I was fascinated that my email “debate” with Bob about nude baptism generated more response than anything else I had written to date!
That made me think about posting another dialogue I had with the “Answer-Man” from another Christian site. At the site, GotQuestions?org, there is a page which addresses the following question:
I read the article, of course, and found that it was not convincing. So I wrote to them about it. The discussion that ensued is included below.
The interplay requires a little bit of contextual explanation here because I chose a different approach when I first started the conversation. Let me explain:
Instead of simply challenging him as his opponent, I only referred to myself in the 3rd person. I did not just try to point out all of the weaknesses in his argument, I simply told him that I didn’t think his argument would convince a brother who was a naturist, and I asked him if he could make his case any stronger.
In truth, I was actually representing myself as I was while investigating the issue before I became a naturist. I honestly wanted to know if his case against social nudity could be made stronger, so I gave him the chance to do that proactively, rather than challenging him point by point so that his response would be reactive instead.
The result was that he did not argue with me as with an “enemy,” but rather he treated me as a friend, for he assumed that I agreed with him, and that I was only facing the challenge from another brother.
I believe that this engendered a greater degree of honesty in his responses to me than he would have afforded me had I revealed that I was the Christian Naturist that I was referring to.
I also used a different name, but I have replaced it with “Matthew” for its publication here in the Blog.
Again, this is a long post, but I didn’t want to put all the emails in separate posts. Like the last one, I’ve tried to format it so that it’s easy to follow. The legend is as follows:
Blue = My words.
Black = quotations from external sources
Can a Christian be a nudist? What does the Bible say about nudity?
Here is what I wrote in my first email:
I just read the following article:
I found your answers to be too weak to convince a brother who believes that it is not biblically wrong for a Christian to be a nudist.
To all of this, he would agree
Again, to this he would essentially agree. But he does not believe that sin made nakedness evil, only that sin perverted the way mankind sometimes views nakedness. He would note however, that sexual “lust, immorality and perversion” are not found in the account of the Fall at all.
This he would claim is absolutely false. Otherwise, it would be impossible for godly Christian doctors to serve their patients. It would also mean that men could not bathe or care for their daughters and women could not bathe and care for their sons. In like manner, no one could care for aging and debilitated parents of the opposite gender.
He would claim that if doctors can live above such a response, anyone can.
How would you answer him?
This brother would point out that this claim is without any basis in the text. He correctly points out that God did not tell us why He gave Adam and Eve clothing. And since lust is nowhere in the context, he would see your assertion as eisegesis.
This man would find this statement very presumptive, declaring to know what God would or would not do. Furthermore, if God had made such a statement, we would conclude that nudity was a sign of righteousness, which it is not. He believes that God is neutral about nudity and therefore did not express intent one way or the other.
This brother points out that if this were the case, then it must also be concluded that God does not intend for husbands and wives to be naked with each other, for that is the context in which God gave this “command.” If husband/wife are to be excluded from a clothing requirement, then the exclusion is missing. But above all, he would point out that there is no command given, and a simple narrative cannot be considered an imperative.
These concluding statements, of course, are based upon all your assertions made up to this point. If the assertions are weak or invalid, then of course, the conclusion cannot be trusted either.
Can you make any stronger case than that which you’ve provided?
Thank you for you time.
I quickly received the following response:
Answered by: Shane
Answer: Matthew, you gave me several items that your friend would claim we are not interpreting Scripture correctly, but you did not tell us how He would interpret those passages, without eisegesis. If we are reading them incorrectly, your friend needs to give us his alternate explanation and understanding. He can’t just say “You’re wrong, that’s eisegesis!” without giving a different interpretation.
My second email
Shane, thank you for your quick response.
I’m sure I could get you his responses directly if you wanted.
I do have an issue with your last statement, however, You said,
First of all, I don’t believe that’s true. We all must know how to recognize eisegesis even if we are not yet sure what the correct interpretation of a passage yet is. Wouldn’t you agree? For example, if I’m studying any given passage of Scripture, I have to guard against “reading into” the text anything that isn’t there. Otherwise, I might come to a faulty interpretation. This is important quite independently of -- and prior to -- having another interpretation to compare to.
Secondly, I related to you his objection to your statement about claiming that God provided clothing in order to “resolve” the problem of lust, immorality and perversion when none of those things are mentioned anywhere in the text. That’s his basis for claiming that this is eisegesis, and it’ a point with which I can’t argue. It isn’t in the context at all. I was asking you how you know that is indeed what God was doing.
I have to tell you that when I first ran into a committed and bible-believing Christian who believed that social nudity was not forbidden by God, I thought he was nuts. But when I interacted with what he said, I discovered that here was a brother who loved Jesus Christ as much as I, who loved the truth of God’s Word as much as I, who cared deeply that it be correctly exegeted as I do, and who was honest and careful with exactly what God did and did not say in His Word.
I also quickly discovered that many of the things I had always assumed to be true about the Gen. 1-3 account of the creation and the Fall simply were not found in the text. I found that I could not exegetically defend the position which I had held all my life even to my own satisfaction. This is why I raised the question with you, for your statement basically reflected what I had been raised to believe. Do you have any more exegetical basis for that interpretation than I had?
Perhaps I could boil down my questions to two main queries:
Thank you for your attention!
Before we proceed any further, I’d really like to hear your friend’s answers. You ask, “How can you be certain that God’s purpose for covering was to address sexual lust, immorality and perversion?” I ask, “If not to prevent lust, what was God’s purpose for covering nakedness?”
Also, in regards to doctors examining / operating on a naked person, that is different. There is no comparison between a doctor seeing a person naked in the privacy of an office and a grown man or woman walking around naked in public.
I would also be interested in how your friend views adults appearing nude before children.
I would also be interested in how your friend responds to the fact that most governments outlaw public nudity, and the Bible commands us to obey the government.
My third email:
Shea (and/or Shane),
Thanks for writing.
I’m sorry to say this, but I’m pretty disappointed in your answer. It sounds to me like you’d rather take shots at someone else’s position than defend reasonable questions against your own.
I’ve always believed that truth is not afraid of an honest challenge. In my opinion, if you do hold the truth, you’re not acting like it. I don’t mean to be harsh, but that is a standard I hold myself to, and I respect it greatly when I see it in others.
Let me answer by showing you why I could not use that approach to defend the position I grew up with.
Perhaps it’s a fine point, but in truth, your question presumes that God was “covering nakedness” on purpose... as if “nakedness” was the issue. But again, that’s not in the text. It only says “He clothed them.” If I were to examine the Scriptural purposes of clothing, would I find that the only purpose for clothing was to cover the genitals and prevent lust? No, I wouldn’t. So if even the whole body of Scripture offers more than one reason for clothing (warmth seems to be a major theme), why would I have to conclude that in this case, it was only the “lust” factor and not a “warmth” factor? Since neither are mentioned, what basis do we have to claim one is right over the other? So far as I can tell, either explanation might be reasonable, but neither is exegetically mandated.
But you claim that it was for lust without being willing to offer any other Scriptural basis for your claim.
I’m sorry, I can’t be satisfied with that for an argument, and I know that the guy I’ve been talking about wouldn’t respect it, either.
But your statement was that “we can no longer look at a nude person of the opposite sex in a pure manner.”
That is not a “qualified” statement. You presented it as if it were incontrovertible. If that statement is true universally, it is true for doctors as well. If it is not true for doctors, then how can it be an adequate basis for declaring moral absolutes? We cannot afford to descend into situational ethics just to preserve what might be actually be a man-made rule, can we?
Does God really have one standard for doctors and another for the rest of the human race? Isn’t that essentially what you are suggesting? Is that biblical? I suppose that if there was a verse that specifically exempted doctors from God’s laws regarding nudity, it would make a stronger case for the assertion that “the rest of us” have to abide by a different standard. If there is such an exemption in the Bible, I’d like to see it.
I will let you ask him yourself if you are willing to interact with him personally.
But, honestly, I was asking you to answer my questions in support of your own assertions; I did not write to ask you to tear apart a friend’s. I want to know how you know Scripturally and exegetically that you are correct, not why you think someone else is wrong.
Thank you for your time.
His third response:
I am sorry you are disappointed, but you are the one who is trying to get me to answer something. If you want me to answer your question, do you not have to “play by my rules”?
I am in a similar place as you on this issue. I cannot produce an explicit biblically solid case against nakedness. That is why I am asking these questions. I want to know if they can be answered from the nudist’s perspective. “To keep them warm” is just as much “eisegesis” as “to prevent lust.”
Sincerely in Christ,
Well, there’s an amazingly candid admission! “I cannot produce an explicit biblically solid case against nakedness.” !!!
What is perhaps even more amazing is the fact that while he admitted that reality, he’s still absolutely certain that he knows the mind of God on the matter anyway!
Oh, well... Back to the discourse (I couldn’t help but comment about that... sorry).
My fourth email:
Thank you. This answer was much better!
Pardon me, but find a lot of irony in that statement. Your website says this: “GotQuestions?org The Bible has the answers, we’ll find them for you!”
As I see it, your posted “rules” are for me to have a question. Your rule is to “find answers.”
I really appreciate this honesty.
I appreciate you admitting this, too. I would have appreciated it even more on the first email, however.
The guy I’m talking about would agree that it is “speculation” to suggest that God gave A&E clothing for warmth (since any suggestion is speculation because God didn’t spell it out for us), but he does find basis in the Biblical text itself to reject the “lust” reason and embrace the more mundane “warmth/protection” idea, as you will see below.
(When something is not clear from Scripture, “speculation” says “it’s possible that...” where “eisegesis” just declares, “this is because...”)
Here are his main points on the creation/fall story:
This does not represent everything that he believes from this text, but it’s a reasonable summary as it relates to the issues we’ve been talking about.
For the record, this brother has declared that he did not come to these conclusions in order to support his views on social nudity, but rather, he first studied the scriptures and reached these conclusion. Only then did he reject the nudity taboo as a man-made convention. In other words, his personal practices did not change until he had thoroughly studied the matter from the Bible.
Do you have any responses to this perspective?
Thanks again for your time and attention. Again, I very much appreciated the honest response.
His fourth response:
Perhaps there is no conclusively strong argument to be made against nudity exclusively from the Bible. There may be better biblically-based arguments that we are just not aware of. Whatever the case, it cannot be argued that the Bible is FOR public nudity either. Other than the case of Isaiah prophesying naked, there is no instance in the Bible of nakedness being presented as anything but shameful, embarrassing, a situation to avoid.
1 Corinthians 12:23 states that our “unpresentable” parts are to be treated with special modesty. How does your friend respond to that? 1 Timothy 2:9 instructs women to dress modestly...how can nudity in any sense be considered modest?
Ultimately, for me, it comes down to an issue of conscience. There is absolutely no way I could see beautiful women naked and not lust. There is absolutely no way I can see adults being naked in front of children being anything but a perversion. The whole desire to be seen in public naked, to me, seems like a perverted disorder.
Even if there is not a conclusive biblical case against it, I am grateful that modern governments outlaw public nudity, and I am grateful that the Bible instructs us to obey the laws of the government.
Sincerely in Christ,
Thanks for writing back.
I have to say that I was hoping for a more thoughtful response to the 12 points I delivered last time. Be that as it may, I’d like to respond to your statements below.
Doesn’t Galatians give us strong warnings against submitting to man-made rules for righteousness? And if the Bible is neutral on the subject, shouldn’t we be neutral as well?
If God had extolled living naked, wouldn’t we be tempted to make nakedness a mark of righteousness? But it’s not. If living naked was evil, isn’t it inconceivable that God would neglect to mention that?
If God intended neutrality on the subject, isn’t it more likely that we would find silence on the matter?
I’m not sure we can so easily dismiss the account of Isaiah.
Nor can we make the sweeping statement that you just made about nakedness. I’ve heard that declaration many times before, but I have not found it to be as easily defensible as we might assume.
Have you ever examined every place “naked” or “nakedness” or the state of undress is actually mentioned in the Bible? I have. And what I’ve found is that wherever there is nakedness AND shame, there is also some other activity that is very clearly shameful.
And Isaiah’s story is not the only “innocent” nakedness to be found in the Bible. King Saul was overcome by the Spirit of God and laid down naked, prophesying with Samuel and the other prophets all night. The people certainly took note of it, too! They were not shocked at his nudity, but surprised by his change in occupation. The implication is that nudity among the prophets must not have been very uncommon. Isaiah’s nakedness was mostly likely notable because it persisted for three years unbroken in duration.
I would suggest that you examine the Greek on that one. “Unpresentable” is really a very “interpretive” translation. The word really means “uncomely” as the KJV translates it. It simply means that the part is not that pretty to look at, not that it must be hidden. For some people, their noses or ears or hands are “uncomely,” but we would never say that for that reason alone, they should be hidden.
That was a very important verse to me and I’ve studied its meaning in depth. My discovery is that the verse has been very poorly translated. “Adorn” and “modest” (from the KJV) are both based upon the word “kosmos” which means “order.” The word translated “apparel” is not a piece of clothing at all, but the noun form of a verb that in Acts 19:35 & 36 is translated “quiet” “appeased” or “calm” depending on the translation. How can the noun form of such a verb be a simple garment of some kind?
I can point you to an article explaining why it is a mistranslation, and what would be a more suitable translation. The author has posted it online, so you can read it by following this link. It’s certainly not written to defend nudism, but it does show that the traditional understanding of that passage is mistaken.
Regarding modesty, I read something from C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” not long ago which spoke to the nature of “modesty.” This is the opening of his chapter on “Sexual Morality.”
We must now consider Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue of chastity. The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of “modesty” (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes.
A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally “modest,” proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste).
...I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own lifetime as a good thing.
If “modesty” is culturally derived, how can it be a Biblical standard?
Your inability to see God’s beautiful artistry on display without having wicked thoughts is not a reflection of the nature of what you see, but of the depravity of your own heart, and your unwillingness to view it as God does. If you desire to be Christlike, do you believe that Jesus would (and does) have to look away from a beautiful woman, no matter what she is or is not wearing?
Forgive me for coming on so strong here, but in this matter, I’m quite convinced... Jesus told us clearly that it was not anything outside a man going into him which defiled him, but that which comes out of him! (Mark 7:14-22) Whether it goes in his eyes or his mouth, it’s still on the outside going in, and it cannot defile him.
Here again, I ask you, can you defend your stance that being naked in front of Children is a real biblical concern, or is it your cultural bias? Are you really willing to hold on to “absolute standards” which you cannot defend biblically? Personally, I am not willing to do that. Even if letting go of such false standards forces me to accept something I would rather not accept.
Also, have you ever examined the philosophy and motivations which undergird nudism? I was quite surprised to discover that it was not about exhibitionism, voyeurism, or sexual license. You might be judging its practitioners unjustly.
Indeed the Bible instructs us to obey the laws of the government. And I suspect that most nudists abide by those laws with great consistency. But the laws do not totally forbid nudism, it only restricts it to places where it can be exercised without offending others.
As you can see, I’ve done a lot of my own study. I’ve reached the conclusion that most (if not all) of the objections to nudism I’ve always heard are a lot less biblical than I would have guessed. When I found your statement on your website, I was intrigued and was curious how you would defend them when I had concluded that I could not.
I was hoping that when I gave you what this brother believes, you would be able to demonstrate where it was weak or mistaken, if indeed it was in error. Perhaps he is not mistaken after all.
Thanks for your time.
His final response:
To be honest, I am tired of arguing this with you. I am absolutely convinced that public nudity is not God’s will. Nothing you, or your friend, could say would convince me otherwise. Only God could change my mind, so if you think my mind needs to be changed, ask God to change it.
Nowhere in the Law are the Israelites instructed to be nude in public.
Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus instruct people to abandon their shame and go naked in public.
Nowhere in the Epistles do the Apostles instruct or encourage people to be naked.
If nakedness is such a good thing, and if fear to be naked is such a bad thing, surely God’s Word would have corrected our thinking or given some kind of instruction. It does not. Whatever the reason God clothed Adam and Eve, He clothed them, and nowhere instructed them to remove the clothing. Without any biblical instruction whatever on the value of nudity, I am going to follow God’s example with Adam and Eve and clothe myself.
I will not be responding to any further of your emails on this issue. Again, if you think my mind needs to be changed, pray for me.
Sincerely in Christ,
My final email:
I wasn’t arguing. I asked you to biblically defend your position.
So what you’re saying is that you are willing to hold on to moral absolutes that God has not declared. Why should you require God to show you something is not true which He has not ever
And, as you admitted, nowhere in the Law does God command the Israelites to always be clothed in public. Pretty inconceivable, actually, considering that every person who has ever lived has had to face the question, “What do I do with my nudity?”
Au contraire... In Matthew 5:40, Jesus said, “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” People didn’t wear much more than that. Women certainly did not wear bras. So if people had actually followed Jesus’ command, then they would have been significantly underdressed, if not completely naked. Evidently, that was not a concern for Jesus.
Once again, not true. In 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul tells Timothy, “For physical training is of some value...” If you check the Greek word used by Paul (here translated “physical training”), you’ll see that it is the word “Gumnadzo” which of course, is based on the Greek word for “naked” and it referred to the exercise that was engaged in at the Greek/Roman Gymnasiums, where nudity was the norm, hence the name, “Gymnasium”
Again, you are willing to accept a narrative as a command? Do you ever take off your clothes with your wife? If you do, then you are not being faithful to God’s Word, for He nowhere told Adam that he could allow his wife to see him naked.
For the record, I did not ask you to respond to my last email.
And what I think doesn’t matter a bit... what matters is if God wants you to change your mind. I get the impression that you’re not willing to even consider an alternative opinion.
I am reminded of this qoute:
One last historical point to think about...
Did you know that for 350 years after Pentecost, all Christian Baptisms were performed nude? Whether you believe it or not, it’s true. You can research it on your own. Shouldn’t that historical fact inform your understanding of the NT position on nudity? You need not answer me, but you should have an answer.
I pray the Lord opens your mind to truth.
As always, I welcome your comments.