Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who Hates Nudity… God or Satan?

I’ll wager very few people have ever asked that question.

Is the answer obvious? I don’t think so.

The way things are in our culture today, you might quickly conclude that God hates nudity because it’s so closely associated with perversion and sexual sin.

On the other hand, you might assume that because it is such a powerful tool for sexual temptation, Satan simply loves nudity! “The best tool in my toolbox!” you can almost hear him brag.

Stop and Think About It…

Perhaps the answer isn’t that simple. And certainly the Bible would have something to say about it, right? Well, I believe there’s plenty of evidence in the Bible to tell us who hates nudity, and who doesn’t.

Let me start with God and give the biblical facts, then I’ll give the facts as they relate to Satan. A simple examination of all the facts should lead us to the right answer.

God’s View of Nudity.

  • God Created mankind in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27).
    • God made us to look like Him; human beings are a divine “self-portrait.” (articles: 1 2 3)
    • Our image-bearing is utterly and completely unrelated to clothing. In other words, we are “in God’s Image” without clothes. Clothing contributes nothing to that fact.
    • God forbade murder for the very fact that our bodies are made in His image. Murder is the only destruction of the body (the soul and spirit are not destroyed) (Gen. 9:5).
  • God’s original design for human society was complete nudity (Gen. 2:25).
    • The creation, as God pronounced it (with the first couple completely nude) was “very good!” (Gen. 1:31)
    • Because God cannot change (Psalm 55:19), we must conclude that He considers the naked human body just as “good” now as He did before the fall. Man’s view of nudity certainly changed with the fall, but God’s view cannot and did not change.
  • The first overt evidence of sin in Adam’s life was the fact that he no longer accepted his own nudity as good and right (Gen. 3:6-7).
    • God’s question to Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” was not an affirmation, it was a rebuke (Gen. 3:11).
    • God’s next question—delivered without waiting for an answer to the first—was, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam’s rejection of his own nudity signified a rejection of God’s place of authority in his life.
  • God blessed the physical union of Adam and Eve, describing it as becoming “one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) Through this union, He expected them to obey His command to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28, Gen. 9:1)
    • This plurality-expressed-as–a-unity (which may mirror the unity-in-plurality of the triune Godhead – Gen. 1:26 Gen. 2:24) literally requires the nudity of the man and the woman. God approves of and blesses the union (Proverbs 5:18); he must also approve of and bless the naked state through which it is experienced (Hebrews 13:4).
    • The fruit of the womb are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Every baby ever delivered has been born with the mother’s naked body exposed. Every baby ever born has been born completely naked. This blessed and joyful nakedness is by the hand of God.
  • In all of God’s Old Testament laws and in all of the New Testament instructions, never once has God declared animosity towards simple nudity.
    • All bathing and the elimination of body waste of necessity had to outdoors when the Law was given, yet God never told them to avoid the exposure of their bodies to others (All He told them was to make sure they buried their feces! - Deuteronomy 23:13).
    • God actually commanded one of His prophets to prophecy nude for three years (Isa. 20:2-3). God could and would never lead a prophet to actually do something which He hated.
    • Jesus Himself—Who never sinned—was nude on multiple occasions in His life on earth (birth, circumcision, baptism, foot-washing-John 13:3-4, crucifixion-John 19:23-24, and resurrection-John 20:6-7).

Satan’s View of Nudity

  • Satan is opposed to God. That which God loves and blesses, Satan hates and distorts (Matthew 16:23).
  • Satan was not made in God’s image… only mankind was (Gen. 1:26-27).
    • Satan sinned because he wanted to be “like God” but could not (Isaiah 14:13-15). When God made mankind in His image, it gave man a likeness to God that Satan himself would never possess.
    • Satan is a murderer (John 8:44). Murder is the destruction of the human body (Matthew 10:28), which bears God’s image (Gen. 9:5).
  • The very first thing that Satan influenced Adam and Eve to do after they submitted to his will was to cover their naked bodies (Gen. 3:6-7).
    • Satan was the “who” of Who told you [Adam] that you were naked?” (Gen. 3:11). While we are not told in the text that this is true, Satan is the only player in the entire story (God, Satan, Adam, or Eve) who had the knowledge and motivation to tell Adam that he was naked.
    • While Satan’s specific words to Adam and Eve after the fall are not recorded, we can be certain that he did not (and has not) from that moment forward been silent.
    • Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). He has exerted influence of deception on the thoughts and actions of all mankind ever since the fall (John 8:44).
  • Satan hates marriage and the beauty of marital sexual union.
    • Satan has sought to dismiss, dishonor, or destroy marriage since the beginning (as contrasted to God’s will stated in Hebrews 13:4).
    • Satan desires to distort and defile sexual union since the beginning (Genesis 6:1-5).
  • Satan has been fully and completely defeated by a naked Savior (John 16:11)!
    • Although Satan battered the naked body of our Lord almost beyond recognition (Isaiah 53:2-3), yet Jesus died without any sin of His own so that He could take all the sin of the world in His body on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 2:2, 1 Peter 2:24).
    • Although Jesus lay clothed in the tomb for three days, He left every stitch of that clothing behind when He came out of the grave (John 20:6-7), bodily risen from the dead! This, indeed, was the final and fatal blow to Satan’s head (Gen. 3:15)!

So, What’s the Conclusion?

When you look at the biblical data above, it’s pretty clear that the one who hates the unclothed human form is not God, but Satan!

How Satan Treats Nudity

How does that biblical conclusion square with what we see in our world today? It appears that the only place you find nudity exposed today is within the domain of Satan’s work! Pornography, sexual immorality, sexual perversion, even Satanism and witchcraft all use nudity.

But think about it… that which someone loves, they protect, preserve, and honor. That which they hate, they abuse, destroy, and dishonor.This is true for no one more than it is for Satan.

Tell me… does pornography and sexual immorality protect the nude human body? Does perversion preserve the human body? Do occultic activities honor the unclothed human body? No, no, and no.

Satan exposes nudity within pornography to dishonor the body. He uses it to distort sexuality… to bring destruction to the body. He uses it to deceive us into rejecting the sight of God’s image as found in the unadorned human form. We—the church—have God’s Word… we should know better!

The World Bought It All.

Satan’s efforts have been very successful.

  • He has caused almost all of society to spurn the public exposure of the naked human body.
  • He has so distorted our understanding of its exposure that we only see sexuality there, ignoring or completely denying the image of God.
  • He has so deftly crafted an impossible standard of “beauty” that young women learn almost universally to hate the look of their own bodies, considering them “ugly.”
  • He has managed to get us to believe that seeing the sags and wrinkles of aging human bodies is somehow “disgusting” and repulsive… something you don’t want to see in others, and which you don’t want seen in yourself.

This is the world’s view of the naked human body. And this is Satan’s work.

Satan hates the naked human body. And for millennia, we have followed in Adam’s footsteps, listening to Satan’s voice urging us to participate in his insult of the Creator. Even the Church has been duped into promoting this offense against God… treating it instead as if it were a sign of holiness.

Testimony of a Hostile Witness

Satan’s abuse of nudity is compelling evidence that he hates it. And (if the scriptures provided above weren’t enough), it is also compelling evidence that the nude human form is actually dear to the heart of God.

If Satan hates that which God loves, shouldn’t we love that which Satan hates?

But What About the Animal Skins?

I can’t finish this article without saying something about the skins God provided to Adam and Eve for clothing after the fall. Almost all non-naturist Christians point to that passage and use it to claim that “God really doesn’t want us to be naked now after all!”

Is that what the Bible says? Allow me to quote the account in its entirety:

“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21)

What do we learn from that brief account? Very little, actually. There is no command. There is no reason given. There is no proclamation of a shift in the divine perspective on the nature of nudity… although many people quote the verse as if there were.

Any and every understanding of why God gave them clothes must be “read into” the text, because the explanation of God’s purpose simply is not there! Quite frankly, alternative understandings actually fit the context better, but they too must be “read into” the account.

The only thing we can conclude for sure is that God does not object to clothing. But we would be in error if we allowed assumptions about God’s (unexplained!) action to overrule God’s clearly stated proclamation in reference to the Creation and its naked inhabitants before the fall. God never called the clothes, “very good.” Only nudity was ever described that way (Gen. 1:26-27,31, Gen. 2:25).

I See a Problem…

So… God looked at nudity and said “Very Good!”

Satan looked at nudity and said, “Very Bad!”

The Church today looks at nudity and says, “Very Bad!”

Do you see a problem here?

— Matthew Neal

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See also:

8 comments:

Boyd Allen said...

I have also noticed that the more legalistic, controlling and tyrannical a church or government is, the more they use (or abuse) clothing on it's followers or subjects. Even evil dictators and public enemies feel the need to wear clothing, even more so. Even those who are afraid of nothing, not even dying, are afraid of nudity. Where there is fear, there is no love.

Anonymous said...

Your article is spot on. May I suggest James Cunningham's book NUDITY - Pope John Paul II has an article in it and so do I. I would like your permission to put your article in a small Christian encyclopedia I am gathering.

The Rev. Jeffrey Mackey

Matthew Neal said...

Thank you, Pastor Jeffrey.

I have a copy of Jim Cunningham's book, and I also am quite familiar with Pope John Paul II's work, The Theology of the Body.

I'd be happy to contribute to your encyclopedia. Why don't you contact me personally? contact [AT] thebiblicalnaturist [dot] com

-- Matt

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have given thought to this question and a little Google search looking for people's opinions brought me here. I'm one who believes nudity is to be avoided unless it is between a man and his wife. But being a sinner I will not be judgemental on anyone, specially as long as they're not harming anyone else. Still I want to point out something that you might want to consider. You had pointed out how Isaiah prophesied naked for a certain number of years. You quoted two verses, Isaiah 20:2-3. If you look at the next verse you will notice something different. Apart from saying 'naked and barefoot', which was earlier used in verse 2-3 to describe Isaiah, verse 4 adds 'even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt' while talking about how the Egyptians and Ethiopians will be driven away. Notice that this extra addition looks like having your buttocks uncovered is an extra level of nakedness. Makes me wonder if the Biblical definition of nakedness isn't just about being without a piece of cloth..? Perhaps Isaiah was wearing some undergarments, yet in ancient Israel that was seen as 'being naked'..? Coming from a culture that even till this day would consider being seen in undergarments as something shameful, I can imagine that. Yet, as you write in your article, that may just be my interpretation. But something that verse 4 makes clear, is that being in a complete state of undress was to cause shame, with it's specific description of 'uncovered buttocks' preceding the words about 'shame of Egypt'. At least that's how it appears to me. I felt this as I read through the article and wanted to bring it to your notice. I hope and pray that the Lord guides us in truth :)

P.S.: While I said I believe that it isn't right to practice being nude with anyone but your spouse, the idea of being around other people in my 'birthday suit' isn't repulsive or offensive. In fact I'm sure I'd enjoy it (which is the reason I gave it a good amount of thought). It's just another one of those things where I feel it is wiser not to practice.

Also, out of genuine curiosity, have you ever felt sexual urges toward anyone other than your spouse while being a nudist..? In your opinion, are these urges stronger or weaker than they would be if you were in a clothed setting..?

Amos

Matthew Neal said...

Amos, Thanks for writing. And thanks for considering what I have to say even though you hold a contrary opinion (for now!).

About Isaiah's nakedness... in Isa. 20:2-3, it describes Isaiah's nudity. If you look into the Hebrew word describing him (H6174), you'll find that the word always refers to full nakedness... or at least there is absolutely no basis to claim that it was NOT complete nakedness. For example, it is used first to describe Adam and Eve (clearly complete nakedness) but it is also used to describe new-born babies (Job 1:21, Ecc. 5:15) and how "exposed" hell is before God (Job 26:6). Consequently, I think it is not tenable to read "underwear" into this one instance in Isa. 20 simply because some similarly "naked" people (same word) were also described as "with their buttocks uncovered."

Remember that this was prophetic and much of Hebrew writings (especially the poetry, which prophets often used for their prophecies) use parallelisms... saying the same thing twice in a row. It might be that Isaiah is writing three sets of similar statements: "Young and Old," "Naked and Barefoot," Buttocks Uncovered to the nakedness of Egypt" (I'll get to that rendering below). Even in verse 2, the command to the prophet was in a pairing... "Loosing the sackcloth" and "Take your shoes off."

Furthermore, if the purpose of Isaiah going "naked" was to show how the Egyptians would be driven away from their homes, then Isaiah having underwear on when the prisoners would be even *more* naked seems like an odd prophetic picture.

One final point on Isaiah... notice that he was told to take the sackcloth off his "hips" or "loins"... precisely where "underwear" or a loincloth would be worn. Robes were not made of sackcloth, but loincloths may well have been!

Moving on to the "shame of Egypt"...

Was it "shame" that this would portray for Egypt? That would be hard to make a case for, actually... because the word "shame" doesn't appear in the passage at all! The word translated "shame" here is actually the Hebrew word ervah which is *never* translated "shame" in English *except* in this one passage! It is usually translated "nakedness"! So, the text should say, "... to the nakedness of Egypt."

Of course, that doesn't make much sense in English, so the translators added their own interpretation--more informed by their modern notions about nakedness than the original language usage of the term!

As it happens, I have written extensively on the meaning of the term ervah and I suggest a rather colorful understanding of its usage here based on its consistent usage throughout the OT Scriptures rather than my cultural assumptions. Here is the full word study:

Nakedness in the OT

I have also addressed your question about the Nakedness of Egypt in a more-to-the-point blog post:


The “Shame” of Egypt

I hope these answers satisfy your objections. I welcome continued dialog!!

— Matt

Matthew Neal said...

Amos,

I forgot to address your other comments...

You say that you think that social nudity is "wiser not to practice."

I would challenge you to revisit the MANY assumptions behind that statement... most of which I think you will find that they don't stand up to honest scrutiny!

* It's best to keep nakedness as a "sexual" context and expression.
* The simple sight of nakedness is potentially harmful to observers (especially children).
* Men automatically think sexual thoughts and get sexually aroused at the sight of a naked woman.
* Even a healthy practice should be avoided if other people consider it to be wrong.

Those are some assumptions that pop into my mind that one might use to conclude that avoiding social nudity is "wiser." I don't presume to speak for you, so I only mention them as examples of the assumptions I'm talking about.

Regarding ever having sexual urges or desires for anyone besides my own spouse while socially nude with others, to that question I can categorically answer, "No!" Not even a hint of it.

Frankly, a woman in a bikini (making you *imagine* what's covered up) is more sexually distracting than seeing her completely naked. If she leans over, you look again to see if you might see a little bit more... but if she's naked, you see it all, and you're done. Seeing her nipples becomes no more significant than seeing her ears. They were visible the last time you looked at her, and they will be visible the next time. No big deal. The same happens with any particular body part that you might see.

The truth is this... we only sexually objectify (and therefore sexually respond to) the parts of a woman's body that we cover.

You should also read this article: The Objectification of Women.

Thanks.

— Matt

John Romero said...

Hi Matt. I recently tried a naturist resort with my spouse because we never wear clothes around the house and wondered what that would be like around other like-minded clothes-aversive people, but outdoors. It was quite the experience, and I can attest to the fact that there was never a hint of sexual attraction due to the nudity, unless my wife was intentionally being sexual.

I'd like to play devil's advocate, even though I agree with you, simply to raise a few counter arguments that I've seen on most other Christian sites that talk about nudity being sinful.

1) nudity SHOULD be inherently sexual. One should be aroused at the mere sight of genitals. If you are not, then you have become desensitized to God's plan for the naked body, just like you're probably desensitized to violence on television!

My counter counter argument: so then, a nurse who sees a thousand penises every day should quit her job because she's constantly so aroused that she's tempted to cheat on her spouse? A gynecologist constantly has an erection ? Also, if nudity is inherently sexual, then is it God's plan for me to feel sexual attraction to my toddler when I change their poopy diapers?

Clearly, there are exceptions to the rule, and therefore one can't say unequivocally that nudity is inherently sexual.

2) The Bible clearly states that we are to maintain modesty.

The YMCA clearly swam in the nude up until the 50s, men and boys, because of simple convenience: nylon hadn't been invented yet, and cotton clogged the filters up. What about prison showers? Locker rooms? What about children who bathe together? The public baths of Rome? If those places are LESS immodest than a nudist resort, then why? What's the difference?

Hopefully, one could get an anti-naturist to admit that their abhorrence of public nudity has much more to do with social convention than any consistent theology. Otherwise, to be consistent, they have to say even children are sinning when they bathe together, or the have to carefully redefined "modesty" to include only the things they want it to include.

I welcome any additional insight you might have as to these devil's advocate arguments, as I'm gathering fuel for my own future blog where I'll talk about a variety of controversial Christian issues.

Matthew Neal said...

Hey, John. Thanks for writing.

I think your counter arguments are fine. They are not directly biblical, but that doesn't make them invalid, of course... it just means that you're invoking common sense and "real life" situations to show how our culture's positions are inconsistent and contrived.

If you want to offer biblical arguments, you'll need to take a different approach.

On point 1, it's difficult because the burden of proof must be on the one declaring the affirmative... in this case, that we are supposed to treat nudity as a sexual expression and to have a sexual response to the simple sight of someone nude. Oh? Is that so? Show me the biblical evidence for such a claim!

The truth is that the bible never asserts such a position. It never even hints at it. In fact, even the "rules" where God tells men that "they should never see any woman nude but their own wife" is completely missing in the Scriptures. The "medical necessity" exception clause is also missing.

The point is that that first objection is completely and utterly indefensible Scripturally.

The second point about the bible "clearly stating" that we should maintain "modesty" is also bogus.

If it is "clear," then show me which body parts the Bible tells us to keep covered. See how "clear" it isn't? There's NO answer to that question!

If it is "clear," then show me more than one passage that commands "modesty." Hmmm... can't be found? Then maybe we should look more closely at the "one" passage that supposedly teaches "modesty" and make sure that we are understanding it correctly (i.e. that "modesty" in the text means "modesty" as we define it in modern culture).

And guess what... the word translated "modest" in 1 Tim. 2:9 in the KJV is translated "of good behavior" in the very next chapter (1 Tim 3:2). The NASB doesn't translate the same word as "modest" at all! It uses "proper" and "respectable" in those same two verses!

(for a full treatment of the 1 Tim. 2:9 passage, check out this article:

Rightly Dividing 1 Timothy 2:9
)

I hope that's helpful!