22 comments on “The Bible and Nakedness – Part 15 – A Biblical Definition of Nakedness and the Issue of Public Nudity

  1. We found this well written and well thought out, it seems very logical. As for our view seeing someone nude no matter where or being seen nude by others is not a sin or wrong. It’s what happens in ones heart and mind where the sin begins. So simple nudity should in our view be a part of everyday life.

    • I am a Biblical theologian so based on what the Bible says public nudity in and of itself is not a sin Biblically. The real quesiton is what people would do with it and that is a more complicated question. We start getting into what is culturally accepted, what can be socially accepted and so on. That battle is still going on in many western nations including my own the USA. Truth be told it may never be completely resolved. The main issue ot me for nudists or simply people who think women should be topfree is that they not force the issue but persuade. If that person is a Christian, they also need to be mindful of Christian brothers and sisters who are weak as well when it comes to lust and other issues. A man who was formerly deep into porn and other related sins should probably not be around naked people for instance because it may cause him to stumble in his Christianty for instance.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Been following for a while. Your post are very interesting and your theological analysis sound. I do appreciate your work as a follower of Christ so much of the Christian discourse is more dogma than Biblical exegesis. Thanks for the following as well

  3. Is a lost to me and others if the whole Gods words does not make any provision for such. U ask your yourself, the current ways in which most people dress does not show moral and modesty. From Islamic perspective, a person must dress most appropriately. If those who passed before us obey the commands of God and we can’t obey Him as such. As a holy book of God behaviours must clearly be stated in it. A advice the none Muslims who happens to read across my post to make a research into the Quran and see whether is a solution for humanity or not. Thanks.

    • I think reducing modesty to outward appearance reduces an understanding of modesty and does not include a higher form of modesty which is based on humility and quietness of spirit in a Christian context. A woman can be ‘modestly’ dressed but prideful or arrogant of spirit, is she then modest? At the same time if a woman is nude but has a modest and quiet spirit is she then immodest? Dress is in my mind the worst way to judge the true state of spirituality in a person.

      My problem with the Koran and Islam in general is its fascination with the idea that if you control outward expression you can control spirituality and faith and to be honest this is folly to me. Jesus constantly addressed the Pharisees about this very issue and repeatedly told them that such religious rules would neither save or lead to eternal life.

      As a Biblical Theologian my only inclusions as Scripture are the standard 66 books of the Protestant canon of Scripture and does NOT include the Apocrypha and/or the Koran. I am after all a Protestant Christian, but I do try to be friendly with everyone else.

      Blessings and thanks for the comment.

  4. C.S. Lewis wrote something very similar in Mere Christianity. Basically, his views on modesty are that they are defined by culture. All cultures—even pagan nudist tribes—have ways of being modest or immodest. Just like the prohibitions on men with long hair in the New Testament need to be understood in light of the culture, so do the instructions on modesty.

    To give an example of nudist modesty, I watched a documentary about a tribe in South America that never wears clothes, except the men always wrap their foreskins with a type of leaf to bind them shut (except when copulating or urinating), and the women ALWAYS sit with one leg pulled in so their foot covers their vagina. While those in the developed world would find these things obscene, for them it is respectful and modest, and not following these traditions would be quite rude.

    In another example, I heard a missionary speak onetime who said that her church donated boxes of clothes to the almost-nude tribe. The people loved the clothes, but the missionary woke up the next day to find that the women had torn out holes for their breasts so they could still feed their children! To them, there was nothing inherently sinful or sexual about exposed breasts.

    I think in light of all of this, we need to consider the history of dress codes in the Western world. Living so far north, full-body attire is particularly important for keeping warm. As people became richer, clothes went from being necessary to survival to becoming fashion statements and symbols of wealth. This was coupled with the Christian traditions and possibly influenced by Gnosticism, which took a very low view toward the body. It is easy to see how the Western ideals of modesty developed. The danger, then, is when we try to apply those views toward other cultures and judge them by it. If we successfully convert them to our standards of modesty, then are we at risk for indoctrinating them into a badly-misunderstood form of legalism?

    • I have no problem with you observations, in fact it is part of my argument later that nudity and modesty are cultural issues not necessarily moral ones.
      Thanks for the comment.

  5. The area of the body that is identified in the Bible as “shame” and “nakedness” is what we commonly call the “genitals,” the primary external generative organs, or the “pubes” (from the Latin for “shame.”
    The “breeches” of the Genesis account are better described as a “loincloth,” a piece of cloth or other fabric that covers the pubic area in the front and the separation (crack or crevice) of the buttocks. The word “breech” means the backside or rear end, such as the closed end of a gun barrel. These “britches” were insufficient for life outside of the Eden garden, with its harsher climate, brambles, briars and other hazards to the bare skin. No man would want to go about generally with his genitals unprotected. Almost all other male creatures’ penises retract into a protective sheath or are always concealed. Man’s hangs out, exposed to those briars, brambles and other dangers.
    Culture should not be ignored. For peoples who customarily cover little or none of their skin, males nevertheless cover their penises even if females are completely naked aside from ornamentation. They amy not be thought lewd or immoral. But in a society where custom dictates coverage of various parts of the body, Christians should, for expediency’s sake, take the “conservative” path while remaining within that culture’s norms so as not to draw undue attention to themselves.

    • The last part of your comment however indicates that your are given culture a nod instead of the Biblical text. It means then what constitutes nakedness physically is culturally defined. The shame that Adam and Eve felt was toward God not each other.

      As for protective measures and nakedness, there would be many naturists and nudists who would tell you that in general this is overblown. In truth the human body is very adaptive to environmental conditions because it was designed to be naked in the first place.

      The conservative path is a cultural statement like it or not and where is this notion that Christians should not draw attention to themselves.

      I think I have addressed most of your comment in all the other posts of this series and Naked Before God addresses the spiritual concerns specifically.

      Thanks for the comment but I would have to say that I disagree with most of it Biblically.

      Blessings and Cheers!

      • The Church is never to be defined by the world. Here’s an example of a father’s nakedness being discovered and his son’s attitude towards it. Genesis 9:23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. Speaking of Aaron’s son’s garments, the scriptures says the following:
        God giving instructions how priesst are to dress themselves and notice the importance given in covering one’s nakedness. Exodus 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach.
        Leviticus 18 is clear instructions on the subject of nakedness. In verse 3, it says not to imitate what other nations do: After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
        Ephesians 4:17-18: This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
        Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
        Timothy and Peter also speak of modesty and shamefedness in a woman’s dress that professes godliness.
        The bible is very clear that we are to live holy in every manner of living. Your nakedness is for your spouse, not for the world to see. Even if I am not tempted to look upon a woman’s nakedness, it’s not for my eyes to see, unless she’s my wife. Exposing it is a sin, whether people look at you with lust or not. God commands us to cover our nakedness. It’s the flesh(self) that always wants to contradict God’s word. That thing called self must be crucified, so that Christ can be seen in us. The bible says that all appearance of evil must be avoided and exposing your nakedness is lasciviousness.
        1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lust, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
        Lasciviousness is indecency and watonness means to cause sexual excitement or to be lustful. Walking naked should make us feel shame, unless you are past feeling. That’s why the world uses nudity to sell their clothes and other products, because they don’t know Jesus.

      • I am not sure I can respond to John below but i would make the following points:

        1) Many of the Biblical passages you cite i have dealt with in the entire series, you might want to read them before commenting further.

        2) I feel your definition of Lasciviousness assumes something that is not found in the Bible and given the context of the passage historical I doubt Paul would have thought that way. Nudity was much more common in the 1st century due to slavery and I don’t think Paul would have looked at nudity in the same context as lasciviousness because of this.

        3) You suffer form a classic problem – you equate nudity with sexuality and the Bible never does this.

        Thanks for the comment,

        Blessings and Cheers!!!

  6. One of our persistent problems, as 21st century Western Christians, is projecting our culture, with all of its conveniences, onto people who lived over two-thousand years ago. We can’t fathom not having a closet full of clothes, with more readily-available within easy driving distance of home. We can’t fathom not having indoor plumbing and our own washer and dryer. We can’t fathom living in a tent for many years without all the privacy and conveniences of home, and for those who think that “roughing-it” means staying in a Motel 6 rather than a Marriott, they probably never will “get it”.

    A big chunk of the Old Testament was written while the children of Israel still lived in tent-cities. God sent them on a forty-year “camping trip” through the wilderness, and they really didn’t start “settling-down” until after the conquest of the promised land was complete. They left Egypt with the clothes on their backs and tents. There was no fleet of RV’s, supported by another fleet of semi’s. Most of them were probably tickled to have whatever was on their back. It was during the wilderness wanderings that God established the ceremonial law and the sacrificial system.

    People were still going to wells to draw water while Jesus was doing His ministry. So much for “indoor-plumbing”. The water-pots at the wedding in Cana were for ceremonial purification, and somebody had to haul all that water. Common laborers were still working naked when the weather permitted in order to save what little clothing they had for when they really needed it, when it got too cold to work naked. Being seen naked might mean that they were poor, but their nakedness wasn’t “shameful”.
    They weren’t “ashamed” when they had to go to the communal bath-house to bathe. They weren’t “ashamed” to be seen naked while their clothes were drying on a clothes-line. What we call “public-nudity” was “ordinary-nudity” to them. We are the ones who have made ordinary-nudity “shameful”, not the Bible.

    What would we do if our society collapsed, and all we had left was the clothes on our back and a tent? Our perspective would change in a hurry.

    I am naked and unashamed in Christ!


  7. In Jewish culture it is tradition to answers questions with questions. It can be seen when reading the NT where Jesus is in conversation with the Scribes and Pharisees.

    Thus a number of questions:
    • Does Scripture state that being nude is a sin?
    • When naked when having a bath or getting dressed, do the Lord and His Spirit leave you?
    • If being naked is wrong, and then it is wrong except where the word of God makes exemptions, not so? (No place for so called “common sense”)
    • Where does Scripture say a doctor can see you naked?
    • Where does Scripture say a male doctor may see a female patient naked or the other way around?
    • May a nurse see a patient naked, male or female?
    • May an undertaker see a naked body?
    • Where in Scripture does it say that men can see one another naked?
    • Where in Scripture does it say that women can see one another naked?
    • Where does Scripture say at what age you should stop seeing your children naked?
    • Was the sin of Adam and Eve their nakedness, or their disobedience to God?

    Thus if we understand that nakedness according to Scripture is wrong and sinful, we must also bear in mind that no exceptions can be made by men. Only God can make exceptions, and that should then be found in the Bible.

    Either all the above mentioned are sin – or we should look at what the Bible really says about nudity

    I don’t advocate nudity at any place, with disregard of the people that surround you. There is no new standard regarding nudity or not, the question is – Are nudity totally forbidden and a sin in all circumstances?

  8. I think most of your questions are answered in the entire series. But the short answers in order. No. No. Of course. It doesn’t. It doesn’t. Of course. Of course. It actually does not discuss this issue. Ditto. It does not really talk about that either. Their disobedience to God.

    In a very short way you have made the point I was trying to make in this entire series of posts. I don’t think nudity in and of itself is ever sinful because there simply is not Biblical discussion on that particular issue. The real issue God addresses with nudity or nakedness is spiritual and not physical most of the time.

    Of course we must be mindful of the people around us and not cause our brother to stumble but at the same time I also feel that much of what happens in this issue is mostly culture trying to make people lesser or greater on some sort of dress standard.

    Blessings and Cheers!!!

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