Monday, July 6, 2009

Sound Off - Vol. I

Again, welcome to The Biblical Naturist.

We have invited questions or comments from our readers, but not provided a place to do so besides adding comments after a blog post.

This post is for you.

If you have a question or comment, or challenge, please add it to this post as a comment. Hopefully, we'll take the best questions and toughest challenges and answer them in future blog posts.

In other words, we want you to tell us what you would like for us to address.

Thanks! We look forward to reading you responses!

Matthew Neal

15 comments:

Chris said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog, it is very insightful. I am a Christian and a Naturist. I was reading through Genesis and came across chapter 9:22-24 concerning Noah's son seeing him naked in his tent, then he told his brothers who covered him up without looking at him. The son who saw him was cursed and the two who covered him up were blessed. I would like your take on that passage. If you have already discussed this on your blog, please point me to it.

Thanks

Matthew Neal said...

Chris,

Thanks for writing.

Interestingly enough, the story about Noah's nakedness was one of the Scripture passages that I had to wrestle through before I could accept naturism myself.

As a kid, I had always been very fearful about seeing my own Dad naked anywhere (like a locker room) precisely because of my knowledge of this story.

The topic deserves a full post, so I won't try to answer it here. However, I do recommend that you find the post about "The Meaning of Nakedness - Part 1" (http://thebiblicalnaturist.blogspot.com/2010/11/meaning-of-nakedness-part-1.html) and download the document that the post is derived from. The first point is that we need to have a clear understanding of 'ervah,' the Hebrew word translated In Gen. 9 as "nakedness." The article does mention and give a revised interpretation of the story of Noah based on the revised definition, but there's much more that I could say about the passage, so I'll plan to do an article about it soon.

I hope that's helpful!

Matt

Chris said...

Thanks Matt,
I look forward to reading more. I have read part I and downloaded the document. It makes more sense now. I wish the translation of Hebrew words and meanings was made more clear in the English language versions.

Matthew Neal said...

Hey, Chris...

The fact is that any translation obscures and/or distorts the meaning of the original text, no matter what the source text (including non-biblical texts) and no matter what languages are involved.

For this reason, it's all the more appropriate that we make sure we are following Paul's admonition to Timothy when he told him to "Be diligent [KJV: 'Study'] to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."

The reality that we read a translated version of the inspired text makes it all the more important the we handle the word of truth accurately!

The problem comes in when we read a passage on the surface, but don't dig deeper... and we presume that the meaning we've always understood is actually accurate.

When I was doing my initial examination of naturism from a biblical perspective, I reevaluated every passage of Scripture that I knew of or had heard used against nudity. What I found was that under careful and honest hermeneutical scrutiny, not one of those passages of Scripture could stand firm with the meaning that had always been assigned to it. Not one of those passages of Scripture had been correctly understood by those who used them to support a nudity taboo.

Noah's story was one such passage... and as I said before, it was one that loomed large in my own life all the way up until I studied it, too.

Matt

sam said...

Samuel Francisco here.

I am curious, under what context or should I say dispensation does social nudity become acceptable versus the standards/times in Leviticus 18/20.
I am eagerly curious, and more than willing to receive learning from your mature stand on private/social nakedness :)

francisofsam1@gmail.com

Matthew Neal said...

Hey, Sam.

Thanks for writing.

The key to Lev. 18 and 20 is to understand what God is referring to when He uses the term "nakedness" (Hebrew: 'ervah') and the phrase, "uncover the nakedness of..." (KJV and NASB)

If you start from the assumption that the word means exactly what it sounds like, you'll find that those Scriptures don't make much sense. Why, for example, all the restriction on nakedness applied only to close family members? Or how can my mother's nakedness be my father's nakedness? Or if a man marries ("takes") his sister, it is still a problem if she sees his nakedness and he sees hers?

These passages point to the fact that the natural meaning of the word 'ervah" simply meaning "nakedness" is unsatisfactory to comprehend the meaning of the text.

If, however, on the other hand, you consider the phrase "uncover the nakedness of..." to be a euphemism for sexual intercourse, or perhaps more precisely, *incest* (Hebrew didn't have a word for "incest"), then all of a sudden the entire passage makes perfect sense!

Leviticus 18 defines and prohibits incest, or sexual relations with close relatives. That is the meaning. Nothing else makes sense of the passage at all.

So... does it then prohibit simple non-sexual nakedness? Does it teach that I cannot allow anyone but my wife to see me naked? Does it mean that I cannot see my children unclothed or they see me? Well, the passage can't mean that and also be about incest.

Incidentally... if this passage does prohibit exposing my body to others, where does the Bible allow me or my wife to expose either of our bodies to doctors? If it means that I can never see the nakedness of my daughters, does that only mean after they're out of diapers? At what age may a mother no longer see her son's naked body? These instructions are clearly missing from the pages of Scripture, but we as a culture have pretty much decided that they are acceptable exceptions to God's "moral absolutes" prohibiting nudity outside of marriage.

For that matter, were do we see nudity permitted for marriage? Most people think that God's crafting clothing for Adam and Eve is proof that God wants us now to be clothed. Yet, it was only the two of them when God made them clothing. Since that was the case, it must mean that he wants them clothed even when they are just with each other.

For a much more extensive answer to your question, you should read the post and download the article I told Chris about above. It deals extensively with Lev. 18 and addresses the question of "what does 'ervah' really mean in the pages of Scripture?" For the record, I start out assuming the natural meaning and demonstrate how that meaning does not fit the Scriptural context... not just in Lev. 18, but many places throughout the OT. See if you don't agree.

Secondly, you should read, "You Can't Have it Both Ways" (http://thebiblicalnaturist.blogspot.com/2010/03/you-cant-have-it-both-ways.html) where I talk about the inconsistencies we practice in our culture today regarding God's supposed prohibition of nudity.

Write back if you have more questions. I really appreciate your honest interest and eagerness to hear what I have to say. I also very much applaud you for not wanting to accept naturism (or anything else for that matter) that you perceive to be contrary to God's revelation of truth and His will for us.

-- Matt

Matthew Neal said...

Hey, Chris...

As promised, I've published a more thorough treatment of the story of Noah for you. I hope you find it helpful. Feel free to comment or ask more questions if you want.
 
http://thebiblicalnaturist.blogspot.com/2011/05/noahs-nakedness-what-really-happened.html
 
Matt

Anonymous said...

Wow...what a great blog. I came across it when I was on the Christian Skinning Dipping site and clicked your link. I sincerely wish guys would lighten up and be more open about their bodies with other guys. It is not a sexual thing but more of a bonding thing. I was never naked in front of anyone except my brother and Dad growing up. When I went to college, my roommate was just the opposite...a true naturist....so it was eye opening but there was a sincerity about him and it was never sexual. I remember going to a lake house with him one weekend and it was just him, his Dad and I....they went skinny dipping and I would go in my suit....finally one night, I tried it and was hooked. We ended up sitting on the dock, naked, just talking and chatting without giving a second thought to our nakedness. Since then I have wanted to find that type of bonding again but I dont think most guys would be that secure....I think it is still a cultural thing. My brother and I still will get naked if there is a reason to such as hot tubbing or gym locker rooms. Again, it is not sexual or anything related, just simply bonding.

Anonymous said...

Mathew:
Thanks again for your quick and thorough response to my email. Hopefully now I have figured out to post a comment on your blog.
Morgan, Midland, Texas

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian Naturist and have been for years. I don't practice it as much as I would like simply for the reason it is much easier to get up in the morning and put clothes on and not wrestle with the outside world since there is always somebody knocking on the door, or I need to go somewhere and have to have on clothes, and is all around easier to wear textiles absorbed in a world where it's standard practice. In other words, it's a pain in the butt to be naked in this world unless one were to live full time in a nudist resort, yet I can't stand the idea of putting clothes on.

I am always up and down with the idea whether it is acceptable to be naked since man blew it in the garden, and as sinners no longer deserve the right to practice public nudity as Adam and Eve enjoyed before the sin. The nagging question I have is this; did we lose the “privilege” of nakedness along with paradise and innocence when sin entered the world, and as part of the curse “must” we wear clothes because of our fallen state? I don't know if I am being attacked by the enemy with seeds of doubt and confusion, or God is showing me nakedness is wrong and abusing the liberty I have in Christ (licentiousness).

This is a constant up and down thing and I am tired of it, so I need a little help here. I have read the Fig leaf forum website and and The Biblical Naturist along with many other Christian Naturist articles over the years and feel they are helpful for awhile, but then after awhile I get this nagging doubt I mentioned in the back of my mind and I don't know if it is guilt of doing wrong in not desiring to wear clothes, or condemnation from the enemy and simply has jealous hate of our freedom and peace in Christ. Please don't tell me I have already answered my own question, I need confirmation and perhaps a third party kick in the butt as it were concerning my faith in this issue.

Leland said...

Anon,

I too have had your same issues, but I have just recently come across this blog. I just a few days ago finished every post on here. Matt's work has re-affirmed my conviction to challenge every belief to confirm that it is scriptural, including naturism. May I suggest that you re-read the posts here, go find a quiet place outside where you can be naked and talk to God about it (pray) until you have an answer. Not necessarily in that order. Reaffirm who you are and what you mean to God. Remember, even the hairs on your head are numbered.

Jasen said...

Matthew, I'd like to see you address Dr. Albert Mohler's speech "An Evangelical Theology of the Body: Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis"
http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/03/13/an-evangelical-theology-of-the-body-biblical-theology-and-the-sexuality-crisis/

Matthew Neal said...

Jasen,

I have already seen it and listened...

I am so encouraged by what Dr. Mohler says, I can't express it.

This is truly what I've been trying to do... not promote "naturism," but to urge the church to think differently--biblically--about the human body.

Or as Dr. Mohler said, "We need a Evangelical Theology of the Body... and we need it FAST!"

-- Matt

naturist newbie said...

Your new website isn't operational yet thebiblicalnaturist.com where I could leave a private message as you suggest on you blog. Is there anywhere else?

Also I commented on your blog about being a naturist through biblical conviction, posted in September 2009. I am new to naturism and would like some guidance.

Klaas

Matthew Neal said...

Hey, Klaas,

You can contact me personally at:

{contact AT thebiblicalnaturist DOT com}

-- Matt