Is nudity always shameful? Some would say yes. They could point to many passages of Scripture that associated nudity with shame. I believe that as a general rule, God meant for us as human beings to be clothed. He did not intend for us to just go naked everywhere we went, whether it is for shopping at the store or going about the daily business of our lives.
There is a time and place for everything under heaven
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3:1(KJV)
Are there times and places for nudity? Some might say there is never a time for nudity (outside of nudity between a husband and wife in marriage), but the Scriptures show otherwise:
Job’s humility before the Lord
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not…” – Job 1:20-22a (KJV)
Job – after losing his children and everything he had, tore his clothes fell to the ground naked before the Lord. This a great act of humility – and the Scriptures are clear, he did not sin in becoming naked in this instance.
David’s praises the Lord naked
“14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod… And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart…
20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. 22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.” – II Samuel 6:14 & 16 & 20-23(KJV)
David danced for the Lord and worshiped him naked. His wife, Michal, was angry and jealous of his dancing in front of other women being naked. God blessed David for this, and he cursed Michal with barrenness for her jealousy.
God orders Isaiah to preach naked
“At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.” – Isaiah 20:2(KJV)
While Isaiah preached naked as a sign to Egypt and upon Ethiopia that they would be conquered by Assyria and brought back naked and barefoot, the issue is that God did sanction nakedness here.
So we have three distinct instances of nakedness that were clearly blessed and condoned by God. Job’s nakedness in his humility toward God, David’s nakedness in his worship of God and Isaiah’s nakedness in preaching in the Word of God.
All three instances of Biblical nudity have some things in common
All three of these instances, besides being condoned by God, have people willingly becoming naked. All three of these instances also have people becoming naked for a specific purpose, and not nudity was not their normal way of life.
Nakedness is like marriage
God designed man and woman for marriage. Specifically, God designed woman for man, and he created marriage as the protection for that physical, emotional and spiritual relationship. But God makes exceptions to his general purpose that men and women should marry. He calls some men and women to celibacy, he gives them this gift of celibacy for his service.
In the same way as marriage, we can see throughout the Scriptures that God’s meant as a general rule for people to be clothed. God clothed Adam and Eve in the Garden, he designed our bodies to be clothed (as our bodies are not meant to brave the elements). He often speaks of nakedness as a shame, but yet we see three instances in Scripture where God sanctions nakedness.
Biblical Principles for Clothing and Nakedness
When we compare these instances with the rest of Scripture, I believe we can establish these principles:
- As a general rule, God wants people to be clothed. In most circumstances, to be naked is to be shamed.
- We are not to uncover the nakedness of anyone involuntarily, or for the purposes of having sex with someone we ought not to be having sex with (anyone outside of lawful marriage).
- Most instances of nakedness being a shame in the Bible are of involuntary nakedness such as being captured in war and being stripped, a woman being raped, or someone being in poverty and losing one’s clothes. A person having their clothing taken from them against their will is shameful and disgraceful.
- In some instances, when clothing is removed voluntarily, and with specific purpose for limited time, it is not a shame or sinful to do so.
One application of these principles would be – it is not wrong for a woman to disrobe for her physician(even if he is a man). This is temporary nudity, for a specific purpose and there is no sin in this. This is our third article in the series “Biblical Nudity”. In upcoming articles we will apply these principles for clothing and nudity to more real life situations.
See these other related posts in this series “Biblical Nudity”:
Why did nudity become shameful after the fall?
Why God meant for people to be clothed
Is it wrong for Christians to pose nude, or paint and photograph nudes?
12 thoughts on “Why nudity is not always shameful for a Christian”
So what do you think of the nudist lifestyle, or nude beaches. Or where just being nude in public is not sexual in any way?
I don’t actually agree with the nudist lifestyle(christian nudists or non christian nudists). The reason is that I believe it can be shown from the Scriptures that God intended for man and woman to be clothed, generally speaking. I elaborate in my series on nudity that there are exceptions to that(God does allow exceptions) and give specific principles that I see demonstrated in Scripture about nudity. It must be for specified amount of time and for a specific purpose. Art and painting, and even erotica are examples of public nudity shown in public but for a specific purpose, and the person only actually disrobed for a short time to be filmed or painted. That person is not spending their days and evenings walking everywhere nude. Nudists have no purpose for their nudity other than to walk around and flaunt that they think people should be able to be naked. Nudism tries to promote a lie, that human nudity is not inherently sexual, when everything in our brains tells us it is. The human brain is not made with a “sexual on and off” switch for sexual arousal, if a human body is arousing to us, we are aroused – period.
Now there may be some exceptions to this, such as a mother bathing her small child while she and the child are nude, but the child has no concept yet of sexuality. But a parent ought not to be walking around naked in front of their preteen or teen children(I know of some people who had this happen growing up) and this is flat out wrong.
I have spent this series on nudity defending a Christians right to paint and photography nudes – but even more importantly I have made it clear that no Christian should ever have to be ashamed of be sexually aroused by someone of the opposite gender(now if you homosexual tendencies you need to take that to God). I disagree with the Art community and the nudity community when they nudity can be non-sexual, when the reverse is actually true, in almost all cases nudity(when it comes to developed human beings,not children) is sexual nature – to say otherwise is a lie.
OK, just checking your opinion. I just found your blog today, and I was reading it….
Dale – I want to add a few clarifications to my previous comment. I don’t think a nude beach is wrong because that is temporary nudity with a specific purpose – for swimming. I also don’t see any issue with nudity in a bathhouse or sauna type situation, again it is for a specific duration and specific purpose.
It seems like the the examples of public nudity, are in regards to service to the Lord. Like Isaiah preaching and testifying for 3 yrs, Saul in the company of the prophets as well as Job realizing before God that he came in with nothing and he is going out with nothing. I’m not sure if i’m seeing anything in Scripture for what would fall into the category of, I guess you would call , recreational type purposes.
I agree those examples are in service to the Lord, but the lack of an example of a behavior does not disallow that behavior. We don’t have examples of people playing xbox or PS4 or watching TV and a myriad of other recreational things we do, yet these things are not wrong in and of themselves. What the three examples of nudity prove is, that nudity can be acceptable and right if done for a specified purpose, for only a specified length of time. That was the principle I was aiming at.
Generally in scriptures, examples of things(if they are not presented in a negative light as something not to do) allow us to do things, they give us clues as to what is acceptable and not. The lack of example of an exact activity does not necessarily condemn that activity.
Hope that makes sense.
David was not naked before the people, he was wearing a linen ephod. When Michal said when she said, she didn’t mean he was naked, she was looking down on the fact that he had taken off his royal clothing and that he was dancing before LORD in worship. She was an idol-worshiper and had no feeling for God at all, although David didn’t know that about Michal. Basically, she saying with hateful sarcasm “Boy, didn’t you look nice!” But as he was wearing a linen ephod, David was actually naked. At most just partially naked from the looks of the ephods
So to understand your stance on the subject, nudity on a nude beach or skinny dipping in a pool would not be sinful in and of itself as long as we kept our minds free from lustful thoughts? Working in the garden nude to get an all over tan at the same time would not be sinful either then? What about my wife and I working in the garden or skinny dipping in our pool nude, sinful? We aren’t talking about walking down the street naked or going to the grocery store.
Also, with our kids home outside while we are doing these activities nude with them nude as well?
I think with just a husband and wife nudity is fine all the time. I think you need to have respect for others so if you don’t have a fenced in yard it probably would not be a good thing to be gardening in the nude. However if you did have a fenced it yard it would be fine. Going to a nude beach or perhaps going in a sauna are times when nudity is for limited time and limited purpose.
The nudist lifestyle is to be nude all or most of the time and I don’t think honors God. It is not nudity for specific and limited purpose, it is purposeless nudity.
The kids are a totally different story. We see in the story of Noah and his sons that God does not intend for parents to parading in nude in front of their children. Clothing is part of the dignity of man which separates him from the animals and this is why in heaven and in the world we will robes.
I just want to add that I as I said in one of these articles on nudity or in the comments, my father had to take care of his mother in her old age and yes he did have help her dress, bath and do other things. So he did see her nudity. But it was not a shameful display. It was a necessary, limited for and a specific purpose.
Mom and Dad parading around the garden or swimming in the pool nude in front of kids is not necessary.