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Single Vision or Double Vision?

The central theme of MCAG is simple: adopting a proper, Creator-honoring view of the naked human body and its sacred meaning is lethal for porn addiction. Happily, a healthy view of nudity already exists in society, but it’s buried under a social and religious schizophrenia that describes nakedness as non-pornographic one moment and deems it sexually obscene the next.

Such double-mindedness is supposedly excused by calling these contradictory designations contextual. But in both contexts, the external anatomy is still absolutely naked. The only authentic difference between the non-pornographic and the truly obscene is the wholesome or unwholesome manner in which the unclad body is intentionally presented. The naked body itself is not and never was the problem.

The Corrective Lens of the Nude in Art

Figure Drawing Session with Nude Model

A Very Common Academic Figure Drawing Session

One generally accepted avenue for nudity’s wholesome presentation is the world of figurative art. Almost every artist skilled in depicting the human form had to study its structural anatomy. In fact, when I took art classes, my course in figure drawing was a great review of the bones and skeletal muscles memorized in nursing school. But figurative art students must become even more familiar with how the bare skin envelops these underlying structures. This requires many hours of intently observing and trying to capture on paper different nude models, both male and female, in a variety of postures at rest or in implied movement.

A shapely nude woman is no more pornographic in this educational context than if she had to be stripped entirely bare for emergency treatment in a  trauma center. Since I’ve seen such nude females in both situations—and in those latter cases, more times than I care to remember—I know whereof I speak.

In both these environments, the naked body and the careful inspection of its bare surface fall into a category properly recognized as normal, nonsexual nudity. For the artist, as well as for those in healthcare, this natural, realistic view of nakedness can sabotage the porno-prudish mindset implanted by years of cultural training.

An Embarrassing Religious History

Artists paint a nude model outdoors in Big Sur, California, in 1959

Artists paint a nude model in Big Sur, California (1959)

Why have young Christian artists not been groomed for excellence in figurative art? By their own well-documented testimonies, churches in early America were preaching a pornographic view of the body long before we became a nation. Christian preachers who deny this history jeopardize their ministerial credibility. Even worse, if they defend this past error, they sacrifice their spiritual allegiance on the altar of the religious status quo. How so? Because, by tragically abandoning a Scriptural view of our embodiment and adopting in its place a Victorian view that sexually objectifies gender-distinctive human anatomy, American Christianity has zealously and persistently contributed to today’s pornified culture.

When a religious obsession with the sexual aspects of the body pervades a society that is dysfunctionally obsessed with sexual self-gratification, porn addiction is inevitable. In the midst of these two worlds of toxically obsessive sexual fantasy, the healthy realism of nudity in art can be redemptive.

Gaining the Single Vision of the Original ARTIST. . .

The porn addict seeking mental liberation from both these sources of ‘”vain imagination,” must learn to see nudity with the same respectful gaze of the porn-free artist. A serious study of “the nude” in art history is an excellent way to regain this healthier view of the naked body, reforming a lifetime of porno-prudery’s false indoctrination. Such an endeavor actually follows the holy eyes of the Original Artist, Who designed the naked beauty of the human body in the first place.

Calumny, detail of Truth and Remorse

Truth and Remorse, from Botticelli’s “Calumny” (1494)

If you decide to experiment with this, research the library or go to an art museum and begin a review of the nude in classic art (see my article “The Impact of Naked Truth” published by the Christian art appreciation website ArtWay). But also, study the few modern Christian artists who have defied prudery’s “flight from the body,” heretically assumed by some to be part of the Gospel. A bold example of using the nude artistically is found in the work of Edward Knippers, who has long incorporated into his paintings of Biblical scenes the naked human form as a strong Christian metaphor (see my article “A Modern Use of the Nude” also published by ArtWay).

Wholesome Reality vs. Sexualized Fantasy

If you’re ambitiously serious about allowing normal nudity in art to help wipe out your years of training in a pornographic conception of the body, try taking a figure drawing class yourself. I did (see my results). It won’t take you long to discover for yourself what I learned in both practicing healthcare and studying figurative art. My mind’s focus became the real thing. Whether it’s the body of a nude patient or of a nude model, the bare anatomy is seen as an extension of his or her personal identity. The wholesome reality of seeing people in their God-given birthday suits has a tremendous ability to quench the habitual fantasy that obsesses over a naked body part by isolating it from the human being who owns it.

Can the art of the nude change a lustful heart? No. But the sacred light it reflects from the beautiful originality of our Creator can nakedly expose the darkness of prudery and the ugliness of porn. The glory seen in the Supreme Artist’s greatest handiwork—His own Self-portrait in human flesh—is bright enough to dim the fires of porn addiction and the prudery that fuels them.

3 Responses to Art vs. Porn

  • Gnostic porno-prudery has woven its tentacles into the fabric of the Church’s doctrine since the time of the early Church. Both Paul and John exposed it in their writings, but the lie itself, that “nude=lewd” is as old as mankind. It wasn’t a “fruit”, but Satan, who convinced Adam and Eve that their unclad bodies were “bad”. That lie has been championed by many popular preachers, teachers and Bible scholars during the last several centuries, who not only promoted the lie but “immortalized” the lie through their writings. It is also taught in some of the most “conservative”, “Bible-believing” seminaries and Bible Colleges in the country, and it slips out from the pulpit from time to time as pastors try to avoid “offending” their “culturally-sensitive” congregations. Matthew Henry’s commentary on Isaiah 20 may be an “extreme-example” of “culturally-modifying” a passage to “suit” the times and culture, but it isn’t an isolated-example.

    Blessings,

    Steve

  • Pastor David,
    Thank you so much for this article. I started pursing a non-pornographic view of the body in earnest in 2012. Up till that time, I had spent 38 years in healthcare as an RN. I have been in many situations of emergencies and childbirth where nudity was required for the patient to be properly treated. I have seen the human body, both male and female, in detail. The human body is as God made it- Good. There is nothing pornographic about the human body, for if that were so, God would be a pornographer. I have had three surgeries in the past 4 years and was treated by female MDs , techs and RNs. They had to see me naked, and to me, it was no bog deal. I needed surgery and would care. One of my best friends, a female nurse changed the dressing on my penis. She was professional and I thanked her for that. We just need to get over the American “shame” about nudity
    and get ob with life, The past few years, I have had massage therapy for pain control, and iot has helped me more than a lot of pain medication. I go to a therapist (female) who does undraped massage (yes, it is legal), and the massage is much better and smoother with no barriers.
    When I was in Germany last year, I went to the German nude spas, and it was very ordinary. I saw people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Again, it was so normal. I have come to appreciate good nude art, and see nothing wrong or pornographic about that. Nudity is not porn. Pastor David has helped many men overcome porn addiction by discussing ordinary nudity and that is a good thing.
    Thanks and God bless, Gary

    • Thanks for your comments, Gary. There are very few areas of society where the normalcy of the body and its equipment is learned so well as in the healthcare professions. Before I got involved in MCAG, I had already written a ‘short’ and a ‘long’ article about nudity in the hospital from a realistic perspective. You might want to check out the ‘long’ one on my personal website: http://pastordavidrn.homestead.com/files/nakedness.html. (Email me with what you think.)

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