I used to…

I used to think the human body when undressed was lewd, obscene, and shameful. Nakedness was linked to sexuality in my mind.

I used to think Scripture condemned nudity after the fall.

I used to think that nudity is only OK in the context of marriage and it’s for your spouse’s eyes only.

I used to make exceptions in this black and white thinking when it comes to doctors and other professions that are used to non-sexual nudity.

I used to become aroused when I would see nudity in movies or entertainment, or worse when I would seek it out online. I was not “exposed” to non-sexual nudity.

Nudity used to be a perpetual stumbling block to me. Every woman was a temptation.

I used to believe that lust was every man’s battle. It seemed impossible to “cure.”

I used to be ashamed of my habits and compulsiveness. This secret sin was a millstone around my neck. I confessed to a few people, but nothing the best-selling Christian books recommended would help.

I used to think nudism was a form of pornography.

I used to think Christian naturists must be perverts trying to justify all sorts of evil intentions.

I, like so many other Christians, was ignorant of any sort of Theology of the Body.

I used to believe that God made clothes and mandated them for moral reasons.

I used to ignore the many instances of co-ed public nudity that took place in Bible times.

I never wondered how people knew who was circumcised in Bible times. How did this “private” state cause people to judge each other?

I used to see the world through shallow eyes. While at times I resisted these trends, in essence I still agreed with the overly sexualized culture as to what beauty standards should be.

I used to long for the freedom and oneness with God and his creation that Christian naturists professed, but could not fathom that being Christian and a naturist could be reconciled with my faith.

I used to know people need the hope and love of Jesus, and that I could be an example of a sinner saved by grace, but I lived in a bubble and was hardly ever around unchurched people. I knew the need to “be a witness,” but lacked the opportunity to do so.

I used to believe “purity culture’s” definition of “modesty” should be taught and embraced. I placed blame for temptation on others instead of taking responsibility for myself.

I now see the human body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good from the start, and worthy of honor and respect.

I now have studied this topic and cannot find any prohibition in Scripture.

I now see nudity as one of the purest forms of the invisible image of God made visible.

I now see those exempt are actually on to something, and instead the rules I used to abide by are not ideal. Nakedness need not be purely sexual.

I now am only ever aroused by my wife. I absolutely love this change, and obviously, so does my wife! I now hate seeing anything that is suggestive or objectifying.

Nudity is no longer a stumbling block and there is no longer any temptation. Praise God!!!

I now know that’s a lie, and Jesus is powerful enough to redeem and heal this and any impurity.

I am now proud to say that by God’s grace I am healthy and whole and completely free from the problems that plagued me. It saddens me greatly to see so many men without hope of true victory.

I now know nudism is the antitheses of porn.

I now know Christian naturists are the complete opposite of those wrong assumptions.

I now see Theology of the Body as extremely valuable for any believer and sorely lacking in Christendom.

I now know that Adam and Eve invented clothes and were influenced by the serpent to do so.

I now see these instances everywhere (prophets, even Jesus) and baptisms through the 4th century.

I have now researched Greco-Roman co-ed bathhouses and gymnasiums (the word gymno meaning bare or naked).

I now see all human beings as beautifully and wonderfully created in the image of God. I am repelled by judgmental attitudes and take a stand against body shame of any form.

I now know my faith is intact and congruent with who I am. Christian naturism has enhanced my relationship with God and others in many amazing ways. I was just too scared to see it due to my conditioning.

I now see that the church has such a negative connotation among many people. And yet, those who would never darken the door of a church are open to spiritual conversations, especially when they see a Christian who breaks the mold.

I now see that form of “modesty” being far from the original intent and one that oppresses and can even be a source of pride. One can be modest totally naked and likewise immodest with clothes on.

These are my thoughts. Instead of living with regrets, I have not only hope for the future, but also joy in the present.

Instead of living with regrets, I have not only hope for the future, but also joy in the present.

While mine is a male perspective, I find it very useful to feature a women’s perspective. Mrs. Phil has shared this point of view in her articles. For this post, I also wanted to include some words from a naturist lady friend of ours. Her opinions are insightful as well, and worth repeating here in conclusion:


Before: I used to think the body was sexual and had to be covered up.  

After: now I’ve realized that the body just is a body. It’s my earthly covering and it’s glorious. Nudity doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be sexual!

Before: I used to think women looked better than me. That I never measured up, that I’m not as pretty as, not as skinny as, etc. Trying to look perfect is just exhausting!  

After: After going to my 1st Naturist resort, I realized that all well-endowed women have breasts that hang like bananas or like grapes on a vine (Why do we even say the word sag? It’s so negative.) I realized I’m not the only one with cellulite and imperfections. I am still beautiful even if I’m overweight, have cellulite and a little too much cushion!

This one is very personal to me and touches my heart!

Before: I believed that it was okay for a man to be shirtless but not acceptable for a woman to be topless because of the thought that breasts are sexual and need to be covered unless breastfeeding.

After: I realized that we both have nipples and that our (women’s) breasts are just plumper and prettier! LOL

Europe really has this right because they have topless beaches. Why should I not be allowed to be topless at a beach when a man is topless too? We have the same nipples but just because my breasts are bigger it’s not allowed?!?

An observation…  

Before: I tend to only wear makeup when going to a special event. Usually I’m barefaced with just lipstick and blush.  Lipstick makes me happy!  

I could never compete with or look as *pretty* as someone with a lot of eye makeup. Obviously, a canvas with lots of colors and designs is looked upon more favorably than a canvas with two splashes of color.

After: After going to Naturist resorts, I found more women who embraced their natural beauty like me. It’s very refreshing to be around women like me! We were all on the same playing field, not that it’s a competition and I’m not comparing myself to others. It’s nice just to see the real person, not the fancy makeup! To see their natural beauty!

Before: In the textile world, I’m considered chunky and never get asked out.

After: At a Naturist resort, people get to see my natural beauty and my glowing personality. People want to be around me and think I’m attractive! (I’m not tooting my own horn, but sharing my experience. I believe God made us beautiful and I celebrate and acknowledge that!)

Bathsheba Tempts David

Another common objection to Christian naturism is that seeing a nude woman will provoke lust and cause a man to sin. Case in point: Bathsheba and David. Bathsheba really gets a bad rap, but really, David is the one at fault. After all, Bathsheba was just taking a bath. She was doing what people did in those days. David had a view of people’s rooftops and he watched, and what he did was the sin. Seeing isn’t the sin. Looking with intent or desire, and coveting what is not yours (lust) is. Public bathing was a common sight, whether a rooftop or river or creek. Witnessing a person bathing can be perfectly innocent. Coveting, adultery, and murder (as in the case of David) are clear violations against God’s commandments.

As Chad Thompson wrote on page 90 of his book, 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.

Watch this video to see a surprising but true example of public nudity that was church sanctioned:

For more studies on baptism practices of the early church read this short paper here.

Watch the other videos currently available in the Objections series on this playlist.

Flip the Script

We have this one meme on our memes page, and while we aren’t sure who to credit, some clever individual wrote this though-provoking piece:


Is nudism healthy?

Allow me [to] try to argue the alternative:

Nudism isn’t healthy.

People should be ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid to be and to look as God made them.

God must hate us to have made us this way.

Nor should we tolerate or respect what other people look like.

Especially if they’re overweight, of a different race, too old or too young, or just plain ugly.

People like that should be forced to cover themselves up at all times so we don’t have to look at them.

Young attractive people deserve to be sexually harassed and assaulted if they’re not sufficiently covered up.

Them not covering themselves up enough causes other to be uncontrollably sexually irresponsible. So they have it coming to them.

We should fight our children’s natural instincts to be free of the restrictions of clothing and want to feel the sun, wind, and water unbroken across their bodies.

Sensuality and feeling good about yourself is sexual and we rightfully should be screwed up about how we view our genders and sexuality.

We must condition ourselves to be totally compulsive about being dressed so we stay dressed even when we’re alone in the privacy of our own homes, so we can never be comfortable bathing if others are around

…so we’ll properly fear going to a doctor because we don’t want them to see our bodies

…and so we’ll feel appropriately insecure about ourselves and our bodies around our families, with our friend, and in our intimate relationships.

Yuck! How about instead we just realize that what people call “nudism’ really is just how we’d feel by default if we weren’t so screwed up otherwise.


My reaction to this is that we need to flip the script. There are so many misconceptions about naturism in general, and Christian naturism specifically. Christian naturists are Christians. Christians who aren’t naturists have a lot more in common with Christian naturists than they might believe at first (once they figure out what “naturist” means!). There is more common ground than there are differences. And the differences are not obscene or wrong in any way when you understand the motivation behind it.

In negotiations it’s understood that the goal is to get the other party to a “yes.” However, sometimes the best approach is to first get to “no,” before it’s time for a yes. That’s kind of what I hope to do in this following section. Please help me flesh this idea out in the comments to add to what I have.

For those opposed to the practice of Christian naturists, I would ask:

Do you think lust is a good thing?

Christian naturists do NOT think lust is a good thing. They also do not equate nudity with sex. The normalization of nudity doing non-sexual things like gardening or mowing or painting desexualizes nudity and more importantly desexualizes the mind. We live in a “pornified” culture and the conditioning is strong, but naturists have broken that link between simple nudity and sex. Lustful thinking cannot easily reconcile this separation, it’s hard to fathom unless you’ve broken that connection in the mind (search the blog for renewed mind to see more on this.). Thinking otherwise is a projection of a mind that still agrees with our culture. Hook up culture is an extreme that cheapens the body down to a tool separated from the whole person. Prudishness (and body taboo) is the other extreme that Christians often take on to avoid being “like the world.” Both extremes have a low view and deem the body as hyper-sexual and obscene in many cases. Christian naturists have a high view of bodies as a “very good” creation of God.

Do you think Christians should be sexually immoral?

Christian naturists believe in maintaining sexual integrity at all times. They hate porn or anything that objectifies people and their bodies. They lament that many of the problems that exist today come ultimately from an ungodly view of the body: fornication, adultery, divorce, rape, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, prostitution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender dysphoria, and everything in between.

Do you think there is any sin that Jesus can’t help you overcome?

Christian naturists believe that God’s power is enough to make both men and women mature in their faith. To many, they cannot fathom the thought that we could be in a large group of naked people without lusting. Many blame their objectifying thoughts on the revealing clothing of others and say it’s their fault that they can’t handle their thoughts. Lust becomes this ever-present, always needing to be avoided issue. We don’t do that with any other sin! We don’t think Jesus can’t help us overcoming a lying problem, but we act as if lust is a whole different thing and pure thinking depends on several other factors out of our control. Christian naturists reject that notion and live differently.

When someone is in bondage to a certain sin, do you think they should remain that way forever?

This is a bit like the last question. For me, I was in bondage for 20 years. The purity culture I grew up with failed me and the tactics to undo lustful thinking were woefully inadequate. Naturism served as a catalyst to get me to see others as God sees them, and by so doing extending them the respect and dignity that comes with being made in God’s image. Humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation, and not to be objectified for selfish gain.

One quick story that encapsulates all I’ve been saying here would be using the movie Titanic. I remember my youth minister asking in a sermon why they had to put those nude scenes in what would otherwise be a good movie. This made me want to see those scenes, actually. And I saw those scenes over and over. We owned the VHS tape and I would fast forward to watch that scene with Kate Winslet. And then feeling guilty and full of shame, I’d rewind it to “get rid of the evidence.” My mind wasn’t redeemed. Once my wife was watching and noticed it wasn’t where she had left it, so she knew what I was up to. Just the other day, my wife and teenage boy were watching this movie as research for a school project (streaming, not VHS!). It came to that scene and my wife, acting on old impulses (before embracing naturism) instinctually thought to fast forward or have him look away. He is now used to seeing us walk around the house nude. He knows what our bodies look like. He told her in that moment sensing her internal struggle, “Mom, they’re just boobs. Not a big deal.” I wish I had the maturity of my 14 year old son when I was an immature 20 year old newlywed husband! See the difference! I was obsessed with watching this scene over and over, and it’s nothing to him, because my wife has been brave enough and confident enough to overcome body shame and prudishness in our home. Normalizing non-sexual nudity is the best way to porn-proof your children.

Do you believe that it’s good to oppress women by making them cover themselves entirely so lustful men won’t be tempted?

Christian naturists are so saddened by this and do not see the logic behind it. If it worked, those who live with the most strict of dress codes would be the purest among us. That is simply not the case! 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.

Do you see the hyper-sexualization of culture getting better with time?

I don’t really. It’s always been bad ever since the beginning. Points 12-17 of our “Personal Manifesto of a Christian Naturist” deals with how Satan has violently attacked humans on this point since the fall in Genesis 3. He is the “who” of “Who said you were naked?” and he hates the image of God. Everything that is not God’s “very good” ideal is a distortion of his will.

Does God usually change his mind completely from one chapter to the next? If God declared all things to be good, very good, when did he change his mind?

Maybe we don’t have to flip the script at all. We have to recover the original script. The script was flipped in Genesis 3, and that’s why we are in so much trouble. We just need to flip it back and recover the innocence of Eden. It really is that simple! And it really is possible (see Revelation 21:5).


Sound off in the comments if you have more to add. I’ll add a few more in the first comment! Thanks for reading.

Thoughts on that Trophy Wife Sermon

Did you see this? Stop what you are doing and watch this video summary…

As a Christian in the Midwest, I’m saddened greatly by the attitudes of this preacher, Stewart-Allen Clark, from First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri. The cringe factor is strong here as this church leader spewed his diatribe for 22 minutes. This wasn’t an off the cuff tangent; these were prepared remarks that he thought somehow his congregation needed to hear. He was talking from his notes, and had a slideshow complete with pictures to go along with each point in his message!

I’m glad this went viral and backfired. In an era of virtue signaling that sometimes can be unfounded, this actually IS an outrage. I’m glad he’s on leave and getting counseling. I’m not being judgmental, I actually empathize with the guy in some small way. I do hope and pray that counseling helps him, although I’m not so sure it will- more on that in a minute. This pastor being accused (and rightly so) of sexism is a tragic reflection on how conservative evangelical churches tend to approach the subject of sex. It’s no wonder the unchurched has a bad taste in their mouth of what they perceive it means to be a Christian today. The most appalling part is that it is not an uncommon stance he took in many conservative Christian circles. I’m standing up to say loudly, “WE AREN’T ALL LIKE THAT!” Thankfully there were those in that congregation that would not give their “Amen” to his crazy rhetoric. Praise God, the leadership apparently issued a statement stating that all people are made in the image of God and “should be valued for that reason.” although I can’t find that currently on their website.

The pastor also issues an apology where he assures people that he has secured an accountability partner who he is meeting regularly. This to me is a tell tell sign that he has a huge lust problem. No surprise there after hearing his mindset loud and clear! In his mind, and he said it many times, “He can’t help himself!” Well, allow me to speak on behalf of the many men who believe maturity is attainable and say, YES YOU CAN! AND YOU SHOULD!

Then in his public apology he says he, “made insensitive remarks about women and made statements deemed unbiblical.” No, they aren’t deemed unbiblical. They ARE unbiblical. There’s a lot that was dreadfully wrong with this guy’s ideas. (I think he forgot how to spell misogyny in his apology.) I see this blog as an anti-virus to his type of thinking. Some of the things I write on this blog seem to be very critical of the church. I mean them to be critical of THE TEACHING and unfounded “facts” that are rampant in many churches, which in turn are contrary to God’s heart, as so evident in this example. He is not alone. He is parroting what has been written in some of the best selling Christian books on marriage! This is one example of many, and just the most recent one that has gone viral. I’m deeply troubled by the repercussions of a perhaps well-intentioned, yet highly ineffective and even toxic “purity culture.” I’m over the artificial modesty standards that do nothing to change hearts that are depraved. Even so, I’m hopeful because there is a better way, and it’s not out of reach as many would have you believe. The solution is a surprising one indeed, unconventional to say the least. But first, let’s analyze what this preacher felt he needed to share with these church goers.

I won’t go through all of the insensitive and demeaning comments you saw in the video. Suffice to say his misogynistic and nonsensical Scripture twisting frankly promotes abusive behavior. He outright body shames women calling them fat and ugly from the pulpit! He’s aware that he is no model himself, but claims that doesn’t matter because it’s men who are visually stimulated.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV): “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Apparently this verse and the often misinterpreted (though not in this case) “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1 KJV) is missing out of the preacher’s Bible.

He speaks authoritatively as though all men would agree with his general statements, especially that every man wants a trophy wife on his arm. Umm, I don’t. His insistence that Melania Trump is the most epic trophy wife of all time (and featuring a “sexy” picture of her in his slideshow) displays an unhealthy infatuation in his own heart.

Jesus also placed the responsibility for lust in the proper realm of the man’s own heart. He never suggested that women are responsible for their husband’s behavior, or that they need to protect them from their own impure thoughts, as if that were actually possible! This is simply an abdication of personal responsibility and a cop out for the man. We would do well to look at women through the eyes of Jesus, without lustful intent (Matthew 5:28), and see the whole person. Jesus was not tempted by the prostitutes he ate with. In fact, he was counter-cultural and revolutionary in how he interacted with women.

Jesus was not tempted by the prostitutes he ate with. In fact, he was counter-cultural and revolutionary in how he interacted with women.

Is this preacher pro anorexia and bulimia? Does he enjoy causing more body image problems in women than they already have heaped upon them by impossible standards of what’s culturally seen as “beautiful?” In his eyes, they are just participation trophies.

Makeup was a slide in his presentation and the punchline of some terrible jokes. He extols the virtues of these artificial adornments while Scripture’s teaching runs contrary to his conclusions (see 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4). 

Over and over he chided that he (meaning every man) is gonna look, so you (wife) better look good so he (your husband) looks at you and not [forced to look] at “some hottie” on a screen. Umm, your husband is going to want to look at you regardless of your presentation if he loves you and doesn’t subscribe to these lies that say he can’t help but lust when he sees someone who is attractive. This crazy notion of helplessness also forgets the basic fact that men have imaginations and memories. Averting the eyes physically does nothing to the eyes of our heart. A whole renewal of the mind is needed (Romans 12:1-2) which is also counter cultural in that it is not conforming to the pattern of this world. Lust is not overcome by avoidance or trying harder, but rather by true repentance which literally means having a change of mind.

Obligation and duty sex is not intimacy, but rather a relationship killer. He quotes and misinterprets half of the verse in 1 Corinthians 7:4 and downplays the role of the husband and the obvious principle of mutual submission. On page 46 of Our Bodies Tell God’s Story Christopher West point out that in his Theology of the Body John Paul II concludes that a man commits adultery in the heart not only by looking lustfully at a woman he is not married to “but precisely because he looks in this way at a woman. Even if he were to look in this way at . . . his wife, he would commit the same adultery ‘in the heart.’” We cannot respond the way our “pornified” culture does. We are to be different. Instead of lusting after our wives and using them for selfish gratification, we should give ourselves up for them in service, as Christ did for his bride, the church. And let me tell you, it’s such a joy to be free of the shame and guilt that has ridden this purity culture.

I’m far from perfect myself. I was a bit like this guy in some ways. I’ve invoked the so-called “72 hour rule” in my house in the past. I’ve had my fair share of sexual brokenness and porn addiction, as you can read about on this blog. My point is restoration and wholeness is possible, and I am a living proof.

Some of the many comments from all walks of life on this youtube video are very telling:

  • The awful thing is. He’s not a comedian. He’s not telling an “edgy” joke. He’s giving people what he believes to be sound advice. 🤦🏾‍♀️
  • He’s projecting his pervyness. Men like this are just looking to have their grotesqueness validated.
  • WoW the fact this isn’t satire and men like this exist
  • on todays segment of ”What object am I?”, I guess I’m a participation trophy
  • Ah, the famous bible passage: “If thy right eye offend thee, blame your wife”
  • All I can say is this is probable cause to search all his devices.
  • This dude makes my skin crawl bruh. Actually physically cringing. I just feel so awfully bad for all the women in that church that had to suffer through this extremely shameful sermon
  • This was common to hear growing up in church. It’s nothing new to me. 🤷🏽‍♀️
  • The irony is – is that the Bible says the opposite to what he says, he says women should wear makeup and dress well, yet the Bible says the adornment should be the heart and not the outward appearance.
  • I’m not religious but when i read or heard about jesus talking, I dont imagine that he would be fat shaming married women.
  • I’m not even religious and this feels like blasphemy to what God’s really about
  • This is why people are leaving the church

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find this to have some truth, as those seen as attractive to one person, are not found attractive to another. Proverbs 5:18 says to “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” My wife doesn’t look like the 19 year old I married (Yes, we were so young!). But she’s the wife of my youth. I happen to think she is better looking now, aging like fine wine. The years have taken a toll on her body after 4 kids, but I don’t care about any of that. She’s still the same person I married. No, let me back out of that, she’s a better version of who I married, because now we have 20 years of shared experiences, memories, true intimacy and relationship equity that makes her number one in my book, regardless of anything that could happen to her body. If she had a double mastectomy (extreme example of a body change) I wouldn’t love her any less. It’s preposterous to think that someone would be that shallow. I tell her all the time that she is the standard by which all beauty is measured. But then she asks, “What if I put on weight?” Then the standard changes. It conforms to whatever you are. It’s not even based on and shouldn’t be based on appearance. She is truly beautiful both inside and out, and is the only one who gets my motor going. I tell her, “You’re my favorite everything.” No matter what category is being “measured,” she’s my favorite. This is, to me, a more favorable view than what’s being regurgitated in this trophy wife sermon!

I had the great misfortune of watching all 22 minutes of this nonsense. My blood was boiling and my neck got tired of my head shaking!

Reagan Williams posted it on her Facebook page which put the minister in hot water. I pulled a few direct quotes that didn’t make the edited video shown above:

At the 4:22 minute mark, he said “You can call it juvenile, you can call it immature, you can call it sexist, whatever you want to, but here’s another secret you need to know: Ladies, it’s the way God made us, it’s the way we are.”

Yes, I’m calling it juvenile and immature and sexist, even! I’ll address the immaturity shortly. It sure does sound like he’s heard these accusations before and is disregarding them. That’s a tactic to face disagreement head on and attempt to dissuade it. It didn’t work this time! He is clearly justifying the behavior by claiming God made him like that. Way to throw God under the bus! How convenient is that? I’m really sick of this lie and the damage it creates in its wake. It makes a mockery of our faith giving all Christians a bad rap.

At 7:22, “What’s the difference between a man’s girlfriend and his wife? About 60 pounds. Well, maybe so. How important is this? Let me tell you something. I have a friend. He has put a divorce weight on his wife. That’s how important this is.”

An abysmal joke! Why are people in church laughing at it? And to threaten divorce on this sort of thing? How is that pastoral in the slightest way possible? No wonder he doesn’t do marital counseling anymore. He never should have in the first place.

It continues at 9:49 with him saying of his poor wife, that “One of her favorite expressions is ‘Food never tastes as good as skinny feels.’”

I doubt that’s really her favorite expression. Maybe you’ve manipulated her into saying that it is. So sad. I feel terrible for her.

At 14:35 he makes the mistake of quoting the Bible, which renders his whole message unbiblical and forces him to retract the sacred words he just read. The verse he read is Proverbs 31:30. The verse reads, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” This contradicts everything he’d been saying, so he quickly makes the point again that men still are gonna look, so you need to look good for him! Ridiculous.

At 17:13 “It’s just the way it is. So every man has this need and here’s the deal. We can’t help it. Women spell affection T-A-L-K and men spell it S-E-X.” At 19:20 “We are not lust monsters. Chase you around the bedroom every night. We can’t help ourselves. God made us this way… It’s the main reason he married you.”

Again, the deflection is projection. The reason I know, is because I, too, used to buy into some of these ideas. And I was pretty much a lust monster. It was easy, because it was expected and a given. It’s not. The way out is as easy as rejecting that notion as false. Yes, God gave us a sex drive, and my mine is high, but it doesn’t have to dominate me. Search this blog for “lust” and see many articles about how it doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s definitely not a problem God cannot restore and redeem!

Then there’s an awful story as a conclusion delivered with many dramatic pauses. It’s about a knight that was going to slay a dragon to save a damsel in distress, and got his sword out, but she yelled to him to take this noose and strangle him instead. The dragon dies, “but he doesn’t feel admired. He doesn’t feel adored. He doesn’t feel like he’s done anything because she told him how to do it. Sometimes you just gotta let a man be your knight in shining armor… and sometimes you just gotta stand back and let him do it.”

I don’t throw these terms around very often, but that’s just downright chauvinistic. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him because she told him to do something? For another disturbing article showing how pervasive this type of teaching is, read this shocking piece.

The day I was finishing up this article, I came across a post shared from Alexa Danielle Kolbe. Perfect timing because her writing is so contrasting to that of the oratory skills of Stewar-Allen Clark. She wrote:

“You’ve gained weight” said the doctor at my annual checkup. 

I haven’t weighed myself in over a year, but I can tell you things don’t fit the same. 

I’ve definitely noticed it. 

I see it in pictures. 

I see it in videos. 

I can feel how my clothes fit differently. 

Everything still fits, but it fits differently.

1 Stretch mark has appeared on my abdomen. 

I go over in my head all the comments I believe people think of me. 

“Wow, she’s packed it on.” 

“She’s really let herself go.” 

“Look (friend) she’s gained weight!” 

I mean, the list goes on in my head. 

I believe people think I’m lazy or eat too much. I cry sometimes to my husband thinking over and over in my head these thoughts. Even though they’re not true, I still believe it. 

Wow, the mind is super controlling. 

We bring ourselves down & judge every inch. We praise other people for having positive body image, but we can’t praise ourselves for just taking a small step. 

We are all for others, so why can’t we be for ourselves? 

Childbirth, death, gut issues, moving, heartbreak, abuse, diseases, finances, relationship with food, etc. all affect us in some sort of way, & the stress of it all affects the reaction of each body differently. 

Our bodies do so much for us. It fights for us, protects us, & can do just about anything as long as the mind & it agree. It’s so beautiful, & we judge it’s capability by its appearance. 

I believe this weight gain has been a fighter response for my body. Deaths, moving, career change, & healing my relationship with food from restriction has all been what my body has gone through this past year. With all this people would say “you’re so strong” but my mind thinks all people are saying is “you’ve gained weight.”  

I’ve learned most people don’t “let themselves go.”

Most people are just going through something that we have no idea about. 

We need to give each other grace. 

Darling, you need to give yourself grace. 

Gaining weight could be a reflection from the weight life brings. 

A good book isn’t defined by its cover, but the life it gives when it’s read.

Someone commented on this post, “Beauty is the Godly characteristics of a woman – in the end its how much Love we gave and freely received – my grandmother used to say what most people judge as “beauty” is only skin deep and will fade with age .. as I’ve grown more mature, that is so true! It’s who you are ; your character that makes for beauty at any age, size, skin tone ect … love is the key. and from it all other beauty traits flow.. kindness, goodness, patience, tolerance for others, grace. We are an eternal beautiful being,in a temporary “ earthsuit” having a temporary journey on earth .. but we are all created by God individually and majestically created .. because he apparently likes variety just look at all the flowers.“

I agree wholeheartedly. And I’m sorry for this unfair treatment.

A new song from The Choir, one of my favorite Christian bands, would convey my sentiments to any lady (daughter of the Most High King) who is hurt by these attitudes:

Never mind, never mind yesterday’s night
Step outside, turn your gaze to the sky
Feel the morning light
never mind yesterday’s lies
Please realize you’re even more wondrous in my eyes
When the sun shines bright
Illuminating your scars
I adore the wounded creature you are

Are you troubled by your own reflection?
Searching for a friend to trust?

Does it feel like forever won’t be time enough
to heal your heart from the deepest cuts?
Child, you are love, you have always been loved
May one divine kiss be enough to heal your heart from the deepest cuts!

Never dread, never dread tomorrow’s sun
Let it come when it comes
This glorious night has just begun
Never cry tomorrow’s tears
Right now in here, shut your eyes, open your ears
Listen closely, a spirit stirring song is playing
And you’re beautiful, that’s all that I’m saying

Made-made methods have never worked in my experience and that of many others I know. And they won’t ever work, not fully, that is.

I really don’t think the traditional ways of dealing with lust and objectification of women is gonna help this guy. Made-made methods have never worked in my experience and that of many others I know. And they won’t ever work, not fully, that is. Here’s a big twist! While I do own and have taught from many of these best-selling Christian books that are indeed very harmful, how did I break free from the clutches of this toxic view? Simply put, I rejected the lie and I began to see others as God sees them. What served as a catalyst for this redeemed view came from the unlikeliest of places- Christian naturists with their ethical naturist philosophies. This may come as a complete surprise to you and stir up more rage inside you, but hold on a second. I get it! I used to think that family friendly Christian naturists were perverts and pedophiles trying to justify their wrong beliefs. I’ve since learned and also experienced first-hand that the exact opposite is true.

Naturism is freedom and body positivity carried out to its natural extreme. If a mature purity is indeed possible, then when pushed to its limits, that truth should remain true. The respect and dignity with which it approaches everybody is healthy, wholesome, and even godly. Aside from the many physical and emotional health benefits, naturism demystifies so much of what culturally has ensnared us, as evident in the case of our wayward pastor friend. The many resources on this blog help to provide a theological framework of what is a better way, both on paper (theoretical) and in the experiential practice of those beliefs.

There is a hundred year old book on “gymnosophy” by Maruice Parmelee entitled, Nudism in Modern Life. One century ago, this volume made the following observation: “It is true that childbearing is prone to injure the figure. The swelling womb distends the skin of the abdomen, and after delivery has taken place and the abdomen has sunk to its usual size the abdominal skin may remain flabby and wrinkled. Mother’s milk distends the breasts and sucking elongates the nipples, so that after nursing has ceased the breasts are not so firm and may become pendulous. But much of the injury done by childbearing could be averted by a healthier mode of life… In a more humane age men will overlook these physical marks in remembering the valuable service rendered by these women and in honouring them for it.

Did you catch that word? Humane? The opposite of dehumanizing. Honor over objectification. Love, not lust. Relational and physical intimacy, not marital rape (yes, I said it). I’m advocating for mature purity over artificial modesty and immature excuses. 

I’m advocating for mature purity over artificial modesty and immature excuses.

David L. Hatton laments on page 47 his book entitled, Who Said You Were Naked?: “One group of topless women in Mali, upon hearing about the fascination American men have with women’s breasts, fell down rolling with laughter, saying, ‘You mean, men act like babies?’ If these women heard this breast-fascination being religiously taught as intrinsic in men, they might stop laughing and start suspecting its preacher of being a pervert and his religion of being a deception. False doctrine in this area isn’t funny. It’s profoundly sad… My culture had fed me a despicable lie, and that falsehood came most insistently from the same lips that preached God’s Word. Indeed, we really have acted ‘like babies!’– not with a silliness that made bare-breasted women in Mali laugh– but with such utter immaturity that we should be shedding tears.”

Many are starting to see and speak out against this epidemic. However, there are not many solutions given beyond identification of the toxic behaviors. I’m not saying that the philosophy of ethical naturism is the answer, but it was certainly the catalyst for me that eradicated any semblance of these terrible ideas in my own life. Naturism in its pure form (and not the misconceptions of its practice) is antithetical to the attitudes on display in this sermon. They are in agreement with God’s intent at Creation and in the restoration of all things. Innocence can be restored, just as any other sin that twists and distorts a good gift. Seeing yourself and others as made in the image of God is a viable solution to all the ills of society, not on a large scale as not everyone will properly adopt this view (which would be a utopia), but on an individual basis. Imago Dei is the better way. I’ve lived it and it changed everything. It would even change Stewart-Allen Clark if he were brave enough to believe.

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?

Lust, Modesty, and Purity

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?

The Problem of Lust (part 1)

Lust is a big problem. There’s a lot of sad news lately. Obvious political news aside, some other headlines also caught my attention. These were regarding the late Ravi Zacharias, who was a great Christian apologist. He is also the next headline of well-respected Christian leaders confirmed to have had several moral failures that were sexual in nature. We get used to hearing about these, and shake our heads, but this one hit me harder, because I have changed the way I view the body. I’ve redeemed my mind on this issue, and I no longer struggle with lust, and it’s easy! And it’s heartbreaking to hear how lust rears its ugly head. This does not have to be recurring news! All these men have had powerful ministries and have done a lot of good for the kingdom of God, but they all have a twisted theology of the body and they suffer greatly for it.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-29 (ESV):

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.”

I believe his tone and argument in the context of the sermon on the mount is hyperbolic. If we took all his words literally, there would be a lot of blinded adulterers around. We say, “He’s exaggerating to make a point!” Instead of gouging out your eye, move your computer into the living room, and get internet filters or buy software. Get an accountability partner. These man-made attempts don’t work, and you can always cheat them if the root problem is never addressed.

While we rightly spiritualize Jesus’ words, we fail to take him literally where we should. He did not say whoever looks at a woman is guilty. He said whoever looks at a woman lustfully is guilty of sin. He literally said lust was the problem, not the looking or seeing. What about those who look at a woman without lustful intent?

Many Christians believe that’s an impossible notion. But I’m here to tell you that I’m a living testimony about just such a person. I have many new friends who can attest to the same. I used to look at others lustfully. I objectified others, all the time if I’m being honest. Many believe we all do and we’re even hardwired to do so. They can’t fathom someone not lusting, because they are lusting (classic projection, which I get because that was me a couple of years ago).

Now that I view the body as holy and very good (like God said it was in the garden of Eden) and not lewd, obscene or shameful, everything has changed, and for the better! Sure, what you do with the body can be wrong, but not the body itself. I hold the body in a higher esteem, worthy of awe and admiration towards the one who created us all in His very own image as the pinnacle of all creation. The highly sexualized world DOES NOT have this view. And NEITHER DOES the church! The world generally sees certain parts of the body as objects for selfish sexual gratification. The church sees this problem and thinks the only solution is to cover up. What they don’t realize is that what you cover and/or forbid creates the fertile ground for objectification to take place. They in essence agree with a twisted and distorted view that God never intended and the serpent has exploited throughout history.

Much can be said about this, which is why I’ve labeled this blog as a “part 1” in a series. Here are some conclusions to which I’ve arrived having experienced both the worldly view of the body and a renewed/godly view:

Lust is Fantasy. Love is reality.

My wife and I are so close right now, it’s crazy! I’d wish this closeness on my worst enemy (if I had any). Arousal comes as a result of our relationship, not her body. However, every time I see her, it’s like the rooster on the movie “Peter Rabbit” who is so shocked and elated and can’t believe the sun came up yet again. The fantasies are over and reality is so much better. I wish Ravi and the others could say the same.

I used to be lustFULL. Now I’m respectFULL.

Which is a more Christian attribute? Lust or respect? The average Christian would agree that respect is the obvious better choice. Then they tend to say that it’s impossible to see a naked woman without falling into lust. I’ve pushed that notion to the extreme. I’ve been around several naked women in non-sexual social nudity, and my wife feels more secure in our relationship than before, when I would try and fail to bounce my eyes at the sight of any flesh. I see them as whole persons, worthy of the utmost respect. We can be naked, unashamed, and lust free.

Losing battle vs. Victory vs. No battle

I used to spend the night occasionally at my parent’s house when it was prudent to be closer to business dealings. Knowing that I would be away, my wife would try to apply what she’s heard at countless marriage retreats when the men and women are separated and spoken to frankly. She’d make it a point to have sex with me to protect me for the next night. Want to be frank? Protective sex (aside from being joyless and being more dutiful) is only good for about 20 minutes, if your husband has a worldy view of the body. It would do no good. I knew going in, that the privacy afforded, away from my wife would result in a losing battle. The temptation would come in strong, and I’d try to be strong. Ultimately, I’d give in and lose. Momentary victories were few and far between and always with a struggle. Now, I’d rather drive home so I can be with her every night possible. We don’t even have to have sex, I just like being with her. But if I have to spend the night away, it’s no longer a losing battle, or a slight chance of victory, there just isn’t a battle at all! There is no allure and zero draw into lustful objectification through pornography. I’m so thankful! And so is my wife.

A parable

Two men were walking home from work one day, one naturist, the other not. Through an open window they saw a woman taking a shower. The non-naturist thought about the incident for weeks, fantasizing how he might persuade her to step out of the shower into his arms. But the nudist only smiled and walked on home. Which one of the two men has committed adultery in his heart?

This was written by a naturist friend who goes by Jochanaan. I love how profound and succinct the message is. It goes back to my fantasy vs. reality conclusion. I used to be the one who would replay the scene over and over in my head. Then I’d feel guilty for doing so. But it and other thoughts would constantly plague me. I thought this was every man’s battle and nothing worked to stop it. I didn’t treat my wife as well as I should have because I was double-minded. She, knowing my struggle, wouldn’t feel secure in herself or our relationship. I’d tell her she was my favorite person and the most beautiful, but how could she possibly believe it? Now, I’m the other guy in the story. I would simply smile and walk on home. None of the above problems exist in our lives any longer. And they aren’t coming back. The only problem is I can’t spend 24 hours a day with my wife, because I have to go to work before I can come home to her!

Now you tell me: should I go back to being the first guy? Which is the more holy attitude? Why would I ever want to go back to that existence?

It should be that easy!

For the last year, I’ve played out in my head scenarios where people who would strongly disagree with our way of thinking would find out about our participation in naturism. At the moment many areas of our life would be negatively affected if this were to happen. If I’m being totally honest (naked and vulnerable), the fear of this happening at times causes me to reconsider the whole thing. It’s during those times of fear that I find it helpful to play out these interactions to remind me why we are resolute in our conviction about the body as the image of God.

With the amount of knowledge we now have as a result of our study, if we were to sit down with someone to explain, it could take hours or even days to share everything we would want to. This is one of the reasons we started this blog, to have both information and our thoughts in one place.

As I’ve imagined these conversations, the explanations really boil down to this: Is SEEING a naked body sin? Clearly, the answer is no. If it were, mothers would be sinning every time they change their toddler’s clothes. Doctors would be sinning at a woman’s yearly exam. A husband and wife would be sinning when they enjoy sex naked together. Ultimately, even Jesus would have sinned as nakedness was commonplace in his time. And when God told Isaiah to preach naked for three years, he would have been commanding him to sin. And there are a host of other examples. Some would call these exceptions to the rule, but how can there be exceptions when there is no rule?

Once a person’s mind has been renewed in their way of thinking about the body, the SEEING of a naked body should not be a big deal or cause any lustful thoughts, and in turn, sin. Having been conditioned by our culture, our enemy, and even the church, those who do not share our convictions expect to have lustful thoughts at the sight of nudity and therefore do. I even had a conversation with a pastor who told me that men are hardwired to have a sexual reaction at the sight of too much skin. It was at this point in the conversation that I felt the need to stick up for all the men I know now who are able to be around many nude women and have no sexual reaction or thoughts of lust. God did not just create men as visual creatures, able to appreciate the sight of beauty. We are all drawn to both strength and beauty, but the sight and simple admiration of the nude human form of a man or woman need not trigger us into sexual desire. Aaron Frost takes this idea to the extreme when he writes in his book, Christian Body, Modesty and the Bible, “Some people assume we are biologically hardwired to respond sexually to nudity, but later generations of Pavlov’s dogs might as easily assume that all dogs are instinctively hard-wired to drool at the sound of a bell even though that would be false. To assume that nudity causes lust, is like assuming that the bells cause drooling.”

So while it should be this easy, it’s not. The way the church views the body is the same way pornographers and Hollywood does. Why are we in agreement on this?? When God created Adam and Eve he called it “very good”. Did God change his mind about the body when sin entered the world? Of course not! Over time, the interpretation of this Scripture has been skewed so that the intended meaning has been lost. We have come up with our own thoughts as to why God made skins for Adam and Eve before sending them out of the Garden. We assume it to cover their nakedness because now all of the sudden, the sight of the human form of course was a sin. (I hope you sense my sarcasm) This is a man made thought. Never in Scripture is this said or implied. What is said however, is a strong warning against making more of the traditions of men than the actual words of God.

Mark 7:6-9 (NIV)

“He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

Just a few verses later, Jesus makes the point that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a person that defiles him. In other words, it’s not the seeing that is the sin, but how one reacts to the seeing. If the heart is pure and the mind renewed, seeing a nude form will not cause sin to take place. If no sin is taking place while participating in naturism, then why should anyone have a problem with it?

It should be that easy!

Naked Modesty

Modesty. It was a term I grew up with my whole life. It was drilled into me as far back as I can remember. As the oldest of four daughters in a conservative Christian home, it was always impressed upon me that I was to set the example of how a Godly young woman should behave, talk, and dress. Along with my natural inclination to being a rule follower, I was comfortable with that and never questioned any of it. It’s what I was taught in church, at home and at my Christian school. I was comfortable with “dressing appropriately.” I was a good judge of modesty for myself and others. In fact, I was downright judgmental! I never stopped to question what modesty meant. The context it was used in, in my mind, it always meant dressing appropriately. It wasn’t until my husband and I became naturists that we began diving into Scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:9, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes…” In reading other versions of this text I came across Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrase of this verse and I love it! 

“And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 

So is modesty more about how we dress or more about how we act? A year ago I would have said it was absolutely about how we dress. Today, I’ve changed my mind about this and so many other things!  Modesty is an attitude of the heart and includes thinking of yourself and others rightly. A holy humility. What are your thoughts when you see the heavy girl wearing a bathing suit that’s two sizes too small? What are your thoughts when you see the man who looks differently than you? Do you play the judge? It devastates me to say I did, for years! 

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV), “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

To avoid attention-getting behavior, whether in a boastful tongue or in a gaudy style of clothing, is the modesty meant in Scripture.

David Hatton says, “For centuries, modesty was understood in those same terms, until the Victorian era gave the word a new meaning to match its prudish view of the body. In spite of this altered definition, the older meaning was retained as late as 1828, when Webster’s Dictionary continued to define modesty with no mention of clothing’s ability to produce a modest condition in the way it hid the body: “MODESTY, n. [L. modestia.] That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one’s own worth and importance. This temper when natural, springs in some measure from timidity, and in young and inexperienced persons, is allied to bashfulness and diffidence. In persons who have seen the world, and lost their natural timidity, modesty springs no less from principle than from feeling, and is manifested by retiring, unobtrusive manners, assuming less to itself than others are willing to yield, and conceding to others all due honor and respect, or even more than they expect or require. \ 2. Modesty, as an act or series of acts, consists in humble, unobtrusive deportment, as opposed to extreme boldness, forwardness, arrogance, presumption, audacity or impudence. Thus we say, the petitioner urged his claims with modesty; the speaker addressed the audience with modesty. \ 3. Moderation; decency. \ 4. In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.”

I love this! I love that historically, modesty was never about what we wear (or don’t wear). I’ve seen first hand how one can be completely nude and still completely modest! In the same way, I’ve seen how one can be completely covered and very immodest! As a naturist, I dress appropriately for the situation. I wear clothes to church because that’s what is appropriate for that situation. A few weeks ago we had naturist church with some friends. To that, I wore nothing. That was appropriate for that situation. Did I sit in the textile church and judge people based on what they were wearing? The old me would have, but the new me doesn’t even really notice what people are wearing anymore! 

Even the great Mark Twain wrote, “Modesty antedates clothes and will be resumed when clothes are no more. Modesty died when clothes were born. Modesty died when false modesty was born.”

Some may ask, what about when what you are wearing causes men to stumble? Well, I believe that if a man is going to lust, it isn’t really going to matter what I am wearing. I have heard from multiple men that when they were struggling with lust, it didn’t matter that the woman was wearing jeans and a hoodie, the lust was still there. Meaning that lust is more an issue of the heart and mind than an issue of clothing or lack of it. How could it be that my husband used to struggle greatly with the issue of lust in a fully clothed world before we entered this lifestyle, and now with a renewed way of thinking we can visit a naturist resort and he has no sin issues? He has changed his way of thinking. Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We have tested what we believe to be true by going to a naturist park. Several times I’ve asked Phil if being there caused him to sin. The answer has always been the same, “Not at all!” I know he feels more alive when we spend time at that park. We love it there and we are making lots of friends! We feel like God is pleased with our new way of thinking. 

Our true modesty comes when we can look beyond what someone is or isn’t wearing and see the person that God created. When we can look beyond what the world sees as flaws and see the unique beauty that our Creator put in each and every one of us. We are all the same and we are all different and we each have amazing things to offer the world if we can get over ourselves and look past the outer facades and into the hearts of the people all around us!

Phil’s Story

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

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

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

My inner nudist was crushed by how I was raised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not going back.