Christian Nudists

That title made you click, right? You're saying, "What's Richard Beck up to now?"

Okay, here's one of those "experimental" posts I do. For your consideration and mediation.

I've just finished reading the essay Bare-Naked Lady: My vacation at a nudist camp by Emily Yoffe over at Slate. Yoffe writes as the "Human Guiana Pig" for Slate and in her essay she recounts her experience spending a day at a nudist camp. As a psychologist the whole essay--from Yoffe's own reactions to her psychological observations of the nudists to the whole phenomenon of nudism and its attractions--was interesting.

And then I started wondering about nudism from a Christian perspective. Could you be a Christian nudist?

In one sense, yes, of course you can. There are agnostic nudists, Jewish nudists, and Christian nudists. Etc. (I wonder if there are Muslim nudists?) So, yes, there are plenty of Christian nudists.

But my question has less to do with religious demographics than with the theology of nudity. And as a first take, I think you could make a fairly decent theological case for nudism.

First, let me be clear that I have no interest in this hobby or lifestyle. I wear shirts at the beach. And Lord knows you don't want to see me naked. And by the looks of you I don't want to see you naked. But here are some random theological thoughts:

First, you could make a creation theology case for nudism. Clothing, as I've written about before, is a product of the Fall. Thus, as the Kingdom of God breaks in wouldn't nudism be recovered?

Of course, we still live in the Fall. And that's the problem. As Yoffe's essay discusses, nudist camps struggle with people seeking out the hobby for erotic purposes. In short, nudism might await at the eschaton but it's a dicey proposition, morally speaking, this side of heaven.

Second, as Yoffe discusses one of the things nudists prize about the experience is how, when you strip off clothing, you strip away status displays. Clothing and jewelry are primary ways to signal power, wealth, and status. Nude a Fortune 500 CEO and a school janitor look, well, how they look. You couldn't tell the difference by looking at them. In this, nudism is a highly, radically egalitarian gesture. At the very least, nudism as a concept makes you wonder about how we use clothing as forms of violence against each other by signalling that I'm higher up the food chain than you are. Maybe this is why clothing is a feature of the Fall and not Eden.

Third, in this world of visual media people are living with very unrealistic ideas about what real people look like. We are constantly exposed to fit, tan, airbrushed and surgically altered people in the media. About, what, .0001% of the people in the world look like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt? Most of us look like bums. Sagging, spotted, bony, fat, hairy, scarred, pimpled, and wrinkled. In short, in a world of TV, magazines, movies, and the Internet we are losing touch with what real human beings look like. And this affects not only our self-esteem but also our marriages, about what loving a real human body is actually like. Nudism, it seems, would be one way of reminding yourself what real people look like.

And this brings me to my fourth point. In an age of pornography nudity is highly eroticized. Much of it, again, because it is connected with fantasy. So I wonder if nudism helps to push against the eroticism of our culture. By exposing yourself to the nudity of real people the allure of looking at naked people in a fit of lust might attenuate. I wonder about that. Does nudism help or hurt with lust? Does it cause a craving for pornography to go up or down? Because it you read Yoffe's article you are struck by how the nudists are just "used to" nudity. Nudity has lost, to a large extent, its erotic appeal. And I wonder if that might be a good thing.

To conclude, let me speak to my wife who is reading this:

Jana, stay calm, I'm not going to become a nudist.

To the rest of you, don't you think this is an interesting (if alarming to talk about out loud with your loved ones) case study?

The comments are open. But people, let's keep it clean.

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9 thoughts on “Christian Nudists”

  1. I have to agree. Even here in Canada, every spring at Bible College around end of semester we started seeing them: Shoulders. It's funny, the school mandates that shoulders be covered because of an antiquated rule about lustfulness. Most (if not all of the guys in dorm) never had an issue with shoulders until the end of that freshman year when they all came out again...

  2. I am a Christian and a part-time nudist. I see the human body as a beautiful creation by God in his image and consider nudity itself to be morally neutral per the Bible. Obviously, some use nudity or partial nudity (revealing clothing, for example) for ill, but others use it for good. I feel closer to God when nude, especially if I can be nude outside in his creation. When possible, I run in organized nude 5K races in Texas (http://nrs.aanr-sw.org), visit nude beaches, and run around the house without clothing. It's a glorious feeling to just be me, the way God made me, without hiding anything.

    My wife is not a nudist but doesn't mind my interest. She even came to one of the races with me and found it amusing. I firmly believe that many people would enjoy being naked in public, especially in the outdoors, if they overcame their self-consciousness and fear and just went for it. Unfortunately, it's difficult to persuade people to take the first step.

    In my view, many of the sex-related problems we face, including pornography, premarital / extramarital sex, and lust, result from our culture's unhealthy view of the human body. We idolize "perfect" bodies in movies, magazines, TV, and more. They sell everything from cars to beer to web hosting, giving us grossly unrealistic expectations of how we and other people are supposed to look. In the process, we associate nudity with sex and make the two almost inseparable. In contrast, we look at our own bodies and see how they don't measure up. Our parents and teachers teach us to hide certain parts of our bodies as if they are shameful, and we start to view sex as dirty in the process. In other words, we worship perfect bodies and despise our own. Neither honors God.

    I encourage each of you to give nudity a try - in your home, in your backyard if you have a good fence, at a nude beach, or even at a nudist resort. Relax, enjoy, and thank God for the body he gave you, warts and all.

    For more info, check out my blog post, "11 Things I Learned at the Nudist Resort," at http://www.andybox.com/?p=1902.

  3. Richard...

    I suspect that you're about to get an influx of "insider" information. Your blog was just included in the Fig Leaf Forum newsletter! (http://figleafforum.com a newsletter for Christian Naturists/Nudists)

    I am a long-time Christian, the son of a pastor, a Bible College Graduate, and was for nearly 20 years in full-time ministry myself.

    I have become a naturist as a result of my study of the Scriptures, particularly the study of the fact that we are all made "In God's image." I had always been taught that the "image" was not physical at all, but other sorts of "likeness." However, when I studied the text afresh (Gen. 1:26-27), I had to conclude that our bodies *are* made to "look like" God's spiritual form. This, if we really take it to heart, is a very high honor.

    In view of that high honor, it makes the covering of their bodies by Adam and Eve to be a rather demeaning insult to the One whose image they bore. Evidently, it was Satan (The "who" of "who told you...?" Gen 3:11) that invented the concept of "nakedness" (what is nakedness if there never had been clothes?) and convinced Adam and Eve that it was a problem that needed correcting. Consequently, it makes perfect sense that he would wish to insult the Creator.

    All of a sudden, it suggests a very different response to the exposure of our bodies than we have been raised to have in our culture... Nothing wrong with clothing for the right purpose (God provided them clothes for life outside paradise), but to clothe my body for the "shame" of simply being seen is not honoring to God.

    I could go on, but hopefully, you can see that theologically, it is not difficult to conclude that God certainly has no problem with people who love Him being naked, even around other people. That *was* the original design!

    Let me say one more thing... that which you propose and that which others have testified to has been true for me as well. I struggled with a persistent low-grade bondage to pornography until I came to this biblical understanding of the "image of God" and a more God-honoring view of nakedness. At the same time that I became a naturist, I also was set free from the porn!

    I invite you to visit my blog site... it's called "The Biblical Naturist." My purpose with the blog is to demonstrate that the most conservative approach to Biblical interpretation does not condemn, but rather supports the practice of naturism/nudism by Christians.

    I would recommend the article on "The Objectification of Women" and "Naturist By Biblical Conviction" as relevant to the topic here.

    http://thebiblicalnaturist.blogspot.com/2010/09/objectification-of-women-part-1.html

    http://thebiblicalnaturist.blogspot.com/2009/09/naturist-by-biblical-conviction-part-1.html

    Thanks for your honest and helpful article!

    Matthew Neal
    http://thebiblicalnaturist.blogspot.com

  4. Bible Scripture Verse Matthew 7:28-29 And why do you worry about wearing clothes? See how the wild flowers grow. They don't work or make any clothing. But here is what I tell you. Not even Solomon in all of his glory was dressed as well as the naked flowers.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/scripturepassion/5507367519/

  5. Budda said "life is simple, but man makes it complicated" Einstein said "make things as simple as possible, but no simpler"...being nude is just being barefoot all over   I am a Christian, and a nudist,   Art

  6. Richard,
    After being a RM preacher 40 years ago, I had a faith struggle, and wound up as a naturist for a few years. I found it natural, liberating, and just downright innocent and human. Then I got involved in higher education, career and marriage. Now I am retired, and have reclaimed my old naturism as a follower of Christ this time. I do agree that a Biblical case for naturism can be made as part of a creation AND redemption theology. From my memory and massive reading the past six weeks and discussions, I venture to say as a Biblical follower of Christ that naturism is essentially non-erotic, and actually is a remedy for porn addiction. Pure simple nudity does not imply or demand a sexual response. Naturists, both Christian and non-Christian, say that body type or image is not of  interest to them. You can be free to show yourself as you really are as a free Christian man or woman in the Image of God. There is the naked (AROM) innocence of the two humans enfleshed as the IMAGO DEI, then there is the fallen and brutal nakedness and shrewdness (EROM) of the Serpent-Satan. Two versions of nakedness exist: one innocent without lust, the other dripping in falleness and failed wisdom.
    The AROM of the creation is repeated in the Gospel of John: "The Word became flesh.", and like the original naked flesh, The Word was very good, as this Word was God. It is this link between Genesis 2:25 and John 1:14 which gives us a creation and redemption theology which is positive and a witness to the world. May we be brave enough to embrace Christian naturism.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Rev. Ross Comyn, M.Div, M.S.
    rev-ross@blogspot.com

  7. The white robes are symbolic of being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. We will all be naked in heaven and will eat of the tree of life and live forever.

  8. I am a naturist pacifist follower of Christ. Naturism and pacifism go very well together. Naturism can be a powerful witness for peace.

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