“There is absolutely no way I could see beautiful women naked and not lust.”Those were the words of “Shea” in my email conversation regarding Christians and naturism.
For most people, I suspect that the mere thought of mixed gender nudity would conjure up all sorts of sexually charged imaginations. They assume that the willingness to be seen naked by someone is also an invitation to have sexual relations with them, either mentally or in the flesh. Therefore, they conclude, morally upright Christians will only view the nudity of—or be seen nude by—the one with whom they may righteously have sexual relations.
The exception is, of course, if they must be seen naked by someone who is providing medical or parental care.
(Does it bother anyone that neither the “rule” nor the “exception” is found in God’s Word? Hmmm... I smell another blog post there...)
In this series of posts, I’ve been talking about why my naturism is not just a preference, but rather an expression of Biblical Convictions. This is Part 3, so if you have not already read both Part 1, and Part 2, I would urge you to do so before reading this one.
I’ve already presented 4 reasons explaining why I am a Naturist by Biblical Conviction. I have two more in this post.
Before I share them, let me reiterate that in no way do I consider Naturism to be a license to cast away God’s clear teaching that sexual union is for marriage only. Furthermore, I affirm Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-28 regarding lust; Naturism is not an excuse to engage in mental adultery.
But if you’re like Shea, whom I quoted above, you’re pretty sure that for any man, just seeing a beautiful woman naked will lead inexorably to lust. Obviously, therefore, the best way to prevent lust is to make sure that we see no nudity except that of our own spouse.
Makes sense, right?
The problem is, it’s dead wrong.
And that leads me to my next reason...
Reason #5 - Avoiding the sight of nudity is of no value at all in restraining lust.Yes, you read that right.
I know it’s true because God said it is true.
It’s found in Colossians 2:20-23
20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules:Man-made rules lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.
23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Since the prohibition against nudity for the sake of controlling lust is a man-made “command,” then we can be absolutely positive that it has no value at all in restraining lust. None!
In case some might say, “Well, doesn’t it make sense that if I struggle with lusting after women’s bodies, I shouldn’t allow myself to see them?” Indeed, that does make sense. It absolutely has the “appearance of wisdom.” But as you can see from God’s clear teaching in this passage, that doesn’t matter. It simply won’t work.
You could put it this way... if avoiding nudity truly helped us to curb lust at all, then God would be a liar.
God is no liar. His words are true. Man-made rules are utterly useless in the control of lust.
It would be easy to point out the many indications of this in our lives and in our culture, but I’ll just make one observation...
It is no mere coincidence that a society with the most pervasive taboos against nudity in the world is also the world’s biggest consumer of pornography.
I’m talking about the United States, of course.
And we pride ourselves on our Christian heritage, to boot. All the pervasive Christianity in our social fabric hasn’t helped a bit. Statistics show that at least 50% of Christian men admit to a struggle with pornography. The real number is likely much higher than that.
I would wager that even among the most “conservative” Christians, the percentages are no better, and likely worse... because they are most committed to—and dependent upon—“the rule.”
There is not nearly enough space here to explain why such a prohibition not only fails to abate lust, but actually makes it worse, but let me give one example.
There is a book that has swept the churches of our nation called Every Man’s Battle. In that book, the author encourages men to practice “bouncing their eyes.” This means that every time a man sees something on TV, print, or in real life which might entice him sexually, he should quickly avert his eyes.
The man committed to this practice will be “bouncing his eyes” for the rest of his life, for he will never be able to escape such images and sights for very long in this world.
Furthermore, he will have to maintain a constant vigilance to always be on the lookout for a potential lust-inducing sight! He must train himself to never allow his potential for lust to be out of his mind. He literally must have a mental focus on lust at all times!
And he will never learn to have anything except a lustful response to what he sees.
Here’s the problem... When a man chooses to avert his eyes from a woman or an image to avoid lust, he is actually reaffirming the place of lust in his own heart. Lustfulness is presumed to be “natural,” so it remains entrenched in the heart while its presence is blamed on external objects, persons, or images.
Jesus Christ was fully human. In truth, He still is. Jesus did not, nor does He now “bounce His eyes” at the sight of a woman’s body.
If you want to be Christ-like, don’t bounce your eyes... control your thoughts instead. “Bouncing the eyes” is not a fruit of the Spirit; self-control is.
I have to point out another Scripture passage here. This time, the words of Jesus, Himself. They’re from Mark 7:14-23.
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’”This is for all of us in “the crowd.” He really wants us to understand this...
Nothing outside a man can make a man unclean. And “nothing” means... Nothing! Nothing edible, and nothing visible. Either way, it is something outside of us. When it enters us—by mouth or by eye—it cannot make us unclean.
17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 ”Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)Jesus’ disciples didn’t get it. We today don’t get it, either. We still think that something outside of us can defile us simply by entering into us.
Note here that Jesus gives both a truth (nothing outside a man can defile), and an application of the truth (food cannot defile you). Jesus did not intend for this to be the only possible application. This is abundantly clear from the list of sins Jesus mentions next that do defile us. They are not a list of sins commonly associated with food.
20 He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”I have highlighted in red the sins in the list which we could associate with sexual sin or lust. Jesus is teaching that even these sins come from within... not from outside us!
Jesus couldn’t be more clear here. Lustful thoughts and actions do not arise from what we allow ourselves to see. If excluding all nudity from our sight was the key to avoiding sexual sin in our hearts, then Jesus would be a liar.
Jesus is no liar. His words are true. What we see never produces impurity within our hearts.
As one friend of mine put it, when we refrain from lust by controlling what we see, we are only suppressing impurity, we are not conquering it. When we lust after what we see, we are only revealing the impurity that already exists in our hearts.
God’s Word is clear. Any man-made rule for controlling lust is bound to fail, and nothing that I see can cause me to lust.
These are my biblical convictions.
Reason #6 -I have no obligation to bow to the opinions of others.I have been told by people who profess to be committed followers of Christ that what I believe is false and what I practice is sin. They have literally taken actions against me which could have cost me my livelihood because I would not submit to their declaration that I am in sin. These same Christians now look down upon me and have little regard for me, my beliefs, or my Christian walk.
- Should I lay aside my beliefs because many (or even most) Christians condemn my practices as contrary to God’s moral law?
- Should I quit my practice of naturism because I could face more mistreatment or ostracization if it were to become known to others in my social/church circles?
- Should I reject what I have learned from God’s Word in order to maintain peace and “unity” within my extended family?
Why? Because of the teaching of God’s Word in Proverbs 29:25...
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.If I make the important decisions in my life on the basis of what other people think about my decisions, it will be a snare for me. I will be voluntarily giving up my freedom in Christ and submitting to bondage.
But if I stand firm in the truth as I believe God has revealed it to me from His Word, I must trust Him for the consequences. He is more than able to keep me safe, no matter what others may say or do against me.
As I write this here today, I can testify that God has been true to His promise. His provisions for me and my family through all the opposition we have faced have been astounding to me. He has kept us safe. He has proved faithful to us, in spite of the opposition of others.
I must never deny what God has revealed to be true because of the opinions or actions of others against me.
This is my biblical conviction.
There is much more that I could say, but with this I close this series on Naturist by Biblical Conviction.
Once again, let me give the bottom line for me in reference to these last two convictions.
You can see that they are convictions about truth, not about clothing. My convictions have to do with what I believe to be biblically true, not about a desire—or any sort of requirement—that we be unclothed.
Because I hold these things to be biblical truths, I have to ask myself—as we all must in the face of God’s Word—how do I live consistent with these truths?
For me, to profess these things to be true but continue to live in a perpetual state of being clothed would be logically inconsistent.
- The only way I know of to actively reject the idea that avoidance of nudity guards against lust is to embrace the expression of nudity without lust. To claim that what I see cannot cause lust while continuing to carefully avoid nudity to avoid lust is simply double-minded.
- The only way I know of to express trust in God rather than the fear of man is to actively choose to live contrary to the opinions of others when my study of God’s Word leads me to do so... no matter the consequences. To be unwilling to stand for truth when threatened by others is to give up my freedom in Christ. Nothing is worth that price.
Martin Luther was a man who faced mortal threats against his own person because of his beliefs. He was specifically denounced as a heretic by the established church. He was put on trial and commanded to renounce his writings and recant his beliefs. He stood before a host of men who were against him.
In that moment, he spoke one short paragraph—which has since become legendary.
While I am no “Martin Luther” nor have I faced what he faced, his words do resonate in my heart. I close this series with those words, in hopes that in some measure, I can make them my own.
“Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” — Martin Luther, April 18, 1521