 35lb hang glider doubled the effort. Someone kindly offered me a cold soda. More conversations and more trying not to stare.
I came away feeling that the nude beach scene was something special, something I’d like to try again. I was a risk taker so to me it was one more risk, less dangerous than flying from a 400ft cliff. A couple of days later I went back to Black’s Beach sans hang glider and hiked the long, sketchy path down the cliff to the beach. I found a reasonable spot on the sand not too close to anyone else and threw down a beach towel, took a gulp of air, and took off all my clothes. Suddenly everyone on the beach stopped what they were doing and looked at me laughing and pointing! Okay, no, no they didn’t. No one noticed one more naked person on the beach. Turns out there was nothing more amazing about my body than anyone else’s body, nor anything uglier or weirder. I was and am pleasantly average.
I knew, lacking sunscreen or shade, I couldn’t stay long on the beach. I hadn’t planned well. I lay out there for about 40 minutes, going in the ocean once, fully afraid that I’d be grabbed by a shark or an orca and the news would be screaming “Conservative Christian Man Killed By Orca At NUDE Beach!” Everyone I knew, my wife, parents, friends, and pastors, would KNOW what I’d done! I’d been nude in public. I’d watched naked coeds from the university nearby play volleyball. Worse, total strangers had seen my willy! Horrors! No sharks or orcas grabbed me, though, so once I relaxed a bit more it felt wonderful to be in the water. Out of the water, I got dressed for the rather arduous trek back up the cliffs. I had much to think about the rest of the day and indeed, over the next 35 years or so.
I really wanted to get involved in visiting a nude beach again but the woman I was married to back then absolutely refused to consider it. Subject not open for discussion. I pushed naturism out of my mind for the next three decades or so aside from an occasional nighttime skinny dip in my own swimming pool. When I found myself single again in 2000 and living in Arizona, I decided to at least work on getting some tan on my white body, and shape up a bit to be presentable as a single person. I worked outdoors a lot so I had a nice “farmer suntan” with a brown face and arms and a pasty white body. I begin laying nude in the walled backyard of my new home getting a bit of an all-over tan. I connected with a local naturist group but that never really went anywhere.Time moves on and recently the bug to be nude again struck me, in part because I’m now married to a lovely woman who is at least willing to be naked on our patio and in our backyard. We are talking about visiting a nude beach or resort on vacation next year and I’m very hopeful about that. I’ve been mostly nude around the house during the late summer and in the backyard, too. Our backyard is semi-private and on the days our next-door neighbors work, I’m more or less free to lay out nude or water plants around the yard. I may even mow the yard naked one of these days. It’s a long way, 47 years, since my unexpected airborne arrival at Black’s Beach and yet I feel like the fun part of the journey is just beginning and this time with my lovely wife’s support.
If we want to know God’s desire and intention for the human race, the truth is to be found in our creation. And that’s found in Genesis 1-2. In those chapters, we find that the first man and woman placed by God in a Garden Paradise called Eden.
Paradise lasts, it turns out, for only two chapters… but there is much to learn there before sin tainted creation. Eden is what God made us for. And that explains the longings that we have to “return” there.
Among the other perfect elements of life in Eden, Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect relationships. God Himself exists in the eternal and perfect communion of the Trinity, and our capacity for relationship is one of the ways that we bear His likeness.Therefore, I am focusing our attention on relationships in this post.
There were three essential relationships which the first human beings experienced in Eden. All three were part of God’s intention and design; all three were in evidence before the Fall, and all three were damaged by the Fall.
The three relationships were:
Their relationship with God.
Their relationship with their spouse.
Their relationship with themselves.
By God’s design, all three of these relationships were perfect because they were exactly as God intended them to be.
Relationship with God: They were created in God’s image and likeness, and they obeyed Him as their Lord. (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:16)
As God’s crowning creation, the man and the woman were especially honored to be made in His image, and they alone were given the opportunity to obey or disobey God. They alone were expected to live with God in perpetual volitional obedience. While they did so, their relationship with Him was perfect and unhindered.
Relationship with Their Spouse: They experienced true “one-flesh” unionwith each other. (Genesis 2:24)
Just as each person of the Godhead exists in perfect union and relationship with the other persons of the Godhead, so the man and the woman were designed by God to live in perfect union with one another. Before the Fall, this relationship was mutually giving, loving, and unselfish.
Relationship with Themselves: They knew no shame. (Genesis 2:25)
Both Adam and Eve were completely at peace with who they were. There was no need to hide either physically (they were naked) or emotionally (without shame). They were exactly as God made them and intended them to be, and it was enough. There was no sense of any kind that they needed to be more, less, or different than what and who they were. Shame is not and never was God’s desire for His highest creation. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were each in perfect relationship with themselves for they were utterly without shame.
Damaged by the Fall
All three relationships listed above were severely damaged by the sin of Adam and Eve. This damage was evident in the actions of Adam and Eve immediately thereafter.
Relationship with God: When God approached them, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of God. (Genesis 3:8-9)
Adam and Eve no longer felt free to be in God’s presence; instead, they felt fear. Furthermore, their understanding of God was skewed so that they were now deluded into believing or hoping that if they hid among the trees, He would not know where they were.
Relationship with Their Spouse: Love and trust were lost. (Genesis 2:12-13)
Adam and Eve were no longer unified. When tempted, Eve chose not to believe what her husband had told her and follow his guidance for her. Eve was then party to Adam’s Fall. When confronted about his own sin, Adam chose to blame rather than to fulfill his own responsibility as husband to love and protect his wife.
Relationship with Themselves: They were ashamed of their bodies. (Genesis 3:7)
Adam and Eve no longer accepted how God had made them. They now considered parts of their own bodies to be less than good, and they felt exposed and vulnerable. In their effort to hide their own sense of inadequacy, they sought protection from external coverings.
The Longing Remains
Man still longs for the peace with God that he was made for.
Adam’s perfect relationship with God was damaged, but deep in his soul, there was still a yearning to know and walk in peace with his Creator. The fact that perfection was lost does not change the fact that we were made for that relationship. God also desires that we walk with Him. That is why He sent Christ Jesus to take away our sin and restore us to our relationship with the Father.
This side of heaven, we will never know a perfect relationship with the Father like Adam did before the Fall, but we still long for it, and we are called to pursue an ever deepening relationship with Him here and now.
Man and Wife still long to be united in perfect love with one another.
A man still longs to have the be fully one in body and soul with his wife, and a woman still longs to give herself fully to a man who will love, cherish, and protect her. Neither will see complete fulfillment of that desire in the fallen state, but they can and should pursue the ideal.
We can experience tastes of that unity when we love with God’s love and give ourselves as fully as we are able to our spouses. Even in our fallen state, there is no more fulfilling human relationship that we can experience than the one between husband and wife when each fully gives themselves in unselfish love.
We all have a deep longing to be completely and transparently accepted exactly as we are.
So much of our lives we spend seeking approval and/or affirmation. We are constantly aware of our own inadequacies and failures. Hiding or covering our imperfections are perpetual motivations. We want to feel good about ourselves, and we want others to accept us as well.
Children – and adults – are most free and “alive” when they know for sure that they are truly “ok” exactly as they are. They shy away from contexts where they are judged, and they blossom and shine in a context of complete acceptance. This kind of acceptance is what we were made for. Indeed, the Bible calls it, “naked and unashamed.”
Notice that I didn’t say that we should pursue “naked and unashamed.” Everyone knows that since we’re fallen, there’s no way we can ever get any taste of “naked and unashamed” in this life, right?
We will never experience the fullness of pre-fall unity with our Heavenly Father in our fallen state…but that sure doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue an ever deepening relationship with Him.
We will never experience the fullness of pre-fall unity with our spouses in our fallen state… but that sure doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make any effort to give ourselves fully to the one God has given to us.
We will never experience the fullness of pre-fall innocence and purity in our fallen state…but that sure doesn’t mean that we should never even attempt to live “naked and unashamed.”
Can anyone show me in the Bible where God has forbidden such a pursuit?
God’s pre-fall ideals for humanity are His post-fall ideals for humanity. God never changed His mind about them. He understands that we are dust and that we are fallen; He knows that we won’t fully attain the ideals until after we are fully and ultimately redeemed, but He still wants us to pursue His ideals here and now. His grace is greater than our inability to get all the way there, so we have absolutely no reason to hold back.
Roadblocks to Eden
We were created for Eden. If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that we still long for it on all counts, even though we have built and maintain false roadblocks to getting there:
We tell ourselves that if we really draw close to God, we will have to lose or give up something. We trade what is to be found in God for what little comfort we can find in the pursuit of our own ways.
We tell ourselves that if we really open up to another person, we will get hurt by them. We embrace the predictability of emotional and/or physical isolation to protect against the threat of pain.
We tell ourselves that if we really attempt to be naked, we will only know shame. We choose the safety of hiding behind clothing in a vain attempt to thwart shame.
In all cases, the tradeoff is tragically misguided. All we really do is promote the false notion that our fallen state is unredeemable. We accept being less than truly human. We miss out on what God made us for.
Most everyone will rightly tell us to lay aside the first two roadblocks, but precious few will ever encourage anyone to lay aside the third. Most, it seems, will vehemently forbid any attempt to “return to Eden”… but on that point only! There is no logical or biblical defense for that distinction. To be consistent, we must either forbid all three pursuits, or encourage all three.
Welcome to Eden!
I invite you to Eden!
Yes, God blocked the entrance to the physical Garden Paradise in Genesis 3:22-24, but His clearly stated purpose for doing so was so that the man and woman would not partake of the Tree of Life and live forever physically! It was not a declaration that their longings for the relationships of Eden could not be pursued!
Instead, God gave the promise of a Savior (Genesis 3:15 the “seed of the woman”), and that Savior became the One by whom we could once again live forever! Even that human desire is still ultimately God’s will for us… just not in our unredeemed state!
Lay aside the roadblocks. All of them.
Give up anything that keeps you from pursuing your relationship with God.
Give up emotional and physical isolation from your spouse and others.
Give up your confidence in clothing and shed your shame.
Welcome to the freedom of being completely human… the way God meant for you to be.
Editor’s note: This great article is a repost used with permission. See the original post by clicking here.
My two main passions in life are my Christian faith (done in the Anglican way) and Naturism; and I love to find the spaces and places where those two things intersect. Most people would think that Naturism and Christianity are polar opposites, but they are not; they intersect more often than most people including both naturists and Christians would expect.
Christianity and bodies
Many people think that Christianity is a mainly spiritual way of living. I don’t think it is. Of all the religions that I know of Christianity is the most grounded and body centred religion. Christianity starts (as does Judaism and Islam) in the Garden of Eden with a naked man and a naked woman. Christianity develops radically differently from the other two Abrahamic religions, because if we skip some thousands of years ahead we have the New Adam, Jesus coming naked into the world in a human body just like everyone of us. Theologians call this the Incarnation, God becomes flesh. An early Christian school of thought felt that God could not possibly be contaminated by becoming flesh, their belief was that the physical world was evil and the spiritual world was good. They believed in a dualistic world. Early on this doctrine was rejected by the fathers of the Christian religion, they held that God created the world as one, both physical and spiritual and it was all good, after all, God said it was. To this day orthodox Christian doctrine is that God’s creation including us humans and our bodies are very good.
Christianity and nudity
Some things to think about: In chapter 3 of the book of Genesis, at the start of the Bible shortly after God had created Adam and Eve we are told that God was walking about the Garden at the time of the evening breeze. What do you think God was wearing, while he was enjoying the evening breeze on his skin? It seems inconceivable to me that He was anything but naked. And the angel who drove Adam and Eve from the Garden? What was he wearing?
There are some strands of Christianity which hold that what one believes is the most important thing, for many Christianity is all about what is going on in your head. For me Christianity is primarily about worshipping God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and the only thing which we can use to worship God are our bodies. We use our bodily senses, and we use the postures and gestures of our bodies as well as our voices to worship God.
With our five bodily organs and senses (eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, mouths to taste, and hands to feel) we experience the transcendent and immanent nature of God. We look at stained glass windows, the beautiful vestments which the clergy are wearing, the rich silverware and crystal glass used for celebrating the holy communion. We hear the organ and the choir singing and chanting, we smell the incense wafting up the nave aisle and around the altar, we taste the body and blood of Christ in the communion, and we use our fingers to feel the texture of the Bible, prayer book and hymnal in our hands.
We use our bodies while worshiping; we stand to sing the hymns, kneel to pray, sit to listen to the lessons from Scripture. We make the sign of the cross over our heads and hearts at the mention of the Trinity, we bow our heads on hearing Jesus’ name, and genuflect at the altar.
The Naked Jesus
Next let’s consider the four pivotal moments in the earthly ministry of Jesus,
Jesus’ crucifixion and
As mentioned above, like each one of us, Jesus came into this world naked. This is so obvious it barely needs stating, but it is an important theological fact. Jesus was a naked body at the very start of his life, just like us.
At first when we think of it, that Jesus was naked at his baptism seems surprising. A very early Christian text called the Apostolic Tradition, presumed to have been written by Hippolytus of Rome some time before 235AD, gives instructions on many aspects of Christian life and ritual including baptism in Chapter 21.
So a very early Christian explains how early baptisms were done and it is very clear that they were to be done naked, and being an early apostolic source means they were following the custom passed down from Jesus.
Many artworks portray Jesus being baptized naked, for example the centre piece in the dome of the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna, Italy.
Another is from the monastery at Daphni, near Athens, Greece.
Other artwork depicts naked baptisms, for example, The Appearance of Christ to the People by Alexander Ivanov (1806–1858), in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
The Baptism of Christ, by Cornelis van Haarlem in the State Art Gallery in Karlsruhe, Germany.
The Baptism of Christ by Maarten van Heemskerck in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
That Jesus was naked at his crucifixion is not controversial, the Bible says as much, Matthew 27:27 -35 details how the Roman soldiers stripped Jesus of his clothes and then divided his clothes among them by throwing dice. And much the same account is given in Mark 15:24, and Luke 23:34. In John 19:23 the soldiers take his clothes (in Greek his ἱμάτια) and then removed his tunic (χιτών in Greek, which was the garment worn next to the skin). There can be no doubt that Jesus was left naked at this point.
Art also points to this truth: Michaelangelo’s Crucifixion in the Convent of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy, make the point very beautifully.
The idea that Jesus was naked at his resurrection is more controversial. But if one takes the words of the bible at their face value it seems that Jesus would have walked out of the tomb naked, after all the grave clothes he was buried in were folded and left in the tomb.
It becomes more obvious that he was naked when we look at the Fourth Gospel account of the resurrection (John 20:15) Mary Magdalene saw Jesus outside the tomb but did not recognize him and thought him to be the gardener. Why did she think he was the gardener? Various authors have suggested that because clothes were expensive people doing outdoor work worked naked so as not to ruin their clothes. We know that Peter worked as a fisherman on his boat naked (John 21:7). Another more convincing reason that Jesus was seen as a naked gardener is because Jesus is the New Adam (see Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-23). And of course Adam was the first naked inhabitant of the Garden of Eden.
The Resurrection of Christ by Peter Paul Rubens in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium.
The Apostles’ Creed, one of the foundational and universal creeds of Christianity states: “I believe in … the resurrection of the body” Some people think that the body in whose resurrection we believe in is Jesus’ body. But this not the full truth, the body being referred to in the Apostles’ creed is our own body. See for example the words of the Catechism in the Anglican Prayer Book 1989:
What do we mean by the resurrection of the body? We mean that God will raise us from death in the fulness of our being, that we may live with Christ in the communion of the saints.
As for me, I believe that some time after my death, at the time of the General Resurrection, my body will receive new life and my naked body of meat and bones, flesh and blood will be resurrected “in the fulness of my being” in some mysterious way which I don’t pretend to fully understand.
What about naturism?
The official definition of naturism is:
a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment
The two great commandments of religion, reiterated by Jesus are:
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
Some parallels can be drawn between these two ideas: I take a panentheistic view of God, that is to say God is in everything, (as opposed to pantheistic view, which is the idea that everything is God), So loving God and loving (or being in harmony with) nature are similar ideas. Naturism asks us respect others, Jesus demands we love our neighbours. Naturism expect that we respect ourselves; Jesus makes the assumption that we love ourselves enough already. And while self-regard is built into us, we do know that many people have great trouble with self esteem and body shame, so in this case I do think that naturism has something to add.
Classic naturism as developed by the early fathers of Naturism (the Durville brothers, Adolf Koch, Hans Suren, Dr. Heinrich Pudor and Richard Ungewitter to name a few) emphasised physical fitness, sunlight, and fresh-air bathing, and then adding the nudist philosophy, contributing to mental and psychological fitness, good health, and an improved moral-life view. These ideas align closely with the Christian ideals of spiritual, physical and mental and social health, engendered by faith, prayer, and worship.
Worshipping God, while being naked is a truly wonderful and awesome experience, meaning an experience in which one feels real wonder and awe at both God’s creation around you and the transcendent nature of a loving God, who is completely other, sacred and holy: One feels completely in this world but not of this world. On our KZN Naturist Association weekends away I lead a service of Morning Prayer on the Sunday morning of the weekend, usually in a beautiful natural spot, next to a stream or under some trees. It is a service of prayer, scripture and sometimes singing, which many of our members find deeply rewarding. I recommend naked Christian worship to everyone.
I can hear it now – “Whoa! Christian naturism is a non-sexual experience so don’t go there and make it sexual!”
And I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But just because it is a non-sexual experience doesn’t mean we are no longer sexual beings. And from a male point of view I’d like to share two advantages I’ve discovered that I never even considered as possible.
There is generally only one area of sexuality that is discussed in Christian naturism and that is deliverance from pornography and lust. While this is a huge step into freedom from a terrible bondage, there is definitely much more to consider. Since there are already many discussions and testimonies of deliverance from pornography and lust I won’t go into that area in this article, but will address two additional sexual advantages of Christian naturism.
First, is the amazing fact and experience of discovering how easy it is to now be able to control sexual desires. Pre-Christian naturism was the usual swirl of being carried along the torrent of passions without any hope of realizing they can be turned off or delayed when necessary. Yes, sexual passion and it’s human fulfillment is also a very good thing created by Father God – and I think He was in a very nifty mood that day! But even as a married Christian I still didn’t understand that my desires could be controlled (turned off – delayed) without frustration.
I remember one time as a new Christian, in my early thirties, when a pastor told me that a husband could lust after his own wife. I was shocked! I just couldn’t believe that to be true, and It was a real puzzle to me for many years. Now I understand that he meant it could easily go beyond desire to a self-gratification that uses his wife as a means to an end. Pope John Paul II addresses this issue in his book Love and Responsibility.
The blessing of Christian naturism and its associated biblical teachings have put this in proper perspective and application. The desired effect of controlling inappropriate sexual desires has become wonderfully simple in application. If any person arouses any type of sexual desire, the TRUTH is what sets me free from that. I can quickly tell myself the truth is that the human being I am looking at is the very Image of God (Genesis 1:27) and NOT for my self-gratification. I quickly elevate the scene from the worldy to the heavenly, and sexual desire is quickly shut down.
The second advantage is tied to the first. Because I can look upon a nude human being as the Image of God, I can then be in a mixed social setting without sexual desire. The experience of social nudity with mixed genders and ages actually becomes very idyllic and Eden-like. This experience has what I call a “holy joy” attached to it, and it is so awe-inspiring and wonderful that we would never want to ruin it by injecting sexual desire into the scene. It would be like throwing a bucket of paint on Michelangelo’s statue of David, or taking a hammer to Rodin’s sculpture, The Kiss . It would just horribly ruin something beautiful, just as sexual desire would ruin social Christian naturism. I discovered there is now a built-in aversion to mixing sexual desire with social nudity. What a joy!
The naked human body of all ages and genders is pure, holy, and good. It is a very privileged blessing to be able to enjoy it as God intended without the self-gratification of sexual desire. Therefore in fulfillment of the command to “love one another” we find an additional built-in desire of Christian naturists to preclude using one another to fulfill sexual desires.
It is stated in 1 Corinthians 6:20 – For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Happily, Christian naturists have learned the value of not only glorifying God in our own bodies, but also the glorifying of God in how we view the bodies of others.
We hated our washing machine from the very first day we bought it over seven years ago. It frustrated my wife intensely, which caused me to dislike it very much also. After all, “if Mama ain’t happy – then nobody’s happy!” After my wife’s disabilities increased and I had to take over the laundry, I begin to literally hate this machine that would never seem to work like I wanted it to. It would tangle clothes, go off balance, and often sit and go into “sensing mode” for no apparent reason. From the very first day I began to curse that machine calling it all kinds of derogatory names and even kicking it and pounding on it with my fists! I’m really not a violent guy, but this was a bit of a phobia I had towards it – for seven long years!
Recently, after a really frustrating day with the dang thing, I finally had it and was going to get a new one. This one was going to the junkyard – that is until I looked at the prices of new ones! Yikes! Even the cheap ones are expensive! Ok, now I’m looking with a new mindset of perhaps living with this monster of a machine a bit longer.
I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit or just me in desperation, but a thought came to my mind. John, you’re cursing this machine all this time. Why don’t you try blessing it? Quickly recognizing the biblical truth before me, I right then and there repented for cursing my washing machine and started to call it blessed out loud. I even declared it to be part of the Kingdom of Jesus and is therefore blessed in my household!
Well, wouldn’t you know it – shortly thereafter the Lord opened my eyes to what was wrong with it and how it could be fixed. I say, “opened my eyes” because I literally was blind to a simple method of making it work correctly. I’m a mechanical kind of guy. I should have recognized the problem easily, but I believe my cursing it literally blinded me to the obvious – and blessing it literally opened my eyes to changing this machine from a monster to a very pleasant and useful piece of equipment.
Shortly thereafter, I began to ponder about how this cursing thing had affected my life in various ways. Naturally, I began to review my journey out of lust and pornography into Christian Naturism – and the similarities began popping up all over the place.
I was constantly cursing my body.
My body was a monster – rarely acting the way I wanted it to. Always going off balance and getting tangled up in stuff it shouldn’t.
Just as I would kick and beat on the washing machine, I would abuse my body by looking at porn and doing destructive things with it. It was the same love/hate relationship I had with the washing machine. I had one and had to use it for better or worse.
Just like having a phobia about that washing machine, I would look at my body as evil and corrupt and must be dealt with very harshly.
I also began to see how many woman could hate their body and call it cursed – hoping to get rid of it and upgrade to a new model!
It wasn’t until I fully realized that my body is blessed because it is the Image of God that I began to be “repaired” and now my body works properly. I call it blessed and it exists in a blessed environment in the Kingdom of Jesus. My being nude is no longer going off balance with lewd. My nudity is no longer tangled up in the spin cycle of the world. The lie that my body is cursed has been washed away! I am clean, whole, and functioning very nicely without clothes. Who needs a washing machine anyway!
Many people have become aware of nudism or naturism in recent years. They have lots of questions about it, and many objections, but there are two objections that I see over and over; the words vary, but the common “threads” run like this:
•Our religion or laws or founding documents forbid it.
•It’s just a prelude or excuse for sexual activity.
The first objection can be answered by study, logic and reasoning. But the second one is harder to dismiss since it’s many people’s life experience.
Can humans in fact be naked together with other humans without always doing or thinking about sex? Even asking the question seems foolish to many people. Many men who have yet to experience nudism wonder how we nudists control that semi-involuntary bodily reaction known as erection. But as many nudists have discovered, we can be naked together with no more arousal or wish to do sex than if we were at work, or a concert, or any social gathering.
How do we do this?
Before I became a naturist or nudist (the terms are interchangeable but have slightly different connotations), I developed a simple reconditioning program for myself. At first I wasn’t sure this program would change my thoughts about nudity, but it did. Now it’s time — long past time, maybe! — to tell others how they also can change thought patterns that seem to be unchangeable.
By restudying our sacred texts, seeking out non-erotic nude imagery, and going naked by ourselves and with others, we can break societal mindsets and recondition our minds and bodies to experience nakedness not as erotic or shameful but as normal.
Restudy our sacred texts
In late 2000, one evening as I was browsing the Internet, I stumbled onto a Christian Naturist web page.
Despite my Evangelical Christian upbringing, nudity had fascinated me from at least my teen years on. I must confess that that evening, not for the first time, I was browsing for nude photography, not pornography but nudist and naturist photos. As I searched, I felt as usual a mixture of thrill at doing something “forbidden” and shame at going against what Christian leaders had continuously emphasized, that to like nakedness was to be “immodest” and to “fall into lust.” So it stunned me to learn that some Christians believed it was okay to be naked among other naked people. But I found a statement of faith on this Christian Naturist web page that, in every detail except one, matched what I had been taught and personally believed about the Trinity and the Bible and the Christian way. Therefore I had to accept these people, naked or not, as brothers and sisters in Jesus. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God…” (I John 4:2)
The one detail in their statement that didn’t match what I had been conditioned to think was that they believed nudity was good, non-erotic and normal.
So I got out my old complete concordance and looked up every Bible passage containing the words “naked” or “nakedness”. Reading these verses, I slowly realized that none of them condemned nudity in all circumstances. Two passages in Exodus forbid nudity for priests performing priestly services. But balancing these passages are the stories of King Saul, King David, and the prophet Isaiah all going naked with God’s approval and even God’s explicit command to Isaiah.
A little further study revealed that Jesus Himself was naked at several key points in His ministry. At His birth, of course; but by Jewish tradition He would also have been naked at His baptism. The Gospel of John details how He took off all His clothes to wash the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. The Roman soldiers took off all His clothes to crucify Him; they had no interest in preserving the “dignity” of a condemned criminal. And by the Gospel accounts, it’s likely He walked out of the Garden Tomb clothed only in His resurrected flesh.
There are other Bible passages that mention nudity, but nowhere is there any condemnation. All the teachings the churches have developed are based on interpretations, commentaries and assumptions. Change the assumptions, and the whole “religious” prohibition falls like a house of cards.
So much for the conventional Judeo-Christian teachings on nudity. While I cannot speak about the Koran, the Vedas or the sacred texts of other major religions, I suspect that there are no broad condemnations of simple nudity in them either, or none that would hold up against proper exegesis.
This is the first step in Breaking Naked: to restudy our most foundational writings without assumptions and with good scholarship to find out what they say, and especially what they don’t say, about nakedness.
Seek non-erotic nude imagery
The other major objection against nudism is that humankind, especially men, are supposedly hardwired to see all nakedness as inescapably erotic. But the testimony of artists, medical professionals and nudists themselves is that they soon became so accustomed to nudity that they don’t see it as particularly sexy. As I continued to study and dialogue with nudists online, I saw that there were three possibilities: they were either lying, or in denial about their reactions, or telling the “naked” truth. If they were telling the truth, then instead of being hardwired, all our typical responses to seeing another naked human, particularly one of the opposite sex, must have been conditioned into us, perhaps when we were too young to understand the conditioning process.
So, before going to a naturist event, I decided to see if I could recondition myself.
I began to seek out naturist and art websites that featured photographs of naked people in non-erotic settings, such as doing housework or hiking in nature. But my search was different now. Before, there had always been the mix of thrill and shame I have described; but now I intended to bypass these reactions and see nudity as normal, not shameful or erotic. If my body became aroused, I neither encouraged its response nor denied it. And I refused to self-pleasure while I looked, or afterwards. I do not believe masturbation is necessarily wrong or harmful, yet I knew that then it would have reinforced the cultural mindset I intended to break.
In less than a month, I could look at nude images for more than an hour with no physical arousal and no more intent to self-pleasure than if I were at a church fellowship dinner. I was surprised at how easy it was to break the mindset I had had drummed into me. I began to believe this was how God intended for us to live.
And this is the second step in Breaking Naked: to retrain our minds to see nudity as normal. Once we are thoroughly convinced of this, our emotions and physical reactions follow.
Free our bodies
While I was retraining my mind in this way, I also began to retrain my body by going naked in my home. Our society has conditioned us to believe that our bodies are so sensitive to air on our unclothed skin that men will become erect and women moisten at its touch. But this too is a conditioned reaction, and I soon found that I had no more physical reaction to nudity than to being clothed. In fact, clothing, especially if it were tight around my groin, made me more aware of my penis and testicles than nakedness!
Once late at night, I went to the outdoor swimming pool in my apartment building and swam both clothed and (briefly) nude. I found that I greatly preferred the smoothness of nudity. But because I feared discovery, I couldn’t relax into the experience as I hoped to.
By now I was entirely comfortable with being naked and seeing images of nudity in privacy. One more question remained in my mind: Could I be as comfortable around others? Were nudists indeed as matter-of-fact in their activities as they presented online? There was only one way to find out.
I found a naturist group that met every month at a local athletic club, and secured an invitation to attend their next club swim.
It was as comfortable and free as I had been led to expect. From the first, there was neither discomfort nor arousal at being naked among other naked men, women and children. And my first real skinny-dip was life-changing! I no longer felt like a collection of body parts with some parts destined to be forever hidden. I was one body. Before the evening ended I was encouraging other first-timers as if I were myself a nudist veteran.
That evening, when I brought my reconditioning to the outer world, was the final step in Breaking Naked.
The Reconditioning Program
So it is not only possible but easy, by studying texts, looking at nude imagery, and going naked by ourselves and with others, to break the mindset that most of us have suffered most of our lives.
This is my program to Break Naked:
•Restudy your sacred texts.
•Seek out non-erotic nude imagery.
•Free your body, first at home, then in social settings.
I cannot tell you how long to expect this reconditioning program to take. It may take months or years of focused study, or it may just go “click” in an instant. Yet I sense that if many humans, not even a majority but a “critical mass” of us, transform our fear of nakedness into joy, we will be well on our way to heal ourselves, our society and our worlds.
So take as long as you need. There’s no set timetable to break our clothes-minded patterns and stand free at last.