Naturism and Religion
UNMASKING THE TRUTH
Some of our members are followers of the Christian Faith and regularly attend church. However, they face the controversial question of how their religious faith sits with their naturist activities. Some have even found it necessary to keep their naturism under wraps to avoid conflict with family members who think being naked in public settings is somehow immoral.
Western culture has inherited an attraction-repulsion to sex and the body from our Puritan roots (deepened, in my view, by the Great Awakening’s sensibilities about tackling sin and immorality). Today Christians deal with the impact of these movements in the modern continuation of purity culture. But is it really against Biblical teaching?
Hopefully, this article will help those of you who face this issue to put your mind at ease, and may even help to educate your spouse and family in this matter
Did you know that there are lots of Christians who are also social Naturists? Surprised? Then read on….
What’s the Bible got to say about it?
The Bible actually mentions nakedness quite often. If you carefully study the passages that talk about physical nakedness and pay close attention to the context in which they're found, you'll discover that it's never described as being inherently shameful or inherently sinful. After all, we were created "in the image of God" (Genesis 1.27), "naked and unashamed" (Genesis 2.25). And God declared all this "very good" (Genesis 1.31). After Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, they made coverings for themselves out of fig leaves (Genesis 3.7). That seems like an odd thing for a husband and wife to do, don't you think? In Genesis 3.11 God asked, "Who told you that you were naked?” It certainly wasn’t God. Covering themselves in leaves and hiding in the bushes didn’t hide what they had done from the one who knows the secrets of our hearts. They were guilty and they knew it. Because Adam and Eve sinned, humanity fell under
what's commonly known as the curse. Among other things, Genesis 3 says it would bring "painful toil" and "thorns and thistles" to mankind's existence. Just before expelling them from the safety and ease of the Garden, "The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them" (Genesis 3.21). The context of Genesis 3 makes it very clear that God mercifully clothed mankind out of physical necessity, not moral necessity. No amount of clothing could ever cover their loss of righteousness before God!
At another level, the clothing of Adam and Eve with the skins of animals may be the first example that we have in the Bible of animal sacrifice for sin. Those skins would remind them of the seriousness of their disobedience to God. Mercifully, God in his love does not demand their own blood but accepts the blood of animals as a covering for their sins. It is not until we see the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that sin is dealt with and not simply covered over. Jesus is described as "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" - the final answer to the mistake of disobedience by Adam and Eve. The Lamb that was slain on the cross now provides us with clothing - not physical clothing, but clothes of righteousness! God never states anywhere in the Bible that we must wear physical clothing all the time. He left when, where and how to dress (or undress) up to mankind for the most part, and thus it's been human culture rather than God's decree that has determined standards of dress and undress throughout history. And so it is today! People are permitted to be lawfully unclothed in a multitude of areas designated for that purpose in numerous countries around the world. Many return from holiday in warmer climes having experienced the freedom and benefits that naturism can bring as they have swum naked on a beach.
That might seem like a startling claim, but it's true. Christian naturists (or nudists as they are sometimes known) number in the thousands and are located worldwide. If you belong to a large church congregation, there's a good chance you have naturists within it. Just what is social naturism, anyway? Naturism (also called nudism) is the practice of going without clothing in social settings (generally in mixed-gender groups of all ages) in the belief that doing so is beneficial. Governed by strict behavioural boundaries, a defining characteristic of genuine social naturism is that it's purposefully non sexual in practice.
But what about lust? Lust is the same as coveting according to the Bible (Romans 7.7, KJV). Contrary to what you may have been taught, clothes do not prevent lust. The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife in Genesis 39.6-12 clearly establishes that fact. The Apostle Paul taught that external man-made rules for righteousness have no power to "restrain sensual indulgence" (Colossians 2.20-23). Jesus taught that "nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'," and in principle that includes what enters through the eyes. He taught that it's "what comes out of...men's hearts" that cause things like evil thoughts and sexual immorality (Mark 7.18-23). Social naturism instils into the heart an attitude that actually helps to control lust and inappropriate thoughts.
The one mantle that does not change is our body. It may get larger or smaller, it may feel the effect of gravity as the years go by and sag rather more than we would wish, but we cannot change our natural mantle the skin. This human body is a wonder of creation able to adapt to hot or cold, impervious to the wet, yet able to breathe through our pores. The body tissues are in many cases able to repair themselves; the whole body can take heavy punishment yet can endure and bounce back.
The human body comes in a bewildering range of shapes and colours so that each living being is a unique individual. Everyone has at the same time a genetic makeup that traces us back to the original man and woman at the very beginning of true human life.
Strange that as science discovers more about how we are made and what makes us tick, it agrees with the biblical story about the beginnings of life. Adam and Eve are not the figments of our imagination but the Genesis of the whole human race. They were clothed in the same skin we are, they laughed as we laugh, they mistrusted God’s word as we do, they were expelled from Eden and ever since we humans have been trying to get back there.
We naturists can wonder at and admire the human body for what it is: a creation of the highest order. We know the pleasures experienced as we discard our clothes, that regained feeling of pleasure as we experience the sun and air on our bodies, the senses awakened as we draw closer to Gods creation. We can look and accept each other for what we really are; as the Bible says, The Lord God looked upon all he had made and said it was very good.
God does not reject our human bodies nor does He call them rude or shameful. That is human wisdom - or should we say folly? I for one do not want to change my body nor do I feel ashamed of it. Why should I? If God made it good then who am I to tell him He is wrong?
One of the better characteristics of naturists is that we can and should accept our own bodies and those of others around us, treating them with the respect and
honour they deserve as Gods handiwork. For those of us who are Christians, we can turn to our Creator and give him thanks and praise for the bodies He has given us - bodies capable of receiving such simple pleasures as nature can offer us. These pleasures can be enjoyed without cost or damage to our environment. We have much to be thankful for!
What’s the point? Why would a Christian want to be a naturist? Social naturism offers numerous benefits to physical, mental and spiritual health. For starters, it simply feels good! Being unclothed when the weather is warm is very comfortable, and once you've gone swimming or been in a hot tub without a swimsuit, you'll never want to wear one again! In fact there are many documented health benefits.
On a deeper level, social naturism offers a unique feeling of closeness and trust unavailable in usual settings. It helps participants overcome poor body image. It offers children and teens a way to avoid unnatural and sometimes unhealthy curiosities about the body. It affirms and reinforces the fact that there's nothing shameful about the way God made us. It offers a tangible way for believers to embrace God's view of the human body. In fact, it gives us an opportunity to literally be God's image bearers! Last but certainly not least, it offers common ground for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelieving naturists willing to receive it.
Not convinced? That's understandable. Social naturism is unlike anything most people are familiar with in today's culture, and for that reason they can only guess at what it must be like to be unclothed amidst other men, women and children. Experienced Christian naturists will assure you quite honestly and sincerely that family orientated social naturism truly is a wholesome and beneficial way of living. Social naturism, like a lot of other things in life, must be experienced to be fully understood and believed.
You probably have lots of questions not answered by this article. If so, please ask them in the comments box below. We’ll do our best to help you with any Bible questions you may have and offer suggestions about how, as a Christian, to become part of the steadily growing Naturist community.
"Naked and unashamed" Genesis 2.25