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SUBJECT: Nakedness and The Bible

My name is Eugene. I'm 18 year old Christian from Singapore.

Recently I read your article about Masturbation and the Bible (http://www.ldolphin.org/Mast.shtml), It was pretty enlightening. Gave me a new perspective.. I was  browsing around your library and found some other good articles as well. I was wondering if you have an article about nudism. I mean what are your views and what is your conclusion about the  topic. I was doing some research and it seems that many people are more open and support nudism and even some Christians do not have a problem with that.

Well although many people quote from the bible saying that being nude is alright and so on. I thought it would be weird to see everyone naked and vice versa. True indeed that our body is a masterpiece from God and its nothing wrong appreciating the art from God but its hardly impossible specially for guys not to look at girls naked without any elements of lust in our minds. Besides if we are so use to seeing the opposite sex naked, how then will we find pleasure when the time comes when we are performing sexual activity with our spouse. I also felt that God invented and provided us clothing for a reason. like it gives us definition and usually we choose clothes tat suit our personalities as well. If we are naked , everybody would  probably be looking at each other private parts most of the time which to me is pointless.

I know my argument is pretty shallow and due to culture difference we might have a different view point so I hope you could reply back and tell me what are your views.


Dear Eugene,

Thank you for writing.

I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with being nude. But we all have deeply engrained sense of being naked and self-conscious which goes all the way back to Genesis 3. This is true even when we are without clothes with no one present except God.

Note that Adam and Eve were not aware of their nakedness before the Fall.  Some commentators have suggested they were actually clothed with garments of light--which I think was probably the case.  The Fall made both Adam and Eve self-conscious and ashamed of their nakedness--they rushed to find fig leaves to make garments for themselves. These garments were not enough to cover their basic nakedness before God. The Lord killed animals and provided them a "covering" (= atonement) by means of shed blood and animal skins. The symbolism is that fallen man must be appropriately  "covered" to hide our root spiritual nakedness before a holy God.

Clothing in the Bible symbolizes righteousness--or right standing, basic integrity or "rightness" before God.

We have many cultural norms with regard to clothing. Little children can run around naked. Adults normally do not. In the Old Testament "to uncover the nakedness" of a a relative (for example) is a euphemism for sexual relationships. "Streaking" on college campuses is generally frowned upon.  A few years ago there was a student at UC Berkeley who insisted on coming to class totally naked. He made most people uncomfortable of course so eventually someone found a way to have him excluded from classes. As I recall there was no law prohibiting going around naked at the time.

We express a lot about we are through clothing. We vary our clothing to suit the occasion.  Scanty dress (especially by the opposite sex) often provokes lust. Peter urges women to dress modestly for this reason. In Revelation, in His words to the church at Laodicea our Lord says,

  "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. "Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."’" (Revelation 3:14-22)

The nakedness in this passage is not physical nakedness but spiritual, yet well-symbolized by clothing.

I have never visited a nudist colony. I have heard they are very boring places! Clothing adds greatly to the appearance of who we are. Human beings are much more attractive to one another when properly attired. But I do not think lust is a big issue in nudist colonies! Our bodies are not yet redeemed!  Very few of us are attractive to anyone else without our clothes on.  Within the intimacy of marriage a couple growing together in love can cherish the partner's embrace without shame--over a lifetime.

Have you read "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis? It is fiction, but Lewis presents a woman in heaven wearing streaming garments of light. I think that even in heaven we shall all be clothed.

In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul speaks of our present bodies and our resurrection bodies as like suits of clothing. We all long to put on the new!

C.S. Lewis said the following:

"Are we not our true selves when naked? In a sense, no. The word naked was originally a past participle; the naked man was the man who had undergone a process of naking, that is, of stripping or peeling (you used the verb of nuts and fruit). Time out of mind the naked man has seemed to our ancestors not the natural but the abnormal man; not the man who has abstained from dressing but the man who has been for some reason undressed. And it is a simple fact-anyone can observe it at a men's bathing place-that nudity emphasises common humanity and soft-pedals what is individual. In that way we are "more ourselves" when clothed. By nudity the lovers cease to be solely John and Mary; the universal He and She are emphasised. You could almost say they put on nakedness as a ceremonial robe-or as the costume for a charade. For we must still be aware-and never more than when we thus partake of the Pagan sacrament in our love-passages of being serious in the wrong way. The Sky-Father himself is only a Pagan dream of One far greater than Zeus and far more masculine than the male. And a mortal man is not even the Sky-Father, and cannot really wear his crown. Only a copy of it, done in tinselled paper. I do not call it this in contempt. I like ritual; I like private theatricals; I even like charades. Paper crowns have their legitimate, and (in the proper context) their serious, uses. They are not in the last resort much flimsier ("if imagination mend them") then all earthly dignities." (from The Four Loves)