Paul & Sue Hazelden
- The Human Body: Objections to Our Beliefs -


Introduction

I'm writing this with mixed feelings. Like most of the pages on this web site, it is answering questions I have been asked: it is easier to publish a web page than to keep on answering the same questions over and over again.

However, the fact that I'm writing this at all is reinforcing the problem identifed by the first question I tackle on this page. If anyone has a suggestion about how to resolve this, I would like to know!

Why So Important?

Why is naturism so important to you?

I have not yet found a good way to answer this question. The more I protest that it is not important, the more significant it sounds!

Perhaps an analogy will help. I have problems with my skin. Naturism is important in a similar way that the use of moisturisers is important. I don't have a higly developed theology of moisturiser use. I don't believe that all Christians ought to use a moisturiser. I don't believe that not using a moisturiser is a sin. Whether you use a moisturiser is up to you, but please don't turn it into a massive moral issue.

On a practical level, the regular use of a sauna helps to keep my skin healthy. And the best way to sauna is nude. Also, I have discovered that sunshine on my skin helps to keep it healthy, and the bits that are normally covered up need to be kept healthy just as much as the rest of my skin.

At a more abstract level, I am committed to discovering and believing the truth. People are free to believe whatever they like about the wearing of clothes, but when they claim the Bible tells us that something is right or wrong, I feel the need to test such claims against what the Bible actually says. I will do this, time permitting, on any issue, no matter how unimportant, because truth matters.

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It's Wrong Now

Nudity was okay before the fall, but it is wrong now.

This seems to be a common belief. The trouble is, there is not a single piece of evidence to support it. The Bible is quite clear about the consequences of the fall, and a change to the morality of nudity is simply not mentioned.

The purpose of this belief seem to be to rule out of court the obvious example of Adam and Eve being naked and this being 'very good'.

But I'm not really interested in Adam and Eve from that perspective. They only had one rule to follow - "Don't eat the fruit!" - and they blew it. Since then, God has said a lot more about the way He wants us to live: the Ten Commandments, plus hundreds of others, in both the Old and New Testaments.

And in all these commandments covering every aspect of human life and social interaction, there is not a single law, rule or commandment that says "Don't be naked" or "Mixed social nudity is wrong".

There are examples of people in the Bible being naked and God not being obviously upset about this, even cases of God commanding nudity. The preachers may blame Bathsheba for bathing where David could see her, but the Bible holds David responsible for his own actions.

There are also examples of commandments limiting what should be visible at times. For example, there are times when the Priest should wear underpants, so that the people don't get an unexpected flash of his genitals. Which implies, if you think about it, that at other times an unexpected flash of genitals is not regarded as being inappropriate or wrong.

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Only For Married Couples

I believe that nudity is only right for married couples.

I have heard this idea several times. To be honest, the more I hear it, the more absurd it appears to be.

Let's start off by agreeing that nudity does not equal sex. While they may be identified in popular culture (in film, for example, someone removing their clothes is generally a signal that sex is about to take place), in real life and in the Bible they are completely different.

Actually, the use of nudity in film as a way of referring to sex without showing it is very similar to the linguistic technique used in the Old Testament - when we read that someone 'uncovered the nakedness of' someone else, it means that they had sex. It has as little to do with nudity as the modern euphemism of 'sleeping together' has to do with sleep.

It seems to me that if you believe that nudity is only ever acceptable as part of the run-up to sex, then you would be right to conclude that nudity should be restricted to married couples. But the Bible does not teach this, and contains much that disproves it. So I find it hard to understand how any Christian could possible believe that nudity should be restricted to married couples.

I should also point out that this position and the previous one, while they are often put together, actually contradict each other. If nudity was fine before the fall but wrong afterwards, apart from when you are in a married couple, then Adam and Eve got it wrong! They were a married couple and alone together, so they should have been happy being naked. But they made themselves coverings in Genesis 3:7, before God shows up on the scene.

One final thought on this objection: nobody I have talked to, who put this forward as a position, turned out to believe it.

Nudity is only acceptable between married couples? If you think about it for half a second, the idea is ridiculous. When my children were babies, was I wrong to give them a bath? Am I wrong to undress for a Doctor to examine me? Are the group showers in our local swimming pool sinful?

At this point, they either change tack or start to explain what they really mean: the problem is not nudity, but mixed-sex nudity, when the people involved are all over a certain age, and there is no medical justification...

Of course, they can't justify the initial position from the Bible - so they certainly can't justify this new, complicated moral principle (effectively, nudity is wrong when I feel it should be wrong...) from the Bible. At this point, they give up, and tell me that the principle ought to be 'obvious' even if they can't tell me what this principle actually is.

And that is the crux of the argument, really. It is 'obvious' to them that nudity is wrong, because it feels wrong in situations that are not culturally acceptable to them. It comes down to culture. The basic question is whether we are going to allow the culture we live in to shape our beliefs, or whether we are prepared to test what our culture says against the Bible.

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