You’ll NEVER be free!

Freedom wasn’t something I thought I was missing in my life before 2019. I live in the good ‘ole USA after all. I had all the freedom I needed. I didn’t feel like I was lacking in the area of freedom. 

Looking back, in my heart I never really did understand John 8 when Jesus is talking about the truth setting us free. Ok, yeah I believed in Jesus and I had accepted Him as my Savior so I’m already free. I never stopped to ponder that Scripture or let it settle in my heart. It was one of those Scriptures you read and then say, “Oh cool” and move on. 

The Lord wanted to set me free in a different way though. In October 2019 just days after Phil revealed to me that he was a naturist, I was still wrestling with what that meant for him and me and for our family. I had learned enough through prayer and study that I knew I was changing my mind on what the truth was. I had just informed some new naturist friends that I was seeing things differently and I sensed that this was a new path the Lord was leading me down.  Those days were full of interesting conversations and reading and praying together. As we laid in bed that night we began discussing something that eventually led to another confession of sin and I was once again devastated. I tried to remain calm but my heart was overwhelmed with grief. I turned my back to Phil and began to weep quietly. I wasn’t only sad, I was angry! As I lay there so emotionally spent I began to hear an evil laughter in my mind. It was faint at first, but it began to grow in intensity. Even though the laughter wasn’t audible by human standards, my response to it was. “Shut up!”.  Phil responded confused, “I didn’t say anything.” I put my hands over my ears. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” The evil laughter continued and then I heard the words, “You thought you could do this? You’ll never be free!” followed by the most evil laughter. It was then that Phil realized what was going on and he wrapped his arms around me and held me tight as he began to pray and rebuke Satan. In that moment I saw myself throwing punches. I was in a literal fight. I could feel myself shaking as my hands were drawn up like a boxer trying to protect his face. I’m not sure how long this went on, but eventually the fight subsided and I began to weep. Somehow I knew that I had won. It was the enemies’s last ditch effort to fill my head with lies. Satan wasn’t happy that after 38 years I finally knew the truth about my body and the way God sees me. He wasn’t happy that I was breaking strongholds that I had allowed to consume my life for far too long! My decision to follow my husband in naturism was the proverbial middle finger to Satan (as one of my new friends puts it). 

I didn’t know it then, but allowing the Lord to reveal to me the truth about my body was the catalyst for many other truths the Lord wanted to show me about who He is and what He wants for my life and for His people. It has literally changed everything for me. I don’t believe Satan is all knowing, but I do think he has enough experience to know that this was just the tip of the iceberg for me and he wasn’t happy about it. 

Satan has lost that battle with me. I know who I am. I know whose I am. If doubts about that come, they pass quickly. I know how to combat those thoughts now. The Lord has set me free. It wasn’t just for me that those bonds were broken through. With the help of the Lord we are changing the way our family thinks today and hopefully in the generations to come. Change starts with us and we will do what we can as the Lord guides us to help bring freedom to those who don’t even know they are in bondage and to help guide those who are already seeking. 

Isaiah 60:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” 

I was in bondage to shameful and hateful thinking towards myself and toward others. Your bondage may be different, but the desire of the Father is that we are all set free from the things that hinder us from fully worshiping God and bringing Him glory. If it holds you back, it’s bondage and you need to be set free.

If it holds you back, it’s bondage and you need to be set free.

Once you’ve been set free, don’t look back like Lot’s wife. Run full steam ahead into the new life that the Lord wants to bless you with! Don’t allow Satan to trick you into falling back into stinkin’ thinkin’.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  

If the Spirit of the Lord is within you, then you have access to freedom. 

Every time the disciples started establishing rules—no children near Jesus; don’t let the crowd touch Jesus; don’t talk to Samaritan women; don’t let people waste expensive perfumes—Jesus told them to knock it off, and his rebuke was usually followed by a lecture that said, “You still don’t get it! We’re not substituting religious rules with our rules. We are substituting religious rules with Me!” Jesus kept saying “Follow Me,” not “follow My rules.” So most of us have spent our Christian lives learning what we can’t do instead of celebrating what we can do in Jesus.

Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003), Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith

Psalm 119:45, “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.” 

Romans 8:20-21, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Live in your freedom as children of God!!

Woefully Inadequate

I have a habit of looking intently at what the Christian world is saying about pornography addiction. The good thing is it’s being talked about more openly. The bad thing is that conventional Christian wisdom on the subject is woefully inadequate. I wrote some about this in the post titled “Save your money, sanity, and dignity!” I mentioned in that post that I may feature some books I’ve read along with the notes I took while reading them. I read material hoping to find something different and something that actually works, but even those who claim to be different recycle the same sad ideas that are failing miserably. Today, I’ll cover just one chapter. I bought this book because I knew there would be one chapter dedicated to lust and pornography. I love reading on kindle and highlighting certain parts and adding notes. I hate it when I see the same ole tired advice, however.

Before I get into the quotes and notes (with limited commentary) I have to share a few qualifiers. 

First of all, my critiques are not ever directed toward the good hearted individuals promoting these ineffective strategies. In this case Patrick Morley has made a tremendous impact on men’s ministry for thousands and thousands of men over the years. I’m grateful to him and others and their positive contributions and ministries. I’m sure this book is wonderful. I just found this particular chapter to be lacking.

Second, since I’ve found true and lasting freedom with no help from popular techniques or practices, I’ve become very passionate about the truth and that can sometimes come across as arrogant. This is never my intent. I have to constantly remind myself that I thought the same way most of my life. Now that I’ve overcome what was once thought to be virtually impossible to eliminate, I have to be careful not to be harsh toward those who can’t fathom this level of freedom.

The book I bought to read is “The Christian Man: A Conversation About the 10 Issues Men Say Matter Most” by Patrick Morley. Chapter 8 is ironically (in my opinion) called “Lust: The Right Way to Deal with This Powerful Drive” – I say ironically, because I didn’t see a right way in there. In fact, the big idea for this chapter is: “the practical solution to lust for most men is to get married and enjoy regular sex with their wife.” My reaction is: Seriously? That’s the best you can do? That’s just purity culture all over again. Marriage doesn’t guarantee fidelity and integrity! I thought that would fix my issue. How many others thought the same? That’s what we were told. It’s a lie. Even a good marriage and good regular sex is no solution if you have a perverted way of thinking.

Ok, let’s get to the quotes and then my notes (his words will be bold and in quotation marks while my reaction will be in italics):

“I have always felt too uncomfortable to teach this material in depth at the Man in the Mirror Bible Study until, essentially, I was forced to as part of my preparation for writing this chapter!”

Being so unformfortable with a topic, that you were forced to look at it does not bode much confidence in your level of expertise in this area.

“I don’t know how it could be any clearer: If you have chosen marriage, Satan will tempt you if you don’t have regular sex. If you want to go on a “sex fast,” you can, but only by mutual agreement and not for long. To be blunt, if you’re not horny, you’re more likely to exercise self-control. Bottom line: Our sexual design is a powerful, primal force. Having regular intimate relations with our wives is the biblical solution to block the corruption of that design by sexual immorality, including lust.”

I’ve written and re-written this comment a few times as it’s a touchy subject but it is the crux of the matter with my and many others’ frustration with popular Christian teaching on sex, especially “obligation sex.” The underlying premise is that men are are highly susceptible to sexual temptation if their wives aren’t meeting their “God-given” needs enough. I believed this type of mindset for most of my life until I rejected it as the lie it is. Much could be said here, and I will probably expand on this topic in an future article all by itself. For now, let me direct you to a podcast by some ladies (Sheila Wray Gregoire and company) who are working hard to undo a lot of the harm that comes with this teaching. They talk openly and frankly about many items which aren’t brought up very often, such as consent and marital rape. They give voice to 20,000 women surveyed in their research (that’s a massive study and important data!). While they are asking hard questions and pointing out valid problems, in my opinion they don’t go far enough with solutions, but they are at least moving in the right direction. The sad truth is unhealthy men in many cases can abuse their wives in several ways while appearing to be godly in the process. Those are startling words to take in, but unfortunately I believe them to be true. I was once complicit in these types of abuses, that are typically overlooked. Give this podcast a listen if you have the courage to do so. 

Patrick makes a common disclaimer here in quoting 1 Corinthians 7 allowing for moments of temporary abstinence by “mutual agreement” in order to distance himself from any allegation or criticism of this nature. And while he would not condone any of the evils I’ve mentioned, this is often the logical end result of the ideas being perpetuated even in his own quote, if you read between the lines. This is so common in these resources! The consequences can be quite tragic. We need to be better!

“This is not a chapter on how to have great sex, but on how to deal with lustful thoughts.”

Deal with lustful thoughts? How about eliminating them?

“Every man is wired by God to appreciate beauty of all kinds—sunrises, mountain vistas, newborns, soccer, and so on. But a woman falls into an altogether different and exclusive category.”

Why? Says who? Surely not the same God as we see in Genesis 1-2?

…men think about sex nineteen times a day on average.”

They’ve been conditioned to do so. That was the case with me. Not anymore.

“As men, the main way we experience sexual attraction and arousal is through sight.”

That’s the lie that abounds. I think an exclusive and intimate relationship is a better way to attraction and arousal with your wife and with her alone. I’ll write a piece called “The wife of your youth” soon to explore more on this.

“He [David] didn’t go up to his roof to look for a naked woman so he could be sexually aroused (provided that’s true, and I think we can plausibly assume it’s true).”

David’s sin of adultery was probably premeditated. I think it’s likely that he went up there for that very reason. It was a common occurrence, and he knew what he was doing and sought it out, and when seeing wasn’t enough, he had to have Bathsheba.

“[We can also be] surprised by a sensuous waitress, the suggestively dressed coed who attracts your attention at the gym, a sex scene you didn’t seek out… Sex, of course, is everywhere. But in our cultural moment, seduction is inescapable. We’re bombarded. The visage of a shapely woman walking down the street comes to mind, or a scantily clad model who suddenly appears while scrolling through what should be a harmless news feed. But these images burst into our minds like a guest who doesn’t knock. When a sex scene comes on your screen, is that for you a temptation to lust or the sin of lust? It depends. It’s not lust to “stumble” onto a temptation.”

This is the tragic reason why men are so weak and frankly immature; we tell them over and over that these little situations are so dangerous. It’s sickening! We must always be on guard if we haven’t renewed our minds on how we view the body and other human beings, made in the image of God! Once you remove the desire in the first place, temptation goes away completely.

“It was a bare-knuckles brawl between old habit and new commitment. My face was half twisted toward her, but my eyes bulged out to stay glued on those peas. ‘Finally the battle began to subside. A few moments later it was over. I had won. God gave a spiritual victory. I still am tempted to lust, but God has given me the power to have victory every time I ask him to help.’”

This is a story about a guy focusing all his attention on 3 peas on his plate to avoid looking at a “very sensual woman.” What a terrible way to live! And it’s unnecessary.

“[His] wife, Sarah, asked him, ‘Are you intentionally not looking at other women?’ When Mike said, ‘Yes,’ Sarah said, ‘You have no idea how secure it makes me feel to know that you only have eyes for me.’’

I had a similar experience with my wife, but now I have seen that the covenant with my eyes which Patrick is referring to from Job 31:1-4 is not as he describes it here. And in the verse’s immediate context it refers to the thoughts. It’s not about what you see, but how you react and think about what you see. Bouncing your eyes solves nothing!

“There’s no reason you can’t make it your covenant too. I did many years ago. I haven’t been able to keep it fully, but I’ve sure done a lot better having made the commitment than not.

Exactly- you won’t keep it fully until you change your mindset. Then it will be easy to keep it and fully.

“Job’s covenant requires will power—your will and God’s power.”

I know it can’t be, but it sounds like you’re saying God’s power isn’t enough. The logical deduction is that God needs us. That’s just not true. As long as you believe that, you won’t see God’s power and transforming effect, because you think he needs your involvement. He’s powerful enough regardless of any of our efforts. Our will power is feeble and frail. We need God plus nothing.

“Let’s be honest: you can’t resist googling something you shouldn’t or thumbing through the Victoria’s Secret catalog on your own—at least not every time. If you haven’t already done so, consider making “Job’s covenant” right now as a call to action. That’s what Mike did.”

Let’s be honest, even though Mike made this covenant, he’s going to fail because you told him as much, and didn’t offer him real hope or a better alternative.

“He [David] graduated from “seeing” her to “watching” her. Instead of turning away, he stared.”

This is predatory behavior from someone who is conditioned to think these desires are unavoidable. Instead of preying on any woman, I’d rather be a protector of all women.

At this point it was either turn away or lust was inevitable.”

Aha! There it is. The notion that lust is inevitable is so strong in Christian books. It’s like we can’t imagine our men being equally as strong or mature!?

“Lust is sexual desire out of control.”

No, it’s just the desire. If you remove that desire, you have nothing to have to control. The commandment against killing my brother is so easy to keep, because there’s no desire to do so (hopefully)!

“Adultery type 2 is mentally having sex with someone not your wife, or lust.”

Absolutely agree! No argument here. This is part of what is missing in the usual discussions.

“Nevertheless, ‘mental’ adultery is not the same as “physical” adultery.”

Wait just a second, didn’t you (and Jesus for that matter) say it was the same? It IS the same and needs to be viewed as the same. There are some different ramifications, granted, but it still is adultery. As long as we make distinctions, we won’t treat it with the same severity, and we need to.

“You can’t commit adultery with your own wife.”

Yes you can. It would help to study some of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” to better understand both lust and purity of heart. 

“What I’m about to tell you is opinion—please read it accordingly. You can masturbate and not sin.”

I suppose it’s a matter of opinion and conviction. I’ve determined as a married man to have my wife’s direct involvement with any and all of my orgasms. It’s been surprisingly simple to keep to this. It doesn’t feel cumbersome. It’s a joy to have and honor this conviction.

“When you see a beautiful woman and feel an attraction, here’s what you should do: Pause and say, ‘Thank you, God, for this beautiful woman whom you have reverently and wonderfully made. I pray she knows you, or one day will know you, the way I know you.’ And then move on.”

This is ok. This is some good advice. I appreciate this; I just don’t think it goes far enough. To renew your mind is to see the other person as a whole person (not just an object), an image bearer, beautiful and deserving of love, respect, and dignity on that basis alone. I’d rather die than objectify another human being reducing them to the sum of their parts. That’s the mind change.

“Look once, you’re human; look twice, you’re a man; look three times, you just disrespected your wife.”

Not just disrespected. You’ve committed adultery in your heart because you looked with intent.

“Nobody is forcing us to lust. Lust is our own fault.”

True. It’s our fault alone- not our hardwiring or any external stimuli. So no excuses! And no more pressuring wives to “put out” more or “be more sexy” in the guise of protecting you from having a lust problem. That’s victim blaming and it’s wrong and gross. Why can’t we see this?

“Here are several practical examples of how you can flee sexual temptation:”

These, like so much advice given, are mere avoidance techniques and sin management. We have to do more than treat the symptoms of a greater and more dangerous disease. We have to kill it at the root and eradicate the problem. Or using another metaphor, don’t just brush away the cobwebs, which will surely come back as long as the spider lives! See Romans 8:13.

“Give a brother or your small group permission to hold you accountable…”

You can lie and fake it.

“Even if you have a group of men asking you weekly, “Have you sought out any sexually explicit materials this week?” you can still lie to them.”

Thank you.

“Run as fast as you can from any group that reinforces the notion that all men “struggle” with lust and so it’s acceptable. Men in those groups can rarely testify to God’s power to change their lives in this area.”

My point exactly. It’s better to not even have the need for accountability in the first place. 

“…was still struggling with unwanted sexual behavior. He said, “PG-13 gives me hungry eyes.”

I like that term “hungry eyes” – it describes so many men today and myself at one time. The problem is you are opting for junk food instead of a gourmet meal that is a healthy and loving committed relationship with your wife (if married). Hungry and thirsty should describe your desire for righteousness not for sexually provocative and relationally empty conquests.

“He said, ‘I had a broken mind.’”

Yes, indeed. But behold, Jesus is making ALL things new, including your mind, if you’ll let him (Revelation 21:5, Romans 12:1-2).

“…the leader of a ministry that specializes in sexual purity said, ‘One hundred percent disclosure in brokenness, humility, continued transparency, and confession to the people you care about is the only way out.’”

Nope. The only way out is not confession, but a redeemed mind to see others as God sees them.

“Steve has now been free from bondage to pornography for three years. ‘I’m still tempted all the time,’ he said. ‘But now I immediately text my wife and tell her what’s happening.’”

He is SO not free! It breaks my heart that this is viewed as success. I have been free for three years, but I’m no longer tempted. And it’s been so different than the 20 years prior! I know it’s a permanent change, not just temporary victory. I’ve had sustained times of victory in the past, but always with a constant struggle. Now, the struggle is gone. It does not have to be every man’s battle!

“Objectifying women and thinking about sex constantly became a daily struggle.”

Objectifying is the key word. But again, it’s only a struggle because you think it will be. We have this unhealthy fixation on certain body parts due to a hyper-sexualized culture and the constant warnings about it from the church, which only serve to reinforce this dehumanizing view of other people.

“Today, Miguel is living in victory over pornography. He said, ‘That doesn’t mean I’m not tempted. I still have pornographic images pop into my mind, and I’m not perfect.’”

Miguel’s story as told by Patrick is a very sad story, and I’m glad it’s better, but this is still NOT full victory!

“…they can be free from compulsive behavior, but it’s going to be a lifelong battle. They’re going to be tempted every day.”

No, no, no!!

“Miguel, who now lectures on porn and sexual purity…”

What? After what I know of Miguel from this story, it seems like the blind leading the blind.

“[Miguel’s] own intentional plan…”

This is indeed “his own” plan. He and so many others. It’s not God’s plan. God, the only one needed for immediate, lasting, and permanent change, is sorely missing in this awful plan.

“Confess to everyone you can—”

Or just to God and your wife (if you’re married). Get the real solution and then help others with your testimony.

“Ask them to monitor your computer with software like Covenant Eyes.”

Save your money and be trusted without these aids. Again, you’re not truly free if you have to depend and rely on these filters. 

“Purge all pornographic content from your home, your devices, your social media accounts, etc. Delete apps, people, websites, etc. that may be triggering lust.”

Trade one bondage for another, it would seem. And still not be free from either!

“The best way to overcome temptation is to not put yourself in a position where you will be tempted.”

Wouldn’t the very best test of whether you are free or not be to spend time in the place that is unthinkable, where temptation is all around you (say like a nude beach)? If you are fine, then you are truly free! I know this sounds crazy and unconventional and like the worst advice. But it worked for me and for thousands of others and a true cure to pornography and lustful thinking.

“When you fail—and you will—”

I’m wondering why I wasted my time on this chapter if you, like other authors, are just admitting defeat here!

“Ed Cole, a pioneer in men’s ministry, wrote a story in his magnum opus, Maximized Manhood, about a men’s retreat in Eugene, Oregon…”

This was a good story and a good point that’s worth reading. But then I still was asking how those men are going to overcome their longings after repenting? It will continue being a struggle and temptation, as long as you think it will be.

I want to end with a story he used to open and set up this chapter on lust. It shows just how pervasive the habits of thinking sexually like the world have become, even among those who are supposed to be leading spiritually. I don’t want to be too critical of the pastors in this story, because that would’ve been me too, as long as I believed the lie that all men are visual, etc.

“At a conference away from home, several pastors went to lunch together and were waited on by a strikingly beautiful, sensuous waitress. You could hear the sexual energy crackle in the air. The temptation they felt to lust was so arresting that each man muttered his order into his menu so as not to stare. As she exited into the kitchen to place their orders, they all sat speechless staring at their place mats. As Mark Rutland told the story to our Bible study group, the senior man finally broke the ice in his own inimitable way. “Well, God hath made the heavens and the earth.” They all nodded in agreement. “Oh, yes.” Then he said, “And all that is in them hath God made.” “Yes, that’s right,” they agreed. “And also all humanity hath God made,” he continued. “Yes, God made humanity,” they chimed in perfect cadence. Then the older pastor nodded his head toward the kitchen door where their waitress had just disappeared and said, “And God hath made some nifty humanity, hath he not?” They all howled, and the spell was broken… If even pastors can be so easily tempted to lust, one thing should be crystal clear: no man is immune from the temptation to lust. As one man put it, ‘My three greatest temptations are money, pride, and bikinis.’ Any man who says he doesn’t struggle with the temptation to lust is lying. Plain and simple.”

Good writing, but my experience and the testimony of many new friends causes me to vehemently disagree. Or I guess I’m lying! (I’m not.)

See more posts on lust by clicking here.

Don’t Look Here!

(The problem of lust, part 2)

There’s a theme park that has an iconic building with a small hole in the exterior wall. Above the hole are the words with an arrow pointing to it saying, “Don’t look here!” Of course, that’s exactly what everyone does. You look in the hole and there is some creepy picture or something. I don’t even remember what’s in there, but it’s funny anyway!

It’s true of human nature that when you make a rule you get almost nothing but infractions! Take this sign as another prime example. This poor “No target shooting” sign has been nothing but a target for shooting! And this bird pictured atop a “no birds” sign is not unlike the behavior of its human counterparts.

Let’s keep thinking along these lines for closer examination. The prohibition era made liquor illegal, but did nothing to curb the drinking problem. It gave rise to the black market and launched many homemade moonshine operations.

Andrew Farley has a book called “The Naked Gospel” (not a naturism book) that points out the futility of the law to save one’s soul. Yes, we say only Jesus saves, but then we try to go back to a pseudo law-based form of Christianity. It’s not working very well! I heard Farley use this illustration in a message the other day: the law is like a mirror. It points out problem areas like a mirror would show we need to care for our teeth. The mirror will not fix anything, it will only show where our needs are. You don’t chip off a piece of the mirror and use it on your teeth. That’s not why it’s made!

I saw this quote the other day by David A. Holland in “Praying Grace” that was quite insightful: “Adam and Eve’s labor to create fig leaf garments to cover their shame represents mankind’s very first religious work. Cain’s rejected offering was the second (and that rejection led to the first murderous rage.) From the Tower of Babel, to the meticulous rules and regulations of the Pharisees, to all of the world religions, right up to our modern day– fallen man’s impulse has been to work or earn our way back into the Garden of Eden.”

I used to suffer from a problem with porn. Of course that was because I had a problem with lust. This developed in part because of youth groups and other Christian guys telling me that we all had this problem and needed to work hard to fight against it. The very prohibitions and warnings made me curious and wanting to see for myself how bad porn really was. I realize I can’t blame anyone else for my own behavior. James 1:14 (KJV) says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” This is true, however, the “laws” against such actions, were a factor for creating the very problem with lust which they intended to prevent. We are already programmed in our culture to respond sexually to the sight of bare skin. The church in its teaching (though well meaning) reinforces these ideas and makes it seem as that’s the only “natural” way for men to respond.

So that’s how I responded. I did not like porn, but I couldn’t ever quite shed it from my life. I knew it wasn’t good for me or my relationship with my wife. But even that knowledge and the “rules” did nothing to stay my desire. It was like Romans 7:7-8 (KJV) “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.” And a few verses later, “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 NIV) I was indeed asking the final question in this passage, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV) I felt like a dog returning to its vomit. I felt so much guilt and shame. I felt like I was a disappointment to God. As a result, I hated the body God gave me because of my actions toward it and the impure thoughts in my head. I wondered why most of the Christian men I know also expressed this lifelong struggle?

The solution seemed to be more will power and more rules to safeguard against the power of lust working against us. Like the Pharisees, we’ve added more regulations to God’s ideals and created man-made traditions and “solutions” that have solved nothing. Also, like with the Pharisees, the law becomes a breeding ground for hypocrisy. “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23 ESV)

Indeed it’s as futile as wiping away a spider web. It won’t solve your problem if the spider is still alive. They will surely reappear. Man-made attempts at defeating porn may wipe away the webs, but the spider of lust is at the ready to come right back unless you kill it.

Then something surprising and unexpected occurred. I saw that naturists had an aversion to porn. They were adamant that nudity does not equal porn. It seemed they had a greater respect for the body then everyone else. They were also less judgmental towards others than most Christians, who should excel in these virtues. Even Christians were naturists and held the body and everyBODY in a sort of holy esteem that is more biblical than our present day dualistic views, where we see the world through spirit=good and body=bad lenses.

Could it be that some people don’t fall into lust at the sight of nudity? Or are their hearts hardened? No, from what I’ve observed firsthand, these people are more passionate about the Lord than the average church goer. This baffled me, but I was so drawn by it. What’s the worst that could happen? I gave this lifestyle a try, and found those claims to be true. There’s an innocent beauty in these people. They are not perverted. The way I used to be was perverted (at least on the inside). Now that way of thinking has completely vanished as my mind has been renewed.

Is my conscience seared? Am I desensitized? No, the body is simply demystified for me. It’s lost its allure. I no longer fixate on body parts that our culture has deemed purely sexual. Do we not all have the same parts? Is the body only for sex? Isn’t there more to a person than their body?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “If your eye causes you to sin gouge it out.” What if it doesn’t? I reject the notion that my eye will cause me to sin. This seems unbelievable to those in the church because they teach it’s an automatic reaction, so we need to avoid any sight of anything that could be tempting. They haven’t worked through their own views of the body, not realizing that they are projecting their own impure thoughts onto everyone else. They would rather have a set of rules and follow them as best as they can. They would rather cover up the women with phony and arbitrary modesty standards that do nothing to curb men’s lustful thoughts. It only serves to excuse their behavior and place blame on the clothing choices of others instead of taking responsibility for their own thought life.

Lust is not a sight problem, it is a heart problem. As Jesus himself declares in Mark 7:21 (NIV), “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come.” 

I’m done with all that! I’d rather focus on relationship with the Lord instead of rule keeping. I’d rather please him out of my own desire, not as an obligation. It’s better to let Christ rule, instead of being bound by rules. There is a big difference there! He’s taken away the guilt and shame that used to hover over me unrelenting. He’s made me free because I have believed the truth (John 8:32), and that freedom is a gift that I do not take for granted. As Galatians 5:1 (NIV), “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

The compulsion I could never seem to control is gone for good, and so is the bondage that came with it.

Porn is the last thing I want to see now. My mind has been renewed and transformed (Romans 12:1-2). I don’t objectify others. Instead, I see everyone as a beautiful creation of God, worthy of respect as a fellow image bearer. I would never be in the healthy place I find myself through a system of rules. It’s a rejection of culture, tradition, an embracing of God’s truth, and a desire to live righteously out of gratitude that has made all the difference. The Lord is gracious to me, and I’m happy to honor him and others around me. I no longer serve the Lord with a double mind out of guilt and shame. Now I serve him out of a heart of joy. Relationship will always yield much better results than rules ever could obtain for us. 

Ending this addiction was so easy, I could hardly believe it.  That’s because God did the work, and I stopped trying. Indeed I was surprised into freedom!

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!


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.

Benefits of Naturism

This is a guest post from a naturist friend of ours, Gregory Cook – reposted with his permission. See the original post here.


Why go nude? Why do you need to go nude? What’s the big deal? Why can’t you just be like everyone else? Questions like these are common, as a lot of people have never thought to consider it. In fact, clothes-compulsive people often lack a positive attitude concerning naturism because they *assume* wrong things about it. Some think it’s simply “weird!” Others think it’s harmful. Still others think you’re sinning and going to Hell if you don’t repent. Unfortunately, too many people have refused to move past their assumptions to actually learn what naturism is really all about, much less consider its benefits.

In my own search for truth, I was surprised to discover just how healthy social nudity is. That is, when you practice it correctly, and when you practice it with the right mindset. (I admit some don’t.) The truth is, the benefits are far too many to list here concisely, and so I have listed the ones common in naturism. Maybe you will agree too if you think it through.

When You Go Nude Socially…

  1. You eliminate class distinctions that we all automatically recognize through clothing. When someone is nude, you cannot tell whether they’re a doctor, nurse, policeman, in the military, a high paid executive, clergyman, or whatever. If they’re in a gang, there are no “gang colors” that say so (except maybe unless they have tattoos). Of course, that means you have to get into relationship with the person and get to know them better if you want to know more. That’s a good thing, right? We all want relationship.
  2. You experience more genuine and intimate relationships with others. When you go nude with others as a naturist does, you’re saying, “I am open and honest, and I trust you. Please accept me as I am flaws and all.” Consider the fact that even in clothes-compulsive society nudity is generally a time of intimacy, such as being born, bathing, having sex, or having a doctor examine you.
  3. You learn to separate nudity from sex, and thus you reduce your tendency to see others as “sex objects.” Naturists keep nudity and sex in their proper contexts.
  4. You learn to accept others based on their character, not their image or appearance. Your appearance is less of an issue among naturists. This includes the size or condition of your body as well as its various parts.
  5. You begin to focus more on the whole person and less on their various parts. You even start to see the body itself as a part of the whole person, and you accept each body regardless of its condition.
  6. You see the physical differences between the sexes easily, and realize that nature defines it. Instead of thinking that wearing a dress, something pink, or makeup makes you a female, you realize the real factors that define both the male and female. It becomes generally undeniable and better understood. In a naturist environment, children learn the differences quickly and easily without anyone having to tell them.
  7. You obtain greater awareness, acceptance and appreciation of your own maleness or femaleness, as well as that of others. Modern society is trying to blend and devalue the sexes but in my opinion, we should be celebrating them without degrading each other.
  8. You begin to see how incessant clothing actually contributes to porn and unhealthy fetishes. The moment you make something unavailable is the moment you create value. Rare things are more valuable than everyday things, so when the nude body becomes an everyday thing, it loses its lust value.
  9. You gain a healthier self-image and greater confidence. There’s no need to try to impress others with a certain appearance when others accept you just as you are.
  10. Your desire to improve or maintain your body becomes a matter of health and respect for your body, rather than an attempt to be or feel accepted.
  11. Your body functions as designed. Whether you believe in God or nature, our bodies function a certain way and do better under certain conditions. For instance, your skin is the largest organ of your body and when you cover it with clothes, it cannot “breathe” properly. It benefits from fresh air as well as moderate sunlight. Besides, you can plainly see what all of the other creatures on earth wear. Nothing! That is nature’s design.
  12. You begin to see just how comfortable, practical, and healthy going nude is. You start asking questions like… Do we really need bathing suits to go swimming? (Some rightly call them “costumes.”) After all, what purpose do they really serve? They don’t keep you dry, warm, or clean. In fact, tight fitting clothes are shown to harbor harmful bacteria. Do we really need pajamas to go to bed? Do they help or do they hurt? Studies show that sleeping nude is better for you. If you would simply go nude for a while, you would begin to ask your own questions.

These are just some of the reasons why social nudity is beneficial. All of the reasons boil down to one thing — health — a healthier mind, a healthier body, and a healthier soul/spirit. We all want to be healthier, and this is why naturists go nude.

The truth is, naturism started as a health movement, and for the most part it remains a health movement even though you may not hear many say it flatly. Each naturist has their list of reasons but whatever their reasons are it all inevitably boils down to health. The benefits are so great that many naturists adopt the philosophy, “clothed when practical and nude when possible.”

All scriptures NIV unless otherwise stated.

© 1997, 2020 Gregory Cook

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.)

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!

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!”

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

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.