Monday, April 19, 2010

Naturism and Gender Identity

Can a biblical view of naturism contribute positively to the issues of gender confusion and gender identity in our culture today? I believe that it can. In fact, I believe that naturism has much more to offer towards a healthier understanding of these issues than that which is provided by the traditional view and treatment of our bodies practiced by the church at large.

As with all issues critical to our understanding of ourselves and moral issues, when addressing the issue of “Gender Identity,” we must start with what the Bible says…

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; MALE and FEMALE He created them.” (Gen. 1:26 – NASB, emphasis mine)

There it is. The definitive expression of gender for all humanity—for all time: Male and Female.

Some seem to imagine that that the text should read, “…male and female, gay and lesbian He created them.”

Let’s be clear. God makes no “gays.” He makes no “lesbians.” He makes boys who become men, and he makes girls who become women.

Gender is not determined by tendencies or behavior; it is determined genetically. And our genes can be depended upon to show us clearly by our very physiology that we are either male of female. Every baby ever born has been announced as “It’s a boy!” or “it’s a girl!”… there are no other options.

If this is so, why is there so much confusion about gender? There’s no confusion at birth; why should there be any confusion later in life?

Gender Confusion

In our culture, we recognize gender in our babies at their birth by their physical attributes. They either have a penis, or they don’t. But almost immediately, we slap diapers on them and are then compelled to identify their gender artificially.

Nobody likes to go up to a newborn and tell the mother, “Oh, he’s so cute!” only to have embarrassed mother say, “Yes, she is.” (oops!!) And every mother works hard to dress her baby in pink or in blue just to ward off the gender question before it ever gets asked! (Except my mother… she brought me and my two brothers all home from the hospital in a little yellow dress. I have it here in my closet…)

So, by the time our babies are home with us, we have already begun to use an artificial indicator—clothing—to identify gender.

But it gets worse…

As our children grow, we continue to buy “boys’ clothes” or “girls’ clothes.” But when it comes to play time, practicality often demands the more gender-neutral “shorts and T-shirt” with sneakers. Since the clothing distinction is blurred, now we look to other artificial indicators of gender.

Enter “behavior”…

“Boys will be boys” they say. Boys like danger and rough-housing and fighting and sports and adventure and worms. Girls, of course, like softer things and dolls and playing house and cooking and dressing up and having “tea.”

For the most part, I suppose, it works…

But… what about the boy who doesn’t match that “boy” description? What if he likes to cook and doesn’t care for wrestling? What about the girl who is more fascinated by bugs and sports than dolls and dress up? Is he a “momma’s boy” and she a “tomboy”? Do we actually begin to identify the boy with a feminine term and the girl with a masculine term based on preferences and behavior alone?

Preferences and behavior are false measures of gender. Not all males naturally gravitate towards stereotypical “male” behaviors, but they are no less male. Not all females are naturally drawn to “female” behaviors, but they are no less female. When preference or behavior becomes the measure of gender, it will inevitably lead some to gender confusion.

True Gender Identity is found between your legs.

The only reliable measure of gender is right there between your legs. You either have a penis or you have a vagina. Case closed.

Look around you. Half the population has one option, and half has the other. Every person reading this knows which half they belong to. It’s permanently stamped on their physical being.

Except… we can’t look around us and see what the rest of the population has… they’re all covered up!

We have convinced ourselves that those distinguishing body parts are actually “indecent” and unfit to be seen by others. Whether by intent, example, or neglect, we have even taught our children to be ashamed of those specific body parts!

So, not only does the “momma’s boy” wonder why his nature is more “feminine” than “masculine” (based on preference and behavior), the one part of his body that should proclaim to him and everyone else, “I’m a BOY!” is instead treated as shameful, never to be seen by anyone else. No wonder he’s confused!

Clearing up the Confusion

James Dobson has written a book called Bringing Up Boys. While addressing the potential development of homosexuality in boys, he quotes an extended passage written by psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., whom Dr. Dobson considers the foremost authority on the prevention and treatment of homosexuality today.

Dr. Nicolosi mentions the fact that as boys, many of his homosexual clients… “displayed a ‘nonmasculinity’ that set them painfully apart from other boys: unathletic, somewhat passive, unaggressive and uninterested in rough-and-tumble play.” In other words, they became confused because gender identity was measured by behavior instead of their actual physicality.

Among other things that Dr. Nicolosi recommends that a father can do to help his sons to be confirmed in their maleness, he suggests that “He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.” (Both of these quotes can be found online here)

I see this as a very positive step in the right direction. I would even suggest that the openness to see God’s real “measure of gender” can and should extend beyond just seeing “Dad in the shower.” There’s no reason why innocently observing the the gender attributes of brothers, Mom, and sisters cannot be a normal and natural part of home life. All of this would make it abundantly clear to every member of the family which half of humanity they really belong to.

Not a “Cure-All”

No, openness to family nudity is not a “cure-all” for gender confusion and the sexual identity problems that can come as a result. However, it would be a huge step in the right direction if we could actively supplant behavioral gender-identity notions with healthy exposure to the true measure of gender distinction found right in our bodies.

Naturist contexts offer the opportunity to see and experience the clear and unambiguous recognition of males and females. Instead needing to say, “boys will be boys” (behaviorally), one can simply look around and observe that “boys are boys” and “girls are girls.” The confusion is gone.

Or as one friend rather aptly noted…

“There are no transvestites at a naturist resort!”

Matthew Neal

1 comment:

Rick L. said...

In regard to gender identity: At age five, my daughter revealed the 'difference' between boys and girls! Her words: "Boys peedle, girls potty, everybody poops." Pretty basic, and true.
We brought her up in a clothes free environment, and she has, in turn, begun the same upbringing to her son.