Why nudity is not always shameful for a Christian

Why nudity is not always shameful

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:

  1. As a general rule, God wants people to be clothed. In most circumstances, to be naked is to be shamed.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

Why God meant for people to be clothed

Why God meant for people to be clothed

I believe that it was God’s intention for man and woman to be clothed whether or not Adam and Eve ever sinned – the proof is that we will be clothed in the eternal state.

Humans have no natural protection from elements

We as human beings in our natural state are exposed, and thus we are meant to be clothed. Clothing protects our skin from extreme temperatures (hot and cold), and from being cut and scraped. This why we wear clothing and shoes.

Symbolic Purposes for Clothing

It is clear from the Bible that God loves symbols. Marriage while have practical purposes in this life, is also a symbol of the eternal relationship between God and his people. Yeast was symbolic of sin. Boaz redeeming Ruth was a symbol of Christ’s redemption of all mankind. There are countless symbolisms in Scripture, and clothing is no exception. While clothing has practical purposes that we have previously pointed out, clothing also has symbolic purposes.

Being clothed separates mankind from all other creatures

God could have designed people with a super durable and protective exterior to the extent that we did not need clothing, but he did not. The reason was that he wanted to separate us out as special from all his other creations. Every other creature on this planet does not need clothing, but they are given custom clothing by God himself. Birds have feathers, bears, dogs and cats have fur. Some creatures have scales, while others have extremely thick skin. Turtles have shells.

In the Scriptures God made a man to be like an animal for sinning against him:

“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.”

Daniel 4:33(KJV)

King Nebuchadnezzar sinned against God, and God made him go about as an animal for a time, because of his sin. The phrase “his body was wet with the dew of heaven” is acknowledged by many commentators as meaning he was naked. He replaced his clothing with excess body hair, in the same fashion as an animal, or more specifically like eagle’s feathers.

As we saw in the first section, the temporal reasons for clothing are practical ones.

Clothing is symbol of righteousness, while nakedness is symbol of shame

In Revelation chapter 19 we see that clothing is a symbol of the righteousness of the saints:

Job shows us that his righteousness was a clothing:

“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” – Job 29:14(KJV)

John tells us in the book of Revelation that clothing was symbolic of the righteousness of the saints:

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” – Revelation 19:7-8(KJV)

In Revelation chapter 3 we see that clothing covers the shame of nakedness:

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” – Revelation 3:18(KJV)

Clothing is a symbol of salvation:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10(KJV)

While clothing has many positive symbolisms in the Bible, nakedness is often associated with poverty or shame:

Christ spoke about nakedness as symbol of poverty:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” – Matthew 25:35-36(KJV)

The scripture also see nakedness as symbolic of shame:

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” – Revelation 16:15(KJV)

Conclusion

In this third second article in our “Biblical Nudity” series, we have established why God always meant for mankind to be clothed (even if the fall had never happened). We can see that unlike other creatures in God’s creation, man was not made with a natural and durable covering to brave the elements and protect his body from damage. We can see there is great symbolism in man being clothed, and it separates and distinguishes us from all the rest of God’s creation on earth.

Clothing, for the most part, has a very positive symbolism in Scripture being symbolic of things like righteousness, salvation and prosperity. Nakedness on the other hand, is often associated with shame, disgrace and poverty.

In our next article in this series, we will discuss “Why nudity is not always shameful”.

See these other related posts in this series “Biblical Nudity”:

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall?

Is it wrong for Christians to pose nude, or paint and photograph nudes?

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall?

Whynudityshame

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Was it because they realized what sexual attraction was? Was it because of the potential for lust that God clothed them? Or were there other reasons that God clothed Adam and Eve, and nakedness became a shame after Eden?

There was no shame about nakedness before the fall

The Bible says this about Adam and Eve right after they were created by God:

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:25(KJV)

Shame felt for the first time

In Genesis 2 – God had told Adam not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. Then we read in Genesis 3 that sometime after God created Eve for Adam, and brought them together in the first marriage, Eve was deceived by the Devil. He promised her this “knowledge” that God was hiding from her and told her that she and Adam could become gods by eating the fruit.

Eve ate the fruit, convinced her husband to eat it and the Bible says:

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden… And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” – Genesis 3:8-11

The Bible tells us “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” and they sewed leaves together to cover their nakedness. They instantly knew after eating the fruit that they were naked, and needed to be clothed.

The reason for Adam and Eve’s shame

The source of Adam and Eve’s shame was not some new knowledge about sex or lust as is many times presented by various theologians and writers. The source of their shame was not even knowledge of evil, but it was in fact a new and expanded knowledge of what is good.

What is often overlooked is the fact that the tree was not just a tree of the knowledge of “evil”, but also of “good” (Genesis 2:17 & 3:22). Most people only think of the tree giving Adam and Eve knowledge of sin and evil, but the fact is, it also gave them a more complete knowledge of what is good.

When we see little one and two year olds running around the house naked and unashamed, we call them “innocent”. But we know Biblically that children are born sinners, and they sin just as adults do, just in different ways. Little children lie, steal and hurt one another. What we really mean when we call that naked two year old running around “innocent” is, that they are “ignorant” of the fact that as human beings we are not meant to be naked at all times, but we are meant to be clothed.

Just as babies and one and two year olds are ignorant of their nakedness, and the need for clothing, so too Adam and Eve were ignorant of this need for clothing as well, this why they felt the shame they did about their nakedness.

If nakedness were truly a symbol of innocence, then when we get to heaven and when we dwell with God for eternity, we would again be naked. But look at what God says in the book of Revelation regarding clothing:

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9(KJV)

In the eternal state, we will be clothed in white, not naked. We will once again be completely innocent from sin, yet we will not be naked.

Who told you that?

What was God’s first response to Adam and Eve’s knowledge of their nakedness?

“Who told thee that thou wast naked?” – Genesis 3:11(KJV)

Let me give an example to illustrate from a parents point of view. Imagine you have a 6 or 7 year old child, and they find out at school from some kid in their class about sex. Any parent would reasonably ask “Who told you about that? It’s not that the knowledge of sex is bad thing, it is simply that it was not yet time for the child to have this knowledge. This is exactly what happened in Eden.

Make no mistake, God was angry at the way Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of their nakedness through sin, and not in the way he intended for them to find out, from him and in his perfect time.

God did not clothe Adam and Eve because of the presence of sin. He did not cloth them because of some new knowledge about sex or sexual lust.

He clothed them, because they were always meant to be clothed.

This has been the first article in our series on “Biblical Nudity”. In this first post we talked about the shamefulness of nudity, in other posts in this series we will cover topics such as “Why God meant for people to be clothed”, “Why nudity is not always shameful”, “Can Christians pose for and paint nudes?” and other related topics to Biblical nudity.