Reflections on the Journey

It’s been 2 years since the crazy day in October when Phil told me he was a Christian naturist. Lately I’ve been reflecting on all that the last two years have held for us. Looking back, I’m blown away by the transformation that God has done, not only in our individual lives, but also the transformation that has taken place in our marriage, in our family, and in our spiritual lives. God has taken us on quite the spiritual ride!

This morning I was preparing dinner. Baking bread and putting soup in the crockpot. Since I wasn’t cooking bacon, I did all of this nude. I began remembering a time when I was uncomfortable being nude alone! Yes, really! Shortly after our talk in October 2019, Phil encouraged me to try to get comfortable being nude at home. I thought it was so weird! What if someone came to the door?? I remember the first time I opened the blinds in my laundry room and let the sun shine in (we have high windows and I am short so there was no chance anyone would see me). The sun felt so good!

Phil and I were laying in bed a couple nights ago unwinding before sleep. We have an open door policy at our house now. If the door is open or unlocked you are welcome to come in. If it is locked, go away. The other night, Phil and I reflected on what it was like at the beginning. I was terrified to be nude in front of our kids. I was afraid it would scar them for life! I remember sitting in our room in November of 2019 and Phil encouraging me to just go to the kitchen and get a drink while the kids were watching TV in the living room. I remember crying worrying about it. I remember our now 17 year old walking in our room while I was under the blanket and asking, “Are you naked?”. When I responded yes, instead of hugging me good night, he rolled his eyes and huffed and went upstairs. I was devastated! I remember having conversations with each of our boys telling them why we were changing our minds about the body and why we felt it was ok for us to walk around our house nude. They all understood. I remember the slow progress we made with them. Our daughter was still young enough that she didn’t have an issue with it at all. We have come a long way! Our children wander in and out of our room nightly now.- just to chill or to talk. They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them. None of them are walking around the house nude, but I consider it a win that they are seeing the body as normal.

They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them.

I remember our first trip to the naturist park in the middle of December. It had snowed the day before and we were praying for the sun to be out. God is so good and the sun was shining and it was a balmy 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The closer we got, the more nervous I became and started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. When we arrived we were met by the nicest man ever! He knew I was nervous and never pressured me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. On top of that he was (and is) a Jesus follower and I was so grateful for that! Even though we didn’t see many people that day, I am so grateful for the interaction and conversation we had with that man. I am convinced that the Lord used him to help me! I remember walking along one of the trails that day with nothing but my furry boots on and even with the cold temperature, we stayed on the trail for an hour before retreating to the hot tub. I remember feeling the sun on my whole body for the first time. I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!

I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!

I remember jumping into the deep end with our naturist marriage retreat and how weirdly natural it felt to be with these fellow believers who also were enjoying letting the bodies God gave us breathe. Those people are amazing parts of my spiritual family now. I remember my first time on the nude beach and how awesome it felt to play in the waves and lay on the sand.

I remember all of the times we have been to the park and all the new friends we have made and all the fun. All the deep spiritual conversations we’ve had and all the encouragement given. When we aren’t there, we long to return.

God took something that was meant for evil (a pornography addiction) and turned it into good using naturism. That’s what God does if we will let him. If we will get out of the way and listen to the Lord, he will open new doors for us. He will show us his love and grace in ways we never could have imagined! I’m so grateful that he had prepared my heart and mind, even when I didn’t know it was happening, to be able to embrace my husband and this journey. Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 7, God used naturism to start me on a new spiritual path. I was stagnant and stale and really dry bones, but God challenged me in my thinking, starting here and it continues. Are you up for the challenge?

The Sign of Circumcision

When you hear the word “sign” you get the impression that you should to take note of whatever it is that is being called a sign. In fact, most signs are visible, otherwise how are they to be seen and understood?

It’s a terrible analogy but imagine driving high speed on a country road and you see a sign with a cloth draped over it obscuring the message it contains. You wonder what it was trying to convey, and as you are free falling to certain death, you realize it must’ve said “Bridge Out!” OK, I warned you that this would be a stretch, but if there are dangers present on a road you would want a sign to also warn you! Signs communicate all sorts of truths and provide direction and understanding for greater purposes than the sign itself. 

We don’t give much thought to the “sign” of circumcision today, do we? Let’s start contemplating this sign of the Covenant through this “part 1” video:

There’s a lot more to cover, which is why we made a two part video. The question, though, is why did God make such a sign? Maybe you can add your thoughts in the comments. With hyper-privacy and prudish thinking today, we can’t really fathom this being a visible sign, but it certainly was in those days. Maybe the only place today where this would be visible would be the gym (interestingly enough that word comes from the Greek word for naked), but even then, people don’t walk around exposed very often, even in the dressing room! In Bible times, however, you would know for sure who was and wasn’t circumcised. Watch “part 2” for more of which you may not have considered:

The issue of circumcision caused some drama in the New Testament era. Did Gentiles need to be circumcised after conversion to Christianity? It sparked quite the debate as a new issue that was never pondered before. The Judaizers seemed to think they should be circumcised. What did Paul have to say about it? And again, how did people even know who was and who wasn’t in the first place? The answer is nudity was much more commonplace then, and not a taboo like it is today.

Have you thought about this?

Now this last observation is sobering. Our Lord was crucified naked. They cast lots for his clothes. Early art depicted this, but censored art gave way to the loin cloth making the image less shameful and grotesque. Our Lord endured the cross, scorning its shame (Hebrews 12:2)- the shame is not in the nudity, but rather in the complete subjugation and forceful nature of having been tortured. However, our Lord declared, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily (John 10:18 NLT).” He bore the shame of a lowly criminal’s death by his own volition. 

Pilate hung the sign above Jesus that read, “King of the Jews.” Everyone could see that he was not a Roman. He was in fact a Jew. This, not because of the sign above his head, but also because of the sign of the Covenant on his body, which was then broken for us. He gave us another sign- the bread and the cup, that we might remember the new covenant and proclaim his death every time we eat and drink of it until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). 

See all posts and videos in the “Objections” series here.

Top Ten Reasons to Become a Christian Comfortablist

This clever and insightful article comes from our friend, Jason. You may recall him from this interview post we did with him. He is also instrumental in the writing of the scripts for our “Objections” series of videos. He’s a good friend and encouragement to us, and we’re so glad he submitted this piece…

Top Ten Reasons to Become a Christian Comfortablist

  1. It’s literally how God made you.
  2. Less Laundry.
  3. Teaches Body Acceptance.
  4. Teaches Humility.
  5. Teaches Vulnerability.
  6. Reminds You that You’re Human.
  7. Helps You Sleep Better.
  8. Makes You Heathier.
  9. Helps De-Stress.
  10. Promotes the Gospel.

What’s a Christian Comfortablist?

It’s like a Christian naturist/nudist, but instead of being naked all the time and/or hating to wear clothes, the mindset is this: clothing is mostly unnecessary. It’s not necessary for “modesty.” It’s not necessary to hide any particular body parts. Clothing is decorative and/or functional. If there’s no good reason to wear it, for example, anytime a person is swimming or sitting in water, then a comfortablist doesn’t wear it.

  1. It’s literally how God made you. God hand-sculpted Adam’s and Eve’s naked bodies from the clay and breathed into them the breath of life. Had He wanted us to be furry or walk on all fours so that our breasts and genitals were obscured, wouldn’t He have done so? By observation, we can see that God wanted our upright bodies with visible genitals to be seen by each other.
  2. A comfortablist is going to have less laundry to wash, dry, fold and store. If desired, bras and underwear can be eliminated from the wardrobe. Resources of space and electricity can be maximized.
  3. Being around other naked people help us realize that our bodies are similar, yet different and come in all shapes and and shades.
  4. For those of us who do not enjoy being seen naked, humbling ourselves and submitting to being seen is a righteous act.
  5. And this leads into vulnerability. When we take away the barriers of clothing, our human status tends to go with it. It’s easier to be truthful and open about your thoughts and beliefs when clothes-free.
  6. Wearing nothing on our skin reminds us that we are a created being – it grounds us – connects us to our roots as living, breathing, feeling beings.
  7. With no restrictions binding you or making you a great place for breeding germs, sleeping nude is also good for genital and reproductive health.
  8. Sunlight is known as the best disinfectant there is. Allowing your skin to make full us of sun and air lets your body soak up vitamins and can also clear up skin blemishes.
  9. Some would say there’s nothing like coming home from work and taking off a tight bra. Why not just take it all off? De-clothing as a ritual is a great way to relax and unwind and tell your body that it can breathe more freely.
  10. In the New Testament, we are called the Body of Christ. Our nude bodies testify of creation and of the truths of fruitfulness and community. Just as the body is made up of many interconnected parts, so is the church meant to be. Owning our humanity – our naked selves – is to testify that Jesus Christ has defeated the Curse and is building His Kingdom with and through us.

So there you have it. Do it for yourself. Do it for Jesus. Try living in your skin when it feels comfortable and see just how great it feels!

What about priestly garments?

“Holy” simply means set apart. When God chose for himself a people, it was for the purpose of setting them apart, but not so they would feel special or superior, but rather to be a light for the nations (Isaiah 60:3).

This is why God had for the nation of Israel clear distinctions between them and the surrounding countries or people groups (or they were supposed to have them). They were to be different. The whole world could be known for one way of being, but God’s people were to be holy and set apart. When they let their light shine before others, the hope would be that the others would see their good deeds and glorify the father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

What does this have to do with Christian naturism? It is context for a discussion regarding the priestly garments God instructed to be worn. It helps set up this video…

It really doesn’t have anything to do with Christian naturism at all. It’s simply another objection that is raised when prudish Christians struggle to see the freedom we enjoy as permissible or beneficial. As with the other objections, a careful study of the text will exonerate Christian naturists from any guilt on their part for living “as God intended.” The perceived guilt is instead projected onto them, coming from a mind that has not been renewed on issues of the body. A friend pointed out in a youtube comment on one of these videos that those who make objections need “reNude” minds!

As the video points out, the issue isn’t the sight of simple nudity. Otherwise why would the priests be stripped bare to be ceremonially washed in front of the whole assembly?

The issue here was one of differentiation. Israel was to be an example of not just morality, but overall goodness. This is the reason idolatry was such an offense toward the Lord. When all the surrounding nations practiced sexual immorality as a part of their religious worship, God in no uncertain terms said, “Not so with you.” The invention of undergarments that went from the waist to the thigh would make it impossible to emulate and practice the pagan rituals that were commonplace in that time.

God wanted a marked difference between those who were his people and those who are on the outside looking in. He still wants that today. It’s a sad shame we often take our cues from the culture around us, instead of the other way around. We have a way that is more “holy.” I don’t use that term to sound religiously better than or holier than thou. God is still calling us to treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve as being made in His image. It’s time we opt for this higher view.

See all posts and videos in the “Objections” series here.

Clothe the Naked

Jesus tells us we should clothe the naked. How many naked people do you know? Not too many these days. There’s not too much of a lack of clothing anywhere today. Even in some of the most poor areas of the world, you can see t-shirts of the team that lost the Super Bowl which were printed in case they won. The loom (and the fruit of it) has made clothing fairly affordable and extremely accessible. And yet, Jesus tells us to clothe the naked.

How do we apply the words of Jesus today? Some would say a Christian should never go to a nude beach or worse a naturist resort, because Jesus says to clothe the naked. Is that how we should apply it? Here is an article we wrote that examines what clothes Scripture does command. We think it’s worth the read!

For now, watch this short video to see what Jesus means by “Clothe the Naked.”

The video makes it pretty clear that clothe the naked simply means to care for the poor. One verse we didn’t have time to include in the video would be Isaiah Chapter 58:7. It asks “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Clothing was handmade and expensive. Like a modern day credit card, your garment was collateral and if you lost it, you’d be cold and night and in abject poverty. You’d sell all you had before loosing your cloak, which was also your blanket.

We need to understand the historical context before we claim the Bible says what we think says. Nowadays clothing has gotten more intricate and fashionable and accessorizing. In fact, when the Bible speaks of modesty, it’s not about covering the body as much as it is avoiding ostentatious dress. Modest fashion, to us, is an oxymoron. More on modesty here.

In summary, clothing the naked, is not so much about nudity as much as it is about kindness, compassion, and loving your neighbor.

See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.

Blind and Naked

The book of Revelation was written in Apocalyptic genre. Our bookstores today don’t carry books in that category. There are no Apocalyptic sections or aisles to peruse. The highly symbolic nature of this style of writing is very foreign to us. Revelation also has over 400 allusions to the Old Testament. If we knew our Old Testaments better, our interpretations of this prophetic book would be more in tune with the author’s intent. As always, historical background and grammatical context are key to arriving at a good understanding of the intended meaning of the text. That was our approach to the following video.

I just love the way Jesus knows his original audience and shines a light directly on what needs to be addressed with scathing accuracy. That the World May Know with Ray Vander Laan points out the following details about Laodicea’s history:

Laodicea was renowned for three main industries:

A banking center for the province of Asia Minor, including a gold exchange; The textile center where glossy, black wool was woven into garments called trimata that were prized in the Roman world; The location of a major medical school known worldwide and where an eye salve called Phyrigian powder was made from a local stone.

Revelation 3:14-22 makes a lot more sense when you know these details.

In 60 AD an earthquake destroyed the city. Unlike surrounding cities, Laodicea refused funds from Rome to rebuild the city because they prided themselves on their own wealth. Their banking institution even minted its own coins that said the words, “We did it ourselves.” (See Bema podcast)! In their pride, they confided in themselves leaving little room for God (sounds familiar). They only sore spot was the source of water.

Laodicea was situated between Hierapolis and Colossae. Hierapolis was known for it’s hot mineral water and Colossae had cold spring water. Water had to be piped in from 6 miles to Laodicea. The mix of hot and cold caused the water in this town to be, you guessed it, lukewarm!

All of these facts make Jesus’ words sting all the more. In this passage, Jesus is not saying that nudity is a sin. Far from it. He’s comparing and contrasting several areas to point out the spiritual need of the people. They aren’t rich, they’re poor, spiritually. They aren’t healing blindness, they ARE blind, spiritually. They don’t have luxurious black wool garments, they are naked and need white clothes (Lookup Revelation 19:8 to see how the text itself interprets the fine linen we are to wear). Compare and contrast.

Some people insist on reading Revelation literally. Others spiritualize everything allegorically. I choose to read it naturally. If it’s a symbol (commonly known as one) let it be a symbol. If it’s a literal reference, let it be one. You can’t read all of Revelation literally. Otherwise (just one example) the flat earthers may be right about the four corners of the earth (Rev. 7:1)! We know that to be an expression meant to convey the idea of the whole world. That one is obvious. Psalm 50:10 is an example outside of Revelation showing how numbers need to be weighed, not measured. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What about hill #1001? Does he cease to own the cattle from then on? Or is all the earth the Lord’s and everything in it?

A strict literal reading might in some small way seem to indicate that nakedness is shameful. However, this is not the natural reading of the passage. The poverty and destitution associated with nakedness, before the invention of the loom, is what was shameful. Is being poor or blind a sin? No. Those are the other word pictures given in context. The point isn’t to show these pitiful conditions as sinful in and of themselves. The point was to show that when you trust in yourself and try to prove you have no need for God, you are actually to be pitied for your spiritual condition of weakness.

There is great danger in pride and self-confidence. Let’s not let that also define how we approach sacred texts, ignoring all the clues left to help us interpret Jesus’ words correctly.

Treasured

We all know that feeling. We arrive at the area pool with our kids just hoping to get a couple hours of relaxation while they swim with their friends. Instead, the second we walk through the gate we are bombarded with the thoughts. “Wow, she looks great! How does she have 3 kids and still look like that? I have three kids, (or 2 or 1) and I look like a beached whale!” “I should have bought the black bathing suit.” “I should have just worn my shorts instead of this bathing suit.” “Ugh, why do I have to be so fat?” “I shouldn’t have eaten my birthday cake for the last 40 years. I hate myself for eating that cake.”  Anyone else have this experience or one similar? I know it’s not just me. Should we take care of our bodies? Absolutely yes! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We aren’t all going to look the same in the process of caring for our bodies though. I am never going to weigh 140lbs but I can do healthy things to care for my body at 200lbs. Would God love me more at 140lbs? God’s love is not earned or lost. A good, loving parent doesn’t stop loving their child because of bad choices they make, or weight they gain. A loving parent continues to love that child! When our children are struggling is when we most want to wrap them up and snuggle them until they feel better. It’s when we want to speak words of life into their little (or big) hearts and spirits. In the same way when we are struggling, the Lord wants to comfort us! He wants to take our faces in His hands as he looks deeply into our eyes and tells us, “You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!” 

“You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”

I want to be seen like that! I want to see myself like that! I want to know I am a beautiful child of God who is known and loved and treasured! Not only that, I want to see others that way! For a long time, most of my life in fact, I was very judgmental. I know I’ve talked about this in the past. I love that the veil has been lifted from my eyes and I no longer look at people the same. God, give me your eyes to see your children the way you see them! Help me to see past the superficial things and ways of the world and into the heart and soul of those around me. Show me the hurting, the lost, the confused, the tired, the worn and weary and use me to pour out your love to them. 

Can we have and develop empathy like this without naturism? Absolutely yes and many have! For me, though, God used naturism to open my eyes to what my attitude was like. No matter how we dress, sweat pants and a t-shirt, jeans and blouse, or jacked up for the red carpet, people are going to make assumptions about us based on our clothing. But clothes don’t make the person. We are all way more than the clothes we put on everyday. My clothes don’t show you what’s in my heart. My clothes don’t show you what my values are. You can only truly know who I am by connecting with me on a more personal level. Finding out what we have in common. With naturism right off the bat we know we have that in common and it opens the door for more conversations and relationship building. We have met so many amazing people at the naturist resort we frequent. Friendships are being built. Lives are being shared. We need each other on so many levels! 

As I type this we are at a Christian naturist gathering. There are around 50 of us here. This week we have worshipped together, prayed together, fellowshipped together, eaten together, and grown together. While our official worship sessions are over for the week, the relationship building continues. Some of these people I am meeting for the very first time, but we already have an instant connection without knowing anything else about each other. As Christian naturists we are like-minded in that we believe we have all been created in the image of God and we are living that out by hiding nothing during this week of iron sharpening iron. We have spent hours in the pool enjoying the sunshine and discussing Scripture while all the kids splashed around. I imagine that is a picture of what heaven might be like except maybe Jesus will be floating around with us! There is no judgement here. There is love, acceptance, respect and appreciation for the bodies that God has given us. God is in this place with us. You can feel him. You can see him in the image bearers that are here desiring a deeper relationship and walk with the Father! God may not walk with us in the cool of the day in the same way he did with Adam and Eve, but there is no denying that he longs to be with us and is pleased when his children draw near to him.  I believe in the same way we long to return to a Garden of Eden existence with God, he longs for that too! Until the day he returns for us, we are aching for Eden together. 

Nudity Equals Lust?

All of the videos in the Common Objections series are important to me at a personal level. This is because they reflect they very way that I used to think. I’m certainly not the only one. They are common. I learned them from others. I was conditioned to think in a way that was prudish at worst or close minded at best. This strict upbringing meant to keep me away from lustful attitudes had the very opposite effect on me. These videos exhibit my new learning and what to me (and many others) is a better way of thinking. The lust issue goes away when a new and wholesome way of thinking emerges.

I have written about lust and my dealings with it and how I have overcome this sin at length on various posts. Here are the search results of all the articles tagged with the keyword of “lust.” This video is a short summary of both the problem and the solution:

I’m convinced that the solution to the problem of lust is to see others as God sees them. Last week’s article was about that, in case you missed it. The opposite of lust is love. You can’t be loving others and lusting after them at the same time. I think a big problem growing up with “purity culture” was that the church told us (in not so many words) that we would struggle big time with lust. If you believed that was true, it would become your reality. It was for me. I wrote the following into a sermon and I stand by it today:

I used to have a problem with lust. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. Lots of statistics would say that half of us men right here have the very same problem. It’s no surprise to hear that Catholic priests report this as the most common sin by far in the confessional. Popular Christian books say that it’s every man’s battle. And while I don’t agree with that notion now, I do think it WILL be a battle for you as long as you THINK that it will be. It doesn’t have to be. I once thought it was. I thought I’d struggle with this issue until the day I die. And I would have, if I had left it up to me, myself, and I.  As long as it was ME fighting this war by my own strength, I’d be doomed to fail. I can only have so much willpower. I can do ALL the things the quote unquote experts tell me to do and still be one trigger away from failing again.

It’s defeatist to say all men are visual and can’t help themselves, they’ll always fight this impulse and compulsion. God helped me reject those lies and trust Jesus to be powerful enough to deal with this sin as he does any other sin! When you give it to God, he helps you see other people as he sees them, not like the world sees them, and that changes everything. 

Let me put it this way. Do you struggle with the command not to murder your brother? Jesus tells us not to do that. If you’re like me, that’s an easy commandment to keep, because you have no desire to kill your brother (hopefully!). Jesus also says not to look at a woman with lustful intent. He says that’s adultery of the heart. When it comes to this, we often throw our hands in the air and say it’s hard, if not impossible to do. But it’s not! It’s actually easy! You can let God redeem your mind on this issue like any other issue and the desire will be removed from you. Praise God, I can thankfully tell you that I have no desire to lust after another woman, or even after my wife. Lust is selfish, and the opposite of love, so I don’t even want to lust after my wife. Let me be very blunt, I would rather die than objectify another human being!

Yes, I have other sin to deal with, but this particular sin that used to be a big struggle is over and done, I mean mortified and put to death! And it wasn’t willpower or software or accountability or trying really hard or anything I could do depending on my own power that killed this particular sin at the root. It was God! You have to let God kill the spider, not just brush away the cobwebs of lust prevention as they will surely grow back as long as the spider lives. You can bounce your eyes to death, and try to avoid all temptation, but you can’t. Or you can let God deal honestly with you at the core, the real problem- the issue, not the symptoms. All that is recommended to us by experts to deal with lust is as Dallas Willard calls it “sin management.” They are only coping mechanisms. But we weren’t meant just to cope in life. We’re meant to be responsible for our actions and to love others as God does. The trick was letting God do his work in my heart and mind to completely remove the desire to even be tempted in the first place. Charles Spurgeon said, “The swine rolls in the mire with delight, but the sheep abhors it… He is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and sin is destroyed in its energetic influence over his life.”

I stopped depending on my own understanding. I even stopped depending on the leading experts and what they say to do or not to do. It was complete and total dependence on God to change the way I think, to renew my mind. He did it, without my help. He’s powerful enough to do just that. Now I can thank him for the incredible transformation in my life.

When there’s a real transformation or metamorphosis, a butterfly can’t go back to being a worm (or caterpillar). It can only pretend to be one again and crawl around on the ground again instead of flying. Isaac Watts wrote the hymn “At the Cross” where the first verse says: Alas! and did my Savior bleed and did my Sov’reign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I? People have been offended by that language or “such a worm as I” – they’ve changed the hymn to say “such a one as I” so as not to be so strong. I say keep it as Isaac Watts wrote it! I was a worm! I had this sin that I tried to shake on my own over and over and couldn’t do it. And then I’d hear at every marriage retreat and men’s conference that just about everyone else struggles with this too. They say “boys will be boys,” but I have boys I’m trying to raise to be different. God changed me from worm to butterfly with his power, reconditioning me to see others differently. And now I can’t and won’t go back to how I was before. I can’t go back! It’s so much better to fly than to go around on my belly like the cursed serpent in the garden in Genesis 3. That’s low and it’s dirty. It’s a curse. It’s bondage! God does not want us to stay that way. It’s so much better and it’s God’s intent to let your heart soar. God’s ways are truly better than any man-made strategy, plan, or tradition, or method of sin management. Now, having surrendered it fully to God, purity is easy, and it’s out of pure joy that I keep Jesus’ command.

One question I got was over the bit about not lusting after my wife. I do desire her, more than anything! However I do not want my desire for her to be lust– I want it to be love, and it is, and it’s amazing! I think that will be a whole topic for another blog someday. For more on the difference between lust and admiring God’s created beauty in people see this fascinating piece (What A Beautiful Tree! Is That Lust?) from Fig Leaf Forum’s website.

I don’t love who I’ve been in regard to lust, but it’s still a good quote!

See all the “Objections” series blogs and videos here.

Seeing as God Sees

“…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b ESV)

This verse is more true than we think it is. We do not see people as God sees them. In the context of 1 Samuel 16, you have a perfect example of this being played out. The singer Ray Boltz described it this way in his song:

One by one,
Jesse’s sons stood before the prophet,
Their father knew a king would soon be found,
Each one passed except the last,
No one thought to call him,
For surely he would never wear a crown.
But when others see a shepherd boy,
God may see a king

How does this play out in real life? We are conditioned by the world around us to see through the lenses of the world. It’s oftentimes a harsh, petty, shallow, and judgmental world. Snap judgments are made instantaneously, many times based on how someone is dressed or other superficial details we observe. We are unaware of how prone we are to agree with the standards of the environment we live in. God calls us to be aliens in a foriegn land (1 Peter 2:11). Being holy as God is holy means being set apart (1 Peter 1:16).

The whole goal of Christianity is to become more Christ-like. Philippians 2 begins this way: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV) The context continues showing how Jesus lowered himself, not considering equality with God as something to be grasped, but instead emptied himself, and gave himself for others. John 15:13 ESV  states that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Furthermore, we see this beautiful example and exhortation in 1 John 3:16 NIV- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

True love is extending one’s self to serve others. I see the spousal love analogy (of a man giving himself in love to his bride) as a beautiful picture or image of how Christ gave of himself and sacrificed for his bride. He even said, “This is my body, which is for you…” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Your highest calling as a Christian (how Jesus summarized both the Law and the Prophets) is to love God with everything and then love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). How can we do this effectively? One thing we need to do is to stop seeing others the way the world does, and instead start seeing them the way God does.

Brandon Heath was on to something when he penned the words of his song:

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missin’
Give Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

One last beautiful example is from Genesis 16. Abram and barren Sarai are trying to take God’s promise of being the fathers of a great nation into their own hands. They convince their slave Hagar to conceive a child for Abram. When she is pregnant, Sarai begins to mistreat her, to the point that she runs away. In the wilderness, exposed and vulnerable to the elements, the angel of the Lord comes to comfort her. He tells her to go back, and promises Ishmael (when born) will also have a great number of descendants as well. Verses 13-14 are often glossed over, but they contain the point I am trying to make.

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (meaning well of the Living One who sees me.); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:13-14 NIV)

Hagar was a slave woman, forced to conceive a child for her master, mistreated by her mistress to the point that she would run away to the desert to die. This is a person that the world has chewed up and spit out, so to speak. But God saw her. It affected her so profoundly that when others would turn a blind eye, God would see her. 

One of humanity’s greatest needs is to love and be loved and to be seen (noticed, valued and appreciated). Steve Pokorny writes about having your vision redeemed (See book Redeemed Vision). His thesis is that we live in a pornified culture and are blinded by several messages the world bombards us with, that contradict the truth of how God sees us and others. Like the blind man in Mark 10:51, we too should cry out, “Master, Let me receive my sight.”

My mother knows that I am a naturist. The other day, she heard me preach in church about how I overcame the problem of lust in my heart and mind. We spoke a little more afterward about our plans for vacation in a naturist park, where we will gather with many other Christians and have daily times of worship and devotional thoughts and incredible fellowship. “And you’re all naked? How can you do that? You say there’s no lust? I can’t wrap my head around it.” she would say. I replied, “I know. That’s the problem.” This way of seeing others is crucial not just in naturism, although it was naturism that was a catalyst for my change in thinking about a great number of things. You have to see others the way God sees them (Imago Dei, made in his own image). He loves them. He doesn’t lust. You also can’t lust after someone and be loving (serving) them at the same time. 

Sadly, my mom went on to say that she doesn’t even like to see her own body, and called it ugly. This breaks my heart. Because I know that when God sees her, he sees a beautiful person, survivor of breast cancer with a mastectomy, a work of art not just on the outside, but also on the inside. God sees the whole person for who they are and what value they bring to humanity. I see my mom the way God sees her. I only wish she could see herself that way. It’s the way I look at everyone now. I know I’m not God, but should that stop me from trying to be more like Him?

Stumbling Block?

You’ve heard this a million times. Women should dress modestly so as not to tempt the boys to lust. Romans 14 is quoted in support of this claim, at least in part. It’s an often misunderstood passage, especially when it’s not read in it’s full context. A full reading of the text would straighten out many erroneous interpretations! You’ll have to read it on your own to see for yourself!

This short video aims to challenge the assertion that someone’s dress causes others to commit grave sins. It also points out a few of the often overlooked verses in Romans 14:

I used to look at this passage and think the weaker brother was the other person. Surely they are on the other side of an issue thinking, you are the weaker brother. No one thinks of themselves as weak. I thought the point is to accept one another, whether you are the weak or the strong one. We all think ourselves to be strong. Regardless, the instruction to both the weak and the strong is to accept each other. Well, I was wrong!

The weaker brother here is the one who’s conscience does not allow himself to eat food sacrificed to idols. The stronger brother is the one who has the freedom to do so, knowing that idols are not real and there is only one God, and in their freedom they are free to eat anything and answer to God with a clear conscience. The weak and strong are clearly defined. We tend to harp on the stronger brother (or sister) for being a stumbling block to the weaker, in many instances where we should not. For more on this, you can see what my friend, Matthew Neal on his Biblical Naturist blog, has done in a series called “You can’t do that!

We gloss over the even more lengthy instruction to the weaker brother to not pass judgment on the stronger brother who has more freedom. We also forget that these are disputable matters. Any opposing view, belief, or even conviction gets thrown out under the stumbling block excuse. Yes, stumbling blocks become an excuse to stunt growth and keep the weak in faith… weak!

Much has also been written on this passage at www.figleafforum.com. With a free account, you can access the archive and search “stumbling block” or any other phrase to research on your own.

In Fig Leaf Forum, Issue 097, Stumbling Over The Issue Of Stumbling Blocks , Jeffrey S. Bowman says:

We must remember that stumbling is not to simply disagree with the actions of the person. Also, if someone “stumbles” over truth, are they really “stumbling”? Not as I understand it. Should we be silent on the truth because it might offend? I don’t think so. A disagreement of opinion is a totally different issue with a totally different approach. 

In both texts Paul discusses the topics of eating meat offered to idols. He in essence says it doesn’t matter to God if you eat or not. In 1 Corinthians he even goes so far as to say there are no such things as ‘gods.’ They are made up in the minds of the people, so eating meat offered to them is no big deal. However, not everyone has such knowledge. In both places Paul defends the right to eat (or not). This is an often unacknowledged point of the texts. 

…Paul would have been violating his own command if it meant not discussing meat eating with “non-eaters.” He potentially offended the non-eaters by discussing it and then telling them that the meat eating doesn’t matter, but truth is more important than cultural misunderstanding. However, he would not have eaten the meat in front of them. This is the point of not causing your brother to stumble. 

In Fig Leaf Forum, Issue 099, Unexamined Stumbling Blocks, Steve of Colorado Springs CO writes:

Christians often equate all stumbling blocks with evil, but they err when they do this. Jesus Himself was prophesied in Isaiah 8.14 (and quoted by Paul in Romans 9.32-33) to be the biggest stumbling block the world had ever seen, for He tripped up a whole nation: “They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame.'” Our Lord Himself is the stumbling stone in this text, and He was placed there by His Father.

…So what do you think this implies for us? If you believe that we also will be stumbling blocks in the paths of highly religious, legalistic tares in the Church, just as our Lord was in His day, you are right! In fact, the more we look like Christ—that is, the more righteously we live—the more this will be true. Legalistic tares in the Church will hate us as much as they hated our Lord. 

In this article I quoted the great Charles Spurgeon on his take about smoking cigars to the glory of God, which may sound funny, but read his thoughts on Christian liberty and see if you agree! Romans 14:23 (ESV) is a great way to summarize the whole issue: But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

When it comes to so called modesty, this reigning philosophy actually does great harm. It places blame on girls for not covering enough of their bodies instead of making boys responsible for their own thoughts. As I’ve stated in other blogs the Duggars teach this religiously and it has not prevented tragedy.

Matthew West put out a satirical music video claiming “Modest is Hottest!” which backfired to the point he had to take it down. Victims of purity culture trauma and folks like myself who no longer like to designate anyone as “hot” as it is an objectifying term, saw through the well-done “light hearted” funny video and didn’t appreciate it. I have a great sense of humor. But I also have seen the futility of thinking that modest dress will curb anyone’s lust (which comes from their heart.) Churchleaders.com documented how this attempt at a silly little video fell so flat. It’s baffling still to me, how so many didn’t even see how his video could be anything but funny! I like Matthew West just fine, but I hope he learns from this misstep. It’s one prime and recent example among many as to why this commonly held belief is fundamentally flawed. There is a better way, and a time to grow up…

See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.