Charles Spurgeon on Christian Liberty

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is considered by some to be the greatest preacher in history. Once the pastor of the largest Protestant church in the world, he was also a champion for Christian liberty.

While this blog is devoted to Christian naturism (or biblical naturism), C.H. Spurgeon had nothing to say on the matter. However, I found an excerpt from a lengthy letter that he wrote to the Daily Telegraph on September 23, 1874, responding to his critics about cigar smoking. I thought his arguments and logic for smoking to the glory of God to be very powerful. I also surmised that one could insert naturism in place of cigar smoking, and that the same point could be made in the same flow of logical thinking.

First, here’s the quote untouched:

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to smoke tobacco is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin. Together with hundreds of thousands of my follow-Christians I have smoked, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it. There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. The expression “smoking to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.1

Spurgeon also said this: Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God.2

As I read this quote, it became quite apparent that as Spurgeon smoked cigars to the glory of God, I practice naturism to the glory of God. As surely Spurgeon used the cigar smoking and camaraderie that comes with that practice as an opportunity to be a light and example to others that may never enter a church building, I do the same with naturism.

But there are always critics and people who will project their own sin onto others and call out what others do in Christian liberty as if it were sin. So let’s apply and adapt the quote from Spurgeon, replacing smoking with practicing naturism and see how that would read:

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to {practice Christian naturism} is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin. Together with hundreds of thousands of my follow-Christians I have {been socially nude}, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it. There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. The expression “{practicing naturism} to the glory of God” standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life. When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing {times I have obtained through social nude fellowship} I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.

And: Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that {chaste social nudity} makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to {practice Christian naturism} to the glory of God.

I don’t know what Spurgeon would think of me changing his words, but I think the same could be said of naturism as he said about cigar smoking. I am against any pharisaic and legalistic adding the precepts of man to the commands of God. I hope you’re with me on that!

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1 G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, vol 5 (London: Cassel, 1923), 138-40.

2 Quoted in Justin D. Fulton, Charles H. Spurgeon, Our Ally (Chicago: H. J. Smith & Co., 1892), 345.

The Exact Opposite (an interview)

This is the first of several interview posts that we will have from time to time. Today we are interviewing Jim and Kim. They were online naturist friends that became friends IRL (in real life). They are wonderful people, and were instrumental in our own story and journey into Christian naturism. So let’s jump right in!

Q: Jim, would you briefly tell us how you got into naturism?

A: It’s a bit of a long story, but I will attempt to give you the cliff notes version. I had been a pastor for about 13 years, and my wife and I were visiting in the home of some friends when during the course of the visit our friends asked us if we would be willing to help them out with a family issue. They went on to inform us that their relatives were nudists and asked us if we would be willing to have a sit down with them and try to talk them out of being nudists from a Bible basis. We agreed that we would indeed try to help them out of this lifestyle that we believed to be straight out of hell itself. We asked them to give us a week to do a thorough Bible study on the subject and that we would circle back around with them to review our findings. What we found during our Bible study certainly did not match what we believed and had been told our whole lives.

What we found in the Word of God was the exact opposite of what we thought we would find. 

We went back the next week to go over our findings with our friends who were equally as shocked. When asked what to do about what we had learned, we responded that we have always believed that if God is for something, then we are for it. And if God is against something, then we are against it. It was very clear to us that God intended us to be naked and not ashamed from the beginning, and we could find nowhere in scripture that He had ever changed His mind. In fact, we now believe that it is Satan who convinced Adam and Eve to cover themselves in fear (based on God’s “who told thee” question) and that is it Satan who is happy with people hiding the image of God in their bodies.

Q: Wow, we just love that story! Well, what are some benefits you’ve seen from this way of life?


A: We have found several important benefits. The first is that living as God intended from the beginning brings a closeness to God, nature, and other people that just cannot be found any other way. The body image / self image improvement that comes from accepting the beauty of God’s most important creation with all of it’s “flaws” and without any of society’s expectations is so liberating that it perfectly represents the Bible as it states to know Christ truly makes one “free” indeed. The health benefits from vitamin D absorption through the skin make it clear that God intended your skin to be naked. Lastly, the porn proofing of society through the commonplace of nonsexual nakedness simply cannot be denied. When nonsexual nakedness is common then women (and men) are no longer viewed as sexual objects, but rather just another part of God’s beautiful creation. We have found that children who are raised in a naturist lifestyle have less self image problems, less porn problems, less gender confusion issues and overall are better adjusted kids with a way less sexualized view of society.

Q: Excellent points! On the flip side of that, what are perhaps some of the greatest misconceptions about Christian Naturism?

A: By far and away the biggest misconception that we have found is people’s belief that naturists are a bunch of sexual perverts and deviants. 

In the vast majority of cases there is absolutely nothing that could be further from the truth.

True naturists are way less sexualized than society as a whole due to the commonplace of nonsexual nakedness. We have found that when someone hears that you believe in a biblical naturist lifestyle, in most cases, they instantly label you a pervert in need of repentance, not realizing that they themselves are the one’s promoting Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve rather than God’s original intent.

Q: That’s unfortunately too true! You’re on a mission to change that. Can you tell us about your site www.nakedandunashamed.org?

A: The website was created as a resource for the Biblical view of the naked body. We have listed the occasions in scripture where nakedness is found and have shown the commonplace of nonsexual nudity in Bible times… both Old and New Testament. We have also listed the occasions where God commanded nudity, influenced nudity through the Holy Spirit, and shown overall that the naked body is neither a sin nor a shame. We have also examined the verses that are taken out of context and/or misdefined to be used to defend Satan’s view of the body.  We regularly add articles written to take a more in depth view of the scriptures, as well, and make practical application of the information.

Q: It’s a great resource for sure, and we’re thankful for it. What’s your hope for the church in regards to a Biblical view of the body?

A: Our hope is that more and more Christians will take an honest and open look at what the Bible has to say about our naked bodies. We also pray that Christians will decide to actually love each other unconditionally… even those with whom they disagree. We have found that is not the case with most people, but it is what God demands of us. Whether you agree or disagree with the Word of God regarding naturism we pray that you will retain a sweet spirit towards all people.

Q: Amen. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?


A: We have found that the knee jerk reaction to naturism of most Christians is shock and rejection of a fellow Christian. Most will not even have a civil discussion based on the objective authority of the Word of God, not our opinions or thoughts of what we wish the Bible said. We have found that those who will at least look at the Bible on the subject will come away with a new view of God and His most prized creation… you!

The Real Scandal

The term Christian Naturist sounds like an oxymoron to the average church-goer. It is considered taboo. There is a stigma around it, often due to ignorance of the actual ethical philosophies of naturism. Many Christians who believe that naturism is not only permissible as a believer, but can also enhance one’s faith in many ways, get the impression that they are all alone in the world– that if they were found out by others, it would be downright scandalous.

Could it be that the real scandal is that they are made to feel this way? Could there be a greater scandal at work? Let me set the stage with an example that sadly, is all too familiar in this day and age.

Could there be a greater scandal at work?

I will warn you, it’s about to get real in here. What follows is not for the faint of heart. With that out of the way, let’s take an honest look at the culture around us and the typical church’s response.

Our culture is overtly sexualized. This plays itself out not just in the porn industry but also leads to fornication, adultery, divorce, rape, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, prostitution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender confusion, and everything in between. It looks a bit like Sodom and Gomorrah out there! Marketers use sex to sell everything from bras to burgers and shove images of objectified women (mostly) in our faces constantly, whether we want it or not. 

As a result, women are plagued with self-esteem and body image issues, feeling as if they are not good enough if they don’t look like an airbrushed model from the magazines. 

Around 50-75% of men in evangelical churches struggle with pornography to some degree or another. That’s an alarming statistic that should cause us all to repent and seek the Lord and real answers in his word. We are indoctrinated and conditioned to view the body as lewd, indecent, obscene, and lust enticing. Nothing could be further from the truth. This age old lie from Satan has us all messed up. The lie is that the body is shameful. The real shame is that the Gnostic heresy of dualism is alive and well in the church today, and most are unaware of it!

The church’s efforts to combat this pervasive epidemic is to hide the body and resist every sort of temptation, as if that were possible! It’s proven to be a losing battle in our culture. Man-made methods of will-power combined with the guilt and shame of accountability is the church’s best idea to curb the lust problem, but all it does is put money in the software developer’s accounts and does nothing about the root issue. Guys can cheat any system out there if they are determined and addicted enough.

All of these feeble attempts exchange the truth for a lie. The lie keeps the world in bondage. The truth (according to Jesus) “shall make you free” -John 8:32.

How does this lie manifest itself in marriages? Divorce is rampant because we call evil good and good evil. Husbands who grew up with a sexualized view of the body are trapped in the allure of the forbidden. Wives don’t trust them as a result. As a couple they don’t connect with each other intimately to the level that God had planned for them. This makes the husband feel unloved and he acts out through porn and masturbation, which makes the wife trust him less and feel like she is never good enough. The vicious cycle continues on and on. Her lack of trust, his feeling unloved, over and over again. Until the wife in desperation and in a moment of weakness tells the husband to take care of himself! How far have they both strayed from God’s perfect plan for marriage! It’s not what she wants. It’s not even what he wants. More importantly, it’s not what God wants or intended for them.

There has to be a better way! And there always has been. God’s plan was perfect, if followed correctly. Sin has perverted everything God made very good in the beginning (After creating male and female in his image he said, “it was very good.” -Genesis 1:31 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” -Genesis 2:25).

Christian naturists are not only aware of this scandal, they are repulsed by it and by the many seemingly innocent and culturally acceptable ways it plays out. Professional cheerleaders flaunt accentuated bodies in sensual ways to the “delight” of adoring fans. Not many in the church would admit to watching them closely, but instead simply accept it as a part of sports and entertainment. That display, as well as what is on every textile beach is often times more sexual in nature than any nude beach. Bikinis prop up and hide just enough mystery to cause men with corrupted minds to wander and fantasize. However, this is generally accepted in our fallen culture. Those sensual dance moves sadden the hearts of true Christian naturists who have learned to honor the body as God’s image, and people as his image-bearers. A renewed mind with the humble (true meaning of modesty) appreciation of God’s masterpiece with the respect it deserves has an almost unbelievable way of making the lust problem evaporate!

The church’s response, again, is prudish in nature, not knowing or acknowledging that prudery is the evil twin of the sexualized view of the body. Though they are thought to be opposites, they are indeed cut from the same cloth.

David L. Hatton has written a wonderful book entitled, “Meeting at the River – A Tale of Naked Truth.” I will conclude this article with a few quotes from that book that go along with this idea that the true scandal is not that a Christian would embrace the naturist lifestyle, but that everyone else is operating under the same lie that the crafty serpent fed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

“In one breath, the body is declared a holy temple. In the next, it is called a lustful enticement. This is why God withholds His hand of deliverance from believers who get entangled with lustful images of the naked body. He cannot liberate their minds when they believe their defilement comes from the beauty of His handiwork. It is in that very beauty that His truth flourishes. If they knew this rightly, the truth would set them free. Instead, they shun that beauty! But tell me, brother, how well does this false teaching of shame deliver those trapped in such corruption?”

Most Christian naturists believe the same things the church preaches about fornication, adultery, lust, and pornography. They do not stand for these things. Quite the opposite! They have zero tolerance for them. They have accepted the truth about the body as the glory and image of God, his prized creation. They share the conviction that the “modesty” movement of the Victorian era and Puritanical values has had a reverse and damaging effect on society, causing many of the very troubles it was meant to address.

I love the church. It’s the bride of Christ. I’m not angry at the church, per se, but rather at the ancient serpent who stole our innocence and pulled the wool over our eyes! We are to be in the world, but not of the world. God calls us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable… And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” -Romans 12:1-2.

Lust abounds where minds are not renewed, in the corrupted minds of men and women who believe the lie. That is the real scandal. This is our culture. It is not working. Who could say that it is? Truth has to change us at a personal level. 

Hatton makes the following assertions that support the sad reality of this real scandal, but give hope to overcoming it once and for all: “Widespread religious support for a demonic lie cannot alter its falsehood.” And, “Christians will never have a radical reformation in how they view the naked body, until they can distinguish their devotion to culture from their understanding of Scripture.” And thankfully, “Truth always turns a wayward world right side up!”