David L. Hatton’s “Muse”

David L. Hatton is a man I greatly admire. Though I’ve never met him in person, we’ve spoken on the phone and texts and emails and we even pray for each other. I’ve read most of what he’s written. We endorse his other books on our resource page and have created a video from one of his poems on this post.

I was very excited when his novel “Muse” was released. I ordered some paperback copies, one to keep and a few to give away, and got the kindle version to start reading immediately. In one week I had finished reading the whole book! 

From the first plot surprise until the end of the story, the reader is in for an entertaining ride, but not only that. It is also educational and inspirational.

It’s educational in the way it espouses a rationale for the wholesomeness of a body-friendly mindset. As a Christian, I especially appreciated the way typical attitudes of Christians toward the body are challenged throughout the story. Darren, the protagonist, especially struggles through this new type of thinking which proves to be far better than the prudishness he had formerly known. I don’t want to give any spoilers, suffice to say that there are plenty of twists, turns, and surprises to keep the read interesting and enjoyable.

It’s not just an education of seeing the body as the greatest work of art, but there are also many truths espoused about how a good church should function. There are examples of shortcomings of the church as we know it today, as well as glimpses of more God-honoring expressions of how church can be “done.”

Click image to view on Amazon

“Muse” does not lack in the inspiration department. Through heartbreaks, setbacks, and overcoming obstacles for victory, your soul will enjoy Darren’s journey. Through the entire book, his commitment to keeping God at the forefront of his mind through constant prayer is both admirable and attractive. If you aren’t already praying without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17), after seeing how this young man, Darren operates his daily life, you will want to take up his practice of including the Lord in all things.

I very much enjoyed the teaching in Hatton’s “Meeting at the River.” In “Muse” the naked truth is presented a bit differently and in several real world scenarios. I greatly appreciated this real life application as it’s entirely relatable.

Again, without giving away too much of the plot, the emotional factor in these true to life realities can hit very close to home for some. I’ve met several Christian naturists who espouse the same kind of body-friendliness that Hatton describes, which just so happen to go very much against the grain of what is commonly accepted in Christian circles, so they have had major blow back in their lives as a result. “Muse” is no exception to these possibilities, as it paints its fictional picture for us.

That’s exactly the last aspect I’d like to highlight. In this book, the characters wrestle with those typical knee jerk reactions to nudity that are so prevalent, but then they see another perspective and it starts to make sense to them. That journey is one that I hope will encourage readers that have already worked through these issues. Then also, I believe it will be a great resource for those who have never considered such ideas to see the body in a new light.

Here are a few notable quotes from the book (thanks Arid Lasso for the images):

Undressed for Worship

The main focus of this post will be the following video. We, at Aching for Eden, have produced this video to share a very important point regarding the practice of naturism as a Christian. I will leave it at that, and let you watch the video, and then I’ll discuss some more.

The premise of this video is simple. If you were to play the sound clips for any practicing Christian, they would be able to identify the sounds of worship to God. As soon as they learn that everyone in the audio was naked, their knee-jerk reaction will be to protest. To them the two notions are incompatible: one cannot be naked in mixed company and worshiping God at the same time. However, does it sound any different than any worship service in any church anywhere? At face value, if we did a blind test side-by-side could you tell the difference between Naked worship and clothed worship? No! They are the same. More importantly, God accepts them both as worship.

Well this begs the question: can people lust in a naked worship service? The answer, is yes. My follow up question is: Can people lust in a clothed worship service? The answer is also yes, absolutely! Do they? That depends entirely on the person. No external factor should be able to cause a human heart to lust or not. A lustful person will lust. A person whose mind has been redeemed on the issue of lust, who has been healed from the sexual brokenness of our world will remain mature, innocent, and pure in any and all settings. The depraved mind cannot control itself. The redeemed mind cannot be controlled. 

I’m not saying we can be perfect, or that we will never sin. But I am saying that I used to struggle with lust a lot over a span of 20 years, and now I don’t anymore (Praise God!). I mean it’s a night and day difference, to the point that I can even worship freely with others of a like mind even completely naked and not fall into sinful thoughts or behavior.

That’s becuase it’s a mind and heart matter. Jesus and Paul seem to agree with that statement:

“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Mark 7:15 ESV

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Titus 1:15 ESV

In my experience in various nude worship gatherings, my brothers and sisters are simply worshiping the Lord. No one is there for any purpose other than to worship in that moment, and after that moment, they lead lives of worship. The thought that this concept is so radical and an impossibility is no more than a projection of one’s own imagination, and proof that the objecting person has not worked through the issues regarding the body that plague so many today. I’m so grateful to have this tremendous healing and be able to enjoy a mature purity. Does this come across as arrogant? It may, but I hope it doesn’t. I do not mean to boast in anything but the love of Christ. I would hope rather that it comes across as an invitation to see there is a better way to live, free from the sexual hang ups and brokenness that abounds in the world and frankly in our church pews. I’ve often said I would wish this upon my worst enemy, if I had any. It’s my wish that all who are exposed (no pun intended) to these truths prayerfully consider them and overcome the traditions of men in favor of the mystery of God revealed in our very bodies.

I love the way Christopher West sums up his fascinating book, “Our Bodies tell God’s Story” and this too is my prayer for you dear reader:

Perhaps we’ve been caught up in a thousand lies about the meaning of our bodies and our sexuality. But it doesn’t matter how dyslexic or even illiterate we may have been in reading the divine language of the body up to this point in our lives. As John Paul II boldly proclaims, through the gift of redemption there is always the possibility of passing from error to the truth; there is always the possibility of conversion from sin to sexual purity as an expression of life according to the Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Convert our hearts from lust to love. Impregnate our sexual desires with divine passion so that, loving as God loves on earth, we might one day rejoice in the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb in heaven. Amen.

That’s a great place to end, but if I could throw one more grenade of unorthodox truth in the mix, it’d be this one. Frank Viola and George Barna (non-naturists) have in their book “Pagan Christianity” a whole chapter devoted to “Costumes: Covering Up the Problem.”They conclude:

What’s the big deal about “dressing up” for church? It is hardly a burning issue. However, it is what dressing up for church represents that is the burning issue. First, it reflects the false division between the secular and the sacred. To think that God cares one whit if you wear dressy threads on Sunday to “meet Him” is a violation of the New Covenant. We have access to God’s presence at all times and in all circumstances. Does He really expect His people to dress up for a beauty pageant on Sunday morning? Second, wearing attractive, flashy clothes on Sunday morning screams out an embarrassing message: that church is the place where Christians hide their real selves and “dress them up” to look nice and pretty. Think about it. Wearing your Sunday best for church is little more than image management. It gives the house of God all the elements of a stage show: costumes, makeup, props, lighting, ushers, special music, master of ceremonies, performance, and the featured program. Dressing up for church violates the reality that the church is made up of real people with messy problems—real people who may have gotten into a major-league bickering match with their spouses just before they drove into the parking lot and put on colossal smiles to cover it up! Wearing our “Sunday best” conceals a basic underlying problem. It fosters the illusion that we are somehow “good” because we are dressing up for God. It is a study in pretense that is dehumanizing and constitutes a false witness to the world. Let’s face it. As fallen humans, we are seldom willing to appear to be what we really are. We almost always rely on our performance or dress to give people a certain impression of what we want them to believe we are. All of this differs markedly from the simplicity that marked the early church. Third, dressing up for church smacks against the primitive simplicity that was the sustaining hallmark of the early church. The first-century Christians did not “dress up” to attend church meetings. They met in the simplicity of living rooms. They did not dress to exhibit their social class. In fact, the early Christians made concrete efforts to show their absolute disdain for social class distinctions. In the church, all social and racial distinctions are erased. The early Christians knew well that they were a new species on this planet. For this reason, James levels a rebuke to those believers who were treating the rich saints better than the poor saints. He boldly reproves the rich for dressing differently from the poor. And yet, many Christians are under the false delusion that it is “irreverent” to dress in informal clothing when attending a Sunday morning church service. This is not dissimilar to how the Scribes and the Pharisees accused the Lord and His disciples of being irreverent for not following the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-13). In short, to say that the Lord expects His people to dress in fine clothing when the church gathers is to add to the Scriptures and speak where God has not spoken. Such a practice is human tradition at its best.

The practice of naturists runs contrary to this and puts everyone at the same level so to speak. It humanizes more than most anything I know. It makes us appreciate the real person, not some facade. Naturists interpret modesty as it used to be defined, as an attitude or state of being, not what we wear or how we adorn ourselves.

I realize God does not show favoritism and accepts all who approach him. But may I be as bold as if to say that those who worship him literally and figuratively uncovered and laid bare (Hebrews 4:13) may be more effectively  honoring God over those who dress up in their Sunday best to look good for worship. It’s all in the motive. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe there’s some truth there.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

What’s so good about Christian Naturism?

How has my life changed for the better since adopting this lifestyle? For one, it’s like coming home. It feels like I am the way God made me to be all along. Growing up and through my teens, I skinny dipped, and went out streaking in the woods. Then I came to believe the lie that such activity is childish and slightly deviant. I since have broken that agreement, and am thankful to embrace the naked truth! The other day when walking a trail at our park, I felt so alive and appreciative of God and his blessings (forget the fact that it was only 50 degrees out and I didn’t have a stitch on!).

What else? There’s a lot more. For instance, nudity has become totally and utterly demystified. This paradigm shift breaks the conditioned link between the body and sex, as well as the dualistic view that the soul is good and the body is inherently bad. Relearning for myself that the body and soul are intertwined and made for good has been revolutionary for me. This means I no longer objectify anyone or lust in my heart. Before, it was automatic, and if I was aware of it, then I felt guilt and shame over those thoughts. Simply put, I’m a better person, a better husband, and father. Before, I was powerless to help protect my boys against filling their minds with porn, as so many do. My weak instruction would’ve been “do as I say, not as I do!” But now I’m able to be honest with them and tell of my former struggles and how I’ve been surprised into freedom by changing the way I thought about the body, the image of God, and the renewing of your mind.

I now see everyone as beautiful and a fellow image bearer. Judgmental attitudes are greatly reduced, as a result. Instead, a healthy (and holy) respect is elevated in the place of judgment. You begin to see the whole person, not just the outward appearance. (Didn’t God say that while man looks at the outward appearance, he sees the heart? Yes, according to 1 Samuel 16, this is a godly trait!)

I did not care for legalism before my change in embracing naturism, but even so, I probably was legalistic in places. Now I really can’t stand either legalism or libertinism, but I feel compassion for other believers who are trapped in this type of bondage. It truly saddens me now, and not just in the area of body positivity. I’ve seen how attitudes against a wholesome theology of the body stem from deep man-made traditions and ignore solid biblical exegesis and historical context. 

I have a deeper appreciation for grace than I did before. Far too many Christians accept the grace and love of Jesus, but instinctively hold on to a system of law that has already been fulfilled in Christ. Gratitude for the work done on our behalf, that we could never do on our own is a much better way to live and please God, over a rules-based behavior that stems from unwanted guilt and shame.

I have a keener awareness of the enemy’s schemes and how he deceived the whole world (John 8:44; 1 John 5:19). Since the very beginning, our adversary has viciously attacked the beauty and innocence of the spousal union as God’s ideal. He hates the image of God, and so tries to distort and pervert it however he can.

In the relational arena, I’m more open and honest than ever before, and long for others to enjoy the deep and rich blessings God offers like I do. Because shedding clothes is an act of vulnerability, they are oftentimes not the only things to fall off. Small talk, triteness, and phoniness are likely to vanish from conversations with those of a like mind. Instead, our conversations are with substance and from the heart. Some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet are naturists (Christian or not). I think this is one reason why. 

While interacting with those who are not Christians, there is an opportunity to shine a light and to dispel some of the baggage that people associate (in many cases rightly) with this term and those who claim it. With true Christ followers, the fellowship with those brothers and sisters who are free with their bodies in non-sexual social nudity is a thing of beauty. It’s rare to achieve that level of unity in the textile world.

My wife and I have both gained a greater confidence. This is an area I didn’t not lack as much as Mrs. Phil did. When you can be naked around other people and be unashamed, there’s not much you can’t do!

On that note, we are not the most in shape people. Body acceptance has been a huge blessing. Naturists are on a mission to put an end to body shame, and are accepting of all body types. That said, we do see the importance of taking good care of our bodies and want to improve that area for reasons of good health. Our word for this year (see our blog about our words for the past two years here) is “temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16 proclaims that our bodies are the temple of God. This implies so much more than the “don’t drink or smoke” and “get in shape” declarations that often come from this verse. However, there is some good sense in taking care of our bodies as we also care for our souls.

It seems obvious, but this “city boy” is much more appreciative of God’s creation and I feel more drawn to be in His nature He created for us. I have less need for all the extra trappings and materialistic distractions people become obsessed with and need to accumulate and maintain. I focus more on what is important and not on the things that may steal my joy for no reason. I realize how insecure the general population can be, and appreciate knowing and being secure in my identity in God. 

These are all very good benefits. What’s not so good? The misinterpretation and undue judgment against Christian naturism is a truly unfortunate reality we have to deal with. My friend Matthew Neal’s words from his blog really resonate with me:

Right now, people perceive of my wife and me as a godly couple who serve the Lord faithfully and are raising a family to love and serve God. This, I trust, is genuinely true. It is not diminished in the least by the fact that we have visited naturist resorts and have no requirement for clothing in our home.

But if those facts were known, the same people who view us as godly now might begin to perceive us as perverse and ungodly people who are damaging our own children and leading them astray—ideas which are patently false.

  • So by withholding some information, people continue to believe the truth.
  • By revealing information they are not prepared to comprehend, people would believe a lie.

I genuinely wish I could tell everyone about my beliefs about the body and my practice of naturism. I don’t think there has been any other decision in my life (besides my faith in Christ and my marriage) that have had a more profoundly positive impact on my life. And while I’m constantly alert to opportunities to invest related truth in others’ lives, I’ve determined that—at this point in time—full disclosure would be more of a hindrance to truth than a help to it.

If this got out to the wrong people at this stage in our lives, we would sadly suffer for it. We have several friends who have had to endure various levels of persecution because of this lifestyle that is misunderstood and where intentions are grossly misconstrued. Those friends, like us, have weighed the pros and cons and have come to the conclusion they will not compromise their beliefs due to the ignorance of others.

Speaking of friends, here is what some other friends think is the good stuff when it comes to naturism. 

One friend said:

For me it is a self-selected symbol or token of my openness and humility before Him and His will, in preparation of my knowledge that one day I will stand naked before Him at the judgment day, not being able to hide anything from Him, inside or out. In like manner it is also a symbol or token of my love for Him, choosing to shun the influence of shame where God never intended it to be. I choose Him over culture, I choose Him over the masses, and I choose Him over myself. I am one with Him.

Another said:

We have grown closer to each other and to God. We are more open with each other and with God, we don’t seem to try to hide as much from Him (I know not possible anyway). We have developed deeper, more meaningful relationships with our naturists Christian friends than our textile friends and we believe closer to God because of that. Probably the biggest area is that we have learned to study God’s Word better and deeper for ourselves rather than simply trusting the church’s / pastor’s / professor’s response.

One friend got straight to the point saying:

Connection. Connection to God. Connection to self. Connection to others. Connection to creation.

One friend confessed the following:

Choosing to think and live this way with no shame nude before the Lord ultimately freed me from the last residue of porn deep in my mind, heart and soul and for this I am so thankful to the Lord’s holy light shining on the deep dark part of me in order for it to be expelled permanently. This is part of the nude journey with the Lord that so many believers in Christ are afraid to take, but looking back it was worth the spiritual struggle for this true God and Christ centered freedom.

Another also testified:

I’ve had much less issue with lust, because when you desexualize the nude body, it beautifies God’s original design of being “very good” and frankly, I believe it has created a deeper intimacy with my wife and I due to the fact that in a very tangible way, there’s even LESS between us. We’re better connected as spouses and as followers of Christ!

Lastly, this friend said:

One thing that being nude around others has shown me is that God’s creation is good, and He called it good, not me, and his creation includes me and everyone else around me. God’s creation isn’t just good, it’s also beautiful, and nudity makes me appreciate God’s creation!

We wholeheartedly agree with all of these. We are grateful for our friends who share not only our opinions on the body, but who also have the same conviction to live out those beliefs and model them to others. Having studied, prayed about, experimented, and lived out this lifestyle for a while now, we are fully convinced in our minds that it is God’s will for us. I wish others would be open-minded enough to explore it as honestly as we have.

Charles Spurgeon on Christian Liberty

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

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

First, here’s the quote untouched:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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