Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective [o]prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
The real problem with the discipline of confession is that there are two very different views about it in a Christian context. Catholics will talk about a priest as a confessor while Protestants, who believe in the priesthood of all believers, will speak of confession in terms of being accountable to others of their faith. Protestants have this notion that any Christian can confess to another Christian as per James 5:16 above. I do however see some Protestants who also place an emphasis on confessing to someone who has some spiritual maturity or a minister.
Confession involves others, you can confess to God your sins but in the Bible there is an emphasis that confession should take part in some way in the community of faith as well. The real problem is that many times people confess to others there sins and then that confession gets used by the confessor to religiously manipulate and control. In order to have true confession both sides have to have an understanding of what that confession is supposed to do – it is supposed to lead to forgiveness through accountable repentance. The confessor must be a person who can not only hear the confession, but be ready to pray for spiritual healing and forgiveness and they must also be ready to provide continued accountability and suggest penance and restitution.
Penance and restitution are the action of confession. Confession leads to something called reconciliation. Reconciliation may involve restoring something to the person who was sinned against. In the case of theft for example returning the item and maybe giving back something more for being in the wrong. Another example, gossiping about someone might not only just involve going to that person and asking forgiveness but also going to the people you gossiped too and telling them you are a gossip and what you said was not true. The goal of confession is not just the unburdening of your soul but also to come up with a plan of action that restores what your sin broke. Sometimes complete restoration is not possible but as much as possible should be attempted.
Nudity in confession might look something like this:
1) If both the confessed and confessor were naked, there would I believe be a sense of vulnerability and openness in the equation that could be very beneficial in strengthening the force of the confession, but everyone would have to be mindful of the risks of such confessions. Confession and council are risky enough without nudity and if the confessed sins are of a sexual nature then clothing might be a good option in such confessions. This is why I have always recommended small groups for stuff like this. Groups of people used to being naked and spiritual in each others presence might have more success with this idea as the physical nudity would not be so much a big deal so much as a sign of how the person confessing feels. People give off far more body language that is revealing when they are naked than when they are clothed.
2) This of course would lead to insight into yourself if you are the confessing person. Are you nervous about being both naked and confessing your sins to others? If so what does this reveal about your spiritual state? Also once the confession is made and action taken how then do you feel about being naked then? Does your sense of forgiveness translate into feeling unashamed about your nakedness? Feeling of shame and guilt always seem to be associated with sin and this is reflected in how we feel being naked. See Adam and Eve.
Of all the disciplines in relationship to nakedness, this one has the highest risk factor. I think your going to have to be very spiritually mature or practice this in the context of group confession to minimize these risks. The vulnerability inherent in nakedness makes this discipline also have the potential for great good if handled properly however and so the question as always with nudity as both a discipline and an accompanying discipline is whether or not the risk is worth the potential reward and reconciliation.
Outside of Christianity, I must freely confess 😉 that I would have trouble seeing the advantages of this discipline other than if your were looking at a means of identifying problems in relationships and having some desire to find a way to repair them. It would greatly depend on your definition and concept of sin.
Next: Naked Celebration