A link to your survey was sent to me by a girl in Nepal who has been reading the arguments we've made on our anti-porn-addiction web site.
This is what I'm wondering: What would the answers to those survey questions have looked like from teens growing up in a "naked people group" culture? I believe their answers would put to shame the answers of our own Christian teens. My point is this: we in the West are dealing with a culturally-deformed view of women's bodies, one that is both God-dishonoring and dysfunctional, but one that the Western church has not just bought into but has significantly helped to create. American teens (both guys and girls) grow up trained by our sex-crazed society to see the female body as a vehicle for sexual enticement, rather than as a normal gendered embodiment of personal identity. The answers of our teens are a loud and clear broadcast, not of the universal state and behavior of male humans, but of the epidemic status of Christian minds conforming to a culturally pornographic view of the body. This is a widespread sinful condition, and never something God intended for His people to embrace or support.
I've been an RN for 30 years, a pastor for 15, and for the last 20 years, an OB nurse who routinely sees young women without their clothing. Seeing the body in this natural, non-sexual way reformed the thinking I was raised with as a Christian because it practically demonstrated that the human body itself is not the stimulus for lust. God created nothing that will tempt us (James 1:13-14), including beautiful female bodies, whether clothed or naked. As Jesus said, lust comes from within, not from without (Mark 7:18-24), and He condemned, not looking on a woman, but doing so "to lust after her" (Matt 5:28). Bathsheba's outdoor bathing was the commonly practiced norm in all ancient cultures, so it was not the sight of a beautiful woman's body that led to David's sin of adultery, but his heart's disobedience in coveting of his neighbor's wife, which arose from his unrestrained lust for self-gratification. I help naked women in and out of showers frequently without any tendency to lust after them. The sexual objectification of women and their body parts is a heart condition, and Satan would love to keep our focus on externals rather than the internal, where Jesus can actually use the truth to liberate and heal the heart (John 8:32).
The traditional evangelical pattern of trying to fight lust and porn has been first to acknowledge and accept a worldly, sexualized view of the body, and then to try to build strategies that conform to that view, as if it were a true reflection of reality. I believe this conception "falls short of the glory of God" which He infused into the human body as His image and as His desired temple for the Holy Spirit. For the sake of your effective ministry to young and older adults (both men and women), please, theologically re-think through these issues. You may feel the widely promoted traditional approach to this lustful plague among American Christians is the right one. I say, just wait ten years or so and ask the same group of kids you are ministering to right now if they have yet been set free from looking on women with lust. Satan would love to keep them stuck in a lust rut over the body, or to convince them that marriage will solve their lust problem so that they will expect from marriage what it cannot and was never intended by God to offer. Freedom from a pornified culture is possible, but only through the truth. Believing and trying to work with a false view of the body will keep the church in bondage, right where Satan hopes we'll stay.
"And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked" (II Peter 3:15-17).
False doctrine is being taught by skipping the passages that state nudity is shameful. Paul does say that constant exposure to sin makes one callous to it. "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, ..." (I Timothy 4:1-2). Callousness is not a justification that sin doesn't exist. It is the lack of a sense of shame that got Israel in trouble. "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the LORD" (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12).
Also skipped are the passages which command wearing clothing that is modest, proper, and with a sense of shame (I Timothy 2:9-10). Adam's shame was in his nakedness, which is stated several times in Genesis 3. "So he said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself'" (Genesis 3:10). The word "nakedness" translates the Hebrew word 'eyrom which means nakedness or nudity.
Isaiah was commanded by God to physically illustrate shame. "At the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, "Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet." And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, "Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt" (Isaiah 20:2-4). It was an embarrassment to walk around without clothing. Yet your web site claims that it was "normal" for prophets to be naked. You miss the point completely, and you do so purposely to lead others astray.
Being naked is called shameful by God. "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame" (Revelation 16:15). In the Old Testament God said He would expose Babylon's sins to their shame and He draws the same parallel. "Your nakedness shall be uncovered, yes, your shame will be seen" (Isaiah 47:3). It was such an embarrassment that God used it to illustrate the exposure of sin in a person's life.
Micah too talked about the shame of nudity. "Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a mourning like the ostriches, ... Pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir; the inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out. Beth Ezel mourns; its place to stand is taken away from you" (Micah 1:8, 11).
Your proposal that constant exposure to nudity will not change the fact that nudity is shameful. Nor will it factually deal with the problem of lust. There is no society, regardless of its standard of dress or acceptance of undress, that has not dealt with lust. As Paul said, "These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23).
The truth is that you have a small group of men, claiming to be preachers of God's word, who are actually out to promote sensuality. "For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage" (II Peter 2:18-19).
By characterizing the Bible as stating that nudity is shameful, are you not directing that shame at the very handiwork of God Himself? God's original creation of the human body was without clothing. Genesis 2:25 clearly declares that in that original state of creation, there was no shame, even though the two humans were completely naked. Would you suggest that after the fall, the naked human form is an offense to God? And if it is not offensive to God, how can we also consider it to be a shameful state?
Regarding Isaiah 20:2-4: Would God ever command one of His prophets to do something sinful? If exposing one's nakedness is to be considered sinful and shameful, then did God command Isaiah to sin? Would you say that it would be wrong for a preacher to ever preach while fully unclothed when it is evident here that Isaiah must have done exactly that? And for 3 full years?
Furthermore, the introduction of the word "shame" here is a questionable translation since the root word underneath it is the Hebrew word, ervah, which, in almost all other passage of the Old Testament, is translated "nakedness" (this is the word which specifically speaks of the sexual nakedness, as in Lev. 18). There is a Hebrew word for shame, but Isaiah did not use it here.
Do you believe that this passage is written to describe or underscore the shamefulness of nakedness? Isn't the passage really a prophetic illustration of a future event? Even God's words say exactly that "As my servant Isaiah has walked naked ... so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians ... naked and barefoot ..." The end result of these events was then described as the "nakedness" (not "shame") of a nation, not of individuals. Can you really suggest that this passage teaches or even hints that we are supposed to be "embarrassed" when we are naked?
Regarding Isaiah 47:3: This passage speaks Babylon. God's pronouncement against Babylon was one of great demotion. It describes one who used to sit on a throne (served by the nation's subjects) with a high title ("daughter of the Chaldeans") and treated as "tender and delicate" (all in v.1)... to the position of a slave girl forced to do hard and sweaty labor... without fancy clothing, and so poor that she dare not do hard sweaty labor in the only article of clothing she possessed. The shame is not that of simple nakedness, but of falling from royalty to slavery. Is this not what the passage describes?
It was God who recorded before the fall of man, "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25) and it was God who recorded after the fall, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Genesis 3:7). What changed was man's realization of good and evil, their loss of innocence. Man's response was to attempt to cover himself. "So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself"" Genesis 3:10). The statement is clear. The reason for the fear and the hiding was because man realized he was naked. And it was God who gave Adam and Eve adequate clothing. "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21).
The simple fact is that because man sinned, a consequence of that sin was an awareness of nakedness. God's response to that was clothing. The clothing was for man's sake, not God's as you incorrectly claim.
Sometime later: "And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him" (Genesis 9:20-24). In regards to the topic at hand, Ham found the nakedness of his father something unusual, perhaps of amusement -- enough to tell others about it. In this, he showed disrespect for his father. Shem and Japheth refused to look at their father's nakedness and hid it. In this, they showed Noah respect. Yet, the key to understanding this event is knowing that nakedness was a matter of shame, even in the privacy of a person's own tent.
Sometime later, God ordered, "Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it" (Exodus 20:26). God did not want people able to see up underneath clothing during worship. From this we understand that people typically were clothed, you claim otherwise on your web site but the claim is unproven. We also understand that God did not want sensuality as a part of His worship and to prevent it ordered things to minimize the possibility. In addition, the priests were to wear undergarments. "And you shall make for them linen trousers to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs. They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they come into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place, that they do not incur iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his descendants after him" (Exodus 28:42-43). Notice that it was God who threatened the priests with death if they did not adequately clothe themselves in His tabernacle.
Job describes the wicked as people to take advantage of others. "They push the needy off the road; all the poor of the land are forced to hide. Indeed, like wild donkeys in the desert, they go out to their work, searching for food. The wilderness yields food for them and for their children. They gather their fodder in the field and glean in the vineyard of the wicked. They spend the night naked, without clothing, and have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and huddle around the rock for want of shelter. Some snatch the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge from the poor. They cause the poor to go naked, without clothing; and they take away the sheaves from the hungry" (Job 24:4-10). While stating the point in the extreme (a type of figure of speech called hyperbole), we need to take notice that a right of people is to have clothing as it gives protection from the elements. Nakedness is not a normal state but used to illustrate someone too poor to care for himself. That is why Christ praised those who cared for the poor by clothing them. "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me'" (Matthew 25:34-40).
"At the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, "Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet." And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, "Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory" (Isaiah 20:2-5).
The "shame" in Isaiah 20:4 is the word 'erwah in Hebrew. The Complete Biblical Library defines it as:
"Almost always referring to exposure of the genital area, usually of women, 'erwah can also mean 'nakedness' or 'shame.' Cognates are attested in Samaritan, Akkadian, and Arabic.
In Exodus 20:26, the priests are to be careful to have their genital area covered under their robes as they go up on the altar to offer sacrifices. Public exposure of the genitals was considered a very shameful thing and so became an idiom for shame (I Samuel 20:30; Ezekiel 16:36) or something indecent (Deuteronomy 23:14; 24:1) Captives were shamed by being stripped (Isaiah 20:4). Furthermore, the shame of judgment for unrepentant sin is described by the Lord as exposing the nakedness of his unfaithful bride and causing her lovers to despise her (Isaiah 47:3; Lamentations 1:8; Ezekiel 16:37; 23:10). This word is even used idiomatically for something being unprotected (Genesis 42:9,12). The cognate 'arom is the word used for some stage of undress in general.
Exposing the genitals of a woman became a euphemism for having sexual intercourse with her and, in Leviticus 18 and 20, the restrictions on this are included in the directions for acceptable marriages. The only relationship acceptable for the intimacy of uncovering one's genitals to another person was marriage.
Ham saw his father's nakedness when Noah was lying in his tent drunk, and then his brothers discreetly covered their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:22). Noah's curse, after he sobered up and realized what Ham had done, suggests some of Ham's descendants, the Canaanites, would follow in his sinful ways and become so bad that God would use Israel to bring judgment on them. Archaeological finds have shown the Canaanites to have been quite sexually immoral in their worship. The sin of Ham was a lack of proper respect for his father and thus a serious shaming of him."
If, as you claim, Isaiah's nakedness was acceptable to God and society in his day, then he illustrated nothing. But this illustration was against Egypt and Ethiopia. In conducting this illustration, Isaiah was told to do something people didn't normally do. The meaning of the prophecy was that Egypt and Ethiopia would be lead away with their genitals exposed (an idiom for shame) and parallel to that (showing that "shame" is a proper translation) Ethiopia would be afraid and ashamed. The "ashamed" in Isaiah 20:5 is a different Hebrew word, bosh, which means to feel shame or to be ashamed. The message here is that Isaiah illustrated the shameful treatment of the Egyptians and Ethiopians at the hands of the Assyrians, he did so by being naked for three years.
Please notice that in "Your nakedness shall be uncovered, yes, your shame will be seen; I will take vengeance, and I will not arbitrate with a man" (Isaiah 47:3). "Nakedness" is the Hebrew word 'erwah defined above. It is stating that their genitals would be exposed and their shame would be seen. The Hebrew word is cherpah, which means disgrace or shameful behavior.
"And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it" (I Corinthians 12:23-24).
Paul uses the human body, as created by God, to illustrate the relationship between brethren. Some parts of the human body are presentable and others unpresentable. By this, all understand that parts, such as the face and hands, are presentable while parts, such as the genitals, are unpresentable. Yet we give the unpresentable parts greater honor by covering them up and keeping them private.
In all this, your basic argument is that God made quality work. That isn't contested. You claim that because it is quality work, it ought to be exposed. Yet, consistently through the Bible complete exposure of the human body is considered an act of shame.
Your first note claims that exposure will reduce lust, but nowhere have you shown that God says to use an exposure of the body as a means of combating lust. You assert nudity will stop lust. You assert that nudity was prevalent in ancient societies. I agree it existed, but it didn't solve the problem of lust. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3). Lewdness and lust as a wide-spread problem in these societies that condoned nudity. It would be easier to argue that nudity promoted lust than to claim it reduced it. God doesn't tell Christians to imitate the Gentiles, but to go in the opposite direction.