The Renewed View of the Body

 

HMyChainsAreGone.orgere at MyChainsAreGone.org, we have offered a very different understanding of the unclothed human form as compared to our culture’s (and, unfortunately, the church’s) view which we have called “The pornographic view of the body.” We do recognize that using such a term might feel inflammatory, but it certainly is not intended to be so, at least not needlessly so.

But let’s lay aside that rather emotionally-charged label and consider two scenarios based on the differing views about the human body and sexuality. We have made every effort to present both scenarios in as positive light as possible, yet without hiding the implications. We have attempted to be objective, but we are biased towards one of the views nonetheless. We do have a point to make. However, we will wait until the end for our comments.

If you have read the entire MyChainsAreGone website, you’ll remember that we also published a corollary to lie #2 having to do with the idea that men are primarily aroused visually. Some may react with strong disagreement to the suggestion that being visually aroused was not how God made men, nor how He intends for men to be.

In Proverbs 5:18 (KJV), we are told, “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” The context leaves no doubt that this “rejoicing” is about the sexual enjoyment that a man should have with his wife. Also, the clear implication is that for the entire duration of his life, his sexual pleasures should be centered upon the woman he married while young. This is the Biblical standard and mandate.

So what we have presented below is a comparison of the traditional view regarding how a man is sexually aroused and what we’ve called a “Renewed” view, which claims that men and women are relationally aroused rather than visually aroused. We have focused on the impact and implications of the contrasting views as it relates to the various stages and changes in life.

Comparison Chart

Traditional view of a man’s sexual
responses to the sight of a woman’s form.
Renewed View of a man’s sexual
responses to the sight of a woman’s form.
Core Belief:
Men are primarily aroused visually, and when they see a nude woman, their natural response is to be aroused and sexually drawn to that woman. Men, as well as women, are designed by God to be aroused relationally. God did not create the man to automatically lust or even think sexual thoughts when he sees a woman’s form unclothed.
Godly Response:
Because God intends for sexual expression and experience to be limited to marriage, the Godly man must make every effort to ensure that his wife’s nude body is the only one he allows himself to see. Allowing one’s self to see other women amounts to infidelity. God intends for sexual expression and experience to be limited to marriage. The godly man knows that seeing a woman’s body need not be defined as a sexual experience. He knows that the sin is to objectify the nude form as sexual and/or to indulge in the sight of it for personal sexual gratification.
Marital Intimacy:
The couple comes together on their wedding night and see each other for the very first time. The experience is wonderful and very worth the wait. They eagerly anticipate the opportunity to enjoy each others’ naked bodies for the rest of their lives. The couple has reserved sexual intimacy for their wedding night, regardless of whether they have seen each others’ bodies before. They have not allowed themselves to respond to the sight of nudity with sexual lust, so their wedding night is truly a consummation of their relationship and love. It is wonderful and well worth the wait.
Faithfulness:
The man so enjoys his wife’s body that he finds no need to seek sexual enticement elsewhere. Seeing his wife’s nude body excites him and leads to a very fulfilling sexual relationship. The man very much enjoys the beauty of his wife’s nude body, but that by itself is not the driving force towards his sexual fulfillment. His warm and intimate relationship with her draws his heart and his body to hers. They have a very fulfilling sexual relationship.
Visual Temptations:
The culture they live in is highly sexualized. The images which are literally unavoidable come from a variety of different sources, including the TV, Internet, billboards, and other women at work or even church. The man must continually be on his guard to turn his eyes away so as to preserve them and his sexual interest for his wife alone. The culture they live in is highly sexualized. Because they have learned to not respond negatively to unclothed bodies sexually, the images they see from all sides are seen for either their artistic merit or as sad oversexualized marketing that preys on illicit and dehumanizing falsehoods. Rather than attracting the man’s attention as a temptation, the images no longer have an effect.
Personal Temptations:
The man must be on his guard because there are simply too many women whose idea of dressing attractively amounts to conforming to the sexualized styles of our culture. These styles are designed to draw sexual attention to the body. He may find it very difficult to interact with such women when a work or social context demands it because of the continual distraction of her inappropriate display. Because the man has learned that sexual appeal is not based upon the display of skin, but in the depth of relationship, the revealing attire of women he interacts with does not stir inappropriate thoughts or responses. He is not distracted by their attire. He avoids staring at her form not because it is dangerous to him, but because it would simply be impolite. Personal temptations that he must avoid have to do with guarding his heart emotionally rather than guarding his eyes.
Sexual Interest:
When the man feels the physical desire for sexual release, he will also sense a increased eagerness to see his wife’s body, since that is the means by which he experiences sexual excitement. At the same time, his alertness to the sight of other women’s bodies will be heightened, as will his temptation to have a sexual response to such sights. When the man feels the physical desire for sexual release, he will think of being with his wife, for it is only in his relationship with her that he experiences sexual excitement. The temptation from other women is very small because none have the relationship with him that his wife does, and the simple sight of a woman does not excite him.
Life Change:
Once children arrive and real life happens, the impact it has on his wife’s body is to take away some of its youthful beauty. Along with that youthful beauty, she loses some of her sexual appeal for her husband. He still disciplines himself to be satisfied with her body as it is, but the sexual impact of her nudity on his libido has waned some. Once children arrive and real life happens, the impact it has on his wife’s body is to take away some of its youthful beauty. Yet, the man values his deepening relationship with his wife more than her youthful beauty, and since his sexual response is based upon his relationship with her rather than her physical appearance, his ability to respond sexually with his wife is still strong because his relationship with her is still strong.
Catastrophic Change:
In some cases, the man’s wife may have her body significantly changed from her more youthful figure: the loss of her breasts or significant obesity. In this case, the man will find that his wife’s nudity is a sight drastically different than that which sexually excited him when she was younger. In some cases, the man’s wife may have her body significantly changed from her more youthful figure: the loss of her breasts or significant obesity. However, these factors do not hamper her ability to continue in rich relationship with her husband, nor do they take anything significant away from her femininity. Therefore, the man’s sexual relationship with her need not be affected by such drastic changes.
Old Age:
The impact of age on a woman adds scars, wrinkles, blemishes and sags to her body. By this time, her visual sexual appeal will be very limited. The man who wishes to uphold Scriptural standards of sexual purity must live with the fact that his wife simply does not and will never again have the kind of sexual appeal that she had when they married. The impact of age on a woman adds scars, wrinkles, blemishes and sags to her body. But with each passing year, the relationship that she enjoys with her husband can deepen. Therefore, the sexual impact that she can have on her husband even late in life can still be very significant and rewarding for them both throughout their twilight years.
From the Wife’s perspective.
The wife knows that her body is sufficiently attractive to her husband while she is young, but as the years and other factors take their toll on her body, she also knows that her body will no longer have the sexual appeal that it once had. She still holds the exclusive rights to her husband’s sexual interest, but she may well live in continual fear because she knows instinctively that she cannot compete visually with younger women or pornographic images.
The wife knows that the years and other factors have taken their toll on her body’s natural and youthful beauty, but her relationship with her husband remains strong. She knows that her beauty cannot compete with the beauty of the young, but she also knows that her husband’s sexual interest in her is not based upon her physical appeal, but rather the strength of their relationship. She can rest securely in her claim upon her husband’s sexual interest because she knows that she is not in competition with the world in the realm of her relationship with her husband.

Summary

By the time a couple reaches “Old Age,” most people would likely affirm that those in a healthy relationship would be squarely in the “renewed” column. Of course, we would agree. In fact, we would suggest that if a godly man is going to truly “rejoice in the wife of [his] youth” for his entire life, that at some point, he must transition to the point of being sexually aroused relationally rather than visually.

But if the renewed view is true for a man in Old Age, then it is true from the very beginning. If that is to be the driver for the sexual enticement in old age, then it can and should be the driver for the sexual enticement throughout life. If such a response is possible to learn when old, it is possible to learn while young.

We hope that you will also give serious consideration to the very last pair of entries entitled “From the Wife’s Perspective.” We firmly believe that the false view we have held for so long has deeply wounded and victimized women. This chart shows two of the ways that has been manifested:

1. It shows how the traditional view can leave women in a constant state of fear regarding their husbands’ mental and physical fidelity.

2. It also leaves them with an ever-present dissatisfaction with their own bodies and its declining power to be sexually enticing to their husbands.

How can a woman ever be free of this fear and dissatisfaction unless she has full confidence that her husband’s sexual interest in her is not based at all on her appearance? Once again, this hope is to be found squarely in the “renewed” column. We believe that the “renewed” view is really God’s will for all of us. It is the only view that will carry us righteously through our lifetimes, and it shows us a much surer pattern for mental and physical fidelity within our marriages.

— the MCAG Team

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14 Responses to The Renewed View of the Body

  • I have gone through the whole website and am very blessed. I came to this site via another which was the one that provided the same teaching regarding the body. Through this truth, as relayed here and there, I have been set free from the power of porn. Hallelujah!

    • Klass,

      I’m sorry for the delay in responding. Thanks so much for your encouraging words. and praise the Lord for the freedom that He’s given you!

      Spread the word… people all around you desperately need the same truth and the same freedom.

      David Martin (aka Pastor Ed)

  • Wow, it’s really difficult to read something like this and just allow it to completely unseat a belief that’s been taught to one from little up, you know? I’m still weighing your teaching against what I know of Scripture, and I’ve been surprised at how little of my belief on this subject (the generally accepted view) is actually supported directly by Scripture!
    There are two passages that I’d appreciate your comment on, though, if you don’t mind; early in chapter 47 of Isaiah, and also near the end of Jeremiah chapter 13, God refers to the *shame* of their (Israel’s, I presume) nakedness; He speaks of lifting up the skirt/ baring the legs to display their shame, so I presume it’s referring to the pubic/genital area. I realize that this is not speaking of an actual person (i.e. an image-bearer of God), but the implication from those two references is that there is a shame in nakedness for people. Could you comment on that? Or perhaps I’m simply assuming a connection that isn’t there between shame in nakedness and the generally accepted view that naked = evil?

    • Thanks so much for your comments and questions.

      I understand how difficult it is to lay aside things that we’ve been taught all of our lives. But it’s time to reevaluate what we’ve been taught. The “truth” that we’ve been taught has not resulted in freedom with reference to sexual purity in the church.

      I will be happy to address your questions, but before I do, let me challenge you to seek the answers yourself. As you’ve already noted, it is shocking that all of the Scriptures that we’ve always been told meant this or that about the body and nakedness turn out to not teach what we’ve been told.

      It’s likely, therefore, that we will find that these two passages will also fail to hold up to honest scrutiny.

      Here are some questions I’d suggest you keep in mind as you do further study:

      * It’s a mistake to assume that every word in the original languages really means exactly what the English word used to translate it means. Take a deep look at the Hebrew word “ervah” (translated “nakedness”). Does it really only mean simple nakedness, or does it infer something more?

      * Is there anything else in these passages to which the “shame” is better attached? Could it be shameful behavior rather than simple body exposure?

      * Is it possible that God is invoking a culturally understood relationship between such exposure and being publicly shamed? If so, must we then conclude that God’s intended meaning of any exposure in any other context must also be public shame?

      * Are these passages intended to give us God’s perspective on simple nakedness? Can these passages bear the weight of demonstrating that God always considers any nakedness to be shameful. If not to that extent (“ANY nakedness”), by what measure or which scriptures might we determine where nakedness is not shameful (Marriage? Healthcare? Childcare) and when it is?

      I will wait a week or so before I compose my answer (probably as a new MCAG blog post), but I want to give you the chance to address these questions and post your thoughts.

      Thanks.

      David Martin (aka Pastor Ed)

      • If I may jump in, I have thoughts on this as well. I’m sorry for writing a novel- and on my phone, no less! My thumb will never be the same!

        Let me just say, first, that I also feel very blessed to have found this web site- it answers a lot of my questions very well and I hope that some of the new ideas here will bear scrutiny and become a welcome part of my thinking in the future. However, I have some concerns which I think tie in with mpetersheim’s question, and I think I may also have part of a solution.

        As guidance for how to perceive others, I believe your advice has immense value. It raises concerns for me in an area peripheral to your original topic, however, which I think tie into this discussion. This website seems to be mostly concerned with the conduct and inner life of the person doing the seeing, not the person doing the wearing ( although we are all both). My comments involve the person doing the wearing much more than you have discussed, and they may be outside the scope of the blog.

        I married into a family with strict standards of dress (although my husband IS the man you describe in the “renewed” column- praise the Lord!) and I have done a lot of thinking about modesty and whether my heart is truly in the right place even though I don’t feel that their strictness is good or necessary. I have felt the discomfort that you mention about the sexualization inherent in a prudish view of the body. It is very real- you can’t have one without the other. I have felt very objectified whenever my clothes were discussed, and wondered whether lust was a factor. (I must just emphasize that my husband is not in any way part of the problem. You can’t necessarily control your family, more’s the pity!)

        I have also wondered about differing cultural standards of modesty- how can an extremely minimal amount of clothing really be appropriate? What you said about the inherent decency of the body, and about being the image-bearers of God, was helpful to me, though- if the body really is not an obscene thing (which of course it is not) then wildly differing standards of dress are possible, as long as they emphasize and preserve the dignity of the wearer as God’s image-bearer, as informed by his or her conscience.

        However, I do have a concern, and it has to do with this dignity. It’s easiest to express with examples from my own life: I have two children, and when I was expecting my first, my midwife required us to attend a childbirth class. This was a natural birth oriented curriculum (Bradley), and there was a lot of candor and openness about the pregnant body and the mechanics of birth. As part of the class, we were shown videos of birth. IAs I watched part of the first one, something in me just mutinied. I could not watch that video. The woman was whimpering with pain, and her husband was telling her how to breathe. Someone was video-taping her pain as she writhed and gasped- I ran to the bathroom and shoved my hands in my ears. I could not stop crying and refused to watch any more videos for the whole course. The instructor was frustrated with me, but I just could not do it. How can I explain? The woman in that video was vulnerable- she was exposed. Exposed! She wasn’t even naked- she had a nightie and robe on. But her pain was open to the world’s view.
        That may be a silly example to write here, since we’re talking about clothing, but it is the most articulable instance of something that happened again and again during my pregnancies, and most of the other times did involve the ladies being naked. For some reason it seems that midwives like to hang picture of water births all around their offices, and every single time I saw one it was the same- I writhed inside. Keep in mind that I was volunteering to have the same kind of birth- and paying a lot of money for it: I’m not against birth! Nor am I against nakedness! And you can bet I didn’t burden myself with clothing when it came time for labor. But seeing the exposure of such vulnerability- it cut to my core. I knew I would feel unspeakably violated if a similar image of me in my private pain were shown to the world, to strangers.

        And it was the same with breastfeeding- it was a wonderful experience, with the cuddly baby and the bonding and everything. I had to seek help from my midwife in the beginning and was totally untroubled by the thought of involving her in the process. I never felt bullied or shamed into feeding only in private. But I always covered up in public, because to me it was an issue of dignity. I would have been frankly devastated to have my breasts exposed to the world. They are not dirty or pornographic or shameful- they are private. It bothered me so much to hear all the natural-birth advocates saying that women should be able to breastfeed in public and that it would be so empowering- I can’t imagine a less empowering experience than to have my private space open to the public.

        And I think that’s the issue here: dignity. We do not only cover things that are disgraceful- we also cover things that are private. We do not install public toilets on the sidewalk, although a good digestion is a great gift and certainly not shameful. We do not discuss our finances with our husband while sitting at our friend’s dinner table, even though we probably have nothing illegal to hide. Our feelings, birthday surprises, our periods, the poetry we have written but never shown anyone, our prayer diary, the little songs we sing to ourselves while doing the laundry alone- these can be kept private without being regarded as bad or unhealthy. Not everything good has to be public.

        Do you remember when Prince William and Kate Middleton were on their honeymoon and there was a big flutter about a French tabloid being about to publish topless photos of Kate sunbathing on a private beach, and the royal family paid them not to publish, or something, and there was a big to-do? I read a news article about that and one commenter said “What’s the big deal? Went cover up beauty?” That bothered me so much. She thought she was in private. Just because our bodies are not dirty or obscene (and of course it’s not!) doesn’t mean they’re public property, or that there’s any other acceptable response than quickly averted eyes and “Excuse me, ma’am!” while retreating, if one walks in on a woman uncovered and trying to be private.

        What concerns me is that it seems possible that your line of reasoning about the inherent decency of the body could lead to the extreme of trivializing a woman’s conscience or desire for her privacy. It seems like you could be saying that it’s sinful not to want to be naked in public. I hope that’s not what you’re saying.

        And really, it would seem that the person you describe as having a renewed view of the body is not going to go be a nudist- they will wear clothes that they feel are appropriate in any given situation. It is every person’s privilege and responsibility to choose to keep private what they feel is private. Whether it’s our inmost thoughts or our body parts, privacy is something we seem to need.

        Also, what we do in private reveals who we are. In the Jeremiah passage, it seems that Israel’s sins against God are being shown for what they are- their normal privacy has become secrecy in which they act against God, and their evil deeds are becoming known. “Ervah” does seem to mean shameful exposure, not just regular nakedness. And it seems that a garment that is usually worn is being uncharacteristically stripped away. I think it could be interpreted as Israel’s attempts to dignify their wrongdoing being foiled, and their wrong behavior towards God exposed.

        Thank you for all your work to help people be free- I really appreciated reading all that you’ve written on the site and anticipate that it will help me be free in my own thinking as well. I would be very interested in your thoughts about what I’ve said, which are my only concerns about your excellent and God-honoring work. I apologize again for the novel. Thank you again.

        • Thank you “Ms” for your comments!

          I’m so thankful that you have found the MCAG articles to be helpful to you. And it’s great to hear that your husband lives the “renewed” view of the body.

          In response to your comments and questions, however, I think that there’s basis to challenge your perspective here. Here’s why I say that.

          You speak of “dignity” and “privacy” as if they were universal absolutes and experiences… but I believe even your own experience will reveal that they are not… you seem surprised that some other women would not mind their travails of labor being observed by others. You say that you could never breastfeed your own child without covering up, yet other women are completely unabashed about it. If your own concept of dignity and privacy were innate in all women, then we should expect that all women would feel the same way.

          This, of course, argues for the conclusion that such perceptions and personal experiences are actually conditioned responses in an individual… so that the conditioning and responses could vary wildly from one person to the next. And that’s precisely what we observe around us.

          Now this is not to invalidate your own experiences, preferences, or feelings, but when we are discussing what should be considered universal truth, we all have to be very careful not to assume that our own perceptions are the best measure of that truth. It’s a real challenge, but we need to scrutinize our own perspective very carefully to ensure that we are not presuming in others something that is really only our own conditioning.

          Even something as “personal” and “private” as going to the bathroom is literally a perception that is cultural. Consider what the Romans provided for “bathroom” facilities in the ancient Roman baths: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/roman/toilets.html … men and women using the same facilities with no dividers between the seats… how would that play today? Yet in those days, it wasn’t such a “private” matter… and evidently no one cared (full site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/roman/day.html).

          When we delve into something we suspect to be a conditioned response–in ourselves or in others–we need to ask what it is that a certain level of “exposure” is perceived to mean. Those that do not recognize the conditioning will simply assume that it actually means what they feel it means. For example… what does it mean about that women whose photos of childbirth adorn the walls at the midwife’s home? Well, to you, it means a violation of privacy–an indignity. To those women, it might mean a badge of honor or accomplishment. To the midwife, it means success stories and images of the ideal. Whose perspective of that meaning is “correct”? Who should change their way of thinking to match the others?

          Am I trying to encourage you to rethink your own responses to such exposure? Well, yes, I am. That’s what MCAG is all about, actually… trying to get people to recognize that their own conditioned way of perceiving and responding to the human form is unhealthy, urging them to think about it another way… a way that’s in alignment with universal truths (God’s image) rather than cultural definition (sexualized).

          When it comes to the idea of “dignity” as it relates to exposure of the body, keep in mind that God’s original design for human society was full exposure. If there was no indignity in that exposure before the fall, can we really defend the notion that now there is indignity in full exposure? If that perception came as the result of sin, then shouldn’t we consider that result of sin to be something we should actively try to overcome?

          Finally, a few comments about the Hebrew word, ervah. While that term is the only OT term that is ever associated with shame of any sort, a full review of its usage in the OT reveals that it is not always associated with shame. However, it does always seem to be associated with “active” nakedness, and almost always, that “activity” is sexual. Wrong use of our sexuality is shameful, and I believe that every time you see shame and ervah together in the OT, you’ll see that there is sexual misconduct in the context… even if it is metaphorical as it is in the passage you reference (describing the rebellion of Israel against God as sexual impurity). You can read my full study on ervah in this article: http://www.scribd.com/doc/230736030/Nakedness-in-the-OT.

          I hope this has been helpful.

          David

          • I was mostly talking about exposing someone who didn’t want to be exposed. We all have put own comfort levels and our own way of reinforcing our personal dignity with the way we dress. Our standards are not all the same, but how could one say that people do not dress for dignity, however that looks for them in their culture? My concern is that your view would not consider it wrong to violate my privacy, since my preferences are not everyone’s. I feel like I’m hearing that I have no right to the privacy of my breasts or my births because some wouldn’t consider theirs private. I urge you to consider that there is a place at this table for those who do not view the body as sinful, but feel the need for their private space. I do not think that’s wrong, and with all due respect, I never will.

          • Thank you for your thoughtful followups, “Ms.”

            Allow me to respond again…

            You say that you were talking about exposing someone that did not want to be exposed… but as I read your original post, what I was addressing was your own discomfort with watching another woman’s birth. Presumably, the woman in the video consented to having the birth recorded and then shown to other expectant parents. My concern was that you found that unbearable… even though the other woman evidently did not mind the “exposure.”

            I was not suggesting that you yourself should be equally willing to experience the same sort of exposure, but that your discomfort with watching another woman’s birth was inconsistent with the truth. If she doesn’t mind that exposure, why should you mind watching and learning from her experience? If she did not consider it too undignified to do, what would compel you to leave the room when you saw it?

            I interpreted your actions as an expression that you believe deep down that others should have the same sense of “privacy” or “dignity” that you do, as if there is a moral standard regarding such exposure that should apply to all. My assertion is really just that that cannot be the case. You have no obligation to embrace her openness, of course, but should that mom (and her midwife and videographer) refrain from capturing the event if she is fine with it?

            David

          • Also, you seem to be assuming that I think all people should or do share my own feelings about the appropriateness of this or that. If you will reread what I originally wrote you will see that this is not the case. In my original comment, I was very careful to specify that I realized that not everyone feels as I do about the particulars, but that I was concerned that your view did not respect the workings of individual conscience. Also, I believe, as you do not necessarily seem to (although I may well be mistaken about your view), that there is a role for the conscience in dressing, and that it is possible to disobey one’s conscience in what one wears.

            I also find it interesting that you cite the ancient Roman bathrooms as evidence that using the bathroom in public shouldn’t necessarily turn any hairs. The ancient Romans were not known for their tendency to do the right thing as a culture- their bloody games are a good example. A nation’s conscience can be quieted all too easily- see 1930s Germany. Our own culture approves of everyday practices that would probably appall those from other contexts- maybe for good reason. Please understand my point here: what the Romans did (or what any secular culture has ever done) is not a good basis for determining what we as individual followers of God should do. I believe that you were right in saying that the Christian’s view of these things should be informed by Scripture alone.

            I also think it is pertinent that the Bible contains so many instances of God providing, telling people to provide, or promising to provide clothing or covering for people as an expression of His care for them. You speak of clothing as part of the Fall, and that is where we first see people wearing clothes, but it’s certainly not the same as the curses- we don’t ever hear of God increasing the pain of childbirth for a woman who was especially faithful, or promising to make a believing man’s toil especially hard!

            Meanwhile, we see lots of instances in which clothes and covering are a blessing, a relief, or a symbol of God’s favor. Tabitha, who sewed for the widows, was raised from the dead. God tells the believers not to worry about food or clothes, not saying they don’t need clothes, but promising that He will clothe them. The prudent wife makes clothes as a business, and she and her household are beautifully dressed. Then there are these two passages:

            “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2Cor.5:2-4
            (He’s obviously not talking about actual clothes here, but I think it’s very pertinent to my point about the importance of clothes to our dignity- and I believe that God using clothes in this illustration shows that dynamic very clearly)

            ““Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’” Matt.25:34-36

            It seems like you are saying that, ideally, Christians would live in an Eden- like state, but I have never seen any indication of that in the Bible. The martyrs in Heaven are given white robes. Also, Adam and Eve were married, which we won’t be in heaven, and they did not work for their living, which we as believers are commanded to do- it seems clear that neither the coming Kingdom of God nor the present community of believers are a second Eden.

            Mainly, it seems that you’re saying that since the body’s not bad, clothes and wanting to be clothed must be bad. I do not believe that Scripture supports this, and it seems to me that it weakens your otherwise excellent message.

          • Yes, I did interpret your words as assuming that others should have the same sort of sensibility as you have. It seemed to me that your post was an attempt to explain why certain levels of “privacy” or “dignity” should still be practiced by others.

            I’m sorry that I misinterpreted your intent.

            Allow me to summarize my message…

            I believe that almost all perceptions of appropriateness regarding nakedness and exposure are culturally conditioned. If that is the case, then it should not bother any of us–nor surprise us–that others have very different levels of comfort than we ourselves have. They need not conform to ours, nor we to theirs.

            My point in noting the Roman’s toilet facilities was simply to point out that our sense of required privacy today is not an innate human trait, but a conditioned response. If you think about it, it has only been within the past 100 years or so that indoor plumbing has afforded us the level of privacy that we now consider non-negotiable.

            As you have correctly noted, the Bible does not condemn clothing. In fact, the cultural meaning of clothing is even invoked in a number of passages to communicate heavenly truths.

            The mistake would be to assume that the the meaning for clothing that we sense today (modesty, sexual propriety, etc) is going to be in play in heaven… or even that that’s what was in people’s minds when those Scripture texts were originally penned. The fact is that those ideas were not in the minds of the Biblical authors, for their cultural perception of clothing and the unclothed human form was drastically different from ours today.

            A careful study of the Bible reveals that while God doesn’t mind clothing, He never requires it either. Never are we told which body parts need to be covered and which may righteously be exposed. Even among Christians–let alone other religions–there is no agreement on how much exposure is acceptable. Consequently, we must conclude that such rules and regulations aren’t God-given at all, so we should not hold to them as if they are. It’s not a problem if we have our own preferences in these regards, provided we do not presume that our own preferences actually reflect God’s moral requirements or demand that others conform to them.

            You mentioned the repeated call for the righteous to clothe the naked… and this is true, but we should be careful not to presume that the need that the poor had was a moral need (to cover “sinful” nakedness) rather than a physical need to be warm (see Job 31:20 & James 2:16).

            You say that the Bible never indicates that we should live in an “Edenic” state, but I’d also challenge you to find where the Bible tells us that we must not. The fact is that the relational states that were a reality in unfallen Eden are still the relational ideals that we should pursue today; we had a perfect relationship with God… with others… and with ourselves. All three were damaged, but all three are still worthy of our pursuit today. Jesus himself pronounced the pre-fall marriage reality as the post-fall ideal when he quoted Gen. 1:24 in Matthew 19:3-6. Would Jesus promote Gen. 1:24 as a post-fall ideal but reject Gen. 1:25 (“naked and unashamed”) as a post-fall ideal that we should still strive for? This does not mean that we must try to be naked all the time, but certainly that we should endeavor to have no fear or shame with our own nakedness or that of others.

            The only reason that we reject any effort to recapture any sense of “naked and unashamed” today is because we have a false–pornographic–perception of what the exposed human form means. This, of course, is what MCAG is written to battle.

            As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with being clothed. But there is something wrong with the requirement of clothing for ourselves or for others… for that belies a false view of our bodies and a rejection of God’s ideal that we have the freedom in our hearts to be “naked and unashamed.”

            One last thing… let me point you to an article that I wrote that addresses the issue of the biblical purposes for clothing. I hope that it will demonstrate that our current assumptions today about clothing are not completely biblical: http://www.scribd.com/doc/96752374/The-Biblical-Purpose-for-Clothing

            Thanks again for writing and thanks for your encouragement regarding our message.

            David

  • It’s been a bit longer than a week. 🙂

    • Indeed it has been longer than a week, Kevin. I was hoping that the person who posted the question would post their own follow-up…

      But, sorry to say, it had slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder.

      David

      • Sorry, I’ve kind of let this question slide, as well. I’ve been thinking about other things, but you’re right, David, it would be beneficial to me to formulate and post my own thoughts on your comments before reading a follow-up blog post. 🙂

  • Just finished this and realized I really need to look at how I see the body – men and women. Only when I see it made in God’s image and not something that causes me to sin but my heart does can I break the chains that sin has had on my life for the last two decades! Hallelujah!

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