Public Nudity in the Bible
I was raised ultra-conservative where boys were not allowed to swim with girls. It was wrong to wear shorts, because you might tempt the opposite sex and you did not want to be stumbling block! Then I read the bible and found passages that confused me.
Gen 2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame
In a perfect world before sin, public nudity was practiced and without any shame. If public nudity is a sin, then God created Adam & Eve in a sinful situation before sin existed? While this verse is challenging for a conservative, you use all kinds of twisted logic to explain how it was okay before sin but after sin it became a sin.
Isaiah 20:2 God told Isaiah son of Amoz, "Go, take off your clothes and sandals," and Isaiah did it, going about naked and barefooted.
Many years ago, I had trouble understanding how God could command a prophet to walk around naked for 3 years. If public nudity is a sin, then God just commanded Isaiah to sin for 3 years. This passage along with several others helped open my eyes to the possibility that what I thought was wrong may not be wrong. I began to realize that my value system was largely based on what my parents and other people taught me. The modern American society condemns public nudity, so growing up in that society I learned the value system. A value system that does not align with the bible.
I always assumed that the bible condemned public nudity. But the more I read through the bible the more I found that public nudity was not condemned. The more I studied history, the more I discovered that early Christians were often poor and without clothes! From a biblical and historical perspective I found significant evidence to support that public nudity was not a sin.
I Samuel 19:23 Prophets stripped naked to prophesy
In I Samuel 19:23, the bible says that the Spirit of God was on Saul. He ripped off his clothes and lay before Samuel for a day and a night, stretched out naked. When the people saw it, they were surprised to see Saul among the prophets. This is an important passage because Saul was not always known to be under God's control, but the bible tells us that this action was while he was following God's Spirit. Additionally, the passage implies that the other prophets were naked and that Saul joined them and blended in with them to the point where it amazed the people. Lastly, this action was in front of other people; after all the job of a prophet is to speak to the people on God's behalf.
Job 1:21 Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I'll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed.
Job trusted and followed God. He was so faithful that God allowed him to be tested by Satan. Job viewed nakedness as simply a state that we begin and end life. If God wants to take away our clothes, then so be it. Clothing was a gift; a possession that you may or may not have. In modern American culture clothing is viewed as much more than an optional possession that can be given or taken away.
Matthew 25 Jesus assumed you would see naked people
Public nudity was so common in biblical times that Jesus even referred to it while teaching. Public nudity was often associated with poor people who could not afford clothing. Jesus taught that we should help strangers, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide drinks to the thirsty. Jesus did not condemn people for being poor, hungry, thirsty or naked.
Micah 1:8 Micah said he must go barefoot and naked
The prophet Micah also talks about going around barefoot and naked, similar to the prophet Isaiah.
The Bible does not condemn public nudity. On the contrary, there are plenty of versus that appear to indicate that God commanded it several times. Public nudity was common in biblical times and was often associated with the lack of wealth (poor person).
The modern American view on public nudity is not consistent with the bible, which causes problems when people try to read and understand the bible based on a flawed value system. It would be very wrong to assume that public nudity is biblically wrong or a sin. If God commanded a person to go around naked for 3 years in today's society, what would you think? Does your personal value system have room to accept what God teaches in the bible?