When is it ok?

When is nudity ok?

Is it ok to be nude when you are married in front of your own spouse? Yes? I agree. Should there be any shame there? No? Agreed again. That’s why I think Adam and Eve (a married couple) should not have felt ashamed of their bodies to cover themselves with fig leaves. It was not God’s idea. The text says they were afraid, not ashamed (Gen. 3:10). We project our own shame onto them. The text does say that the pre fall state was that they were naked and unashamed (Gen. 2:25). All of a sudden it’s shameful for a married couple to see themselves? Might they have been listening to the serpent who hates God’s image (Gen. 3:11)? Could he be the “who” of “who said you were naked?“ God was never ashamed of their nakedness. He seemed more upset that they covered themselves with fig leaves. Jesus would later curse the fig tree (Matt. 21; Mark 11). A coincidence? Maybe so. Maybe not.

When is nudity ok? 

At the doctor’s office? I agree. You reason that they can maintain a professional and respectful demeanor when viewing your nakedness while checking on your health and wellness. Then I would simply ask why we can’t all hold that same respect toward another person? Do we need training and credentials to be respectful? A piece of paper makes a difference? Or do we simply need to unlearn some social conditioning?

When is nudity ok?

In the changing room at a gym? Well, sure. Most changing rooms in the United States, at least, are not co-ed. Even then, many are too ashamed of their bodies to be uncovered in front of those of their own gender. Gang showers are practically a thing of the past and privacy is the new normal. For more on this point, read, “Way too much privacy!” on this blog.

When is nudity ok?

Maybe it’s good to ask what nudity was ok? This piece from The Biblical Naturist answers that question and links to several other sites such as this one to back up its claims. The main point is that in Greek and Roman times (when the New Testament was written), while clothing was normal, so was nudity in certain places like the river, or the bath houses, or the gymnasium. In fact, the word gym comes from the Greek word for nude. There were religious prude types back then too, but culturally in Jesus’ day, even in Jerusalem, non-sexual nudity in mixed company was not a big deal, like it is today.

When is nudity ok?

Let’s continue asking when it was ok. In Bible times, work was often done in the naked state, which makes sense if clothing (before the industrial clothing industry) was extremely expensive. Why mess up your only garment (in many cases) while working? In Scripture, we see this mostly in the case of Peter fishing (John 21:7) and Jesus post-resurrection, being mistaken for a naked gardener.

XIR130941 The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite, detail of cupids fishing (mosaic) by Roman, (3rd century AD); Louvre, Paris, France; out of copyright.
ANC351864 Fishermen in a boat, 2nd-4th century (mosaic) by Roman; Musee Archeologique, Sousse, Tunisia; Ancient Art and Architecture Collection Ltd.; out of copyright.

When is nudity ok?

Let’s come back to today’s times. How about on TV and entertainment? Is that ok? You may say no, and yet you may still indulge. You rationalize that it’s how culture is today, and you can’t escape it. Then you may feel guilty about it. For me, since I was pretty sheltered, any glimpses of flesh on movies and such was a thrill and a temptation. Since I equated nudity with sex, I’d have an immediate sense of arousal and could not just view it in a natural way. It was like I was doing something wrong something bad and needed to repent. There is a lot of legalism around what a Christian should or should not watch. It does come down to one’s own conviction and freedom or lack thereof. How you view the body is key. Is it a dirty and obscene source of temptation and forbidden fruit? Or is it the image of God and the crowning glory of his creation? To see it as such changes everything. The prudish view degrades the individual and calls bad or evil what God created as “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This body bad/ spirit good talk sounds like gnostic heresy to me!

When is nudity ok?

What about museums and art? What about sculptures? I recall a fountain outside of a Cheesecake Factory restaurant. My mom had us take a family photo in front of it. There were nude figures all over the fountain. This was before I had told her we were naturists. My wife and I looked at each other, both sensing the irony of the situation. My mom was oblivious.

A friend wrote this on social media the other day: “This statue is on a street in Las Vegas, and you can see families passing it all day. No one cares. No one is offended. No one is upset that women and children can see it. Yet if it were revealed that it is a live person doing a “human statue” all of a sudden it would be obscene and vulgar. It’s almost as if people tacitly say that the human body is not obscene, just actual humans.” A real double-standard!

Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine chapel is worth studying. It’s a brilliant piece that then was censored and restored as nudity was banned and then reinstated. He is quoted as saying, “What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?”

When is nudity ok?

For Skinny dipping? Absolutely! Most people have had a skinny dipping experience. Whether they thought they were rebelling at the time or were fine with it. That amazing feeling you had, you can have all the time by embracing the way we were made and the way we will go from this life (Job 1:21)! Given enough privacy, most owners of hot tubs have probably soaked in the nude. This is my theory anyway. When my non-naturist friends talk about their pools with privacy, they say things like “You’re welcome anytime, but you may want to call ahead before you come.” The idea of skinny dipping is fairly normal. It’s the mixed company that presents a problem for the same people who like it otherwise. I say we just shed our hang ups about clothing and our insecurities as well as our soggy bathing suits.

When is nudity ok?

Bathing and showering? Yep. Sadly, these are some of the only moments people are ever nude. This and during sexual relations, which is why nudity is so sexualized. This is part of the problem today with clothing compulsion.

When is nudity ok?

Sleeping naked? Some might agree or disagree or wish they could agree. Sleeping naked is great and has certain health benefits. The pajama manufactures will never tell you this, but I wouldn’t expect them to. When asked to write some advice to newlyweds, we just say “Sleep naked.” A pastor friend heard us say that, and wished he could, except what about the children coming in? They’d see us naked! We shrugged and instantly were saddened by how dreadfully scared everyone is by the prospect of being seen in such a vulnerable state.

When is nudity ok?

Is it ok for the naked cultures that have been or those still in existence today? Well it certainly is for them! That is, until we come and clothe them. In the Bible clothing the naked is more about helping the poor than it is covering nakedness. Whether we like it or not, it’s been documented many times over, that when clothing was introduced to naked cultures (oftentimes by well-intentioned missionaries) the problems with pornography and sexual temptation were introduced right along with the clothes. We unwittingly imported a body taboo and accompanying shame which brought about devastating consequences. This angered us so much when we read about it and reflected on the “Who said you were naked?” question in Genesis 3. Read more about this in this book.

When is nudity ok?

You say it may be ok in some of these cases. You might concede a few of these but still maintain that it’s wrong in a social nude setting. You are free to believe that, but we’ll have to agree to disagree. We explore the insanity of making exceptions to rules in “It should be that easy!” on this blog. I say it’s ok any time provided that it’s not violating any laws and it’s done with those of a like mind. Perhaps the issue isn’t really the nudity, but rather our mindset toward it.

Naturism and Christianity

By Wayne Jayes, Chairman of KZNNA

Editor’s note: This great article is a repost used with permission. See the original post by clicking here.

Introduction

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?

The Expulsion from Paradise by Benvenuto di Giovanni  (1436–1518) in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Worship

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,

  1. Jesus’ birth
  2. Jesus’ baptism
  3. Jesus’ crucifixion and
  4. Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus’ birth

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.

Jesus’ baptism

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.

21. ¹At cockcrow prayer shall be made over the water. ²The stream shall flow through the baptismal tank or pour into it from above when there is no scarcity of water; but if there is a scarcity, whether constant or sudden, then use whatever water you can find.

³They shall remove their clothing. ⁴And first baptize the little ones; if they can speak for themselves, they shall do so; if not, their parents or other relatives shall speak for them. ⁵Then baptize the men, and last of all the women; they must first loosen their hair and put aside any gold or silver ornaments that they were wearing: let no one take any alien thing down to the water with them.

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.

The centre piece in the dome of the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna, Italy

Another is from the monastery at Daphni, near Athens, Greece.

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 Cornelis van Haarlem in the State Art Gallery in Karlsruhe, Germany

The Baptism of Christ by Maarten van Heemskerck  in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The Baptism of Christ by Maarten van Heemskerck  in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Jesus’ Cruxifixion

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.

Michaelangelo’s Crucifixion in the Convent of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy

Jesus’ resurrection

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 Resurrection of Christ by Peter Paul Rubens in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium.

Our Resurrection

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.

Naked we come into the world and naked we will leave this world (Job 1:21, 1 Timothy 6:7) and naked we will be resurrected into the new world with the New Adam.

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.

 Naked 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.

Talking about beating lust (the right way!)

The following is an imagined conversation with a non-naturist that doesn’t ever mention naturism. It does, however, assume the lessons that are available to be learned rapidly through the tenets of Christian naturism. In fact, here is a downloadable pdf without any branding or credit given that you can use with non-naturist friends if they aren’t ready to hear about naturism.

Person: I’m going to have to leave soon. I’ve got an accountability group to get to.

Me: Why do you need an accountability group?

Person: Well, you know, every man’s battle?

Me: I’m a man, but I don’t think you should group every man as being in the same type of battle.

Person: Fine, it’s about lust and struggles with pornography, and the group helps us to not do that stuff that most guys deal with regularly.

Me: Oh, we’ll circle back to that, but I’m curious, is it working?

Person: Um, sometimes, I mean I have days and sometimes even months of victory at a time, but then inevitably I fall off the wagon again.

Me: Thanks for being honest. Are you always honest in your group?

Person: For the most part. I guess sometimes we answer only the questions asked and avoid telling the whole truth. The shame we feel helps motivate us. We all struggle with it, so when one person shared their defeat, it’s not as bad when I share mine. But then sometimes it gives me ideas of new ways I can be tempted like the other guys!

Me: That doesn’t sound very promising. And shame should never ever be your motivator. Aside from the support and encouragement, it seems like you all need a breakthrough!

Person: We do! That’s why I said it’s every man’s battle. Don’t you have the same struggle?

Me: Thankfully, no. I used to, but not anymore. Not ever.

Person: How long has it been since you looked at porn?

Me: Is that how we are measuring victory? Avoidance of any visual stimuli?

Person: Well, yeah. Temptation is all around us. If I can avoid seeing something, I won’t fall into temptation! You know, ‘cuz all men are visual.

Me: There you go again with “all men!” What you see is not as important as how you see what you see.

Person: I’m not following you.

Me: OK, so if you see a woman, let’s say, do you automatically lust after her?

Person: It depends whether or not she’s hot or not.

Me: So if you determine that she is attractive, let’s use that word instead, you automatically desire her in a sexual way?

Person: Well, yeah. I have a pulse. All the guys I know are like that! And even the preacher talks about his wife as being “smokin’ hot!”

Me: OK, that’s messed up. Hey, I’m not trying to be holier than thou. In fact, I get it, I used to be the same way. 

Person: Your saying you’re not anymore? And YOU’RE being honest?

Me: I don’t want to objectify anyone. I’d rather die than objectify another human being, even my wife.

Person: Not even your wife? You have to be attracted to her!

Me: I am.

Person: Well, what’s the difference? 

Me: Terms like “hot” or “ugly” are offensive and demeaning. A person is so much more than the sum or arrangement of their parts. They aren’t a piece of meat. They are an individual, made in the image of God, and worthy of love and respect.

Person: Yeah, I know that! But if they are attractive, or good looking, I can’t help myself, you know?

Me: I don’t. Remember, when I said it’s about how you see? I see others as God sees them. Everyone has their own beauty, in their own way, no matter how society has conditioned us to see them.

Person: Conditioned? What are you saying? Some people are just not as beautiful as others. If you don’t acknowledge that, you’re just crazy.

Me: I’m sorry, but you seem a bit obsessed about a person’s physical appearance. That’s what our culture and world does. The standards of beauty that marketers push are not even real, let alone attainable.

Person: I know that, but I just like the girl next door type. Not magazine perfect, but not unattractive.

Me: What if your own wife was disfigured in an accident? Would you be able to look past her scars as see the person you love?

Person: Well, yeah. Absolutely. But I don’t have that relationship with other women, so I can’t promise that with someone I don’t even know.

Me: Why not? Why not see beauty and value in everyone, and reject the notion that only your type is deserving of admiration.

Person: Ah, so you admit that you admire others. You say you don’t lust after them, but you admire their beauty!

Me: I admire that tree over in the distance too. Or the sunrise this morning.

Person: We’re not talking about creation! We’re talking about people.

Me: Are people not the pinnacle of God’s creation? 

Person: OK, yeah, but it’s different.

Me: Is it?

Person: It’s apples and oranges. And it’s forbidden fruit! So when we fall and let our minds wander and do what they do, we have to go confess it to a group of guys and try harder next time. 

Me: Sounds like a vicious cycle.

Person: It is! 

Me: Could it be that you’ve believed a lie?

Person: A lie? What lie?

Me: Well, from what you’ve described, I’ve noticed several lies. That all men are visual and can’t help but react in a sexual arousal manner. That it’s every man’s struggle that can’t be overcome easily. That you have to try harder and have accountability to be pure. All lies. And if you agree with them and believe them, they will continue to control you. 

Person: So what’s the answer?

Me: The truth will make you free (John 8:32). Reject the lies, live as though the truth is actually true, and enjoy the life abundant that Jesus offers and his finished work on the cross secures for you. It’s not by your own power, but by his life in you.

Person: I believe in Jesus, but I don’t see how I can use his power to overcome such urges.

Me: He’s given you a new heart and a new nature. It’s about truth and identity. The new you doesn’t even desire porn, right? It’s not the innocent beauty of the body as the crown of creation. It’s a distortion that objectifies and sexualized what God made very good. You feel trapped and drawn to that which you don’t even want. So agree with the truth, and it loses that power over you. You don’t want that; it’s revolting to you in your new nature. You have no desire or appetite for it. 

Person: That is true. I don’t want it, but I indulge and then feel guilty almost immediately.

Me: The command not to murder my brother is easy to keep because I don’t want to commit murder. This is the same now. I don’t want to objectify another human being made in God’s image, so when I see visual stimuli, it doesn’t faze or tempt me. I move on. The battle is in the heart and the mind. That’s what Jesus was saying. We need to renew our mind and heart. He’s done it for you already. Stop believing the lies!

Person: So you really don’t have this problem?

Me: I used to, but it has vanished and for good! There is no struggle any longer. I don’t need software or anything. It’s like a former alcoholic going down the liquor aisle at the grocery store. If he’s really free, he can do that and not have any trouble.

Person: And your relationship with your wife is better now?

Me: It’s amazing! That’s where arousal is supposed to come from- relationship, not visual. To limit to the visual, seeing or avoiding seeing stuff is to forget about the power of our imagination, anyway. Can a blind man lust? We don’t have to see anything to lust. And when we see something, we don’t have to lust. Arousal based on relationship was God’s original design, and it’s much better and more powerful. Everything else is a distortion and fantasy.

Person: Well, you’ve certainly given me a lot to think about! 

Me: And you better get to your accountability group!

Person: I think I’m too late for that. And I’m just not feeling it now. Would you wanna talk to my guys next week maybe?

Fixation & Identity

The word “fixation” is defined as “an obsessive interest in or feeling about someone or something.” I suppose we can be fixated on a lot of different things or even people. The term comes from the subject on which we fix our eyes. What we not only gaze upon, but what we fix our eyes on, keeping them locked on will become our fixation.

Jesus talked about the importance of the eyes. In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:22-23 (KJV) he said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” What our eyes, and even or especially our mind’s eye focuses on makes all the difference.

Many who claim to be Christians have a struggle with lust and lustful thoughts and/or temptation to seek out pornography. To try and combat these urges, they will try to avoid the sight of any flesh so as to not engage in this struggle. It becomes an exercise of avoidance. There are many problems with this approach. Among them is the simple fact that you can lust after a clothed person or use your imagination to entertain sexual thoughts just as easily. You don’t need to actually see something for a habit such as sexual lust to become your fixation.

Identity is another topic altogether, but it’s an important key in conquering this particular sin habit and any other. This has been my experience. As long as I have a fixation on the wrong thing or with the wrong motive, I’ll never stop struggling. If I rest in my identity in Christ and his finished work on the cross and who I am in him, I won’t have to struggle.

When my focus was on not having sexual thoughts toward women in general, I would keep having sexual thoughts. That was my focus and my failure. When I transferred my focus, my failure vanished. Now I focus on the person, and there are no longer any sexual thoughts that come into play. I used to believe those thoughts were normal, expected, and unavoidable. That was a lie. But you will live and operate as though the lie is true as long as that is your fixation. Change your fixation, and you change the outcome. Now my fixation is Christ and it’s to honor my wife and our relationship as the sole means of my arousal. As a result, nothing else is tempting in that regard. I don’t want anything else. I can see lots of bodies, clothed or not, and I look beyond the skin and into the heart of the person, with a platonic sort of love and respect for them.

I used to be someone who objectified others by trying not to. Now I’m someone who is confident in who I am, and who I am not. My new identity comes into play, and I am a firm believer living in the power of Christ. As long as I tried in my own strength to do good, I couldn’t do it. But instead, I now rest in Christ’s ability to change me to be good (not do good, but be a good tree that bears good fruit), and it becomes easy to do so. I am not one to objectify or dehumanize another person. That’s not in my new nature to do. Our Lord was fully human, and he did not objectify others, but rather loved them, seeing past their outer exterior. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, she was most likely naked. He didn’t avert his gaze, or bounce his eyes, or cover her up or anything like that. He looked into her eyes and he became her fixation. He helped her in a way that only he could and one she would never have imagined. 

It’s not hard to avoid lustful fixations any longer, because it’s automatically part of my new nature. It’s eating from the Tree of Life and not resorting to the old Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I don’t have to work hard on breathing or concentrate on my next breath. It’s second nature to me. Likewise, so is this new posture to not sexualize others. I don’t have to worry about impure thoughts or motives, because it’s not who I am anymore.

I’m reminded of an old Petra song I had on CD. So I listened again and heard the lyrics afresh:

It’s a God Fixation
A singleness of heart, an undistracted mind
It’s a God Fixation
Addiction of a different kind

I kind of love that!

The author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 12:2 to fix our eyes on Jesus. Then it speaks of his identity calling him the author and the perfecter of our faith. In Matthew 14:30 when Peter was walking on the water, he was looking at Jesus. When he looked elsewhere, at the wind and the waves, he began to sink. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, not looking to another to satisfy our deepest needs. He alone is sufficient. If and when he becomes our sole focus, the rest of whatever it is we want to change about ourselves will fall into place. We have to trust him. To turn to idols (and that’s what everything else is) will result in failure because it’s a lack of trust in him and his saving grace. Make him your pursuit, rest in his strength and not your own, and your new fixation will become your new identity. Let to old be gone! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): “…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Immanentizing the Eschaton?

I first heard the term “immanentizing the eschaton” when a naturist friend of mine was let go from his job at a Christian non-profit because of his beliefs about naturism. Instead of hearing him out and studying for themselves, they opted not to give him the benefit of the doubt and instead they accused him of being perverse and attempting to “immanentize the eschaton.” According to this definition, “In political theory and theology, to immanentize the eschaton is a pejorative term referring to attempts to bring about utopian conditions in the world, and to effectively create heaven on earth.” This is certainly disheartening, but not surprising. It’s a common mentality, especially among Christians, to link the naked body to sexuality, calling it lust provoking and even obscene. While they may make exceptions for certain situations like doctor’s offices and such, they hold these knee jerk reactions as core beliefs in order to hold on to their flawed perception of purity. They can’t seem to fathom any notion that one can be both nude and modest at the same time, and to think otherwise is trying to usher in a utopia or the age to come in a fallen world, and that just can’t be.

That’s what I’d like to spend some time on— an examination of that thesis. I used to believe the same, but now I see everything in a new and more glorious light.

Is trying to restore the innocence of Eden an effort in futility? That goal is what caused us to start this site and name it what it is: Aching for Eden- longing to restore the innocence. Being a grown up, can we have faith like a child? Jesus seems to think so (Matthew 18:3; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:17). Being an adult, can we be born again (or born from above)? Jesus perplexed Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, with these same words (John 3:1-15).

These themes keep coming up to me. It’s like the Lord keeps trying to show me his goodness time after time and in many different ways. Just the other day I listened to a podcast called The God Journey on Restoring Innocence. In it, Wayne Jacobsen said, “Every morning I can awake to restored innocence in Him, so that I can embrace him in ways that lets his glory find access to my heart.”

He also commented about the apostle John in his book, Finding Church, “For John, eternal life didn’t just describe life after death, but the quality of God’s life that we can experience now by entering into an affection-based relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus opened the door for us to participate in the divine community in the midst of this broken creation.” (Finding Church p. 44)

This takes the innocence conversation to another level for someone who doubts whether we can experience end-times realities in present day situations at some level. For my friend, it came down to his superiors not seeing how he could be around naked women and not fall into lust. If anything, that may be a future heavenly condition, but in this fallen world, you will always lust because “men are visual.” (I spend a lot of time on this blog debunking that myth and lie). To live innocently as a child does, to not automatically lust at the sight of another person this side of heaven, is that a bad goal? To some it would seem to be. They have a defeatist attitude toward this one sin in particular, exposing perhaps their own impure thoughts onto the matter. 

I’ve made this point quite often and in slightly different ways. But would they counsel someone with another problem the same way? Let’s say an alcohol addiction, or a gambling problem, a shopping compulsion, or a lying streak, or a proclivity to gossip, or a lifestyle of gluttony… I’m sure you get my point. Would they throw their hands up and give up trying to overcome these issues and accuse them of immanentizing the eschaton if they were bold enough to do something about them? Should they put off, prolong, or postpone any hope of overcoming any of these issues until the are ultimately glorified?

Hebrews 6:5 NIV talks about those “who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age” – it seems to me from this text that the powers of the coming age can be tasted today. In other words, we can be enjoying the blessing of the future age here and now.

The Lord has been putting this message in front of me in more ways that I have time to quote here. One worth noting would have to be this one: “The kingdom of God is already but not yet. In other words, the kingdom is here (already), but it hasn’t arrived in its fullness (yet). The kingdom is present, yet it’s future. The kingdom is today, yet it’s tomorrow. The kingdom is here now in the people of God and manifested whenever they are bearing the image of Christ and exercising His authority. But one day it will descend on this earth in its full power and glory.” (Frank Viola, Insurgence p. 121)

I’m a proponent of not just taking men’s words to heart, but seeing what the Scriptures have to say on matters of interest. So let’s look at some verses. 

“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22-23 NLT

I would ask if we have this new life now? Or do we have to wait until later? What good is it if we have to wait for it? Why would it even be written down for us if it’s not applicable in this very moment? Notice, it didn’t say “wait to love each other deeply until you are born again…” Or “Your eventual new life will begin later and then last forever…”

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT

I don’t need to expand with much commentary, because the case is building on it own in black and white letters. Even, and especially, our Lord acknowledged this concept when he taught his disciples to pray saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Why would he instruct us to do this, if it’s not possible? Later in Luke 17:20-21 we see that “One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.’”

I know there is a difference between justification and sanctification. Being justified is “just as if I’d” never sinned at all. In Christ we are 100% justified. Whereas, our sanctification is a process to be completed one day in glory. But why take an important issue like lust and practically give up? Why limit yourself to avoidance techniques and strict measures that do nothing but intensify the problem? Why not trust that in the kingdom that has been established, we can live as new creations and serve others on earth as in heaven? We see enough hell on earth today. We could use a little bit of heaven. We live in the tension of the “already, but not yet.” We are living between two trees (The Tree of Life in Genesis and the same in Revelation). Let us stop eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, trying to manage and maintain our morality by our own efforts. Instead, let’s trust the one who has power to redeem and restore our whole beings in general, and any part that needs his finished work in particular.

One of my favorite verses since I overcame my 20 year long porn and lust compulsion is Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold I am making all things new.” Just when does this “making all things new” take place? The verse is found in the book of Revelation which many see as being in future tense, however I believe it was written to encourage those in persecution in the present tense when it was written and for all future generations in their tribulations. There is a timelessness to that statement and the principles throughout the unveiling of the whole book.

Perhaps you have opinions about the hit movie “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson, and that’s quite ok. No movie is perfect in its depictions of events or all the details brought forth. One scene that really stuck me was when this verse was stated. They had Jesus say it as he was struggling and falling to the ground. His mother, Mary, has a flashback of a time he fell down as a little kid, and then it shows him bloody and weak falling again. She runs to him to try and comfort her son, but he looks at her with his blood-stained face and comforts her instead with these words, “I am making all things new.” My eyes well up with tears right now as I type these words and think about the scene in my head. He certainly has made all things new with me and paid the ultimate price to do so.

When exactly did Jesus make all things new? Is it solely in the future when there is a new heaven and new earth as we see in Revelation 21? Or might it be on his way to and on the cross, struggling to breathe but managing to utter the words, “It is finished.” (see John 19:30; Hebrews 9:12, 26) Regardless, his work on the cross is powerful today, if you would just believe in it.

In a booklet called Naturism and Christianity: Are They Compatible? the authors claim, “Some naturist say that it is more fitting for a Christian than a non-Christian to be a naturist, given that Christians are new creations living before God, who need not know that shame with gives nakedness such symbolic potency.” (Gorham and Leal, p. 24) I believe naturism is not only compatible with Christianity, but also a practice that is most fitting. If you are a Christian who would accuse me of immanentizing the eschaton, then I would have to say, “Good! Why aren’t you?”

Mud Stained

White is a very clean color. It’s no wonder a white glove is used to pass the dust test on any given surface. Your kid wants these awesome white tennis shoes, and your mind instantly goes to how they’ll never look the same after just one outing. Once I went to an Italian restaurant and ordered spaghetti while wearing a white shirt. A man I’d never met before told me that was a bad idea. How did he know I’m a messy eater? God likes white too, and in Revelation 19:8, he says the white robes we read about are symbolic of the righteous acts of his people. One more example coming back to earth would be this: A white convertible car looks incredible, doesn’t it? Until it drives through the mud.

That last example is where I want to spend a little time. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and get to thinking about stuff and have a hard time getting my brain to shut back down. This is the result of one of those instances. I thought of this trendy white car. White stood for goodness, purity, and godliness. Then all of the sudden it drove through the mud (which to me was symbolic of sin, or the loss of innocence and the brokenness of impurity). Mud stained the sides of the car and it lost its new car value and depreciated greatly. Discontented with its present condition, the car went all in and got really filthy. Have you ever seen one of those mud derbies? This white car is now completely covered in mud. It’s caked all over an inch thick! The white car is now brown, and remember that slime and sludge is the bad stuff in this analogy.

For me, the bad stuff was pornography. It stole my innocence, and once I opened that door it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go for many years. I started just driving through a puddle, and then it accumulated over time to the equivalent of a tough mudder. Could I ever be pure again?

It wasn’t just the porn. In this post Mrs. Phil pointed out that I had other issues as well. I had a quick temper, anger, and I was mean. Much of that behavior came as a result of using porn and what it teaches you, and not liking myself because of it.

And yet I knew and even preached these verses:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9 NIV

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” -Isaiah 1:18 NIV

Are these verses lying? No, that can’t be. But why don’t they seem to be true? Well, it must just mean our overall justification and standing in Christ and not have much efficacy in our daily struggle with sin. God saves us through Jesus, but this struggle will be with you until that day of sanctification in glory, is what I used to think. In the Lord, the car is white and he knows it, but here in this fallen world, I hope you like the color brown. How defeatist!

Do we do that with any other sins? Throw our hands in the air and give up trying to become more and more like our perfect example in Jesus? Once a thief, always a thief! No! In fact, as I type this, I’m reminded of one of the apostle Paul’s favorite thing to write in Greek after asking a rhetorical question like Romans 6:1 (NIV), for example: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” He replies “Me genoito!” which can be translated, “certainly not, by no means, not at all, no way, never, absolutely not, or God forbid!” So, back to the example. You have a habit of stealing. You become a Christian. You learn stealing is wrong (which in this example, even non-Christians would tell you it’s wrong!). Shall you continue stealing and give up hope of ever not being a thief? Me genoito! Yet, this is what we tend to do with lust. Many think we can’t overcome it this side of heaven. They say in a fallen world, you’re just always going to have to deal with it. At least in my circles, this thinking is prevalent. This is where the modesty movement and purity culture really comes into play and people start to blame women for what they are wearing, instead of blaming men for their thoughts (or visa versa).

I decided it was high time to call bluff on this type of thinking. Naturism really challenged all of my assumptions. If there can really be Christians who love the Lord with all their hearts, and see all bodies as the image of God and not as a lewd temptation, can that really be? Years before, I thought it was impossible and these people are just justifying their own perversion. But then I got to know some who made these claims. They said they hate porn. They said they didn’t have porn problems any longer because of the change in their minds. (Here’s another quick Greek lesson which sounds a lot like the last one: metanoia is the word translated as repentance, but what it means to repent is literally to have a transformative change of heart.) Christian naturists claimed, in a very real sense, that the brown car can be made white again.

They were right! And they display a stronger faith in taking God at his word when he says he can make all things new (Revelation 21:5)! That car can be made like new through God’s power! Do not doubt it, my friend! He did it with me, and he can with you too.

There was one more important bit in my stream of consciousness while trying to sleep that night. I have told several trusted individuals about our practice of Christian naturism. And while that revelation was met with shock for certain, after the initial surprise wore off, these people gave me the benefit of the doubt, because we have built a relationship of trust. They know my heart and see me as pure. No wonder Jesus said of the pure in heart, that they will see God (Matthew 5:8). God sees me that way as well. In his eyes, my car is white, sparkling and shining. In that area that used to muck me up so much, I know I’ve been thoroughly washed clean through God’s power and the mud doesn’t stick to me like it once did. There will be a lot of mud slinging going on around me. We are constantly bombarded today with visual stimuli whether we seek it out or not, but the point it, when it comes my way, it doesn’t have to stain my soul. I am certain of this. 

I’m also aware that those who do not have that same relational equity built with me, aka the general population, would not understand the same way. They would most likely get the wrong ideas and condemn our practice. I’m sure of it. But why is this? What occurred to me is that even though I know my car is white, and God knows it, and ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, they would see my car as mud stained because (drum roll…) they are looking through mud stained glasses. They don’t see Jesus as powerful enough to redeem the sin of lust (at least in this life; they don’t act like they do, anyway). Until they change their hearts and minds on this issue and allow Jesus to clean them, they will always project their own issues onto us who have worked through them and come out on the other side.

It’s just as Titus 1:15 NIV says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

I’ll Never Agree

The following is my reply to a brother who told me he would never agree to my view of naturism as a Christian:

You say you’ll never agree with me on the naturist position and can’t see anyone in the Bible practicing that. Never say never! I once was in your camp and thought the same thing about the Edenic ideal. Christian naturists, in my view, had to be a bunch of perverts trying to justify their awful behavior. For me, that was a projection of my own perversion at the time, especially since I equated nudity with sex. This is the main hang up for people that is hard to get over, but once you break that link, temptation to lust loses all its power. As Martha C. Nussbaum put it so eloquently and succinctly: “Nudity quickly becomes unremarkable when generally practiced.”

Now, having taken off the lenses of cultural bias, I’ve seen the words of Scripture anew. I see the body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good. That didn’t stop being good when man sinned, at least I don’t think God changed his mind on it from one chapter to the next. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until they ate of the fruit. Then we are supposed to believe that this husband and wife are suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, after God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply? Something deeper and more sinister seems to be at play here! Many gloss over one of the very first questions God asks Adam after he confessed they were afraid and hid because they were naked. That question is simply “Who said you were naked?” It’s largely ignored, and most, it could just not be in the text at all. Could it be that the continued influence of the lying serpent deceptively put ideas contrary to God’s heart in their impressionable minds?

God wants us like little children to enter His kingdom. Someone described innocence as being “unaffected.” Kids learn body shame from grown ups. They don’t have this instinctively. We teach them, just like our first parents were taught. Is it possible to be innocent again or unaffected by sexual temptation this side of heaven? I think if our minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2), we can be. Imagine a swindler who gives his heart to the Lord and quickly realizes that as a child of God he should swindle no more. We would do him a major disservice to his faith and new walk with Christ to tell him, “Well, the truth is that we live in a fallen world. And even if you don’t want to swindle any longer, you’re going to struggle with swindling because that’s just who you are. No! We’d tell him, “Swindling grieves God’s heart and it’s not who you are any longer.” That is the most I’ve ever referred to swindling, but I hope the point is clear. Lust is no different, and we shouldn’t treat it differently! Lust is not a constant threat to the one who doesn’t want to lust, he or she who trains their own arousal to be based solely in relationship, not in the visual aspect only (see www.mychainsaregone.org).

Jesus was fully human, tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15) The woman caught in adultery was most likely fully naked, and Jesus looked at her with compassion, not lust. He commands us to do the same. (Matthew 5:27-28). We need to see people like God sees them, as made in His image.

I do not want to cause you to compromise your convictions. But as one who held the same convictions before, I will now speak of my freedom. I don’t want to try and convince you about naturism. It wasn’t even invented in Bible times, as you stated. There wasn’t a need to protect a group of like-minded people without the trappings of clothes, and restrict them to a certain area in those days. This is because nudity was simply more commonplace those days. We are post Victorian era and much more prudish as a result. We have also unfortunately been conditioned to treat the sight of bare skin strictly in a sexual way. That can be unlearned as easy as it was learned.

It’s sad to me that I never knew so many things about the ancient world at the time when Jesus roamed the earth. I didn’t really think about Roman baths or bathing at the river. How did people know who was and wasn’t circumcised? Since our clothes are so cheap to produce today, we don’t think about having one super expensive garment, that served as collateral in times with no credit cards, and doubled as a blanket at night. If you own very few garments, you would accustom yourself to working naked, like Peter and fishermen, for example. There are mosaics and frescoes and artwork that depict all these realities, as well as nude baptism for centuries! I was either unaware of these facts or outright rejected them. The point is, simple nudity was common and expected in that era, unlike today.

God commanded Isaiah to go and preach naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3). Would he command someone to sin? Did Jesus sin at his crucifixion or even when he came out of the grave and was mistaken for a naked gardener? When Saul in 1 Samuel 19:23-24 stripped and prophesied, people saw and asked if he was among the prophets (who were accustomed to prophesy this way).

I had no clue about Pope John Paul II’s landmark work known as “Theology of the Body” or what significance it would have for my life and faith. I didn’t know about all the censoring of art throughout the centuries, including the Sistine chapel. I was clueless about the subsequent removal of the loin cloths drawn over the top to reclaim Michelangelo’s God-honoring masterpiece.

As a result of not knowing or appreciating these truths, I lived a lie. The lie is that there is only one response to the sight of flesh. Like Pavlov’s dogs, my thinking was one track minded, and so the result was exactly what you’d expect (one of enticement and lustful desire). When I started to see that there is another and a better way, everything changed. My bondage ceased in a way never attained before. Soon after my wife’s body shame issues (of which she was largely unaware, even though it colored much of her world and confidence) died along with my struggles. Praise the Lord! What used to be a rock of offense, is now a great blessing just as God intended it to be in the beginning.

As for the most common objections, we cover them and the Scripture references in question at great length in this video/text blog series. I personally know several pastors and have read of many more who see no reason why naturism cannot be reconciled with Christian faith and practice. Some of them became naturists after studying the Bible for themselves, unsuccessfully trying to prove naturism is wrong! In fact, they and I attest to an enhancement to our faith and love for our Creator God and Lord.

You bring up two passages not addressed in this series: Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. My answer is we agree! You would surely say that can’t be so, but that would be because you still link nudity to sex in your mind. There is non-sexual nudity that does not arouse sexual energy. Medical communities know this and naked tribes knew it until we went and told them they were naked and and deemed them “improper” in that state of undress. Nursing mothers should be left alone to care for their offspring without being sexualized. I have gathered with other believers and we’ve worshipped together all in undecorated bare bodies and there wasn’t a hint of sexual immorality. There were only sweet times of fellowship that honestly are hard to replicate in the clothing obsessed society. There’s really something about the vulnerability and honesty and humility of all people coming together in one mind. These are such fond memories and powerful times of Spirit-led meetings, and passionate prayer. It’s no wonder the prophets of old were known to shed their clothes as they prophesied.

Greed is also improper for God’s holy people. Could an obsession with clothes (even “modest” fashion) be a well-intended conviction actually based out of pride and greed? That aside, do we try to curb greed in the same way we attempt to keep lust at bay? Do you suggest that we cover up the banks just so we have not even a hint of greed? I realize it’s a faulty analogy, but it shows how we elevate sexual sin over other sins in our minds. This is because we struggle to accept bodies as what they are, and we tend to obsess over what we think we cannot control (lust). Greed I can control with God’s help, so the sight of a bank sign won’t trigger me. See what I mean? Shouldn’t we treat all sin in the same way?

2 Timothy 2:22 – Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help. Again, we absolutely agree! To us, there’s no finer example of a pure in heart than chaste nudity in a soul that walks with the Lord, just like Adam and Eve did in the cool of the day. In my youth, I conflated this passion, made it all about me and did not live righteously. As an adult, I spent many years stunted in that one area of maturity. Then I realized I should grow up (using the maturation of our knowledge and God’s power to be made like a child, unaffected by the grip of lust). Now, thanks to God, I live for love, peace, and righteousness, not out of duty or obligation, but out of joy and relationship. True ethical naturists are adamant when they say nudity is not porn. They are so very different. Naturism is antithetical to porn. I agree. I hate porn because it devalues the person, splitting body and soul in two. Naturism shows the whole person and without any pretense or falsities. I avoid the passions of my youth today and live with a mature purity that I wish everyone would be able claim for themselves.

I know what I was like before embracing body acceptance and rejecting a body taboo. It’s a night and day difference for us, as I am not ever tempted to go back to my porn compulsion and my wife is finally seeing herself and others as God sees them. You could do this without naturism, but in my experienced opinion, nothing works faster and more completely than ethical Christian naturism. It also seems more congruent to the mindset in Bible days where non-sexual nudity was a given and not as shocking as it is today. Yes, sexual sin was a major problem, but these are heart problems and always have been. They aren’t dependent on the visual stimuli that you may or may not encounter to cause you to sin or not.

A friend named Jim put it like this just the other day, “The prudish mind is like a can of gasoline. All it needs is the necessary spark and voila, the mind explodes with distortion of the person — again, because we are messing with a primary need. Without having a prudish mind, I could easily stumble onto a porn site and it would affect me with great negativity and sadness with no allure whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I did stumble upon one last week while looking up saints of all subjects. And it affected me with negative emotions as I could see separation of the soul of the individual from the body.”

Herein lies the question: Could I lust at a naturist resort? I suppose I could if I wanted to. Although, it must be stated that naturists don’t take too kindly to any gawking or ogling! But think about this— I could also lust at a public swimming pool or even at a church service. Or I could choose not to lust in any of those places or situations. When it’s a matter of the heart (which it is), no one or nothing can make me sin or keep me from sinning. Why would I put myself in such a dangerous place such as a naturist resort where temptation abounds? Because it’s not dangerous to me any longer, because through God, I’ve retrained my mind to not objectify other image bearers. It’s like a former alcoholic that can go down the liquor aisle or even a bar and not have a problem. They are truly free and not enslaved in that bondage if they can do that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest it! This is to say nothing of having a positive Christian influence and example for those naturists who claim no faith. It’s no surprise to me that I have talked about my faith more on a nude beach than I ever did on a textile beach!

For me personally, I couldn’t go back to how I used to be. I would compare it to a dog returning to its vomit. I used to see the body as lewd and obscene and a constant source of temptation. Now it is a beautiful work of art, that God himself fashioned in His own image and likeness, to be protected and always treated with the utmost respect.  Big mental changes are hard to come by, especially when you’ve been many years in certain thought patterns. This is why in the movies, Neo might be too old for the red pill in The Matrix or Anakin may be too old to train as a Jedi in Star Wars. Again, we flee from youthful passions, but we must become like little children according to Jesus. Children can learn a new way of thinking easily. They are innocent and, in our case, unaffected by lust, until we teach them otherwise. The dichotomy is that mature purity is reflected in being innocent (and living with sexual integrity in both thought and deed). We, likewise, would de well to reclaim that unaffected state through our new thinking and renewed minds as Jesus makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). That’s how I want to be. This is how I am. I’m never going back.

Something that I didn’t tell him that I wish I had would be this: I don’t want to limit God by saying I’ll never do something when there’s a chance that He may be calling me to it. This is obviously a moot point when something clearly contradicts God’s heart and His will for us, but if there are believers saying this is a godly blessing in their lives, I’m not going to write it off as an absolute “No” without first looking into it and praying about it. Convictions can change with new insight and information. Values and faith don’t and shouldn’t change. For me personally, I can say, along with my friend, Matthew Neal, that I’m a naturist by biblical conviction.

Addiction or Compulsion?

You often hear of porn issues in terms of being an addiction. Is it really an actual addiction, or is it a compulsion? Or is this merely an exercise in semantics? Does the distinction even matter? Let’s explore.

The case for it being an addiction naturally lies in the fact that it’s highly addictive. In fact, science seems to show that the bonding or imprinting that occurs through pornography is stronger than most drugs in many ways. Steve Pokorny’s book, “Renewed Vision” recounts much of the research on the science behind these questions. He states on page 13, “The chemical reactions set off when a person uses pornography are similar to those that occur when a person uses cocaine. Yet unlike cocaine, a porn user does not need a physical substance to get their high; he (or she) can simply use pornified images to set off a chemical cocktail in their brain and body.” In chapter 3, Pokorny delves into the ways dopamine, norepinephrine, testosterone, oxytocin, vasopressin, and serotonin all come into play in various ways that both hijack and damage the brain. They created strong attachments and dependencies that cause a craving for more. On page 85 of “Clean” by Douglas Weiss (which we shall review thoroughly very soon) he puts it this way, “Your brain is the pleasure center for your body, especially when you have a sexual release. When you release sexually, your brain receives the chemical mother lode of endogenous opiates. These opiates are the single highest chemical reward for anything you can ever do. You can run and work out, but sex is by far the biggest chemical high we get in life.”

What differentiates frequent porn use and actual drugs is the physical dependency. If you are coming off of drugs, your body will go through withdrawal. Coming off of porn also has its own version of detox, yet as stated, no physical substance is needed; it’s primarily mental. In my case, the “addiction” practically vanished overnight.

Quoted in Pokorny’s work are various studies that lobby for “compulsion” as the best classification for an attachment to pornography. Data does not seem to support that the problem is truly addictive. Page 81 tells of a study that was done to measure the late positive potential (LPP) which involves the brain science of emotions. Whereas with a drug addict’s drug of choice, there is a radical increase in these LPP levels, the research found a decrease in LPP levels when viewing sexual images compared to non-sexual images. The lead author of the the study, Dr. Nicole Prause, said “…it would seem advisable to drop the “addiction’ label when talking about people who are having issues regulating their porn use because it does not appear to be accurate.” However, the disclaimer is made that previous research using the term “addiction” should not be discounted. That said, there are many studies in secular spaces, like “Fight the new drug” that show how pornography is one of the most “addictive” “drugs” out there due to their accessibility and affordability and its effect on the brain.

Pokorny states on page 81-82, “As I have seen with some of my clients, many people who are hooked on pornography have a deep-seated belief that they can never be free. They have been programmed to believe that all they’re really capable of is ‘white-knuckling’ the issue and counting the days before their next fall.”

I asked a young man who said he was addicted to porn the following questions, as he was trying the same tired old solutions with no real success. I asked: Do you want to be addicted to porn a year from now? Did you want to be addicted a year ago? I didn’t want to be for 20 years, but I was, until I wasn’t. Almost instantly and effortlessly, I got to where I wasn’t, and I’m still not and I don’t ever see myself going back to that state again. Insanity has been said to be doing the same things and expecting a different result. If you are caught in an endless cycle, it’s insane to stay there and not try something new and outside the box!

For me, the point isn’t so much whether you call it an addiction or a compulsion. The fact is it was a problem. It limited my effectiveness and worse yet it hurt my family. As the father of boys, how could I expect them not to be a statistic when I was a statistic? It was like an addiction and it was a compulsion. When I did the regularly prescribed “Christian” ways of dealing with porn, I got the results you can expect— seasons of “victory” numbered in days, weeks, months, years if lucky, but always with a struggle. Since changing the compulsion and the motivation and my own desire, I haven’t had an issue and I don’t need to be counting either days or years! No more chips every month. No accountability necessary. No filter software or internet blockers. There’s no need for any of that.

Is Jesus cruel? It seems awfully cruel to make 50% of the general population out to be a constant threat of provoking men’s lust. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! (Now I know men aren’t in danger. If anyone is in danger, it’s the women who have to deal with men who think there is only a carnal response available to them.)

Does this idea of God jive with scripture? Not in the slightest! Matthew 11:28-30 ESV says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The ever-present vigilance required to avoid the opportunity for lust when it’s virtually everywhere is not a light and easy burden. I know because I carried it for 20 years. Removing the expectation to lust makes all the difference and exchanges feelings of dread for the joyous living of every moment previously lost.

I made this meme the other day which shows the difference I feel every day. Praise the Lord for a better way!

Our former pastor was once talking about how men are hardwired to respond with automatic sexual arousal at the sight of flesh, and my wife snapped back at him, “No, you’re wrong! That’s what both the world and the church tell us all the time, but it’s not true. I know men who don’t respond like that.” When I believed as this pastor does, I would respond to visual stimuli in like manner. After rejecting that lie, the compulsion is gone and so is the addictive behavior.

Just Thinking About the Gardener

This is a short little thought by our friend who goes by Figleaf:

Was Jesus really nude when Mary mistook Him for a gardener after His resurrection (John 20:15)?

Many in the Christian Naturist world would unabashedly sound a firm “Absolutely!”  This conclusion is usually based on the fact that Jesus’ burial clothes were left folded in the tomb (John 20:6-7), and the historical fact that many common laborers of the time would often work unclothed to preserve their very limited wardrobe.

On the other hand, I have sometimes taken a more hesitant approach in my studies of nudity in the bible.  In our naturist efforts to give common social nudity the credit it deserves, it would be easy to make an “absolute” out of just a “probable but not definite” scenario.  Or, taking it one step further, it would NOT be to our advantage to take such a scenario from a “just plausible” stance to “probable” or “absolute.”   These are three very different degrees of a presented reality.

With this particular scene of Jesus as a potential gardener, I have always put this in the “probable” category for the same reasons mentioned above.  However, I have not put it in the “absolute” category for the following reasons:

It is possible that the clothing left behind in the tomb was not a complete listing and that Jesus retained a piece not mentioned in that verse.

It is possible that an angel could have provided Jesus with a resurrection robe?

That was my thought on the matter until last Sunday when I heard a very interesting sermon on this particular scene in scripture.  It definitely did not mention nudity, but it did give me evidence that I can now move my thoughts on Jesus’ nudity from “probable” to “absolutely.”

The preacher went on to say that it wasn’t an accident that Jesus was being mentioned as a possible gardener.  This is a picture of the last Adam restoring what the first Adam left undone.  Adam lost his job as gardener and was kicked out of the garden.  And now Jesus, the last Adam, comes out of the ground (cave/tomb) just as the first Adam came out of the ground!  The first Adam also returned to the ground when he died.

The preacher went on to say, “ It was Jesus’ way of saying Eden is back!” And we all know that when Adam was tending the Garden, he and Eve were naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).  Jesus was obviously re-establishing how it was in the beginning – naked gardening included.  For me, this moved my thinking of Jesus as a nude gardener from “probable” to “Absolutely!”  And now the Garden of Eden life is available to us all once again.


Phil’s comments:

Whether it’s probable or whether it’s absolutely, the fact is, in those days nudity was more commonplace and not a big deal. Gardeners often worked naked, so it’s not a stretch to think that Jesus was mistaken as a result. Jesus was likely naked in multiple key moments in his life: His birth, His baptism, washing His disciple’s feet, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. I really like Figleaf’s statement quoting the insightful preacher: “Eden is back!” One of my favorite verses is on our homepage and that’s Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Let’s rejoice in the fact that the old is gone and the new has come.

Fear Not

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.

  1. Father, I bless my spirit to be prominent over my body and soul. 
  2. Father, I nail (thought, feeling, spirit, etc) to the Cross.
  3. 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.).
  4. Father, I ask that you send (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) away from me. 
  5. Father, what do you have to give me in place of (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.)?
  6. Listen to the Father to see what He has to give you to replace the thought, feeling, spirit, etc. 
  7. 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)