Continuing the series of new videos from Aching for Eden Productions, here’s part 1 of an amazing true story.
WARNING: This post contains nudity. If this offends you, skip the video and just read the transcript. Hopefully if you are on this site, the sight of simply nudity is ok, or you’re reconditioning your mind to see the innocence in it.
And here’s the transcript:
We were at a business meeting in a friend of ours’ home, and after the meeting was over we were sitting around just drinking coffee and visiting and having a great time. And the lady of the house, she kind of like embarrassed looking and hesitant. And she says, “I need to ask you for a favor.” And she says, “You’re a pastor, right?” “Well, yeah, of course, yes.” She says, “I really need you to help me. My sister and her husband and their family are nudists.” And she kind of she kind of whispered it like like it was a bad word, you know, nudists. “And I need you to help me talk them out of it.” And we kind of looked at each other like it was kind of funny, you know?
But I said, “Oh, absolutely, I’m in, but give me a week so I can get some ammo. We need to do a Bible study, find out what the Bible says so that we have some ammo for them.” I said, “I don’t want to just wing it.” “We’ll straighten them up!” And so we drove home that night.
We kind of joked about it on the way home, you know, because we had about an hour and a half drive home. And it was just it was one of those odd things.
We started looking up every verse on naked or nude or anything to do with that subject. We already knew ahead of time we could not use anything with Adam and Eve, so we kind of just glossed over that right away. But suddenly, everywhere we looked was positive.
You know, we’ve got King Saul was naked with the prophets, which meant that when they assumed he was a prophet because he was naked, well, then the prophets had to have been naked. So that that didn’t fit the narrative. So we kind of threw that aside.
And then it was, you know, King David and Isaiah under the command of the Lord for three years naked. And just in case you were wondering how naked, naked and barefoot!
And then there was, I mean, just over and over again throughout the Old Testament. So we were like, okay, well, that’s because that was Old Testament. So let’s look at the New Testament. And then you find, you know, Peter naked while fishing. And rather than being reprimanded by Christ or straightened up, it just mentioned it like it was just in passing.
And then we find out that Jesus, you know, it says that he took off his robe to wash the apostles’ feet at the Last Supper. And I’m thinking, “Hmm, that not doesn’t fit.” Peter doesn’t fit in.
And then you find that the Bible tells us that at the triumphal entry that they took their clothes off and laid them in the way for Jesus to ride the donkey. Everywhere, Old Testament, New Testament, nothing fit. We couldn’t find any.
If you would pull Leviticus 18 out of context, well then you could use it. But we make a habit of not doing that. We look at the Bible from a legitimate standpoint, not make it say what we want it to.
So everything we found didn’t fit the agenda, which really threw me for a loop as a pastor, frankly, because we’d been taught our whole entire educational system as a pastor and the church growing up naked, equal sex and naked equals bad, right? Well, that’s not what the Bible said. Not at all.
So we go back. You can tell she’s wanting to bring the subject up. Right? So I said to her, I said, “You’re going to want to sit down. Because what we found was not what we expected.” And they both were like, “Really?” Boom, sit down. We’re at the kitchen table. And I had, I brought a printout of all the verses with me. So I kind of slid the printout over and I said, this is all of the verses in the Bible that specifically referred to just simple nonsexual nudity.
And she’s like, “Wow, that’s a lot of verses.” I said, “Yeah, and they’re all pro non-sexual nudity. This is not good news for you. This is bad news for you. These are all verses that are pro body acceptance.”
God made us in his image, not ashamed and called it very good. And so we went through each verse at a time and answered all the questions. And she says at the end, she says, “Well, what do we do about this?” Which was, it’s a really good question.
And Kim says, you wanna tell him what you said? In our house, we believe if God says it. No. If God is for it, we’re for it. And if God is against it, we’re against it.
And so my mouth fell open because I hadn’t, I actually hadn’t asked the question, what do we do about it? Right? I just studied it. Couldn’t help them any. And she’s like, “Well, if God is for it, we’re for it.” And I went. [speechless] Because what do you do with that? Right?
And so a couple of weeks later… (I didn’t say it wouldn’t be hard.) [laughing] But if God is for it, we believe the Bible. Right. That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? Is we believe the Bible is the word of God. And if God is for it, we’re for it.
So we’re Jim and Kim and been naturists for 20 plus years.
The word “fixation” is defined as “an obsessive interest in or feeling about someone or something.” I suppose we can be fixated on a lot of different things or even people. The term comes from the subject on which we fix our eyes. What we not only gaze upon, but what we fix our eyes on, keeping them locked on will become our fixation.
Jesus talked about the importance of the eyes. In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:22-23 (KJV) he said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” What our eyes, and even or especially our mind’s eye focuses on makes all the difference.
Many who claim to be Christians have a struggle with lust and lustful thoughts and/or temptation to seek out pornography. To try and combat these urges, they will try to avoid the sight of any flesh so as to not engage in this struggle. It becomes an exercise of avoidance. There are many problems with this approach. Among them is the simple fact that you can lust after a clothed person or use your imagination to entertain sexual thoughts just as easily. You don’t need to actually see something for a habit such as sexual lust to become your fixation.
Identity is another topic altogether, but it’s an important key in conquering this particular sin habit and any other. This has been my experience. As long as I have a fixation on the wrong thing or with the wrong motive, I’ll never stop struggling. If I rest in my identity in Christ and his finished work on the cross and who I am in him, I won’t have to struggle.
When my focus was on not having sexual thoughts toward women in general, I would keep having sexual thoughts. That was my focus and my failure. When I transferred my focus, my failure vanished. Now I focus on the person, and there are no longer any sexual thoughts that come into play. I used to believe those thoughts were normal, expected, and unavoidable. That was a lie. But you will live and operate as though the lie is true as long as that is your fixation. Change your fixation, and you change the outcome. Now my fixation is Christ and it’s to honor my wife and our relationship as the sole means of my arousal. As a result, nothing else is tempting in that regard. I don’t want anything else. I can see lots of bodies, clothed or not, and I look beyond the skin and into the heart of the person, with a platonic sort of love and respect for them.
I used to be someone who objectified others by trying not to. Now I’m someone who is confident in who I am, and who I am not. My new identity comes into play, and I am a firm believer living in the power of Christ. As long as I tried in my own strength to do good, I couldn’t do it. But instead, I now rest in Christ’s ability to change me to be good (not do good, but be a good tree that bears good fruit), and it becomes easy to do so. I am not one to objectify or dehumanize another person. That’s not in my new nature to do. Our Lord was fully human, and he did not objectify others, but rather loved them, seeing past their outer exterior. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, she was most likely naked. He didn’t avert his gaze, or bounce his eyes, or cover her up or anything like that. He looked into her eyes and he became her fixation. He helped her in a way that only he could and one she would never have imagined.
It’s not hard to avoid lustful fixations any longer, because it’s automatically part of my new nature. It’s eating from the Tree of Life and not resorting to the old Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I don’t have to work hard on breathing or concentrate on my next breath. It’s second nature to me. Likewise, so is this new posture to not sexualize others. I don’t have to worry about impure thoughts or motives, because it’s not who I am anymore.
I’m reminded of an old Petra song I had on CD. So I listened again and heard the lyrics afresh:
It’s a God Fixation A singleness of heart, an undistracted mind It’s a God Fixation Addiction of a different kind
I kind of love that!
The author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 12:2 to fix our eyes on Jesus. Then it speaks of his identity calling him the author and the perfecter of our faith. In Matthew 14:30 when Peter was walking on the water, he was looking at Jesus. When he looked elsewhere, at the wind and the waves, he began to sink. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, not looking to another to satisfy our deepest needs. He alone is sufficient. If and when he becomes our sole focus, the rest of whatever it is we want to change about ourselves will fall into place. We have to trust him. To turn to idols (and that’s what everything else is) will result in failure because it’s a lack of trust in him and his saving grace. Make him your pursuit, rest in his strength and not your own, and your new fixation will become your new identity. Let to old be gone! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): “…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
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.”