A Guest Writer!
I’m pleased to introduce you to a guest writer for today’s blog post!
Luc Pascal is a seminary trained minister of the Gospel. He was born and raised as a Christian and has been serving the in full-time ministry much of His adult life. Luc is very accomplished in the original languages of the Scriptures—both Hebrew and Greek—and, consequently, brings to The Biblical Naturist a level of expertise that I don’t have!
Luc and his wife have only recently discovered the benefits of naturism, but like all others who learn of its goodness, the Lord has been working in his heart and mind over the years to help him see through the falseness of the American cultural understanding of the human body and nudity.
It is from that life-learning process that Luc shares with us today about Tribal Nudity.
I hope that you will enjoy and appreciate what Luc brings to the blog. Please feel free to address questions or comments to him directly… particularly if they have to do with the original languages of the Scriptures or this particular blog post.
— Matthew Neal
Tribal Nudity… in All its Glory!!
by Luc Pascal
Call it “tribal” or call it “indigenous,” but at the end of the day, they’re still naked. Discovery channel (USA) shows them. British Broadcasting Corporation (UK) documents them. Prime time. Late night. It doesn’t seem to matter.
No one thinks anything about the fact that they are all naked. The acceptance of tribal nudity supports (if not proves) the idea that public nudity can be morally acceptable even in our society.
Growing up in a traditional “textile” home with nominal Christian values, I held the same beliefs as those around me: Public nudity is morally wrong.
And the church with which we associated held the same view. “Young ladies, make sure you don’t dress provocatively.” “Dress modestly. You don’t want to cause someone to stumble.” These were the things taught from the pulpit.
Yet, at the Seminary I attended (conservative evangelical), they had a school-wide, public viewing of the documentary entitled, Through Gates of Splendor (Netflix, DVD, Book), which had copious amounts of overt tribal nudity. I ask the question, “Why wasn’t anyone concerned about men (or women for that matter) stumbling from this blatant display of nudity?”
It seemed that no one else was aware of the logical inconsistencies of forbidding public nudity in our culture, but displaying public nudity from another culture (so long as the latter was considered “primitive”). It is not just an inconsistency within the church, but also for society in general.
Let’s look at two main reasons why tribal nudity is accepted in our society but not nudity among our own people.
It is Non-sexual Nudity: Tribal nudity has no sexual connotations.
Opponents of social nudity cannot understand how social nudity could not have some sort of sexual connotation or response. Consequently they adamantly forbid it. But these tribal people prove it is possible. They simply live it.
If nudity is not sexual to the indigenous, why must it be sexual to us? It all depends on the meaning you yourself bring to the naked body. In truth, the naked body has no absolute sexual connotations. By that I simply mean that the sight of a naked body is not intrinsically a sexual experience. That meaning or experience must be brought to the body by the viewer. Certainly there are reproductive organs, but then there are organs for smell, sight, and touch. Genitals are just another set of organs that serve a function.
The problem is that in our society (and thus the church), we have made the sex organs into objects of curiosity and sexual interest (this is called sexual objectification). In Bible times, no one seemed to think anything about body parts in general, or the genitals in particular. King Saul was found to be prophesying naked (1 Samuel 19:24). To onlookers, it only drew the question of whether Saul was now a prophet! They never commented on Saul’s nakedness; they only asked whether he was now to be considered a prophet!
Apparently, there must have been some precedent for prophets to be seen nude. There are at least three references in Scripture to nudity with reference to the prophetic: (1) King Saul (mentioned above). (2) Isaiah was commanded to go about nude for 3 years (Isaiah 20:3). There is no record of any backlash from society regarding his nakedness. (3) Lastly, Micah speaks of receiving a word of prophesy from the Lord and says, “Because of this [prophesy] I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked”(Micah 1:8).
In addition to these Old Testament references, the early church practiced nude baptism. There were many reasons for this practice. One of which was the belief that removing one’s clothes before baptism was a sign of putting off the “old man” or the old ways of life. Another belief was that by removing the clothes, one was following in the way of Christ, because He was crucified naked.
There are many other examples of public nudity even in the modern world which are, like tribal nudity, devoid of sexual connotations. The Finish Sauna and The Japanese Bath House are two such examples. Both represent a cultural practice of mixed gender nudity and are considered completely acceptable within that culture.
So we see that from ancient to modern history, both in the church and without, nudity did not always have such sexual connotations as we generally assume it to have today. These cultures practicing public nudity recognized something about the human body and its passive relationship to sex and sexuality that we, as a church and a culture, have not yet grasped.
They are Lifestyle Nudes: The tribal people are nude all the time.
The people of indigenous tribes are constantly seeing other people naked—day in and day out. There is not a chance for objectification of the genitals because every part of the human anatomy is visible at all times, and therefore unremarkable.
Most people probably have a hard time imagining ever getting to that point, but this article How to Hit a Nude Beach (Fox News) shows how very quickly it can happen, even to a “red-blooded American.”
The article quotes relationship coach John Wilder as he writes this about his trip to a nude beach, “after five minutes on the beach, I was struck with how normal and unaffected everyone was… I saw beautiful young women on the beach and even spent the day with a beautiful girl on a blanket and there was no hanky-panky. Finally I was so bored that I had to go back to the family beach and see a girl in a bikini to get interested again.”
This is a practical example of how covering the breasts and genitals actually incites lust rather than prevents it. In only one day, full exposure diffused Mr. Wilder’s ingrained objectification of women’s bodies. Evidently, he preferred to have that objectifying perspective, since he became bored on the nude beach and needed to see a bikini to pique his sexual interest again!
We have two examples of lifestyle nudity in the Bible: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Isaiah. I will focus on the latter. God actually commanded Isaiah to go nude for 3 years. We may tend to think that he was huddled in his room afraid to venture out. But it is very likely, based on our previous discussion regarding prophets and nudity, that this was not the first time he had been nude in the course of his prophetic duties. This was perhaps the longest time he had to go nude, however.
He had to function normally for 3 years in the nude. He must have met people on the street, talked to friends, purchased goods, took baths, travelled, and continued his role as prophet in Israel for three years totally naked. Again, nowhere in Scripture is a backlash or shame from society ever mentioned regarding Isaiah’s nudity.
It took me years to work through all the false teaching about the human body and nudity. Wrestling through the obvious cultural duplicity—that rejected social nudity in America but accepted it for tribal people—helped me a great deal in realizing that there is no inherent sin or shame in our naked bodies. It is our intentions in revealing and concealing parts of it that make it morally wrong. Jesus called lust a sin (Matthew 5:27-29). In the same way, intentionally provoking lust in another person is also a sin for the simple reason that it causes another person to stumble.
Let me offer a twist to the whole debate about nudity and sin. Consider who is sinning in these two scenarios (leave me some feedback/comments on this):
- A woman is feeling unloved by her husband and feels the need for attention. She dresses with a low-cut blouse so a particular co-worker will notice her breasts. She is completely clothed, but reveals just enough to invite lust.
- A couple visits a nude beach. They feel relaxed in the environment, because they know the rules: no one is supposed to treat their nudity or the nudity of others in a sexual way. People may notice them, but no one is “looking” to be enticed or to entice. All the people on the beach abide by a mutual agreement: I will treat you and your body with respect; I expect the same from you.
Now, according to the Bible, who is sinning? Is it the fully dressed woman with the intention to incite lustful attention? Or is it the completely nude couple, neither of whom is looking with lust at others, or inciting lust in others? I think the answer is obvious.
People may ask: “How do you know someone isn’t looking with lust at you on the nude beach?” Well, you can never really know what is in someone’s heart. But wearing clothes is no guarantee that a person will not lust after you either! I hope you have realized in this blog how frank exposure to non-sexual nudity actually diffuses lust rather than incites it.
I believe wide-spread nude beaches and places for nude recreation would be a tremendous benefit to our society. However, there is a greater ideal to press toward: it is really when lifestyle nudity is embraced that the most freedom from sexualization and objectification occurs.
If you are familiar with the other posts on this blog, you will already understand that lifestyle nudity is not about seeing others naked (voyeurism) or about being seen naked (exhibitionism). It is about demystifying, desexualizing, and accepting every body. As the icing on the cake, we can experience the joy of living clothes-free.
— Luc Pascal