This page last updated February 15, 2007 by Lloyd Johnson.Send email to Lloyd.
Since religious groups constantly lead the war against public nudity with the claim that, "public nudity is a sin," they must prove their point. Where does the bible say this? It very plainly says it is not a sin. In fact, it is almost a sacrament. Examine the evidence.
Adam and Eve:
Genesis says God created man and woman in His own image, Genesis 1:26-18 and again in Genesis 5:1-1. Adam begot Seth, in his own likeness and image, Genesis 5:3. To say that a part of God's image is indecent is no less than heresy. God saw that His creation was good, Genesis 1:31. Who are we to say otherwise?
Adam and Eve were naked and had no shame, Genesis 2:25. After eating the forbidden fruit, they discovered they were naked, Genesis 3:7, and made loincloths. However, I read an interpretation that claims a better translation is that they made belts.
When Adam hid from God because he was naked, God was not concerned with nudity. He was concerned with how Adam knew, Genesis 3:10-12. True He clothed them in skins, but he did not command them to wear these tunics, Genesis 3:21. This was to give them minimal insulation against the harsh world they would soon inhabit.
Noah and Ham:
Noah slept naked in a drunken sprawl. Ham saw him and told his brothers, Genesis 9:21-27. His brothers cover Noah without looking. I have found a source that claims the sin of Ham is failing to respect his father, ridiculing his father's moment of drunken weakness and gossiping. Another source claims there's more to the translation and implies that perhaps Ham looked on Noah with lust. Whether any of this is true is beside the point. God did not curse anybody here, Noah did, Genesis 9:24-27. God was apparently not concerned with drunkenness, nudity, disrespect or gossip.
Leviticus 18 has been translated wrong in many versions of the bible as a ban on being naked with family. Apparently there are many versions of the bible that are afraid to make God's commandment clear. My New English Bible clearly show Leviticus 18 to be a list of people and things with whom and with which you should not have intercourse with. It is also a ban on sacrificing children.
This is comparable to the kind of advice given to children to recognize sexual abuse. They are told when someone touches them in a place that makes them uncomfortable, or in a place covered by their bathing suit, it is wrong. It would be more clear to tell them not to allow most people to touch their vagina, butt, chest, penis or scrotum. Tell them that doctors and nurses are exceptions. Clear instructions are always better.
Deuteronomy 28:48 includes nakedness as a punishment that will be suffered at the hands of enemies for failing to obey. Don't mistake this as a punishment for nakedness. Forced nakedness is still used as a punishment.
In I Samuel 19:18-24 Saul sent company after company to take David. Each of these and finally Saul himself stripped naked and fell into prophetic rapture all that day and night. That sounds like a sacrament.
II Samuel 6:12-23 describes a celebration in which David danced and blessed before his subjects wearing only a vest. He was criticized by Michal for exposing his person in the sight of his servants. David hardly defended his actions because he didn't have to. It is left to the reader to figure out why Michal had no children.
Job seems content to die naked in Job 1:20-21. Job 24:7-11 seems to express concern for the naked poor. It's hardly a condemnation of nudity. The concern is for being naked and bare. You might just as well say vulnerable to the cold night and rough roads.
God ordered Isaiah to strip and had him go naked for three years, Isaiah 20. This was to be a sign to Sargon that his army would be defeated and stripped. Parading naked captives was, and still is, a means of crushing their spirit.
Mathew, 5:25-34, tells not to be concerned with food or clothes. God will provided all you need. Food and clothes will arrive when needed. do you need food in your mouth and clothes on your back every minute?
Jesus himself had something to say about people making commandments out of traditions, Matthew 15. This is being done with nudity. There were past leaders within the Church who condemned nudity. That condemnation has been adopted as dogma.
Jesus points out that field workers must not turn back for their coats when the end comes, Matthew 24:18. Jesus knew, and had no objections about people working naked in the fields.
Luke's description of a possessed man who didn't wear clothes, Luke 8:27, is hardly enough to vilify nudity
Women are ordered to dress modestly, I Timothy 2:9. This is not a command to wear clothes at all times, rather it is a command against elaborate clothes, jewelry and hair. This is a command which many women violate.
James 1:13-15 explains that God never tempts anybody. Can we say that the image of God tempts us? I say the actions and expressions of a woman, or man might tempt us, but their body does not. Our overactive imagination might also tempt us.
Clearly my body is a gift from God. It would be an insult to God if I were to hide it in shame. A gift from God should be displayed proudly.
If you want to discuss this further, I recommend you visit NLI, a website with ongoing discussions about Christianity and nudism.