Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lust is a Secondary Issue!

Note… I did not say lust was an “unimportant” issue!

But it is secondary to the question of the biblical morality of social nudity… which is the primary issue.

Here’s why this is important…

  • If God forbids social nudity, then the question of “lust” is moot. Even if there is no lust involved, social nudity would still be unrighteous all by itself.
  • If, on the other hand, social nudity is not forbidden by God, then we must address the issue of lust (which clearly is forbidden by God).

The implications of these observations should be pretty clear:

  • It means that if we are addressing the biblical position on social nudity, we must answer that question before we discuss the role of lust and how it should inform our practice.
  • It means that in any discussion about the morality of social nudity, if someone invokes the “lust” argument in their attempt to establish a divine prohibition of nudity, they have inadvertently admitted that there is no stand-alone divine injunction against social nudity in the bible.
  • It also means that if the attempt to establish a prohibition against nudity is based solely on the “lust” factor, then we must also conclude that if the lust factor can be mitigated, then God would not disapprove of socially nude context.

Indeed, that third point is actually where most people end up in practice, for few have a moral objection to a woman going to a male doctor, even though she may be nude in his presence. We expect the doctor to act with professional decorum, treating her body with dignity and without any lust in his own heart. Consequently, since there is no lust, the nudity is permissible.

But, that reality (that point three is how we truly live) is not acknowledged by the proponents of the nudity taboo. They typically say that “medical necessity” is a morally acceptable exception, but that in all other cases, nudity around anyone other than one’s own spouse is forbidden.

(As an aside here, I have often suggested that if the nudity “exception” could be found in the Bible, then it would make the case against nudity much stronger, even in the absence of a clear prohibition of social nudity. However, both the prohibition AND the exception are missing in the Bible. See my related post, You Can’t Have it Both Ways)

You Want to Talk about “Lust”?

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. “Lust” IS a worthwhile topic to address as a naturist. Sometime in the future I expect  to do so here in my blog.

However, if we’re discussing the morality of Social Nudity, then I’m not going to talk about “lust” with you unless you first admit that there’s no specific Biblical prohibition on social nudity itself… irrespective of the “lust” component. Make the case that the Bible forbids social nudity and your point is granted.

If you must talk about “lust” in order to make a case against social nudity, then you are by default, admitting that the Bible does not overtly prohibit social nudity. But in so doing, you must also grant that when lust is not a factor, then the nudity is not sinful. To claim otherwise is not logically consistent.

Perhaps it is possible to make a case that lust is impossible to to avoid when mixed-gender nudity is present, therefore all social nudity results in sin. But that’s a very different assertion than the claim that God prohibits of social nudity in and of itself! Lust is as secondary consideration.

The “Debate”

Some years ago, John Kundert of the Fig Leaf Forum once entered into a formal debate with Pastor Mark Roberts regarding Mr. Robert’s assertion that “Social nudism is condemned by the Bible as sinful.”

At the very beginning of the debate, Mr. Roberts immediately invoked the issue of “lust” and asserted that Mr. Kundert could not ensure that lust did not happen in the context of social nudity. In light of what I’ve just explained in this blog post, it must be concluded that Mr. Roberts was, in essence, already conceding defeat in the debate, for he could not support his stated assertion from the Scriptures alone. Rather, was compelled to invoke the “lust” issue in an effort to support his position from the very start.

(You can read the entire debate here.)

Lust is clearly sin according to God’s word. As such, it is absolutely a very important issue. But if one claims that the Bible specifically forbids social nudity, that claim must be demonstrated without invoking the “lust” argument.

— Matthew Neal

For related posts, see:

You Can’t Have it Both Ways

Naturist by Biblical Conviction??? – Part 1 - Part 2Part 3


Aaron Frost said...

I think you're right on base about lust being a secondary issue, but this brought another observation to mind. I have a feeling lust is often not the real issue that keeps people from embracing the human body and it's glory. (otherwise secular people would embrace nudism without hesitation) I suspect it's more of a straw man. In my limited years (29) of dealing with human nature in myself and others I've found that people rarely give away their true reasons. If they gave their true reasons they would be in danger of being corrected and logically forced to admit error. They often keep their deepest motivations (perhaps subconsciously) in their back pocket while throwing out smoke screens as fodder for argument. The issue of lust is a handy accusation because it's difficult to debate something that's invisible and subjective. They use "Lust" to freeze the debate in a gridlock. If they were honest, I think they could accept that lust is the responsibility of the one sinning and it doesn't really stand to reason that lust makes nudity sinful. They refuse to admit this however because they need it as a firewall to keep their true reason from coming to light.
I have sensed that most people reject nudism mainly because of their deep insecurity over their own bodies. Those who are comfortable and happy with their bodies seem to accept nudism very readily, however those who have compared themselves to the models on TV and the celebrities on magazine covers have bought into Satan's lie that their own un-photoshoped bodies are inferior, unworthy, and dirty. I believe this is why women have a harder time with naturism. They are terrified of being silently scorned and belittled, so they raise the moot issue of lust, not because they can't see the logical fallacies of that argument, but because they aren't willing to face and deal with their entrenched insecurities and fear. You can debate with such a person for eternity and correct all their logic, but they will stick to their unspoken fear. Such a person can only be set free by the realization that they are magnificently crafted by God as stewards of a fearfully and wonderfully made body.
Similarly, any who draw their sense of worth from their standing in church circles will reject nudism in fear of losing their status and prestige as pillars in the church. This reason also will never be admitted openly, but these issues of pride, insecurity, and fear are the real reason they throw out invalid arguments like "lust."
For those who genuinely do have an issue with lust, the site is a great resource, but I suspect there are more powerful secret reasons that most people are not willing to put on the table.

Han Champion said...

Regarding Lust is a Secondary Issue, you state that "Lust is clearly sin according to God’s word." and "we must address the issue of lust (which clearly is forbidden by God)".

In response to an earlier comment I submitted, you corrected me (and rightly so) for using the modern understanding of lust rather than the biblical understanding. You pointed out that Jesus lusted after celebrating with his disciples.

It would be helpful to your readers to identify when you are using which understanding of the word lust as it isn't always obvious from the context, and many may not be aware of the difference between the two.

I have continued to read your blog and do other research. As I have, I have been writing for myself two to three page collections of my thoughts on narrow topics in order to clarify them in my mind. I am moving away from the traditional church teaching on nudity. I haven't yet embraced naturism, and don't know if I will. I would like to experience social nudity at some point in time, but in discussing the research I am doing, my wife expressed how much she valued my nudity as something reserved for her. I would not want to do anything to devalue what she values.

I have also discussed the research with my two adult daughters because of the effect that the traditional teaching has had on them and their sense of self worth, and the body shaming that has been their experience.

Two events triggered my research. One was reading an account on Facebook by a Christian male labour and delivery nurse who said that in his experience there was no lust in seeing the nude female form in that context. The other around the same time was a news report about a western woman visiting the UAE who was arrested for having unlawful sex when she went to the police to report having been raped.

I thought that Muslims blaming the victim because men have no control was ridiculous. Then I found Christian web sites voicing the same position. I thought "that's not biblical", and started researching.

The Church's approach to and teaching about nakedness is not the only topic on which the Church at large has little biblical support. If I conclude that the Church is wrong about nakedness, I will have to raise the issue with Elders of my church. Before I do, I want to know that I have a very good grasp of what the bible does say. If I can't defend the position, then I will make it harder for anyone in the church to address the issue in the future.

Thank you for your research and for the blog posts.

Matthew Neal said...

Han, I'm so grateful to hear of your journey.

I need to tell you, however, that the false teaching in the church you have come to recognize is not simply an honest mistake or an intellectual misstep. It is literally a demonic bondage.

I know those are very strong words, but I can assure you from personal experience that no amount of biblical acumen or clarity of articulation or accuracy of exegesis will convince anyone that this demonic doctrine about the body is wrong. I can confidently declare that with my own words--written or spoken--I have NOT convinced a soul about these things... unless... God was already at work in their heart causing them to question the "orthodoxy" of the false doctrine.

I'm all for confronting the lie and exposing the truth, but I have utterly given up on any belief in my powers of persuasion to be effective on this matter.

If you DO go to the elders of the church, do so with utter confidence that it is precisely what God is calling you to do and that it is the right time.

This demonic doctrine is very important to Satan, and he viciously attacks Christians who dare to expose its falsehood. You will most likely open yourself up to tremendous and very hurtful persecution at the hands of your elders... and anyone else who gets wind of it.

That does NOT mean you should not raise the issue with them--or with anyone else--but it does mean that you need to be absolutely sure about it being God's leading. And you need to be prepared for the persecution that will come. And it will come.

And remember your wife... she would suffer the hurt of the persecution... probably more deeply than you. If she's not fully on board with your change of beliefs, then her hurt would likely be laid at your feet as the "cause" of the pain.

So, before you do anything, I urge you to contact me directly so we can confer more about all of this and I can encourage you. You can use this address: {contact AT thebiblicalnaturist DOT com}.

For the record, I'm not about promoting naturism. This site only exists to support Christian naturists who need confidence in the biblical fidelity of their beliefs. What I'm really about is confronting the lie. I sense that this is God's call on you as well. So please contact me. We can be stronger together than individually.

By HIS Grace,

— Matt