A New Perspective (by G S Royal)

I have a friend who has a fear of flying, so she thumbs her nose at it by deliberately flying. I have another friend who has a fear of public speaking, and he deals with it by joining Toastmasters.  I spent most of my life hiding my body because I was ashamed of it. As a young teenager, I quickly learned that I had nothing down there to be proud of. It took me decades to learn I had nothing to be ashamed of, either. Like my friends, I chose to spit in the eye of what I feared. I chose to accept my body and stop hiding it. To deliberately let it be seen (without offending someone or violating the law).

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing, is the very thing that will set you free.

Indecent?  No.

So many have been wounded—myself included—by a view of the body “that has the smell of brimstone all over it,” to quote my friend Draco.

Pastor David L Hatton tells a story of a blind man who was sitting on the sidewalk with his hat turned up at his feet and a sign that read I’M BLIND. PLEASE HELP. A few people had put something in his hat, but most just passed on by. A man who worked in public relations came by, turned the sign over, and wrote a new message on it. Later, he came back by and the hat was full of money! What he had written gave those who read it a new perspective: IT’S SPRING, AND I CAN’T SEE IT.

The problem I had, and so many of us still have is this:

My body is beautiful, and I can’t see it.

As though some miraculous metamorphosis has transformed our perspective (see Romans 12:2), we need to see the human body the way God sees it: naked and unashamed, the pinnacle of his creative genius.

Thousands of people have defeated their body shame demons. They have come to see themselves through God’s eyes. And they are doing it through the prism of naturism.

Ungodly?  No.

Most detractors are good church-going people who think they are honoring God by condemning those who live as naturists. In some ways, prudery has been elevated to the value of scripture, and that’s a slap in the face of the very Creator whom they try to serve!

What’s ungodly is listening to the enemy of our souls when he tells us to be ashamed of the image of God that we bear. Let the words of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago speak to you:

The Imago Dei
(The Image of God)

A man and woman—naked—
once in a garden stood
Created in God’s image,
He called it ‘very good!’

Fashioned for a purpose,
one infinite in worth:
to replicate God’s image
through miracle of birth.

Then comes the great deceiver
who so wants to be God,
and have the gift He’d given
these creatures made from sod.

He saw the Imago Dei
they clearly represent
and hated with a passion
everything it meant.

What happened next is epic.
A tree, its fruit, a lie:
“You’ll be like God! Here; eat it.
You surely will not die!”

Then once the bite was taken,
dressed only in their skin,
they heard, “…and put some clothes on!
Your nakedness is sin!!”

How prudishly we’re living
in our ‘enlightenment’,
while foolishly retaining
that gnostic excrement

so readily accepted
by hearts that went astray
when moral independence
was birthed that fateful day.

As mankind swallowed fully
a fallen angel’s plan,
Godly wisdom faded
from the heart of man.

We should actually be ashamed of being ashamed! As Mr. Larry has stated: How is it possible for the human body, which was created in the image of God, to be offensive to anybody? Satan would love to see God’s greatest creation be considered offensive.

What’s ungodly is objectifying certain body parts, and thereby separating the body from the soul that owns it.

What’s ungodly is teaching our children that the mere sight of naked humanity is sin. In doing so we have helped our great enemy create a culture that is steeped in pornographic filth.

What’s ungodly is the prudish mindset that gives pornography its power!

Study the Scriptures regarding this, asking God the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to His truth. Many are finding that these bodies are still fearfully and wonderfully made.  Because of Christ’s redemptive work, our bondage to sin has been broken.  We no longer have to believe the lie.  We can replace it with the truth.  We can once again be naked and unashamed.

G S Royal
©2022

Way too much privacy!

I recall a time when I played sports in school. There was a communal shower with no separations or stalls between shower heads. In college the showers had a column with four shower heads in either direction, so you are facing another teammate as you get clean after a sweaty practice or game.

Those times are long gone. Now there is way too much privacy. More recently I remember going to a church camp where there were private stalls for showers, a curtain to hide behind and another area as a buffer to change in with a second curtain AND a sign out front to show that it’s occupied. This includes several layers of protection from having any amount of flesh being seen by another person. The newest generations are obsessed with privacy. How is that working out for us as a society?

Chad W. Thompson spends the bulk of a chapter (chapter 3) in his book “That Famous Fig Leaf.” noting that:

The circumstances in which nudity can occur outside of a sexual context are becoming more and more elusive, as is indicated by the disposition of many adolescents and millennials towards communal showers. Yet bodies that are, at least partially, exposed for the purpose of sensual gratification are everywhere. We live in a culture whose inhabitants spend billions of dollars a year to see each other naked on Internet sites and in pornographic films, yet are often uncomfortable changing in front of each other in locker rooms or even being seen in a swimsuit on the beach. This is due to either bodily insecurity, or fear of being sexually objectified. Could it be that we have so profoundly fused the image of the exposed body with sexual gratification that there is no context left for it to be laid bare without evoking either shame or arousal?

Thompson’s work is well-researched as he quotes various other author’s books and articles of interest. This excerpt is especially enlightening: 

A 2009 article from The Oregonian, “Shower Together at School? No Way, Dude,” observed: It’s a rare student who showers after sports or gym classes these days. A quick dab of deodorant and a dousing of cologne or perfume, and it’s on to the next class . . . Communal showers—the awkward rite of passage into puberty—are a thing of the past. In fact, Oregon schools haven’t required showers for at least a decade. The same is true nationally.77 The New York Times, in a 1996 article “Students Still Sweat, They Just Don’t Shower,” wrote: Students across the United States have abandoned school showers, and their attitudes seem to be much the same whether they live in inner-city high-rises, on suburban cul-de-sacs or in far-flung little towns in cornfield country.78 The article goes on to quote student after student listing all the reasons they would never shower, or change clothes, in front of their same-gender classmates. “You don’t want to get made fun of,”79 stated one fifteen-year-old boy. “. . . you don’t feel very good about yourself,”80 said an overweight student who used to race to the locker rooms after class so that he’d be done showering before the other boys arrived. “You never know who’s looking at you,”81 said an eighteen-year-old female from Illinois. Quotes from these students’ teachers only further illustrate the fact that students are changing the way they change. “These guys don’t want to undress in front of each other,” said a high school teacher in suburban Chicago. “I just don’t get it. When I started in ’74, nobody even thought about things like this. The whole thing is just hard for me to accept.”82 An Illinois football coach said “These guys would play a two-and-a-half-hour game, and then they’d just want to go home, all muddy, so they could have their privacy. Used to be, when you get sweaty and stinky, you wanted to take a shower.”83 Also mentioned in the Times article is a boys’ tennis team that practices mornings before school at the community racquet club, just a few blocks from the high school. “But rather than shower at the club, many of the boys get picked up by their parents and driven back home to shower, and then return to school.”84 The article goes on to say: A generation ago, when most schools mandated showers, a teacher would typically monitor students and hand out towels, making sure that proper hygiene was observed. In schools with pools, students were sometimes required to swim naked, and teachers would conduct inspections for cleanliness that schools today would not dare allow, whether because of greater respect for children or greater fear of lawsuits.85 Mass contempt for public showers seems, to many, to be something which emerged only in recent history. Yet when the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to file a lawsuit in federal court over a mandatory shower policy in Pennsylvania, the lawyer who worked the case was overwhelmed by correspondence from adults who supported him. “People remembered their own humiliation. I myself remember moving from my little country school to the city school, and being mortified about having to take showers. But in those days, you did what the schools said, you did what the teachers said.”86 

And later he goes on to say:

According to the New York Times: Modesty among young people today seems, in some ways, out of step in a culture that sells and celebrates the uncovered body in advertisements, on television and in movies. But some health and physical education experts contend that many students withdraw precisely because of the overload of erotic images—so many perfectly toned bodies cannot help but leave ordinary mortals feeling a bit inadequate.89 In a more recent Times article, “Men’s Locker Room Designers Take Pity on Naked Millennials,” Choire Sicha reports on the emerging demand for nudity-free locker rooms. Sicha describes the fear which drives men to slide their underwear on under their towels: “Each day, thousands upon thousands of men in locker rooms nationwide struggle to put on their underwear while still covered chastely in shower towels, like horrible breathless arthropods molting into something tender-skinned. They writhe, still moist, into fresh clothes.”90 Bryan Dunkelberger of S3 Design, an architecture firm that designs locker rooms, told Sicha: In the last 20 years, maybe 25 years, there’s a huge cultural shift in people that ultimately affects gyms . . . Old-timers, guys that are 60-plus, have no problem with a gang shower and whatever. The Gen X-ers are a little bit more sensitive to what they’re spending and what they’re expecting. And the millennials, these are the special children. They expect all the amenities. They grew up in families that had Y.M.C.A. or country club memberships. They expect certain things. Privacy, they expect.91 Mark Joseph Stern, writing for Slate.com, commented on Sicha’s article, “While older men generally remain comfortable being undressed among others, younger ones insist on maximum privacy, pining for a way to strip, shower, and change clothes without even a flash of nudity.”92 Why is there such aversion to nudity among millennials? In the article “Nothing to See Here: A History of Showers in Sports,” ESPN sports writer David Fleming describes the sociological constructs that converge when clothes come off, most of which are far more pronounced today than in the age of the boomers: When stinky teammates strip down to their most vulnerable state, it conjures, for some, a range of emotions: their most awkward memories (middle school gym class), deepest insecurities (size), purest symbolism (baptism) and most ignorant defense mechanisms (homophobia).93

The normalization of nudity can do wonders for the fear and insecurity of so many. Yet, the opportunity for nudity in a non-erotic context is a rarity. What is also mind boggling and perhaps the subject of another article altogether is the rise and commonplace of sexting among the same people who would have trouble changing in public among their own sex. The sexting is often done without a face in the photos, so that the headless body can’t be traced back to the person. There is more confidence this way, but really it is a lack of confidence to not include ones face. A headless photo of the body — how much more dehumanizing can one be?

The naturist experience stands in stark contrast to all of this (do you see what I did there?). Their photos are evidence. Naturist photos are like anyone else’s vacation photos, except for the fact that they are naked. Some people ask why naturists take and share their photos? I would ask why non-naturists take and share their photos? They want others to share in the experience of where they were and what they were doing. Those who know them will live vicariously through their trip to Disney through the record of photo ops. For naturists, it’s the exact same. They took a trip, not to Disney, but to natural hot springs, for example, and maybe you should add it to your bucket list. Their smiles are always huge as naturists are often at peace and joyful about what they are doing. They aren’t ashamed of their bodies or having their heads attached to them. Doesn’t this sound like a more wholesome and healthy way of being? I think so.

In a world that is way too private, naturists in essence have not much need of it. I grew up with privacy at a premium. The ability to be so matter a fact now with nudity is a blessing in many ways. I’m no longer repressed under a body shame taboo. Nakedness isn’t mysterious, and the body isn’t a source of lust like I once thought it was. It just is a body, and more importantly it’s a somebody.

Just the other day, my wife and I went over to some naturist friend’s house for the day. As we arrived we were greeted by a naked man. After going inside, we were told we could also get comfortable if we wanted to. That’s what we did. We ate together, played games, and eventually took to the hot tub on the porch and had a wonderful time and great conversation. None of this had any sexual connotation or anything I would call indecent. Quite the contrary. It was a sweet time of fellowship. When it was time to head home, we changed back into our street clothes and left. No shame. No insecurity. Just comfortable and intimate (not in the sense that some would interpret intimacy). 

And that’s just the difference. Where some are not comfortable dressing in a locker room amongst those of their same gender, others are completely in their element hanging out (literally) in their own skin in mixed company. I’ve been on both sides of that spectrum. I know what both those feelings are like. I have no desire of going back to how I was before. I strongly believe that the uninhibited version of myself is the more sane, mentally and emotionally healthy, and well-rounded individual. One experience is fraught with anxiety and hang-ups; the other replete with ultimate relaxation and relational bliss. For me, it’s an obvious choice. You CAN have too much privacy. 


Source:

Chad W. Thompson, That famous fig leaf : uncovering the holiness of our bodies (Cascade Books, 2019), 28-32.

Quoted in Thompson:

77. Owen, “Shower Together,” para. 3.

78. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 5.

79. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 23. 

80. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 25. 

81. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 27. 

82. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 9. 

83. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 30. 

84. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 28. 

85. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 8. 

86. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 14. 

89. Johnson, “Students Still Sweat,” para. 16–17. 

90. Sicha, “Men’s Locker Room,” para. 4. 

91. Sicha, “Men’s Locker Room,” para. 5. 

92. Stern, “If You Are Not Comfortable,” para. 1. 

93. Fleming, “Nothing to See,” para. 3.

Owen, Wendy. “Shower Together at School? No Way, Dude.” The Oregonian Extra (July 22, 2009). http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonianextra/2009/07/shower_together_at_school_no_w.html.

Johnson, Dirk. “Students Still Sweat, They Just Don’t Shower.” The New York Times (April 22, 1996). http://www.nytimes.com/1996/04/22/us/students-still-sweat-they-just-don-t-shower.html.

Sicha, Choire. “Men’s Locker Room Designers Take Pity on Naked Millennials.” The New York Times (December 3, 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015 /12/04/fashion/mens-style/mens-locker-room-designers-take-pity-on-naked-millennials.html?hpw&rref=fashion&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0.

Stern, Mark Joseph. “If You Are Not Comfortable Being Naked Around Other People, You Are Not an Adult.” Outward. http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/12/03/locker_room_nudity_is_healthy_and_normal_fear_of_it_is_irrational.html.

Fleming, David. “Nothing to See Here: A History of Showers in Sports.” ESPN The Magazine (July 8, 2014). http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/11169006/nfl-showers-hostile-environment-michael-sam-espn-magazine.

I would NOT be a naturist if…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

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

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

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

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

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

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were an exhibitionist.

Wow! What a horrid thought!

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

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were sexually perverse.

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

  • … I were a pedophile.

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

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

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

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

I would NOT be a naturist if…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Neal

Gnostic Heresy – Alive and Well

In my Personal Manifesto of a Christian Naturist, point #19, I stated that, “I believe dualism and Gnostic heresies have crept back into the church and most are unaware of it.” As I wrote the little “manifesto” piece, I remember wanting to throw ideas out there that would cause people to go deeper and explore further rationales. A couple of people have asked for an expansion on what I meant by gnostic heresies. This article is my attempt to answer their questions.

I must admit, I am no expert or scholar when it comes to understanding Gnosticism beyond what one can find in commentaries and reference books. Before embracing naturism, I was one of those church leaders who assumed these wrong ideas had been dealt with by the early church fathers. David L. Hatton and others turned me on to the idea that the heresies had “crept back into the church.” It didn’t take me long to subscribe to that notion and realize that I too had been unknowingly complicit in perpetuating Gnostic heresy myself for many years!

So what does it mean? That is the question! The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge.” Gnostics taught that there was a mysterious or special knowledge reserved for those with true or awakened understanding which could save one’s soul. They accepted the Greek idea of a radical dualism between God (spirit) and the world (matter). For our purposes, the Gnostic application would be spirit=good; body=bad. The goal is to free the spirit from it’s embodied prison.

The ethical behavior among the early proponents of this false doctrine varied immensely. On the one hand, you have those that avoid all “evil” matter in order to be seperate and avoid contamination. This even led to ascetic practice and literally beating their bodies into submission. The other end of the spectrum was a sort of libertinism and freedom to participate in any and all indulgences. Since they believed to possess insight regarding their divine nature, it didn’t matter how they lived. Obviously, both of these extremes exhibit grossly flawed thinking.

Both Paul and John countered these heretical teachings (Col. 2:8-23; 1 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 2:16-19; Titus 1:10-16; 1, 2, 3 John). Jesus in Revelation 2, had strong words opposing the Nicolaitans, who many believe to be a Gnostic sect. True to the definition of the word “heresy,” this teaching caused division in the church fellowship. Gnostic texts in the Apocrypha are not recognized as Scripture and were refuted by early church fathers such as Irenaeus, Against Heresies; Hippolytus, Refutations of All Heresies; Epiphanius, Panarion; and Tertullian, Against Marcion.

Chad W. Thompson in the very first chapter of his book, That Famous Fig Leaf, points out the ways Gnosticism led to some interesting conclusions within the church, infecting it with a negative view of sexuality. A church father, Origen, reputedly castrated himself believing both his body and sexuality to be his enemy. Clement of Alexandria taught that Christ didn’t even have a physical body.

After giving a few more examples, Thompson describes an evil and surprising result:

The Gnostics also devalued women, as it was their bodies that tempted men to sin. Ninth-century church father Theodore of Studius forbade monks from having even female animals, insisting that by becoming monks, they had “renounced the female sex altogether . . .” In the eleventh century Pope Gregory VII wrote, “The church cannot escape from the clutches of laity unless priests first escape the clutches of their wives.” Pope Urban II, a contemporary of Pope Gregory, ordered any priest who violated celibacy to be thrown into prison, and his wife and children sold into slavery. To Augustine, one of the most influential extra-biblical writers in Christian history, the body “presseth down the soul.” Augustine became the bishop of Hippo, and believed the penis was evil, semen was cursed, and intercourse was infected by sin even in the context of marriage.

While these ideas seem outlandish today, the dangerous doctrine of Gnostic dualism is still alive and well.

Again, Hatton mentions this throughout most of his writings. I will pull several quotes from this 20 page article on his website. He does not mince words when he confesses the following:

Our scrupulous loyalty to a prudish view of the body wasn’t just poor theology. It was an unwitting—perhaps sometimes even an idolatrous—cultural investment in heretical error.

We’ve been trained by the body taboo of church tradition to guard our speech. But no redemptive good news about our sexual nature ever came from the body shame language formulated by that taboo. Within evangelical hymnody, homily, and humor there is a subtle array of Gnostic attitudes toward the material world in general and toward the human body in particular. We often claim biblical ground for trivializing “this world” as “not our home” and for preaching a Greek dualism that neglects the importance of the body and its inherent sexual character. Pulpits are parodied for skimming over sexual issues with evasive wittiness. Expected laughter from the pew confirms the stereotype. Absence of a substantial and thorough evangelical theology of sexuality—or even a sound theology of our physical embodiment—is telltale evidence that this caricature of our uneasiness with sex is real. But this comical avoidance, and the attitude it betrays, is no joking matter in our present social climate. It’s an inexcusable offense that has surely offended our Creator for a long time. Immersed in this prudish mindset, past Bible teachers, if not lulled into Gnostic thinking themselves, have showed little concern for a creational view of the material world or for an incarnational view of the human body. The legacy of this doctrinal deficit sets an agenda for remedial theological work, starting with a godly, pure-minded attitude toward the body and its sexual physiology. Only divine truth about our sexual embodiment can drive out the false spirit of Gnostic prudery and body shame. 

His reference to divine truth is not one that is concealed for those lucky enough to have the secret insight. No, that would sound just like the Gnosticism we are siding against! He’s advocating for the simple truth revealed in God’s word and in the Edenistic ideal. He’s pleading for Christians to look beyond our culturally biased perceptions, and see humanity as God sees us.

Hatton does not trace the origin of this heresy back to the early church, but much earlier, as early as you could go… way back to Genesis and the creation story:

Three relationships simultaneously fell apart when Adam and Eve ignored God’s direct, personal guidance by imbibing that fruit: separation from God, discord with each other, and estrangement from their own bodies. Evangelical teaching on the restorative dimensions of Christ’s redemption focus almost exclusively on those first two categories. We basically ignore the third. But of the three, Adam and Eve’s bodily alienation was recorded as the first and immediate result of their gnosis-based independence in morally determining what was “good and evil.”

So this is not a new problem. It’s been around forever. It rears its ugly head and causes havoc upon all of humanity in its wake. All the ills of society, when you boil them down, are an affront to the image of God (imago dei) stamped both on our bodies and our souls. To ignore the issues of the body, is to surrender this part of ourselves to Satan’s plan and away from God’s design. So we reap what we sow, and living within the world’s system in a hyper-sex crazed culture (again, nothing new), we are forced to try to either frantically avoid all that is deemed as evil or succomb to it’s powerful allure.

Legalism or libertinism ensue. Angelism or animalism become the only apparent choices, neither one being the healthy alternative of a godly view of incarnational truth.

What’s the answer then? If this kind of thinking is so ingrained in us, how can we ever expect for the majority of Christians to experience an improved perspective? There simply are no easy answers. This view of the intertwining of body and soul is not a hidden truth. It’s been there all along! The serpent attacked the first moment he could, and he hit hard. Naturists don’t have secret knowledge. They are simply as body-friendly as God intended us to be. It’s not difficult when you accept the truth, it’s just agonizingly hard for many to see because we are blinded and conditioned by both society and by church teaching through man’s traditions.

You can read the whole of Hatton’s argument here, but I’ll close this article with this quote:

Having their sacred idol of a cultural body taboo prophetically smashed may be the need of some Christians. But the bulk of the church must be led gently, gradually. Habits of chewing legalistic fruit from “the ‘gnosis’ of good and evil” which perpetuates body shame are deep-seated. An iconoclasm of Gnostic attitudes must begin theologically and progress pastorally. What we must not do is to try preserving the status quo in a peaceful religious ghetto. God expects us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  We must work toward banishing Gnostic ideas from the Christian church, along with Gnostic porno-prudery. Both have clearly dishonored our Creator. Both have utterly failed to bring godly change to our sex-obsessed, sexually aberrant culture.

May we do our part to tactfully buck the system that has failed the world practically from the start. May we be advocates for a healthier and holier view of both body and soul.