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?!?
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!)
If I led a marriage retreat, what follows is what I would want to say and do. It’s not what I would actually do, but it’s what I would want to try out and see how many lives and marriages would benefit from it.
We would gather in a conference room as is typically done. Then my wife and I would announce we’d be right back to begin and exit briefly. Moments later, we come back and stand in the front of the room, stark naked. Jaws would drop, eyes would be shielded, and tensions would rise immediately. If not thrown out by this point, I would begin to diffuse the situation. Here’s what I would say:
This will be the most unorthodox and possibly life-changing marriage retreat you’ll ever encounter. The most memorable one for sure! In case you haven’t noticed by now, my wife and I, your leaders for this weekend, are completely naked and exposed. And yet you are all still alive! Relax, no one is going to die. Just imagine that we are some painting in a museum or a sculpture, and you’ll be fine, I promise. We will be sharing our story honestly with you which also makes us even more vulnerable than we already are!
Before we do that, can I make a few observations? Normally we separate men and women to talk of sensitive information apart from one another. This is usually done after the ice has been broken with some sort of game. I’d say the ice is broken already, and it hasn’t done much good to be separate to talk about intimate issues in the past, so while we’re being open and transparent, let’s all stay together and talk very frankly with each other.
My wife and I are naked, and we are unashamed, just like Adam and Eve were described in Genesis 2:25. This is why my wife and I like to refer to the very comfortable-for-us state of undress not so much as nude, but rather “as God intended.”
Like Job said in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.” Is there a textile industry in heaven? Fashions? Brands? Models? I seriously doubt it! I hope not! So if this is the way we are born, and it’s what heaven will be like, why not start getting ready for it?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this was God’s ideal before sin. And now that we are on this side of the fall, it’s all changed, and we can’t regain that innocence. Some might even accuse me of immanentizing the eschaton (look it up!). I mean, Jesus did teach us to pray in Matthew 6 saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”! And we all usually try to improve things here on earth, bringing a bit of heaven on earth. That’s not a bad thing. There is enough hell on earth as it is!
You may also be thinking that God invented clothes when he made them skins. But no, Adam and Eve invented clothes when they sewed together fig leaves. God’s skin aprons improved their fig leaf invention, and set them up to have protection and warmth in a new harsh environment outside of Eden. This was an act of grace.
You may think they covered themselves out of shame. You’ve heard this a million times and you agree with that notion. But the text says they hid because they were afraid (Genesis 3:10). Shame is not mentioned, except for the fact that they were naked without shame (Genesis 2:25). They were married. Did they suddenly have to cover up in front of one another? No one else was around! In fact, God asks them in Genesis 3:11, “Who told you that you were naked?” Who is the only other character in the Garden? The serpent– the one who hates the image of God, and has used this type of brokenness to his advantage and our detriment ever since the beginning.
We can do this debate thing and present arguments for all the objections that certainly are rising up in you right now. We can talk about the commonplace of nakedness in Bible times, the euphemisms used in the Bible to denote sexual acts over simple nakedness, the universal practice of nude baptism for centuries, and much much more. Many books have been written on the topic. But I have a greater goal in mind for this moment. This is not why you are here. The fact is, you are married. And if you’re anything like us or most of the Christians I know, there are some common misconceptions about the body as the image of God that you may be believing that are hurting your relationship. These are very serious matters and get overlooked in our churches. Some of you guys are caught up in pornography and feelings of lust as you objectify other women. You know it’s not God-honoring, you don’t even like it, but you don’t know how to stop. It makes your wife feel terrible about herself. Some of you ladies won’t even undress in front of your husbands with the lights on. You are both accosted by baggage that stems from issues regarding your bodies and sexuality. Like gnostic heretics of old, you tend to view the body with a dualistic split, the body as bad and the spirit as good, and you wish you could unify the two so they can be intertwined as a whole and call it good.
Well, you can! And that would be correct. That’s what God did. In Genesis 1:31, after God created woman he called the crowning glory of his creation “very good.” And I don’t think God is one to change his mind on something of such great importance! The godly and holistic approach is to not separate body from the soul, from the whole person. When you separate body from soul, we have a name for that – death. Bodies are not bad in and of themselves. What you do with your body may be wrong, a twisted distortion of what God intended for good. But your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
This woman you see before you in all her glory, is beautiful, is she not? Well, she didn’t believe she was for over 20 years of her life! That’s tragic. What’s even more sad is that it’s typical, and it grieves the very heart of God. You are all made in God’s image, imago Dei, and precious to Him, and fearfully and wonderfully made. As for me and my house, we now see beauty in everyone, as we see others as God sees them. We should not take our cues from Hollywood or from a sex-crazed culture with their phony and shallow definition of beauty, or their ideas about sexuality. You are beautiful… full stop! Body acceptance is extremely important, and a spiritual issue in your Creator’s eyes. Be body positive with yourself and others. Be body friendly to yourself. Love yourself, the someBODY who God made you to be. You were bought with a price, and that price was Jesus’ own life (see 1 Corinthians 6:20). Christopher West points out that if you are punched in the face, you don’t make a property damage claim, but rather a personal assault claim. Our bodies are an intrical part of who we are as persons. It’s part of our personhood. When we divorce body from soul, it becomes less important what we do to or with our bodies. I’m convinced and convicted that we have gotten this all wrong. There is a hole in our theology, to quote a friend. We should treat our bodies and other people’s bodies as more sacred. The answer to our struggles is not to reject the body, but to redeem our bodies.
Ladies, some of you are like my wife, who thought that to despise her body was a mark of humility. It’s not. It just isn’t. Humility isn’t hating yourself. It’s thinking rightly about yourself. God said to love your neighbor as yourself. Hating your body isn’t noble and it spits in the face of your maker. You can’t love others well if you don’t love yourself in a holy way.
Our culture tries hard to send my wife and your wife messages all day, every day, on how they need to work hard to be more attractive. The standard is young skinny, airbrushed, and photoshopped models. It’s not even real! An impossible standard, and not true or natural beauty in my opinion. In fact, I tell my wife all the time, “You are the standard by which all beauty is measured.” Does she have stretch marks? Yes, she’s had four babies. That’s beautiful. Does she carry more weight? Have cellulite? Yes, and that’s ok. Even the model is insecure about some body part. We all have the same parts. Some parts are bigger, some are smaller, some sag, others don’t. It doesn’t matter! We are beautiful as the pinnacle of God’s creation and vary in our beauty the way that no two trees are alike. I love that!
What else do you notice? She is not just a collection of body parts. She has a heart. She is my wife and your friend. But if you were to objectify her, reducing her to an object or a piece of meat, that would be demeaning, but typical in our sex-obsessed culture. She doesn’t have to be naked for you to do that! In fact, now that she is and leaves nothing to the imagination, the simple and natural beauty kind of loses its allure to be sexualized doesn’t it?
Plus she’s not up here in any sort of seductive pose or inviting you in with her eyes or expressions or anything. She is simply being, a human being. And you guys, being in a public setting are honoring her, and respecting her and not resorting to any animalistic behavior even though there is a naked woman who is not your wife right in front of you in person. Perhaps if she was a stranger, not a friend, and on a screen, and you were not in public, but in complete privacy, the story would be different. What’s up with that?
My story is that I was addicted to porn. It was a struggle, I thought it would go away when I got married. It didn’t. I was in church leadership and I had this gnawing problem in secret. I tried all the things they say to do, even accountability. But it doesn’t work, none of it does. You can cheat it if your mind is depraved enough. If you don’t address the root of the issue, it’s only better temporarily on the surface. You can brush cobwebs back, but unless you kill the spider, you’ll deal with cobwebs forever. The only thing that works was being made free in Christ. The truth set me free, not for a brief and momentary victory, but a forever change. I don’t think the same way anymore. My mind has been renewed. I can appreciate beauty as a creation of God, an icon of his image, but no longer reducing it down to an idol for self-gratification. Romans 1 describes those with a depraved mind as exchanging the truth of God for a lie, and worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator. We can’t lust and worship at the same time!
I don’t bounce my eyes when I see a beautiful sunset! I praise God for it. What boggles minds is that I can look upon a clothed or even a naked woman, without lust in my heart. Like a former alcoholic who can walk down the liquor aisle at the super market without any temptation, I have no desire to cheapen God’s gift or disrespect another human being, most importantly my own wife.
We act as though lust is the only sin that Jesus cannot help us overcome this side of heaven. We throw up our hands and say it’s a fallen world, so don’t even try. But we don’t do that with any other sin! We renew our minds and God does the work for us without our help.
Or you can choose to stay in bondage. You say it will always be a struggle, and it will be. You make extra rules God never imposed to serve as safeguards, and just like with every rule ever made, it gets broken. Thank God for grace and a better way forward!
Now having been surprised into freedom, as this woman’s husband, I’ve committed to her that only she would be responsible for causing me to become aroused. This may vary from person to person, but I determined that I will not masturbate. This amazing woman, who I love and with whom I have a deep relationship, she has a direct role in every one of my sexual responses. I have this not as a rule that I must abide by, and struggle every day to maintain. No, it’s actually a joy to live by that commitment. As I said, that didn’t used to be the case at all. I cheaply would give away my release of personal gratification to many other strangers on screens because of looking lustfully at them. Jesus (in Matthew 5) would call that adultery. I cheated on her. Never in person, but it’s still cheating! I’m done trying to justify it. Jesus was right. It’s not a victimless act! It hurt this woman. It hurt me too. It made me less of a husband, father, and leader. I decided I didn’t want to be an adulterer any longer.
I decided to reject the lies that as men we are wired to be visual and to react sexually (either in thought or deed) whenever I see exposed skin. We have been conditioned by our society and if we are being honest our teaching in the church supports these worldly views, which are dehumanizing at the core. It’s an old gnostic heresy, thought to be done away with, but it’s alive and well in this room today.
Puritan and Victorian attempts at modesty aim to cover up what is deemed a temptation. But the truth is, whatever is covered is automatically objectified. Imagine if we had a body taboo for elbows! We’d suddenly treat elbows as if they were seductive and ask women to cover up their elbows so we could control ourselves. That’s crazy! We can control ourselves without your help. Some of you ladies are well intentioned, but dressing modestly can become a prideful way to try and take the place of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need your arbitrary dress code standards to make men pure. Only men can control their thoughts. But if we tell men, that every man battles impure thoughts every day, they will battle impure thoughts every day! And then they’ll lose and blame the woman for not dressing appropriately enough to meet some arbitrary standard!
Cultures that commonly expose the breast, have an innocence about it and don’t sexualize it or fantasize about it. It’s a problem in OUR thinking and in OUR conditioning.
The sight of someone (who is naked or clothed) does not cause you to lust. That’s a lie that needs to be completely rejected. By that logic, we would have to conclude that the sight of banks causes greed, or the sight of bakeries causes gluttony. We better take down all the signage and cover those places under a large tarp! Or do our actions regarding their visual stimuli actually matter more than the supposed temptation they produce? James actually says each man is tempted, not by God or anyone other than himself and his own lust (my paraphrase of James 1:12-15).
Bathsheba is often blamed for David’s sin of adultery because she was bathing on the roof in full view of David. This was common. Bathing on the roof or in the river in mixed company was standard operating procedure in those days. David is the guilty party here. He saw and wanted to take what wasn’t his for his own satisfaction. That’s why the prophet Nathan strongly rebuked David and called Bathsheba an innocent lamb (see 2 Samuel 11 and 12).
Guys, some of you need to take a hard look at yourselves, and how you view women. Take note throughout the course of one day, how many times you objectify other women and have thoughts of lust or coveting. Then you need to think about renewing your mind on the whole way you view all of it, the way you are right now with my wife here. You are honoring her and respecting her as made in the image of God and worthy of dignity on the merits of that fact alone. She is my wife, and you are respecting that fact too in my presence and in the presence of your wife. Your wife is beautiful too, but I don’t want her, because she’s yours, and I have all I need right here.
My wife doesn’t have to “put out” enough to “protect” me and help me stay pure. That’s my job. If I was going on a business trip, bless her heart, she’d make sure to have sex with me the night before. She learned this at various marriage retreats. The problem is, that fix (sex not for relationship, but out of duty) is only good for about 20 minutes, if your mind is depraved enough! Now that I’ve renewed my mind, I don’t need “protective” sex to remain pure. And it’s so easy now that I changed the way I think on these things.
I’m sure your minds are blown! I can’t read your minds, but I’m guessing this isn’t what you expected for this marriage retreat. I hope it challenges you to make changes and helps more than any other instruction we could have brought.
Our best advice for any marriage is to start sleeping naked, both of you. It’s incredible! And pajamas are really weird. You’ll have health benefits and feel closer together if you’ll do it. What about the kids? Don’t worry about that. In fact this is one of the best way to porn-proof your kids. I wish we had done this when they were younger.
Hey, I know it was so awkward when we came out here like this. A few people went storming out of here, and I bet this struck a real nerve with them and maybe you too. But as time has gone by, is it a little less awkward? Did you even forget we were naked as you listened to our story? Continuing to talk frankly, if some of you guys with conditioned reactions that immediately equate nudity with sex got tight in the pants at first, I bet by now you’ve relaxed, as the non-sexual brand of nudity has been normalized for you.
You know, if you all chose to get naked right now like we are, without the shame society imprints on us, many untruths would become demystified. There are ideas we hold as true that need to be challenged and then disregarded. I’m sure if we all were undressed, you’d gain a confidence you didn’t know you had, and you’d start to worry less about things that really don’t matter. Our conversation would improve and we’d share deeper insights from the heart with each other. We’d realize how much we hide behind our clothing and our fake personas. We’d be more real and authentic.
This is how God sees us. We don’t have to dress to impress, and nothing we can put on would even accomplish anything to that effect. Hebrews 4:13 says everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. I love the old hymn: when he shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in him be found. Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
I would not be doing my job well today if I didn’t share what the Bible says we should clothe ourselves in. It does command us to put on certain clothing:
We are to be clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:49)
Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14)
The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53-54
We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27)
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12)
Dress with decency and propriety (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
Let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 5:5)
To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine line is the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8)
Notice these are all attributes and are more important to God than any threads we could wear to cover our skin. The clothing we are commanded to wear is symbolic, metaphorical, attitudes, decent qualities, good deeds, virtues, and Christ himself.
This is the true sense of modesty! Modesty really means a holy humility. Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code. David Hatton says, “For centuries, modesty was understood in those same terms, until the Victorian era gave the word a new meaning to match its prudish view of the body. In spite of this altered definition, the older meaning was retained as late as 1828, when Webster’s Dictionary continued to define modesty with no mention of clothing’s ability to produce a modest condition in the way it hid the body.”
Friends, we must not approach the word of God solely from a perspective tainted by cultural bias. The world around us is hyper sex-crazed with their cheap version of sexuailty that is far from God’s ideal based in a loving, committed relationship of marriage. The church often is hyper-prude in it’s ideas and methods for curbing any sort of impurity. Again, Hatton explains, “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.”
If we could leave you with a gift that would revolutionize your marriage, bring you closer together, closer to your Creator, and closer to fellow image-bears around you, it’d be a wholesome and godly view of the body. That and a renewed mind. If you trust us and resonate with what we are saying, try it for yourselves. Your body acceptance and confidence will rise to new heights and your temptation for impropriety will vanish overnight. We love the Lord, and we love each of you. It’s up to you if you want to research for yourself the ideas we’ve expounded on today that perhaps have gone against everything you’ve ever heard your whole life. That’s how it was for us, but we studied and prayed and are so glad to have been shown a better way. We pray that you don’t reject it outright, but that you would consider everything we’ve shared, and that ultimately it will bless your lives, your faith, and your marriage and family life.
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!
For the last year, I’ve played out in my head scenarios where people who would strongly disagree with our way of thinking would find out about our participation in naturism. At the moment many areas of our life would be negatively affected if this were to happen. If I’m being totally honest (naked and vulnerable), the fear of this happening at times causes me to reconsider the whole thing. It’s during those times of fear that I find it helpful to play out these interactions to remind me why we are resolute in our conviction about the body as the image of God.
With the amount of knowledge we now have as a result of our study, if we were to sit down with someone to explain, it could take hours or even days to share everything we would want to. This is one of the reasons we started this blog, to have both information and our thoughts in one place.
As I’ve imagined these conversations, the explanations really boil down to this: Is SEEING a naked body sin? Clearly, the answer is no. If it were, mothers would be sinning every time they change their toddler’s clothes. Doctors would be sinning at a woman’s yearly exam. A husband and wife would be sinning when they enjoy sex naked together. Ultimately, even Jesus would have sinned as nakedness was commonplace in his time. And when God told Isaiah to preach naked for three years, he would have been commanding him to sin. And there are a host of other examples. Some would call these exceptions to the rule, but how can there be exceptions when there is no rule?
Once a person’s mind has been renewed in their way of thinking about the body, the SEEING of a naked body should not be a big deal or cause any lustful thoughts, and in turn, sin. Having been conditioned by our culture, our enemy, and even the church, those who do not share our convictions expect to have lustful thoughts at the sight of nudity and therefore do. I even had a conversation with a pastor who told me that men are hardwired to have a sexual reaction at the sight of too much skin. It was at this point in the conversation that I felt the need to stick up for all the men I know now who are able to be around many nude women and have no sexual reaction or thoughts of lust. God did not just create men as visual creatures, able to appreciate the sight of beauty. We are all drawn to both strength and beauty, but the sight and simple admiration of the nude human form of a man or woman need not trigger us into sexual desire. Aaron Frost takes this idea to the extreme when he writes in his book, Christian Body, Modesty and the Bible, “Some people assume we are biologically hardwired to respond sexually to nudity, but later generations of Pavlov’s dogs might as easily assume that all dogs are instinctively hard-wired to drool at the sound of a bell even though that would be false. To assume that nudity causes lust, is like assuming that the bells cause drooling.”
So while it should be this easy, it’s not. The way the church views the body is the same way pornographers and Hollywood does. Why are we in agreement on this?? When God created Adam and Eve he called it “very good”. Did God change his mind about the body when sin entered the world? Of course not! Over time, the interpretation of this Scripture has been skewed so that the intended meaning has been lost. We have come up with our own thoughts as to why God made skins for Adam and Eve before sending them out of the Garden. We assume it to cover their nakedness because now all of the sudden, the sight of the human form of course was a sin. (I hope you sense my sarcasm) This is a man made thought. Never in Scripture is this said or implied. What is said however, is a strong warning against making more of the traditions of men than the actual words of God.
Mark 7:6-9 (NIV)
“He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”
Just a few verses later, Jesus makes the point that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a person that defiles him. In other words, it’s not the seeing that is the sin, but how one reacts to the seeing. If the heart is pure and the mind renewed, seeing a nude form will not cause sin to take place. If no sin is taking place while participating in naturism, then why should anyone have a problem with it?
First of all, you have a very difficult and often thankless job, so I want to thank you for your dedication and ministry. I know what it’s like and I can attest to the fact that it’s not easy, but it’s an important responsibility we have. To best serve those under our care as undershepherds, we need to be spiritually fed and above reproach ourselves.
You don’t need any statistics to know that pornography is a huge problem and not just outside the church. Within our congregations are many men (and some women as well) who seek out pornography to try to fill a void in their life. Knowing it’s not God-honoring, and trying to quit, they are trapped by the allure and subject to it’s bondage. Many also are addicted and feel they will never find freedom. Even church leaders are not immune. Because of their position they are scared to be open and honest about it. I know because this once described me.
Our attempts at curbing this issue while noble are weak at best. Especially if we ourselves are also struggling, how do we expect to help anyone else? Calling it “every man’s battle” is simply admitting defeat! Conventional Christian wisdom on the matter places the burden of the task on the powerlessness of man-made tactics. They perpetuate guilt and shame rather than providing a way forward to a new form of thinking which brings sustained and perpetual freedom from bondage. This is God’s work, which is done without our help or cooperation.
No amount of confession, accountability or software will cause a man to not look lustfully at a woman if he is intent on doing so. There are always ways to get around it. You can always fake it.
No amount of promises made at an inspiring conference will stop a man from his own evil desires and impure motives.
No amount of pancake breakfasts will help him resist the constant struggle of objectifying other people.
No amount of self-imposed modesty will help a man change his thought life. It’s prideful to think that way, as if Jesus’ work on the cross was not enough to save a man’s soul. This is the practical application of this thinking: Since Jesus isn’t powerful enough to change your animalistic behavior, we need to set an arbitrary length of skirt or “proper” coverage of shoulders or chest to help you out!
The church tries to address this issue but fails as its methods are ineffective. They are like treating a virus with a band aid and do nothing to address the root issue of the problem. In fact, one of the factors for my interest in pornography came from how youth groups talked about it. Instead of preventing me from seeking it out, it got me curious about it.
My point, coming from my own experience and that of many others, is that the heart and the mind of the individual need to change (be renewed) for a lasting transformation to occur.
It angered me so much the other day to see a program being offered to pastors with porn problems for $199. The true and lasting solution should be and IS free! It doesn’t cost the price of internet filters and accountability software (that can always be circumvented anyway). It is not a man-made attempt to work harder or do better through will power. It does not thrive on guilt and shame. It is not confession-based to another human. It is solely a work of God, and he does it without my help.
This vice does not need to be every man’s battle. Nor do we need to bounce our eyes at the sight of anything that can become a trigger for actions that dishonor God and others. Temptation is all around us, but it doesn’t have to be temptation. James 1:14 (KJV) is quick to point out that, “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Temptation isn’t the fault of who you lust after. You and your heart are the only one to blame.
The goal of a recovering alcoholic should be to be able to go to the grocery store and walk down the liquor aisle without a single urge or desire to indulge. Likewise, someone who has been conditioned to respond in lustful ways needs to change his/her mind, with God’s help in order to have lasting freedom from bondage.
Should we hide and cover the cupcakes so as not to cause someone with a gluttony problem to sin? Do we need to ban money or close banks for those overcome by greed? Lust seems to be one of the few sins we practically label as hopeless to overcome in a fallen world. With everything else, it is assumed that we can grow, mature spiritually, and conquer with God’s help.
Let’s take this concept to an extreme. Imagine you and your wife (if you are married) are having a dinner party with your best friends. Then all of a sudden everyone’s clothes disappear and everyone is completely naked (inexplicably). Aside from the initial shock and possible embarrassment, would you be able to control yourself around your friend’s wife? Or would the animalistic urges kick in and it becomes an all out orgy? I’m thinking that after a few minutes of awkwardness, everyone may carry on as normal and no one would cross any moral lines. Why? Because you have a healthy respect for one another and a love and deep friendship. It would be wrong to act on any impure thoughts in this non-sexual setting. Why is it any different with a stranger in a picture or a video online? When it’s a person on a screen, where we don’t have that relationship built or a mutual friendship, and we act out sexually, we excuse it as a natural urge. See the problem?
Jesus said in Matthew 5 that anyone who looks lustfully at another woman had already committed adultery in his heart. He did not say seeing a woman was sin, otherwise men would be sinning all the time. This would be cruel on God’s part! He said looking with lustful (coveting) intent is the sin.
This is desiring that person in a way that isn’t rightfully your place to enjoy. God meant for sexual expression to be in context of a married relationship. Looking lustfully is equating a person who is not your spouse as a piece of meat, a collection of body parts that you are objectifying, selfishly for your own gratification. This can occur with full nudity, partial nudity, or a fully dressed person! You are making a fantasy relationship or escapade with your impure thoughts, as if they were true.
Pope John Paul II is one of the few theologians in history to address the evident gap in our theology with his “theology of the body.” He has posed many great truths and one of my favorite quotes of his is this: “Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment.” (John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla]. Love and Responsibility. Rev. ed. Trans. H.T. Willetts. New York: Farrar, 1981.)
This can be illustrated with David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba was bathing on the rooftop like many people did in those days. It was commonplace. David, with the highest point in the city could see many people bathing, but with this one, he had to have her in a sexual conquest, even committing murder to cover it up. David was the guilty man according to the prophet Nathan. Bathsheba was the innocent lamb. So why do we place the blame on the ladies, saying they should not tempt men with how they dress? It’s not logical or right.
Jesus also said in Mark 7 that nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. He continues saying for it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, adultery, lewdness, envy and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.
This also indicates that the mere sight of someone is not the sin, but rather thinking improperly about that person, is the sin. We need to worry less about what visual stimuli we receive and more about how we think about it!
I write passionately about this because of my own story of failure after failure. I won’t go into all of it suffice to say that I battled the ongoing mystique and pull of pornography for over two decades. I tried everything with varying degrees of success, but never finding full freedom and a clear conscience before God and my wife. I thought I’d never grow out of it and it would always be a constant struggle.
“That’s someone’s daughter” which you often hear as advice against this type of behavior didn’t ever stop me even though I have a daughter of my own. My mind was messed up and not renewed. My view of the body was skewed and distorted, as it is with so many today. As Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” This was me, WAS, being the operative word.
There needed to be a renewal of the mind in terms of how I viewed the body (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:22-24). For too long, I allowed the way the world views people and their bodies to influence my own view. The worldly view is not God-honoring or holy. It agrees with the pornographers in its shallow view of what is and isn’t attractive and how sexualized we are today. The religious notion is to agree with pornographers (yes, you read that right) that “nude is lewd” and react to the opposite extreme of puritanical prudery. This body=bad, spirit=good is a dualism that the Bible does not teach. Rather it is gnostic heresy, and it damages our cause to maintain purity. As Colossians 2:23 (ESV) points out, “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.” Pornography and prudery feed off each other in a vicious cycle, giving the other what it is missing- a godly view that honors, both the body and the someBODY who dwells in it.
Our enemy, the ancient serpent, has been crafty since the beginning. He hates the image of God (Imago Dei) reflected in humankind as much as he hates the God they represent. He adamantly attacks this whole concept and seems to be winning! What God crafted as his most precious masterpiece, Satan has twisted and distorted to the point that it no longer is seen in the same way. Like a priceless work of art, crumbled up, it needs to be rediscovered for its natural and pure beauty. It can, however, be restored as Jesus’ wounds heal our wounds and he makes all things new again (Isaiah 53:5; Revelation 21:5).
The enemy is deceiving the whole world as he has from the beginning. We’ve been conditioned in many ways by society and by evil itself. For me, I agreed with several lies:
When I see a woman I find attractive (nude, scantily clad, or fully clothed), because I’m wired as a visual person, I can’t help myself but respond with a sort of sexual fantasy and lustful thoughts. (Like Pavlov’s dogs or something!)
This is bad, but it’s the way everyone is and there’s nothing I can really do about it. I’ll never be free.
I’m sure there were many more agreements made, but the point is the lies took precedent over the truth. I lived as though the lies were true. Jesus said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
True repentance according to the meaning of the greek word refers to a changing of the mind. I changed my mind about all of this, which seemed counterintuitive at the time, because I was so depraved in my thinking (Romans 1:18-32). I started to see humankind as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His own image. I saw the body, not as lewd, dirty or obscene, but as beautiful and holy, worthy of respect and honor. I also saw other people for who they are, all fearfully and wonderfully made. I appreciated the diversity of God’s design of people as the crowning glory of his awesome creation, more grand than the most magnificent sunset. I no longer “worshipped” created things rather than the Creator as does an idolater (Romans 1:25; Ephesians 5:5). I focused on the whole person, not just certain parts (that in our society get extra attention). Arousal took its rightful place as belonging only to my wife based on our deep relationship.
Once I made the switch in my mind, it was smooth sailing. I was amazed. What I never thought possible was not only possible, but easy. As stated, I rejected the lies, and God did the rest. This constant issue of 20 years simply vanished. I felt different. It wasn’t like moments of “victory” before where there was still a struggle and then I inevitably would fall off the wagon with a binge. This is true freedom, and it’s incredible! I then came across the “My Chains are Gone” website which confirmed everything I had experienced. If you have tried everything and nothing works to rid yourself of these thoughts and habits, read through www.mychainsaregone.org.
This nagging, but ever-present problem was affecting me in many ways. Without it, I’m a better minister, but more importantly a better husband. And being the father of sons, I’m no longer impotent to help them with these issues. The cycle is broken, praise God!
What am I asking of you? First of all, if you yourself are struggling, take another hard look at my testimony and ask yourself if you are believing some of the same lies. Where are you missing God’s truth that’s been staring us in the face ever since the beginning? Secondly, maybe you are blessed to not be affected by this vice, but think about how you teach on this subject and what message you are sending, especially to young people? Does it agree with society’s view or worse our true enemy’s view of human beings and their bodies? Are you relying on man-made methods that fall short of true and full redemption as it relates to lustful attitudes and actions?
My hope and prayer is that this blesses you, and you experience the joy and closeness to God and others that I have found since embracing this more healthy, natural, and godly way of thinking.
A co-laborer in the Lord, Phil O.
P.S. For a printable pdf of this letter click here.
Image credit: V0034184 In the Garden of Eden, while the serpent curls around the tr Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images firstname.lastname@example.org://wellcomeimages.org In the Garden of Eden, while the serpent curls around the tree of knowledge, Eve is about to taste the apple. Coloured etching. Published: [n.d.] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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.
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.
I believe a robust theology of the body is sorely lacking in the church today.
I believe these personal convictions of mine come out of much study, reading, and most importantly from the word of God.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I believe “sleep naked” is one of the best pieces of marital advice one could give.
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.
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.
I believe it must be assumed that the serpent is the “who” of “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen. 3:11).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I believe dualism and gnostic heresies have crept back into the church and most are unaware of it.
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.
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.
I believe nakedness, even in a non-sexual social setting is not a sin.
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.
I believe God would not command someone to sin.
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?”
I believe God commanded Isaiah to prophesy naked for 3 years in Isaiah 20.
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.
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.
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.
I believe many pieces of art depict these truths, some have been sadly censored throughout the years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I believe each one is tempted by their own evil desires. (James 1:13-15)
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.
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.
I believe all bodies are beautiful as a sunset is beautiful. This is true regardless of shape or size or any deformity or blemish.
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.
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.
I believe all types of fornication and pornography are evil, degrading, damaging, and destructive to oneself and one’s relationships.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I believe breastfeeding mothers are doing what is best for their babies and should never be shamed for it.
I believe there IS hope, and the truth will make you free (Jn. 8:32).
I believe my current views align with both God’s word and his heart, and I am at peace about my current conclusions.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.”
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.”
I believe that even those who hate legalism can become legalistic on this issue.
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.
I believe decent people fall for the lie that nude is lewd and are corrupted by it, as I was for so long.
I believe I am a biblical naturist by conviction, not simply for the relaxation and health benefits provided.
I believe Vitamin D from the sun is great medicine and extremely therapeutic.
I believe the simple act of shedding clothes can in many ways help to shed stress, anxiety, and many worries of the world.
I believe bras are harmful for women and can cause many serious health concerns.
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.
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.
I believe naturism may not be for everyone and always must be practiced in the right environment.
I believe God has used naturism to help many people heal from a number of issues that have plagued them for years.
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.
I believe many social nudists are not Christians, and this is a largely ignored group that also needs godly examples and tactful Christian witness.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
I believe we should porn-proof our children by normalizing the body, and alleviating the mystique that traps so many into bondage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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 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 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!”