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A Rejoinder


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By a Texas preacher

When Fig Leaf Forum's editor and I agreed to a written debate we both agreed to publish the debate on our respective websites without addition or alteration. Hence, this rejoinder cannot be added to the material that formally makes up the debate. However, the nature of what the editor said in his final negative demands some comment so that readers can better understand how wrong nudism really is.

First, the editor attacked my use of an article revealing rabbinical traditions about nakedness in Israel. Yet if he had read closely he would see that I did not cite such tradition as authority for or against nudity. I used it to rebut his repeated assertions that nudity was widely practiced in Israel. He never gave any proof for this, but merely assumed it. The authorities that I quoted show, at least, that such is certainly not the understanding major historians have of Israel's attitude toward nakedness. If the editor has proof of his wild claims of Israel going naked in the wilderness, biblical or otherwise, then he should have provided it to the reader.

Second, the editor repeatedly ignored the truth that the Bible uses nakedness often as a sign of shame and embarrassment. He even asks about sackcloth, but by doing so just makes my point. If someone were to start wearing sackcloth and ashes and claim it was a sign of happiness would we not do well to cite biblical precedence that they are incorrect about what sackcloth signifies? Likewise, the editor wants to go naked but ignore what the Bible says such nakedness may well represent, claiming that it actually represents deeper spirituality and a better relationship with God! That is simply amazing, and does not accurately reflect the biblical picture of public nudity. I am confident that the readers noted that the editor steadfastly refused to give a single passage of scripture that commended nudism as he practices it. Isn't that interesting?

Third, the editor continues to use the Bible in an abysmally ignorant fashion.  Peter warns of those who "twist the scriptures to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3.16) and such certainly fits the editor's ridiculous claims that the Bible supports public bathing. He gave three citations: Exodus 2.5; 2 Kings 5.10-14 and 2 Samuel 11.2. If you will read these you will find the first speaks of the daughter of Pharaoh bathing privately with her maidens no men are anywhere to be found in the passage. 2 Kings 5 speaks of Namaan dipping in the Jordan river to cleanse his leprosy. That is public bathing? What a stretch! There is no indication in this text that Namaan removed his clothes to do this, or that any women were present if he did. Again, the editor sees what he wants in the Bible wherever he wants. The third verse is the passage that speaks of Bathsheba bathing and David's lust that resulted. That is the passage I've been asking about since this debate began! The editor cites a few rare examples of people being partially unclothed in the Bible (a correct use of the term "naked," note that Adam and Eve are said to be naked though partially clothed in Genesis 3.7, Genesis 3.10-11). Yet those very examples prove that nakedness was not common, else how would Isaiah have attracted any attention to himself and his message if everyone was doing it? All of this lame discussion by the editor is closed with his statement that non-sexual public nakedness was common and accepted and that there is "historical evidence available to anyone who will search for it." Indeed! Then why didn't the editor supply that evidence in our debate?

The editor concludes by stating that he has not avoided the topics in this debate. I suppose that if a person wants to label whatever the affirmative sets forth as being off topic then he is right. However, the readers know that my questions about lust, and how it is avoided are right on target here. The readers will have noticed that repeatedly the editor announced that I was ignorant about social nudism but he just as repeatedly refused to educate me and the readers as to how such can be conducted righteously. Apparently there is some secret knowledge about how to avoid lust that the editor has that he won't tell us! The rest of the world struggles with lust but nudists have the problem licked they just won't let the rest of us in on the secret!

If we are debating whether social nudism is sinful (and we are) and I point out that such behavior can lead to sin and in fact has led to sin (as in the case of Bathsheba and David, 2 Samuel 11) then he is obligated to show that his practice is somehow different or has safeguards in place so sin won't happen or my point stands. Incredibly, the editor admitted that there are some people who, like King David, have a problem with lust. That admission alone destroys him, yet he never would tell us how he keeps the "Davids" out of the nudist camps or how he knows he isn't presenting himself before such a person when he is there. He could be causing a "David" to lust and never know it, but such would be sinful and wrong and he knows that too! All of this just shows how wrong nudism is. Again, for the fourth time now, the editor can't guarantee that he won't lust and he can't guarantee that he won't cause lust. As such he must leave nudism off.

When the editor goes naked he might lust, he might cause others to lust, he destroys his influence as a Christian, and he might cause a weak Christian to join in and lust. The editor should have told the readers of the debate from the outset how he avoids these problems. Since he cannot (as he cannot know others' hearts) he must leave nudism off. Interestingly, the editor never did answer my question about his lusting at a nudist camp. That certainly leaves cause to wonder what exactly goes on in his heart when he goes naked, doesn't it?

Such wondering is only natural, since the editor refuses all such questions about lust, and further would never reveal why he wants to go naked or what he gets out of such. He could be naked privately at home. No, that's not good enough. He wants to be naked in front of others. Why? What does he gain from that? We donut know, because he would never say. He commends this as a great thing but won't tell why it is so great. Isn't that interesting?

Now, after writing three affirmative articles that he continually ignored, choosing to make wild assertions, mis-use scripture and say mean things about my ignorance of social nudism, the editor ends by saying the ball is in my court and challenging me to another debate. Wow! That is incredible stuff, isn't it? The truth is the ball is squarely in the editor's court, and has been since my first affirmative. All his dodges and his deciding my questions are "oranges" and so aren't worthy of answer just show that he has not yet begun to debate this proposition. Perhaps before we sign up for another debate the editor would like to finish this one!  When he does (by telling us how he avoids lust, how he avoids causing others to lust, how he keeps from wrecking his influence, and how he keeps from encouraging weak brethren to sin) then we might start a new debate. However, I am (understandably) reluctant to debate someone who won't debate!

I expect other social nudists may read this material and want to email me.  That is fine, and I'm always glad to study the Bible carefully with people who are ready to conduct themselves in a kind and considerate fashion. One fellow emailed me recently with a hateful diatribe in which he asserted that all the world's dictators pass clothe laws first as a means of enslaving the sexes! I'm not up for that kind of nonsense, but am willing to talk with anyone who is genuine and sincere. However, any social nudist who emails must start by discussing the four items the editor never would answer. Specifically, how do you avoid lusting at nudist camps? Remember, asserting that lust could happen anywhere, clothed or otherwise, doesn't answer the question. Yes, lust can happen anywhere, but that doesn't make it right, nor does it make it right to just go any place where there could be even more temptation to lust. So how do nudists avoid the temptation to lust? Second, how do nudists know they are not causing others to lust? That must be answered specifically and straightforwardly. How do you know what others are thinking in their heart?

I have received several emails besides the editor's about our article on nudism. Regrettably, none of them show any inclination to take lust seriously.  Most, like the editor, treat it as some old-fashioned "you've-got-to-be-kidding-me" kind of thing, dismissing it cavalierly with a "no problem for us high and mighty nudists." Frankly, I've had enough of that kind of arrogance. I suspect strongly that deep forms of perversion are behind social nudism and the editor's unwillingness to discus the "brass tacks" of how nudism prevents lust and his refusal to tell us if he lusts do little to mitigate those suspicions. In all honesty, I have more respect for the hedonistic folks I've read about who go to nudists camp for sensual purposes and make no bones about it than the editor who wants to pretend such outrageous behavior can actually commend one to God. I expect that if the editor would tell the truth he would have to admit he goes to nudist camps because he does lust and he likes lusting and doesn't plan to stop lusting.

So if you want to e-mail, begin here by dealing with the issue of lust. Once we get that resolved (something the editor couldn't do and finally just said he wouldn't do), we'll go forward from there to the issues of influence and encouraging weak brethren to sin. All of that is a pretty tall order that I can't seem to find any nudists willing to fulfill!

I hope this material will help some people who might be tempted to experiment with the ungodliness that is social nudism. Lust is real and real Christians will guard against it: "For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2.16-17).

Editor's Note: The article above is as it appeared on May 19, 2000 on the Texas church of Christ's Web site. It has since been removed from that site.

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