Family Skinnydippers

205 Arguments in Support of Social Nudity
as presented by The Naturist Society

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 Nudity is often more comfortable and practical than clothing
 Naturism promotes mental health
 Some observations on the nature of modesty
 Naturism promotes sexual health
 Naturism promotes physical health
 Naturism is socially constructive
 Naturism is healthy for the family
 Naturism is especially consistent with feminism and the struggle for women's freedom
 Naturism is more natural than clothes-compulsiveness
 Accepted clothing requirements are arbitrary and inconsistent
 Naturism is growing in acceptance
 Constitutional support for Naturism
 Additional legal support for Naturism
 Historical support for Naturism
 Historical origins of the repression of nudity
 Christianity supports Naturism
 Personal experience supports Naturism

180-204. Christianity supports Naturism.277

180. Genesis 1:27--The (naked) human body, created by God, in God's own image, is basically decent, not inherently impure or sinful. The human body was created by God, and God can create no evil. It is made in God's image, and the image of God is entirely pure and good.

181. Genesis 1:31--God saw that everything, including naked Adam and Eve, was good.

182. Genesis 3:7--Many scholars interpret the wearing of fig leaves as a continuation and expansion of the original sin, not a positive moral reaction to it.

Hugh Kilmer explains: "Man wanted to put his life within his own control rather than God's, so first he took the power of self-determination (knowledge of good and evil). Next, finding his body was not within his control, he controlled it artificially by hiding it. After he was expelled from paradise, he began to hunt and eat animals; then to gain complete control over other people, by killing them (the story of Cain and Abel)." 278

183. Genesis 3:10--Many scholars believe that Adam and Eve's sense of shame came not from their nakedness, which God had created and called good, but from their knowledge of having disobeyed God.

184. An innate, God-given sense of shame related to nakedness is contradicted by the existence of numerous indigenous societies in which nudity is the rule and a sense of shame is totally absent, and by the lack of shame felt by naked children.

185. Genesis 3:11--It was disobedience that came between Adam and Eve and God, not nakedness. The scriptures themselves treat Adam and Eve's nudity as an incidental issue.

Robert Bahr observes that "when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they grew ashamed of what they had done and attempted to hide themselves from God, who was not the least bit concerned with their nakedness but was mightily unhappy with their disobedience." 279 Herb Seal notes that God provided a covering by slaying an innocent animal: the first prototype of the innocent one slain to act as a "covering" for sinners.280

186. Genesis 3:21--God made garments of skins for Adam, but the Bible does not say the state of nakedness is being condemned. Because of the Fall, Adam and Eve were no longer in Eden and were thus subject to the varieties of weather and climate, and God knew they would need clothes. God loved and cared for them even after they had sinned.

187. To assume that because God made garments He was condemning nudity makes as much sense as concluding that because God made clouds which blot out the sun He was condemning sunshine.

188. Genesis 9:22-24--Noah was both drunk and naked, but Ham was the one who was cursed--when he dishonored his father, by calling attention to Noah's state, and making light of it.

The shame of Noah's "nakedness" was much more than just being undressed. It was his dehumanized, drunken stupor which was shameful. Ham's offense was not merely seeing his father in this shameful state, but gossiping about it, effectively destroying Noah's reputation, cultural status, and authority as a father figure. In the story, Shem and Japheth were blessed for coming to the defense of their father's honor. Rather than joining Ham in his boasting, they reverently covered their father's shame.281

189. Exodus 20:26--The Priest's nakedness was not to be exposed because it would create dissonance between his social role, in which he was to be seen as sexually neutral, and his biological status as a sexual being. The Priest's costume represented his social role; to be exposed in that context would be inappropriate and distracting.282

Rita Poretsky writes: "Personhood, original sexual energy, and physical nakedness may be either in synchrony with social institutions or in disharmony. . . . Nakedness is a nakedness of self in a social context, not just a nakedness of body." 283 On the other hand, it was quite appropriate for David to dance essentially naked in public to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6:14-23).

190. Leviticus 18:6-19--Here and throughout the Old Testament and Torah, the expression "uncover the nakedness of" (as it is literally translated in the King James Version) is a euphemism for "have sexual relations with." The prohibitions do not refer to nudity per se.284

191. I Samuel 19:23-24--Jewish prophets were commonly naked--so commonly that when Saul stripped off his clothes and prophesied, no one considered his nakedness remarkable, but everyone immediately assumed that he must be a prophet also.

192. II Samuel 6:14-23--King David danced nearly naked in the City of David to celebrate the return of the ark, in full view of all the citizens of the city. Michal criticized his public nudity and was rebuffed.

King David was not strictly naked--he wore a "linen ephod," a sort of short apron or close-fitting, armless, outer vest, extending at the most down to the hips. Ephods were part of the vestments worn by Jewish priests. They hid nothing.285

193. Isaiah 20:2-3--God directly commanded Isaiah to loose the sackcloth from his hips, and he went naked and barefoot for three years. The prophet Micah may have done the same thing (see Micah 1:8).

194. Song of Solomon repeatedly expresses appreciation for the naked body.

195. Every Biblical association of nakedness with shame is in reference to a sin already committed. One cannot hide from God behind literal or figurative clothing. All stand naked before God.286

196. Nakedness cannot automatically be equated with sexual sin.

Linking nudity with sexual sin, to the exclusion of all else, makes as much sense as insisting that fire can only be connected to the destruction of property and life, and is therefore immoral. Sin comes not from nakedness, but from how the state of nakedness is used. Ian Barbour writes: "No aspect of man is evil in itself, but only in its misuse. The inherent goodness of the material order, in which man's being fully participates, is, as we shall see, a corollary of the doctrine of creation." 287

Pope John Paul II agrees that nudity, in and of itself, is not sinful. "The human body in itself always has its own inalienable human dignity," he says. It is only obscene when it is reduced to "an object of 'enjoyment,' meant for the gratification of concupiscence itself." 288

197. Nakedness cannot automatically be associated with lust.

It is not reasonable to cover the apples in the marketplace just because someone might be tempted by gluttony, nor is it necessary to ban money because someone might be overcome by greed. Nor is it reasonable to ban nudity, simply because an individual might be tempted to lust. Furthermore, appreciation for the beauty of a member of the other sex, nude or otherwise, cannot be equated automatically with lust. Only if desire is added does appreciation become lust, and therefore sin. Even then, it is the one who lusts, not the object of lust, who has sinned. Bathesheba was never rebuked for bathing, but David for lusting (II Samuel 11:2-12:12). Pope John Paul II writes: "There are circumstances in which nakedness is not immodest. If someone takes advantage of such an occasion to treat the person as an object of enjoyment (even if his action is purely internal) it is only he who is guilty of shamelessness . . . not the other." 289 Margaret Miles observes that "Nakedness and sexuality or lust were seldom associated in patristic writings." 290

198. Many historical church leaders have disassociated nudity with sexual immodesty. St. Thomas Aquinus, for example, defined an immodest act as one done with a lustful intention.291 Therefore, someone who disrobes for the sole purpose of bathing or recreating cannot be accused of immodesty.

Pope John Paul II writes: "Sexual modesty cannot then in any simple way be identified with the use of clothing, nor shamelessness with the absence of clothing and total or partial nakedness. . . . Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment. . . . There are certain objective situations in which even total nudity of the body is not immodest." 292

199. Through Christ, the Christian is returned spiritually to the same sinless, shameless state Adam and Eve enjoyed in Eden (Genesis 2:25). There is no question that their nakedness was not sinful. When God creates, nakedness is good. It follows that when God re-creates, nakedness is also good.

200. The Bible says plainly that sexual immorality is sin. Healthy Naturism, however, is entirely consistent for the Christian, who has "crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24)

201. The Bible calls for purity of heart. Anyone who thinks it is impossible to be pure of heart while nude is ignorant of the realities of nudism, and anyone who believes that it is wrong even for the pure of heart to be nude has fallen into legalism, a vice which St. Paul repeatedly denounces.293

St. Paul writes: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. . . . Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. . . . Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." (Colossians 2:8, 20-23; 3:12)

202. Clothes-compulsiveness creates an unwholesome schism between one's spirit and body. A Christian morality should deal with the person as a whole, healing both spirit and body.

203. Nudity has often been used in the Christian tradition as symbolic of renouncing the world to follow Christ.

Margaret Miles writes: "In the thirteenth century, Saint Bernard of Clairvoux popularized the idea of nudity as symbolic imitation of Christ; it took Saint Francis to act out this metaphor. Francis announced his betrothal to Lady Poverty [i.e. his renunciation of material possessions] by publicly stripping off his clothing and flinging it at the feet of his protesting father" and the local bishop.294 Several Christian sects have practiced nudity as part of their faith, including the German Brethren of the Free Spirit, in the thirteenth century; the Picards, in fifteenth century France; and, most famously, the Adamites, in the early fifteenth century Netherlands.295

204. Many other faiths also support nudity, both historically and in current practice.

For example, the "Digambar" or "sky-clad" monks of Digambar Jainism have gone completely naked as part of their ascetic tradition for 2500 years, though nudity is rare in the dominant Hindu religion. Many other (males-only) Hindu religious orders also practice ritualistic nudity or near-nudity, as they have for hundreds or thousands of years. Tribal Hindus held an annual nude worship service attracting 100,000 in Chandragutti, India until 1987, when it was stopped by the police, in reaction to violence which had erupted the previous year when social workers tried to force clothing on the participants.296

Continue to argument 205


277 . For interpretations of references to nudity in the Midrash and Talmud, see Poretsky.

278 . Kilmer, "Original Sin" 84.

279 . Bahr 44.

280 . Seal 86.

281 . Kass 43; Poretsky 47; Seal 87.

282 . Poretsky 46-47.

283 . Poretsky 42, 53.

284 . Kass 43. When the King James Version was printed, it was taboo to talk about subjects such as incest more explicitly. See Seal 87.

285 . See Exodus 28:6-14, 39:2-7.

286 . See Isaiah 20:4, Ezekiel 16:37, 16:39, 23:29, Hosea 2:3, Micah 1:8, 1:11, Nahum 3:5, and Revelations 3:17. See also Hebrews 4:13.

287 . Barbour 362-63.

288 . "Spirituality" 82.

289 . John Paul II 190.

290 . Miles xiv. Havelock Ellis, however, notes that in later years "the Church was passionately eager to fight against what it called 'the flesh' and thus fell into the error of confusing the subjective question of sexual desire with the objective spectacle of the naked form. 'The flesh' is evil; therefore, 'the flesh' must be hidden. And they hid it, without understanding that in so doing they had not suppressed the craving for the human form but, on the contrary, had heightened it by imparting to it the additional fascination of a forbidden mystery." (Robinson, Body Packaging 29)

291 . St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, noted in Cunningham 49.

292 . John Paul II 176, 190, 191.

293 . See especially Paul's letters to the Galatians and Colossians.

294 . Miles xii. The famous "renunciation of St. Francis" occurred around 1206, when he was about 25 years old. For a detailed analysis of this event, see Trexler, esp. 4, 42-43. See also Rudofsky, Unfashionable Human Body 27; Sisk 899; Ellis, vol. 2, part 3, p. 98; Ableman 40.

295 . Ableman 40; Ellis, vol. 2, part 3, p. 98.

296 . Carrithers 219, 222-23; LeValley, "Some Background" 37-38.

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