I can hear it now – “Whoa! Christian naturism is a non-sexual experience so don’t go there and make it sexual!”
And I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But just because it is a non-sexual experience doesn’t mean we are no longer sexual beings. And from a male point of view I’d like to share two advantages I’ve discovered that I never even considered as possible.
There is generally only one area of sexuality that is discussed in Christian naturism and that is deliverance from pornography and lust. While this is a huge step into freedom from a terrible bondage, there is definitely much more to consider. Since there are already many discussions and testimonies of deliverance from pornography and lust I won’t go into that area in this article, but will address two additional sexual advantages of Christian naturism.
First, is the amazing fact and experience of discovering how easy it is to now be able to control sexual desires. Pre-Christian naturism was the usual swirl of being carried along the torrent of passions without any hope of realizing they can be turned off or delayed when necessary. Yes, sexual passion and it’s human fulfillment is also a very good thing created by Father God – and I think He was in a very nifty mood that day! But even as a married Christian I still didn’t understand that my desires could be controlled (turned off – delayed) without frustration.
I remember one time as a new Christian, in my early thirties, when a pastor told me that a husband could lust after his own wife. I was shocked! I just couldn’t believe that to be true, and It was a real puzzle to me for many years. Now I understand that he meant it could easily go beyond desire to a self-gratification that uses his wife as a means to an end. Pope John Paul II addresses this issue in his book Love and Responsibility.
The blessing of Christian naturism and its associated biblical teachings have put this in proper perspective and application. The desired effect of controlling inappropriate sexual desires has become wonderfully simple in application. If any person arouses any type of sexual desire, the TRUTH is what sets me free from that. I can quickly tell myself the truth is that the human being I am looking at is the very Image of God (Genesis 1:27) and NOT for my self-gratification. I quickly elevate the scene from the worldy to the heavenly, and sexual desire is quickly shut down.
The second advantage is tied to the first. Because I can look upon a nude human being as the Image of God, I can then be in a mixed social setting without sexual desire. The experience of social nudity with mixed genders and ages actually becomes very idyllic and Eden-like. This experience has what I call a “holy joy” attached to it, and it is so awe-inspiring and wonderful that we would never want to ruin it by injecting sexual desire into the scene. It would be like throwing a bucket of paint on Michelangelo’s statue of David, or taking a hammer to Rodin’s sculpture, The Kiss . It would just horribly ruin something beautiful, just as sexual desire would ruin social Christian naturism. I discovered there is now a built-in aversion to mixing sexual desire with social nudity. What a joy!
The naked human body of all ages and genders is pure, holy, and good. It is a very privileged blessing to be able to enjoy it as God intended without the self-gratification of sexual desire. Therefore in fulfillment of the command to “love one another” we find an additional built-in desire of Christian naturists to preclude using one another to fulfill sexual desires.
It is stated in 1 Corinthians 6:20 – For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Happily, Christian naturists have learned the value of not only glorifying God in our own bodies, but also the glorifying of God in how we view the bodies of others.
We hated our washing machine from the very first day we bought it over seven years ago. It frustrated my wife intensely, which caused me to dislike it very much also. After all, “if Mama ain’t happy – then nobody’s happy!” After my wife’s disabilities increased and I had to take over the laundry, I begin to literally hate this machine that would never seem to work like I wanted it to. It would tangle clothes, go off balance, and often sit and go into “sensing mode” for no apparent reason. From the very first day I began to curse that machine calling it all kinds of derogatory names and even kicking it and pounding on it with my fists! I’m really not a violent guy, but this was a bit of a phobia I had towards it – for seven long years!
Recently, after a really frustrating day with the dang thing, I finally had it and was going to get a new one. This one was going to the junkyard – that is until I looked at the prices of new ones! Yikes! Even the cheap ones are expensive! Ok, now I’m looking with a new mindset of perhaps living with this monster of a machine a bit longer.
I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit or just me in desperation, but a thought came to my mind. John, you’re cursing this machine all this time. Why don’t you try blessing it? Quickly recognizing the biblical truth before me, I right then and there repented for cursing my washing machine and started to call it blessed out loud. I even declared it to be part of the Kingdom of Jesus and is therefore blessed in my household!
Well, wouldn’t you know it – shortly thereafter the Lord opened my eyes to what was wrong with it and how it could be fixed. I say, “opened my eyes” because I literally was blind to a simple method of making it work correctly. I’m a mechanical kind of guy. I should have recognized the problem easily, but I believe my cursing it literally blinded me to the obvious – and blessing it literally opened my eyes to changing this machine from a monster to a very pleasant and useful piece of equipment.
Shortly thereafter, I began to ponder about how this cursing thing had affected my life in various ways. Naturally, I began to review my journey out of lust and pornography into Christian Naturism – and the similarities began popping up all over the place.
I was constantly cursing my body.
My body was a monster – rarely acting the way I wanted it to. Always going off balance and getting tangled up in stuff it shouldn’t.
Just as I would kick and beat on the washing machine, I would abuse my body by looking at porn and doing destructive things with it. It was the same love/hate relationship I had with the washing machine. I had one and had to use it for better or worse.
Just like having a phobia about that washing machine, I would look at my body as evil and corrupt and must be dealt with very harshly.
I also began to see how many woman could hate their body and call it cursed – hoping to get rid of it and upgrade to a new model!
It wasn’t until I fully realized that my body is blessed because it is the Image of God that I began to be “repaired” and now my body works properly. I call it blessed and it exists in a blessed environment in the Kingdom of Jesus. My being nude is no longer going off balance with lewd. My nudity is no longer tangled up in the spin cycle of the world. The lie that my body is cursed has been washed away! I am clean, whole, and functioning very nicely without clothes. Who needs a washing machine anyway!
A reader of this blog who goes by Arid Lasso has been creating these memes out of reading that he is doing. The books he is citing in these are books we have also recommended on our own resources page. I will share some of these a few of my own comments about the quotes. These and future memes our friend will create will also be featured in a collection on our memes page.
I think the first part of this quote would go unchallenged by most. Yes, we should view others incarnationally as sacred embodiments of God’s image, physical temples for His Holy Spirt, fleshly expressions of souls Christ died for. This bit gets mostly affirmed by the majority of Christians. But then the second part of the quote becomes unthinkable to the very people who embrace the first part. If the first part is true, then it should liberate us both from prudery’s impure thinking about the unclad human body and from pornography’s misuse of human nudity for self-gratification. So where is the disconnect? It’s an if then statement. If this is true, then this also is logically true. However, there is a cognitive dissonance in the porno-prudish mindset. Once that is broken, the logic flows and the liberation occurs.
This reaffirms what I was just saying. The logic has to be solid. The “inborn” response to nudity as bad is a mental glitch whose neural pathways must be remapped. This is what happened with me, and the former lie I had believed so long vanished for good. Reject that very body taboo and there is no need to defend a lie any longer. Everything changes, and our response to nudity does not cause uncontrollable lusts, but instead praise of the Creator and love for a fellow image bearer.
Our search must be a search for the truth. There can only be one truth if it is indeed truth. Our enemy is described in John 8:44 (NIV) this way: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Contrast that with a verse just a few verses prior to this: “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)
When you look, it’s so easy to see the devastating effects of this form of thinking that is the default way of thinking. Religiously reinforced. While my main bondage was porn and lust, my wife’s bondage was body shame. We both needed deliverance. A redeemed view of the body as the image of God changed us both. These types of bondages in others are now so apparent to us, and it saddens us that, like in our case, years will be wasted without a liberating knowledge of the truth. There is freedom for those brave enough to seek it.
This is what happened to me. Purity culture may have had the best of intentions, but we instead have reaped the consequences of such training and conditioning. The attempts to curb impure thoughts through hyper modesty and covering up have been tried and found wanting. To say they’ve failed at restoring one’s sexual brokenness is an understatement. You say there has to be a better way. I say there is!
This quote is especially fitting at Christmas time, which is around the time you’re reading this if you follow the blog every week. Our Lord was made flesh and dwelt among us. The idea that flesh is bad and spirit is good is a gnostic heresy. While we can give mental ascent to this statement, and agree the heresy is wrong, we miss the fact that we live as though it is true. We decry heresy in one breath and embrace the heresy’s claim in actuality. Spirit good, body bad never ends well. Which is why Satan planted that idea from the very start.
This is one of those arguments that “textiles” don’t know how to handle. That exception and that of doctors and nurses really ought to have the whole house of cards come crashing down. Mrs. Phil delved into this type of reasoning of making exceptions to a non-existent rule in this article entitled, “It should be that easy!“
I’m more and more convinced that legalists do not know they are legalists. I see legalism everywhere and those who hold legalistic views are often oblivious to that fact. Can well-intentioned individuals trying to honor God and please Him be in such grave error by doing so that it’s actually rebellion? I believe they not only can but do. They may do so unwittingly or because they learned to do it. That was pretty much my experience. I just finished Watchman Nee’s classic book, “The Normal Christian Life.” It is an amazing work and in it he says Romans 6 is about freedom from sin, and Romans 7 is about freedom from the Law. He argues that deliverance from sin is not enough, but that we also need deliverance from the Law. This is a light bulb type of revelation that many need to internalize!
Those in the church that would accuse Christian naturists of false teaching, are actually the ones guilty of promoting and perpetuating false teaching. Many are afraid to even broach the subject. More and more people are speaking out against the purity culture message, but they stop short of the full application of their new reasoning. They reject the blame game, and take responsibility for their own lust, but continue to be squeamish when it comes to nudity. Again, this gnostic heresy that gets played out in our modern times is the root of all that dehumanizes. Those humans who bear God’s image (and that’s all of us) are a blend of flesh and spirit that is complexly and perfectly intertwined. We cannot separate the two. What is done in the flesh is also done in the spirit. And what is done in the spirit is also done in the flesh. Can we be whole persons? Can we maintain purity in both aspects of Imago Dei: body and soul? Not likely if we persist in an attitude that holds as “bad” what God made as “very good.” Let’s stop avoiding the real issues, and stop trying to “cover up” the problem!
As we have stated in the About Us section of this blog, we unfortunately have to be very careful about our identities when it comes to naturism, because of our current employment. We are both employed in places that would get the absolute wrong impression if it were to come out that we are naturists, and we would certainly lose our jobs over it. Hopefully one day soon we will be able to be open about it with everyone, but that is not possible under the current circumstances. That said, we understand the risk and are unapologetically practicing our beliefs. If we were ever “outed,” this is a prepared statement that I would want to make available to whomever it may concern:
We understand there may be information circulating about us, and we would like to set the record straight to minimize rumors and misinformation as much as possible. Some years ago, we made a drastic change in our family. The change was in essence how we view the human body. At a much deeper level, it’s a change in how we view ourselves and others as embodied souls that represent and make up the image of God. As Christians, we have always maintained that people are made in God’s image (imago Dei), but we haven’t really understood all that this powerful concept entails. When we fail to comprehend it in its fullness, we all suffer as a result. There is so much brokenness all around us— we don’t need statistics to prove that point. We need renewed minds and a heart to live as God intended from the start.
It’s very much related to a topic Pope John Paul II explored and deemed as “The Theology of the Body.” He was one of the few theologians to broach this subject, though many others are also writing about it now. We have studied, prayed, read, prayed some more, and then have had the courage to practice the theory and move to an experiential knowledge confirming the theoretical to be true as we have lived it out.
This journey has done wonders for our spiritual life and our relationship with God, with each other, and with everyone else (fellow image bearers). We enjoyed a good and healthy family life and marriage before making these changes, but have never been closer since changing our mind on how God views us, and how we are to view each other.
Surely some will be scandalized by this news. Our good name and reputation may take a hit. However, we assure you that no moral failure has taken place. In fact, we are more attuned to and saddened by the daily true moral failure within the church, especially among those claiming to be champions of morality. We see many problems that have their root in how the body is viewed (as lewd, obscene, and shameful) as an attack of the enemy that started in the garden of Eden and has continued down through history. Satan viciously attacks this issue because he hates the image of God and wants to keep people (unbelievers and believers) in all sorts of bondage.
The culture we live in tends to over-sexualize the body. Christians tend to run in the opposite direction for fear of being sucked in, but that repression can create an unhealthy obsession with the sexuality it aims to suppress. We find problems with both those views, and while they seem like polar opposites, they operate from similar frames of mind. We have demystified the body so that we see it as God does: the pinnacle of creation, worthy of respect and honor, not to be made an idol or a stumbling block (lust is a man’s responsibility regardless of anyone’s dress or even lack of dress).
What this means is that in our freedom (Romans 14) we can be in non-sexual nude settings without falling into lust or sin of any kind. We can enjoy God and his creation in nature without the need for clothing. If you’ve ever skinny dipped, that’s the feeling we attain whenever it’s possible.
We have met some incredible like-minded people. Many of them are current and former pastors and even seminary professors. We have met people that have come from even stricter conservative upbringings than our own. For instance Amish couples, who having embraced body positivity, have gone from one extreme to the other, but have found such a joy in the Lord in the process. This is true of every Christian naturist we’ve met; they radiate the joy of the Lord. They have not only bared their bodies, but also their souls, as our conversations have “naturally” gone to such deep levels of vulnerability, which is extremely rare in regular instances. We have had such sweet times of fellowship and have worshipped together. We realize it’s hard to understand, but the truth is there has not been a hint of sexual immorality in these places. We’ve found the public pool to be a place of more heightened sexuality.
That’s exactly the point. Once your mind is renewed (Romans 12:1-2) and not conformed to the pattern of this world, we can restore the innocence of the garden of Eden. You may think this is not possible this side of heaven, but I assure you that it is. And you wouldn’t take that stance if a habitual liar was convicted to renew his mind on the issue of lying to live a more truthful life on earth as he awaits heaven. You wouldn’t say that’s not possible, once a liar, always a liar. Why not then with the issues of the body?
There is much more biblical and historical research that goes into the Christian naturist philosophy, but that is what we have embraced and we cannot fathom going back to how we once were before this change. We are much better versions of ourselves as a result of this change in thinking, which has affected so many other areas in good ways as well. There is too much to try and articulate in one statement as it is the subject of entire books. It is, however, healthy and wholesome, and the opposite of what you might think, especially if you, being conditioned by society, have tied nudity to sex in your mind and thinking.
We see it as our mission:
to help those in the church find body positivity and body acceptance for those plagued by poor self-image issues
to help men see that lust is not an unconquerable struggle, even though man-made attempt to curb it will always fail
to help other naturists see a good example of what Christians should be like (perhaps different than what they are accustomed to or the perception they have in their minds)
to help other Christian naturists or those interested in reconciling this practice with their faith
We love the Lord and we love you as we do everybody made in His image. We would welcome any and all questions. We would just ask that you do not judge, criticize, or condemn what you do not understand without first trying to see things (as unbiased as possible) from another perspective.
Today’s post comes thanks to the interaction with a reader of the blog. Having written us via our contact page, we corresponded back and forth a bit, and then he sent me some memes he had created on the topic of lust.
This interesting debate on Fig Leaf Forum between the editor and a pastor further revealed to me how big of a problem lustful thinking is. For those who have been conditioned to believe that lust is the only “natural” reaction to seeing a naked body, it is almost incomprehensible that this notion is not true. However, we know from experience that there is another response, and it is the more natural response. It is simply to see the other person as a whole person and do so with honor and respect. It’s actually really easy! The pastor in this “debate” (if you can really call it that) is so hung up on the issue of lust throughout the whole exchange (most likely revealing his own personal struggle). The editor tries repeatedly to get him to debate the actual texts in Scripture and points out over and over that we are in agreement over the damaging affects of lust. They should not be debating that issue at all. It’s a classic case of an apples and oranges logical fallacy. I encourage you to read each section of the debate, and you’ll see my point clearly. This pastor is not alone in his beliefs. These attitudes are pervasive in the church. David L. Hatton in Meeting at the River drops this insight, “Widespread religious support for a demonic lie cannot alter its falsehood.”
The following memes are meant to shine a light at the misconceptions of lust, modesty, and purity that are rampant among these churchgoers, well-meaning people intent on following Christ. (I have to keep reminding myself that I went most of my life thinking the same way as they do!)
You’re not going to change my mind on this one, because it has been renewed (See our Renewed Minds blog post). Romans 14:5 states that everyone should be fully convinced in their own minds concerning matters of opinion. I am fully convinced on this issue. For years I tried the body taboo mentality for purity’s sake, but it only ever produced a fetish-like behavior. Strict adherence to arbitrary rules of “morality” brought on a constant struggle to maintain purity of thought at all times– and this in a very sexualized world that does not abide by the same rules. Every man’s battle and bouncing my eyes (popular thinking in Christian circles) would result in some victories and many defeats, and a whole lot of guilt and shame. This is not selling the idea that body taboo works very well!
This is why. Our culture, society, and frankly Christian teaching on the matter has all contributed to us being conditioned to believe that nudity is always linked to sex. Practically the only times people are nude is to shower or to have sex. Folks are even compulsive about wearing clothes to sleep in when God gave us the best pajamas we could ever need (our skin)! With the exception of the occasional doctor visits, there really isn’t much instance for nudity outside of sexual situations. This is where the church goes wrong, thinking that the way to be pure is to limit the visibility of human flesh as much as possible. This completely disregards the incredible nature of the mind to retain and ruminate on images once seen. It negates the face that we have endless limits to our imaginations. It also sets us up for a train wreck of epic proportions when the very thing that it tries to eliminate is being delivered onto the same track of mind. If our minds are perverted, regardless of any man-made effort to the contrary, they will stay that way, UNLESS we renew our thinking.
The problem is that both purity culture and big porn agree on the subject of body taboos. Purity tries to avoid the body as much as it can, calling it dirty, while porn exploits it and makes it obscene. The church and pornographers should not be in agreement, but they are! Again, David L. Hatton explains:
The pornographic view of the body has a twin called “a prudish view.” They come from the same womb. They are two sides of the same coin, and when that coin is spent, whether it’s heads or tails, the purchase is a distorted portrait of our bodies. This is because both views promote an unholy, God-dishonoring treatment of the human body based on exactly the same vain imagination. Prudery hides the body, calling the Creator’s design a lustful indecency. Pornography flaunts it, using prudery’s definition to turn the beauty of God’s handiwork into a stimulus for impure sexual thoughts. Both these ways of treating the body are an unnatural, unrealistic abuse. Though they seem to be opposite, they are conceptually identical. Both are ungodly, and both are based on a dysfunctional view of humanity’s physical embodiment. Wherever a wholesome, godly view of the naked human body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view is embraced, the resultant religious zeal of prudery inevitably plunges a society into the hellish depravity of pornography.
I love this meme, because I’ve lived it out. The averting your eyes “trick”, buddy system accountability, and everything else that is taught to help maintain purity is just plain weak. It doesn’t get to the root of the issue. It’s like putting a small band-aid on a festering wound. I can’t help but think about the Duggars. The reality TV family has shared publicly that if they are out for a walk and the ladies see someone that doesn’t meet their standards of modesty the will use a code word and discreetly say “Nike!” so their men will look down at their shoes and not be tempted to sin. It’s an effort to “protect” the men, but it’s ridiculous! That’s no way to live. It’s also quite prideful to think that your conservative dress code can stop someone from sinning. That’s kind of trying to take the place of Jesus, isn’t it? Was Jesus’ sacrifice not powerful enough to transform men’s lives? I guess in every area except when it comes to lust! In Michelle Duggar’s own words, “By keeping those private areas covered, there’s not any ‘defrauding’ going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don’t believe in defrauding others by the way we dress.” Defrauding is just a very weird term to me. I sincerely hope Josh Duggar is doing well and no longer struggling, but having grown up with this teaching, it did not save him from any scandal. Only the new purity tactic of seeing everyBODY as made in the image of God is fool-proof.
Our friend took this image from our memes page and added these words over the top. If it were true that false solutions to lust were effective, those who live with the most strict of dress codes would be the purest among us. That is simply not the case! And it’s typically oppressing the women and repressing the men. I’ve met several Christian naturists that come from mennonite and even amish backgrounds. They are so much happier and free as naturists, and they attest that in the strict conservative setting lewd behavior is quite prevalent and always in secret. Sad, but true.
Raise your hand if you conquered lust because women covered up. [insert crickets sound] I’m happy to say that I HAVE conquered lust. I could never make that claim before, but I can now. Trust me, it wasn’t because women were covering up. I had the ability lust, objectify, and dehumanize any woman in my mind no matter what she was or wasn’t wearing! I’m certainly not proud of that, but that’s how it was for me. I did NOT conquer lust because of my own great effort. Honestly, I was surprised into freedom! It was a work of God that he did without my help. I changed the way I thought of the body. I renewed my mind and began to see others as made in the image of God, deserving the honor and respect that they are due as fellow image bearers. I broke the hellish agreements I had made that kept me in bondage. I rejected the lies that say we are wired to respond sexually to visual stimuli. It’s so wonderful to be free from that vicious cycle of lust and shame. If you’ve never read “The Chain” on mychainsaregone.org, do it now!
This one brings up a good point about lust, modesty, and purity. I think that what’s perverted is to see Bathsheba as the guilty one! As Chad W. Thompson writes in “That Famous Fig Leaf:”
The story of David and Bathsheba is often referenced as a biblical admonition of nudity, as if Bathsheba was tempting David by bathing in the courtyard. Yet every other woman in Jerusalem did the same thing. Whether male or female, rich or poor, outdoor bathing was universal to the ancient cultures of both Egypt and Israel. The second chapter of Exodus even recounts Pharaoh’s daughter bathing in the open river while Jewish commoners walk about. Women participating in the culturally natural phenomenon of open bathing was not anything King David wasn’t used to seeing on a daily basis. What led him to rape his neighbor’s wife was not her public bath, but the evil in his own heart. Furthermore, if Bathsheba had committed any sin by exposing her body in public, it would seem odd that Nathan made her the “innocent lamb” in his story. (2 Samuel 12:1-4)
We tend to take Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30 literally, concluding that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has committed adultery in his heart. We make others cover up to safeguard ourselves from falling into this adultery of the heart. We take the easy route and blame others for forcing us to think impure thoughts. That’s insane. What we have failed to do, is work on our own hearts, and not look upon others with lustful intent. We interpret this passage as not looking at all, but all of a sudden this very taboo creates a powerful allure and temptation. This is all because of a literal interpretation that ignores the fact that you can see another human unclothed without falling into lust. To interpret the very next verse literally would mean we would all have to gouge out our eyes. We’re quick to point out Jesus’ hyperbole here. Can we be consistent? He didn’t say if your right eye causes you to stumble, force women to cover up so that you aren’t tempted, and if you are tempted, get onto them for not being modest enough. He simply said not to look lustfully at other women, and if you can’t then it’d be better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown in hell. No amount of covering is going to purify your mind for you and stop you from objectifying women! It’s better to ask God to help you see others as a work of art, the pinnacle of His amazing creation. I don’t respond sexually to a beautiful sunset. No, I praise God for it. Human beings as the crowning glory of His creation deserve the same respect and admiration, do they not?
This one is a bit strange, but it sort of summarizes what I’ve been saying throughout this post. I guess it’s pointing out which is the most strategic position. If we would embrace the created value, beauty, and goodness of the whole human, things would be a lot better. Think of the whole world adopting this view. Gone would be the porn industry, human trafficking, pedophilia, etc. That’s not going to happen, but it can one by one, on an individual basis as has been the case with me.
If you stumbled onto this page not knowing what to expect and these thoughts have surprised you in any way, I want you to know that there IS a better way. It’s only better because it’s the way God intended us to be from the very start. Sin has so marred a world and twisted and perverted all that He made good. In fact, he called the first man and woman who were naked and unashamed “very good.” Did God change his mind? Or did we?