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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.

7 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.)

      • Pastor David,
        I went back and read your post again and am still in agreement with it. As a semi-retired RN, I have come to terms medically and spiritually with nudity and the bare human form. It is all natural, as God meant it to be. The nudity taboo, as you have said, is really what is unnatural.

        What got me into a full exploration of the theology of nudity was really my own healthcare situation beginning in 2012. Prior, I think I had generally accepted the Biblical view that nudity is natural and not porn. But since 2012, I have been through a lot; 3 surgeries, erectile dysfunction and more. All of my physicians have been female, except for my GP. It took my own personal stripping away of taboos, which got me to really restudy all of these issues, then I found your writings, and that confirmed to me what I had come to believe. In 2012, I went on Medicare, after retiring in 2009. I took a long list of things which had to be “fixed” on me: gall bladder, ED, and more. With the gall bladder, I had to get an abdominal ultrasound done and the technician was female. I was mostly covered with a sheet, and it was all discreet. Then I was sent to a surgeon, a male. He and his female resident had to examine me for hernias and prostate and so on. I had the surgery done and my post op RNs were great. I could not pee, and the RN stood me up leaning against the side of the bed, and physically helped me empty my bladder. I was just glad to go. I laid back down for a few minutes, then got dressed and a friend drove me home,

        Then in the. Fall, I had to see an endocrine MD, who turned out to be a female. I had ED, a pituitary tumor, and sarcoidosis in remission. It turned out she was an expert in all three. She said she had to examine my testicles and penis, which she did. She was thorough, and did a proper exam. Her assistant who chaperoned her, turned her face to the wall, as she was very shy. Anyway, the exam was over and I got dressed. She wrote me a script for injectable testosterone and cialis. I called her back a month later, and told the her cialis was not working. She sent me to a male urologist in the same building.

        I saw the yound MD, a newly established resident, who said he could not help me, as I was a fat baby boomer. I asked for another referral to the university hospital.
        I went to the university hospital expecting another male surgeon, but I got his fellow instead, a young female uologist. She again had to examine me naked. Again it was all professional, and by now I was used to it, and I was not offended. She told me to try her RX for 3 months and call her back. I did and told her nothing worked.

        Anyway, I went to see her, and she had to do an ultrasound of my penis. She did this after injections, and said I needed an implant. So, a few weeks later I had the surgery. She was not there. The main urology chief did the surgery. Two days later I had massive swelling. Since I worked at the free clinic, I went there to have my nurse friends change the dressing. Again, I was exposed, but they were all professional.

        During the time of my massive swelling, I started getting therapeutic massages. I was draped under a sheet, and the therapist did me a lot of good. She actually got my lymphatic system working better, and the swelling was gone 3 weeks later. During this time I had an ER visit as well, and all the ER docs and students that day were female. They had to see the edema. No big deal by then, as I was ill. After all of this, I now did not really care about the gender of my nurse or MD. It had become a non-issue for me.

        A year later, I had to see the endocrine doctor again, and she did another genital exam. Then I had to have a revision of my implant due to tubing issues.
        I had to see the PA in urology first, and she was female. After that the surgery was done. Again, I needed a dressing change I and called my GP, and asked if his nurse could do it. He said okay. Then I went into the exam room, and the LPN went and got the female PA. They came in and looked puzzled as they stared at my head. They said where was the dressing, as I had neuro surgery? I said no, I had urology surgery and needed a dressing change in the genital area. They both stood back and looked at each other. Nothing was said. I took off my shorts and sat on the exam table. The female PA turned bright red, and found a sheet and threw over me. The nurse held the sheet back while she did the dressing change. I could tell she was embarrased. I was a litlle shocked over the treatment. It got done and I left.

        At the dermatology doctor, I had to get a full skin exam to have moles checked. I sat on the exam table, with a small drape across my lap. The MD came in with her nurse, and they found about 10 moles and lesions for removal. Most were “frozen off”. Then I had 4 in my groin area, which she had to excise. This was such a professional visit, and I was happy to be rid of the skin cancers. I get a complete skin check once a year. It is worth it to be cancer free. So far I have had two types of skin cancer.

        I related all of this, to say that I first had to accept my own nudity in front of others, and that helped me accept others, both male and female, and their nudity in front of me. Over 40 years of healthcare, I have seen a lot of nudity and have had to touch intimate areas for medical reasons. I always just said it was part of the vocation which chose me. Now after accepting my own naked humanity before others, I can accept others naked before me without lust. Nudity is truly not lust, and is not the cause of lust. Lust is from within the heart, and is something we bring into a situation, unless our heart is right before God.

        Since all of this, I have been to nude spas in Europe (coed) and that did not cause me any problems with lust or sin. Now I get undraped massages from my therapist, a female, and nudity is just not an issue. I see female doctors and nurses and sometimes they have to see all of me. and that is not a problem. The same goes for nudity in art and the movies (I avoid porn). We were born nude, and came out of our nude mother’s womb nude as well. Jesus was crucified nude and was resurrected nude as well. I think in heaven we will just be clothed with the light of the righteousness of Christ, and in our redeemed state will not even notice we are naked. It will be like Adam and Eve before the fall.

  • Sir,

    I would like to thank you very much for this website! I am an unmarried Christian male college student, and I have been struggling lately in regards to how I should deal with my sex drive while I try to seek out a wife. I’ve read all the main articles on here and your views of this topic seem much more balanced than those of my youth group, and again I appreciate it!

    I did have a question, however and I apologize if you’ve answered it already: but what I do now? I would like to expose myself to nudity to gain a balanced view, but what is the appropriate way to do that in your view?

    Thank you!

    • Thank for your encouraging post, Sailor!

      As you how you need to pursue exposure to non-sexual nudity, that ultimately has to be between you and God. When you consider an option, take it before the Lord seek His face about it. Just because I or anyone else might “suggest” something doesn’t mean it’s from the Lord. It’s important that you yourself sense God’s leading on this (or any) matter.

      That said, there are a few ideas that you can likely glean from the Art vs. Port article above… expose yourself to classic nude art… or if you have any interest in creating art yourself, find a community college that offers a figure “life” drawing class. One man I know is an artist who for years renounced any suggestion that he paint or draw a nude. But after wrestling with the truths we teach at MCAG for about a year, he finally consented to take such a class. For him, it was the moment of “epiphany,” and finally it all became very real to him and the liberation he sought for so long enveloped him.

      Aside from those ideas, I would encourage you to raise the conversation with others. Maybe even get together with some other committed Christian guys to discuss the MCAG teaching. Quite frankly, the discussion could be in a mixed group, because not only do men need to transform how they view women’s bodies, women need to transform how they view their own bodies! To some degree, the same applies the other way around, but the error of how men and women view men’s bodies is not nearly so pronounced. Also, if we get the women’s bodies part right, the men’s bodies will get corrected at the same time.

      Seek the Lord. Follow His leading. Be fearless in your pursuit of the truth.

      Pastor David Martin

    • Dear SKy Sailor,
      I really agree with much of what David Marin said to you. Non-sexual nudity is the key.
      Are there any naturist beaches or resorts near you. Any spas where you can be nude, even if it is single gender nudity? That is a good place to start. I go once or twice a year to the Korean Spa near Washington, DC. The nudity is separated by gender, and each side has its own bathing pools where nudity is mandatory. I find it just normal.
      Then there are nude art displays, which just show the human form in artistic settings. It is just normal. You could even volunteer to be an art model for people to draw. A friend of mine did that and she said it helped her a lot. A far a the yound male sex drive goes, I do not think that masturbation is a sin. It is possible to be overly fond of it, but that is an extreme. Then there are sperm donor banks looking for young male donors, who wish to share a possibility of life to others. So these are just some thoughts to ponder, may God guide you to your own decisions and actions. Blessings to you.

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