Society often teaches us to wear clothes so that we do not offend others, but have you ever really thought about what that actually implies? I mean, think about it… This idea implies that we are to be offended at the mere sight of a naked human body — something every human being possesses, something you yourself possess, and something that the Bible teaches is part of being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Should you be offended by the mere sight of another naked human or even your own naked body? If you are one who believes what the Bible teaches, that the man is made in the image of God as His divine handiwork, the answer to that question shows what you really believe. After all, the question then becomes, should you be offended by the image of God?
How We Got There
It’s no wonder people are offended at the unclad body because the same society that teaches us to be offended also teaches us to sexualize the body or use it in hedonistic ways or that there is something wrong with it. Think about it…
If you or everyone around you, even your culture, continually associates nudity with sex or perversity, then naturally the mere sight of nudity might provoke you to think of sex or perversity and thus be offended.
Likewise, if your culture continually promotes the idea of “the perfect body” — something our modern culture does — this idea that we must be fit and flawless, then naturally the nude body becomes offensive. After all, consider the many people, literally millions of them, that are so unhappy with, so offended by, their own appearance that they spend thousands of dollars to undergo plastic or cosmetic surgery just to look good and feel better about themselves. Many people suffer from bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders because they are trying to look good and want to feel better about themselves.
If people are so uncomfortable with their appearance that they would spend money to “fix” their appearance, have surgery, or starve themselves, it seems certain those same people would not feel comfortable with their own nudity, and might just be offended by others’ nudity.
How We Get Back
We need to see nudity for what it is — simply a state of being and our natural, normal state — and stop believing the lies — that nudity means sex or that we must look some certain way to be accepted. And we must stop comparing ourselves with some perceived standard of perfection.
If you believe Jesus Christ is Lord, consider 1 Corinthians 6:13: ” The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” Your body is not meant to be seen as a sex object but as holy and pure, a home for the Lord.
When you learn to accept others and yourself, despite appearances, you will think better of others and yourself, and you will feel better. I personally believe that if our culture could embrace acceptance, things such as bulimia, anorexia and other such disorders would be eliminated or at least lessened, and it would lessen peoples’ “need” for face lifts, boob jobs, tummy tucks, and the many other “fixes.”
Who’s Offending Who?
When you are offended by something, you actually show what’s in your own heart. For instance, if you saw someone mowing their lawn nude, swimming nude or watching TV nude and you were offended, what might that say about you? They are simply engaging in normal everyday activities nude but you are seeing something more than that.
Why should this offend you? Why not rather accept it and allow them that freedom? As it is, when a nude body offends someone, that person is, in affect, judging God’s creation as offensive, unacceptable, and possibly perverted or at least only sexual. For the believer, does this honor the Lord? It dishonors Him! For everyone, does any of this honor your body, or the bodies of others? No, it does not! It dishonors them!
When you look at it this way, who should be offended, you or the person you are judging and rejecting? More importantly, do you think this attitude might just offend the Lord? (See Isaiah 5:20, Matthew 6:25-30, Luke 12:22-28.)
As an aside, this attitude does in deed offend real nudists. Why? Because it judges them and puts them in the same category as the pervert. Even more, although this attitude it likely the attitude of the minority, those in power force the majority to agreed with them, forcing others to wear clothes unnecessarily. Now, instead of clothing yourself for the right reasons, such as when you are cold or need protection, people our culture clothe themselves for all the wrong reasons like fear, shame, sexualizing of the body and yes, even simply because they feel offended by the mere sight of a nude body.
Excuse the language here — I mean no offense — but I hope you get the point.
Going a Step Further
One way to help you exercise accepting others and being accepted is to allow others to go nude around you and to go nude around others. As you do this, you begin to realize more and more just how normal and acceptable the naked human body is. You begin to accept others the way God Himself does (1 Samuel 16:7) based more on character than appearance. Worth noting: God sees every person naked (Hebrews 4:13) and yet He is not offended. Why would He be since He created us?
But as you engage social nudity, you quickly realize the human body comes in many different shapes, sizes, colors and conditions. You realize that no one is exactly like another; you realize each person’s uniqueness and individuality. You realize how diverse, interesting and fun life is. You realize all the lies for what they are — lies. You no longer see mere nudity as sexual. The irony of social nudity is, by seeing the whole body, genitals and all, you eventually pay less attention to “parts” and begin to see the person as a whole person. Along with this, you may even loose the desire to “fix” your perceived flaws.
Acceptance, rather than offense, is the key to health. In Genesis 1:31 it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Can you say that? Can you see all that God made and declare it is very good? If not, why not?
Instead of being offended by the nude bodies of others, begin to accept them for what they are, the real person and not some ideal that clothing projects in order to please you and make themselves acceptable to you. Instead of being offended by your own nude body, begin to accept it and go nude, even around others.
Learn to accept others and yourself. Then you can say as God says, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31) and realize this truth, “Everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” (1 Timothy 4:4).
At the very least, the next time you find yourself being offended by something, ask yourself why. Why does this offend me? Then ask, should it? And if it has to do with someone else, ask, would my attitude offend them or God?
All scriptures NIV.
© 1997 Gregory Cook