Hello friends and dear readers. Today is just a quick note to celebrate two items.
The first, and the better of the two, is that today is Phil and Mrs. Phil’s wedding anniversary. 22 years ago, two high school sweethearts stood at the altar and made vows that they intended to keep for the rest of their lives. We are so blessed to be happier together now more than ever in our lives. We never would’ve imagined that we would be naturists, but we feel it’s what the Lord wanted for us. Exactly 2 years ago, we renewed our vows on Blind Creek beach as our first nude beach experience.
Tomorrow we are participating in our very first nude 5k. Naturism has been a huge blessing for us. It helped cure Phil’s problems with lust and porn, and helped Mrs. Phil with her body acceptance.
We could never go back to how we were before, nor would we want to!
The second item we are celebrating today is 100 posts on Aching for Eden! If being naturists was something we would have never guessed, being naturist bloggers is even more crazy! It’s also been so rewarding to get to share with all of you what we are learning, and we are humbled that people are reading and finding our posts helpful. We didn’t know if we’d have 5 posts and call it quits or what. We’re still going strong after 100 posts, and we have you to thank for it. Keep reading and sharing this goodness with a world that needs it!
I have a friend who has a fear of flying, so she thumbs her nose at it by deliberately flying. I have another friend who has a fear of public speaking, and he deals with it by joining Toastmasters. I spent most of my life hiding my body because I was ashamed of it. As a young teenager, I quickly learned that I had nothing down there to be proud of. It took me decades to learn I had nothing to be ashamed of, either. Like my friends, I chose to spit in the eye of what I feared. I chose to accept my body and stop hiding it. To deliberately let it be seen (without offending someone or violating the law).
Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing, is the very thing that will set you free.
So many have been wounded—myself included—by a view of the body “that has the smell of brimstone all over it,” to quote my friend Draco.
Pastor David L Hatton tells a story of a blind man who was sitting on the sidewalk with his hat turned up at his feet and a sign that read I’M BLIND. PLEASE HELP. A few people had put something in his hat, but most just passed on by. A man who worked in public relations came by, turned the sign over, and wrote a new message on it. Later, he came back by and the hat was full of money! What he had written gave those who read it a new perspective: IT’S SPRING, AND I CAN’T SEE IT.
The problem I had, and so many of us still have is this:
My body is beautiful, and I can’t see it.
As though some miraculous metamorphosis has transformed our perspective (see Romans 12:2), we need to see the human body the way God sees it: naked and unashamed, the pinnacle of his creative genius.
Thousands of people have defeated their body shame demons. They have come to see themselves through God’s eyes. And they are doing it through the prism of naturism.
Most detractors are good church-going people who think they are honoring God by condemning those who live as naturists. In some ways, prudery has been elevated to the value of scripture, and that’s a slap in the face of the very Creator whom they try to serve!
What’s ungodly is listening to the enemy of our souls when he tells us to be ashamed of the image of God that we bear. Let the words of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago speak to you:
The Imago Dei (The Image of God)
A man and woman—naked— once in a gardenstood Created in God’s image, He called it ‘very good!’
Fashioned for a purpose, one infinite in worth: to replicate God’s image through miracle of birth.
Then comes the great deceiver who so wants to be God, and have the gift He’d given these creatures made from sod.
He saw the Imago Dei they clearly represent and hated with a passion everything it meant.
What happened next is epic. A tree, its fruit, a lie: “You’ll be like God! Here; eat it. You surely will not die!”
Then once the bite was taken, dressed only in their skin, they heard, “…and put some clothes on! Your nakedness is sin!!”
How prudishly we’re living in our ‘enlightenment’, while foolishly retaining that gnostic excrement
so readily accepted by hearts that went astray when moral independence was birthed that fateful day.
As mankind swallowed fully a fallen angel’s plan, Godly wisdom faded from the heart of man.
We should actually be ashamed of being ashamed! As Mr. Larry has stated: How is it possible for the human body, which was created in the image of God, to be offensive to anybody? Satan would love to see God’s greatest creation be considered offensive.
What’s ungodly is objectifying certain body parts, and thereby separating the body from the soul that owns it.
What’s ungodly is teaching our children that the mere sight of naked humanity is sin. In doing so we have helped our great enemy create a culture that is steeped in pornographic filth.
What’s ungodly is the prudish mindset that gives pornography its power!
Study the Scriptures regarding this, asking God the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to His truth. Many are finding that these bodies are still fearfully and wonderfully made. Because of Christ’s redemptive work, our bondage to sin has been broken. We no longer have to believe the lie. We can replace it with the truth. We can once again be naked and unashamed.
Words have meaning. And as such, much of our communication can become an exercise in semantics if we cannot agree on the definitions of the words being used.
Classical languages use different words to communicate nuance where English only uses one word to express a host of different ideas. I think of the word “love.” In Greek there were four words for love:
Philia – a love found in strong friendships
Eros – an erotic love of passion and intimacy
Storge – a love found in family relationships
Agape – a type of selfless, unconditional love
In English we use the same word to cover the gamut of feelings from “I love my wife” to “I love frozen yogurt.” I sure hope my love for my wife is stronger and different than my love for froyo! Do you begin to see the potential confusion over words that are identical in every way except for context?
So it is with nudity and nakedness. Watch this video to see what I mean. The video text will be printed after.
The word naked is usually used as a descriptive adjective.
One might think of a naked mole rat, which describes a pink, nearly hairless rodent, or the “naked” truth, which is a way of saying that the information shared is unvarnished or without ornamentation. Simply put, we usually think of naked as meaning “without a covering.”
What does the term “nakedness” mean in the Bible?
Most of the passages that speak to nakedness are found in the Old Testament. As such, it is from within the Old Testament pages that most Bible teachers today draw their conclusions about what God thinks about nakedness.
If we really want to know what God’s perspective is towards nudity, it stands to reason that we must correctly understand the words from the Bible and their meanings.
There are three individual words for nakedness in the Old Testament: arowm, eyrom and ervah.
In Genesis 2:25, we are first introduced to arowm, which means “simple and innocent nakedness.”
“The man and his wife were arowm, but they were not ashamed.”
Later, in Genesis 3:7, after the Fall, the word eyrom for “vulnerable nakedness, with a sense of being exposed to harm” is used.
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were eyrom; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.”
And finally, after the global flood, in Genesis 9:22 we are exposed to a new word for “active sexual nakedness,” ervah.
“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the ervah of his father…”
All three of these variants have their basis in the same root Hebrew word, but their biblical usage indicates different shades of meaning. Sadly, in our common language translations, we generally just get one word, “naked,” which, understandably, has led many to develop wrong thoughts on what nakedness is all about!
God never calls arowm or eyrom shameful. There is no Scripture in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not be naked” or “Nakedness is sinful.” In fact, He used naked circumcision as a visible sign of His Covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
Ervah, on the other hand, is where we see sin joined with nakedness and shame. If what a person was doing in a situation was sinful, or could be the cause of sin, it was ervah.
In the New Testament, the word for naked is gymnos. It means “bare, without clothing” and is the root of the word, “gymnasium.” The gym was a place to exercise in a state of nudity.
Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that in God’s eyes, “No creature is hidden, but all are gymnos…”
Many “grown-up” translations try to “cover up” simple nudity in the Bible, such as when the Apostle Peter was naked and fishing, but interestingly, the International Children’s Bible gets it right!
“…he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water.” See John 21:3-7.
What word was used in the Greek for his lack of clothing? Gymnos, of course!
Like ervah above, there are two instances in the New Testament where shame added to nudity produces a negative situation. The greek word aschēmosýnē is usedfor specific situations when nudity is inappropriately sexual or used to shame.
In Romans 1:27, this word is used to describe unnatural sexual activity, and in Revelation 16:15, it is used to implicate the consequences of laziness.
Ultimately, we look to the teaching of our Rabbi, Y’Shua, who teaches us that sin starts in the heart and grows into action.
Nakedness, like other subjects in the Bible, is actually a neutral state. Most people throughout history have known that simple nudity is not sinful. Yet, if we hold faulty definitions, our thoughts, our actions, and our discipleship journey with other believers in the Body of Christ will be affected.
It is wonderful that, as New Covenant believers, we have the ability to focus our hearts on Jesus and experience the innocent, pure nakedness of the Garden.
What wrongs might be righted if the church rediscovered this truth?
My good friend has recently launched a new resource that has neatly organized and presented some of the most common questions asked by those who are just learning some of the key ideas we believe as Christian naturists. Then, of course, the answer to such questions are explored in context. Body shame and social conditioning is so pervasive that most people view the naked body either through over-sexual eyes or with great distain as if it were lewd or obscene. This new website tackles the questions Bible-believing Christians might ask in a thorough and creative way.
The site was created by our good friend, and it’s related to Aching For Eden in that most of its content first appeared here in our own Objections series of blog posts and videos we helped create. It’s our joy to collaborate with others of a like mind because we believe this is such an important message that needs to get out in whatever way it can.
I also love the metaphor of the butterfly that is featured throughout the navigation of this site. A renewed (or ReNude) view of the body truly is a metamorphosis and the old ways of thinking are gone for good. Behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:18). A caterpillar should not want to stay that way for life. Likewise, a butterfly would never want to go back to being a caterpillar once it could fly. Nor should we once we’ve tasted the blessings of freedom this life and form of thinking offers us. I make this point at length in this post.
So check out ReNude.Life and share it with those who may be interested in taking a hard look at what the Bible actually says about nudity. Here’s what the homepage has to say:
Answer Questions About Nudity in the Bible
Have you ever wondered what the Bible actually has to say about nudity? ReNude Life is designed to answer questions about nudity in the Bible and promote the freedom that comes through knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You might be surprised by what you learn!
What causes the strong cultural bent against simple nudity? Why is it that nakedness is immediately attached to sexuality? And why does “sex sell?” These are common thoughts, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Our culture’s lack of simple nudity understanding leads to many dangers like pornography addiction, sexual abuse and trauma.
For far too long, Christians have adopted the worldly view that naked bodies are shameful. We dutifully layer on clothing and swimming costumes and force nursing mothers to cover up. As a result, we have drifted along with a world that places being acceptable and inoffensive first. Scripture, however, tells us that we are the Imago Dei, literally made in the Image of God! We’ve forgotten that God made us “naked and unashamed.” So, how can we be a light instead of accepting the darkness?
Like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, our hope is that by renu-ing your mind on the topic of biblical nudity, you’ll be able to strip off old ideas and emerge into the ReNude Life!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, But Lust’s effect is tempest after sun; Love’s gentle spring doth always fresh remain, Lust’s winter comes ere summer half be done; Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies; Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies. Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare
So, can a blind man lust?
When we think of lust, we almost immediately think of the eyes. And that brings up beauty, sex, adultery and pornography.
Several years ago, a pastor would drive 90 miles to my house for prayer counseling because he was dealing with an addiction to pornography. He’d heard from friends of the successes we had witnessed through our Theophostic Prayer Ministry practice and desired to be healed from his addiction.
People use addictions to sex, alcohol, food, drugs, smoking, body-modification and even work–anything to numb the emotional pain in their souls. Addiction to pornography is a pain management problem that manifests as a fixation with false intimacy. It is the pain–and the source of that pain–that must be healed. Often times through traditional counseling, one addiction is removed only to be replaced by another one. This pattern repeats until the person has a socially-acceptable addiction like “hard worker” (read: workaholic).
This pastor, however, wanted to really be set free from his addiction and not simply transfer it to something else. So instead of focusing on the fruit of his pain-inducing beliefs (the pornography fixation), we looked beneath the surface to allow the true causes of his pain-medicating behavior to unfold. Like most folks, this was a methodology foreign, yet familiar to him.
We rarely think about this process of natural association, yet perform it constantly. Just as we never think about our internal organs until one of them “cries out,” we also do not think about the how or why we make the decisions that we do, or have the emotional responses we do to external stimuli.
Everything that ever happens in our lives is brought into our souls through our marvelous senses and processed and categorized. It is considered and compared to thousands of “files” from past memory pictures and emotional happenings and then it is acted upon. It happens so fast that it is nearly imperceptible — unless you take the time to ponder it.
Which brings me to our subject: lust.
Lust by itself is not, in fact, a bad word. It is a neutral word that is absolutely synonymous with the word “covet” and the word “desire.” The reason I want to slow down and define it is for us to realize the gravity with which we use words. Even in the English language, lust does not mean “see.” It does not mean recognize. It does not mean appreciate. It does not mean despise.It means hunger, crave, intend to possess.
Depending on the context, lust can mean earnestly desire or it can mean wrongfully desire.
And [Jesus] said to them, “I have earnestly lusted to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:15 ESV)
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Jesus speaking in Matthew 5:28 ESV)
Yes, exactly the same word. Each context determines whether it is “good” lust or “bad” lust. When we are lazy with language, we end up degrading words and their meanings. Remember the Ten Commandments? The last one? You shall not Covet? It is just as accurate to read it You Shall Not Lust…after another man’s wife or possessions.
Is there such a thing as good lust? Perhaps for our ears, the word “desire” sounds more pleasant. Either way, they’re the same word in the original tongue. Scripture offers encouragement for positive desires and prohibitions for negatives ones. Each type is based on the context of the desire.
In summary, Paul writes in Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the lustsof the flesh.” In turn, what we will do is gratify the lusts of the spirit.
What about the blind man? If men are so damnably stimulated by sight, then by definition a blind person could never commit this sin. Yet, instead of facing the truth that wrongful lust is a matter of the heart, we have gone to the drastic measure of making rules and restrictions of the strictest sort, thinking perhaps that forced blindness is the answer.
The truth is that a blind man can lust and covet wrongfully any of the things or persons that a sighted man or woman can. It is not the physical attributes that endanger us. It is the evil intentions of our hearts. Wrongful lust requires intent to possess.
What Do a Pufferfish and a Bikini Have in Common?
Do you suffer from “felt board Christianity?” If so, it can seem like the Bible is a simplistic bunch of stories with generalized rules for life. “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” it has been called. Do you want to go deeper? At some point, I think we all do. We have to peel back the layers and dive in.
Everything Jesus is trying to teach us about the Christian life begins in the heart.
We defined what lust is and what lust is not, so now let’s talk about how the word has been redefined and dumbed down. Large swaths of Christianity presently equate the recognition of beauty in our gender differences as wrongful lust. And because of this lowering of the bar, new concepts have been added in to compensate for the change of definition.
Sight itself has become the bogeyman.
Everywhere we look (no pun intended), it seems there are things and people to see (and I guess that means danger!). When we pop our heads up, we hear this refrain of warning: Men are visually stimulated. Heads down, men. Look away!
It’s the subject of radio programs and talk shows: Men are visually stimulated. Volumes have been written around the postulate that men are visually stimulated. I wonder how many millions and millions of dollars are changing hands based on this mantra that men are visually stimulated?
Perhaps we should follow the money. Pornographers and anti-pornographers all benefit financially by continuing to chant this mantra, but never utter this secret truth: women are visually stimulated, too. Simple biology tells us that human beings have senses. One of those is sight. Placing visual stimulation in our targets as the problem only creates a missed opportunity for success and creates a vicious, vicious cycle of shame. Relationships suffer and real problems go unsolved.
The combination of the visual stimulation mantra and the watered down definition of lust have been well crafted into a deadly recipe. The visual stimulation lie wrongly makes women responsible for the conduct of male human beings and takes volitional control completely out of the picture. Men have a responsibility to control their thoughts and their actions. Our self-control problems are not the responsibility of the the fairer sex.
This idea that men are mere predatory animals bound to their wild inhibitions and bursting at the seams with wrongful desire is childish and foolish. And I propose that pointing to visual stimulation is the wrong place to conclude a discussion about lust. Stimulation is a bogeyman because stimuli will always exist. We have applied the wrong labels to the way our bodies react. Stimulation is not sin.
The real test of a man (or a woman) is how she learns to respond to that stimulus.
People have tried for ages to remove sin by removing the potential for temptation. In this case, the common strategy is to consider that if men are visually stimulated, the stimuli must be removed. Except, stimulus is not the cause of wrongful lust, is it? Stimulation is only a sensation, placed by God in our very real, very flesh-and-blood bodies. This strategy will fail.
We’re alive. We feel. We see. We smell and taste. We sense. We respond because we’re alive.
Let’s make this real.
Close your eyes and step outside into the breeze. [It’s ok, you can come right back.] Feel that tickle as the air move across the delicate hairs on your skin? It’s stimulating. Walk into the kitchen when someone you love is baking bread. Take in a deep whiff. Smell that? It’s stimulating. Feel the seat beneath you. Press your foot into the floor. Your sense of touch is being stimulated.
Oh, look, a person! Any person. Maybe it’s a woman. Maybe it’s a man. What are they wearing? What color are their eyes? Are they tall, short, brown, pale, thin, sturdy? Observe their facial expression and posture.
This is the Imago Dei. The Image of God. It really doesn’t matter what they look like, what they wear or what they’re doing–your vision is being stimulated by the greatest of God’s Creation: a human being.
Don’t turn away. God wants us to see–and be seen–by each other.
This is why Jesus, rather than condemning our bodies, constantly brings us back to the heart.* But that is not all He did. He gave us the KEY to overcome wrongful lusting and coveting!
The pastor I spoke of was healed by this key: He learned to see the truth. Jesus renewed his mind–changed the way he thinks–in regard to the goodness of the body and set him free from the lies that had led him to seek out false intimacy as pain management. He is still free of pornography today, and that addiction did not shift to something else.
As we continue, here are some points to ponder:
God made our bodies, both male and female. They are good. Gen 2:25
Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code.
Lust comes forth from the heart and is the responsibility of the luster.
To the pure, all things are pure. Titus 1:15
A weaker brother does not have strong opinions; that’s how we know he’s weak.
We are to grow the weak to maturity, not leave them to stagnation.
Uncomfortable truth may not feel good at first, but eventually we feel its freedom.
Truth does not equal American Culture or even Christian traditions.
Cultures change, yet Truth remains. And it sets us free.
As I have learned to come to my senses on what lust actually means–that it is a heart-directed, neutral term–it has freed my mind to focus on people as whole individuals, rather than divide them, body and soul.
Freedom to walk in the spirit enables us to follow Christ wherever He leads.
Have you embraced this truth? Do you see people as whole, or does that idea cause fear? If so, what stops you from really seeing others, body and soul?*Yes, I realize Jesus once said tear out your eye and cut off your hand. That was metaphor, friends. metaphor. Remember, we’re going beyond the felt board.
In our search for the truth of an issue, it is not unusual for one spouse to discover it before the other one does. If that truth calls into question a long held tradition or something we were taught by someone we trusted (or even cherished), it’s only reasonable to expect some resistance when sharing your new-found understanding. I have dealt with this in my own mind, not wanting to let go of some things I’ve held tightly for years, while finding it difficult to ignore the truth that is being revealed. Consider this from Frantz Fanon, psychiatrist:
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When presented with evidence against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create an extremely uncomfortable feeling called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit that core belief.”
Regarding naturism, for spouses who truly believe IT’S A SIN, we should be proud of them for refusing to participate. That is the first hurdle many Christians have to jump, but many never do. It’s not comfortable to jump hurdles, and without sufficient motivation most will never try. Some may step right up, jump in, and love it, while others require spending significant time reading, studying, and praying, before coming to the understanding that simple nudity is not sinful. (The reason for the nudity may well be sinful but that’s a different issue.) Having reached this point doesn’t mean one is ready to book their next vacation to a nude beach, but it is a major hurdle to have cleared. For most Christians, determining what God thinks about something is the most important task of all.
The IT’S A SIN mindset can easily be a cop out, too. Hanging that sign on your door and refusing to discuss it further is perhaps a form of cowardice, or worse: a form of dishonesty. We already know what God thinks about that. Challenging a lifetime of teaching is not easy. There has to be a real desire for understanding before we are willing to sacrifice tradition upon the altar of truth.
Having settled the IT’S A SIN argument, one then begins addressing the second most important question: WHAT WILL OTHER PEOPLE THINK!? This can be a very lonely time because it’s so personal, and requires one to become deliberately vulnerable! We know God already knows, and we can trust Him to treat us lovingly, but we’ve learned the hard way that people are not always so kind—particularly those closest to us! This is when husbands and wives must love as God loves, being persistently kind and caring. There’s no better time for living the Golden Rule. This isn’t a battle to be waged, but a heart to be won!
Perhaps we err in rushing to convince someone to embrace what we now see clearly. We present passage after passage as evidence, and show the results of word studies that reveal what certain Hebrew words really meant in the context and times in which they were written. We can easily move from that to speculation as to how it all should apply to us now. With all the reading, studying, talking and praying perhaps we need to slow down and take stock. Here’s what I’m sure of:
God made Adam & Eve naked and they all liked it. Then after the fall Adam & Eve didn’t like it anymore. The ‘liked it’ choice came from a Godly mind, and the ‘didn’t like it’ choice came from a corrupted mind.
Christ’s redeeming work did more than pay our sin debt, He freed us from our bondage to sin and its corruption! He was called the second Adam for a reason!
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Once our minds are renewed, we start seeing the naked body with the mindset Paul encouraged in Philippians 4:8: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
In the overly sexualized worldview of the culture around us, it’s quite common to hear of people leaving their wife for a younger woman. They joke about getting a newer model, as if the person they are married to is a car or a gadget. It’s very dehumanizing and sad to see! The prevalence of this mentality gives way to a lack of self confidence for aging women, who are already bombarded with messages everyday on how they can use such and such product to look 10 years younger. This poor body image is not only an issue for women, but they typically bear the brunt of the onslaught of this messaging. The results are catastrophic!
Is there a better way? You better believe there is! The answer is Imago Dei. You don’t have to be a naturist to believe in the full ramifications of Image Dei (the image of God), but I have not met anyone who lives out this theology better than Christian naturists. They believe at a very core level that every body is a somebody, made in God’s image, and deserving of dignity, respect and love on that basis alone. Yes, many may abuse that gift by their own actions, but this view is at least the starting point for every person. Along with that comes the belief that there is inherent beauty in all that God creates, and human beings are the pinnacle of his creation. The crowning glory of Eden was and so should remain to be man and woman, naked and unashamed. Yes, even our bodies are wonderfully made and are not lewd or obscene in and of themselves. This was true in an innocent pre-fall state in Genesis 1-2, and even though Genesis 3 messes everything up with sin entering the picture, the stage is set in verse 3:15 for the reversal of the curse and the restoration of all things. With this present mindset of being naked without shame, a jolt of self-confidence is gained, which is so rare to come by without such an extreme view. Let me back track and not call this self-confidence, but rather God-confidence. It’s confidence that God doesn’t make junk. To think less of yourself is to spit in the face of your Creator. Naturists don’t stand for that in any way, shape, or form! What about humility? Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.
What’s this have to do with the subject of this post? Everything. It stands in stark contrast to the attitude mentioned in the opening lines. Imago Dei is a more healthy, wholesome, godly, and biblical worldview to have.
Imago Dei is a more healthy, wholesome, godly, and biblical worldview to have.
In the ESV translation, Proverbs 5:18 says to rejoice in the wife of your youth. It’s a beautiful picture in the midst of a stern warning against adultery. “Drink from your own cistern,” says verse 15. “May her (the wife of your youth’s) breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” is the exhortation of verse 19. Continuing on in context, verse 20 asks, “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” There’s a lot here, and we’ll get to it shortly. But first, let’s delve into the rejoicing in the wife of your youth for a minute.
My wife and I were married at the young age of 19. We were high school sweethearts and both virgins on our wedding night. I wish I could tell you everything was great after that, but it wasn’t. I ruined my otherwise stellar score on the purity scale with a pornography habit just before our special day. This had a destructive effect, for sure, which I’m so glad is now a distant memory. We did enjoy young love, but we also went through a lot of heartache, due to our brokenness that needed to be redeemed by the only one who can make all things new.
My wife told my boys just the other day that she would gladly go through all the pain again to come out on the other side and have what we now have. It’s greater than she ever imagined as a young girl. Our love has been through the crucible of suffering and has come out stronger on the other side. The refiner’s fire did a number on us, but we are grateful for the purifying process. I mentioned to her that I don’t really remember her body as a 19 year old. Nor do I wish she could get it back. Time has taken its toll on both of us, and we are no longer the skinny kids who stood at the altar. That said, I wouldn’t trade down for anything else! She has aged like fine wine and is more beautiful than she was at our wedding. I look forward to many more gray hairs and wrinkles and drooping or sagging skin. She’ll always be for me the standard by which all beauty is measured.
MyChainsAreGone.org is a wonderful resource to read. It confirmed my change for us. My wife discovered it on her own while doing research after I told her about my embrace of naturism and permanent victory over porn.
On this page of MCAG, there are two columns comparing and contrasting two different views of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form– the traditional view and the renewed view. I’ll highlight just two of the categories here.
Marital Intimacy according to the Traditional View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form:
The couple comes together on their wedding night and see each other for the very first time. The experience is wonderful and very worth the wait. They eagerly anticipate the opportunity to enjoy each others’ naked bodies for the rest of their lives.
Marital Intimacy according to the Renewed View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form.
The couple has reserved sexual intimacy for their wedding night, regardless of whether they have seen each others’ bodies before. They have not allowed themselves to respond to the sight of nudity with sexual lust, so their wedding night is truly a consummation of their relationship and love. It is wonderful and well worth the wait.
There is much more on this page worth reading at MCAG, but the other category I want to highlight would be life changes.
Life Changes according to the Traditional View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form:
As a woman experiences the changing of time upon her body, youth fades. Along with that youthful beauty, she loses some of her sexual appeal. The man still disciplines himself to be satisfied with her body as it is, but the sexual impact of her nudity on his libido has waned. In some cases, a woman’s body may change significantly due to disease or lifestyle choices. These drastic changes will affect his sexual desire and require a stronger resolve to flee from the enticements of other women, especially younger ones. As she ages, his wife simply does not and will never again have the kind of sexual appeal that she had when they married.
Life Changes according to the Renewed View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form.
Physical appearance is part of a who a woman is, but the man values his deepening relationship with his wife more than her youthful beauty, and since his sexual response is based upon his relationship with her, rather than on her physical appearance, his ability to respond sexually with his wife is still strong. Changes in appearance do not take anything significant away from her femininity, therefore, the man’s sexual relationship deepens with each passing year — even throughout their twilight years.
Now which would you rather? To me, it’s plain to see. I’m happy to be in the redeemed and renewed view’s camp. It was God’s plan all along. It’s his ideal and the sexual ethic we are to follow. It puts us right in the middle of his full blessing. Not that everything will be perfect or easy, but we will be operating in his spirit and according to his will. I say it often, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I’d wish it on my worst enemy, if I had any.
Now a word for single people. One major criticism of purity culture is that it does not say much to singles. It props up marriage and promises it to be the greatest achievement, second only to salvation, of course. One group that this almost idolization of marriage excludes by default, are those who are unmarried or divorced. While this article focuses primarily to husbands, I don’t want to downplay in any way the valuable perspective of single people. You may perhaps have a greater understanding in this life of what will be our ultimate reality of being the bride of Christ.
It’s time to get back now to the thief of optimum love, and that’s selfishness. It’s out of selfishness (to your spouse or future spouse if marrying later) that you might choose to indulge in pornography. Of course, some may view it as a couple and try to spice things up. However, I believe that if you are living according to God’s plan, not out of duty and obligation, but out of love and joy, you won’t need to spice anything up. It’s ultimately a selfish act and a lack of trust in God’s word and faithfulness to deliver on his promises. It’s not victimless. It causes your own spouse insecurities because it sends them the clear message that they are not enough. It objectifies those engaging in the intimate acts as objects for our own selfish gratification. It rewires our brains in ways that are contrary to God’s intent for sexual integrity and our own optimum pleasure and satisfaction. If you read fightthenewdrug.org , you’ll see decades of research showing how porn negatively impacts love and relationships, can contribute to cycles of stress, and even fuel sex trafficking. Again, let’s go back to Proverbs— why embrace the bosom of a stranger?
Bottom line, I believe God does know what’s best for us, and had our good in mind when he placed sexual intimacy within the confines of a committed and loving marriage relationship. I’m not a fan of how purity culture put their messages out, but that part, they did get right. For me, I’ve tried entertaining and indulging porn, and it did nothing positive for me. It’s effects were only negative ones in my life and for those I love. I’d much rather heed the warning against adultery (because that’s what lust of the heart is) and instead welcome the invitation to enjoy the wife of my youth. It’s the difference between a gourmet meal and day old fast food out of the garbage bin. I only wish more people could see and understand the difference!
White is a very clean color. It’s no wonder a white glove is used to pass the dust test on any given surface. Your kid wants these awesome white tennis shoes, and your mind instantly goes to how they’ll never look the same after just one outing. Once I went to an Italian restaurant and ordered spaghetti while wearing a white shirt. A man I’d never met before told me that was a bad idea. How did he know I’m a messy eater? God likes white too, and in Revelation 19:8, he says the white robes we read about are symbolic of the righteous acts of his people. One more example coming back to earth would be this: A white convertible car looks incredible, doesn’t it? Until it drives through the mud.
That last example is where I want to spend a little time. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and get to thinking about stuff and have a hard time getting my brain to shut back down. This is the result of one of those instances. I thought of this trendy white car. White stood for goodness, purity, and godliness. Then all of the sudden it drove through the mud (which to me was symbolic of sin, or the loss of innocence and the brokenness of impurity). Mud stained the sides of the car and it lost its new car value and depreciated greatly. Discontented with its present condition, the car went all in and got really filthy. Have you ever seen one of those mud derbies? This white car is now completely covered in mud. It’s caked all over an inch thick! The white car is now brown, and remember that slime and sludge is the bad stuff in this analogy.
For me, the bad stuff was pornography. It stole my innocence, and once I opened that door it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go for many years. I started just driving through a puddle, and then it accumulated over time to the equivalent of a tough mudder. Could I ever be pure again?
It wasn’t just the porn. In this post Mrs. Phil pointed out that I had other issues as well. I had a quick temper, anger, and I was mean. Much of that behavior came as a result of using porn and what it teaches you, and not liking myself because of it.
And yet I knew and even preached these verses:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9 NIV
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” -Isaiah 1:18 NIV
Are these verses lying? No, that can’t be. But why don’t they seem to be true? Well, it must just mean our overall justification and standing in Christ and not have much efficacy in our daily struggle with sin. God saves us through Jesus, but this struggle will be with you until that day of sanctification in glory, is what I used to think. In the Lord, the car is white and he knows it, but here in this fallen world, I hope you like the color brown. How defeatist!
Do we do that with any other sins? Throw our hands in the air and give up trying to become more and more like our perfect example in Jesus? Once a thief, always a thief! No! In fact, as I type this, I’m reminded of one of the apostle Paul’s favorite thing to write in Greek after asking a rhetorical question like Romans 6:1 (NIV), for example: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” He replies “Me genoito!” which can be translated, “certainly not, by no means, not at all, no way, never, absolutely not, or God forbid!” So, back to the example. You have a habit of stealing. You become a Christian. You learn stealing is wrong (which in this example, even non-Christians would tell you it’s wrong!). Shall you continue stealing and give up hope of ever not being a thief? Me genoito! Yet, this is what we tend to do with lust. Many think we can’t overcome it this side of heaven. They say in a fallen world, you’re just always going to have to deal with it. At least in my circles, this thinking is prevalent. This is where the modesty movement and purity culture really comes into play and people start to blame women for what they are wearing, instead of blaming men for their thoughts (or visa versa).
I decided it was high time to call bluff on this type of thinking. Naturism really challenged all of my assumptions. If there can really be Christians who love the Lord with all their hearts, and see all bodies as the image of God and not as a lewd temptation, can that really be? Years before, I thought it was impossible and these people are just justifying their own perversion. But then I got to know some who made these claims. They said they hate porn. They said they didn’t have porn problems any longer because of the change in their minds. (Here’s another quick Greek lesson which sounds a lot like the last one: metanoia is the word translated as repentance, but what it means to repent is literally to have a transformative change of heart.) Christian naturists claimed, in a very real sense, that the brown car can be made white again.
They were right! And they display a stronger faith in taking God at his word when he says he can make all things new (Revelation 21:5)! That car can be made like new through God’s power! Do not doubt it, my friend! He did it with me, and he can with you too.
There was one more important bit in my stream of consciousness while trying to sleep that night. I have told several trusted individuals about our practice of Christian naturism. And while that revelation was met with shock for certain, after the initial surprise wore off, these people gave me the benefit of the doubt, because we have built a relationship of trust. They know my heart and see me as pure. No wonder Jesus said of the pure in heart, that they will see God (Matthew 5:8). God sees me that way as well. In his eyes, my car is white, sparkling and shining. In that area that used to muck me up so much, I know I’ve been thoroughly washed clean through God’s power and the mud doesn’t stick to me like it once did. There will be a lot of mud slinging going on around me. We are constantly bombarded today with visual stimuli whether we seek it out or not, but the point it, when it comes my way, it doesn’t have to stain my soul. I am certain of this.
I’m also aware that those who do not have that same relational equity built with me, aka the general population, would not understand the same way. They would most likely get the wrong ideas and condemn our practice. I’m sure of it. But why is this? What occurred to me is that even though I know my car is white, and God knows it, and ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, they would see my car as mud stained because (drum roll…) they are looking through mud stained glasses. They don’t see Jesus as powerful enough to redeem the sin of lust (at least in this life; they don’t act like they do, anyway). Until they change their hearts and minds on this issue and allow Jesus to clean them, they will always project their own issues onto us who have worked through them and come out on the other side.
It’s just as Titus 1:15 NIV says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”
Almost everyone loves the old hymn – Amazing Grace. The melody and words easily flow from the memory banks of our mind and out of our mouth with deep warm affection. “I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.” We understand that verse to mean we were at one time spiritually blind to the truth of the gospel – blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). But in the last couple of years I’ve discovered the reverse can also be true in a very positive way. What I once could see – now I am blind to it!
Satan (the god of this age) and his demons are very adept at blinding humanity to spiritual truths. But his first attack was not to blind, but to have eyes opened! He even bragged to Eve how their opened eyes will make them like God (Genesis 3:4-7). As usual he spoke in half truths – their eyes certainly were opened, but they were not anymore like God than he was.
Adam and Eve’s newly opened eyes revealed to them a new perception of body shame, fear, confusion, and disrupted relationship with each other and Father God. I imagine how in horror they quickly wished they were blind to all of these things once again. Perhaps they would have been better off putting the fig leaves over their eyes instead of their bodies!
And now Adam and Eve’s perceptions of this new reality have been successfully passed down to humanity for centuries and generations. Much of this perception has been focused on one thing Satan hates the most – the naked human body as the image of God. He has successfully influenced culture, society, and the church to reinforce this perception. On one hand he stirs up lust for the human body, and on the other hand he brings shame upon it.
Fortunately the darkness of blinded deception is occasionally pierced by the glorious light of truth. For me, this glorious light of truth came packaged in the surprising wrapping of Christian Naturism. All of the previously viewed books, videos, and blogs under the banner of Naturism have brought a light of truth that has been so bright it has blinded me to the lust and shame of my naked human body and the bodies of others around me.
Yes, I once could see and now I”m blind – and so thankful for what I no longer see when I look at a naked human body. It’s kind of like being back in Eden. With truth I’ve thrown the old serpent out of my garden, and now I enjoy my nudity without shame or lust – just as Father God intended.
Phil’s commentary: Thanks to Figleaf for this beautiful and insightful reflection. I’m so glad to resonate so strongly with your conclusions. I thought I would tack on this YouTube video that David Hatton was kind enough to send to me just today. I thought what Sister Wendy (the art nun) said so eloquently went well with Figleaf’s great word. She says at the end of this short video, “There’s nothing, nothing amiss in any part of the human body… There’s to me something far more salacious about these sort of snickers and criticisms than in just a Christian delight in God’s skill.”
The following is my reply to a brother who told me he would never agree to my view of naturism as a Christian:
You say you’ll never agree with me on the naturist position and can’t see anyone in the Bible practicing that. Never say never! I once was in your camp and thought the same thing about the Edenic ideal. Christian naturists, in my view, had to be a bunch of perverts trying to justify their awful behavior. For me, that was a projection of my own perversion at the time, especially since I equated nudity with sex. This is the main hang up for people that is hard to get over, but once you break that link, temptation to lust loses all its power. As Martha C. Nussbaum put it so eloquently and succinctly: “Nudity quickly becomes unremarkable when generally practiced.”
Now, having taken off the lenses of cultural bias, I’ve seen the words of Scripture anew. I see the body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good. That didn’t stop being good when man sinned, at least I don’t think God changed his mind on it from one chapter to the next. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until they ate of the fruit. Then we are supposed to believe that this husband and wife are suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, after God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply? Something deeper and more sinister seems to be at play here! Many gloss over one of the very first questions God asks Adam after he confessed they were afraid and hid because they were naked. That question is simply “Who said you were naked?” It’s largely ignored, and most, it could just not be in the text at all. Could it be that the continued influence of the lying serpent deceptively put ideas contrary to God’s heart in their impressionable minds?
God wants us like little children to enter His kingdom. Someone described innocence as being “unaffected.” Kids learn body shame from grown ups. They don’t have this instinctively. We teach them, just like our first parents were taught. Is it possible to be innocent again or unaffected by sexual temptation this side of heaven? I think if our minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2), we can be. Imagine a swindler who gives his heart to the Lord and quickly realizes that as a child of God he should swindle no more. We would do him a major disservice to his faith and new walk with Christ to tell him, “Well, the truth is that we live in a fallen world. And even if you don’t want to swindle any longer, you’re going to struggle with swindling because that’s just who you are. No! We’d tell him, “Swindling grieves God’s heart and it’s not who you are any longer.” That is the most I’ve ever referred to swindling, but I hope the point is clear. Lust is no different, and we shouldn’t treat it differently! Lust is not a constant threat to the one who doesn’t want to lust, he or she who trains their own arousal to be based solely in relationship, not in the visual aspect only (see www.mychainsaregone.org).
Jesus was fully human, tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15) The woman caught in adultery was most likely fully naked, and Jesus looked at her with compassion, not lust. He commands us to do the same. (Matthew 5:27-28). We need to see people like God sees them, as made in His image.
I do not want to cause you to compromise your convictions. But as one who held the same convictions before, I will now speak of my freedom. I don’t want to try and convince you about naturism. It wasn’t even invented in Bible times, as you stated. There wasn’t a need to protect a group of like-minded people without the trappings of clothes, and restrict them to a certain area in those days. This is because nudity was simply more commonplace those days. We are post Victorian era and much more prudish as a result. We have also unfortunately been conditioned to treat the sight of bare skin strictly in a sexual way. That can be unlearned as easy as it was learned.
It’s sad to me that I never knew so many things about the ancient world at the time when Jesus roamed the earth. I didn’t really think about Roman baths or bathing at the river. How did people know who was and wasn’t circumcised? Since our clothes are so cheap to produce today, we don’t think about having one super expensive garment, that served as collateral in times with no credit cards, and doubled as a blanket at night. If you own very few garments, you would accustom yourself to working naked, like Peter and fishermen, for example. There are mosaics and frescoes and artwork that depict all these realities, as well as nude baptism for centuries! I was either unaware of these facts or outright rejected them. The point is, simple nudity was common and expected in that era, unlike today.
God commanded Isaiah to go and preach naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3). Would he command someone to sin? Did Jesus sin at his crucifixion or even when he came out of the grave and was mistaken for a naked gardener? When Saul in 1 Samuel 19:23-24 stripped and prophesied, people saw and asked if he was among the prophets (who were accustomed to prophesy this way).
I had no clue about Pope John Paul II’s landmark work known as “Theology of the Body” or what significance it would have for my life and faith. I didn’t know about all the censoring of art throughout the centuries, including the Sistine chapel. I was clueless about the subsequent removal of the loin cloths drawn over the top to reclaim Michelangelo’s God-honoring masterpiece.
As a result of not knowing or appreciating these truths, I lived a lie. The lie is that there is only one response to the sight of flesh. Like Pavlov’s dogs, my thinking was one track minded, and so the result was exactly what you’d expect (one of enticement and lustful desire). When I started to see that there is another and a better way, everything changed. My bondage ceased in a way never attained before. Soon after my wife’s body shame issues (of which she was largely unaware, even though it colored much of her world and confidence) died along with my struggles. Praise the Lord! What used to be a rock of offense, is now a great blessing just as God intended it to be in the beginning.
As for the most common objections, we cover them and the Scripture references in question at great length in this video/text blog series. I personally know several pastors and have read of many more who see no reason why naturism cannot be reconciled with Christian faith and practice. Some of them became naturists after studying the Bible for themselves, unsuccessfully trying to prove naturism is wrong! In fact, they and I attest to an enhancement to our faith and love for our Creator God and Lord.
You bring up two passages not addressed in this series: Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. My answer is we agree! You would surely say that can’t be so, but that would be because you still link nudity to sex in your mind. There is non-sexual nudity that does not arouse sexual energy. Medical communities know this and naked tribes knew it until we went and told them they were naked and and deemed them “improper” in that state of undress. Nursing mothers should be left alone to care for their offspring without being sexualized. I have gathered with other believers and we’ve worshipped together all in undecorated bare bodies and there wasn’t a hint of sexual immorality. There were only sweet times of fellowship that honestly are hard to replicate in the clothing obsessed society. There’s really something about the vulnerability and honesty and humility of all people coming together in one mind. These are such fond memories and powerful times of Spirit-led meetings, and passionate prayer. It’s no wonder the prophets of old were known to shed their clothes as they prophesied.
Greed is also improper for God’s holy people. Could an obsession with clothes (even “modest” fashion) be a well-intended conviction actually based out of pride and greed? That aside, do we try to curb greed in the same way we attempt to keep lust at bay? Do you suggest that we cover up the banks just so we have not even a hint of greed? I realize it’s a faulty analogy, but it shows how we elevate sexual sin over other sins in our minds. This is because we struggle to accept bodies as what they are, and we tend to obsess over what we think we cannot control (lust). Greed I can control with God’s help, so the sight of a bank sign won’t trigger me. See what I mean? Shouldn’t we treat all sin in the same way?
2 Timothy 2:22 – Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help. Again, we absolutely agree! To us, there’s no finer example of a pure in heart than chaste nudity in a soul that walks with the Lord, just like Adam and Eve did in the cool of the day. In my youth, I conflated this passion, made it all about me and did not live righteously. As an adult, I spent many years stunted in that one area of maturity. Then I realized I should grow up (using the maturation of our knowledge and God’s power to be made like a child, unaffected by the grip of lust). Now, thanks to God, I live for love, peace, and righteousness, not out of duty or obligation, but out of joy and relationship. True ethical naturists are adamant when they say nudity is not porn. They are so very different. Naturism is antithetical to porn. I agree. I hate porn because it devalues the person, splitting body and soul in two. Naturism shows the whole person and without any pretense or falsities. I avoid the passions of my youth today and live with a mature purity that I wish everyone would be able claim for themselves.
I know what I was like before embracing body acceptance and rejecting a body taboo. It’s a night and day difference for us, as I am not ever tempted to go back to my porn compulsion and my wife is finally seeing herself and others as God sees them. You could do this without naturism, but in my experienced opinion, nothing works faster and more completely than ethical Christian naturism. It also seems more congruent to the mindset in Bible days where non-sexual nudity was a given and not as shocking as it is today. Yes, sexual sin was a major problem, but these are heart problems and always have been. They aren’t dependent on the visual stimuli that you may or may not encounter to cause you to sin or not.
A friend named Jim put it like this just the other day, “The prudish mind is like a can of gasoline. All it needs is the necessary spark and voila, the mind explodes with distortion of the person — again, because we are messing with a primary need. Without having a prudish mind, I could easily stumble onto a porn site and it would affect me with great negativity and sadness with no allure whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I did stumble upon one last week while looking up saints of all subjects. And it affected me with negative emotions as I could see separation of the soul of the individual from the body.”
Herein lies the question: Could I lust at a naturist resort? I suppose I could if I wanted to. Although, it must be stated that naturists don’t take too kindly to any gawking or ogling! But think about this— I could also lust at a public swimming pool or even at a church service. Or I could choose not to lust in any of those places or situations. When it’s a matter of the heart (which it is), no one or nothing can make me sin or keep me from sinning. Why would I put myself in such a dangerous place such as a naturist resort where temptation abounds? Because it’s not dangerous to me any longer, because through God, I’ve retrained my mind to not objectify other image bearers. It’s like a former alcoholic that can go down the liquor aisle or even a bar and not have a problem. They are truly free and not enslaved in that bondage if they can do that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest it! This is to say nothing of having a positive Christian influence and example for those naturists who claim no faith. It’s no surprise to me that I have talked about my faith more on a nude beach than I ever did on a textile beach!
For me personally, I couldn’t go back to how I used to be. I would compare it to a dog returning to its vomit. I used to see the body as lewd and obscene and a constant source of temptation. Now it is a beautiful work of art, that God himself fashioned in His own image and likeness, to be protected and always treated with the utmost respect. Big mental changes are hard to come by, especially when you’ve been many years in certain thought patterns. This is why in the movies, Neo might be too old for the red pill in The Matrix or Anakin may be too old to train as a Jedi in Star Wars. Again, we flee from youthful passions, but we must become like little children according to Jesus. Children can learn a new way of thinking easily. They are innocent and, in our case, unaffected by lust, until we teach them otherwise. The dichotomy is that mature purity is reflected in being innocent (and living with sexual integrity in both thought and deed). We, likewise, would de well to reclaim that unaffected state through our new thinking and renewed minds as Jesus makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). That’s how I want to be. This is how I am. I’m never going back.
Something that I didn’t tell him that I wish I had would be this: I don’t want to limit God by saying I’ll never do something when there’s a chance that He may be calling me to it. This is obviously a moot point when something clearly contradicts God’s heart and His will for us, but if there are believers saying this is a godly blessing in their lives, I’m not going to write it off as an absolute “No” without first looking into it and praying about it. Convictions can change with new insight and information. Values and faith don’t and shouldn’t change. For me personally, I can say, along with my friend, Matthew Neal, that I’m a naturist by biblical conviction.