My Reticence to Write This
Christianity and Naturism are seen by most Christians today as morally incompatible. Yet, I have proclaimed myself to be a Naturist by Biblical Conviction. In other words, not only do I see them as morally compatible, I have found that my commitment to Biblical truth forces me to counter the lies of our culture (including Christian culture) by literally embracing naturism.
For many Christians today, that fact alone puts a bull's-eye on my forehead. Being a “target” for attack and condemnation is certainly not something I need to make worse.
But… suggesting—as I will in this series of articles—that the Bible has been translated into modern English in a way that communicates a bias against nudity might be like begging people to take more pot-shots at me. They might feel justified in claiming that I don’t respect the Scriptures and that I’m just trying to “explain away” any negative reference to nudity; as if I were saying, “I don’t like that passage… I’ll just claim that it’s a bad translation.”
I recognize that some might assume that… or want to make it appear that that’s the case, but it is not.
My View of Scripture
I have the utmost respect for the Scriptures. They are inspired by God and without error in the original documents. They are true and authoritative.
And it is precisely this commitment to the inspired text that drives me to write these articles.
The English translations are not “inspired” (none of them!). Only the original language text is inspired by God. Therefore, every translation must be assessed according to its accuracy to the true meaning of the original language text. Thorough study of the Bible must include an examination of the original language words used to ensure that the process of translating the text into English neither obscures nor adds to the meaning intended by the original author communicating with his original audience.
How I Discovered This Bias
When I first began to study the Bible’s perspective on nudity, I searched the Scriptures for every place where nudity is mentioned or implied. My search was conducted primarily by finding the original Greek or Hebrew terms that reference nakedness, then examining every passage that uses those terms in multiple English translations.
To my surprise, it seemed that every time there was a passage that spoke of nakedness in a positive or neutral way, the modern translations rendered the passage in a way that would allow the reader to avoid imagining or thinking about nakedness. Conversely, whenever a passage criticized or condemned a negative expression of nakedness, the modern translations did not shrink at all from using the word “naked.”
The pattern was consistent enough that I began to suspect a bias.
Hats Off to the KJV!
I am not suggesting that all English translations are biased against nakedness. Where the NASB and the NIV were evidently squeamish about the N-words, the KJV was bold and accurate.
The real question is this: if the KJV translators were willing to use the word “naked” wherever the original authors of the Scriptures did, why weren’t the NASB and NIV translators willing to do the same? If the KJV narratives describe contexts where nudity was possible (according to the original language text), what compelled the NASB and NIV translators to modify the meaning or add words that preclude that understanding?
I Have to Write This
My commitment to Biblical accuracy compels me expose the evidence for this bias.
Some may dismiss the evidence as inconclusive or meaningless. Some will dismiss anything I say because I have dared to criticize the highly trained and skilled people who gave us God’s Word in English. Some will declare that it is I who am unwilling to hear what the Scriptures are saying and that I am only attempting to explain away that which I don’t like.
But, others will look honestly enough at the evidence to question their previous assumptions. They may find that things they’ve always thought the Bible taught aren’t actually there after all. They may see—as I do—a squeamishness on the part of the translators that prevented them from translating the inspired text as accurately as they should have.
Either way, I write to promote the truth. If I take some shots in the process, so be it.
— Matthew Neal
Squeamish Translating (PDF of the entire series)