Part of the human struggle with nudity and our relationship with God is that we do not recognize the wholeness of what it means to be a human being. Even in Christian theology there is the argument that we were created in two parts – body and spirit or three parts - body, soul and spirit. The real tragedy in my opinion of this argument is that it focuses on man and what he is now and not what he was created to be. A living soul – a single entity - and part of that was the human body and at the beginning there were no clothes — there was simply nakedness.
I believe that our naked state best reflects this wholeness of being and wholeness of being involves everything we are made of including our spiritual side. There are moments, whether we are conscious of this unity of flesh and spirit or not, that this comes through and the reality of it touches us regardless of how we are raised, our culture or society. There is simply too much life that we live not to experience that feeling of wholeness from time to time because sooner or later we all end up being spiritual nudists because sooner or later we have to take off our clothes and be without them for a time. There are going to be some moments in these times where we will feel this wholeness of being, the way we were created by God, whether we do this consciously or unconsciously. Usually this happens when we are relaxed and also naked.
This post is addressed to the masses of western Christians and others who have been taught in many ways to avoid these moments. You have been taught by your parents, culture and religion that being naked is sinful. You may be devout in your faith and are firmly convinced that this is true and everything I am saying you are ready to argue with and challenge in your heart. There are others though who are also devout, but they know Christianity involves meditating on and praying through the issues. I urge you to do so with this one. I want to use the rest of this post to highlight how in our lives we at some time or another have engaged in spiritual nudity whether we recognized it or not.
I think the most obvious place we engage in spiritual nudism is when we are bathing is some way or form. I have lost count of the number of personal revelations from God I have received while taking a bath or a shower. I know of at least three people who came to Christ and became Christians and when asked where they made the decision they replied that they were bathing or taking a shower. I think we have to freely admit that we bathe for more than just the process of getting clean. We also bathe for release. There is something about bathing or showering that allows us to drop our guards and relax and we often enter a state of mind and heart that is meditative. That opens us up to hearing from God. Part of this is that we must shed our clothes to do so. It is this shedding of clothes that is not only symbolic of casting off the cares of this world, it is also in a very real way relieving us of the barriers that protect us in life which allows us to just be ourselves. Nudity in bathing is actually relaxing and not shameful and most of the time we simply just acknowledge this is true.
Sooner or later you have to change and in that process you are at times going to be naked while you are looking for something to wear. Usually we do this in our rooms so we feel relaxed and because we are also naked, at least momentarily, we can also experience the same kind of meditation state as in bathing. This form of spiritual nudism is not as pronounced as bathing, in my humble opinion, but the spiritual state can be similar if a person slows down and breathes deeply. Perhaps you have gotten guidance or peace in such times and I submit to you that your nakedness at the time may have contributed to this, whether your recognized it at the time or not.
Next to bathing this one is the best for achieving a meditative state and it allows Christians to actually take seriously one of the more common Biblical ways that God speaks to us – dreams. Less than 10% of Americans sleep in the nude but those that do know its health benefits which include health, better sleep, confidence and better sex. More than that the same relaxation principle applies to the idea of sleeping from a spiritual point of view. In the Bible dreams that guide people are a regular occurrence. Part of the reason dreams no longer seem prevalent is that we have been taught the negative side of dreams too much so we don’t take them as seriously as we should. Also I would say that it has been shown that westerners don’t sleep as well as they used to and part of the cure for that is to sleep naked. Also by sleeping naked you create a better meditative state as you fall asleep so your receptivity to dream increases at least in my opinion. Many people who do sleep in the nude know what I am talking about and would probably acknowledge that their nudity was in some way responsible for having better and more productive dreams and a better night’s sleep.
This may be more limited to those in a relationship, particularly committed married couples, but anyone who has genuinely made love knows there was more to the pleasure and wonder of it than just the mechanics of foreplay and having sex. Part of sex is spiritual through the knowing and loving each other and good reason for that is that as a couple we find our selves back to the way God intended man and woman to be – unashamed and NAKED. One of the more enjoyable parts of sex for me has been the afterglow when you are laying in each others arms. In that moment, if you are paying attention, you can truly feel like you are one flesh and part of that is your openness to each other by being naked. There is more than physical satisfaction at this point; there is a spiritual joining to each other and in large part the intensity of this spiritual feeling is because we are naked at the time.
Now you don’t necessarily have to be all the way naked to breastfeed but even I as a man cannot deny there is more to the act of breastfeeding that involves an element that most people in western society think is sinful — a woman baring her chest. Something is exchanged that is more than milk between a mother and child in these times and don’t think men don’t get some spiritual satisfaction out of this as well. Some of my more relaxing times when our children were infants was when I was watching my wife nurse. There is something about that just makes a lot of things that are wrong with this world just fade away and that is a spiritual thing brought on by a form of nakedness.
A woman gets up out of bed after sleeping naked, puts a load of laundry in the washer, takes a shower, puts on her makeup and does her hair and THEN she gets dressed. In households all over we find ourselves at times doing things naked and often times it is either we are not really conscious that we are wrong or it is simply more convenient. We are safely at home. Why get dressed before doing the laundry, if in a few moments your going to shower? Why get dressed after you shower, if your right where you need to be to do your hair and makeup? We may not do this all the time but sometimes it is just more convenient and easier to wait to get dressed. Sometimes we just forget because we are at peace in our own home and relaxed. We simply do not see a need to get dressed. In these times we can experience much the same wholeness and open quality that we find in many of the above activities.
There are many more activities that I could list that we may have experienced in our lives but the main point is that not all of our experiences in being naked are bad ones. Some are downright pleasant and relaxing. In all of these cases our nakedness actually is part of the equation that helps us relax and open our hearts minds and spirits to what God may want to reveal to us. The real problem is that as Christians we do not take these moments seriously because we are often rushed as we need to get dressed so we are no longer ‘sinners’ by being naked. Truth is that idea is not a biblical one but a church and religious culture concoction. There is nothing wrong with nakedness itself.
What I want everyone to see, that is probably more a standard ‘I am not a nudist’ Christian, is that you do not necessarily have to become a nudist or change your life in major ways to practice spiritual nudism. You don’t have to join a nudist colony, head to a nude beach or resort. Most of what it may involve for you is: 1) Simply taking the times you are naked more seriously as times you can grow spiritually or 2) simply slowing down and not being in a rush to be clothed. It is in these moments, you can simply open yourself up to meditation, prayer, worship and even study and gain some benefit from being naked before your God. In these times you can truly be who you are and He can truly show you who you are. It is an opportunity for spiritual growth if handled properly and it should not be wasted.
Over the next few posts I will attempt to show how nakedness affects certain spiritual disciplines and we will start with meditation.
Next: Naked Meditation