In Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, Foster starts with the idea that disciplines are about liberation and lead to celebration of life and freedom from sin in Christ within ourselves and with others. He ends his book with the Discipline of Celebration. In my case, I will conclude my look at the disciplines here as well but not this series as I think one more thing needs to be done which address the problems with nudity as a discipline in detail and address possible solutions to those problems. For now though , celebration will be on the agenda in the context of what nudity as a spiritual discipline can bring to the table.
Celebration is ultimately a corporate discipline and it is the spiritual discipline that cuts deepest against the idea of disciplines being all about serious contemplation being the only way to spiritual enlightenment. That spiritual growth and enlightenment can be found in celebration of the good things of life and faith in the context of fellow believers is something that is a mainstay of the discipline of celebration. It is a discipline because it is not something that everyone naturally does. I myself have a very hard time with outward and corporate disciplines in general as I am much more of an introspective person than others. Celebration for some requires deliberate action to prepare and gather. It also involves a concept that not everything in life is evil or wrong. (a fact that seems to elude most Christians). Some things in life are indeed good and wholesome and should be celebrated.
The best examples of this actually found in the Old Testament celebrations like the Sabbath year, the year of Jubilee, and other Jewish feasts. It also can be found in celebration of family life events – birthdays and anniversaries. Also, celebration can be done for no reason at all – gathering with friends to celebrate just being friends is not a bad move at all. If we were honest with ourselves such events all have a spiritual side that comes with celebrating such things with others celebrating the same thing.
The ultimate goal of celebration is JOY. The goal is a community feeling of pleasure and happiness that comes with a group of people. Like it or not a lot of our joy comes from being with others and sharing our happiness. This is also what ultimately makes celebration a corporate discipline because by ourselves we cannot maintain such joy and happiness indefinitely. It is only in the sharing of joy and happiness that we can maintain joy for longer periods of time. We rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those weep (mourning if done properly is a celebration of the life of the departed or a moving on to something better when something is lost).
Where then would nudity come in? We must return to the positive spiritual benefits of nudity that started our journey in this series. Vulnerability, Openness, Intimacy, Genuineness, Wholeness and Equality are all the things we strive for in celebration but in a far more corporate sense and nudity brings all those to the table in and of itself but in a group context. All the things I have said before about people being comfortable being naked with each other apply of course but the main effect is a community spiritual growth in the fruit of Joy by being all these things together on a corporate level.
This idea has actually been, in my humble opinion, the basis of the belief that sex is a spiritual event or discipline of its own. A couple that makes love does so naked usually and as such demonstrates this kind of intimacy. Sex is also the best place to see the celebration aspects of spirituality in a marriage. If Joy is the goal as well as better understanding of each other on all levels, sex becomes far more than a mechanical act but a true act of intimacy on all levels and nudity is a part of that intimacy. It is getting back to being naked and unashamed as man and wife and celebrating that state of being.
On a larger group level, the physical intimacy may be absent at the same level as lovemaking, but the idea is still present. Everyone is open, vulnerable in a good way and genuine. No one can posture or claim superiority in such celebrations. Isn’t it amazing that people go to parties and social functions and dress in a way to impress others with how much better they are than someone else. Everything is about judging outward appearance at such social gatherings, even when in done in church. Nudity, as said before makes all things much more equal by stripping off the outward trappings and making everyone in that sense equal.
There is also the possibility for naturists to not only celebrate each other but celebrate together with God’s creation and God himself in complete openness outdoors. The spiritual effect of communing with nature, God and each other and celebrating all that together in a group would, in my opinion, be very profound. The real challenge is the wholeness of the group but celebration is actually the discipline that generates wholeness through camaraderie and unity of joy. Nudity would simply make this a little easier, if everyone was comfortable being naked in front of others in the first place.
The real issue now is the obstacles to nudity as a spiritual discipline. They are many and considerable but I think the real issue will boil down assessing the truth and applying it. Unfortunately, truth is not something are comfortable with. In fact, I would say people are more uncomfortable with the truth than naked people running around. The first problem I think is the false notion that nakedness is in and of itself sinful or evil from a theological point of view.
Next: Naked Problem #1: Spiritual Nakedness vs. Wrong Theological Conception