While I believe that erotic videos and sexual depictions are normal and should be a part of a normal Christian life, I do not believe that Naturism or the nudist lifestyle is normal. Here is why.
In 2012, ABC news ran a piece on Growing Up Nudist about a nudist camp where families live full-time. The article makes nudism sound natural and good. It sounds like these people live in the Garden of Eden. There are a lot of Christian Naturist sites that promote this lifestyle.
The usual rap against the naturists are that they are “immodest.” That somehow they are encouraging swinging and fornication. Firstly, this isn’t true, or it is only true for people that have grown up with a nudity taboo that equates nakedness with sex (that includes most Americans) but it is possible to raise children with a different attitude.
I have a different take. It is impossible to read the Bible without realizing that nakedness was shameful. But I do not believe that this shamefulness was related to sex. The people of the ancient world saw naked people and slaves all of the time. Poor people often did not have clothes and they certainly didn’t have privacy. They did not get to bathe alone – or even in the presence of only the same sex. David was excited by the body of Bathsheba while she was bathing because she was beautiful. It was not considered abnormal for her to be bathing on the housetop. The mere sight of a breast would not excite biblical people. There were no titty bars in the ancient world, there were only brothels. The attire of a harlot related to the color, cut, and ornaments of the woman, not her nakedness. Nakedness was shameful because it showed poverty.
But there is a reason that nakedness is bad. I just came across this passage in the book, “The Brother’s K.” In it a harelipped girl is praying in church.
“Nyearest Nyeesus!” she calls out, her voice, her whole body quivering. “Nank nyou!, nank nyou!, for yall nyour nyimmy nyimmy nmlessings, nand for nthis nay of Nhristian Nyellowshipt!” At the words nyimmy nyimmy Micah uncorks a snicker—and there are lots of answering snorts today. Maybe there always are. Maybe I just hear them today because I’m stuck next to her. My stomach clenches. Most of me wants to snort with the others, but part of me, remembering the pool in the kingdom, makes me gouge my knuckles in my eye sockets and fight to hear her prayer, “Mlease, nLord!” Vera cries, as if she’s pleading with an ax murderer. “Mlease fornivvus our snins and nrespassenth! Nwee are nso nunworthy, nso nvery nvery nunworthy!” Noses blow violently; half-stifled giggles circle the room like pigeons trapped in a barn. Beal keeps his head bowed, but clears his throat and steps threateningly around his podium. “Nopen our narts, nwee veseech nThee!” Vera prays.
“Nyelp us to nlove nyou nmore and nmore!” she prays as Micah laughs outright, “and nmore and nmore!” she pleads as girls grab Kleenex, “and snill nyet nmore!” she begs as boys fizz up and overflow like jostled bottles of pop. “Nenter our narts!” she cries, her voice breaking, her body trembling so violently it makes my chair tremble too. “Nenter nthem now! Nright now! Nwee are nso nlost, nso nvery nlost, nwithout nThee!” And even as it occurs to me that this must be real prayer—even as I see that what is being laughed at is the sound of someone actually ramming a heartfelt message past all the crossed signals and mazes of our bodies, brains and embarrassments clear on in to her God—when I open my fists and peek at Vera I see a face so exposed, so twisted with love, grief and longing, that if she was my sister I would take off my coat, and I’d wrap her up and hold her, and I would beg her never, ever to do this naked, passionate, impossible thing again.
Duncan, David James. The Brothers K (p. 85). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The girl is showing the ultimate nudity, not the nakedness of the body, but of the soul. She was “naked before God.” In a sense she was bathing her soul, and while this is a wonderful experience in private, it is horrible to see in public.
Adam and Eve “saw that they were naked.” They realized that they had been living without law and without morality, that they were little better than animals. Their immediate response was to cover themselves. And we still cover ourselves today, not just in our physical bodies, but in our outward show of our innermost person. We call other people “hypocrites” when they fail to live up to their standards, but few of us wish to live in a public confessional booth. It is a normal and healthy desire to want to hide our imperfections and failures from other humans – even if we are willing to tell them to God. There is a reason why the Catholic priests are so defensive of the “seal of the confessional.”
Not having been to a nude beach, I don’t know personally, but I have heard that it is not a pretty sight. I do know that the true “amateur porn” – the homemade kind – is very, very ugly. If I wanted to see pimple-covered buttocks that close I would use a mirror.
During one of my medicine rotations, I was informed that I would have to do a genital examination. I told my preceptor that “We psychiatrists see more genitals than we examine.” And that is true. Many of my sickest patients attempt to run around naked, it is a big problem on the psych ward.
The reason for this is that psychotic people have boundary issues. They cannot tell where their souls and the souls of other people should be separated. They have unlimited sex; they run around naked; they masturbate in public. They have no sense of where their lives end and where the lives of others start.
This is what Revelations is talking about:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me .. white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear
“Alright,” you say, “you have said why people shouldn’t show their nakedness to others. Then why in the world, Dr. Ed, would you say that holy erotica (Christian Porn) can exist.”
Because Erotica, when it is properly done, is anything but naked. Have you ever seen Playboy’s “Adult Film School” tv series? In it, a porn producer brings in amateur couple who have made a home sex video and were unsatisfied with it. She helps them to produce high quality Erotica.
In their home film, the couple are merely naked, but the professional film is highly erotic.
In his song, King Solomon tells the tale of a loving couple. He describes their bodies in great detail and the sex acts that they perform. But it is not merely telling of nude sex, rather he is telling of ideal love and ideal love-making with ideal people. He is portraying God’s view of what perfect sex should be.
This, I believe, is appropriate. In high-quality erotica, the people don’t have on clothes, but neither are they truly “naked.” In fact, they are made-up, airbrushed, and idealized. Their flaws are not displayed. I have links to this sort of erotica at my website HolyErotica.com To go back to my “Naked before God” metaphor, they are not praying “Nyearest Nyeesus” but rather the Book of Common Prayer.
Now, in fact, the regular sex of a loving husband and wife is wonderful because it is infused with their love. Even the quick sleepy sex from a nocturnal boner is sweet because my wife gives herself to me unsparingly, even if she starts snoring before I orgasm. But this would be extremely UNattractive to strangers watching.
So, no, I do not believe that Christian Naturism is a healthy movement (although it is not by nature Ungodly), but Holy Erotica is good.