"Liberated Christians" on Nudity

The "Liberated Christians" website offers an article titled, "Nudity is Natural and Wholesome," though we do assume that the webmasters do not think it so natural and wholesome that they walk around in the altogether themselves. We will use it as a template to answer the broader question of whether, Biblically speaking, the titular assertion is correct.

The article begins by telling us that the "sense of shame" we get from nudity "is not inborn: it is learned. Babies have no shame and neither did many early Christians in Biblical times." We'll address that latter assertion in a moment, but for the former it is worth pointing out that babies have no shame or remorse when it comes to soiling their drawers, either; whether Liberated Christians will follow that example as well remains to be seen.

After this we are vaguely assured, at any rate, that "[n]udism promotes a healthy respect and trust with each other." I imagine the inmates at my former venue of work would find that news welcome, and insist that they were perusing pornography out of "healthy respect" for the subjects therein and for a "greater experiential appreciation for the beauty and dignity of the body". Somehow I doubt if the prison disciplinary committee would buy that one.

We then get to the section on Liberated Christians thinks is the Biblical view of the subject. The matter of Adam and Eve covering themselves is waved off as a matter of God "just going along" with the idea of the attempts to hide from sin. From there we are treated to a few Biblical cites, but many more are left out, along with some pertinent social data, so let's expose (sorry!) that to begin.

Our main source here is Pilch and Malina's Handbook of Biblical Social Values [136f]. Liberated Christians seems to have an idea elsewhere that the "sex is dirty" approach was borrowed from the Greeks, but they'd be dead wrong. Nudity in the Biblical era, as Pilch and Malina note, was associated with sin and shame, and the Genesis connection is the start of this. Why? Some would say that it is because the First Couple were originally "covered" by a glory that was lost at the Fall, and this may be supported by that Paul speaks in 2 Cor. 5 of not being found "naked" once we receive our heavenly tent. But whatever the reason, nudity thereafter was considered shameful, and Pilch and Malina reckon with two factors in this respect: honor and shame, and purity and pollution.

Let's start with two verses Liberated Christians seems not to notice:

Exodus 20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
Exodus 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

If public nudity was "wholesome and natural" then one is constrained to ask why God is telling priests to make sure that they get covered and stay covered. "Party Naked" is not part of the Deuteronomic code. But to the connection, now, with shame, and where Pilch and Malina write:

Cultural attitudes toward women in ancient Judaism directed that they be defensive of their chastity....Such concern for female virtue was also realized in the expectation that women's bodies be clothed as fully as possible, with the result that loss of clothing was synonymous with loss of virtue. Public nudity inevitably meant "shame" for them, for their chastity was compromised; their physical body was no longer exclusively the property of their husbands.

Liberated Christians actually shows some awareness of this last point in other essays, but make no connection here, and abuses it as well, but that will be returned to later. Let's remark at once, lest someone think the Bible a Ferengi charter, that men too were subject to this, as Pilch and Malina note:

Even in regard to men we find a comparable pattern. Just as the woman's sexual organs are occasionally called her "shame" (Jub. 3:21), so also the penis is Adam's "shame," in phrases such as "he covered his shame....to cover his shame." (Jub. 3:27, 30).

The LC folks also seem to miss 1 Cor. 12:23, in which Paul wrote of the "shameful" parts of the body. Needless to say they are also unaware of a few other social points, such as:

With that said, what of Liberated Christians' attempt to justify nudity from the Bible, other than what we have already mentioned? It's as bad as you may expect:

Thus, it is patently false for Liberated Christians to connect the dislike for nudity in the Church with an "anti-body philosophy" derived from Plato. This was derived from Judaism, and it was not "anti-body" but "anti-purity." What they call the "puritanical perversion that our body is shameful and should be covered up at all times" is found IN the Bible and in pre-NT Judaism.



  • role of the law