Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas and Naturism

What has naturism in common with Christmas?

Or what significance is there in Christmas to naturism?

My thoughts on this question sprung out of a quotation I read from Pastor David L. Hatton. I quoted it to close my post, Just What DOES God Think about My Body, but now I’ll comment further.

The highest compliment ever paid to the entire physical human body, and the clearest commentary on its decency, dignity and sacred worth, is the bodily manifestation of God's Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in truly 'human' flesh by His Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension and predicted Second Coming: a truly “human-friendly faith” (DLH)

The commonality between Christmas and naturism is in the dignity with which naturists view the human body, and the dignity of the body as affirmed by the incarnation.

And Christmas is significant to naturism because it allowed us to see God in human flesh. The human body is not evil, indecent, nor defiling… not to God, not to ourselves, and not to any around us. God literally allowed Himself to be seen in an unclad human body. This was no sin or indignity to God, nor should it be for any of us.

In case you’re thinking that God only allowed that to happen while Christ was a baby, I would challenge you to think again (I did not originate the following statements, but I recognized their truth, so I’ll pass them on here).

Consider this… some of the most significant events in Christ’s life were moments when He was without clothing:

  • At His birth, like every other child ever born, our very first glimpse of God in the flesh was that of a naked child. This is biologically undeniable.
  • At Christ’s baptism, He was almost certainly baptized according to the Jewish practice of baptism which was (and still is) called the mikveh. For both practical and religious reasons, the mikveh was and is performed while the one being baptized is completely unclothed (even jewelry and braided hair are not permitted). This is historically verifiable.
  • At the washing of the disciples’ feet, Jesus laid aside His “clothes.” The Greek term used (himation) is plural and is used in other passages to indicate all of a person’s clothing. While we are told that He “girded” Himself with the towel, this was not the girding “around” (Prefix: peri- meaning “around” – periz┼Źnnymi), but a putting on which required passing “through” (Prefix: dia- meaning “through” – diaz┼Źnnymi). The most natural way to carry a towel you intend to use on someone’s feet is over one’s shoulders, not around the waist. Jesus probably just made a loop with the towel through which he passed His head. This is exegetically verifiable and logically sensible.   
  • At Christ’s crucifixion, the One who was called “King of the Jews” was hung up for all to see… and the mark of His Jewishness — His circumcised penis — was in plain view. The Romans crucified their convicts without any clothing. Any clothing they had of any value was confiscated and claimed by the soldiers carrying out the execution. The Scriptures tell us clearly that in Christ’s case, they did just that. This is historically and biblically undeniable.
  • When Jesus rose from the dead, the Bible tells us clearly that He left the grave clothes behind in the tomb. When Mary Magdalene encountered Him outside the tomb, she mistook Him for a gardener. This mistake can only be adequately explained if we understand that gardeners worked unclothed to avoid soiling their clothing, and Jesus was still unclothed after the resurrection. This is biblically and logically tenable.

These points are not listed here as a “defense” of naturism. They are presented as a reminder that our Savior — while fully God — was fully human. The dignity of deity embodied in human form. This dignity was undiminished while unclothed, and was not augmented while clothed. How better for us to see and know this than for God to allow us such a real and personal experience of His unadorned humanity?

The incarnation was God’s plan from eternity past, and it was fulfilled at His birth. Our God is now with us… EMMANUEL. Visible, tangible, in a very human body. A short 33 years thereafter, that same human body bore our sins. Thanks be to God!

May you rejoice in our Savior’s human birth this season.

Merry Christmas!

Matthew Neal