Friday, September 18, 2009

Naturist by Biblical Conviction??? — [Part 2]

Most Christians probably believe that being a naturist is a sin against God. Others might only believe it's a lifestyle choice... “to each his own” they might say.

But for me, I am a naturist because I am a follower of Christ, and I believe that truths I have come to know from God’s Word have led me to intentionally practice naturism. I am a Naturist by Biblical Conviction.

And such a claim deserves an explanation.

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.

In Part 1 of this series of posts, I gave the first two reasons that my biblical convictions have led me to practice naturism (if you have not read it yet, please do, since what I write here is a continuation of what I wrote there).

In the introduction to my previous post, I repudiated the notion that naturism is about sexual titillation. My third reason and conviction speaks further to that issue.

Reason #3 - It is shameful to consider the unclothed human form to be primarily sexual in nature and impact.
This reason is related to the first one, that God created us in His image (Gen 1:26-27). The most significant observation we can make about the nude human form is that it displays a visible likeness of the invisible God! God’s self-portrait is unveiled. Each and every person reveals a unique version of that image, each one personally crafted by the Master Artist.

In the modern cultural mindset, we have completely abandoned that recognition and we have replaced it with the shameful notion that a body’s shape is significant only for its sexual impact! Instead of seeing the Glory of the Eternal Creator on display, we only assess the impact of the sight on our own libido. We literally evaluate God’s image on the basis of how the sight of it stirs up sexual desires!

This is a great and horrific shame!

Mind you, I’m not talking about the pornographers here... I’m talking about Christians!!

I have no reason to expect those who do not know the Creator to treat His creation with honor, but it saddens me deeply that those who profess to know Him harbor the same false mindset as the pornographers.

You see, we as Christians demand that the body be covered for the purpose of preventing sexual lust. This very “rule” assumes that seeing an uncovered human body will have sexual impact... and that this is the only impact it can have!

If it’s not yet clear why I consider this such a shameful perspective, allow me to illustrate with another meaningful emblem.

Like so many of you, I love my country. Therefore the flag which represents my country commands tremendous respect in my heart. The thought of someone burning it irks me. Know the feeling?

Imagine for a moment that someone took the flag that I love and used it as a wash rag to clean their car. I would think (and probably say!) “What’s wrong with you?? Don’t you know what that flag stands for??? Don’t you love the country that flag stands for? How can you use the emblem of our country as if it’s just a rag?”

It’s not that we don’t need rags to wash things, but treating a flag as if it’s just another piece of fabric is an insult to the country that flag stands for.

It’s not that sexual activity is a bad thing (it is wonderful in its place, of course), but treating the naked body as if the sight of it is just a precursor to sexual activity is an insult to the God that body reveals.

The Bible does not teach or endorse such a view.

This is my biblical conviction.

Reason #4 - The prohibition of nudity is a man-made rule which we have no moral obligation to follow.
There is not space under this point to “prove” the truth of this statement. Indeed, demonstrating its truth is the ultimate aim of this entire blog. However, I will address one very commonly used Scripture that many people settle on as “proof” that God intends for us to be clothed.
Gen. 3:21 “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”
That’s the verse that many people depend upon, including the man from with whom I had a discussion concerning his post regarding social nudity (posted here).

What I have quoted above is all the Bible says about the event. Notice the things missing from this passage:
  • No stated purpose for the clothing.
  • No command that Adam and Eve remain clothed.
  • No “exception clause” for man and wife.
If we were to take this passage as a mandate for clothing, then we cannot avoid the conclusion that we must keep clothed with our spouses even when no one else is around, for that is the very context where God gave the “mandate.”

If it were a mandate, then Adam and Eve would have had to:
  • Understand that the purpose is to abate sexual lust, even though inappropriate lust was not a reality in their world yet.
  • Understand that the “mandate” will not really need to be followed until children were born.
  • Understand that husband and wife were exempt from the requirement when it was just the two of them.
All of this, they had to understand without the benefit of God explaining it to them. In like manner, we today have to read all of these things into the passage because God “neglected” to include it. By definition, that is what is called eisegesis, and we cannot attempt to interpret Scripture that way.

This is just one passage that is used to declare that it is God’s will that people always be clothed around anyone but their spouse. However, the passage simply cannot bear the weight of the interpretation laid upon it.

Every other passage similarly used also collapses under the weight of the man-made rule it has been put forth to support.

(If anyone knows of a passage they believe supports the notion that social nudity is against God’s moral law, please write us here and I will address it respectfully and in detail.)

So, if the prohibition against nudity is not found in Scripture, then we must conclude that it is a man-made rule. And if a man-made rule, Scripture teaches us that we have no moral obligation to follow it. In fact, Paul’s words in Col 2:20-23 actually encourage us in the opposite direction!

Without any doubt, we must follow God’s moral laws, but we must not submit to man-made rules of righteousness.

We dare not speak falsely about God that He has declared a moral absolute when He actually has not. We cannot presume to know the mind of God on an issue which He could have addressed clearly in Scripture but did not.

No, we have no obligation to follow the false rules of righteousness put forth by men, no matter how they have the “appearance of wisdom” (Col. 2:23).

Indeed, like Paul, we should openly renounce them and encourage others to reject them as well (Col 2:20-23, Gal. 3:1-7, Gal 5:1-8)

This is my biblical conviction.


I’m still not done, so I’ll write more in Part 3.

Again, however, to close out this post, 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 combat the notion that nudity is only a precursor to sexual expression is to experience nudity with others when sex is not part of the social equation. Limiting my nudity to contexts where sexual expression is morally permitted only affirms the shameful view of our bodies.
  • The only way I know of to truly reject man-made rules is to intentionally live contrary to them. Jesus Himself openly refused to follow the man-made religious rules of His day. To claim to reject the rules, but continue to follow them at all times is 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 3.

Matthew Neal


bn2benude said...

I agree with much of what you have written. I wonder your thoughts on this.

I've noticed that the Church, particularly in America has definite Gnostic leanings, not only with regards to the human body, but with regards to many of our beliefs.

Matthew Neal said...

Certainly in regards to the church's view of the Body, there is still very much influence from Gnostic thought.

While officially, the church rejects Gnostic teaching, it still holds this idea that the spirit and soul of a person are what really counts, consequently demeaning the value of the body.

Yet God made us Body-Spirit beings (or Body-Soul-Spirit beings if you prefer) and to be less than that is to be less than human. God intends for us to be fully human for eternity, as evidenced by the fact that all who have ever lived will someday be bodily resurrected. The separation of body and spirit at death is only temporary.

As far as how other elements of Gnostic teaching may be in evidence within the church, I have to admit that I am not knowledgeable enough to express an opinion. I would be curious as to what you are thinking.

Thanks for writing.


jochanaan said...

Again, very well done!

One friendly question: In my own Biblical studies about nakedness, I found only two Scriptures that might be interpreted as limited, circumstantial commands against nudity. One is Exodus 20:26: "Neither shalt thou go up by steps upon mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon." The other is Exodus 28:42-43, dealing with priestly garments, specifically the linen breeches. This clause especially would seem to be troubling: "And they [the breeches] shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die..." (vs. 43)

What do you make of those two Scriptures?

Matthew Neal said...


Before I began to practice naturism... when I was just examining the practice biblically, I knew I had to wrestle with that very topic.

I knew about those passages, and I was uneasy about what they might have meant relative to naturist practice.

So, before I could embrace naturism, I worked through those passages. Ignoring them was not an option for me.

Obviously, my study set my heart and conscience at ease when I realized that God was not making a commentary on His view of male genitalia, but calling His people to worship in a way that was in stark contrast to the way the pagan societies in Canaan worshiped.

This context is way too limited to give you more of an explanation than that right here. But it sure might make a good topic for another Blog post! I'll try to get to that soon.