The Personal Manifesto of a Christian Naturist

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer. My beliefs and convictions regarding some new truth in my life are clearly laid out below. They are meant to be read in numerical order.

But first, a disclaimer. As mentioned, I did not always hold these beliefs. In fact, I resisted them for a very long time. In the same way, you might think some of this to be outlandish, far-fetched, if not crazy. I will admit the ideas espoused below at times sound like an oxymoron. While seemingly unconventional, I am grateful to have come to embrace these ideas. While I am passionate about this topic, it is secondary to my passion for the Christian faith and all that it entails. I must be obedient to the authority of God’s word where Scripture speaks. Where it is silent, less clear, or controversial, I hold fast to the postures of submission and humility. I will submit to the best interpretation available to me in my own thinking. If a better argument is presented, in humility, I must submit to it, trusting the Holy Spirit will guide me into truth.

Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church to take on an important issue in his day. The following (not 95, but rather 85) are my propositions for another issue of importance that is highly neglected in my day.

  1. I believe a robust theology of the body is sorely lacking in the church today.
  2. I believe these personal convictions of mine come out of much study, reading, and most importantly from the word of God.
  3. I believe hermeneutical principles of interpretation and historical context takes precedence over present day conditions or cultural assumptions when determining the biblical author’s intended meaning.
  4. I believe that to disregard something as untrue outright without studying it fully is never the best approach in regard to any topic. As Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.” This was me for many years, to my own dismay.
  5. I believe mankind was made in the image of God (Imago Dei), as male and female, and humankind is the crown (or pinnacle) of God’s glory in creation.
  6. I believe the union between a husband and wife is a sign of the desired union between God and his creation. One of the most common and powerful Scriptural analogies for the faith is that of a bride and groom’s marriage union, bound by a covenant. Scripture declares this truth with bookends, starting at the beginning in Genesis and ending with the wedding feast in Revelation. The many verses about adultery (and idolatry) prove that God is jealous (in a good way) and desires this relationship of fidelity with us.
  7. I believe sex in marriage is a beautiful expression of God’s love, especially when we correctly follow his plans and do not allow lust to pervade our hearts.
  8. I believe a wife should be able to fully trust her husband, and have no secrets and know that she is loved and adored above all else. Man is to rejoice in the wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18) and grow old together with her in loving harmony.
  9. I believe “sleep naked” is one of the best pieces of marital advice one could give.
  10. I believe man and woman were created naked and unashamed and this state was called “very good” by God. It is reasonably deduced that God intended humankind to be in the garden unencumbered and unclad, completely comfortable in the tropical-like climate of paradise, enjoying fellowship with one another and their Creator.
  11. I believe Adam and Eve covered themselves out of fear, not shame (Gen. 3:10). Their eyes had been opened to the knowledge of good and evil, and they knew they had disobeyed, so they hid. This is a natural reaction, but an unnatural act for them, because they had always enjoyed fellowship with God without any shame involved. Shame and guilt are not of God. They acted in this way before God came in pursuit of them.
  12. I believe it must be assumed that the serpent is the “who” of “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen. 3:11).
  13. I believe “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) started a lie that all of mankind has wrestled with ever since. Part of that lie is a distorted view of the body, that it is impure, dirty, lewd, or shameful in and of itself. As Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (Jn. 8:44) We must counter the lies from the father of lies, with the truth.
  14. I believe Satan still masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) to keep people trapped in wrong thinking. We must understand the Devil’s tactics, so as not to be fooled by them.
  15. I believe Satan is the ruler of the world and has employed an incredibly effective strategy for limiting the effectiveness of the church to combat a sexualized view of the body.
  16. I believe the devil is a deceiver, an imposter, and a counterfeit of all that is created as good. When we live as though the lie is true, we miss out on much of what God intended for our good.
  17. I believe the issues regarding the body and sexuality are most violently attacked by our enemy. He distorts this issue so much in so many ways because it’s such an effective strategy in the war he is waging with us. It’s no wonder Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, a chapter all about spiritual warfare, to gird our loins with truth!
  18. I believe God mercifully clothed Adam and Eve with skins, which were far superior to the man-made attempt of using fig leaves, knowing that this would be a physical necessity for protection in the harsh changing of the environment after the Fall. This clothing was not a moral necessity, and the unashamed naked state did not cease to be “very good” after sin entered the world.
  19. I believe dualism and gnostic heresies have crept back into the church and most are unaware of it.
  20. I believe this demonically-inspired way of thinking equates the naked state as sexual stimuli only. This creates a taboo for the simple sight of an unadorned body that is based on cultural bias, and is not founded in Scripture. We have been conditioned and socially programmed to view the body only through a sexual lens associating the fully exposed human anatomy with indecency and obscenity. This cultural indoctrination is dysfunctional, illogical, unnatural, God-dishonoring, and morally toxic.
  21. I believe you cannot find one prohibition against non-sexual nakedness in the Bible. In fact, if you study the cultural landscape at the time, it was no big deal.
  22. I believe nakedness, even in a non-sexual social setting is not a sin.
  23. I believe the verses used to object to naturism take verses out of context (issues of poverty or conquest or shameful acts not having to do with nakedness itself) and do not properly understand euphemisms and the nuance of the original languages. For example, the series of verses in Leviticus 18 stating “do not uncover the nakedness of” has a clear sexual connotation, which some translations make very clear.
  24. I believe God would not command someone to sin.
  25. I believe the prophets were often naked. In 1 Samuel 19 Saul was as naked as Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 (same word) all day and night, which had many asking, “Is Saul among the prophets?”
  26. I believe God commanded Isaiah to prophesy naked for 3 years in Isaiah 20.
  27. I believe work in the nude state was commonplace in Bible times and for centuries after, and it was not an issue as it is today.
  28. I believe even Jesus was naked in public at times, his baptism, washing the disciples feet, his crucifixion, and after his resurrection when mistaken for a gardener.
  29. I believe baptisms were conducted fully nude for a couple of centuries after the church was established. This was due to practicality and for it’s symbolism of being bare before the one to whom we must give an account.
  30. I believe many pieces of art depict these truths, some have been sadly censored throughout the years.
  31. I believe many naked cultures lived without much of the sexual baggage that we live with today. When missionaries told them they were naked, they introduced all sorts of problems that did not exist there previously. This is well documented in various cultures.
  32. I believe how we use our bodies can be impure and immoral (inappropriate sexual activity), but the body itself is not evil. Those who cannot easily reconcile truths in their minds often get hung up on the issue of lust, as was the case with me. Lust is a sin of the mind. Surely the allure of “forbidden” fruit is strong, but only as strong as we let it be in our own minds.
  33. I believe every Christian claims to seek after a renewed mind (Rom. 12:2), but few actually obtain it when it comes to this application.
  34. I believe lust is the root of many evils in society today: fornication, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, adultery, divorce, rape, prostitution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender confusion, and everything in between.
  35. I believe pornography has a strong hold on both society and the church. It is more accessible than ever, harming people at younger and younger ages. Sexual addiction is commonplace and becoming widely accepted. Calling it every man’s battle without true solutions is waving a white flag of surrender instead of fighting to win. Good intentions have done little to solve the problem.
  36. I believe man-made methods of guilt and shame will never work to sustain victory over pornography and are in complete opposition to God’s liberating truth. The best ideas and solutions the church has to offer fall desperately short of eradicating the root issue. Unfortunately, the church has lost credibility on this front and has no real voice of authority in this regard.
  37. I believe Christians, including leaders, need to have their minds renewed on all issues regarding the human body. Many thought I was effective in ministry for two decades, when a few people knew I, like so many others, was actually in bondage. As much as it pains me to say it, modesty standards that the church promotes actually do more harm than good and therefore make the church complicit in this epidemic.
  38. I believe prudery and pornography are two sides of the same coin, joined together by a hellish lie from the serpent in Genesis. The Victorian or puritanical “modest” covering up of certain parts of the body (which varies from place to place as to which parts) does more to cause others to objectify those parts, than if they were to remain uncovered.
  39. I believe it is possible to be chaste and modest while in the nude state. Conversely, it is also possible to be immodest while being covered up or even fully clothed.
  40. I believe modesty according to Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 is more of a holy humility than a clothing instruction. The instruction found there regarding clothing is to not be pridefully elaborate with gold or pearls or expensive clothes. Again, some articles of clothing and jewelry deemed as okay by the modesty movement are in many ways more prideful and fly in the face of Paul’s true teaching.
  41. I believe each one is tempted by their own evil desires. (James 1:13-15)
  42. I believe that a remarkable, real, and permanent victory over lustful thinking was easily achieved for me through the normalization of non-sexual nudity and a renewed mind, when conventional wisdom and tactics the church promotes got me nowhere.
  43. I believe using the methods employed by the church allowed me to have a few prolonged seasons of victory, but certainly not without a constant struggle. It took a renewed mind and a correct and godly view of the body to eradicate my problems with lust and objectifying women.
  44. I believe all bodies are beautiful as a sunset is beautiful. This is true regardless of shape or size or any deformity or blemish.
  45. I believe one can admire the human form as both the pinnacle of God’s creation and part of his very own image (Imago Dei) without falling into lust.
  46. I believe men can and do lust after women in clothing, everything from a burka to a bikini. In fact, the lust factor can be intensified with clothing as compared to a simple unadorned body.
  47. I believe all types of fornication and pornography are evil, degrading, damaging, and destructive to oneself and one’s relationships.
  48. I believe non-sexual nudity is not pornographic. It is actually the opposite. Normalizing non-sexual nakedness (sometimes known as ethical naturism) creates a powerful distaste for all things pornographic.
  49. I believe Hollywood and Madison Avenue have conditioned people to believe that airbrushed models are today’s definition of beauty and anything other than this is wrongfully considered more ugly and shameful.
  50. I believe this body shaming is also from the pit of hell. Millions of women (especially) are in a serious type of bondage without even knowing it. They need to know and truly believe in their hearts that they are beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God and others see them this way.
  51. I believe body acceptance, and self-love needs to occur for one to be at their greatest potential to love others well. (“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22:39) The world needs this message, and the church is mostly silent on the matter. Sadly, secular society is in many ways more biblical in this matter of body positivity than many Christians appear to be.
  52. I believe breastfeeding mothers are doing what is best for their babies and should never be shamed for it.
  53. I believe there IS hope, and the truth will make you free (Jn. 8:32).
  54. I believe my current views align with both God’s word and his heart, and I am at peace about my current conclusions.
  55. I believe freedom should be practiced in line with one’s own conscience without intentionally causing others to stumble (Rom. 14 and I Cor. 8). This point is often misunderstood and misapplied. An earnest study of these passages is needed. Even though fellow believers may disagree over certain convictions, controversial or critical ideas and ideals should not be avoided as a result.
  56. I believe that if one’s faith allows them to drink alcohol (in moderation, since the biblical prohibition is against drunkenness – Eph. 5:18) they should curtail those actions in the presence of the “weak” or uninformed brethren whose conscience would not allow it. In the same way, a Christian naturist should practice with those of a like mind or those who would not be offended by it. (Gal. 5:13).
  57. I believe it is virtually impossible not to offend someone somewhere, no matter how innocuous you might believe your actions to be. That is not the point. Jesus (the stumbling block – 1 Cor. 1:23) and Paul did not shy away from offending the stubbornly legalistic with truth. Paul chastises those who presume to make judgments about others with a freer conscience in Romans 14.
  58. I believe we must live in that tension, but abide by the rule of love, as much as possible, and make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Rom. 14:15, 19).
  59. I believe the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, but the adversary hurls accusations of shame and guilt. God’s tone is very different from Satan’s. God’s kindness leads us towards repentance (Rom. 2:4) where there is now no condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
  60. I believe my conscience is not seared, but rather those who have either a prudish or pornographic view of the body are the ones believing the lie, who need to reprogram their own thoughts.
  61. I believe Paul was right when he said in Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.”
  62. I believe Jesus was right to challenge the religious leaders who followed their own traditions (legalism) over God’s commands when he said in Mark 7:15, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
  63. I believe that even those who hate legalism can become legalistic on this issue.
  64. I believe Job was correct when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.” (Job 1:21a), and we continue to enter and exit this life this way.
  65. I believe decent people fall for the lie that nude is lewd and are corrupted by it, as I was for so long.
  66. I believe I am a biblical naturist by conviction, not simply for the relaxation and health benefits provided.
  67. I believe Vitamin D from the sun is great medicine and extremely therapeutic.
  68. I believe the simple act of shedding clothes can in many ways help to shed stress, anxiety, and many worries of the world.
  69. I believe bras are harmful for women and can cause many serious health concerns.
  70. I believe it would be silly to take a shower in a bathing suit, but not as silly as using a suit on a sandy beach.
  71. I believe certain nudists can engage in activities that go against my beliefs and convictions as a biblical naturist. Like in all other areas, there can be misuse or abuse of the freedom God allows.
  72. I believe naturism may not be for everyone and always must be practiced in the right environment.
  73. I believe God has used naturism to help many people heal from a number of issues that have plagued them for years.
  74. I believe when there is nothing to hide (in terms of clothing), pretense, phoniness and judgmentalism fall by the wayside and openness and honesty abounds. People and conversations become much deeper, more spiritual, and have greater authenticity.
  75. I believe many social nudists are not Christians, and this is a largely ignored group that also needs godly examples and tactful Christian witness.
  76. I believe that like many other facets of life, though logical arguments can be made in favor of a belief or activity, some things need to be experienced to be truly understood. (Faith in Jesus being the ultimate example.)
  77. I believe I’ve never been a better spiritual leader, both in my own home and in the church since embracing this new way of thinking.
  78. I believe I have never been closer to God. The freedom and love I feel from him and for him is different and greater, and I have been a Christian my whole life. That is to say nothing of the close connection to God through nature that is an added bonus.
  79. I believe my wife and I are closer than we have ever been before, and we had a great marriage before renewing our minds on this subject.
  80. I believe we should porn-proof our children by normalizing the body, and alleviating the mystique that traps so many into bondage.
  81. I believe a strong and healthy relationship and open dialogue with our children will raise them up to love their own bodies and souls as well as those around them.
  82. I believe my parents raised me as they thought was right, and I in turn started to raise my kids the same way, which I now regret.
  83. I believe I am a better version of myself, and have finally embraced who God created me to be, as he intended from the beginning.
  84. I believe that if you tried to convince me that my former way of thinking about these things is more favorable than my current view, it would not make me want to revert. The thought of returning to my previous state of mind, feels like putting myself and my wife back in the very bondage from which we have been liberated by God’s grace.
  85. I believe you must find the truth of God for yourself. The principle in Romans 14:5 is a wise one: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

(This is my personal manifesto as of the time of it’s writing. It’s not intended to be true of all Christian naturists, although many may identify with much of what has been said.)

Phil’s Story

Though I tell my story in bits and pieces here and there, I thought it would be pertinent to tell it in a more chronological narrative. So here’s my very personal account!

I grew up in a Christian home, actually a ministry family. My parents were missionaries. I loved my upbringing which afforded me many amazing experiences and a greater perspective on life in general. However, there was one part of growing up that I’ve now realized wasn’t so good. I’m fortunate not to have any trauma or abuse in my childhood. What I will describe is not uncommon for most people in this day and age.

I’ve always had an affinity, you could say, for being nude. As a kindergartner, I remember my parents giving me the Adam and Eve story about God making them clothes (although, as it turns out, they invented clothing by sewing fig leaves together on their own without God’s consent, but I digress). As a young boy in a swimming pool, when no one was around, my shorts came off and I discovered the pure joy of skinny dipping. As a teen, I’d enjoy streaking sometimes at night, relishing the air on my bare skin. This is not the bad part of my growing up. What was bad is that I began to think of these things as bad or wrong. They felt like rebellion in a way. 

My inner nudist was crushed by how I was raised.

My parents were just doing what their parents taught them. There was no nefarious intent other than teaching me to behave according to what they thought right, and this out of love. I’ve now come to realize that their thoughts on the body and nudity are really less than ideal. They wanted to protect me from an overly sexualized society, but it didn’t work.

I remember seeing nudity on TV growing up, late night at a friend’s house, or the famous scrambled porn when no one was around. I even had friends on my basketball team wanting to teach me how to masturbate on a trip, but I resisted them. I’d hear of other people’s struggles with this in youth group. They were amazed I had not yet acted out on the lust which we all seemed to have. After all, it’s called “Every man’s battle!” We were all conditioned by our environment to equate the sight of the female body as an object that merits some sort of sexual attraction and/or response. My point is this: these moments of teaching against a certain action, made me want to try that very action!

I was a late bloomer. When I moved away from my parents house, just months before I was to marry my high school sweetheart, I had the complete privacy I had lacked before. I had a computer and access to the internet. It was in this new house, which was to be our first home as a new family, that I intentionally sought out porn and masturbated to it.

Pornography grabbed a hold of me, and wouldn’t let go for almost two decades.

I thought maybe I’d grow out of the phase. It was my secret sin (though I did confess it to some other men). I tried all the ways the church uses to combat this prevalent vice. They didn’t work. I have a daughter, and even the notion of “That’s someone’s daughter.” didn’t stop me from acting out in my addiction. (My Chains Are Gone website does a great job of proving why conventional methods don’t work.) I went to Promise Keepers events. In fact, as a church leader myself, I took men to these events, where they would quote statistics saying that most of the men there looked at porn before coming, and many will soon after the event, maybe even the same day! The conviction of guilt and shame was heavy upon me as I had an ongoing struggle to eliminate this behavior. 

I’d confess to my wife. We’d cry. I hated to let her down. I hated myself for these actions. I enjoyed some prolonged moments of “victory” but even those would not come without a fight, and the lust was still always there. For a while, as an addict would do, I had my wife give me a chip of sobriety (actually a washer, where she would write a verse or love note on it and a number) for each month in which I was “good.” I collected several. She could always tell when I was lying or when I’d go on another binge and fall “off the wagon.”

Even during this time, I would tell my wife that she is the most beautiful, that she’s the standard by which all beauty is measured. And this was true and how I saw her. But she didn’t see herself this way, and how could she with my unfaithfulness and looking lustfully at other women? (Read her story here.)

With smartphones, it got easier and easier to access the filth whenever I had the urge. If I was away from home on a trip or on business, there was a good chance I’d be fighting a losing battle at night.

Years ago I had come across a website devoted to Christian Nudists (or actually Naturists). I thought like most people think. “That can’t be good! That’s just a bunch of peverts trying to justify their evil actions.” Projection much? That was just revealing what was in my own heart. My undue judgment of them was betraying my own heart. Are Christian Naturists a bunch of sickos? The truth is that they are quite the opposite! I was the sicko! But I dismissed the notion that there could really be a devoted Christian that could live as a naturist.

I have teenage boys. I don’t want them to follow in my footsteps in this area, but how could I effectively train them up without having a sustained and real victory myself? 

Nothing I’d try would deal with the problem at the root issue. It would only put a bandaid on the surface, but it would not cure the ailment.

Somewhere during this journey, things got worse before they could get better. I hit rock bottom. But I had a realization that I preferred the non-sexual nudity more than the sexual kind. But in the porn sphere, there’s not much non-sexual nudity! The venue was wrong. Could it be that I’m just a nudist? Have I always been a nudist, and just suppressed that side of me because I learned prudery?

My close friends growing up knew of my propensity for being nude. My wife also knew it. When I’d work from home on Fridays and the kids were at school I’d institute “Fully Naked Friday” and sometimes my wife would join me in doing regular stuff but in the buff. This was nice! Freeing! Liberating!

I looked into “true” nudism again and found it’s not the same as pornography. True nudists make that distinction passionately. I finally decided to embrace myself as a nudist, which “naturally” made me want to gravitate to the section that labels themselves as Christian Naturists. Could there be a rational and even Scriptural justification for this lifestyle?

I want to share all aspects of my life with my wife. I went on a walk with her and asked if we could talk about something. I brought up that for our anniversary, maybe we could go to a clothing optional bed and breakfast that’s nearby. I thought it’d give her a chance to lay out by the pool, we could walk the vineyard, and there would only be the owners there and possibly one other couple. She got so angry! This did not go over well.

As a compromise, we went camping on private land by a river that was secluded. I spent most of the time completely naked. She did not. (Now she wishes she had!) I skinny dipped, and she saw me from the banks of the river looking like a little kid again! Pure joy.

I learned of www.nakedandunashamed.org and joined a group on MeWe. I found answers to my questions. I found people who were like me, even those who used to have porn addictions. Yes, used to, but no longer do. I found that my own issues with porn vanished as soon as I renewed my mind on how I thought of the human body. I decided I would test this to see if it was real and true. I determined to wait a year to tell my wife of the change. That wasn’t necessary!

I felt different. There were no struggles of the kind that had plagued me my whole adult life! There was a change that took place, and no withdrawal. So I laid groundwork before sharing these revelations with her. I prayed. I dropped little truth bombs. I prayed more. I solicited prayer from the group on MeWe, and the day came to break the news. You can read about this day from her perspective here.

She wasn’t shocked that I said I was a nudist, like “No duh!” She was angered initially that I had naturist friends in a group online. Then she was even more surprised when I turned it around and asked that she join me in this life, thinking it would help her find healing from her own issues of insecurity. 

After days of talking more openly than ever before, and praying together, and reading Scripture and other literature she started to see the truth. She did this very quickly. Upon reflection, she had already noticed a change in me. We were tearing down the stronghold that was holding me back from so many good things, from being a great leader, starting in my own family. She sensed a difference in me and attributed it to what I was claiming had changed in my mind.

We had a great marriage before. Sure there were many rough moments, but it was good for the most part. Now, it’s just amazing. This lifestyle has brought us closer to each other and closer to God. Even our sex life is sweeter and entirely based on our relationship, and not just physical response.

Now we are trying to undo what we were instilling into the minds of our children, so they will not fall into the same traps. Like us, they need to unlearn the things that have been taught or picked up from the environment around us.

To my wife, I’ve made a commitment. Actually, we renewed our vows on a nude beach in Florida! But before that, I promised to her and myself that every physical arousal that I would have in my own anatomy, would be by her direct involvement. In plain words, I will not masturbate. This is not out of rule keeping but born out of my own desire for our best relationship. That’s my conviction: that for every orgasm I have, my wife be a participant, present and fully engaged. That’s her rightful place for such an experience.

I don’t lust after anyone anymore. I’ve written about that change all over this blog. I definitely don’t seek out porn. I can’t stand the thought of it!

Think of recovering alcoholics; they despise the stuff that used to cause them so much trouble. The real victory is being able to walk down the liquor aisle in the store and not have any unwanted cravings. This is my experience now. Someone warned me not long ago, to wait a month, a year, because Satan doesn’t want a warrior for the truth and will try to make me fall. I think there’s some truth there, but I’m not afraid. I asked my friend who’s further on this journey than I am if he’s had any setbacks since renewing his mind. He told me the year this started for him and said, “No.” I believe him, and I don’t foresee any backsliding for me. My mind was like a corroded battery that wouldn’t work right. You can’t just try to clean it up on the outside and hope it works. You have to replace it with a new one, and it will function as it was designed to function.

My wife and I often will look at each other and reflect on where we come from and together conclude, “We’re not going back.” Why would we ever want to go back to our previous existence? When we’ve found the closest thing to the innocence of Eden, the closest thing to paradise, this side of heaven, why would we opt for the pig sty? 

I’m not going back.

The Depraved and Renewed Mind in Romans

I remember memorizing large chunks of the book of Romans when I was a teenager. It was a required text one year when I was on the Bible Bowl team at my church. Romans 1 begins Paul’s train of logic to show how depraved the unredeemed mind is and why all people need a Savior. These texts have taken on new meaning since I have embraced a Christian naturist lifestyle.

Naturists claim to experience a close connection to creation and to their Creator through their practices. Another wonderful benefit from this lifestyle is the reversing of the polarity in terms of the body and it’s connection to sexual impurity. Allow me to explain.

Sexual sin and objectifying the body through lust has been one of the most damaging of all evils in society since the beginning of time.

Our enemy viciously exploits this issue, and we give him more than a foothold! The root of the problem is in how you look at the body, whether a source of shameful lewdness or as the pinnacle of God’s creation.

Romans 1:20 says, “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Creation speaks and testifies to God’s goodness. As the crowning glory of His creation, we too should exercise dominion over creation and reflect God’s glory as image bearers that we are. But there is a problem.

The text continues in verse 21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” This is a clear reference to idols. What is an idol? It’s anything that comes before God in his rightful place over all things. We know an idol does not have to be a little statue or figure of some sort. One idol I struggled to put down for half my life was the lust of the flesh.

I’ll be honest (I’ve become more open and vulnerable since embracing naturism), I had addictive behaviors when it came to this vice. I didn’t like it, but this bondage was my dirty secret.

The text connects sexual immorality to the downward spiral in verse 24: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” We will come back to this, but the idea culminates in verse 28, “…they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”

I never cheated on my wife in a physical way, but Jesus’ words about looking lustfully at a woman being just like adultery cut like a dagger. The passage in Romans goes on to detail many more shameful acts that stem from the depraved mind. Verse 25 is a key to the whole chapter and to this issue as a whole. It came to mind in a fresh way as I spent an entire week with no clothes in a rented villa in Florida with five other nude couples. That may sound strange to many, but this was actually a marriage retreat! The only thing I wore was my wedding ring. I never once experienced the feelings of old, lusting after another woman, objectifying or judging anyone’s body. The company of naked people around me never aroused anything but love for God and healthy respect for each other. In fact, we shared some of the most open and honest and spiritual conversations I’ve ever had in my life!

What made the difference? I changed the way I think about the body, and the former issues vanished.

The truth of God is that all people are his image bearers and precious in his sight. This sounds elementary, but like the depraved of Romans 1, we can easily exchange the truth of God for a lie. The world does not take this high and sacred stance on people. We can take our cues from the world rather than from God. When our minds are not redeemed, we devalue humanity, not respecting their inherent worth as God’s image bearers. My past issues with lust were a practical application of worshipping the created rather than the Creator.

Now having embraced naturism, if I see another human, whether clothed or not, I see the pinnacle of God’s creation. Like a sunset or the Grand Canyon, I praise God for their beauty. The definition of beauty is no longer the shallow and unrealistic values of the world. Everyone is beautiful, however they are created. I no longer worship the created, I now worship the Creator and forever praise Him. It’s a much better way to live! My relationship with my wife is obviously much improved as she trusts me and knows that I see her as the most beautiful of all God’s creations.

You may say, this text is about those who are apart from Christ. The next chapter, though, begins, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1) The chapter that follows in desperation claims, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) Salvation is not a guarantee that all will be easy and well. We will still struggle with sin. Chapter 6 starts out with the question, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2) The next chapter confesses, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) This was my experience as a Christian and as a pastor even!

Romans is so rich, but for the sake of time, chapter 12 urges us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(Romans 12:2) There it is. If you don’t want the depraved mind of chapter 1, don’t exchange the truth of God for the lie of the world. Choose instead to redeem your mind! We do this in the Christian life in many areas. However, we typically admit defeat in the area of lust, which was my idol.

We say it would be impossible to restore the innocence of Eden in the area of lust, because we live in a fallen world. Yes, mankind was naked and unashamed in the garden, but that was before sin. You couldn’t possibly live nude with other people and not fall into sexual impurity, at the very least in the thought life. (At the time of this writing) I just got home from that very experience and can testify that this is a false notion.

We don’t use that excuse in any other area. You wouldn’t counsel a habitual liar to give up trying to be truthful, because after all, we live in a fallen world. Adam and Eve were truthful before the fall, but lied immediately after sinning. We don’t expect to never be truthful anymore since humanity’s truthful state was before sin, and now we are fallen. No, we want to redeem our minds and not conform to the pattern of the world, and we want to overcome the fallenness of the world and live differently, offering our whole selves (our bodies) as a living sacrifice. It would be foolish to remain a liar. 

You see my point? Why do this with every offense against God and man, but throw in the towel on lust. Why agree with the world that the simple sight of another person will evoke a sexual response and do nothing about the root issue? The best advice I gave as a pastor was to avert the eyes from looking at what tempts you, but I, myself, ignored that advice when no one was looking at me. We try to manage the symptoms only, without offering a cure. It’s like trying to treat a viral infection with an antacid tablet.

I worshipped created beings. The answer is so simple. Worship the Creator. 

I’m no longer tempted to fall into impure thoughts or sinful acts anymore. I thought I’d never grow out of it. I just held onto a worldy depraved mind (unredeemed) in that area. I lived and taught that God wanted us to live according to his truth, but I exchanged his truth for the lie of the world and it’s standards and morals (or lack thereof).

The final verse to highlight would be from Romans 16:19, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” The human body is not evil. The heart can be. A depraved mind certainly is. The human body is good and beautiful, especially when viewed with the innocence of Eden, having a holy respect for all people. I believe it’s impossible to worship the Creator while at the same time be selfishly devaluing one of his creations. That is plain evil, and having been redeemed, we are called to a much higher standard. I choose redemption over depravity!

Renewed Minds

One phrase you’ll read a lot in the posts to come is that of a renewed mind. We believe the renewing of our mind is a key part of the Christian life (See Romans 12:1-2). No one would debate this, but when it comes to the theology of the body, this notion of renewing our minds doesn’t seem to apply anymore. Why do I say this?

As a man, it’s generally believed that boys will be boys, or every man has a battle with lust, and that’s just how it is and how it’s always going to be. I believed that lie for a very long time, until I renewed my mind on how I view the body. Still not tracking? Watch this video… and be sure to watch until the end:

A renewed mind is critical to get beyond the battle of lust. Believe me! If you want to read more about this, I would suggest www.mychainsaregone.org.

My wife also needed a renewed mind. But hers is a little different. For her, it was not so much how she sees everyBODY else, it was more about how she sees herself. For most of her life, she did not believe she is beautiful, which to me (and the casual observer) is just CRAZY! She had to stop listening to the lies that plague so many women to see that she is fearfully and wonderfully made (on the inside AND the outside). She had heard Psalm 139:14 many times. She heard me tell her how beautiful she is countless times, but her mind was not renewed on this issue. Watch what happens when you start to believe the truth and stop believing the lies as if they were true:

Men who are in bondage to lustful thinking with no end in sight…

Those who have tried everything the Christian books suggest…

Just renew your mind.

Women in bondage to low self-esteem…

Those who feel they will never measure up…

Just renew your mind.

Renew. Your. Mind.