Christians, The Bible and Nudity Part 2
In part 1, we cited the treatise, <a href="http://www.naturistsociety.com/resources/PDF/205ARGUE.pdf" target="_blank">205 Arguments and Observations In Support of Naturism</a> , from TNS. In this part, other arguments will be made in the defense of Christian naturism.
As part 1 indicates, there is no Old Testament condemnation of innocent, non-sexual nudity. But what of the New Testament? If one reads it in context, understanding the culture of the NT times, it can be seen that non-sexual nudity was common then.
For instance, simple logic dictates that working men of the NT era usually labored in the nude. Cloth-making was a tedious, time-consuming manual process. Fine linens were quite expensive and unavailable to the common man. Their garments were coarse and most likely fairly heavy. As a result, with the exertion of working in the heat of the middle-eastern day, the garments would be very hot to wear. As well, it is highly unlikely that laborers, fisherman or other manual-labor fellows had a closet full of tunics. They thus had two incentives to shed their garments: midday heat and preservation of the clothing.
As an example, we have Peter out in the boat plying his fishing trade.
John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
No doubt all of them were nude. Only Peter is recorded as having gotten dressed.
And what of Jesus? He was a laborer, a carpenter by trade, and a member of the working class ergo not wealthy. For the above reasons, it is quite likely that He worked in the nude, as Joseph did. And being sinless, He had no shame that He should want to hide His natural being.
First instance of the Lord's nudity.
Matt 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:
Baptism was always done in the nude, with men and women together. There would have been no reason at all for Jesus to have broken the tradition.
John 13:4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
When He "laid aside his garments", he was nude. There was no underwear in the NT world.
When He was crucified, He was nude, the religious icons notwithstanding. That's the way the Romans did it. The evidence:
Matt 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
John 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
After He died, they wrapped His nude, battered body in gravecloths and laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Fast forward to Resurrection Day. The stone has been rolled away and He is longer in there.
John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
The linen cloths in which He had been wrapped were lying there. What is the inescapable conclusion, given that there were no hangars and garment bags? A: when He exited the tomb, He was nude. That is supported a few verses later.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Why would she suppose that He was the gardener? The reasonable answer is that gardeners were commonly seen working in the nude, and Mary was there with a nude man.
Moving on several more verses:
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus told Thomas to put his hand into the sword wound on his side. How would Thomas have seen the wound, let alone touched it, had Jesus not exposed it to him. Given the nature of the garments of the time, He would have lifted it to the point where the wound was visible and touchable, ergo well above the waist.
In the rest of the NT, the references to naked and nakedness never condemn non-sexual nudity. "Naked" and "nakedness" appear 18 times in the NT (KJV).
In Matt 25:36, 38, 43-44, the terms were applied to people in need.
In Mark 14:51-52, the naked person was a young man who was following Jesus. When they came for Jesus to arrest him, they grabbed the young man, who eluded them by leaving them holding the linen cloth that he was wearing.
In John 21:7, Peter was at work fishing in the nude.
In Acts, the nakedness was associated with sin.
Acts 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
In this case, the offenders had the words but not the power of God, and the demon whupped their butts, sending them running sans their garments. Their nakedness was a symbol of their total defeat. It was a consequence of sin, not a sin of itself.
In Romans 8:35, nakedness was listed along with other states of peril or need that could not separate man from God.
In 1 Cor 4:11, Paul was describing his tribulations as a preacher of the Gospel. Nakedness was listed along with hunger and thirst as a state of deprivation.
In 2 Cor 5:1-3, nakedness was described in terms of spiritual need, not of physical nudity.
In 2 Cor 11:23-27, Paul listed nakedness along with other trials and tribulations resulting from his ordeals as a traveling evangelist.
In Heb 4:13, the word "naked" is applied to how we appear to God, who can see through our "clothing" of pretense and deception.
In James 2:15, the word was applied to Christian brothers and sisters in need.
In Rev 3:17-18, Jesus was thoroughly rebuking the church of the Laodiceans for its self-satisfaction and contentment. Nakedness was cited as a condemnation of the church's delusion that it was well-off. It had nothing to do with physical nudity.
In Rev 16:15, Jesus issued a warning not to be found "naked", i.e., unprepared for His coming.
In Rev 17:16, the whore of Babylon is described as being rendered naked by the horns of the beast, an allegory that has nothing to do with nudity.
In no case is it even intimated that nakedness was itself a sin. Ergo, Christian religionists have no NT justification for condemning social, non-sexual nudity. Such a condemnation is for the sake of power and control, not for any moral purpose.
The OT has 86 occurences of "naked" and "nakedness". Objective reading of the verses, combined with an understanding of the culture of the times, cannot find any equation of nudity with sin. Indeed, in the first occurence of "naked" ...
Gen 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
... nudity was described as their natural state, and not a cause for shame. When in verse 3:7 they felt the need to cover themselves, it followed the sin that opened their eyes to evil. Their fig-leaf loincloths were a pathetic attempt to conceal their shame for disobeying God. Was God impressed?
Gen 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, <b>Who told thee that thou wast naked?</b> Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
The question makes very clear that God was not the origin of their shame and fear. Their shame was of their own making.
It is also arguable from passages that don't use the words that nudity was an accepted part of their lives. Ergo, there is no biblical or doctrinal argument that Christians can use against social nudism.
Live free and nude in the service of God.