So what's the deal with Christianity and nudity? Twice this week I've stumbled across stories linking the two. The first is the story from Germany about Christian teens posing for a racy calendar. Rahab is a garter belt and stockings, Delilah topless, Eve with a strategically placed fig leaf offering the viewer an apple (never mind that the leaves didn't get used until after the whole fruit incident). The other story is about a Christian nudist village to be built about 40 miles north of Tampa, Florida. According to this article, there are a whole bunch of Christian "naturalists" throughout the U. S. and Canada. The man putting up the project is reportedly the head of a Christian Nudist website with 19,000 registered users.
Now I'm not sure where these folks get their historical information, but they claim nudism and Christianity are really contradictory. One man stated, "Naturism was quite normal for the first few 100 years of Christianity." One of the teens exclaimed, “Anyway, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that you are forbidden to show yourself nude.”
But all that questionable research aside, I've always heard that the secret of being sexy is what isn't shown. If that's the case, then there is nothing sexy about nudism. Indeed, the stereotype of the typical nudist is not a very attractive, or even physically fit person. I've heard interviews with people who have visited nudist resorts who said that after the initial shock wore off, they didn't even notice that everyone around them was buck naked. It wasn't sexy. It wasn't erotic. It was just other people. A t-shirt I saw once read, "At my age, nudity is the best birth control!" There's wisdom there!
I really don't want to debate the compatibility of being a Christian and running around stitchless. But there's something about the idea that we imagine something to be much better than it really is. I know from experience that a sin always seems like a better idea before I commit it than after. A willful rebellion into greed or materialism or lust or hatefulness is appealing -- especially if I really feel the desire. If I really don't care to be around someone, the urge to say something nasty about that person is strong. Wanting something seems to make the method to get it seem acceptable, even when it's not.
Let's face it, if sin wouldn't seem appealing, we wouldn't do it.
So what do we do about that siren song of sin? We rely upon the strength of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and I think His secret weapon is to remind us that most sin doesn't live up to it's billing. A married woman considering an affair with another man has strength to reject the idea if she remembers the problems that adultery will cause in her life. The years of regret isn't worth the minutes of pleasure. That man who claims he'll respect her in the morning usually won't and the husband she has will be hurt beyond belief. Being reminded that it isn't worth it -- lust, desires, greed, hatefulness -- is our weapon in our struggles with temptation. Even the sight of many naked people loses it's sexual appeal.
Sin may seem like a good idea when it's being considered. There's a good chance it will be quite enjoyable at the time too. But afterward, we find ourselves facing a nasty naked caboose of guilt and regret. And if we feel no guilt it's not simply a matter of resisting temptation, but a need for a change in life direction.