Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More Nudity? What a Shame.

I am constantly amazed how the blogosphere works. All I have to do is mention briefly a story about a Christian nudist camp, and I become a haven for people looking for more information! So before I pick up a nickname like "The Naked Blogger" I figure I'd better address the whole issue in more detail.

In the other post I mentioned that nakedness is not necessarily lustful. To a certain degree I believe that's accurate. The secret of sexiness is in not showing everything. The erotic thoughts are born in the imagination. A naked person leaves nothing to the imagination. So there is a sense in which nudity and lust are not tied directly together. And if the stereotype of naturists (the preferred name for nudists) is correct, most of these people aren't all that physically attractive in the first place. Let's face it, there are many people whom you do not want to see in the buff. Nudity and lust do not go hand in hand in every occasion.

And that's the point that so-called Christian naturists are trying to point out, or exploit, as the case may be. Witness this open letter published on the Fig Leaf Forum. (I'm not making this stuff up, friends.) This was written by a person who read the transcript of a debate between Mark Roberts and John Kundert, who is apparently a naturist spokesperson of some kind. The focus for the writer was whether or not social nudity is a sin. According to the letter, this man claimed that:
...if I can be convinced that my practice of nudism is a sin, and therefore a hindrance to my sharing eternity with God, I will gladly walk away from it.
Well, my anonymous brother or sister, let me try to convince you.

I will gladly leave aside the whole lust argument. Even though there is truth to it, and the claims that Mark Roberts made are true, I will acknowledge that not every bit of nudity brings thoughts of lust. But the point that you seemed to be so impressed with from Mr. Kundert is flawed. You wrote:
John quoted several examples of nudity in the Bible, including God's command to Isaiah to publicly [sic] preach nude. I was hoping you would use references showing where God condemned nudity.
Realistically, Mr. Roberts didn't have to show you Bible references condemning nudity. You see every example of social nudity that I can think of in Scripture also carries another connotation. It's a word that seems to have fallen out of fashion in today's world, but it still applies. That word is shame.

The passage you mention of Isaiah being told to preach nude in public is found in Isaiah 20. In that same passage you find out why Isaiah was commanded to do this. It is a message that the Egyptians will be put to shame (v. 4). That was the whole point. It wasn't an opportunity for Isaiah to let it all hang out. It was shameful for the prophet to have to expose himself in this manner. If it wasn't shameful, then God's point isn't made.

Go back to the Garden of Eden after the first couple ate the fruit. What is the first thing they do once their "eyes are opened"? They make coverings to put over the private parts. When God comes calling, Adam explains that he was afraid and hid because he was naked. Now he had been naked all along, but when sin entered the world, Adam and Eve immediately knew that those parts needed to be covered up. Why? Shame.

Read about Noah's sons after the flood who have to try to cover their drunken father's nakedness without looking at it. It's right there in Genesis 9. Turn back to Isaiah 47:2-3 and God's word against Egypt:
Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams. Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered.

That doesn't sound like social nudity is acceptable, does it? Neither do the passages in Ezekiel 16:35-42 or Micah 1:11 or Nahum 3:5 or Habakkuk 2:15-16 or Revelation 3:18. The apostle Paul even goes to the extent of calling our private parts "unpresentable" and reminds us that we treat those parts with "special modesty." I don't have a list of these convincing passages which Mr. Kundert quoted, but when I see any Biblical reference to nudity it carries with it the idea of shame. Even in those passages which speak of nakedness because of severe poverty, there is an overriding context of shame for the naked people. To read these passages otherwise is being intellectually dishonest with the text.

So why do some people see no conflict between a Biblical worldview and a naturist worldview? Simple. They choose not to see the conflict. By telling oneself that there is no shame in nudity, a person tries to deny what conscience clearly says. One must convince oneself that what one knows to be wrong is actually right, or at least acceptable. But brainwashing oneself doesn't change what the Bible clearly teaches: your nakedness is not to be shared in public.

I have no way of knowing if the letter I have referenced is current or a few years old. I also have no idea of the identity of its author. So perhaps this post will never reach the person who will actually walk away from nudism if given Biblical reasoning. But that's not the point. If even a fraction of those googling "nude wife" will understand the truth of what God's Word actually says, it will have the desired impact. And if we would all remember the concept of shame, we will all be better off.


John B said...

The opposite of shame is honor. Where there is no shame there can be no honor. Our culture doesn't honor sex, therefore there can be no shame.

Kristen said...

Well done, Ed. :)

"They choose not to see the conflict."

That could be said about so many things, couldn't it?

Jennifer said...

It's obvious this person just wants to do whatever they want, regardless of what God's word says. Until this person meets Jesus he can look all he wants for answers but will never find them.

Anonymous said...

Kristen had the same point I did:

"One must convince oneself that what one knows to be wrong is actually right, or at least acceptable"

This is how people justify all sin.

Good post, Ed.

dcYpl said...

This is obviously a difficult issue for over 19,000 people identifying themselves with Christianity.

Some people (yes even today) have identified with the passages you've quoted from the perspective of flesh is corrupt and evil, so my body must be too, and have as a consequence, done terrible things to their bodies and the bodies of those under their "care".

These people are just as decieved as those in the article you reference in that their actions are "sanctioned by God". Some of the things in the article sound like the arguments used to support polygamy.


As an aside, I've always wondered how adults had sex without being "shameful" in front of family members, in societies where the normal house consisted of one maybe two rooms.
Did/do families see each other naked? Did/do families see/hear sexual acts?

I don't know the history of this, particularly pertaining to Christian tradition, but I'd be interested to know if anyone has information.


Discerning Discipleship

Jeremy Pierce said...

Isaiah wasn't naked anyway. He was in his underwear. That's how that word is usually used, anyway. It's not the same word for nakedness in Gen 2-3 or in uncovering someone's nakedness in Gen 9 and all the Leviticus references about whose nakedness not to uncover.

jan@theviewfromher said...

A great post, Rev! Just wanted to let you know I linked to it over at The View From Her in a post about Hugh Hefner's legacy. Thanks for bringing clarity.

Bethany said...

Wow. That was interesting. And kinda weird. Thanks for tackling the issue. (Although I didn't need any convincing!)