Monday, December 19, 2016

Thoughts on Purity and Modesty, Part 2

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There is a push to ask questions on the relationship of culture to sexuality and lust. Statements like, "God made my body, why shouldn't I and others love it," "Aren't we just animals anyway," and "How can this be wrong when it is accepted in so many other places in the world" are now common place and with them is the overarching idea that modesty and purity are based, not upon absolute truth, but instead on cultural subjective norms. To this thinking we look today.

The human body, like all creation, was created perfect by God (Gen 1:31). However, sin did mar that greatly. The misguided premise has been made by some that clothing is a result of the fall and man should pursue a pure view of the body rather than seeking to cover it. This, however, is based on a false notion. While man takes fig leaves and recognizes his shame and need for covering, he is not the only one who clothes himself. God, actually knowing man's plant clothing would not work, kills for the first time in creation and makes clothes for man (Gen 3:7 & 21). What is the extent of that clothing? We don't know, but it would seem to at least involve that which primarily makes humans men or women. The shame of physical nakedness is a result of the fall, and is something that we don't biblically see fully corrected till eternity. Marriage is really the only reprieve from this to be had (Eph 5:31), and even that comes with work. We don't see Paul write about us pursuing "pure" nudity or see Christ return in a nude resurrection body. Rather Christ's statement about no marriage in heaven would seem to show the lack of the act or focus on sex in relation to the eternal sexuality we will each maintain for all time (Mat 22:30).

All that being said, the extent of the shame or guilt over one's nakedness, while possibly being culturally influenced, does not mean there is or should be no shame at all over nakedness. In other cultures from the most prudish to most nudist, each has some form of dress they do wear which shows the universality of the effect of the fall. Also, at least the majority of cultures who do different activities completely naked are far more godless societies without the gospel or God, as of yet, having affected their hearts. This accounts for a great deal of the third world and tribal groups we know of today. This is not a new thing however, actually, throughout time we see sinful men seeking to do away with the laws of God and the guilt that comes with breaking them. Because one culture has possibly eroded their conscience does not mean we should participate as well. An example of this is nude beaches in much of Europe. On the other hand, we do want to teach liberty in the context of dress and should help to inform other cultures of right standards. For example, we would encourage a Muslim woman with truth and, as she comes to know the Lord, help her retrain her conscience to not think a burka is necessary to conceal herself for modesty. Also, as a quick note, the values and views of the United States are not a healthy middle ground between these two extremes. We also are culturally bankrupt in this area and as believers need to put far more thought into what is truly biblically acceptable.

Much of the desire for a view like that of a self-proclaimed "Christian" nudist seems to stem, rather than from Scripture, from psychological beliefs that people are not comfortable with their bodies or other's bodies and don't love themselves and thus all the problems of sexuality and lust are caused. These views, rather than being helpful, are actually dangerous at the least and a very useful excuse for pursuing sin. Some take this and use the argument that viewing pornography is actually just looking at art. Others might call it "window shopping." All of it, however, stems from a wrong view of God and the stewardship of our bodies He gives us. "for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Cor 6:20). "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." (1 Cor 6:13).

Phil Smith
Youth Minister

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