Nudity and Holiness – In The Beginning

Duality - the dance of opposites

Duality – the dance of opposites

As I try to understand more about nudity psychologically, I keep finding myself being presented with conflicting  information – nudity and pornography versus nudity and spirituality. Somehow the conflict makes sense from a perspective of depth psychology, but I wrestle with it as a spiritual person. Everything about the human psyche has a duality which captured in the image and the idea of yin and yang I have to admit. We actually get to feel this duality within ourselves as we cycle from good feelings to dark feelings. The words hate and love are words that get a good work out in our daily speech. And in our world, the response to seeing a human without clothing evokes responses that range from intense goodness to intense darkness.

Creation - nude - the perfection of a human

Creation – a picture of perfection.

We all have bodies; we all are born naked. There is no dispute about these two facts but that is where agreement seems to end. For a significant portion of the modern western world there is a belief in Christianity where God made these human bodies naked and called it a good thing. Adam and Eve, the creation of the first man and first woman, lived naked in a place called Paradise, or The Garden of Eden. The place was a place where there was no darkness, no sin, no awareness of anything that wasn’t good. Though these two humans, a man and a woman were naked, able to see each other completely, there was no shame in their nakedness. Their bodies were simply their bodies. Penis, pubic hair, vagina, breasts, skin, arousal, movement – all of this was as it should be, all of this was good – at least that is what the Word of God tells us. Now, if you can’t believe the Creator, who can you believe?

Paradise - M. C. Escher

Paradise – M. C. Escher

So where did it all go wrong? Before I answer that, I want to step back to look again at the scene in the Garden of Eden. What is present? God is there of course, as are the two humans, an assortment of flora and fauna, and everything else that had been conceived in the grand plan of this God – everything else. Adam and Eve didn’t question anything as there was no need for questions – everything was perfect. Even the idea of questions was absent in their minds. They were engaged in living a live of perfection, a sort of participation mystique with their creator. Yet hidden in this garden are two other elements, the tree of knowledge, and another being of sorts, the face of darkness. If one truly believes that God created everything, every sentient being; we have to accept that this tree of knowledge ad this face of darkness were also his/her creations. God knew that his creation was perfect and said so.

Lucifer - covering, disguising and hiding

Lucifer – covering, disguising and hiding

Yes, it’s hard to accept that his creation of darkness, the face of darkness, was part of his plan. Yet, we can’t ever fathom that God could or would make mistakes. God made humans naked and called it good. The original human response to being naked was without shame. Clothing didn’t exist, the need for clothing didn’t exist. Questioning anything including their nudity didn’t exist. But [there is always a “but”] the truth of our own lives tells us a different story – a story that also must be good and true if there is such a being as God, and if we are to believe in her/his Word also known as the Bible. So, how can I understand the apparent contradictions of human responses to nudity? What is the message, or the messages that are being given? I have to assume that none of this is by accident. I can’t accept that God bungled the whole mess and it has spiraled out of his/her control and into the hands of his arch enemy, Satan who then would become more powerful than God. I need to dig a bit deeper.

If I shift perspectives for a moment, I can begin to grasp an elementary idea of what might actually be an answer. I am a parent. I took part in a creative act with my incredible wife which led to the birth of three children. I saw each of my three children as they emerged from the womb into the world. They were perfect; they were unclothed; they could do nothing that was wrong, no possibility to commit any conceivable sin. And, as far as I could tell, in the beginning of each of their lives, they were Eve and Adam in their turn. Their presence in my life evoked a sense of awe. All doubts were cast aside. I believed.

Time passed and these incredible little beings began to be aware of us as parents and themselves. I watched in fascination as they became more and more conscious of life. Life began to be difficult for them. In place of a one-ness with their universe, consciousness brought separation. Consciousness brought an end to their life in paradise. And when I think back on the story of creation, it was consciousness that caused Adam and Eve to become aware of their separateness from God and the Garden. A little bit of knowledge does more harm than good as they quickly found out. With consciousness came suffering for my children as well as for Adam and Eve. God sent them out of the Garden; and in time, I sent out my children into their own adult lives. I have to assume that God has more love within her/him than I do; and with that being the case, the door to come back home will remain open and that the return to the Garden will be a return to perfection. The difference will be that the return will be a return to Paradise as fully conscious beings; beings that have eaten of the fruit of life to its fullest. The return as fully conscious beings to the Garden where clothing will not be an option, for shame will no longer exist. There will no longer be a motive for hiding the perfection of creation.

3 thoughts on “Nudity and Holiness – In The Beginning

  1. I’ve been reading through the last several of your blog-posts, and, again, find them stimulating and provocative. Thank you for writing: and thank you for sharing your own pain, your history of abuse, as well as your celebration of good things that have happened — such as your relationship with your understanding and sympathetic wife. I dare say that one of the things that is really fortunate about your relationship with her is that she gives you liberty to pursue your journey as a nudist more openly — not least, perhaps, because she recognizes the healing and the wholeness that it gives you.

    A number of things you write about could be a part of my story as well. I don’t share your history of abuse: unless a terribly repressed childhood (particularly sexually) and the justification of that repression by religious fundamentalism could be counted as “abuse” (and I often think that it could be, in fact).

    But you write about the “shadow” of nudism (one aspect of which is pornography; one doesn’t go far from your blog to find some pretty strange stuff): I wonder if Thomas Moore’s early book, Dark Eros, might not be useful for understanding this more deeply.

    You also speak of “nudism” and “holiness”: I think there’s much more to be said about this. Paul Tillich (himself no stranger to situations of social nudity) has written about “the fall of Adam and Eve” as a fall upwards, into greater consciousness — one aspect of which was/is consciousness of nakedness. I can’t help but think that one of the positive gifts of the internet and the frank discussions among nudists might not be even greater consciousness that one can be free to be naked, and that one’s nakedness is not to be judge negatively, but simply is, and is good. Therefore one is free to engage in spiritual practice naked, alone or with others: meditation, yoga, prayer.

    You write about your “compulsion” to go naked: I’ve felt that, too, since before I can remember, I think. But I was also terrified of that compulsion: I was sure that it meant that I was weird, somehow; sick. After years of getting naked, including a number of years of social nudism, but also after years of therapy with a skilled analyst (a Jungian, actually!) I am growing more and more to have courage to enter into the shadow realm of nakedness the more deeply and consciously: and to see ways in which there is “light” beyond, or beneath, the shadow.

    I’m still not home free: I feel I’m in a public professional situation where I could be compromised, for instance: “outed” and shamed. But what would “home free” mean? At the very least it means that I’m sufficiently at home with my naked body to be able to sit here, NIFOC, and share some of my journey with you. Thank you for sharing yours with all of us.


    • Hi Allen. It is good to hear from you again. Indeed, I am fortunate to have my wife in my life. The journey with me has not been an easy one, but it is an honest one with nothing held back along the way by either of us. I am a naturist and she isn’t though it isn’t all that crystal clear to make such a statement. I guess it would be better to state that I have a tendency to naturism and she doesn’t have the same tendency.

      As you tell a bit of your story, I can hear your wounds. Wounds are wounds and are not anything less or more. One wound isn’t worse or better than another wound. We are wounded because that is the nature of life, the nature of how we make the journey toward consciousness.

      I am pleased to see that you have made your presence known at the Nook. Perhaps we will enlarge our friendship there – two older men sharing words, ideas and friendship.


  2. An interesting spin on the Eden mythos is seeing God not angry in the question “Who told you you were naked?” but sorrow viz. God lamenting over the idea of Adam/Eve feeling their bodies are so shameful they have to hide them in fig leaves.


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