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Hi! Welcome to my message board! Use it to contact me or others or to post questions and share ideas and experiences. The topic should always be related to nudism / naturism. Feel free to respond to posts from others in a respectful way if you have something helpful or meaningful to contribute. Let's keep it light, lively, and most of all, fun! Thanks!

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Nudity and religion

How do people reconcile their interest in nudity and religion?

Notice here that I just said nudity and not nudism (which might be an interesting topic to explore) and just religion, not any particular religion or sect or denomination. After all, they're all pretty much the same.

There seem to be two or three different approaches to the "problem" or the situation.

One is to ignore any possible conflict, the same way we ignore any possible issue with going shopping on Sunday. Remember blue laws? Doesn't seem to bother anyone these days.

Another is to sort of take the high road and try to justify nudity on a historical basis, which as usually explained is mostly fantasy. The typical claim is that we simply weren't born to wear clothes. Perhaps but it raises the question as to why we were born, then (I think to be gardeners).

Yet another approach is to say that one is not a nudist at all but one who just doesn't wear clothes sometimes. We don't belong to clubs or go to resorts, so we can't be nudists. But we find that not wearing clothes is especially comfortable and often convenient. We aren't social nudists; we just sunbathe and do household chores nude. And if we're lucky to be in the right place, maybe we skinny-dip. We might even suggest that it's really healthy to be naked/nude as much as possible.

I guess I'm in that last paragraph. I've studied the early nudists for a long time. And it occurs to me that "early nudists" include those in the post-war period down into the 1960s, sometimes referred to the golden era of nudism. I don't know if it really was but it sure seems like it was a golden era of nudist clubs. Anyway, I don't recall ever reading much of any mention of religion (in the sense we use the word) in early nudist writings. The concept arose in response to particular urban living conditions and so was more health and fitness oriented than it seems to be these days. It may not be totally gone, though, since a few landed clubs have running events, nude, of course, and I'm sure they all have swimming pools. I'd say that the early nudists were very open minded, more so than we might give them credit for being, especially as far as religion goes.

It so happened that the second president of the ASA, currently the AANR, was an ordained Baptist minister, Ilsley Boone. So I imagine he saw a connection between religion and nudism and that there was no conflict. In fact, there is often a suggestion that it is perfectly logical (a right, meet and proper thing!).

What say ye?

Re: Nudity and religion

The fig leaf forum does a great job answering your question re nudism and religion, at least in respect to Christianity. You can easily Google it.

Re: Nudity and religion

For me it wasn't that important. Religion had nothing to do with nudity, and vice-versa. Fo my ex, who grew up Seventh-Day Adventist, reconciling the two was much more important. When she finally contemplated going to a nudist resort, she requested spiritual guidance. Being naked at home in front of me fell in line with monogamic Christian values, so there was no issue there for her. But she saw being naked in front of other people as being a completely different thing.

Lucky for us our pastor, although not a nudist himself, saw no inherent contradiction or conflict between Christian values and nudism. That reassured my wife, who subsequently agreed to go to a nudist resort.
It took her a few tries before getting comfortable being naked around other people; but when she did she easily reconciled her Christian and nudist values. Being openly and completely naked with others was a form of worship to her (celebrating God's creation); and reaching out to other women, who weren't comfortable among nudists or with nudity, was a way for her to proselytize.

Some religions are "harder" on nudity than others. Roman Catholicism takes a very hard view on nudity. But it's also up to each individual to interpret the teachings in a way that's "pro" or "anti" nudity. My ex reconciled it in a way that she felt she was just a much a Christian when she was fully dressed in a church; or completely naked at a resort.

Re: Nudity and religion

BlueTrain
How do people reconcile their interest in nudity and religion?
I think I know what you mean by “religion”, but correct me if I’m wrong.

Faith, the urge to find something beyond yourself even in the absence of evidence
Religion, the common beliefs held by a community of believers
Spirituality, the things we do to engage with the focus of our faith
Belief, the things we choose to hold as truth as a result of our search

This is one of those cases where I know what I believe, but putting it into words is the challenge. So here goes.
We all have many interests in life that keep us busy. The challenge is to remain focused on what’s important.

In my religion, Christianity, there are ways to make my journey a more meaningful experience. A couple come to mind that are impacted by the subject of BlueTrain’s question. The problems of vanity and idolatry. For the practitioner, faith isn’t a hobby or interest, it’s a commitment. A goal. Anything that rises up against my core beliefs is automatically relegated to a place of lesser importance. Until or if I choose to reexamine those beliefs.

In scripture we are told to not worry or be concerned with our outward appearance. This is referring to not placing value on displays of vanity, manmade things, both with ourselves and others. So to take this to an extreme, “Is wearing nothing rejecting any possibility of the display of vanity?” What about the risk of pride in your physical appearance? Hmmm!

While pride can lead to vanity, being proud of a personal accomplishment doesn’t make you vain. Taking care of your self esteem is also important and healthy. Though, when pride in any accomplishment is so self centered that it becomes the most important thing in your life, then you are at risk of vanity. It all depends on what your intent is and what is in your heart and mind.

Has choosing to be naked as much as possible changed my outlook? Not only for me but how I consider others and how I would react if they were also naked? I have noticed that I am more accepting of people in general because I choose to not seriously consider how or with what people adorn themselves. This includes ALL the things we buy that make up a “lifestyle”, not just clothing. All the STUFF!

However, there are other scriptures that caution me against causing someone to “stumble”, i.e. to teach a wrong thing to someone who is beginning their faith journey. As BlueTrain points out, sometimes we take a risk by relying on urban lore. Or fantasy as he refers to it. In scripture we are given advice about our relations with the unlearned believer. Engaging in behaviors that are not prohibited but can cause confusion, is ok among those that are strong in their faith, as long as I don’t create a stumbling block for others.

If I am able to do that successfully, I won’t cause a problem. I have to figure out the correct course and from that make a choice on how I live and behave. I also have to be open and honest about this if it comes up in conversation and being careful about explaining my decisions.

Duane
(I had to split this into 2 parts. It kept getting longer and longer! :smile:)

Re: Nudity and religion

The urban lore beliefs allows me to wonder about the connections between nature and man, culture and man and other ephemeral concepts. They can be fun and interesting discussions, but for me belief has to be rooted in scripture. Wearing nothing and encountering others can be a delightful and meaningful experience. Wearing nothing and encountering creation with all my senses can also be a delightful and meaningful experience, but like the caution against vanity so is there a caution against self absorption.

Getting rid of all the wrong teaching from a life and rewiring my reactions can be a chore. Pruning the bad so to keep the good can be painful. We can be better for it afterward though.

In Mark 7:15, Jesus tells us that, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. In v.21 He went on: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” He’s saying that evil begins in and comes from the heart. What’s happening in your heart and mind is important. Matt. 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”, v.27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Jesus says that my responsibility is to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”, and He reminds us that: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Loving your neighbor is more than saying Hi! on a daily basis. It can also mean being aware of how your actions speak about your faith and how they impact your neighbor.

Essentially that is a long way of saying that I must be careful about this. My relationship to God is not at risk because of my nudity, but my relationship to my neighbor can be harmed if I am careless and that CAN harm my relationship to God.

There is much about naked activities in news of late with many bad connotations as a result. The minefield keeps getting bigger and more complicated! With regard to the whole issue of how I live my life, the same cautions apply whether I am naked or dressed. God doesn’t see the difference in my fashion choices, only people do. It is what is in and comes from my heart that matters.

Maybe this is what the minister in BlueTrains comment was considering when he made his statement.

Duane
Phew!

Re: Nudity and religion

Wow, what a post (in two parts)!

When I said religion, I meant church, mainly. The faith of others and probably of yourself is very difficult to establish, since it is rarely tested and likewise belief. I hear the word spirituality now and then and have no idea what people are talking about.

I didn't use the term urban legend and did not intend to imply that idea. To me, that's something like alligators in the New York City storm drains. I did say, however, "mostly fantasy," by which I meant that may historical examples used to justify nudity on that basis are exaggerated or non-existent. But others do the same thing with their own interests. The problem with using historical examples is a matter of picking and choosing something to prove a point.

One example is the real and historical practice of boys swimming nude in school swimming pools and at the YMCA. Although I still find it amazing that a high school would have a swimming pool, I do know for a fact that it was not only an accepted practice in some places, it was also required. It wasn't an option. I know it to be a fact because it was required at the one and only university (U Mass in Amherst) where I ever used the pool. The mention of such things always generates a lot of interesting comments. Yet to me, the curious thing is that it virtually disappeared at the same time the so-called liberation movements in the late sixties appeared. But I'd have to say those were coincidences.

Religion focuses on human relationships. It's where your beliefs are turned into actions. Nudity is virtually never mentioned in the Bible. I know it's mentioned in connection with Adam and Eve but that's covered in the first half-dozen pages and scarcely mentioned again. Likewise, religions usually don't give much attention to nudity, although modesty is always mentioned.

I've run out of time. I may return to this thread for more. But it's a tough topic to cover in just a few paragraphs.

Re: Nudity and religion

I'll try to keep this brief. I can get kind of long winded sometimes...

It depends on the religion. Some religions have heavy teachings against the removal of clothing in a social setting, some have teachings even requiring it, and some have mild teachings one way or another. Most religions seem to fall into the latter category.

Being a Christian, Christianity is the only religion I can talk about with good certainty. It's true that a lot of Christians think that the Bible forbids us from seeing each other's bodies, but as mentioned in one of the above posts, it doesn't really come out and say what God thinks about it in black and white.

How I personally reconcile it is like this: God made us without clothes. He designed us to live without clothes. Living without clothes is presented, Biblically, as the ideal way to live. The Bible never forbids us from living without clothes, or from exposing ourselves to the sight of others' bodies. The Bible describes the world as a dangerous place where people need physical protection from the elements. The Bible presents the human body in an amazingly positive and beautiful light, as the pinnacle of God's design.

So in the end, when taken objectively, naturism doesn't seem to be the thing that needs to be reconciled with the Bible. If anything, the Bible seems to be saying that naturism is what's best, whenever safe. What does seem to need explanation is the dogma surrounding modern Christians' requirement of such strict rules around clothes and the human body - and I've never heard a convincing case for those rules.

Re: Nudity and religion

I hate to suggest this but it might be because we as humans are sexual beings and in society, that is, in relationships with other humans, we have to control our sexual urges more than we sometimes do. One way to do that is to wear clothing, which is also necessary for other reasons in most places. It may or may not be true that we are intended not to wear clothes but it may be equally true that we are not intended to live everywhere we do live. But we have evolve. It may not be true, of course, that clothing is enough to control our sexual urges. In fact, sometimes clothing increases or excites our urges, probably intentionally. A nude person can be modest and a clothed person may be immodest.

Nudism as we think of it was not promoted for religious reasons, so there is really no reason to give it a religious veneer to satisfy our insecurity. I think that the old American Sunbathing Society was on the right tract when they changed their name to the American Association for Nude Recreation. It's really all about re-creation. And it's probably no coincidence that the early nudists in Germany carried on their activities, and it was activity-oriented, outside of town, in the woods and field, although eventually arrangements were sometimes made for nude recreation in town, up until the Nazis gained power.

Re: Nudity and religion

What do you say to a friend who is considering social nudity and wants your advice?

I would say, "It may be a positive experience for you, but tell me more about the place you intend to go, the people you are going with". Are you single? Are you married? Will your wife/husband be attending with you?

In my case, I am single, Christian and nudist and have visited family campgrounds and resorts and have had pleasant interactions with single ladies I met there. My walk with Jesus has been enhanced by many of the naturists I have befriended, several of whom are Christian. My life is also enriched by the natural beauty of the nudist parks, the richness of unimpeded contact with nature and the health benefits of exposing my skin to healthy portions of fresh air and sunlight. I am a student of the Bible, but found nothing to condemn the many good moments I have had within the naturist community.

It is true that some people worry about the possibility of sexual lust, but most of us find that the nudist experience is not more tempting than being with attractive people in any other situation. It is manageable.

I wouldn't waste any more time speculating about something so good as skinny dipping with trusted friends (off the beaten path or at nude beaches) and even less worry about a day at nudist camp, doing a little due diligence to find a family-friendly sort of place. As soon as the weather allows, give it a try! In the right context, it is a blessing.

Re: Nudity and religion

I think I would also ask his reason for going to, presumably, a nudist club or resort. The nudity part isn't so hard to answer, I imagine, it's the social nudity part that's difficult.

Re: Nudity and religion

BlueTrain
I think I would also ask his reason for going to, presumably, a nudist club or resort. The nudity part isn't so hard to answer, I imagine, it's the social nudity part that's difficult.
If the person in question is your friend and your friends are the sort who inspire and lift you up rather than drag you down, it would not be hard to imagine good intent on the part of your friend. But will this well-meaning friend benefit from visiting a nudist resort or campground?

Does your friend enjoy visiting most any charming mountain campground far from the noise and distractions of the city? If so, why would it be problematic that the rules at one particular campground allow nudity if your friend is already comfortable in his own skin and cares not a whit if others around him are nude?

Consider the social aspect of social nudity. The campground that I am thinking of has a sense of community, comprised of regulars and summer residents that give it a cozy neighborly feel I have NEVER seen at any state park nor RV park. So if this campground is a friendly place you would return to again and again, how does dress code even enter into the equation?

I love sports and outdoor recreation. Ironically, I get restless and easily distracted watching sporting events, but am stoked and focused when I am in the game. The campground I am thinking of offers plenty of opportunity for participating in a wide variety of games that keep me moving and having fun. It happens to be a nudist camp.

I also appreciate the fact that I am among kindred spirits, particularly when I meet fellow Christians. My physical nudity is merely a manifestation of that way of looking at life. I particularly enjoy those times when I meet single women there. My odds of finding a date are better in one of our local hiking clubs, but I have met women from time to time at nudist events. They are not always my type, but having nudism in common tends to put us both on the fast track to a possible relationship.

In our hot humid climate, nudity is far more comfortable than wearing anything at all. It's nice not to have to be on the lookout for angry prudes or morality police catching me skinny dipping (though I try my best to be discrete).