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Second Debate Negative

By the editor of Fig Leaf Forum

The church of Christ preachers' words about failing "to speak to the real issues," attempting to "sidetrack the discussion" and employing "evasive maneuvers" motivated me to carefully scrutinize everything that's been written for this debate so far. My analysis yielded an important discovery. In this debate the preacher is supposed to be affirming the proposition that "Social nudism is condemned by the Bible as sinful," yet in his two articles he's primarily been affirming that "LUST is condemned by the Bible as sinful." Well of course it is! If that was really the debate proposition there wouldn't even be a debate because we'd both be on the same side!

The preacher first began sidetracking the debate when he insisted that "Social nudism is wrong because it can provoke lust." Based on this logic he could also contend that delicious food is wrong because it can provoke gluttony and money is wrong because it can provoke greed. The Bible won't let him do that, of course. Scripture clearly does not condemn food or money, but it does soundly condemn their abuse. It's a sad fact that there's nothing on earth that human beings cannot abuse, and for that reason no one can condemn something simply because it can be abused. Since the preacher has admitted in his articles that the Bible discusses conduct which "dramatically parallels," "exactly parallels" and "mirrors...perfectly" social nudism, the onus is on him to prove that the Bible plainly condemns this conduct itself and not just its abuse.

The preacher also sidetracked the debate by doing the very thing he rightly warned against in his first article. "We are...not talking about what we think or feel," he wrote. "We are discussing what the Bible says is right and wrong." Among other things, he has wanted to discuss what others "think or feel" about Christian nudists and what I "think or feel" about my own participation in nudism. If the preacher can in the first instance prove that the Bible plainly condemns what he says "exactly parallels" social nudism, then personal opinions about current nudist practices are of no relevance to this debate.

I regret that in my first article I sometimes naively followed the preacher's lead away from the proposition of this debate and away from the Bible into matters of personal opinion. No more! We must both get back on topic and back to the Bible!

In his second article the preacher wrote that "Bathsheba's bathing in 2 Samuel 11 exactly parallels social nudism as defined by the editor. Bathsheba was not doing anything to entice David. She was bathing and innocent." So then, here we have the preacher affirming that nudism is sinful by describing Bathsheba's "nudism" as innocent! An intriguing debate tactic!

The preacher follows this portrayal of Biblical "nudism" with a description of how one person abused it: "Yet she was seen naked and lust occurred." So where does the real problem lie: with Bathsheba's "innocent" behavior or with David's evil behavior? One would think the answer would be obvious.

The preacher wrote, "The editor asserted that 'Neither can God-created nakedness, in and of itself, tempt anyone to evil.' That is wrong. David saw Bathsheba's nakedness and was tempted to lust." There are two major problems with what he's written here. First, the preacher neglected to include my quote's important reference to James 1.13-14: "[God] Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed BY HIS OWN LUST." Let's be clear. God is the Creator of our bodies. Scripture leaves no doubt about that. If our bodies alone tempt people to lust, then Scripture is wrong; God does indeed tempt people by the very way He creates us! May it never be said.

Second, the preacher implies that if Bathsheba had just refrained from her unenticing and innocent behavior, then this whole nasty incident would never have happened. He's employing a very questionable tactic here called "Blame the victim for the crime." Never mind David's adulterous heart (remember, Jesus taught that committing adultery in the heart precedes looking lustfully Matthew 5.28). Never mind David's lack of self-control. Never mind David's abuse of power as King. No, according to the preacher the blame for David's sin rests on Bathsheba's nakedness! That's not the way God saw it, however. God's condemnation of David's conduct is unmistakable and severe; God's condemnation of Bathsheba's nakedness and conduct is non-existent.

The preacher accepted my remarks about the commonness of public bathing but noted, "The editor did not quote a single verse of Scripture showing unmarried men and women bathing together." True. It's also true that he didn't quote a single verse that condemns such bathing. Why should it be so remarkable that Scripture doesn't comment on something so commonplace and accepted? If one seriously considers the Israelite's wilderness journey, for instance, it simply defies credibility to suggest that more than a million people could travel for years through a barren desert living together in tents with no access to private bathrooms and with no bathing "facilities" other than rivers, lakes and small oasis pools without ever seeing nakedness or without ever being together naked in a non-sexual context like bathing.

The preacher again wrote about the clothing commands of Exodus 20.26 and 28.42-43. I seriously doubt that he obeys Old Testament ceremonial law yet here he insists that I do. I find this odd.

The preacher also revisited 1 Timothy 2.9. "Whatever is made of 1 Timothy 2," he wrote, "it still says women have to wear something, something that is modest. How can a nude woman claim to be obeying 1 Timothy 2?" It should be noted that 1 Timothy 2 also says that women are to be silent (1 Timothy 2.12). How, then, could a woman ever speak and still claim to be obedient to 1 Timothy 2? The answer is quite simple, really. If she was speaking where Paul expected her to be silent (at public worship, for instance), then she would be disobedient. However, if she was speaking where there were no such expectations (at home, for example), then she could speak freely and still be in full compliance with 1 Timothy 2.

In the same way, if a woman wasn't modestly clothed where Paul expected her to be so dressed (at public worship, for instance), then she would be disobedient. However, if she was completely unclothed where nakedness was commonly expected and lawful in Paul's day (while bathing outside in a lake or at the public baths, for example), she could be nude and still be obedient to 1 Timothy 2. Paul would no more demand that women remain clothed twenty-four hours per day than he would demand that they remain silent twenty-four hours per day.

The preacher dismissed my use of the terms "chaste nakedness" and "modest nakedness," comparing them with "kind murder" and "loving adultery." The problem here is that murder and adultery are clearly condemned in the Bible as sinful, but he has yet to prove non-sexual nakedness to be similarly condemned. Until he does, I stand by my assertion that chaste, modest nakedness can be found in a wide variety of situations and environments, including nudist clubs.

The preacher claimed "Nakedness is, by definition, the opposite of modesty and chasteness." In truth, Webster's Dictionary defines nakedness as simply the opposite of being clothed! There's no moral component in such a definition.

"No one is modest when they are naked," wrote the preacher. Let's not forget that he believes "indecency" is "a lack of modesty." If our bodies are inherently immodest and indecent, then the preacher cannot escape the conclusion that God (the Creator of our bodies) is also the Creator of immodesty and indecency. I profoundly disagree! It should not be lost on readers of this debate that by the preacher's standard, even private nakedness between a man and his wife is immodest and indecent!

The preacher wrote, "The editor tries to act like there is nothing wrong with nudism, and that everyone naked in the Bible does so without condemnation [untrue; see below (ed.)]. He even says 'Never is physical nakedness itself a matter of shame, embarrassment or condemnation.' Really?" Readers should note that the preacher neglected to include the crucial second part of this quote: "It's always the conditions or actions surrounding nakedness the context that result in these negative connotations." Thus, the illicit actions of a naked prostitute are indeed condemned by the Bible while the lawful actions of an "innocent" naked bather like Bathsheba are not. Let's now look at the preacher's Scripture list:

Genesis 9.22-23: While Noah's drunkenness is difficult to excuse, the only thing actually condemned in this passage is the conduct of Noah's "youngest son": "When Noah awoke from his wine, HE KNEW WHAT HIS YOUNGEST SON HAD DONE TO HIM. So he said, 'Cursed be Canaan...'" (Genesis 9.24-25). Most Bible commentators agree that this passage indicates some action or conduct apart from simply seeing Noah's nakedness actually brought about Canaan's condemnation.

2 Chronicles 28.15; Ezekiel 18.7: Being in need of clothing's physical protection no more implies shame, embarrassment or condemnation than being in need of other necessities of life like shoes, food, water and medicine (all mentioned within these verses). About Ezekiel 18.7 the preacher wrote, "Why does the good man cover nakedness? The editor says good people go naked!" Such words mock the suffering of destitute people. I've never said and would never say that it's a "good" thing for anyone to be without clothing when it's needed for physical protection.

Micah 1.11: The nakedness in Micah's vision occurs within the context of forced humiliation. Isaiah 20.4-5 shows that forcibly stripping prisoners was meant to shame and humiliate them. The emotional difference between voluntary nakedness and being forcibly stripped is not unlike the emotional difference between giving to a charity and getting mugged. Even social nudists, who obviously have no problem with nakedness, would find being stripped against their will a humiliating experience. Note that verse 8 has Micah himself going about "barefoot and naked" in his vision, just as God commanded Isaiah to do in real life (Isaiah 20.2). The preacher believes that God condemns non-sexual nakedness where it can be witnessed by the opposite sex, yet God placed Isaiah in exactly that situation for three full years! God does not command sin, preacher. God does not command what He also condemns.

The rest of the preacher's Scriptures are figurative or symbolic in nature. Crossing the boundary from literal to figurative nakedness presents serious problems for those who feel these verses are germane to a discussion about actual bodily nakedness. In Revelation 3.18, for example, the Laodicean church is counseled "to buy from [Jesus] gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." To make the "shameful nakedness" of Revelation 3.18 into literal, physical nakedness is to make Jesus the literal seller of literal gold, literal white clothes and literal eye-salve! Just as Revelation 3.18's nakedness actually represents the Laodicean's shameful spiritual destitution, the references to nakedness in the remainder of the preacher's list represent something other than physical nakedness and as such are irrelevant to our discussion.

In this article I have relied heavily upon the Bible to show why I believe nothing that resembles the physical activity of social nudism is condemned as sinful in Scripture. Even though it could easily be seen by others of the opposite sex, neither Bathsheba's nakedness nor the many other examples of non-sexual nakedness found in the Bible receive any condemnation from God. I contend that neither the preacher nor anyone else has the authority to condemn that which God Himself does not condemn!

It's now time for the preacher to put first things first and concentrate on making one last attempt at proving from Scripture alone that the physical activity of social nudism is condemned by the Bible as sinful.

Next article: Final Debate Affirmative

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