Friday, June 19, 2009

Christian Naturism

Sometimes I like to report on interesting beliefs and explore them biblically to see what I think about them. Have I got a great one for you today. Today’s topic is Christian Naturism. In other words, Christians who believe that nudism is not only ok, but often a good idea.

To start delving into the subject, we shall start at the beginning. Let me give ya the ol’ disclaimer first by saying that what I present here are the beliefs of these people to the best of my understanding. Any misrepresentation of anyone’s beliefs or opinions is completely accidental and I’ll be happy to make any corrections. Also, I’m just gonna tell it how it is, I’m not going to say “they believe” because I think doing that creates an unnecessary distinction between “us” and “them” which is not in the spirit of Christian unity no matter who “we” or “they” are. I’m just gonna tell you what I learned

The Creation Variation

Let’s start at the beginning with creation. The basics tell us that God created humans as the ultimate creation and the pinnacle of all he had done and he called them good, oh, and they were naked and unashamed of it. There’s no way to be sure, but I think God may have created them as children and allowed them to grow up together, but I digress. So they lived in the garden in the nude and didn’t really know there was a difference. But they sinned and then they realized they were naked. Now here’s an interesting concept. When God comes down and is finding out what is going on, what is the first question he asked? He asked who told them that they were naked. Not if they ate from the tree which would seem like a more important question, but he asked them who told them that they were naked. Interesting. It is not God who tells us that nudity is shameful, but rather it seems that Satan is the one who duped us into that belief.

The Jesus Analysis

The first best and only real thing that matters to me in any discussion is what Jesus would have to say about it. Well fortunately enough for us, we have some information that might shed some light on the subject. Firstly, we must understand the time period in which Jesus lived. In the first century world, nudity was quite common. Firstly it was a sign of poverty, but it was also common among fishermen, slaves, gardeners, carpenters, and other craftsmen and laborers when the weather got hot. Wait, carpenters you say? It was also common for women to work with only a cloth tied around their waste. Breast feeding was done openly and in public, like you might seen in some third world countries (such as Honduras where I just returned from.) In fact, Peter when Jesus called him had to put back on his clothing because he was stripped for work on his boat. And don’t try to tell me that naked was another way of saying just a loincloth, you don’t know, you weren’t there. The words in Greek for naked mean naked. And we all remember the verse about turning the other cheek and going the extra mile, but the third part that some forget is that Jesus said if someone sues you for your cloak, give them your tunic also. What does that leave you? Butt naked. That’s right, Jesus actually commanded persons in some circumstances to go completely naked. Also common in the first century were public bath houses and bathing areas which are in no place in the bible forbidden despite Paul’s intimate familiarity with Roman culture. Also, there is overwhelming evidence that Jesus was crucified naked. All depictions of the crucifixion featured a naked Jesus until some time around the fifth century. Surprise, crucifixions were also received in the nude historically. Finally, there’s a good chance that the risen Jesus was also initially naked. Consider this, Jesus was wrapped in a burial shroud. People were not usually buried with their clothes, and it is documented that Jesus left his burial shroud folded up in the tomb, and remember how gardeners often worked nude? What did the women assume that Jesus was when they first saw him?

Here’s something else to consider. Jesus said that one must be like a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I don’t know about your kids, but I’ve never known any child, boy or girl, who was not at some point streaking around inviting public critique without a care in the world. Children on a very basic level are unafraid to be nude, and really are innocent about it. Adults teach them that nudity is bad. Non-Victorian influenced cultures don’t have problems with nudity, which leads me to my next point.

The Naturism Racism Theorem

Victorian culture really is where we get our view of nudity today. Before the new styles of fabrics and technology, what did people wear while swimming? Nothing, that’s what. But think about cultures who still practice nudity as a common way of life. You see, in Victorian times, there was this racism as missions thing about those people. Proper people did not want to be like those naked godless savages in the jungle. But as we still see today, when those naked godless savages come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, they have some of the most lively and spirited worship services of all the people on the planet. Let me tell you, one of my goals in life is to get in on one of those African crazy church services. In fact, it is difficult to reach out to some cultures if you are wearing clothes, they think you are hiding something. So gear up (or not) and go to a naked tribe and tell them about Jesus. But don’t tell them they have to wear clothes because that’s not in the Bible. In Honduras, they told us that the stuff we thought was strange was different, but it was not wrong.

The Green Consensus

There’s not a whole lot more green than wearing no clothes. The energy doesn’t have to be expended to make the clothes that result in pollution, and no energy needs to be expended in washing them and they won’t end up in the land fill if they don’t wear out. Fewer clothes mean that air conditioning won’t have to be turned up as high in the summer.

The Humanitarian Juxtaposition

There is one way in which nudity is unacceptable, and that is when it is forced due to poverty or slavery. The Bible says the same thing. As I said before, throughout history, nudity has been a sign of poverty and while it’s ok in the summer, in the winter, people need to be provided clothes to keep warm. Fortunately in the US, any poor person capable of dumpster diving should be able to find something to wear, but the case may not apply for certain third world countries.

Some more points that are made I’ll list here because they don’t exactly fit into the creatively labeled paragraphs above. If Adam was the first Adam and Jesus was the second Adam and Jesus came to redeem the planet and remove the curse, then why can’t we return to a lifestyle like the first Adam had. Surely we all know that it’s not clothes that keep us from sinning, clothes don’t keep us from lusting. Though in my personal experience, they can keep some people who feel the need to look upon a naked body from looking twice. But on the other hand, if I had grown up without connecting nudity to sex, like reading a National Geographic Magazine, perhaps I would not be tempted to look so much. I have also read and heard from another’s personal experience that a child raised in a family comfortable with nudity will not be as apt to be tempted with pornography. As a man who has struggled with porn, I am in search of solutions for my own children.

The website on the subject that I read through mentioned one of my favorite tenets of who I am. I am a Christian first and every thing else comes second. This guy said he was a Christian first and a naturist second and I can’t really see a problem with that at all. In fact that’s what I say over and over again should be the case, with any subject.

All in all, though I am not myself a nudist or naturist, I don’t see why there’s any reason why I shouldn’t be. While I probably won’t use some of the arguments naturists use because they’re weak, but they do have strong arguments and I do see their point and history backs them up. The thing I think most speaks to me is that for the first couple of hundred years of church history, baptisms were done in the nude as a symbol of rebirth, so that makes it likely that Jesus was also baptized in the nude. I mean, if you only have really one main set of clothes, why get them wet and nasty? It just makes sense. Also, C. S. Lewis was known for swimming in the nude and you know how we Christians love his work. So think about it. Look it up, you won’t find many pictures of nude people on Christian Naturist sites so you need not be concerned.

If God had meant us to be nude, he’d have created us that way…er… no, if God had meant us to be nude, we’d be born that w…. um, wait… ah shoot. Live nude and prosper.


P. S. You probably think I’m gonna tell you I wrote this naked.



ROBIN said...

A very perceptive and thought provoking essay concerning a sensitive issue.
I am a SDA Christian and would like to dialogue with those who also share the naturist/christian philosophy.
Please contact -

Anonymous said...

A very interesting view. For another view regarding naturism and especially Christians that are naturists, please see my blog and comment.