This sixteen part series has been an interesting ride and I knew it was controversial when I started. I think this one will get some feedback for some time on it. This Appendix has been added to deal with objections to my view on this issue. Oddly enough I have received very few of them. I will take them each in turn and this post will receive additions as more are given.
Objection #1 – From a friend on Facebook I received a comment that the reason she didn’t think much of nudist and nudism was that her experience was people who were very much of an exhibitionist mind. “Look at me I am naked” does have the connotation of pride or maybe even just being defiant to law or culture. Using nudity as a spiritual discipline would definitely want to avoid this attitude. The real problem is that many groups of people get defined by their more flamboyant members because they are the most visible members. The person who is quietly engaged in nudism in their own home or a naturist who sheds her clothes in a secluded grove to meditate or commune with nature is not this kind of person, in fact they may be quite shy. Experience is valuable but my not always give us a correct picture of reality much like reason or tradition. We should never judge a people group by the worst of their representation but their best.
Objection #2 – Bob Hunter wrote me this objection as a comment on one of the posts
Observing that Jesus appeared / appears in shining clothes rather than without any on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the book of Revelation, I respectfully disagree with your conclusions.
First of all this actually is a multiple part question:
1) Jesus in his earthly life and ministry did wear clothes but it leads to then a question of deeper theology to use this as an objection to nudity as a spiritual discipline – what sin did he commit then so that he had a need to wear clothes? Your response is that Jesus didn’t sin so therefore Jesus is wearing clothes for a different reasons other than the shame of sin so what were they? Firstly I think Jesus wore clothes because his culture was far stricter on public nudity than ours is but not in the way we are. For him to press this issue would have led to him being completely rejected. He had bigger issues to deal with than nudism or naturism. Jesus did not necessarily wear clothes because he had to, he chose to do so to tackle bigger things or to symbolically say something about himself.
Naked people were stating their status in that society as slaves. Clothing is worn even by ourselves for more than simply the purpose of covering nakedness. Jesus probably most of the time wore the simple robes of a Rabbi so his purpose is not to cover his shame but show his status in society. Oddly enough Middle Easterners of the time were not as uptight about nudity inside the home and among family. To be honest to cite the Jesus wears clothes as an objection is actually an argument from incomplete information because there were probably many times Jesus was naked in life. His birth like every human. Jews were big into washing and bathing and sometimes this was communal. Are we to then think that in these times Jesus somehow lost his connection with the Father simply because he was naked? There is also the cross which he would have been stripped naked but because of his lack of shame not being a sinner I don’t think that part bothered him that much he had bigger things to consider at the time.
2) The Mount of Transfiguration real does not make a case either way as Jesus went to the mount clothed and remained so. The difference in what happened was designed to demonstrate his purity not in that he was clothed but in the fact that the clothing was purest white. The clothing is once more symbolic for a different reason than covering shame because of sin which I must reiterate Jesus would not have possessed.
3) Revelation actually makes my case in chapter three when dealing with the Church of Laodicea. God asks that church to purchase clothing from him to cover their shame of nakedness but this is clearly symbolic as the church people were clothed and this is a reference to the fact the city they were in (Laodicea) was known throughout the Empire for their black wool trade. They were physically clothed in the some of best clothing but spiritually naked and needed that covered by the righteousness of Christ. This is pure spiritual metaphor all around. Because of this, the rest of the times clothing is mentioned in the book of Revelation we have to ask is this nothing more than symbolic metaphor or not and because the possibility always exists we can’t rely on it, other than to note there is a difference between being spiritually naked and physically naked. In Revelation, Yes Jesus does wear clothes but they are symbolic of his glory not necessarily a covering shame. In one case he wears a robe dipped in blood which is strong symbolism. None of this really argues one way or the other so we are left with other passages which actually speak to the issue.
Objection #3 – John Piper
Ok to be fair me and John Piper are about as alike theologically as dogs and cats. Were Both Christians and that is about it. I am an open theist and John has written books against the subject for instance. Unlike some I recognize John Piper for who he is: a guy with a theological opinion that is popular and not necessarily right. Having now read it I would say:
1) The idea that nudity is part of our rebellion is not presented in Scripture itself, that is John Piper and Calvinistic theology that wants to make everything humans do since the Fall sin to keep Total Depravity intact. Shame about nudity is a consequence of the sin not part of the act of sin itself. If this is not so then what does he do with David dancing before the ark of God. If what he says is true then God justified an action that had inherent rebellion in it because of nudity.
2) Clothes are just clothes. The idea that they are somehow a testimony of past and present failure and so future glory does not seem to fit to me. While I have no doubt that God can take something bad and make something good out of it, I think we need to remember shame is a result of sin and so one of the surest signs that a person is redeemed is then a lack of shame afterwards.
3) I hate to break the news to Piper but the initial ‘covenant’ with Adam and Eve is presented to Adam and Eve but it still required their participation by obedience. That obedience had nothing to do with being naked but not eating fruit.
4) Finally Piper demonstrates what a lot of people do with sexuality and nudity – he cannot separate the two from each other and it is rampant in this post from the title onward. The Bible seems to be able to do so but not many theologians – Piper included.