Fear has been something I’ve always struggled with. I almost always go to the worst case scenario. As a mom that only increased. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn, fear was part of my parenting style. This season in the world has been full of fear. It’s one of Satan’s most effective weapons. Believers and unbelievers alike fall prey to it. At the beginning of the chaos, I lived full of fear! I was downright crazy! I’m not proud of it. I liked the saying, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad philosophy, but I was using it try and justify my fear. It’s smart and even Biblical to prepare for hard times, both physically and spiritually. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” (NLT) We see in Scripture times where the Lord warned of coming famine. What did the people do then? They prepared and stored up for the times when food would be scarce. There is wisdom in preparation.
Matthew 25:1-12 gives us this parable on being prepared, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’” (NASB)
When fear sets, there are 3 ways we can react. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You can freeze, flee or fight. I honestly think there is a time for each of these. I don’t think freezing in some scenarios makes you weak. Sometimes in dangerous moments, not moving can save your life. I don’t think fleeing some scenarios makes you a coward. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to walk (or run) away. In some scenarios, freezing or fleeing are wise decisions. I’ve had several conversations that could have developed into tell-all conversations, but in those moments I evaluated who I was talking to and either out of fear, or with wisdom, made the decision to freeze or flee and redirect the path the conversation was on.
As for fighting, there are definitely scenarios where fighting is the wisest thing to do to push back the fear. This blog was started because Phil and I wanted to keep a record of our experiences. Fairly quickly we decided we also wanted to be able to share it to help people understand our reasoning and to share our research. Initially it may have been out of fear, but it turned into something we were preparing for. We are so grateful that we have this blog for that purpose, but we are also blown away and humbled that the Lord has used it to help others as well. It’s an honor to be used in this way!
At the beginning of this journey there was a lot of fear. Fear of being nude in front of others, fear of others finding out, fear of how this was really going to affect our family, and so much more. Over time though, that fear has turned into peace that what we are doing is not condemned by God, and our confidence in His goodness and blessings has grown immensely. This summer I was again struggling with the fear of being found out. At the Christian Naturist gathering I was speaking to one of the men about my fears and he showed me the “Nail to the Cross Prayer”. He walked me through it and it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. If you are not familiar with it, here are the steps.
Father, I bless my spirit to be prominent over my body and soul.
Father, I nail (thought, feeling, spirit, etc) to the Cross.
Father, I break all agreements, known and unknown, that I have made with (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) and I repent of joining with (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.).
Father, I ask that you send (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) away from me.
Father, what do you have to give me in place of (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.)?
Listen to the Father to see what He has to give you to replace the thought, feeling, spirit, etc.
I seal (what the Father told me) in my spirit.
When I did this prayer I nailed fear to the cross and replaced it with joy.
Here are some Scriptures that have helped me deal with fear.
Psalm 34:4-5, “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” (NLT)
Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, A very ready help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (NASB)
John 14:26-27, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” (NASB)
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I have discovered that fear no longer has the hold on me that it did before. I always want what is best for my kids, but I’ve come to realize that I only have so much control over what happens to them. I can’t be with them 24/7, and honestly, even if I was, I’m still not going to be able to stop every bad or hard thing from happening to them. I always want to be able to control the narrative surrounding our journey in naturism, but I know that that too is out of our hands. The Lord is in charge of our lives and ultimately it is His will that will be done. I know that God wants good things for my kids, even when they have to go through hard things.
I know that God may use some hard things in our lives to bring about His plan. We’ve known several families who were confronted about naturism and went through very rough times in their lives because of it, but through their stories, I know that God used those times to bring blessing. We can worry and be afraid, or we can prepare and be ready for the roads the Lord will lead us down. When we are prepared for where the Lord wants to lead us and prepared for the attacks of Satan, we don’t have to fear them. In fact, it’s in some of those times that we get to experience an intimacy with the Lord that only comes through hard times and eventually the joy of the Lord. James 1:2-4 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)
1 Peter 3:15 says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT)
The hope I have is found in Christ. It’s found in the love and sacrifice of giving His life for mine (and yours). It’s found in the miracle and majesty of an empty tomb. It’s found in the daily patience and forgiveness of a gracious Savior. It’s found in the hope and assurance of everlasting life when my time on earth is over. It’s found in the knowledge of Psalm 91:2-4, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” (NLT)
It’s been 2 years since the crazy day in October when Phil told me he was a Christian naturist. Lately I’ve been reflecting on all that the last two years have held for us. Looking back, I’m blown away by the transformation that God has done, not only in our individual lives, but also the transformation that has taken place in our marriage, in our family, and in our spiritual lives. God has taken us on quite the spiritual ride!
This morning I was preparing dinner. Baking bread and putting soup in the crockpot. Since I wasn’t cooking bacon, I did all of this nude. I began remembering a time when I was uncomfortable being nude alone! Yes, really! Shortly after our talk in October 2019, Phil encouraged me to try to get comfortable being nude at home. I thought it was so weird! What if someone came to the door?? I remember the first time I opened the blinds in my laundry room and let the sun shine in (we have high windows and I am short so there was no chance anyone would see me). The sun felt so good!
Phil and I were laying in bed a couple nights ago unwinding before sleep. We have an open door policy at our house now. If the door is open or unlocked you are welcome to come in. If it is locked, go away. The other night, Phil and I reflected on what it was like at the beginning. I was terrified to be nude in front of our kids. I was afraid it would scar them for life! I remember sitting in our room in November of 2019 and Phil encouraging me to just go to the kitchen and get a drink while the kids were watching TV in the living room. I remember crying worrying about it. I remember our now 17 year old walking in our room while I was under the blanket and asking, “Are you naked?”. When I responded yes, instead of hugging me good night, he rolled his eyes and huffed and went upstairs. I was devastated! I remember having conversations with each of our boys telling them why we were changing our minds about the body and why we felt it was ok for us to walk around our house nude. They all understood. I remember the slow progress we made with them. Our daughter was still young enough that she didn’t have an issue with it at all. We have come a long way! Our children wander in and out of our room nightly now.- just to chill or to talk. They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them. None of them are walking around the house nude, but I consider it a win that they are seeing the body as normal.
They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them.
I remember our first trip to the naturist park in the middle of December. It had snowed the day before and we were praying for the sun to be out. God is so good and the sun was shining and it was a balmy 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The closer we got, the more nervous I became and started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. When we arrived we were met by the nicest man ever! He knew I was nervous and never pressured me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. On top of that he was (and is) a Jesus follower and I was so grateful for that! Even though we didn’t see many people that day, I am so grateful for the interaction and conversation we had with that man. I am convinced that the Lord used him to help me! I remember walking along one of the trails that day with nothing but my furry boots on and even with the cold temperature, we stayed on the trail for an hour before retreating to the hot tub. I remember feeling the sun on my whole body for the first time. I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!
I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!
I remember jumping into the deep end with our naturist marriage retreat and how weirdly natural it felt to be with these fellow believers who also were enjoying letting the bodies God gave us breathe. Those people are amazing parts of my spiritual family now. I remember my first time on the nude beach and how awesome it felt to play in the waves and lay on the sand.
I remember all of the times we have been to the park and all the new friends we have made and all the fun. All the deep spiritual conversations we’ve had and all the encouragement given. When we aren’t there, we long to return.
God took something that was meant for evil (a pornography addiction) and turned it into good using naturism. That’s what God does if we will let him. If we will get out of the way and listen to the Lord, he will open new doors for us. He will show us his love and grace in ways we never could have imagined! I’m so grateful that he had prepared my heart and mind, even when I didn’t know it was happening, to be able to embrace my husband and this journey. Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 7, God used naturism to start me on a new spiritual path. I was stagnant and stale and really dry bones, but God challenged me in my thinking, starting here and it continues. Are you up for the challenge?
Since being made free from my bondage to pornography (something I thought might never happen), I’ve been on a mission to help others experience the same kind of breakthrough.
It grieves my heart (and probably God’s too) that so many are making a buck off of the freedom business. They promise success for a price. I’m convinced now more than ever that the solutions you pay for aren’t solutions at all, you will remain a paying customer or perhaps struggle less but still not be a fully free individual.
I want to be clear. These are good-hearted people honestly wanting to help others. I’m not against having a calling and a ministry and keeping the lights on. I’m even writing a book (very much a labor of love). I will charge a modest price for it, while the blog remains absolutely free. Some of the prices for learning how to break free (courses, coaching, etc.) are ridiculous! And I have a big problem with the software companies and their subscription based accountability. That’s highway robbery.
It’s something that should be free. There’s not a secret formula. No one should get rich off of another person’s misery.
I also have nothing against professional counseling and therapy. It is sometimes needed and can be very helpful. What I am saying is that my experience (and that of many people I’ve come to know) shows an easy path to freedom that shouldn’t and needn’t cost a dime.
So I want you to save your money. At the same time you’ll save your own sanity and restore your dignity in the process. I hate it when something sounds too good to be true. Often those are just scams. I’m aware this sounds a bit like that one of those advertisements, but it isn’t. I would argue that the others (and the examples shown above) are. Why? Because I’ve tried them and came up wanting. They didn’t work. They are man-made strategies that are ineffective. They are behavior based. They are coping mechanisms. We weren’t meant just to cope! Avoidance makes us hyper vigilant and does nothing to solve the root issues. Freedom is not something you can white knuckle and just try hard through your own will power or through accountability. You can’t be guilted or shamed into freedom.
I’ve read more in the last couple of years than I ever have before. I’ve made it a point to read books that I know do not contain the answers they claim to have, just so I can see what is being put out there to try and help people. Even those that say they are different tend to rehash the same tired ideas, and it breaks my heart!
Compared to my own experience, everything that is suggested by conventional Christian wisdom on the subject is entirely too cumbersome and hard work, which leaves you in another type of bondage altogether. It’s not freedom. The authors or “experts” often concede that you will still have triggers and warn against relapses, even if you follow their plan. If you aren’t truly free you can always find ways to cheat the system. Until you’re free, the best of these techniques will continue to disappoint.
Please hear that not everything in these resources is bad. Many are in fact very good, but don’t go far enough in getting you to think differently about the body and your fellow image bearers. Most still have an underlying deep seated dualism that at the core sees the body as bad and the spirit as good. This goes against the correct view of Imago Dei that has our bodies and souls intertwined. The gnostic heresies of old are back with a vengeance, and many are caught unaware.
Many are starting to speak out about the damages done by purity culture and its teachings, which have even left many with actual PTSD! Others go deeper to explore why you have this compulsion in the first place. They say if you go back in your story or history and learn to be kind to yourself, you can start the hard work of recovery. That could be a good exercise, but the fact is we are broken and need to be fixed, restored, dare I say redeemed. It’s my opinion that tragically none of these offer an ideal solution to bring about healing and bringing about complete sexual integrity. They stop shy of the goal, a renewed mind that sees others as God sees them. When you let God do the work, he finishes the job aside from your own efforts. The result will be zero desire for anything that objectifies another person.
While I may do a series of book by book constructive critique posts, I’ll demonstrate my attitude before obtaining freedom of the grip of lust and porn on my heart to the new way that I experience daily life.
THIS OR THAT
I remember the story at the beginning of “Every Man’s Battle” where the author recounts getting in a car wreck because he was looking at a lady jogging while he was driving. That was a wake up call for him, and an effective hook for the book. I could relate to that as I, too, used to typically feast on whatever visual stimuli was available at any moment. It was my automatic because I thought and was told it was every man’s automatic. Now that my mind has been miraculously renewed, I see the world through new eyes. Noticing is not a sin, nor is appreciating beauty; the sin is a lustful intent, coveting what is not yours, and objectifying another human being.
Today, I may notice a woman who has the body most women would dream of having, but what I focus in on is truly intriguing. Maybe she has some fake eyelashes, and out of love and compassion, I pray for her in my head: “Why do you feel the need to wear fake lashes and such heavy make up? You don’t need this stuff to feel secure!” You better believe that’s a whole lot better than the thoughts I used to have.
Then I may see another woman who has a more normal body shape out running, and my heart goes out to her as well: “Good for you for becoming more healthy, but do you know that you are beautiful just the way you are?” No matter what the situation, I see women as whole persons with a life, and a story, and quite possibly one full of insecurities. Honestly, I hate to admit it, but I used to gaze at others with the look of a predator. I wasn’t technically a predator, but every woman was visual prey- not all the time, but often enough! This is how I was conditioned to be, and I hid it well. I didn’t want to be that way. I felt guilty about it, but I didn’t know how to replace that thinking with something better.
It takes both a realization and admission of this depraved reality to get better. Thankfully, having acknowledged that terrible condition, now I see myself as a protector of all women. Temptation used to be literally everywhere. Now temptation in this area is absolutely nowhere. It may seem over simplified, but here’s what I believe. When you really boil things down, a man is either be a predator or a protector. I don’t normally like to be so binary, categorizing people in their thinking as either a one or zero. Life is more nuanced than that. Not everything can be black or white due to various shade of gray. However, at the heart level, I stand by these two distinctions and say a man is either this or that. Even if he is a passive onlooker, that is predatory behavior, because he is not protecting his fellow image bearers. Hear me. This isn’t discounting the strength of women. It’s protecting the dignity that comes with women reflecting one half of the image of God. This isn’t toxic masculinity. It’s simply a call for men to take responsibility and stop the blame game once and for all.
Protect the dignity of the women around you. It’s what God did with Hagar. It’s what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery (what ever happened to the man?), and Mary Magdalene. The Lord is a protector of people. He comes down hard against those who would use and abuse others.
Stay tuned for more and further exploration of the woefully inadequate solutions the church is proposing today to address this issue.
P.S. Of course, my go to resource to recommend (aside from this blog) is mychainsaregone, and it’s free too!
We all know that feeling. We arrive at the area pool with our kids just hoping to get a couple hours of relaxation while they swim with their friends. Instead, the second we walk through the gate we are bombarded with the thoughts. “Wow, she looks great! How does she have 3 kids and still look like that? I have three kids, (or 2 or 1) and I look like a beached whale!” “I should have bought the black bathing suit.” “I should have just worn my shorts instead of this bathing suit.” “Ugh, why do I have to be so fat?” “I shouldn’t have eaten my birthday cake for the last 40 years. I hate myself for eating that cake.” Anyone else have this experience or one similar? I know it’s not just me. Should we take care of our bodies? Absolutely yes! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We aren’t all going to look the same in the process of caring for our bodies though. I am never going to weigh 140lbs but I can do healthy things to care for my body at 200lbs. Would God love me more at 140lbs? God’s love is not earned or lost. A good, loving parent doesn’t stop loving their child because of bad choices they make, or weight they gain. A loving parent continues to love that child! When our children are struggling is when we most want to wrap them up and snuggle them until they feel better. It’s when we want to speak words of life into their little (or big) hearts and spirits. In the same way when we are struggling, the Lord wants to comfort us! He wants to take our faces in His hands as he looks deeply into our eyes and tells us, “You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”
“You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”
I want to be seen like that! I want to see myself like that! I want to know I am a beautiful child of God who is known and loved and treasured! Not only that, I want to see others that way! For a long time, most of my life in fact, I was very judgmental. I know I’ve talked about this in the past. I love that the veil has been lifted from my eyes and I no longer look at people the same. God, give me your eyes to see your children the way you see them! Help me to see past the superficial things and ways of the world and into the heart and soul of those around me. Show me the hurting, the lost, the confused, the tired, the worn and weary and use me to pour out your love to them.
Can we have and develop empathy like this without naturism? Absolutely yes and many have! For me, though, God used naturism to open my eyes to what my attitude was like. No matter how we dress, sweat pants and a t-shirt, jeans and blouse, or jacked up for the red carpet, people are going to make assumptions about us based on our clothing. But clothes don’t make the person. We are all way more than the clothes we put on everyday. My clothes don’t show you what’s in my heart. My clothes don’t show you what my values are. You can only truly know who I am by connecting with me on a more personal level. Finding out what we have in common. With naturism right off the bat we know we have that in common and it opens the door for more conversations and relationship building. We have met so many amazing people at the naturist resort we frequent. Friendships are being built. Lives are being shared. We need each other on so many levels!
As I type this we are at a Christian naturist gathering. There are around 50 of us here. This week we have worshipped together, prayed together, fellowshipped together, eaten together, and grown together. While our official worship sessions are over for the week, the relationship building continues. Some of these people I am meeting for the very first time, but we already have an instant connection without knowing anything else about each other. As Christian naturists we are like-minded in that we believe we have all been created in the image of God and we are living that out by hiding nothing during this week of iron sharpening iron. We have spent hours in the pool enjoying the sunshine and discussing Scripture while all the kids splashed around. I imagine that is a picture of what heaven might be like except maybe Jesus will be floating around with us! There is no judgement here. There is love, acceptance, respect and appreciation for the bodies that God has given us. God is in this place with us. You can feel him. You can see him in the image bearers that are here desiring a deeper relationship and walk with the Father! God may not walk with us in the cool of the day in the same way he did with Adam and Eve, but there is no denying that he longs to be with us and is pleased when his children draw near to him. I believe in the same way we long to return to a Garden of Eden existence with God, he longs for that too! Until the day he returns for us, we are aching for Eden together.
We’ll have a regular blog post tomorrow, but today we wanted to have a special post to celebrate one year of Aching for Eden.
Thank you so much for reading. When we started this site a year ago, we had no idea if anyone would read or not! We’ve been blown away by the response, and we’d like to thank you for your continued interest.
We also are happy to announce that Phil is working on a book that chronicles our journey. More on that later, but we just wanted to announce that it is being written. For updates on this and everything else, be sure to subscribe to the page. That would make for a great and happy birthday! (You can follow us on the side bar or on the homepage.)
What’s been your favorite post? Let us know, or please comment below if you have any ideas for us as we move forward.
“…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b ESV)
This verse is more true than we think it is. We do not see people as God sees them. In the context of 1 Samuel 16, you have a perfect example of this being played out. The singer Ray Boltz described it this way in his song:
One by one, Jesse’s sons stood before the prophet, Their father knew a king would soon be found, Each one passed except the last, No one thought to call him, For surely he would never wear a crown. But when others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king
How does this play out in real life? We are conditioned by the world around us to see through the lenses of the world. It’s oftentimes a harsh, petty, shallow, and judgmental world. Snap judgments are made instantaneously, many times based on how someone is dressed or other superficial details we observe. We are unaware of how prone we are to agree with the standards of the environment we live in. God calls us to be aliens in a foriegn land (1 Peter 2:11). Being holy as God is holy means being set apart (1 Peter 1:16).
The whole goal of Christianity is to become more Christ-like. Philippians 2 begins this way: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV) The context continues showing how Jesus lowered himself, not considering equality with God as something to be grasped, but instead emptied himself, and gave himself for others. John 15:13 ESV states that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Furthermore, we see this beautiful example and exhortation in 1 John 3:16 NIV- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
True love is extending one’s self to serve others. I see the spousal love analogy (of a man giving himself in love to his bride) as a beautiful picture or image of how Christ gave of himself and sacrificed for his bride. He even said, “This is my body, which is for you…” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Your highest calling as a Christian (how Jesus summarized both the Law and the Prophets) is to love God with everything and then love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). How can we do this effectively? One thing we need to do is to stop seeing others the way the world does, and instead start seeing them the way God does.
Brandon Heath was on to something when he penned the words of his song:
Give me Your eyes for just one second Give me Your eyes so I can see Everything that I keep missin’ Give Your love for humanity Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted The ones that are far beyond my reach Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten Give me Your eyes so I can see
One last beautiful example is from Genesis 16. Abram and barren Sarai are trying to take God’s promise of being the fathers of a great nation into their own hands. They convince their slave Hagar to conceive a child for Abram. When she is pregnant, Sarai begins to mistreat her, to the point that she runs away. In the wilderness, exposed and vulnerable to the elements, the angel of the Lord comes to comfort her. He tells her to go back, and promises Ishmael (when born) will also have a great number of descendants as well. Verses 13-14 are often glossed over, but they contain the point I am trying to make.
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (meaning well of the Living One who sees me.); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:13-14 NIV)
Hagar was a slave woman, forced to conceive a child for her master, mistreated by her mistress to the point that she would run away to the desert to die. This is a person that the world has chewed up and spit out, so to speak. But God saw her. It affected her so profoundly that when others would turn a blind eye, God would see her.
One of humanity’s greatest needs is to love and be loved and to be seen (noticed, valued and appreciated). Steve Pokorny writes about having your vision redeemed (See book Redeemed Vision). His thesis is that we live in a pornified culture and are blinded by several messages the world bombards us with, that contradict the truth of how God sees us and others. Like the blind man in Mark 10:51, we too should cry out, “Master, Let me receive my sight.”
My mother knows that I am a naturist. The other day, she heard me preach in church about how I overcame the problem of lust in my heart and mind. We spoke a little more afterward about our plans for vacation in a naturist park, where we will gather with many other Christians and have daily times of worship and devotional thoughts and incredible fellowship. “And you’re all naked? How can you do that? You say there’s no lust? I can’t wrap my head around it.” she would say. I replied, “I know. That’s the problem.” This way of seeing others is crucial not just in naturism, although it was naturism that was a catalyst for my change in thinking about a great number of things. You have to see others the way God sees them (Imago Dei, made in his own image). He loves them. He doesn’t lust. You also can’t lust after someone and be loving (serving) them at the same time.
Sadly, my mom went on to say that she doesn’t even like to see her own body, and called it ugly. This breaks my heart. Because I know that when God sees her, he sees a beautiful person, survivor of breast cancer with a mastectomy, a work of art not just on the outside, but also on the inside. God sees the whole person for who they are and what value they bring to humanity. I see my mom the way God sees her. I only wish she could see herself that way. It’s the way I look at everyone now. I know I’m not God, but should that stop me from trying to be more like Him?
Did you see this? Stop what you are doing and watch this video summary…
As a Christian in the Midwest, I’m saddened greatly by the attitudes of this preacher, Stewart-Allen Clark, from First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri. The cringe factor is strong here as this church leader spewed his diatribe for 22 minutes. This wasn’t an off the cuff tangent; these were prepared remarks that he thought somehow his congregation needed to hear. He was talking from his notes, and had a slideshow complete with pictures to go along with each point in his message!
I’m glad this went viral and backfired. In an era of virtue signaling that sometimes can be unfounded, this actually IS an outrage. I’m glad he’s on leave and getting counseling. I’m not being judgmental, I actually empathize with the guy in some small way. I do hope and pray that counseling helps him, although I’m not so sure it will- more on that in a minute. This pastor being accused (and rightly so) of sexism is a tragic reflection on how conservative evangelical churches tend to approach the subject of sex. It’s no wonder the unchurched has a bad taste in their mouth of what they perceive it means to be a Christian today. The most appalling part is that it is not an uncommon stance he took in many conservative Christian circles. I’m standing up to say loudly, “WE AREN’T ALL LIKE THAT!” Thankfully there were those in that congregation that would not give their “Amen” to his crazy rhetoric. Praise God, the leadership apparently issued a statement stating that all people are made in the image of God and “should be valued for that reason.” although I can’t find that currently on their website.
The pastor also issues an apology where he assures people that he has secured an accountability partner who he is meeting regularly. This to me is a tell tell sign that he has a huge lust problem. No surprise there after hearing his mindset loud and clear! In his mind, and he said it many times, “He can’t help himself!” Well, allow me to speak on behalf of the many men who believe maturity is attainable and say, YES YOU CAN! AND YOU SHOULD!
Then in his public apology he says he, “made insensitive remarks about women and made statements deemed unbiblical.” No, they aren’t deemed unbiblical. They ARE unbiblical. There’s a lot that was dreadfully wrong with this guy’s ideas. (I think he forgot how to spell misogyny in his apology.) I see this blog as an anti-virus to his type of thinking. Some of the things I write on this blog seem to be very critical of the church. I mean them to be critical of THE TEACHING and unfounded “facts” that are rampant in many churches, which in turn are contrary to God’s heart, as so evident in this example. He is not alone. He is parroting what has been written in some of the best selling Christian books on marriage! This is one example of many, and just the most recent one that has gone viral. I’m deeply troubled by the repercussions of a perhaps well-intentioned, yet highly ineffective and even toxic “purity culture.” I’m over the artificial modesty standards that do nothing to change hearts that are depraved. Even so, I’m hopeful because there is a better way, and it’s not out of reach as many would have you believe. The solution is a surprising one indeed, unconventional to say the least. But first, let’s analyze what this preacher felt he needed to share with these church goers.
I won’t go through all of the insensitive and demeaning comments you saw in the video. Suffice to say his misogynistic and nonsensical Scripture twisting frankly promotes abusive behavior. He outright body shames women calling them fat and ugly from the pulpit! He’s aware that he is no model himself, but claims that doesn’t matter because it’s men who are visually stimulated.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV): “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Apparently this verse and the often misinterpreted (though not in this case) “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1 KJV) is missing out of the preacher’s Bible.
He speaks authoritatively as though all men would agree with his general statements, especially that every man wants a trophy wife on his arm. Umm, I don’t. His insistence that Melania Trump is the most epic trophy wife of all time (and featuring a “sexy” picture of her in his slideshow) displays an unhealthy infatuation in his own heart.
Jesus also placed the responsibility for lust in the proper realm of the man’s own heart. He never suggested that women are responsible for their husband’s behavior, or that they need to protect them from their own impure thoughts, as if that were actually possible! This is simply an abdication of personal responsibility and a cop out for the man. We would do well to look at women through the eyes of Jesus, without lustful intent (Matthew 5:28), and see the whole person. Jesus was not tempted by the prostitutes he ate with. In fact, he was counter-cultural and revolutionary in how he interacted with women.
Jesus was not tempted by the prostitutes he ate with. In fact, he was counter-cultural and revolutionary in how he interacted with women.
Is this preacher pro anorexia and bulimia? Does he enjoy causing more body image problems in women than they already have heaped upon them by impossible standards of what’s culturally seen as “beautiful?” In his eyes, they are just participation trophies.
Makeup was a slide in his presentation and the punchline of some terrible jokes. He extols the virtues of these artificial adornments while Scripture’s teaching runs contrary to his conclusions (see 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4).
Over and over he chided that he (meaning every man) is gonna look, so you (wife) better look good so he (your husband) looks at you and not [forced to look] at “some hottie” on a screen. Umm, your husband is going to want to look at you regardless of your presentation if he loves you and doesn’t subscribe to these lies that say he can’t help but lust when he sees someone who is attractive. This crazy notion of helplessness also forgets the basic fact that men have imaginations and memories. Averting the eyes physically does nothing to the eyes of our heart. A whole renewal of the mind is needed (Romans 12:1-2) which is also counter cultural in that it is not conforming to the pattern of this world. Lust is not overcome by avoidance or trying harder, but rather by true repentance which literally means having a change of mind.
Obligation and duty sex is not intimacy, but rather a relationship killer. He quotes and misinterprets half of the verse in 1 Corinthians 7:4 and downplays the role of the husband and the obvious principle of mutual submission. On page 46 of Our Bodies Tell God’s Story Christopher West point out that in his Theology of the Body John Paul II concludes that a man commits adultery in the heart not only by looking lustfully at a woman he is not married to “but precisely because he looks in this way at a woman. Even if he were to look in this way at . . . his wife, he would commit the same adultery ‘in the heart.’” We cannot respond the way our “pornified” culture does. We are to be different. Instead of lusting after our wives and using them for selfish gratification, we should give ourselves up for them in service, as Christ did for his bride, the church. And let me tell you, it’s such a joy to be free of the shame and guilt that has ridden this purity culture.
I’m far from perfect myself. I was a bit like this guy in some ways. I’ve invoked the so-called “72 hour rule” in my house in the past. I’ve had my fair share of sexual brokenness and porn addiction, as you can read about on this blog. My point is restoration and wholeness is possible, and I am a living proof.
Some of the many comments from all walks of life on this youtube video are very telling:
The awful thing is. He’s not a comedian. He’s not telling an “edgy” joke. He’s giving people what he believes to be sound advice. 🤦🏾♀️
He’s projecting his pervyness. Men like this are just looking to have their grotesqueness validated.
WoW the fact this isn’t satire and men like this exist
on todays segment of ”What object am I?”, I guess I’m a participation trophy
Ah, the famous bible passage: “If thy right eye offend thee, blame your wife”
All I can say is this is probable cause to search all his devices.
This dude makes my skin crawl bruh. Actually physically cringing. I just feel so awfully bad for all the women in that church that had to suffer through this extremely shameful sermon
This was common to hear growing up in church. It’s nothing new to me. 🤷🏽♀️
The irony is – is that the Bible says the opposite to what he says, he says women should wear makeup and dress well, yet the Bible says the adornment should be the heart and not the outward appearance.
I’m not religious but when i read or heard about jesus talking, I dont imagine that he would be fat shaming married women.
I’m not even religious and this feels like blasphemy to what God’s really about
This is why people are leaving the church
It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find this to have some truth, as those seen as attractive to one person, are not found attractive to another. Proverbs 5:18 says to “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” My wife doesn’t look like the 19 year old I married (Yes, we were so young!). But she’s the wife of my youth. I happen to think she is better looking now, aging like fine wine. The years have taken a toll on her body after 4 kids, but I don’t care about any of that. She’s still the same person I married. No, let me back out of that, she’s a better version of who I married, because now we have 20 years of shared experiences, memories, true intimacy and relationship equity that makes her number one in my book, regardless of anything that could happen to her body. If she had a double mastectomy (extreme example of a body change) I wouldn’t love her any less. It’s preposterous to think that someone would be that shallow. I tell her all the time that she is the standard by which all beauty is measured. But then she asks, “What if I put on weight?” Then the standard changes. It conforms to whatever you are. It’s not even based on and shouldn’t be based on appearance. She is truly beautiful both inside and out, and is the only one who gets my motor going. I tell her, “You’re my favorite everything.” No matter what category is being “measured,” she’s my favorite. This is, to me, a more favorable view than what’s being regurgitated in this trophy wife sermon!
I had the great misfortune of watching all 22 minutes of this nonsense. My blood was boiling and my neck got tired of my head shaking!
Reagan Williams posted it on her Facebook page which put the minister in hot water. I pulled a few direct quotes that didn’t make the edited video shown above:
At the 4:22 minute mark, he said “You can call it juvenile, you can call it immature, you can call it sexist, whatever you want to, but here’s another secret you need to know: Ladies, it’s the way God made us, it’s the way we are.”
Yes, I’m calling it juvenile and immature and sexist, even! I’ll address the immaturity shortly. It sure does sound like he’s heard these accusations before and is disregarding them. That’s a tactic to face disagreement head on and attempt to dissuade it. It didn’t work this time! He is clearly justifying the behavior by claiming God made him like that. Way to throw God under the bus! How convenient is that? I’m really sick of this lie and the damage it creates in its wake. It makes a mockery of our faith giving all Christians a bad rap.
At 7:22, “What’s the difference between a man’s girlfriend and his wife? About 60 pounds. Well, maybe so. How important is this? Let me tell you something. I have a friend. He has put a divorce weight on his wife. That’s how important this is.”
An abysmal joke! Why are people in church laughing at it? And to threaten divorce on this sort of thing? How is that pastoral in the slightest way possible? No wonder he doesn’t do marital counseling anymore. He never should have in the first place.
It continues at 9:49 with him saying of his poor wife, that “One of her favorite expressions is ‘Food never tastes as good as skinny feels.’”
I doubt that’s really her favorite expression. Maybe you’ve manipulated her into saying that it is. So sad. I feel terrible for her.
At 14:35 he makes the mistake of quoting the Bible, which renders his whole message unbiblical and forces him to retract the sacred words he just read. The verse he read is Proverbs 31:30. The verse reads, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” This contradicts everything he’d been saying, so he quickly makes the point again that men still are gonna look, so you need to look good for him! Ridiculous.
At 17:13 “It’s just the way it is. So every man has this need and here’s the deal. We can’t help it. Women spell affection T-A-L-K and men spell it S-E-X.” At 19:20 “We are not lust monsters. Chase you around the bedroom every night. We can’t help ourselves. God made us this way… It’s the main reason he married you.”
Again, the deflection is projection. The reason I know, is because I, too, used to buy into some of these ideas. And I was pretty much a lust monster. It was easy, because it was expected and a given. It’s not. The way out is as easy as rejecting that notion as false. Yes, God gave us a sex drive, and my mine is high, but it doesn’t have to dominate me. Search this blog for “lust” and see many articles about how it doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s definitely not a problem God cannot restore and redeem!
Then there’s an awful story as a conclusion delivered with many dramatic pauses. It’s about a knight that was going to slay a dragon to save a damsel in distress, and got his sword out, but she yelled to him to take this noose and strangle him instead. The dragon dies, “but he doesn’t feel admired. He doesn’t feel adored. He doesn’t feel like he’s done anything because she told him how to do it. Sometimes you just gotta let a man be your knight in shining armor… and sometimes you just gotta stand back and let him do it.”
I don’t throw these terms around very often, but that’s just downright chauvinistic. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him because she told him to do something? For another disturbing article showing how pervasive this type of teaching is, read this shocking piece.
The day I was finishing up this article, I came across a post shared from Alexa Danielle Kolbe. Perfect timing because her writing is so contrasting to that of the oratory skills of Stewar-Allen Clark. She wrote:
“You’ve gained weight” said the doctor at my annual checkup.
I haven’t weighed myself in over a year, but I can tell you things don’t fit the same.
I’ve definitely noticed it.
I see it in pictures.
I see it in videos.
I can feel how my clothes fit differently.
Everything still fits, but it fits differently.
1 Stretch mark has appeared on my abdomen.
I go over in my head all the comments I believe people think of me.
“Wow, she’s packed it on.”
“She’s really let herself go.”
“Look (friend) she’s gained weight!”
I mean, the list goes on in my head.
I believe people think I’m lazy or eat too much. I cry sometimes to my husband thinking over and over in my head these thoughts. Even though they’re not true, I still believe it.
Wow, the mind is super controlling.
We bring ourselves down & judge every inch. We praise other people for having positive body image, but we can’t praise ourselves for just taking a small step.
We are all for others, so why can’t we be for ourselves?
Childbirth, death, gut issues, moving, heartbreak, abuse, diseases, finances, relationship with food, etc. all affect us in some sort of way, & the stress of it all affects the reaction of each body differently.
Our bodies do so much for us. It fights for us, protects us, & can do just about anything as long as the mind & it agree. It’s so beautiful, & we judge it’s capability by its appearance.
I believe this weight gain has been a fighter response for my body. Deaths, moving, career change, & healing my relationship with food from restriction has all been what my body has gone through this past year. With all this people would say “you’re so strong” but my mind thinks all people are saying is “you’ve gained weight.”
I’ve learned most people don’t “let themselves go.”
Most people are just going through something that we have no idea about.
We need to give each other grace.
Darling, you need to give yourself grace.
Gaining weight could be a reflection from the weight life brings.
A good book isn’t defined by its cover, but the life it gives when it’s read.
Someone commented on this post, “Beauty is the Godly characteristics of a woman – in the end its how much Love we gave and freely received – my grandmother used to say what most people judge as “beauty” is only skin deep and will fade with age .. as I’ve grown more mature, that is so true! It’s who you are ; your character that makes for beauty at any age, size, skin tone ect … love is the key. and from it all other beauty traits flow.. kindness, goodness, patience, tolerance for others, grace. We are an eternal beautiful being,in a temporary “ earthsuit” having a temporary journey on earth .. but we are all created by God individually and majestically created .. because he apparently likes variety just look at all the flowers.“
I agree wholeheartedly. And I’m sorry for this unfair treatment.
A new song from The Choir, one of my favorite Christian bands, would convey my sentiments to any lady (daughter of the Most High King) who is hurt by these attitudes:
Never mind, never mind yesterday’s night Step outside, turn your gaze to the sky Feel the morning light never mind yesterday’s lies Please realize you’re even more wondrous in my eyes When the sun shines bright Illuminating your scars I adore the wounded creature you are
Are you troubled by your own reflection? Searching for a friend to trust?
Does it feel like forever won’t be time enough to heal your heart from the deepest cuts? Child, you are love, you have always been loved May one divine kiss be enough to heal your heart from the deepest cuts!
Never dread, never dread tomorrow’s sun Let it come when it comes This glorious night has just begun Never cry tomorrow’s tears Right now in here, shut your eyes, open your ears Listen closely, a spirit stirring song is playing And you’re beautiful, that’s all that I’m saying
Made-made methods have never worked in my experience and that of many others I know. And they won’t ever work, not fully, that is.
I really don’t think the traditional ways of dealing with lust and objectification of women is gonna help this guy. Made-made methods have never worked in my experience and that of many others I know. And they won’t ever work, not fully, that is. Here’s a big twist! While I do own and have taught from many of these best-selling Christian books that are indeed very harmful, how did I break free from the clutches of this toxic view? Simply put, I rejected the lie and I began to see others as God sees them. What served as a catalyst for this redeemed view came from the unlikeliest of places- Christian naturists with their ethical naturist philosophies. This may come as a complete surprise to you and stir up more rage inside you, but hold on a second. I get it! I used to think that family friendly Christian naturists were perverts and pedophiles trying to justify their wrong beliefs. I’ve since learned and also experienced first-hand that the exact opposite is true.
Naturism is freedom and body positivity carried out to its natural extreme. If a mature purity is indeed possible, then when pushed to its limits, that truth should remain true. The respect and dignity with which it approaches everybody is healthy, wholesome, and even godly. Aside from the many physical and emotional health benefits, naturism demystifies so much of what culturally has ensnared us, as evident in the case of our wayward pastor friend. The many resources on this blog help to provide a theological framework of what is a better way, both on paper (theoretical) and in the experiential practice of those beliefs.
There is a hundred year old book on “gymnosophy” by Maruice Parmelee entitled, Nudism in Modern Life. One century ago, this volume made the following observation: “It is true that childbearing is prone to injure the figure. The swelling womb distends the skin of the abdomen, and after delivery has taken place and the abdomen has sunk to its usual size the abdominal skin may remain flabby and wrinkled. Mother’s milk distends the breasts and sucking elongates the nipples, so that after nursing has ceased the breasts are not so firm and may become pendulous. But much of the injury done by childbearing could be averted by a healthier mode of life… In a more humane age men will overlook these physical marks in remembering the valuable service rendered by these women and in honouring them for it.”
Did you catch that word? Humane? The opposite of dehumanizing. Honor over objectification. Love, not lust. Relational and physical intimacy, not marital rape (yes, I said it). I’m advocating for mature purity over artificial modesty and immature excuses.
I’m advocating for mature purity over artificial modesty and immature excuses.
David L. Hatton laments on page 47 his book entitled, Who Said You Were Naked?: “One group of topless women in Mali, upon hearing about the fascination American men have with women’s breasts, fell down rolling with laughter, saying, ‘You mean, men act like babies?’ If these women heard this breast-fascination being religiously taught as intrinsic in men, they might stop laughing and start suspecting its preacher of being a pervert and his religion of being a deception. False doctrine in this area isn’t funny. It’s profoundly sad… My culture had fed me a despicable lie, and that falsehood came most insistently from the same lips that preached God’s Word. Indeed, we really have acted ‘like babies!’– not with a silliness that made bare-breasted women in Mali laugh– but with such utter immaturity that we should be shedding tears.”
Many are starting to see and speak out against this epidemic. However, there are not many solutions given beyond identification of the toxic behaviors. I’m not saying that the philosophy of ethical naturism is the answer, but it was certainly the catalyst for me that eradicated any semblance of these terrible ideas in my own life. Naturism in its pure form (and not the misconceptions of its practice) is antithetical to the attitudes on display in this sermon. They are in agreement with God’s intent at Creation and in the restoration of all things. Innocence can be restored, just as any other sin that twists and distorts a good gift. Seeing yourself and others as made in the image of God is a viable solution to all the ills of society, not on a large scale as not everyone will properly adopt this view (which would be a utopia), but on an individual basis. Imago Dei is the better way. I’ve lived it and it changed everything. It would even change Stewart-Allen Clark if he were brave enough to believe.
I remember growing up one of the most awesome book series to read was the “Choose your own adventure” books. For those of you who may not know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. You would begin the book like normal, but a few pages in you were given 2 choices. If you chose #1 you would turn to page 15, if you chose #2 you would turn to page 36 and the story would continue from there depending on what you chose. You were given choices throughout the book so you could read the book over and over and get somewhat different stories every time. If you didn’t like where you ended up, you could go back and pick something different. It was so much fun!
Unfortunately in life we rarely, if ever, get to go back and take a different path if we don’t like where we’ve ended up. If we do have the opportunity, there are usually consequences that we have to deal with from choosing wrong in the first place. I am a processor in my thinking, almost to a fault. I like to over analyze the situation to death and sometimes think so long about something that the opportunity passes me by and I end up kicking myself for not making a decision quicker.
Unfortunately in life we rarely, if ever, get to go back and take a different path if we don’t like where we’ve ended up.
One of the hardest decisions I have ever been faced with was the decision on how to handle the information Phil shared with me about naturism. As you may have read in our first post he presented me with 3 options:
Forbid him from participating in any way.
Allow him to participate, but not participate myself.
Go on this adventure with him (he didn’t word it that way).
During my time of processing I considered many “what ifs.” What if he is just doing this to justify seeing naked women? What if this really is a sin in the eyes of God? What if someone finds out? What if he loses his job? What if our church kicks us out? What if our families disown us? What if our children hate us? And the list could go on and on!!!
Once we discussed all of these questions at length and were able to come up with answers for most of them I was able to make the decision that the thought of Christian naturism was ok by me. When I was coming to grips with what that meant for me practically a whole new set of “what ifs” came up. What if I’m fatter than everyone else? What if it’s super awkward for me but Phil is ok? What if Phil is not ok (if you know what I mean)? What if people stare at me? What if no one likes me? What if it’s horrible? That list could go on and on too!
Discussing those reservations, the only answer we came up with was that we weren’t going to know the answers until we tried it. So we did! After jumping in and experiencing many naturist group activities and just going to a park near us, I have the answers to those questions.
-What if I’m fatter than everyone else?
Sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not. But you know what’s awesome? NO ONE CARES WHAT I LOOK LIKE!!!!
-What if it’s super awkward for me, but Phil’s ok? What if Phil is not ok?
There are moments where it’s been awkward, especially the first couple times, but that’s normal. Doing something new is always awkward, even fully clothed. Phil has never had any issues and neither have I.
-What if people stare at me?
Never once has anyone looked long enough to make me feel uncomfortable.
-What if no one likes me?
I have met the nicest people! So far everyone seems to think I’m ok.
-What if it’s horrible?
Trust me, it’s not!
There are still many what if questions that come up from time to time and we try to figure those out as they come. In thinking back, some of those have been difficult and some of them have been reflective. What if I had forbidden Phil from participating? What if I’d allowed it but refused to entertain the thought for myself? I am confident that our marriage and relationship would not be as strong as it is now, and our relationship with the Lord would not be as solid.
During the last 9 months as we have written this blog, we have had many men reach out to us asking how they can encourage their wives. Here are the questions I would ask them:
What if it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be?
What if no one cares what you look like and loves you in spite of all the flaws YOU see?
What if your relationship with your husband could be stronger and more intimate (not just physically) than you could have ever hoped?
What if you actually feel more confident nude? (I know you don’t think that’s possible, but trust me, with first hand knowledge, it is!)
What if you actually really enjoy it once you get past the little bit of awkwardness?
What if you miss out on the best friends you would ever have?
What if you let your own insecurities get the better of you?
What if it’s nothing like the fears you have in your mind?
What if it’s one of the best things that ever happened to you?
Consider these questions and then choose your own adventure!
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!
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!