There’s a general lapse of strong evangelical faith throughout Western culture. Viewing it from that perspective, I laud the stubborn attitude of believers who mistake MCAG’s message of body acceptance as just one more facet of the sexual insanity eroding today’s church. To be sure, strong stubbornness is needed to stand against the tide of moral confusion capturing the power-brokers of our nation. But stubborn beliefs, while laudable, aren’t always God-honoring or theologically correct. These faithfully stubborn saints will never entertain a message that separates nudity from sexuality, if they’re unwilling to test the validity of their religious conviction that keeps the two inseparable.
A stubborn unwillingness to change is not at all praiseworthy. Reformation in line with truth is the church’s historical lifeline. The truth of body acceptance has transforming power, both to liberate porn addicts and to reform sentimentally preserved errors in Christian thinking. If believers faithfully hold and teach any falsehood as a “gospel standard,” it will eventually destroy their Gospel testimony. When loyalty to church tradition supplants a commitment to truth, legalism can be accepted as divine light, and true light can be mistaken for darkness.
The Error of Body Shame
Social waywardness outside the church isn’t as dangerous as doctrinal error inside. Body shame is a destructive cultural dysfunction. It was a grave religious blunder for past church leadership to baptize it as a Christian virtue. The ripples of that mistake have become devastating tidal waves in the modern world. By treating this porno-prudery as sound doctrine, Christian teachers incorporated it into “the faith,” believing that Scripture supported them. Yet, a careful review of the Bible and of biblical history does just the opposite. It exposes how they read their religious porno-prudery back into the culture of Bible times.
One of my purposes in writing Meeting at the River—and why I played the devil’s advocate in the story—was to expose how the adoption of skin-hiding Victorian modesty as a Christian doctrine sabotaged modesty’s true biblical meaning. Creating a clothing-dependent morality was tantamount to cultural idolatry, and it remains so today, whenever believers dare defend it with the same zeal shown in defending the Gospel. This legalism is a perilous path, for it has either directly usurped God’s role in moral jurisdiction or religiously replaced His authority with human wisdom. This is grievous error and grave sin.
The goodness of Body Acceptance
I’ve written so much about the mundane normalness of body acceptance that I become redundant. But the truth bears repeating, especially when I get personally reminded of the first little essay I ever wrote on the subject (“What about the Hospital Nudity Problem?” on my “L&D Tips” webpage). Recently, I had a reverse-role clinical experience of getting a cystoscopy with a female attendant and a colonoscopy with two females assisting. The down-to-earth routineness of medical nudity broadcasts an obviously overlooked discrepancy in the porno-prudery most Christians doctrinally uphold.
Indeed! What happens when these believers become patients themselves? Do filthy thoughts plague their minds when doctors and nurses see them naked? Their porno-prudery portrays the naked body as sexual in nature. So, are they suspicious that their opposite-sex attendants are having the lustful thoughts their doctrine predicts? If not, do they then logically question the validity of that doctrine, or just momentarily ignore the discrepancy? And what’s their take on a guy like me, an ordained minister who sees women’s breasts and bottoms every night in my L&D job? When I tell them I experience no lust in working with nudity, do they think I’m lying? Are they willfully blind to the fact that my testimony—corroborated by multiple millions of other healthcare workers—reveals the bankruptcy of their porno-prudish doctrine? Or have they just decided to live with the inconsistency, content with double-mindedness?
The Price of our Porno-Prudery
There may or may not come a day when a majority of Christian leaders finally recognize the deception in porno-prudery and repent of how it directly and indirectly fueled the rampant flames of pornography, human trafficking and gender confusion in today’s world. Religious porno-prudery not only affirms society’s unwholesome sexual focus on human body parts but also distracts attention from God’s focus on the real problem: wayward human hearts. But whether repudiators of body acceptance listen or refuse to listen, we must be faithful to call a spade a spade. No matter if we are heard or ignored, we must persist in telling fellow believers the truth.
A Future Reckoning…
Like the preaching of many Old Testament prophets, our message may change social and religious climate very little or not at all. But all truth proclaimed now will echo in eternity. God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34, KJV). Jesus was revealing His Father’s heart when He condemned those “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9, ESV). That leaves little room for Christians with the same audacity to be treated with impunity, when “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17, KJV), especially if they let allegiance to those man-made doctrines close their ears to the truth. On that Day, when all minds and motives will become naked before the God of truth, any past stubbornness in upholding falsehoods will be indefensible. In other words, while the light shed on the darkness of porno-prudery may become for some a present liberation, it will become, for those presently and persistently repudiating it, a future liability.
— Pastor David Hatton