Do you live a double-life? Are you one way in public, but entirely-different behind closed doors? Do you put on an act when you walk out of the door of your home? Do you believe that you have to act a certain way to “fit-in“, to be “liked“, to be “accepted“? Do you cuss like a sailor all week long because that is how “everyone else” talks where you work, but talk politely and piously around your family, and particularly at church? Does anyone actually KNOW you?
Whether we know it or not, a LOT of people lead a double-life. This is NOT referring to being some kind of covert spy or agent, rather, it is about how ordinary people present themselves when someone is watching. During the work-week, they go along with whatever the “social-norm” is, but on Sunday, they appear to be an entirely-different person. Are you one of them?
Out of the shadows…
While this topic has broad applicability, there is one particular group of people, to which I belong, and that is naturists/nudists. Most of us are masters of living a double-life. Even the thought of the “wrong” person finding out about our lifestyle scares the bejabbers out of us. Coming “out of the shadows” is nerve-wracking at best, and down-right scary at worst. Very few will ever become completely “open” about our lifestyle.
There was a series of articles entitled “Sharing Your Naturism“, co-sponsored by The Naturist Society(TNS) and the American Association for Nude Recreation(AANR), which ran for several months in the AANR Bulletin. The articles were intended as a means of helping naturists/nudists become more comfortable with their lifestyle choice and helping us to be more able and better equipped to share our lifestyle with others. Part of that process includes becoming more open about our lifestyle, or coming “out of the shadows“.
The repercussions from the wrong person or persons finding out about someone being a naturist may be life-changing. As a result, naturists with high-profile jobs or in Christian ministry often resort to writing under pen-names and having multiple profiles on the various social-networking sites. One Christian brother was an assistant pastor of a church until the senior pastor found out about his naturist views and lifestyle. He was relieved of his position – FIRED for being a naturist and told to leave the church. The Lord has since blessed him with both new employment and ministry opportunities.
Other friends have been run out of churches, some multiple times, for being a naturist. Unfortunately “the traditions of the elders” trumps the Word of God in those churches, and they aren’t even interested in finding out what the Bible says. Others have been ostracized by family and friends.
My journey “out of the shadows”…
I was challenged in January 2013 in an email exchange with a Christian brother to come out of the shadows and own my naturist lifestyle. Because of my conservative, Christian upbringing, I had to do a LOT of studying to find out what Scripture says, or doesn’t say, about nudity. I was also interested in God’s dealings with His covenant people in the Old Testament to gain a historical perspective. The same Christian brother who challenged me to come out of the shadows also pointed me to the writings of several Christian naturist authors and bloggers. I didn’t want to be “caught with my pants down” when I started coming out and started getting questions, particularly from fellow Christians. This blog has grown out of, and is still growing out of my studies.
I also wanted and needed to find out how strongly both historical and modern cultural prejudices have and are affecting church theology and dogma. I live in a 21st century Western culture whose attitudes towards nudity and nakedness have been heavily-influenced by 16th and 17th century Victorian and Puritanical prudishness. It is almost impossible to escape these influences, particularly in the Church, because they have been enshrined in the “modesty-doctrine” of the Church.
Before I told a soul, I wanted to be fully-convinced that God, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, is not only NOT anti-nudity, but that He looks with favor on those who are willing to shed their clothing disguises. What I found shocked the pants off of me, literally; prophets who prophesied naked (Saul, Isaiah, Micah), a king who danced naked before the Lord in the middle of Jerusalem (David), a high priest (Aaron) who was stripped naked in front of all of the children of Israel when he was consecrated and anointed, and the list goes on and on.
That was even before I started reading the ceremonial law in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, with all the ceremonial washings and cleansings which were required for tabernacle/temple worship. Life for the children of Israel, particularly while they were wandering in the wilderness, bore very little resemblance to anything that I can relate to today, except for maybe an extended camping trip. We don’t “get it“, but in order to understand the Old Testament, I had to start learning and understanding their culture and what life was like when this part of the Bible was written.
Imagine NOT having private restroom facilities and having to use the public latrine. Imagine NOT having private bathing facilities and having to use the community bath-house. Imagine only having ONE set of clothes, or maybe only one garment, and NOT having a washer and dryer, so that when that garment was dirty, a person had to take it to the public washing facility to wash, and then hang out naked while it hung on the line to dry. Oh, because they only had one garment or set of clothes, do we really believe that they wore it to work in, since it not only had to be washed by hand, but if they damaged it, they would be left with nothing? These were God’s chosen people, and they were on that “extended camping trip” at His command. Was God really concerned about their nudity? He didn’t give them any reason to have body-shame. Public nudity wasn’t shameful. It just meant that they were going about their normal daily business of life. We are the ones who have made nudity shameful.
Out of the shadows…
Once I became comfortable with the fact that I am not doing anything “wrong” or “sinful” by desiring to partake in social nudity, I started coming “out of the shadows“. I didn’t start “advertising” that I am a nudist, although in early 2013, I did put a small AANR decal on the back window of my vehicle. The first person I told was my mother. We were talking about the resort that I frequent, Cypress Cove, and I told her that it is a nudist resort. It certainly took her by surprise, because she probably thought that she had raised me better than that. She did, but the “better than that” was the traditional “modesty-theology” which has no basis in Scripture. She has more or less accepted that I am a nudist and she hasn’t mentioned it since.
Early this last spring, I came “out of the shadows” to the senior pastor of my church. I had given him the link to this blog, and I didn’t want him to get an unpleasant “surprise” when he came here the first time. He is a serious student of the Bible, but to a certain extent, he has also been taught “the traditions of the elders“. Finding out that I am a nudist broke some new experiential and theological ground for him, but he had no Biblical basis for condemning either me or my lifestyle. He simply ask me to not “advertise” that I am a nudist.
Since then, the AANR decal has been replaced with a “God created nudists/Sinners created clothes” decal. The only church friend who has commented on it had to agree that what it says is true. I am sure that quite a few others have seen it, but no one has asked me about it. I am not “advertising” that I am nudist, but I am not hiding it either.
Have their been consequences for me deciding to come “out of the shadows” as a nudist? Absolutely, and most of them have been wonderful. I no longer have to live a “double-life“. I am no longer afraid of who might find out that I am a nudist. My research and study has given me the material for many of the articles in this blog.
I don’t know whether anyone else in my church has “figured it out” and is shunning me as a result, but that is between them and God. I wasn’t part of an “in-crowd” before, so I haven’t been pushed out of anything that I know of. I still have a good relationship with both pastors, so that hasn’t been affected. Not everyone in my church is equally-friendly.
I wish that I hadn’t been taught and believed that our bodies are “shameful and must be kept covered” for all those years, because I can clearly recognize the negative effects those lies have caused me. I have no regrets about becoming a nudist, except that I wish I had known what I know now many years ago. I also have no regrets for coming “out of the shadows” as a nudist, because I believe that being a nudist and NOT hiding what God created in His own image gives Him glory. The next thing on my list is to participate in a nude worship service.
I am naked and unashamed in Christ!