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!)

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?

Don’t Look Here!

(The problem of lust, part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s how I responded. I did not like porn, but I couldn’t ever quite shed it from my life. I knew it wasn’t good for me or my relationship with my wife. But even that knowledge and the “rules” did nothing to stay my desire. It was like Romans 7:7-8 (KJV) “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.” And a few verses later, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV) I was indeed asking the final question in this passage, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV) I felt like a dog returning to its vomit. I felt so much guilt and shame. I felt like I was a disappointment to God. As a result, I hated the body God gave me because of my actions toward it and the impure thoughts in my head. I wondered why most of the Christian men I know also expressed this lifelong struggle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes from “Christian Body”

Christian Body: Modesty and the Bible by Aaron Frost was one of the first books my wife and I read together after we began our journey into Christian naturism. I distinctly remember finishing it over a long weekend at a little cabin, spent entirely as created (nude). It was a special time, but as we read and highlighted certain quotes, I recall we both got fairly angry. What upset us as we read, was not the content itself, but rather that we had missed these fundamental principles for most of our lives. It angered us that our family, and Christian community was living the lie still, and completely unaware of the dangerous side effects of what we often call “modesty.”

We highlighted many passages– too many to cover in this short article, but for sake of time, let’s dive right into a few quotes from the book.

“The biblical response to pornography is not to cover the body, but to oppose sexual objectification with a shining example of Godly people who are not overpowered by the sight of God’s creation, but instead appreciate one another in our natural forms with honor, respect, and dignity.”

I had looked into Christian Naturism many years ago. I, like so many of those around me, disregarded it as implausible being raised with standards of “modesty.” That upbringing, however, did not stop me from developing an ongoing struggle with pornography. When I explored it further, I came to see that simple nudity and pornography are two very different things. My problem, which would overpower me, was the objectification of the body, not the sight of it. My mind equated it with a sexual connotation, not as God’s creation. As a result, I did not treat it with honor, respect, or dignity. That is the key to no longer be overpowered by lust. Respect and appreciation of God’s creation.

However eye-opening this was, here’s some of the parts that made us mad:

“When God first asked, “Who told you that you were naked?” it was apparently Satan who had told them this, but now it is missionaries who carry Satan’s message for him telling unaware people around the world that they are naked… For many cultures, which did not previously have a sexually perverted perception of the body, Christians have manufactured indecency where it never before existed… By this method, Christians in the name of so-called ‘modesty’ have spread some of the worst moral pollution around the world through bigoted and legalistic perceptions of morality that draw from pagan culture rather than God’s Word.”

Strong words in a harsh tone, but one that is deserved. I believe Christians aren’t knowingly and purposefully propagating these harmful ideas. That’s the clever and shrewd enemy, Satan. I’m angry at him. It took most of my life to learn we had been duped! 

Here is another example:

“Today, the once honorable and principled Japanese culture has largely adopted our Victorian modesty concept, and as a result has developed an exploding pornography and sex-trafficking trade and a deeply perverted culture of dysfunctional sexuality thanks to missionaries who bring Satan’s message telling the people that they are naked.”

And later he says, “We are making fools of ourselves and actively promoting the very error that has helped cause much of the perversion in our society!”

I’m sure that was never the intent of these missionaries, but they themselves have lived under the lie that began in the garden of Eden. Nakedness was a part of everyday life in Bible times, but the church embraced the lie early on.

“In today’s cultural climate, depictions of nudity are hastily labeled as pornography and strictly censored in many circles, but archeology frequently discovers original depictions of daily life in Bible times where workers, bathers, and the poor went about their business completely naked without any immoral innuendo or religions censure. This matches the unremarkable nudity mentioned several times in the Bible. Public nude bathing was a common practice for both Jews and Christians before, during, and after the time of Christ, and these nude bathing places were neither preached against nor even avoided by Jesus (John 5:1-7)… These ruined works of art show that the disdain and revulsion we hold for nakedness today did not always exist and was not originally contrary to Christianity but was introduced later and caused believers to go back and deface their historical artwork. The ‘Christian’ idea of indecency was an entirely foreign concept in early churches until long after the time of Christ.”

My wife and I had never really thought about this before. There were even some pictures of this censorship that we saw for the first time in this book. We only knew what we had grown up believing, which is what our well intentioned parents taught us, which they learned from their parents, and so on.

I suffered from an addiction to pornography and my wife had her own body issues. The collective wisdom of the church on these issues was not very helpful at all. This book eloquently stated for us how we had both achieved a lasting and permanent victory in both our areas of debilitating struggles.

“Men have consistently reported that this brought them victory over their struggle with pornography, and many women have discovered a new level of self-acceptance and confidence in the bodies God gave them after years of jealousy and debilitating insecurities. These are wonderful things that the family of God ought to be standing for rather than fighting against!”

“Unfortunately well-meaning, but very misguided Christians are often the most vocal group fighting against this freedom. Those who expend the most effort to keep themselves from the temptation of ‘worldly’ immodesty are the most hypersensitive and vulnerable to sexual temptation and addiction… I have been saying for some time now that if we were to remove modesty standards completely, the degrading, shameful pornography issue would wither and die a silent, forgotten death and many, many dysfunctional sexual vices in our culture would melt into obscurity.”

As I read, it was confirmation of what God had done in my life to eradicate this problem area for me. My wife began to see the changes in me and how what I would tell her about her own issues was also true. We both found freedom, and I pray that many others do as well. I vow that my children will not fall into the same traps that I fell into, and that my daughter would see herself as a beautiful creation of God, worthy of both respect and admiration. I pray the church would repent of its willful pride, misguided interpretation of modesty, and blind loyalty to the attitude of our enemy in seeing God’s crowning glory in creation as obscene and dirty. Sadly, the true filth is a mind that has not been renewed to see others as God does.

The Personal Manifesto of a Christian Naturist

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer. My beliefs and convictions regarding some new truth in my life are clearly laid out below. They are meant to be read in numerical order.

But first, a disclaimer. As mentioned, I did not always hold these beliefs. In fact, I resisted them for a very long time. In the same way, you might think some of this to be outlandish, far-fetched, if not crazy. I will admit the ideas espoused below at times sound like an oxymoron. While seemingly unconventional, I am grateful to have come to embrace these ideas. While I am passionate about this topic, it is secondary to my passion for the Christian faith and all that it entails. I must be obedient to the authority of God’s word where Scripture speaks. Where it is silent, less clear, or controversial, I hold fast to the postures of submission and humility. I will submit to the best interpretation available to me in my own thinking. If a better argument is presented, in humility, I must submit to it, trusting the Holy Spirit will guide me into truth.

Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church to take on an important issue in his day. The following (not 95, but rather 85) are my propositions for another issue of importance that is highly neglected in my day.

  1. I believe a robust theology of the body is sorely lacking in the church today.
  2. I believe these personal convictions of mine come out of much study, reading, and most importantly from the word of God.
  3. I believe hermeneutical principles of interpretation and historical context takes precedence over present day conditions or cultural assumptions when determining the biblical author’s intended meaning.
  4. I believe that to disregard something as untrue outright without studying it fully is never the best approach in regard to any topic. As Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.” This was me for many years, to my own dismay.
  5. I believe mankind was made in the image of God (Imago Dei), as male and female, and humankind is the crown (or pinnacle) of God’s glory in creation.
  6. I believe the union between a husband and wife is a sign of the desired union between God and his creation. One of the most common and powerful Scriptural analogies for the faith is that of a bride and groom’s marriage union, bound by a covenant. Scripture declares this truth with bookends, starting at the beginning in Genesis and ending with the wedding feast in Revelation. The many verses about adultery (and idolatry) prove that God is jealous (in a good way) and desires this relationship of fidelity with us.
  7. I believe sex in marriage is a beautiful expression of God’s love, especially when we correctly follow his plans and do not allow lust to pervade our hearts.
  8. I believe a wife should be able to fully trust her husband, and have no secrets and know that she is loved and adored above all else. Man is to rejoice in the wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18) and grow old together with her in loving harmony.
  9. I believe “sleep naked” is one of the best pieces of marital advice one could give.
  10. I believe man and woman were created naked and unashamed and this state was called “very good” by God. It is reasonably deduced that God intended humankind to be in the garden unencumbered and unclad, completely comfortable in the tropical-like climate of paradise, enjoying fellowship with one another and their Creator.
  11. I believe Adam and Eve covered themselves out of fear, not shame (Gen. 3:10). Their eyes had been opened to the knowledge of good and evil, and they knew they had disobeyed, so they hid. This is a natural reaction, but an unnatural act for them, because they had always enjoyed fellowship with God without any shame involved. Shame and guilt are not of God. They acted in this way before God came in pursuit of them.
  12. I believe it must be assumed that the serpent is the “who” of “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen. 3:11).
  13. I believe “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) started a lie that all of mankind has wrestled with ever since. Part of that lie is a distorted view of the body, that it is impure, dirty, lewd, or shameful in and of itself. As Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (Jn. 8:44) We must counter the lies from the father of lies, with the truth.
  14. I believe Satan still masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) to keep people trapped in wrong thinking. We must understand the Devil’s tactics, so as not to be fooled by them.
  15. I believe Satan is the ruler of the world and has employed an incredibly effective strategy for limiting the effectiveness of the church to combat a sexualized view of the body.
  16. I believe the devil is a deceiver, an imposter, and a counterfeit of all that is created as good. When we live as though the lie is true, we miss out on much of what God intended for our good.
  17. I believe the issues regarding the body and sexuality are most violently attacked by our enemy. He distorts this issue so much in so many ways because it’s such an effective strategy in the war he is waging with us. It’s no wonder Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, a chapter all about spiritual warfare, to gird our loins with truth!
  18. I believe God mercifully clothed Adam and Eve with skins, which were far superior to the man-made attempt of using fig leaves, knowing that this would be a physical necessity for protection in the harsh changing of the environment after the Fall. This clothing was not a moral necessity, and the unashamed naked state did not cease to be “very good” after sin entered the world.
  19. I believe dualism and gnostic heresies have crept back into the church and most are unaware of it.
  20. I believe this demonically-inspired way of thinking equates the naked state as sexual stimuli only. This creates a taboo for the simple sight of an unadorned body that is based on cultural bias, and is not founded in Scripture. We have been conditioned and socially programmed to view the body only through a sexual lens associating the fully exposed human anatomy with indecency and obscenity. This cultural indoctrination is dysfunctional, illogical, unnatural, God-dishonoring, and morally toxic.
  21. I believe you cannot find one prohibition against non-sexual nakedness in the Bible. In fact, if you study the cultural landscape at the time, it was no big deal.
  22. I believe nakedness, even in a non-sexual social setting is not a sin.
  23. I believe the verses used to object to naturism take verses out of context (issues of poverty or conquest or shameful acts not having to do with nakedness itself) and do not properly understand euphemisms and the nuance of the original languages. For example, the series of verses in Leviticus 18 stating “do not uncover the nakedness of” has a clear sexual connotation, which some translations make very clear.
  24. I believe God would not command someone to sin.
  25. I believe the prophets were often naked. In 1 Samuel 19 Saul was as naked as Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 (same word) all day and night, which had many asking, “Is Saul among the prophets?”
  26. I believe God commanded Isaiah to prophesy naked for 3 years in Isaiah 20.
  27. I believe work in the nude state was commonplace in Bible times and for centuries after, and it was not an issue as it is today.
  28. I believe even Jesus was naked in public at times, his baptism, washing the disciples feet, his crucifixion, and after his resurrection when mistaken for a gardener.
  29. I believe baptisms were conducted fully nude for a couple of centuries after the church was established. This was due to practicality and for it’s symbolism of being bare before the one to whom we must give an account.
  30. I believe many pieces of art depict these truths, some have been sadly censored throughout the years.
  31. I believe many naked cultures lived without much of the sexual baggage that we live with today. When missionaries told them they were naked, they introduced all sorts of problems that did not exist there previously. This is well documented in various cultures.
  32. I believe how we use our bodies can be impure and immoral (inappropriate sexual activity), but the body itself is not evil. Those who cannot easily reconcile truths in their minds often get hung up on the issue of lust, as was the case with me. Lust is a sin of the mind. Surely the allure of “forbidden” fruit is strong, but only as strong as we let it be in our own minds.
  33. I believe every Christian claims to seek after a renewed mind (Rom. 12:2), but few actually obtain it when it comes to this application.
  34. I believe lust is the root of many evils in society today: fornication, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, adultery, divorce, rape, prostitution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender confusion, and everything in between.
  35. I believe pornography has a strong hold on both society and the church. It is more accessible than ever, harming people at younger and younger ages. Sexual addiction is commonplace and becoming widely accepted. Calling it every man’s battle without true solutions is waving a white flag of surrender instead of fighting to win. Good intentions have done little to solve the problem.
  36. I believe man-made methods of guilt and shame will never work to sustain victory over pornography and are in complete opposition to God’s liberating truth. The best ideas and solutions the church has to offer fall desperately short of eradicating the root issue. Unfortunately, the church has lost credibility on this front and has no real voice of authority in this regard.
  37. I believe Christians, including leaders, need to have their minds renewed on all issues regarding the human body. Many thought I was effective in ministry for two decades, when a few people knew I, like so many others, was actually in bondage. As much as it pains me to say it, modesty standards that the church promotes actually do more harm than good and therefore make the church complicit in this epidemic.
  38. I believe prudery and pornography are two sides of the same coin, joined together by a hellish lie from the serpent in Genesis. The Victorian or puritanical “modest” covering up of certain parts of the body (which varies from place to place as to which parts) does more to cause others to objectify those parts, than if they were to remain uncovered.
  39. I believe it is possible to be chaste and modest while in the nude state. Conversely, it is also possible to be immodest while being covered up or even fully clothed.
  40. I believe modesty according to Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 is more of a holy humility than a clothing instruction. The instruction found there regarding clothing is to not be pridefully elaborate with gold or pearls or expensive clothes. Again, some articles of clothing and jewelry deemed as okay by the modesty movement are in many ways more prideful and fly in the face of Paul’s true teaching.
  41. I believe each one is tempted by their own evil desires. (James 1:13-15)
  42. I believe that a remarkable, real, and permanent victory over lustful thinking was easily achieved for me through the normalization of non-sexual nudity and a renewed mind, when conventional wisdom and tactics the church promotes got me nowhere.
  43. I believe using the methods employed by the church allowed me to have a few prolonged seasons of victory, but certainly not without a constant struggle. It took a renewed mind and a correct and godly view of the body to eradicate my problems with lust and objectifying women.
  44. I believe all bodies are beautiful as a sunset is beautiful. This is true regardless of shape or size or any deformity or blemish.
  45. I believe one can admire the human form as both the pinnacle of God’s creation and part of his very own image (Imago Dei) without falling into lust.
  46. I believe men can and do lust after women in clothing, everything from a burka to a bikini. In fact, the lust factor can be intensified with clothing as compared to a simple unadorned body.
  47. I believe all types of fornication and pornography are evil, degrading, damaging, and destructive to oneself and one’s relationships.
  48. I believe non-sexual nudity is not pornographic. It is actually the opposite. Normalizing non-sexual nakedness (sometimes known as ethical naturism) creates a powerful distaste for all things pornographic.
  49. I believe Hollywood and Madison Avenue have conditioned people to believe that airbrushed models are today’s definition of beauty and anything other than this is wrongfully considered more ugly and shameful.
  50. I believe this body shaming is also from the pit of hell. Millions of women (especially) are in a serious type of bondage without even knowing it. They need to know and truly believe in their hearts that they are beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God and others see them this way.
  51. I believe body acceptance, and self-love needs to occur for one to be at their greatest potential to love others well. (“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22:39) The world needs this message, and the church is mostly silent on the matter. Sadly, secular society is in many ways more biblical in this matter of body positivity than many Christians appear to be.
  52. I believe breastfeeding mothers are doing what is best for their babies and should never be shamed for it.
  53. I believe there IS hope, and the truth will make you free (Jn. 8:32).
  54. I believe my current views align with both God’s word and his heart, and I am at peace about my current conclusions.
  55. I believe freedom should be practiced in line with one’s own conscience without intentionally causing others to stumble (Rom. 14 and I Cor. 8). This point is often misunderstood and misapplied. An earnest study of these passages is needed. Even though fellow believers may disagree over certain convictions, controversial or critical ideas and ideals should not be avoided as a result.
  56. I believe that if one’s faith allows them to drink alcohol (in moderation, since the biblical prohibition is against drunkenness – Eph. 5:18) they should curtail those actions in the presence of the “weak” or uninformed brethren whose conscience would not allow it. In the same way, a Christian naturist should practice with those of a like mind or those who would not be offended by it. (Gal. 5:13).
  57. I believe it is virtually impossible not to offend someone somewhere, no matter how innocuous you might believe your actions to be. That is not the point. Jesus (the stumbling block – 1 Cor. 1:23) and Paul did not shy away from offending the stubbornly legalistic with truth. Paul chastises those who presume to make judgments about others with a freer conscience in Romans 14.
  58. I believe we must live in that tension, but abide by the rule of love, as much as possible, and make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Rom. 14:15, 19).
  59. I believe the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, but the adversary hurls accusations of shame and guilt. God’s tone is very different from Satan’s. God’s kindness leads us towards repentance (Rom. 2:4) where there is now no condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
  60. I believe my conscience is not seared, but rather those who have either a prudish or pornographic view of the body are the ones believing the lie, who need to reprogram their own thoughts.
  61. I believe Paul was right when he said in Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.”
  62. I believe Jesus was right to challenge the religious leaders who followed their own traditions (legalism) over God’s commands when he said in Mark 7:15, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
  63. I believe that even those who hate legalism can become legalistic on this issue.
  64. I believe Job was correct when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.” (Job 1:21a), and we continue to enter and exit this life this way.
  65. I believe decent people fall for the lie that nude is lewd and are corrupted by it, as I was for so long.
  66. I believe I am a biblical naturist by conviction, not simply for the relaxation and health benefits provided.
  67. I believe Vitamin D from the sun is great medicine and extremely therapeutic.
  68. I believe the simple act of shedding clothes can in many ways help to shed stress, anxiety, and many worries of the world.
  69. I believe bras are harmful for women and can cause many serious health concerns.
  70. I believe it would be silly to take a shower in a bathing suit, but not as silly as using a suit on a sandy beach.
  71. I believe certain nudists can engage in activities that go against my beliefs and convictions as a biblical naturist. Like in all other areas, there can be misuse or abuse of the freedom God allows.
  72. I believe naturism may not be for everyone and always must be practiced in the right environment.
  73. I believe God has used naturism to help many people heal from a number of issues that have plagued them for years.
  74. I believe when there is nothing to hide (in terms of clothing), pretense, phoniness and judgmentalism fall by the wayside and openness and honesty abounds. People and conversations become much deeper, more spiritual, and have greater authenticity.
  75. I believe many social nudists are not Christians, and this is a largely ignored group that also needs godly examples and tactful Christian witness.
  76. I believe that like many other facets of life, though logical arguments can be made in favor of a belief or activity, some things need to be experienced to be truly understood. (Faith in Jesus being the ultimate example.)
  77. I believe I’ve never been a better spiritual leader, both in my own home and in the church since embracing this new way of thinking.
  78. I believe I have never been closer to God. The freedom and love I feel from him and for him is different and greater, and I have been a Christian my whole life. That is to say nothing of the close connection to God through nature that is an added bonus.
  79. I believe my wife and I are closer than we have ever been before, and we had a great marriage before renewing our minds on this subject.
  80. I believe we should porn-proof our children by normalizing the body, and alleviating the mystique that traps so many into bondage.
  81. I believe a strong and healthy relationship and open dialogue with our children will raise them up to love their own bodies and souls as well as those around them.
  82. I believe my parents raised me as they thought was right, and I in turn started to raise my kids the same way, which I now regret.
  83. I believe I am a better version of myself, and have finally embraced who God created me to be, as he intended from the beginning.
  84. I believe that if you tried to convince me that my former way of thinking about these things is more favorable than my current view, it would not make me want to revert. The thought of returning to my previous state of mind, feels like putting myself and my wife back in the very bondage from which we have been liberated by God’s grace.
  85. I believe you must find the truth of God for yourself. The principle in Romans 14:5 is a wise one: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

(This is my personal manifesto as of the time of it’s writing. It’s not intended to be true of all Christian naturists, although many may identify with much of what has been said.)

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.

The Depraved and Renewed Mind in Romans

I remember memorizing large chunks of the book of Romans when I was a teenager. It was a required text one year when I was on the Bible Bowl team at my church. Romans 1 begins Paul’s train of logic to show how depraved the unredeemed mind is and why all people need a Savior. These texts have taken on new meaning since I have embraced a Christian naturist lifestyle.

Naturists claim to experience a close connection to creation and to their Creator through their practices. Another wonderful benefit from this lifestyle is the reversing of the polarity in terms of the body and it’s connection to sexual impurity. Allow me to explain.

Sexual sin and objectifying the body through lust has been one of the most damaging of all evils in society since the beginning of time.

Our enemy viciously exploits this issue, and we give him more than a foothold! The root of the problem is in how you look at the body, whether a source of shameful lewdness or as the pinnacle of God’s creation.

Romans 1:20 says, “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Creation speaks and testifies to God’s goodness. As the crowning glory of His creation, we too should exercise dominion over creation and reflect God’s glory as image bearers that we are. But there is a problem.

The text continues in verse 21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” This is a clear reference to idols. What is an idol? It’s anything that comes before God in his rightful place over all things. We know an idol does not have to be a little statue or figure of some sort. One idol I struggled to put down for half my life was the lust of the flesh.

I’ll be honest (I’ve become more open and vulnerable since embracing naturism), I had addictive behaviors when it came to this vice. I didn’t like it, but this bondage was my dirty secret.

The text connects sexual immorality to the downward spiral in verse 24: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” We will come back to this, but the idea culminates in verse 28, “…they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”

I never cheated on my wife in a physical way, but Jesus’ words about looking lustfully at a woman being just like adultery cut like a dagger. The passage in Romans goes on to detail many more shameful acts that stem from the depraved mind. Verse 25 is a key to the whole chapter and to this issue as a whole. It came to mind in a fresh way as I spent an entire week with no clothes in a rented villa in Florida with five other nude couples. That may sound strange to many, but this was actually a marriage retreat! The only thing I wore was my wedding ring. I never once experienced the feelings of old, lusting after another woman, objectifying or judging anyone’s body. The company of naked people around me never aroused anything but love for God and healthy respect for each other. In fact, we shared some of the most open and honest and spiritual conversations I’ve ever had in my life!

What made the difference? I changed the way I think about the body, and the former issues vanished.

The truth of God is that all people are his image bearers and precious in his sight. This sounds elementary, but like the depraved of Romans 1, we can easily exchange the truth of God for a lie. The world does not take this high and sacred stance on people. We can take our cues from the world rather than from God. When our minds are not redeemed, we devalue humanity, not respecting their inherent worth as God’s image bearers. My past issues with lust were a practical application of worshipping the created rather than the Creator.

Now having embraced naturism, if I see another human, whether clothed or not, I see the pinnacle of God’s creation. Like a sunset or the Grand Canyon, I praise God for their beauty. The definition of beauty is no longer the shallow and unrealistic values of the world. Everyone is beautiful, however they are created. I no longer worship the created, I now worship the Creator and forever praise Him. It’s a much better way to live! My relationship with my wife is obviously much improved as she trusts me and knows that I see her as the most beautiful of all God’s creations.

You may say, this text is about those who are apart from Christ. The next chapter, though, begins, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1) The chapter that follows in desperation claims, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) Salvation is not a guarantee that all will be easy and well. We will still struggle with sin. Chapter 6 starts out with the question, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2) The next chapter confesses, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) This was my experience as a Christian and as a pastor even!

Romans is so rich, but for the sake of time, chapter 12 urges us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(Romans 12:2) There it is. If you don’t want the depraved mind of chapter 1, don’t exchange the truth of God for the lie of the world. Choose instead to redeem your mind! We do this in the Christian life in many areas. However, we typically admit defeat in the area of lust, which was my idol.

We say it would be impossible to restore the innocence of Eden in the area of lust, because we live in a fallen world. Yes, mankind was naked and unashamed in the garden, but that was before sin. You couldn’t possibly live nude with other people and not fall into sexual impurity, at the very least in the thought life. (At the time of this writing) I just got home from that very experience and can testify that this is a false notion.

We don’t use that excuse in any other area. You wouldn’t counsel a habitual liar to give up trying to be truthful, because after all, we live in a fallen world. Adam and Eve were truthful before the fall, but lied immediately after sinning. We don’t expect to never be truthful anymore since humanity’s truthful state was before sin, and now we are fallen. No, we want to redeem our minds and not conform to the pattern of the world, and we want to overcome the fallenness of the world and live differently, offering our whole selves (our bodies) as a living sacrifice. It would be foolish to remain a liar. 

You see my point? Why do this with every offense against God and man, but throw in the towel on lust. Why agree with the world that the simple sight of another person will evoke a sexual response and do nothing about the root issue? The best advice I gave as a pastor was to avert the eyes from looking at what tempts you, but I, myself, ignored that advice when no one was looking at me. We try to manage the symptoms only, without offering a cure. It’s like trying to treat a viral infection with an antacid tablet.

I worshipped created beings. The answer is so simple. Worship the Creator. 

I’m no longer tempted to fall into impure thoughts or sinful acts anymore. I thought I’d never grow out of it. I just held onto a worldy depraved mind (unredeemed) in that area. I lived and taught that God wanted us to live according to his truth, but I exchanged his truth for the lie of the world and it’s standards and morals (or lack thereof).

The final verse to highlight would be from Romans 16:19, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” The human body is not evil. The heart can be. A depraved mind certainly is. The human body is good and beautiful, especially when viewed with the innocence of Eden, having a holy respect for all people. I believe it’s impossible to worship the Creator while at the same time be selfishly devaluing one of his creations. That is plain evil, and having been redeemed, we are called to a much higher standard. I choose redemption over depravity!

The Real Scandal

The term Christian Naturist sounds like an oxymoron to the average church-goer. It is considered taboo. There is a stigma around it, often due to ignorance of the actual ethical philosophies of naturism. Many Christians who believe that naturism is not only permissible as a believer, but can also enhance one’s faith in many ways, get the impression that they are all alone in the world– that if they were found out by others, it would be downright scandalous.

Could it be that the real scandal is that they are made to feel this way? Could there be a greater scandal at work? Let me set the stage with an example that sadly, is all too familiar in this day and age.

Could there be a greater scandal at work?

I will warn you, it’s about to get real in here. What follows is not for the faint of heart. With that out of the way, let’s take an honest look at the culture around us and the typical church’s response.

Our culture is overtly sexualized. This plays itself out not just in the porn industry but also leads to fornication, adultery, divorce, rape, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, prosititution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender confusion, and everything in between. It looks a bit like Sodom and Gomorrah out there! Marketers use sex to sell everything from bras to burgers and shove images of objectified women (mostly) in our faces constantly, whether we want it or not. 

As a result, women are plagued with self-esteem and body image issues, feeling as if they are not good enough if they don’t look like an airbrushed model from the magazines. 

Around 50-75% of men in evangelical churches struggle with pornography to some degree or another. That’s an alarming statistic that should cause us all to repent and seek the Lord and real answers in his word. We are indoctrinated and conditioned to view the body as lewd, indecent, obscene, and lust enticing. Nothing could be further from the truth. This age old lie from Satan has us all messed up. The lie is that the body is shameful. The real shame is that the Gnostic heresy of dualism is alive and well in the church today, and most are unaware of it!

The church’s efforts to combat this pervasive epidemic is to hide the body and resist every sort of temptation, as if that were possible! It’s proven to be a losing battle in our culture. Man-made methods of will-power combined with the guilt and shame of accountability is the church’s best idea to curb the lust problem, but all it does is put money in the software developer’s accounts and does nothing about the root issue. Guys can cheat any system out there if they are determined and addicted enough.

All of these feeble attempts exchange the truth for a lie. The lie keeps the world in bondage. The truth (according to Jesus) “shall make you free” -John 8:32.

How does this lie manifest itself in marriages? Divorce is rampant because we call evil good and good evil. Husbands who grew up with a sexualized view of the body are trapped in the allure of the forbidden. Wives don’t trust them as a result. As a couple they don’t connect with each other intimately to the level that God had planned for them. This makes the husband feel unloved and he acts out through porn and masturbation, which makes the wife trust him less and feel like she is never good enough. The vicious cycle continues on and on. Her lack of trust, his feeling unloved, over and over again. Until the wife in desperation and in a moment of weakness tells the husband to take care of himself! How far have they both strayed from God’s perfect plan for marriage! It’s not what she wants. It’s not even what he wants. More importantly, it’s not what God wants or intended for them.

There has to be a better way! And there always has been. God’s plan was perfect, if followed correctly. Sin has perverted everything God made very good in the beginning (After creating male and female in his image he said, “it was very good.” -Genesis 1:31 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” -Genesis 2:25).

Christian naturists are not only aware of this scandal, they are repulsed by it and by the many seemingly innocent and culturally acceptable ways it plays out. Professional cheerleaders flaunt accentuated bodies in sensual ways to the “delight” of adoring fans. Not many in the church would admit to watching them closely, but instead simply accept it as a part of sports and entertainment. That display, as well as what is on every textile beach is often times more sexual in nature than any nude beach. Bikinis prop up and hide just enough mystery to cause men with corrupted minds to wander and fantasize. However, this is generally accepted in our fallen culture. Those sensual dance moves sadden the hearts of true Christian naturists who have learned to honor the body as God’s image, and people as his image-bearers. A renewed mind with the humble (true meaning of modesty) appreciation of God’s masterpiece with the respect it deserves has an almost unbelievable way of making the lust problem evaporate!

The church’s response, again, is prudish in nature, not knowing or acknowledging that prudery is the evil twin of the sexualized view of the body. Though they are thought to be opposites, they are indeed cut from the same cloth.

David L. Hatton has written a wonderful book entitled, “Meeting at the River – A Tale of Naked Truth.” I will conclude this article with a few quotes from that book that go along with this idea that the true scandal is not that a Christian would embrace the naturist lifestyle, but that everyone else is operating under the same lie that the crafty serpent fed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

“In one breath, the body is declared a holy temple. In the next, it is called a lustful enticement. This is why God withholds His hand of deliverance from believers who get entangled with lustful images of the naked body. He cannot liberate their minds when they believe their defilement comes from the beauty of His handiwork. It is in that very beauty that His truth flourishes. If they knew this rightly, the truth would set them free. Instead, they shun that beauty! But tell me, brother, how well does this false teaching of shame deliver those trapped in such corruption?”

Most Christian naturists believe the same things the church preaches about fornication, adultery, lust, and pornography. They do not stand for these things. Quite the opposite! They have zero tolerance for them. They have accepted the truth about the body as the glory and image of God, his prized creation. They share the conviction that the “modesty” movement of the Victorian era and Puritanical values has had a reverse and damaging effect on society, causing many of the very troubles it was meant to address.

I love the church. It’s the bride of Christ. I’m not angry at the church, per se, but rather at the ancient serpent who stole our innocence and pulled the wool over our eyes! We are to be in the world, but not of the world. God calls us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable… And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” -Romans 12:1-2.

Lust abounds where minds are not renewed, in the corrupted minds of men and women who believe the lie. That is the real scandal. This is our culture. It is not working. Who could say that it is? Truth has to change us at a personal level. 

Hatton makes the following assertions that support the sad reality of this real scandal, but give hope to overcoming it once and for all: “Widespread religious support for a demonic lie cannot alter its falsehood.” And, “Christians will never have a radical reformation in how they view the naked body, until they can distinguish their devotion to culture from their understanding of Scripture.” And thankfully, “Truth always turns a wayward world right side up!”

Renewed Minds

One phrase you’ll read a lot in the posts to come is that of a renewed mind. We believe the renewing of our mind is a key part of the Christian life (See Romans 12:1-2). No one would debate this, but when it comes to the theology of the body, this notion of renewing our minds doesn’t seem to apply anymore. Why do I say this?

As a man, it’s generally believed that boys will be boys, or every man has a battle with lust, and that’s just how it is and how it’s always going to be. I believed that lie for a very long time, until I renewed my mind on how I view the body. Still not tracking? Watch this video… and be sure to watch until the end:

A renewed mind is critical to get beyond the battle of lust. Believe me! If you want to read more about this, I would suggest www.mychainsaregone.org.

My wife also needed a renewed mind. But hers is a little different. For her, it was not so much how she sees everyBODY else, it was more about how she sees herself. For most of her life, she did not believe she is beautiful, which to me (and the casual observer) is just CRAZY! She had to stop listening to the lies that plague so many women to see that she is fearfully and wonderfully made (on the inside AND the outside). She had heard Psalm 139:14 many times. She heard me tell her how beautiful she is countless times, but her mind was not renewed on this issue. Watch what happens when you start to believe the truth and stop believing the lies as if they were true:

Men who are in bondage to lustful thinking with no end in sight…

Those who have tried everything the Christian books suggest…

Just renew your mind.

Women in bondage to low self-esteem…

Those who feel they will never measure up…

Just renew your mind.

Renew. Your. Mind.

In the Beginning

Nothing could have prepared me for the conversation that would take place in my living room on that October day. It started like any other Friday. My husband works from home on Fridays, so they are generally very laid back. I had been watching a baking show on Netflix and was on the last episode and wanted to finish the season so I grabbed my coffee and sat down on the couch to watch. My hubby made me french toast that morning. It was very thoughtful of him, but looking back, he was probably buttering me up a bit. When he was done with breakfast he sat down on the love seat and “watched” with me. I do recall him being on his phone more than watching though.

When the show was over I started to get up, that’s when it happened. “We need to talk.” he said. My first thought was, “Oh dang!” I sat back down and got comfortable. As stated, I sensed this was going to be a doozy, and I wasn’t wrong.

He took his phone and started reading a script he had prepared ahead of time. The first few sentences out of his mouth had me wondering if he had had an affair. They went something like, “We’ve loved each other a long time. You’re the only one for me.” I sensed a HUGE “but” coming.  Then it came. “I’m a nudist.” First thoughts on that phrase, “Duh.” I had known for a long time that he enjoyed being nude. I knew that as a teenager he would streak around his house and sometimes he and his friends would hang out nude. I knew that when the kids were not home he liked being nude and sometimes I would join him. I knew he liked skinny dipping. I knew that when we had gone camping just a few months earlier that he had been nude 95% of the time. I knew all of this about him so why did this feel like a big deal? There had to be more… and there was. 

He revealed to me that he was part of an online community of Christian naturists (oxymoron in my book).

I started to feel anger rise up in me. “What does that even mean?,” I asked. He explained that he had become friends with other people who happened to enjoy being nude and who happened to be Christians. He told me that they were actually praying for us at that very moment because they knew he was going to be talking with me that morning. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I kind of felt ganged up on.

I knew he had struggled with pornography in the past, but this was taking it to a whole new level. Justifying seeing naked people because they are Christian naturists. It’s just taking something that is obviously wrong and twisting it so you feel like it’s ok.

I was livid! The tears began to flow because that’s what I do when I’m angry and hurt. He assured me it wasn’t like that, and that it was actually the total opposite. He reminded me how he had struggled with porn for the last 20 years and had tried over and over to defeat it. I knew that, because he had been honest with me about it several times. He went on to say that he had hit rock bottom and in his climb out of the pit he came across naturism. It wasn’t the first time he had crossed paths with naturism, but because of things we were taught in church and in a Christian upbringing he had dismissed it thinking it had to be wrong. He had met a man, a former pastor actually, who had directed him to a website, www.nakedandunashamed.org. Because of this man, and others, and ultimately the Lord working in his heart and mind, the chains of pornography had fallen away. His mind had been renewed and he no longer looked at other women lustfully, but as image bearers of God. He now saw others through eyes of admiration for a Creator instead of eyes of lust. I wasn’t convinced, but I sensed something inside me telling me to remain calm and hear him out. I know that voice, I’ve heard it before. It was the Holy Spirit, so I listened. 

He went on to share with me his thoughts that maybe naturism could help me overcome my own body shaming issues.

He told me of a lady in his online community that had just joined their group to catch her husband cheating and ended up becoming a naturist herself after reading all of the Christian evidence for the naturist lifestyle. He thought maybe I could do the same. Never in a million years

He gave me 3 options to think on. Now that I had this information, here were my choices:

  1. Forbid him from being in the group. He hoped I wouldn’t choose this option.
  2. Allow him to be a naturist and participate in the group, but not participate myself. He also said this would not be ideal.
  3. Check it out for myself, and hopefully join him in naturism. 

I told him several times that I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place because I didn’t really feel like I had options. 

I couldn’t choose option #1 because that would be like spitting in the face of the fact that he had had a supposed lasting victory over pornography. I couldn’t choose option #2 because I didn’t want him seeing a bunch of naked ladies without me knowing what he was seeing and doing. I didn’t trust him again yet. If I wanted to stay married to him my only option was #3. I contemplated whether I did want to stay married or not. Even though I knew #3 was my only option for a happy and healthy marriage, I wasn’t sure I could make this work or wanted to. We could lose everything after all. If anyone were to find out, our lives would be ruined. After listening to his prepared speech, I hugged him and thanked him for being honest with me. As angry as I was I knew it took balls to share and confess what he had.

As usual on our Fridays, we decided to go to lunch. As we sat and ate, mostly in silence, I began to think of questions I wanted to ask. They weren’t questions for the middle of a restaurant so I waited until we got in the car. I asked if he had shared pictures of himself in this group. He said very matter of factly that he had. Again anger raised its ugly head, but I get quiet when I’m angry. We decided to go for ice cream. Maybe it would help cool me down. On the way home I was hit with what I later started calling a wave of anger and threw my ice cream out the window. We again sat in silence.

The first several days were an emotional roller coaster. The more we talked, the more he revealed his heart and his past. There were hard questions and hard answers. These were hard things. Harder than I could have imagined, but the more he shared the more God broke my heart and opened it to this wounded, yet healed man. I could tell he was different. His spirit felt different. He prayed with me and for me and even cried for me to be free of the scales over my eyes. There was a lot of spiritual warfare going on. Voices in my head continuously threatened me with phrases like, “You’ll never be enough!” and “He’s lying to you.” or  “You’re still fat.” and “You thought you could actually do this? You’ll never be free!” On several occasions I would feel a weight on my chest like I couldn’t breathe. I prayed so much!  

We read so many things together. One of the resources we came across a website called www.mychainsaregone.org. We read the Bible. The more I read, the angrier I got, but not at my husband. I was angry at the enemy, and his deception, and the lies. I began to feel myself leaning into this lifestyle. I couldn’t share that with him though, because I was afraid he would push me too hard. Besides, I still hated how I looked. There was no way I was going to let anyone see me naked. I might be nude while camping next time, but no way social nudity was part of this for me. Finally I asked to see his groups and some friends he had made and messages of praying for us.

“Could it be real that these people aren’t perverts?” I definitely hadn’t seen anything perverted within his group. 

He gave me an assignment of standing in front of the mirror naked and saying outloud to myself, “I am beautiful.” I laughed when he gave me this assignment telling him there was no way I was going to do that. I did though. I sent him a picture the first day with the words “I am beautiful” written on it. He said, “Nice picture, but I don’t believe you.” He was right, I didn’t believe it. I was just trying to end this silly game! I didn’t do it the next day because I thought this assignment was stupid. I did day 3 and then, on day 4 I looked at myself and said, “I am beautiful, I am beautiful.” and it was like a veil was lifted from my eyes. I physically felt it. I got this smirk on my face and thought, “Oh crap, he’s right, I AM beautiful!”  For the first time since I can remember, I actually thought I was beautiful… extra pounds and stretch marks and dimples and all. I took another picture that day and sent it to him. This time he said right away that he could tell I actually believed it. 

The next night I did something I never thought I would do and only days before I had said never in a million years. I joined that group and told of the transformation that had happened in my mind and heart in only a matter of days. October 18th was the day we began the worst conversation that turned into the best conversation. October 24th was the day I became a naturist by Biblical conviction. Oh, and a week after I threw my ice cream out the window we went back and got some more and laughed and enjoyed the healing that was taking place.