I used to…

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

I used to think Scripture condemned nudity after the fall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I used to think nudism was a form of pornography.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I now know nudism is the antitheses of porn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An observation…  

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

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

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

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

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

Bathsheba Tempts David

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

As Chad Thompson wrote on page 90 of his book, That Famous Fig Leaf:

The story of David and Bathsheba is often referenced as a biblical admonition of nudity, as if Bathsheba was tempting David by bathing in the courtyard. Yet every other woman in Jerusalem did the same thing. Whether male or female, rich or poor, outdoor bathing was universal to the ancient cultures of both Egypt and Israel. The second chapter of Exodus even recounts Pharaoh’s daughter bathing in the open river while Jewish commoners walk about. Women participating in the culturally natural phenomenon of open bathing was not anything King David wasn’t used to seeing on a daily basis. What led him to rape his neighbor’s wife was not her public bath, but the evil in his own heart. Furthermore, if Bathsheba had committed any sin by exposing her body in public, it would seem odd that Nathan made her the “innocent lamb” in his story.

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

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

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

God Made Clothes?

I remember having the talk. No not that talk, the one about fig leaves and God making clothes for Adam and Eve. I was in kindergarten. I went to a friend’s house and we took our clothes off to play. I don’t know who suggested that activity, but it was probably me. I did suggest that we take our naked play outside. So we climbed out the window in his room and played in the grass out back behind his apartment complex. There was nothing inappropriate, other than breaking social convention, that is. It was all fun and games until his mom caught us, then it was game over!

That’s what brought on the talk. His mom told my parents what we had done, and my parents  took me home and sat me down. They told me I can’t be doing that kind of thing, and went on to lecture me about how God clothed Adam and Eve, and we need to be clothed now at all times. The inner nudist in me started to die and shame started taking its place.

It would be half a lifetime later that I would revisit what my well-intentioned parents taught me that day. I had never really pondered God’s question to Adam and Eve, “Who said you were naked?” I never thought much about clothes being an invention of humans (with some help or suggestions from a certain serpent). I was duped like all of humanity. I exchanged the truth of God for a lie. It’s time to reclaim the truth. That’s what this video is about…

Watch the whole Objections series of videos HERE.

Prepared Statement

As we have stated in the About Us section of this blog, we unfortunately have to be very careful about our identities when it comes to naturism, because of our current employment. We are both employed in places that would get the absolute wrong impression if it were to come out that we are naturists, and we would certainly lose our jobs over it. Hopefully one day soon we will be able to be open about it with everyone, but that is not possible under the current circumstances. That said, we understand the risk and are unapologetically practicing our beliefs. If we were ever “outed,” this is a prepared statement that I would want to make available to whomever it may concern:

We understand there may be information circulating about us, and we would like to set the record straight to minimize rumors and misinformation as much as possible. Some years ago, we made a drastic change in our family. The change was in essence how we view the human body. At a much deeper level, it’s a change in how we view ourselves and others as embodied souls that represent and make up the image of God. As Christians, we have always maintained that people are made in God’s image (imago Dei), but we haven’t really understood all that this powerful concept entails. When we fail to comprehend it in its fullness, we all suffer as a result. There is so much brokenness all around us— we don’t need statistics to prove that point. We need renewed minds and a heart to live as God intended from the start.

It’s very much related to a topic Pope John Paul II explored and deemed as “The Theology of the Body.” He was one of the few theologians to broach this subject, though many others are also writing about it now. We have studied, prayed, read, prayed some more, and then have had the courage to practice the theory and move to an experiential knowledge confirming the theoretical to be true as we have lived it out.

This journey has done wonders for our spiritual life and our relationship with God, with each other, and with everyone else (fellow image bearers). We enjoyed a good and healthy family life and marriage before making these changes, but have never been closer since changing our mind on how God views us, and how we are to view each other.

Surely some will be scandalized by this news. Our good name and reputation may take a hit. However, we assure you that no moral failure has taken place. In fact, we are more attuned to and saddened by the daily true moral failure within the church, especially among those claiming to be champions of morality. We see many problems that have their root in how the body is viewed (as lewd, obscene, and shameful) as an attack of the enemy that started in the garden of Eden and has continued down through history. Satan viciously attacks this issue because he hates the image of God and wants to keep people (unbelievers and believers) in all sorts of bondage.

The culture we live in tends to over-sexualize the body. Christians tend to run in the opposite direction for fear of being sucked in, but that repression can create an unhealthy obsession with the sexuality it aims to suppress. We find problems with both those views, and while they seem like polar opposites, they operate from similar frames of mind. We have demystified the body so that we see it as God does: the pinnacle of creation, worthy of respect and honor, not to be made an idol or a stumbling block (lust is a man’s responsibility regardless of anyone’s dress or even lack of dress).

What this means is that in our freedom (Romans 14) we can be in non-sexual nude settings without falling into lust or sin of any kind. We can enjoy God and his creation in nature without the need for clothing. If you’ve ever skinny dipped, that’s the feeling we attain whenever it’s possible.

We have met some incredible like-minded people. Many of them are current and former pastors and even seminary professors. We have met people that have come from even stricter conservative upbringings than our own. For instance Amish couples, who having embraced body positivity, have gone from one extreme to the other, but have found such a joy in the Lord in the process. This is true of every Christian naturist we’ve met; they radiate the joy of the Lord. They have not only bared their bodies, but also their souls, as our conversations have “naturally” gone to such deep levels of vulnerability, which is extremely rare in regular instances. We have had such sweet times of fellowship and have worshipped together. We realize it’s hard to understand, but the truth is there has not been a hint of sexual immorality in these places. We’ve found the public pool to be a place of more heightened sexuality.

That’s exactly the point. Once your mind is renewed (Romans 12:1-2) and not conformed to the pattern of this world, we can restore the innocence of the garden of Eden. You may think this is not possible this side of heaven, but I assure you that it is. And you wouldn’t take that stance if a habitual liar was convicted to renew his mind on the issue of lying to live a more truthful life on earth as he awaits heaven. You wouldn’t say that’s not possible, once a liar, always a liar. Why not then with the issues of the body?

There is much more biblical and historical research that goes into the Christian naturist philosophy, but that is what we have embraced and we cannot fathom going back to how we once were before this change. We are much better versions of ourselves as a result of this change in thinking, which has affected so many other areas in good ways as well. There is too much to try and articulate in one statement as it is the subject of entire books. It is, however, healthy and wholesome, and the opposite of what you might think, especially if you, being conditioned by society, have tied nudity to sex in your mind and thinking.

We see it as our mission:

  • to help those in the church find body positivity and body acceptance for those plagued by poor self-image issues
  • to help men see that lust is not an unconquerable struggle, even though man-made attempt to curb it will always fail
  • to help other naturists see a good example of what Christians should be like (perhaps different than what they are accustomed to or the perception they have in their minds)
  • to help other Christian naturists or those interested in reconciling this practice with their faith

To this end, we have developed a website full of articles and resources at www.achingforeden.com.

We love the Lord and we love you as we do everybody made in His image. We would welcome any and all questions. We would just ask that you do not judge, criticize, or condemn what you do not understand without first trying to see things (as unbiased as possible) from another perspective.

Undressed for Worship

The main focus of this post will be the following video. We, at Aching for Eden, have produced this video to share a very important point regarding the practice of naturism as a Christian. I will leave it at that, and let you watch the video, and then I’ll discuss some more.

The premise of this video is simple. If you were to play the sound clips for any practicing Christian, they would be able to identify the sounds of worship to God. As soon as they learn that everyone in the audio was naked, their knee-jerk reaction will be to protest. To them the two notions are incompatible: one cannot be naked in mixed company and worshiping God at the same time. However, does it sound any different than any worship service in any church anywhere? At face value, if we did a blind test side-by-side could you tell the difference between Naked worship and clothed worship? No! They are the same. More importantly, God accepts them both as worship.

Well this begs the question: can people lust in a naked worship service? The answer, is yes. My follow up question is: Can people lust in a clothed worship service? The answer is also yes, absolutely! Do they? That depends entirely on the person. No external factor should be able to cause a human heart to lust or not. A lustful person will lust. A person whose mind has been redeemed on the issue of lust, who has been healed from the sexual brokenness of our world will remain mature, innocent, and pure in any and all settings. The depraved mind cannot control itself. The redeemed mind cannot be controlled. 

I’m not saying we can be perfect, or that we will never sin. But I am saying that I used to struggle with lust a lot over a span of 20 years, and now I don’t anymore (Praise God!). I mean it’s a night and day difference, to the point that I can even worship freely with others of a like mind even completely naked and not fall into sinful thoughts or behavior.

That’s becuase it’s a mind and heart matter. Jesus and Paul seem to agree with that statement:

“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Mark 7:15 ESV

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Titus 1:15 ESV

In my experience in various nude worship gatherings, my brothers and sisters are simply worshiping the Lord. No one is there for any purpose other than to worship in that moment, and after that moment, they lead lives of worship. The thought that this concept is so radical and an impossibility is no more than a projection of one’s own imagination, and proof that the objecting person has not worked through the issues regarding the body that plague so many today. I’m so grateful to have this tremendous healing and be able to enjoy a mature purity. Does this come across as arrogant? It may, but I hope it doesn’t. I do not mean to boast in anything but the love of Christ. I would hope rather that it comes across as an invitation to see there is a better way to live, free from the sexual hang ups and brokenness that abounds in the world and frankly in our church pews. I’ve often said I would wish this upon my worst enemy, if I had any. It’s my wish that all who are exposed (no pun intended) to these truths prayerfully consider them and overcome the traditions of men in favor of the mystery of God revealed in our very bodies.

I love the way Christopher West sums up his fascinating book, “Our Bodies tell God’s Story” and this too is my prayer for you dear reader:

Perhaps we’ve been caught up in a thousand lies about the meaning of our bodies and our sexuality. But it doesn’t matter how dyslexic or even illiterate we may have been in reading the divine language of the body up to this point in our lives. As John Paul II boldly proclaims, through the gift of redemption there is always the possibility of passing from error to the truth; there is always the possibility of conversion from sin to sexual purity as an expression of life according to the Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Convert our hearts from lust to love. Impregnate our sexual desires with divine passion so that, loving as God loves on earth, we might one day rejoice in the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb in heaven. Amen.

That’s a great place to end, but if I could throw one more grenade of unorthodox truth in the mix, it’d be this one. Frank Viola and George Barna (non-naturists) have in their book “Pagan Christianity” a whole chapter devoted to “Costumes: Covering Up the Problem.”They conclude:

What’s the big deal about “dressing up” for church? It is hardly a burning issue. However, it is what dressing up for church represents that is the burning issue. First, it reflects the false division between the secular and the sacred. To think that God cares one whit if you wear dressy threads on Sunday to “meet Him” is a violation of the New Covenant. We have access to God’s presence at all times and in all circumstances. Does He really expect His people to dress up for a beauty pageant on Sunday morning? Second, wearing attractive, flashy clothes on Sunday morning screams out an embarrassing message: that church is the place where Christians hide their real selves and “dress them up” to look nice and pretty. Think about it. Wearing your Sunday best for church is little more than image management. It gives the house of God all the elements of a stage show: costumes, makeup, props, lighting, ushers, special music, master of ceremonies, performance, and the featured program. Dressing up for church violates the reality that the church is made up of real people with messy problems—real people who may have gotten into a major-league bickering match with their spouses just before they drove into the parking lot and put on colossal smiles to cover it up! Wearing our “Sunday best” conceals a basic underlying problem. It fosters the illusion that we are somehow “good” because we are dressing up for God. It is a study in pretense that is dehumanizing and constitutes a false witness to the world. Let’s face it. As fallen humans, we are seldom willing to appear to be what we really are. We almost always rely on our performance or dress to give people a certain impression of what we want them to believe we are. All of this differs markedly from the simplicity that marked the early church. Third, dressing up for church smacks against the primitive simplicity that was the sustaining hallmark of the early church. The first-century Christians did not “dress up” to attend church meetings. They met in the simplicity of living rooms. They did not dress to exhibit their social class. In fact, the early Christians made concrete efforts to show their absolute disdain for social class distinctions. In the church, all social and racial distinctions are erased. The early Christians knew well that they were a new species on this planet. For this reason, James levels a rebuke to those believers who were treating the rich saints better than the poor saints. He boldly reproves the rich for dressing differently from the poor. And yet, many Christians are under the false delusion that it is “irreverent” to dress in informal clothing when attending a Sunday morning church service. This is not dissimilar to how the Scribes and the Pharisees accused the Lord and His disciples of being irreverent for not following the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-13). In short, to say that the Lord expects His people to dress in fine clothing when the church gathers is to add to the Scriptures and speak where God has not spoken. Such a practice is human tradition at its best.

The practice of naturists runs contrary to this and puts everyone at the same level so to speak. It humanizes more than most anything I know. It makes us appreciate the real person, not some facade. Naturists interpret modesty as it used to be defined, as an attitude or state of being, not what we wear or how we adorn ourselves.

I realize God does not show favoritism and accepts all who approach him. But may I be as bold as if to say that those who worship him literally and figuratively uncovered and laid bare (Hebrews 4:13) may be more effectively  honoring God over those who dress up in their Sunday best to look good for worship. It’s all in the motive. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe there’s some truth there.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Lust, Modesty, and Purity

Today’s post comes thanks to the interaction with a reader of the blog. Having written us via our contact page, we corresponded back and forth a bit, and then he sent me some memes he had created on the topic of lust.

This interesting debate on Fig Leaf Forum between the editor and a pastor further revealed to me how big of a problem lustful thinking is. For those who have been conditioned to believe that lust is the only “natural” reaction to seeing a naked body, it is almost incomprehensible that this notion is not true. However, we know from experience that there is another response, and it is the more natural response. It is simply to see the other person as a whole person and do so with honor and respect. It’s actually really easy! The pastor in this “debate” (if you can really call it that) is so hung up on the issue of lust throughout the whole exchange (most likely revealing his own personal struggle). The editor tries repeatedly to get him to debate the actual texts in Scripture and points out over and over that we are in agreement over the damaging affects of lust. They should not be debating that issue at all. It’s a classic case of an apples and oranges logical fallacy. I encourage you to read each section of the debate, and you’ll see my point clearly. This pastor is not alone in his beliefs. These attitudes are pervasive in the church. David L. Hatton in Meeting at the River drops this insight, “Widespread religious support for a demonic lie cannot alter its falsehood.”

The following memes are meant to shine a light at the misconceptions of lust, modesty, and purity that are rampant among these churchgoers, well-meaning people intent on following Christ. (I have to keep reminding myself that I went most of my life thinking the same way as they do!)

You’re not going to change my mind on this one, because it has been renewed (See our Renewed Minds blog post). Romans 14:5 states that everyone should be fully convinced in their own minds concerning matters of opinion. I am fully convinced on this issue. For years I tried the body taboo mentality for purity’s sake, but it only ever produced a fetish-like behavior. Strict adherence to arbitrary rules of “morality” brought on a constant struggle to maintain purity of thought at all times– and this in a very sexualized world that does not abide by the same rules. Every man’s battle and bouncing my eyes (popular thinking in Christian circles) would result in some victories and many defeats, and a whole lot of guilt and shame. This is not selling the idea that body taboo works very well!

This is why. Our culture, society, and frankly Christian teaching on the matter has all contributed to us being conditioned to believe that nudity is always linked to sex. Practically the only times people are nude is to shower or to have sex. Folks are even compulsive about wearing clothes to sleep in when God gave us the best pajamas we could ever need (our skin)! With the exception of the occasional doctor visits, there really isn’t much instance for nudity outside of sexual situations. This is where the church goes wrong, thinking that the way to be pure is to limit the visibility of human flesh as much as possible. This completely disregards the incredible nature of the mind to retain and ruminate on images once seen. It negates the face that we have endless limits to our imaginations. It also sets us up for a train wreck of epic proportions when the very thing that it tries to eliminate is being delivered onto the same track of mind. If our minds are perverted, regardless of any man-made effort to the contrary, they will stay that way, UNLESS we renew our thinking.

The problem is that both purity culture and big porn agree on the subject of body taboos. Purity tries to avoid the body as much as it can, calling it dirty, while porn exploits it and makes it obscene. The church and pornographers should not be in agreement, but they are! Again, David L. Hatton explains:

The pornographic view of the body has a twin called “a prudish view.” They come from the same womb. They are two sides of the same coin, and when that coin is spent, whether it’s heads or tails, the purchase is a distorted portrait of our bodies. This is because both views promote an unholy, God-dishonoring treatment of the human body based on exactly the same vain imagination. Prudery hides the body, calling the Creator’s design a lustful indecency. Pornography flaunts it, using prudery’s definition to turn the beauty of God’s handiwork into a stimulus for impure sexual thoughts. Both these ways of treating the body are an unnatural, unrealistic abuse. Though they seem to be opposite, they are conceptually identical. Both are ungodly, and both are based on a dysfunctional view of humanity’s physical embodiment. Wherever a wholesome, godly view of the naked human body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view is embraced, the resultant religious zeal of prudery inevitably plunges a society into the hellish depravity of pornography.

I love this meme, because I’ve lived it out. The averting your eyes “trick”, buddy system accountability, and everything else that is taught to help maintain purity is just plain weak. It doesn’t get to the root of the issue. It’s like putting a small band-aid on a festering wound. I can’t help but think about the Duggars. The reality TV family has shared publicly that if they are out for a walk and the ladies see someone that doesn’t meet their standards of modesty the will use a code word and discreetly say “Nike!” so their men will look down at their shoes and not be tempted to sin. It’s an effort to “protect” the men, but it’s ridiculous! That’s no way to live. It’s also quite prideful to think that your conservative dress code can stop someone from sinning. That’s kind of trying to take the place of Jesus, isn’t it? Was Jesus’ sacrifice not powerful enough to transform men’s lives? I guess in every area except when it comes to lust! In Michelle Duggar’s own words, “By keeping those private areas covered, there’s not any ‘defrauding’ going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don’t believe in defrauding others by the way we dress.” Defrauding is just a very weird term to me. I sincerely hope Josh Duggar is doing well and no longer struggling, but having grown up with this teaching, it did not save him from any scandal. Only the new purity tactic of seeing everyBODY as made in the image of God is fool-proof.

Our friend took this image from our memes page and added these words over the top. If it were true that false solutions to lust were effective, those who live with the most strict of dress codes would be the purest among us. That is simply not the case! And it’s typically oppressing the women and repressing the men. I’ve met several Christian naturists that come from mennonite and even amish backgrounds. They are so much happier and free as naturists, and they attest that in the strict conservative setting lewd behavior is quite prevalent and always in secret. Sad, but true.

Raise your hand if you conquered lust because women covered up. [insert crickets sound] I’m happy to say that I HAVE conquered lust. I could never make that claim before, but I can now. Trust me, it wasn’t because women were covering up. I had the ability lust, objectify, and dehumanize any woman in my mind no matter what she was or wasn’t wearing! I’m certainly not proud of that, but that’s how it was for me. I did NOT conquer lust because of my own great effort. Honestly, I was surprised into freedom! It was a work of God that he did without my help. I changed the way I thought of the body. I renewed my mind and began to see others as made in the image of God, deserving the honor and respect that they are due as fellow image bearers. I broke the hellish agreements I had made that kept me in bondage. I rejected the lies that say we are wired to respond sexually to visual stimuli. It’s so wonderful to be free from that vicious cycle of lust and shame. If you’ve never read “The Chain” on mychainsaregone.org, do it now!

This one brings up a good point about lust, modesty, and purity. I think that what’s perverted is to see Bathsheba as the guilty one! As Chad W. Thompson writes in “That Famous Fig Leaf:”

The story of David and Bathsheba is often referenced as a biblical admonition of nudity, as if Bathsheba was tempting David by bathing in the courtyard. Yet every other woman in Jerusalem did the same thing. Whether male or female, rich or poor, outdoor bathing was universal to the ancient cultures of both Egypt and Israel. The second chapter of Exodus even recounts Pharaoh’s daughter bathing in the open river while Jewish commoners walk about. Women participating in the culturally natural phenomenon of open bathing was not anything King David wasn’t used to seeing on a daily basis. What led him to rape his neighbor’s wife was not her public bath, but the evil in his own heart. Furthermore, if Bathsheba had committed any sin by exposing her body in public, it would seem odd that Nathan made her the “innocent lamb” in his story. (2 Samuel 12:1-4)

We tend to take Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30 literally, concluding that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has committed adultery in his heart. We make others cover up to safeguard ourselves from falling into this adultery of the heart. We take the easy route and blame others for forcing us to think impure thoughts. That’s insane. What we have failed to do, is work on our own hearts, and not look upon others with lustful intent. We interpret this passage as not looking at all, but all of a sudden this very taboo creates a powerful allure and temptation. This is all because of a literal interpretation that ignores the fact that you can see another human unclothed without falling into lust. To interpret the very next verse literally would mean we would all have to gouge out our eyes. We’re quick to point out Jesus’ hyperbole here. Can we be consistent? He didn’t say if your right eye causes you to stumble, force women to cover up so that you aren’t tempted, and if you are tempted, get onto them for not being modest enough. He simply said not to look lustfully at other women, and if you can’t then it’d be better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown in hell. No amount of covering is going to purify your mind for you and stop you from objectifying women! It’s better to ask God to help you see others as a work of art, the pinnacle of His amazing creation. I don’t respond sexually to a beautiful sunset. No, I praise God for it. Human beings as the crowning glory of His creation deserve the same respect and admiration, do they not?

This one is a bit strange, but it sort of summarizes what I’ve been saying throughout this post. I guess it’s pointing out which is the most strategic position. If we would embrace the created value, beauty, and goodness of the whole human, things would be a lot better. Think of the whole world adopting this view. Gone would be the porn industry, human trafficking, pedophilia, etc. That’s not going to happen, but it can one by one, on an individual basis as has been the case with me.

If you stumbled onto this page not knowing what to expect and these thoughts have surprised you in any way, I want you to know that there IS a better way. It’s only better because it’s the way God intended us to be from the very start. Sin has so marred a world and twisted and perverted all that He made good. In fact, he called the first man and woman who were naked and unashamed “very good.” Did God change his mind? Or did we?

Christians and Nakedness (a poem)

We often quote and make references to David L. Hatton on this blog. His writings have helped and challenged us both in many ways.

Today, we will feature a wonderful poem of his with added visual elements. I have produced this video with David’s permission with the hopes that it blesses those who see it and would agree with its powerful message, and challenge those who may be startled by its assertions.

To that end, if you would want to share this video with others, please do so! Copy and paste this link where you would like:

https://youtu.be/-t5eCWtnsds

A printable PDF file of “Christians and Nakedness” is available here via David L. Hatton.

CHRISTIANS AND NAKEDNESS

Today we are not used to the body when it’s bare,
The skin beyond our face and arms beneath the clothes we wear.
Untaught to see its beauty, we’ve learned to label “lewd”
The “birthday suit” we started with, which God created nude.

It’s true we make exceptions for toddlers full of glee
Who run around in pure delight, stark naked, clothing-free.
But those who rediscover this liberty so clean
Are called, when they come back to it, “perverted and obscene.”

Yet artists, who observe it in models posed unclad,
Acknowledge how the human form is beautiful! Not bad!
When health-care workers view it, no decency is gone.
A patient’s dignity remains when seen with nothing on.

It’s found by missionaries, to naked peoples sent,
That “porn” invades a culture’s land to which “our clothing” went.
It’s known by skinny-dippers who bathe in sea and sun
That recreation in the buff is simply healthy fun.

The church has failed her duty to guard and to proclaim
That God’s own image in our flesh is free from body-shame.
Instead, the naked body is marketed for lust,
Relinquished into sordid hands by pulpits breaking trust.

Are human bodies “sinful” without their textile wraps?
Must children have to look for them in pornographic traps?
Can’t we who praise our Maker sustain our hungry youth
Whose natural curiosity God meant to feast on truth?

False modesty is shameful! It sends the lovely breast
Into a realm of carnal thoughts when mothers nurse undressed.
It bans the Sistine Chapel, where nudes are plainly shown,
And censures Michelangelo for sculpting them in stone.

We’ve grown quite unaccustomed to normal nudity.
We even hide ourselves at home from friends and family.
Some people hate their bodies, despising God’s design,
Embarrassed if they must disrobe and let His glory shine.

Yet most of our ancestors all bathed in open air.
They lived and dressed in one-room homes and saw each other bare.
We trim for sports and work-outs. Greek athletes did so stripped!
And Christians went to Roman baths with just their towels equipped!

The ancients often labored like Peter, in the nude.
When prophets preached without a stitch, nobody called it “Rude!”
The early church’s converts were naked when baptized.
Though Bible scholars know these facts, they’re never advertized!

Have we made better progress in our morality
By pushing man-contrived taboos on human nudity?
Did God create His likeness to foster sinful lust?
Do we confirm the Serpent’s scheme for souls God sheathed in dust?

If we could just recapture the ancient attitude
That saw no scandal in a field of gardeners working nude,
If we more often witnessed God’s image on display,
We might regain a wholesome view of nakedness today.

— David L. Hatton, 5/23/2005

Don’t Look Here!

(The problem of lust, part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Problem of Lust (part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lust is Fantasy. Love is reality.

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

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

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

Losing battle vs. Victory vs. No battle

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

A parable

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

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

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

It should be that easy!

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 7:6-9 (NIV)

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

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

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

It should be that easy!