Nude and Genuine – Who Are You Naked For?

I am returning to Pastor Ed Raby’s post, Naked Before God – Part 1, and talk about the fourth positive spiritual aspect, that of genuineness. This one gives me a bit more trouble than some of the other aspects because, in my opinion, being naked has no guarantee that one is being genuine. A few days ago one of my acquaintances posted a brief note about his being with a few friends, naturist friends. The guys in the group did their best to suck in their increasing girth that comes with age as an attempt to . . . and this is where the issue of genuineness comes into the story. The wife of one of these men asked “When you get naked, who is it for?” This lady asked a powerful question that didn’t need any voiced answers. It was enough just to be said and to get all thinking about being honest with themselves.

Simply being naked has nothing to do with being spiritual, approaching the spiritual, or with honesty. It takes more than stripping off the clothes to be genuine. As soon as one becomes part of a group while nude, there are other factors that consciously and unconsciously come into play. There are issues that deal with relationship with others of the same gender and the opposite gender; there are issues with how various ways of holding one’s body, or the choice of words, or the tone of voice all interact to evoke an emotion within us, the increase of affective energy both positive and negative – the bringing into play projections. There is a reason why Jesus counselled people to pray alone and in a private place [Matthew 6:6]. For it is when one is alone that all the environment and psychological distraction will allow for an opportunity for each of us to finally be genuine. Alone, we can then ask ourselves, “Who is this for?”

Now, this is not a criticism of social nudity, for there is much that is positive that comes from being with others, being in community. The way we act with each other can be genuine as much as it is possible to be genuine; however, that is so much different than the approach to the spiritual centre within each of us. For so many of us, it is easier to be genuine with others than it is to be brutally honest with one’s self. The presence of our inner shadow gives us pause, a pause that is based on fear and when it is sensed, even a bit of shame. This shame has nothing to do with being nude, physically; rather it is about being naked psychologically where all that is within us is exposed. The fear of this exposure causes us to bury these dark shadows that are faces of ourselves, so deep that we forget that they are even there. This psychological nakedness is often too much for us to handle, so we rush back to our safe places, our carefully constructed versions of self that exclude the shadows. We then begin to believe that our physical nakedness presents the genuine self, and that should be enough.

Now really, for whom are you naked?

4 thoughts on “Nude and Genuine – Who Are You Naked For?

  1. As I look ahead in my own series, I can see a tone of complications arise the moment you have other people enter the picture of nudity and spirituality outside of God himself. Even spouses can complicate this a bit. Thanks for the thoughts.

    • Yes, there are complications when “other” enters into the picture, especially that “inner other.” The problem of outer others is what is frustrating most naturists and nudists in our modern world – how to get past the prejudice and projections and the dogma of church and advertising – the dark face of the collective unconscious.

  2. This is a good question. I think nudity like much else in the human condition has inner and outer qualities to it. The spiritual side to me is most definitely inner. The social side is the outer. We need both to find the fullest expression of the natural state. Just as private prayer as Jesus taught propels us into public interaction, our spiritual nudity feeds the social and I think vice versa. I am not suggesting it is this way for everyone who claims to be nudist or naturist but that is how I think it is meant to be. So in answer to the question I am naked for me both the inner and the outer me. That is the whole me that when realized expresses the genuine me.

    • Yes, we do need the inner and outer qualities to make us “full” beings. The hardest part is being genuine, either nude or clothed.

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