Why Does Jesus’ Humanity Matter – To Naturists?

Most Christians have at least some vague idea about why Jesus’ humanity matters to them, at least in terms of their salvation and redemption, but even they don’t have a clue about its implications for their attitudes towards the human body. As a result, wherever Christianity has spread, cultures that had little need or use for clothing have been “textilized”, naturists are often discriminated against, and naturism may even be criminalized.

Why does it matter? It matters because our ethical and moral standards come either from the Bible (God), or from our culture, and where our cultural ethical and morals standards deviate from the Bible (God), we can’t have it both ways. Keep in mind that our laws are derived from our culture, not the other way around. Case in point; “Same-sex marriage“, in the US, didn’t become legal until it had become more-or-less “culturally-acceptable“. That is only one example of where our cultural ethical and moral standards have deviated significantly from the Bible (God). Many countries, and/or their political subdivisions, have “anti-nudity” laws, not because it is forbidden in the Bible (by God), but because it is culturally-unacceptable. How did it get that way?

There is a huge theological-disconnect between what the Bible says and teaches about our bodies and what Christians believe about our bodies. Beginning all the way back in Genesis 2, Christians have perverted what the Bible says to fit their own narrative, their own cultural-qualms:

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.(Genesis 2:25); This statement does not idealize nudity, but shows why humans must wear clothes. With the Fall came a tragic loss of innocence (together with the resulting shame). When people’s minds are enlightened by the Gospel, they understand their moral frailty and practice customs of dress that shield them against sexual temptation. (from the New Geneva Study Bible)

When prominent Bible scholars begin their interpretation of the Bible that deeply in their “culturalhole“, it is highly-unlikely that they will begin to fill that “hole” with Bible truth, at least with regards to nudity. I don’t find that application in that passage, or for that matter, anywhere else in the Bible. It was based on what was “culturallyacceptable” to the commentator.

Moving forward through Genesis 3, the first seven verses recount the Fall, Adam and Eve’s subsequent shame, and their attempt to hide their shame behind “fig leaves“. Who, or what, were they hiding from? They were hiding from God (v. 8), but can a person hide their shame with “fig leaves“? People have been trying to hide their shame with “fig leaves” ever since.

God asked an amazing question in Genesis 3:11; “Who told you that you were naked…?” Where did this amazing new knowledge come from? “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Did the “fruit” impart that new knowledge? Not likely, because the “fruit” is not a “Who“. That “Who” can only point to the Serpent, Satan, the Deceiver, the Father of lies. Who else would have been interested in perverting God’s image in mankind? Certainly not God. He called His image-bearers “very good” (Genesis 1:31). It is notable that God didn’t join-in in condemning their as-created (naked) bodies.

Why did God make “tunics of skin” for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21)? The typical answer would be “to cover their nakedness“, but was that really the reason? God had already seen them naked (He created them that way) and promised a remedy for their shame (Genesis 3:15), so who were they going to hide from? In the intervening-verses, Genesis 3:14-19, God has cursed the Serpent, Eve, Adam, and finally the ground. The curse on the ground included “thorns and thistles” (v. 18), things that can tear and damage their skin. What if the “thorns and thistles” was the real reason God gave them clothes? That would make sense, based on the context, because they were still the only two people on the planet, they were a couple (Genesis 2:23-24) with the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), AND, they were being evicted from the Garden (3:23-24). God created the first PPC (Personal Protective Clothing). God also never “commanded” them to wear that clothing, and didn’t command anyone to wear clothing until He prescribed the Priest’s garments in Exodus 28, which were made in Exodus 39:1-31.

How many pastors would allow themselves to be consecrated as God told Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:4-9; 40:12-15)? They were stripped-naked, washed with water, and clothed from the bare-skin up – in public

So where does Jesus fit-in?

Jesus, as Creator-God, was the designer and architect of our human-bodies (John 1:1-4). He created, from the dust of the ground, the first two “prototypes” of our human-bodies, and He created them male and female (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7). That we have gender-distinctive body-parts is no accident, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. It was part of the plan, which included “be fruitful and multiply“, sexual reproduction, (Genesis 1:28). Mankind was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), which, in and of itself, bequeaths the human-body with incredible dignity. That man is God’s image-bearer is reiterated in Genesis 9:6, when God proscribed murder and prescribed capitol-punishment for murder. That is why all human-life is precious and any form of murder is wrong.

 

“God could not have been able to become man if he had not first made man in his own image.” – Herman Bavinck

 

That Jesus took on flesh (John 1:14), became a human, a man, bequeaths the human-body with even more incredible dignity.

Jesus, as male, a man, had the same gender-distinctive body-parts all males have, so men, don’t be ashamed of what is between your legs, because Jesus had one too. If hadn’t had a penis, He couldn’t have been circumcised (Luke 2:21). He also couldn’t have been the “Son of David” (2 Samuel 7:12–16; Matthew 1:1; Mark 10:46-48), “The King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2; 27:37) or the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Jesus was born into a time, place and culture, a culture that hadn’t embraced “bodyshame” (God hadn’t legislated it either), as we have, so He, who was perfect, had no reason to be ashamed of His body. So what did His culture look like?

God, in His law, commanded many ceremonial washings (baths) which observant Jews were obligated to do regularly (including every time a couple had sex, after a woman’s period, or a baby was born)…

There was no running water…

There were no indoor private restrooms or bathrooms…

Most homes only had one or two rooms…

Clothes were handmade and expensive…

There were no clothes washers or dryers…

People wore clothes when necessary and convenient…

Clothes and bodies were washed in any available place, river, lake or public pool…

Farmers, common laborers, fishermen and slaves often worked naked when it was warm, or they were doing dirty work, to preserve what little clothing they had…

The Greeks had built gymnasiums throughout the territories they ruled for physical training, sports and education… (The root word “gymnos” means “naked”)

After the Greeks, the Romans built public bath-houses throughout much of their territory. Everyone bathed and socialized nude…

The Romans crucified their prisoners naked and in public…

Jesus:

Born naked (all babies are born naked)…

Experienced normal puberty…

Baptized naked (mikvah)…

Washed His disciple’s feet naked…

Crucified naked…

Left the tomb naked…

As a carpenter, He probably frequently worked naked…

Did many other things naked which are not recorded in the Gospels, because He fully-kept the Law…

Once Jesus left home to begin His public ministry, He was essentially-homeless;  

As they were going along the road,  someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”  And Jesus said to him,  “The foxes have holes and the birds of the  air  have  nests, but  the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:57-58)

Nobody batted an eye when they saw someone naked in public, because it was normal!

Most Christians would object to this scenario, claiming that it was a “clothed-society”, which it was, but the difference is that it wasn’t a “compulsively-clothed-society”. Nudity, even public-nudity, was no big deal, because everyone was nude in public when necessary. Naturists would have felt at home in that environment.

Surely, if God was incensed by “public nudity”, when Jesus walked the earth would have been the ideal time to crack-down on it, but He didn’t. If wearing clothes became a “moral imperative” after the Fall, God must have not gotten that “memo”. Even though the Apostle Paul was the most widely-traveled of the Apostles, and wrote over half of the New Testament, God didn’t clue him into it either, because there is nothing in the Pauline Epistles about not participating in the Greek gymnasiums or Roman bathes. That leads me to wonder where some people get their interpretations from…

After His crucifixion, Jesus was raised back from the dead – bodily. There was obvious-continuity between His pre-crucifixion body and His resurrection-body, as the marks of His torture and crucifixion were still evident and visible. Since He had left His grave-wrappings behind, He emerged from the Tomb the same way He was crucified – naked. He was still fully-human, and He still ate and drank.

At His ascension, Jesus did NOT leave His human-body behind. He ascended-bodily, taking our flesh and blood back with Him to Heaven, where He is the eternal God-Man. As God, He is NOT constrained by time, space and place, but as Man, He has many of the same constraints as we do.

A Christian’s hope for eternity is NOT as a disembodied-spirit living forever with God, but as a fully-embodied human-being living forever with God. While our spirits leave our bodies behind at death, in the resurrection, our spirits rejoin our resurrected-body as one unified-person, fully-human in every respect.

“A person has no-less human-dignity, “wearing nothing but a grin”, au naturel, than they do when wearing the “finery of royalty”. The “finery of royalty” only denotes “social-status”, not the person’s inherent-dignity.” – Steve

Final thoughts…

As a Christian, and a Naturist, as I study the Bible, I am often appalled at how knowledgeable Bible scholars, teachers and preachers pervert what the Bible says to support their own cultural qualms and whims. The Bible is supposed to be our “Gold Standard”, the lens through which we see and evaluate our culture, NOT the other way around. We must never evaluate and interpret the Bible through the lens of our own, fallen culture, but that is what far too many Christians do.

If you want to get a real “eye-full” of what God thinks concerning our bodies and sexuality, read the Song of Solomon. If it was illustrated, it would be at least X-rated, if not XXX-rated. Yes, it is that graphic, which means that it is graphic enough to make many “good Christians” blush, and yes, it IS in the Bible.

I am naked and unashamed in Christ!
Steve

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Out Of The Shadows

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“.

Potential repercussions…

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.

Consequences…

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.

Final thoughts…

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!

Steve