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Final Debate Negative

By the editor of Fig Leaf Forum

"Social nudism is condemned by the Bible as sinful." That's our debate proposition. I'm disappointed that in his concluding article, the church of Christ preacher mostly affirmed that "Lust is condemned by the Bible as sinful" and mostly ignored his own stipulation that we limit our discussion to "what the Bible says is right and wrong." I hope it won't be lost on readers of this debate that his last thousand-word article contained only two Scripture references!

In his final affirmative, the preacher quoted Michael Satlow to rebut my remarks about public bathing during the Exodus. Unmentioned was the fact that Mr. Satlow's article focused on Jewish attitudes towards nakedness based upon rabbinical law and traditions (yes, the very kinds of rules and traditions of men criticized by Jesus in Matthew 15.2-9 and Mark 7.6-13) dating from 70-500 A.D., some fifteen centuries after the era I was discussing. That the preacher would even quote from such an article surprised me since he himself stipulated that in this debate, "History is not our standard.... We are discussing what the Bible says is right and wrong."

Interestingly, Mr. Satlow also spoke about "context-dependent understandings of nakedness" in his article. "Who is naked and in what context he or she is naked convey different meanings: Is he or she naked in a locker room, at a strip-show, or at an academic conference?" Sound familiar? It should. That's precisely the point I made in my first article, a point the preacher summarily dismissed as "nonsense"!

The preacher wrote, "If nakedness is such a great thing, why does the Bible use it as a mark of shame and sin?" I might just as easily ask, "If clothing is such a great thing, why does the Bible use it as a mark of mourning and repentance?" Of course, not all clothing represents mourning and repentance in Scripture (only sackcloth, as in Genesis 37.34 and Matthew 11.21), just as not all nakedness represents shame and sin. For the preacher to continually ignore context when interpreting nakedness is inexcusable.

The preacher wrote, "The editor also chose to assert that since God made the body if the body causes lust God created lust." That I rejected such ideas by writing "May it never be said" apparently escaped his attention. He further wrote, "Yes, God made the body (and sex). In the right context these are pure and not inherently indecent.... What the editor (and free love advocates) don't want to recognize is that God's creation is also subject to God's law." While his preposterous comparison of "free love" with the topic of this debate clearly betrays the preacher's ignorance about social nudism, his observation that both sex and nakedness are "subject to God's law" is absolutely correct. Just as the Bible clearly differentiates between prohibited and permitted sex, it also differentiates between prohibited and permitted nakedness. Nakedness "in the right context" can indeed be "pure and not inherently indecent." That many of these "right contexts" in Scripture are non-sexual and public is something the preacher has been trying to ignore throughout this entire debate.

Does the preacher know more about non-sexual public nakedness than God? God certainly knew how to make it clear when and for whom such nakedness was prohibited (Exodus 20.25-26, Exodus 28.41-43). Did God appoint the preacher to pencil prohibitions and condemnations into the Bible that were mistakenly omitted? The preacher says non-sexual public nakedness causes others to lust. If this is true, why didn't God prohibit or condemn public bathing (Exodus 2.5; 2 Kings 5.10-14; 2 Samuel 11.2)? The preacher says non-sexual public nakedness leads others to sin. If this is true, why didn't Jesus prohibit or condemn the public nakedness of field workers and fishermen (Matthew 24.18, KJV; John 21.7)? The preacher says non-sexual public nakedness destroys one's influence. If this is true, why did God order His own prophet Isaiah to walk naked among his people (Isaiah 20)? Why didn't He prohibit or condemn nakedness among His other prophets (1 Samuel 19.23-24)? Why didn't God condemn King David for his exposure while worshipping Him (2 Samuel 6.14-23)?

These passages (supported by historical evidence available to anyone willing to search for it) demonstrate how common and accepted voluntary non-sexual public nakedness was for most in Bible times. God didn't prohibit or condemn this nakedness because He rightly knew what modern social nudists have simply rediscovered. He knew that non-sexual nakedness simply doesn't provoke lust or sin in the way folks like the preacher imagine.

The preacher has every right to condemn what God condemns, including abuses of voluntary non-sexual public nakedness (of which 2 Samuel 11 is the only example in all of Scripture). However, the preacher has no right NO RIGHT to prohibit or condemn what God chose not to prohibit or condemn as sinful in His Word, and that includes conduct that he himself claims "dramatically parallels," "exactly parallels" and "mirrors...perfectly" social nudism responsible, voluntary, non-sexual public nakedness.

Social nudism is NOT CONDEMNED by the Bible as sinful, and the Scriptural evidence I have provided in this debate proves it.

A final note. The preacher has attempted repeatedly to leave readers with the impression that I'm trying to avoid issues like lust, "damaged Christian influence," etc. He's wrong in doing that. When we were establishing debate guidelines he wrote, "I am not interested in someone cluttering the debate with endless talk off topic about everything except the key issues being debated." I believe "off topic" describes far too much of the preacher's performance in this debate. For my part, I'll make no apologies for not addressing "oranges" when the topic of debate is "apples"!

Preacher, if you really want to debate these other topics, then let's establish a new proposition, refine our guidelines and begin again. Contrary to your false accusations, I'm more than willing to publicly state and defend my position on such issues when it's done in the proper forum. The ball, as they say, is in your court.

Next article: Does God Approve Of My Sin?

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