I am starting to realize from at least a spiritual level why a believer might want to become a naturist. If we get right down to it this is the picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden. They are with their natural surroundings, naked, unashamed and with their God and each other. The desire to return to such a picture in their own lives could get overwhelming to someone who desires that simple relationship between God ourselves and nature that we once had. The problem of course is that our modern and religious culture has large segments of people who frown on showing up naked in outdoor places.
Worship is about praising God and adoring God. Meditation is about listening, prayer about petition and worship is about praise. To engage the spiritual process of communion with God we need all three. Worship is about giving God with all we are what He deserves. It is not just about praising him with our lips it is about praising him with our lives. It involves service, obedience, praise, adoration and a whole host of other things that involve simply being and doing what we are supposed to be doing before God.
In this post, I am dealing with the cycle of worship and devotional worship practice in relationship to nudity. What I want to explore is how nudity can enhance or magnify the personal worship experience. I will deal with corporate worship and disciplines in a later post. The cycle of worship is the continuing process of personal action that engages worship of our creator and Lord. For me it has three elements:
Repentance – Repentance is the act of acknowledging our sin and asking God to forgive us. Repentance calls us turn from sin and not return to it. I find it interesting how many time in the Bible this required tearing of clothes and falling on one’s face before God. I believe if one did this stripping of clothes to the point of nudity and falling on our face before God would be far more symbolic of the repentance that is actually required before a Holy God. Our sin is what causes our nakedness to cause us shame, repentance is the key to releasing that shame. The great trap that people can find themselves in about repentance is thinking that they have repented when they haven’t. I think nudity would create an excellent litmus test to see if repentance is genuine. I have mentioned before that if your really want to know your true spiritual status before God, you should get naked and ask yourself how you would feel in God’s presence naked. If there is some sort of discomfort about the idea, then I would submit to you that you have not genuinely repented about something and thus know that Christ has forgiven you. Your discomfort about being physically naked is acting in the same way that Adam and Eve’s did when they sinned. No sin; no discomfort.
Submission – I have already talked in a previous post about the naked slave of God principle. Submission is the next part of the cycle after repentance. Submission is about giving up your will to God. Repentance only works in truth if it is followed up by submission. It is one thing to deal with sin from a forgiveness point of view, it is quite another to give up your will regarding that sin so you do not repeat it again. Submission is being accountable to God for our actions and being open to his direction. In submission we not only learn humility but patience as well. Nudity in a time of submissive prayer heightens a sense of being the bond slave of Christ. We are totally dependent on him for everything and we acknowledge his power over us. A power that is more easily felt when we are vulnerable to Him in truth. Nudity is about that vulnerability.
Devotion – Devotion is about engaging in the practices that lead to a stronger relationship with God. It is more than doing devotions it is about being devoted in all we do. However, there are some specific things we can highlight in relationship to nudity as a spiritual discipline:
1) Scripture Reading – In corporate worship we proclaim God’s word. In personal worship we can read scripture. I personally recommend this one by getting into our place of solitude that we talked about in meditation and reading the scripture aloud. The reason I say get to that place of solitude is that it can be very distracting to be doing this discipline and have someone ask what you are doing. The same benefits for mediation and prayer in the nude apply for this practice. You are far more open to hear what God’s word says if you are open in body and mind by being naked.
2) Praise – This is an acknowledgement and thanksgiving for all God is and does for us. It is about acknowledging his lordship over our lives. It is about thanking him for all that we have. Nudity causes us to think in terms of the bond slave (again here too), but if you come to God naked and start thanking him for what you have, I have found I thank him less for the material things he has given into my care but also the changes that he has brought about in my heart, mind, soul, family, friendships. When you symbolically have nothing in God’s presence, you begin to realize all that God has given you.
3) Stewardship – This encompasses all of our servant responsibilities before God, there are many of these but nudity highlights two in particular. One is our attitude about the body God has given us. I know many people who have terrible body image, but our bodies are a gift from God and he should be praised for it. By so doing we draw attention away from the gift of our bodies and move it toward the giver of our bodies. Two is take up our responsibility to take care of the gift of our bodies. It is one thing to thank God for a gift, but to truly give glory to God for a gift we must use it wisely. In the case of our bodies, we must acknowledge that our body is the temple and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and take care of it. Balance is needed here. It is one thing to develop a healthier body image by giving praise to God for it; it is quite another to just let ourselves go in that comfort to the point we are unhealthy. One the flip side, we can be so obsessed with changing our bodies to be more healthy that we forget to be at peace with what we have. One way this balance can be achieved is to have a mirror in your place of devotion. By looking at our naked form regularly in a prayerful attitude, we begin to develop a true image of what we are physically. At first this practice seems like a fun house mirror as we tend to distort our body image but over time with praise and stewardship about our bodies, the image will be a true one with no distortion. In those moments we can acknowledge what is good and see what we really need to work on.
When we get to corporate worship, there will be more to be said. In a state of meditation, prayer and worship we find communion with God and in that communion we then can truly sit at God’s feet and learn through Study.
Next: Naked Study