IS NAKEDNESS A SIN?
I've heard that sometimes... "Don't you know that nakedness
is a sin? Adam sinned and was ashamed of his nakedness. God
saw fit to clothe Adam to cover the shame of his body and exposing
ourselves to other people is a sin!"
There is only one response to this.
You are absolutely right! Adam through his sin, was ashamed of his
nakedness. You believe that this is still the case, but I have good news
to declare to you! Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, gave
himself as a ransom sacrifice to redeem us from the sin of Adam and to fulfill
the Law of Moses. Adam's shame is no longer upon us.
Why haven't you ever heard that in Church, I wonder?
Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ
Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Just like ideas like men
wearing skirts, this society frowns on nakedness, considering it
'indecent'. This is an aftertaste of Victorian prudishness, however, and
not entirely Adam's fault.
It's interesting to note God's response to Adam's shame: Genesis 3:11
"And he said, "Who told you that you were naked?"
Since there weren't any other people, who were they hiding from? From
God. They weren't spiritually mature enough to appreciate that we are ALL
naked in the sight of God. God can see you naked right now. Kinda creepy,
ain't it? God made garments of skins for Adam, but the Bible does
not say the state of nakedness is being condemned. Because of the Fall,
Adam and Eve were no longer in Eden and were thus subject to the varieties
of weather and climate, and God knew they would need clothes. God loved
and cared for them even after they had sinned.
Some interesting questions arise in the context of Genesis. If I
am created in God's Image, who can call the Image of God shameful or
sinful? If I am created in God's Image, who would call that image
indecent except for the Evil One? If God made Man in His image, how
can the image of God be obscene? How can you say that the creation
of God is obscene? Only the Devil would say that any part of the
creation of God is evil or obscene. In Isaiah 20, the prophet Isaiah
goes about prophesying for three years while naked. Was the prophet of God
The human body is the final Creation of God. We are the pinnacle of
Creation. Did God do such a bad job as an artist and a creator that we
have to hide his work from public view?
If you still think that nakedness is a sin, consider that in all of the
Law of Moses there is no injunction on nudity itself. There is no,
"Thou shall not go naked!" law.
Most Christians today are unaware of major chunks of history - and
major portions of the Bible. This isn't really their fault,
though. The social clubs of spiritual famine that pass for Churches
in the modern era just teach obedience and conformity while vampiric
priests sink twin fangs of guilt and sin into the parishioners and suck
the joy out of their lives. Keeping the idea alive that our very
bodies ARE A SIN is in the best interest of controlling the masses.
For those who wish to educate themselves, here are some relative
Saul prophesied naked.
1 Samuel 19 23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah.
But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying
until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his robes and also prophesied
in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why
people say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
David danced with hid genitals exposed.
2 Samuel 6: 14 David, wearing a linen ephod,
danced before the LORD with all his might.... (An ephod is a tshirt that
comes down to the hips.) ...20 When David returned home to bless his
household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said,
"How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in
the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow
would!" 21 David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who
chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he
appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel - I will celebrate before
the LORD . 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be
humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will
be held in honor." 23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to
the day of her death.
Isaiah prophesied naked for three years at the command of God.
Isaiah 20 2 at that time the LORD spoke through
Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, "Take off the sackcloth from your
body and the sandals from your feet." And he did so, going around
stripped and barefoot. 3 Then the LORD said, "Just as my servant
Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and
portent against Egypt and Cush,
Micah did the same thing.
Micah 1:8 Because of this I will weep and wail; I
will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like
Recent Western civilization stands almost alone, in the entire known
history of humanity, in its repressive code against nudity.
Old Testament ceremonial washings, including baptism, were performed in
the nude. (See Miles, Margaret R. Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and
Religious Meaning in the Christian West. Boston: Beacon, 1989, page 34.
active second quarter 14th century "The Baptism of Christ",
probably 1330/1340 tempera on panel, 49.1 x 40.8 cm (19 1/4 x 16 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
was probably baptized naked--as depicted in numerous early works of
art. (The famous Ravenna mosaic, shown right, clearly depicts Christ
being baptized nude as does Giovanni di Paolo's 15th century painting
"The Baptism of Christ.", detail of which is shown below.
All of these
paintings were approved by the Church.
For the first several centuries of Christianity, it was the custom to
baptize men, women, and children together nude. This ritual played a very
significant role in the early church. The accounts are numerous and
detailed. Margaret Miles notes that "naked baptism was observed
as one of the two essential elements in Christian initiation, along with
the invocation of the Trinity. . . . In the fourth century instructions
for baptism throughout the Roman Empire stipulated naked baptism without
any suggestion of innovation or change from earlier practices." A
typical historical account comes from Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop of
Jerusalem from A.D. 387 to 417: "Immediately, then, upon entering,
you remove your tunics. . . . You are now stripped and naked, in this also
imitating Christ despoiled of His garments on His Cross, He Who by His
nakedness despoiled the principalities and powers, and fearlessly
triumphed over them on the Cross." After baptism, and clothed in
white albs, St. Cyril would say: "How wonderful! You were naked
before the eyes of all and were not ashamed! Truly you bore the image of
the first-formed Adam, who was naked in the garden and was not
ashamed." J.C. Cunningham notes that "there is nothing in the
present rubrics of the Roman rite against doing this today. In fact, in
the Eastern rites the rubrics even state the option of nude adult
John the Deacon, in about 500 A.D., wrote: "They are commanded to
go in naked, even down to their feet, so that [they may show that] they
have put off the earthly garments of mortality. The church has ordained
these things for many years with watchful care, even though the old books
may not reveal traces of them." (Miles 34) St. Hippolytus, presbyter
of Rome circa 215 A.D., said that total nudity was required. The rule
ordered, "let no one go down to the water having any alien object
with them," and directs women to remove even their jewelry and the
combs from their hair." There are many theories as to the
reason nudity was an important part of early Christian baptism. Most
interpret nudity as symbolic of spiritual rebirth in the Christian faith.
Margaret Miles explains that it symbolized "death to former
commitments and socialization and birth to a new existence. . . . The
stripping of clothing followed by nakedness . . . was a paradigm of the
deconstruction of secular socialization." (Miles 36) Alternatively,
but in a similar vein, Jonathan Smith writes: "Being naked and
without shame [in baptism] is . . . a typological return to the state of
Adam and Eve before the Fall."
Repressive morality was developed by the state and the Church as a tool
to maintain control over otherwise free individuals. Seymour Fisher
writes: "The implications of nudity as a way of declaring one's
complete freedom have often elicited strong countermeasures from those in
authority. Nudity is punishable by death in some cultures. The Roman
Catholic church has taught in convent schools that it is sinful to expose
your body even to your own eyes. The wearing of clothes represents a form
of submission to prevailing mores. It is like putting on a 'citizen's
uniform' and agreeing to play the game." Repressive morality
has often sought to control not only nudity, but sexuality in general.
Margaret Miles observes that "the regulation of sexuality was a major
power issue in the fourth-century Christian churches. Regulation of sexual
practices was a way to inject the authority of church laws and leaders
into the intimate and daily relationships of Christians.
Don Mackenzie notes that Christ and the very earliest church, in
contrast, emphasized a message of freedom--"from demonic powers, from
tyrannical governments, from fate. . . . [and] a prevailing commitment to
the separation of secular and ecclesiastical power. . . . [The Church]
adopted asceticism, not in obedience to its founder's teachings but as a
bid for support in the face of competition, offering spiritual solace to
people whose material world (the Roman Empire) was collapsing. Once the
Church was officially recognized, it promptly discarded Christ's
dedication to poverty, but it clung tightly to sexual asceticism as a
disciplinary tool in a disintegrating society."
Has this changed in modern times? Well, a little bit. Pope
John Paul II agrees that nudity, in and of itself, is not sinful.
"The human body in itself always has its own inalienable human
dignity," he says. It is only obscene when it is reduced to "an
object of 'enjoyment,' meant for the gratification of concupiscence
Many historical church leaders have disassociated nudity with sexual
immodesty. St. Thomas Aquinus, for example, defined an immodest act as one
done with a lustful intention. Therefore, someone who disrobes for
the sole purpose of bathing or recreating cannot be accused of
immodesty. Pope John Paul II writes: "Sexual modesty cannot
then in any simple way be identified with the use of clothing, nor
shamelessness with the absence of clothing and total or partial nakedness.
. . . Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with
regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse
concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of
an object for enjoyment. . . . There are certain objective situations in
which even total nudity of the body is not immodest."
What are we to think about the subjugation of the Image of God - the
very Pinnacle of His Creation?
Let's get some advice from Saint Paul, shall we?
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through
hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the
basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
20 Since you died with Christ to the basic
principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you
submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not
touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they
are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have
an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false
humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in
restraining sensual indulgence.
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy
and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience.
So, examining the long answer, NO, nakedness is not a sin. The
Biblical proscriptions about the body revolve around sexual misconduct -
not simple nudity. The idea that the image of the body itself is a
sin is a tradition of the tyranny of evil men that would deny you the
freedom of Christ.
Now you might be saying, "Ok, Shane. I buy all this, but
what's the point? What are you asking me to do? Are you asking
me to go to work naked tomorrow? Go to church naked?
That's not my point at all. My point comes down to something very
simple. Every Christian has heard this scripture:
Matthew 22 36 "Teacher, which is the
greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is
like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets
hang on these two commandments."
Now what does that mean? When asked that, everyone barfs up the
Sunday School answer and never really thinks about it. The Churches
only teach the first two ideas: Love God. Love your
neighbor. That isn't what Jesus said, however. Jesus said,
"Love your neighbor as yourself." There are two teachings
there. The one everyone teaches while ignoring the second. Can you
figure it out? In order to love your neighbor, you must first love
yourself. I've never heard of a Church that teaches you to love
yourself - and you must. It is extremely important to exercise
loving kindness towards yourself. How can you do that if you think
that your body is a sin?
So, no I don't want you to stroll naked into Church. God wouldn't
mind, but some people aren't ready for that kind of direct exposure to the
image of God, and we wouldn't want to give grandma a heart attack.
When and where I can, I do enjoy the gifts God gave me, and I recommend
that to you highly. I invite you to storm the gates of Eden and walk
in the presence of God.
Catholics may be interested in a discussion on
the subjects of Modesty, Decency, Dignity, and Chastity as it relates to
Nudity in the context of The Catechism of the Catholic Church
For a more esoteric presentation of the above, I invite you to read "This
is My Body" a work about the naked body and its relationship to the
If you finally decide to walk with God in the manner of Adam, I invite
you to read "On
Being Human" an article on nude or naked hiking.
Shane Steinkamp - April 21, 2004
"What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the
fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful
that the garment with which it is clothed?" - Michelangelo
I am indebted to the document 205
Arguments in Support of Naturism as a resource for some parts of this