Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Naturist by Biblical Conviction??? — [Part 1]

Yep. That’s me.

If you read my profile page, you’ll see that I close my description of myself with those words.

Startling words—I suspect—for just about any Christian in America, and probably most Christians elsewhere, too.

So, perhaps I should explain why for me, it’s not just a preference, hobby, fad, or fetish. It is my response to God’s Word... it’s how I am embracing and applying God’s truth to my life.

Now, before anyone jumps to unwarranted conclusions (already too late for some, no doubt), let me start by clearing the air about what I dont mean by that.

I do NOT mean that I think...
  • Everyone should be a naturist.
  • I’ll just go naked all day every day.
  • It is God’s will that we live in a perpetually naked society.
  • Clothing has no place.
  • Sexual conduct has any place outside the bonds of heterosexual marriage (1 man/1 woman).
A few words about that last point first... Naturism is not an excuse to engage in extramarital sexual activities. It is not for the purpose of voyeurism or exhibitionism. It simply is not about sexual titillation. Those who pursue naturism for those reasons are not true naturists and they do not represent me, my actions, nor my beliefs.

Now that that’s out of the way...

It is my intention in the post to tell why I am willing to claim that my practice of naturism is the fruit of a biblical conviction. I have several reasons.
Reason #1 - Being ashamed to allow my body to be seen is an insult to the One who stamped His own likeness there.
We as human beings are—by God’s own declaration—created in His image. My study of the Hebrew word translated “image” in Gen. 1:26-27 reveals that every time the word appears in the Old Testament, it refers to a visible representation. Consequently, I am forced by the rules of biblical interpretation to accept that meaning here as well. I cannot fully grasp or explain how a God who is Spirit can also have a shape that can be represented physically, but neither can I deny it. I simply have to accept the plain meaning of God’s Word.

That’s worth its own blog post another time... but for now, let me continue.

If I had a photograph of my beautiful wife in my wallet, my home, or my office, but I was fearful of it actually being seen, so I always kept it draped or hidden, wouldn't you think that I was somehow ashamed of my wife’s looks? If I refused to ever let anyone see what she looks like, would not my wife rightly believe that I was ashamed of her? Would it not be an insult to her?

If—as I believe—our bodies are actually self-portraits of the Almighty, then can you see how our embarrassment over allowing it to ever be seen exactly as He made it would be an insult to Him?

Indeed, I believe that Satan’s suggestion to Adam and Eve that their nakedness was a problem (I believe Satan was the “who” of “who told you...?” in Gen. 3:11), was precisely for the purpose of insulting the Creator! Satan—the envious angel who himself wanted to be “like God”—influenced a fallen Adam and Eve to be ashamed of the one thing that was the mark of image-bearing which Satan himself did not possess... their bodies! (I’m not saying that’s all there is to image-bearing, but it’s the only one we have which Satan does not!)

If I am unwilling to allow someone to see my unclothed body, it reveals that I have very low esteem for the Artist or the artistry of His self-portrait imprinted there.

This is my biblical conviction.

Reason #2 - God’s design for humanity was that we be “naked and unashamed.” (Gen. 2:25)
It is inescapable that God’s original design for human society was that people would live together without the moral need for clothing. More importantly to my point, however, is that it was His intent that they be completely unashamed of their naked bodies.

The point is not that God delighted in the nudity of the first couple (although I believe He did), but that it pleased Him that they were in no way ashamed of their nudity! And for sure, being naked was no sin against His character or His moral law.

I am not saying that God wants you and me to always be naked, I am saying that God wants you and me to not be ashamed of our bodies or fearful of allowing them to be seen by others! And I’m saying that nudity is no sin against God.

Nowhere in the Bible does God command clothing of all people. Nowhere is “naked and unashamed” rescinded as a Godly ideal. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that we must cover our bodies to prevent lust (as if it truly worked...). Nowhere are we ever told that it is impossible in a fallen world to be free of the personal body-shame that steals "naked and unashamed" from us.

In case you believe that pre-fall realities are not to be pursued at all in this fallen world, I will remind you of three relationships that existed pre-Fall:
  • Perfect relationship with God. (walking with God)
  • Perfect relationship with spouse. (the two were “one flesh”)
  • Perfect relationship with self. (“naked and unashamed”)
All three relationships were damaged at the Fall. We have been reeling under the repercussions of that loss ever since.

But God’s ideal has not changed. He still desires that we walk in fellowship with Him. He still desires that husband and wife are "one" in spirit, soul, and flesh. And He still desires for us to be free from shame, even while naked.

Most people will quickly jump up and say, “But we live in a fallen world!!”

Indeed we do. But since when does that invalidate God’s ideal?
  • Does that mean that we should not try to walk with God?
  • Does that mean we should not try to have a healthy relationship with our spouses?
  • Does that mean that we should embrace shame as the irrevocable birth defect of all humanity?
In all cases, No!

What part of the Fall did Jesus not redeem me from?

God’s pre-fall ideal for humanity is still His ideal for us today. Even Jesus Himself, when asked about the legality of divorce, quoted the pre-fall command in Gen. 2:24 as the basis for His answer regarding God’s persistent ideal for post-fall marriage permanence.

The very next verse describes the first couple as “naked and unashamed.”

Would anyone suggest that Jesus would have accepted Gen. 2:24 as worthy of pursuit in a fallen world, but not Gen. 2:25?

I will not.

This is my biblical conviction.


I’m not done yet, but this post is already long. I’ll write more in Part 2 (and Part 3?).

But to close this post out, let me give the bottom line for me in reference to these 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 express the belief that my body is made in God’s image—by God’s hands, for God’s glory—is to cease being unwilling for others to see it as if my own dignity would be damaged as a result. It is no indignity to allow God’s image to be seen.
  • The only way I know of to pursue God’s ideal that I have the freedom in my heart to be “naked and unashamed” is to actually make an effort to practice it. To claim to be unashamed while judiciously keeping covered is simply not credible.
I have biblical convictions about what is true. I have chosen to be a naturist in order to express and live those truths.

More convictions to come in Part 2.

Matthew Neal


Anonymous said...

Even though you know I take naturism seriously and especially Christianity, it is good to read articles like this to shore up our convictions as well.

I like the reference to Genesis about divorce and then relate it to the very next verse about being naked and unashamed. It would be illogical for Jesus to affirm one verse and deny the one right after that one.

Looking forward to part deuce.


jochanaan said...

Well done!!

Anonymous said...

I love what you are saying here!
Insightful and direct.
Keep up the good work!