Nudity vs Modesty
The wearing of clothes is the social norm in most cultures. Some are more relaxed about nudity, while others attitudes toward clothes often depend on context. What may be considered inappropriate and offensive in one context (i.e. Janet Jackson inadvertently exposing her nipple at Super Bowl), maybe acceptable in another context (i.e. strip club, in the home, x-rated movies). The acceptance of such nudity is dependant on an individuals subjective standards. Some people actually have a heighten fear of nudity that produces a psychological aversion to nudity, called Gymnophobia. This condition is generally regarded as an anxiety disorder where the patients fear stems from anxiety about sexuality and fear that their nakedness leaves them exposed and unprotected. Despite this condition, most sufferers learn how to control their impulse and learn to function in general society.
Nudity occupies a somewhat paradoxical position in Western society; many people regard nudity to be inherently sexual and erotic, while others, it depends on context. Then we still have a class of people who have strong views on nudity and feel uncomfortable in the presence of any nudity, which to them can involve issues and standards of modesty, decency and morality. Yet, nudity also has many positive associations as a sign of simplicity, honesty, innocence, self-expression and freedom. In this paper I will examine the root cause for such discontentment about the nude body and suggest that an adjustment to our current attitudes towards nudity and modesty needs to be reexamined to reflect societys every-changing attitude towards body image and sexuality.ClothesThe presence of a nude person in a public place can give rise to controversy, irrespective of the attitude of the person who is nude. First we must ask, why do we wear our clothes?uWe wear clothes simply for protection. Protection from harsh climates and protection from germs. We wear clothes for social status. We use designer brands such as; Gucci, Prada, Guest, to adorn ourselves which flaunts power, wealth, luxury and social status. In the ancient Mesopotamian myth of the descent of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, she had to remove an article of clothing to gain entrance into each of the seven gates to the Underworld. When she finally passes the seventh gate she is completely naked, stripped of her status and power. So too, in present day, clothing does well to camouflage our true selves as we strive to embellish ourselves with high-priced items to show wealth, status and luxury.In contrast we have on the opposite end of the spectrum of social status, the low-end but affordable brands which are often found in stores like Walmart. We also wear clothes to show our profession such as uniforms for police, military, doctors and nurses, or trade (i.e. mechanic) and even dress codes for formal engagements (i.e. Graduations, weddings etc.).In fact, clothes began to shape our culture and our identity from the moment we covered up our bodies. We wear clothes for decoration, self-expression and because of this, clothes send out all sorts of images that needs to be said, and believe it or not, clothes do says a lot about you. Some of the main motives for personal adornment are to express an image, gain admiration, and create a sexual attraction. With clothes there is no need to posture yourself because clothes does all the talking for you.Through the years both genders, especially female, dress to create desire by showing off certain body parts. All men and women subconsciously want the opposite sex to be attracted to them. For example, many womens ovulation is a completely covert operation. By wearing clothes women give no external clues by sight, sound nor smell of when they are about to ovulate and many dont know at all when they are about to ovulate. Therefore, our bodys shape, movement and clothes have become important for sexual attractiveness. Yet we conceal all the bits of the body that are most important for sexual attractiveness.When did we start wearing clothes? The Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam recount the story of Adam and Eve found in Genesis 3:7 where it states: Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. When you read this biblical passage you get the feeling that being naked is shameful, a feeling that is often associated with guilt. The guilt arose from the first human pair who ate from the Tree of Knowledge, something they werent supposed to do. When God called out to Adam, his response is found in verse 10 and 11, I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? (Genesis 3:7, 10-11).
If being naked causes shame and guilt then why was Adam and Eve originally created naked? When you think of how a child is born into the world, the child is naked and completely unaware of its body parts. There is a sense of innocence until the adults insist that they cover certain parts of their body. Adam and Eve, although knowing right from wrong, were still naturally good. When they ate from the Tree of Knowledge they became enlightened, their eyes were opened gaining wisdom, knowing good and evil. Such wisdom takes them from the earlier unashamed nakedness to clothing, a mark of civilization. They ceased to be the inherently goodbeings that God created them to be. As such evil, which was introduced by the serpent an external tempter was transferred into an internal inclination. When they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, the evil inclination became a part of them. No longer did they need an external tempter to incite them tosinnow, that tempter resided within their psyches. And specifically, sexual passion a passion which is much stronger than the desire to give charity or praise God, a passion which is much more encompassing and has the potential to be seriously misused became a part of them as wellthey became aware of physical lust and they realized that they were naked and only now it was inappropriate for them to be unclothed. ~Rabbi Chaya Sarah SilberbergLust
In Christianity, nudity is associated with the Original Sin, and points to an aspect in their doctrine of redemption and salvation; because in the eyes of the church sex and procreation is sacred. Physical lust is one of the most infamous sins that all Christians deal with and the most difficult to overcome. Lust is desire taken to the extreme it is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body that is usually equated with sexuality. There is a difference between passion and lust. Lust is a powerful psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, or circumstance to fulfill the emotion. Passion has the same ingredients of lust but the difference between the two is that passion has the ability to control the emotion whereas; lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.
This line of thinking parallels Jesus words found in Mathew 5:27-29 where he addresses sin of a sexual nature through lust which results in adultery. Whosoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart Jesus was basically saying that looking upon a woman with an intense desire, and were not talking about a mere glance nor a general attraction that may be normal to any heterosexual man, but an intense desire with an idea towards possessing the desired object, is a violation of the seventh commandment of adultery even fornication. Since many people regard nudity to be inherently sexual and erotic, humans have found it easier to cope by covering the sexual reproductive parts.Yet by covering these sexual reproductive parts women have not escaped the lustful gaze of a man. This lustful obsessive behaviour has often led to sexual assaults and can lead to psychological conditions such as sexual addiction. Let us not forget the remarks made on January 24th, 2011 by a representative of the Toronto Police who stated the Forces view of sexual assault: women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized. This led to a public outcry and as a result the Slut-Walk protests was organized in various cities across the country. These protests sent out a strong message to the Police Force and informing the general community that it is not okay to blame victim; because sexual assault is not about what you wear (or not wear), it is more about power and control.Fallen Angels and the Nephilim
If we look closely we can find that lustful behaviour, sexual assault, sexual abuse and basically all sexual transgressions have antediluvian roots found in Genesis 6:1-4. According to Hebraic and other legends (the Book of Enoch and other non-biblical writings), the Nephilim were a race of giants, heroes of old, men of renown, who did acts of great evil. Their great size and power likely came from the mixture of angelic DNA with human genetics. The Nephilim devoured humans and therefore became one of the primary reasons for God to bring about the great flood in Noahs time. The Nephilim giants were the offspring of a different kind of sin and we must look toward their parents to learn of the atrocities that let to the great biblical event of the Flood.In the book Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity, author Annette Yoshiko Reed writes about a class of angels known as the Watchers found in the Book of Enoch. These angelic beings, led by Smihazah, were charged with observing and monitoring of the humans: Although Smihazah appears in the list, another Watcher Asael, is most prominent. It is his act of instruction that precipitates the spread of violence and promiscuity among human kind.v Three themes are highlighted throughout the Angelic descent and the evil they created among the humans which are recorded in the Book of Enoch, they are: [1> the dangers of sexual impurity;[2> the corrupting potential of knowledge, and;[3> the antediluvian proliferation of violence.1 En. 7 states that their transgression in their choice of human wives and sexual defilement with them concludes with the disastrous results: the pregnancy of the women, the birth of the Giants, and the Giants violent actions (7:2-5). The theme of sexual impurity functions as the main axis along which the rest of the transgressions of the Watchers is articulated. The Angels choose wives with whom they defiled themselves, as a result the Angels taught; sorcery, spells, cutting of roots and herbs, spell-binding, magic, sophistry, cosmologically related auguries, they taught men metalworking for making weapons, and for women they further taught cosmetics, dyes, precious stones and knowledge of self-adornment which led to fornication.
Perhaps it is here that we find the root cause of why women were burned at the stake for witchcraft and the violence against women that we see all down to this day. Because it is taught that through the female flesh these angelic creatures entered and evil was born into the world. In both cases, Adam and Eve as well as the Fallen Angels, women and their sexuality were [are> feared and blamed for the fall of man, evilness in the world and therefore needed to be controlled and subdued. This is why the commandment of modesty within the Church have always been pointed towards women.ModestySelf-control is another word for restraint. Restraint for the purpose of purity; and restraint for the purpose of exalting God not ourselves. Together, these attitudes of modesty and self-control have become the hallmark of the godly dress of a woman. In 1 Timothy 2:9-13 states: Also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their head braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a women learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. In Paul and Timothys day, modesty and self-control were foreign to many Hellenistic women who walked through the local marketplace. Of these women, some held leadership and teaching positions and it was a particular view of the author that immodest dressing threatened conventional domestic order. Modesty is the opposite of boastfulness which means drawing attention to yourself and your attributes. Humility, morality, decency, shyness and simplicity are other words that are used in unison with modesty. Talk to any priest, minister or any man of the cloth he would say that modesty begins with addressing your heart and your intentions and attitudes towards the way a woman dress.Although in most cultures today, its the social norm to wear clothes yet it is taught that awoman with a godly heart will practice self-control and since her wardrobe is a statement of her motivations, a godly woman would ensure that her apparel reflects the twin virtues of modesty and self-control. This means avoiding provocative clothing that are extravagant or sexually enticing. As C.J. Mahaney, senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, states: Modesty is humility expressed in dress. Its a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality. Immodesty, then, is much more than wearing a short skirt or low-cut top; its the act of drawing undue attention to yourself. Its pride, on display by what you wear.Shame
The Oxford Dictionary defines shame as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour. In Christianity, nudity is associated with original sin, which fits perfectly into their doctrine of redemption and salvation. In Islam nudity is unacceptable and carries a stigma of shame, therefore all men and most importantly women must be covered. Over the centuries, shame of nudity had served its purpose which encouraged us to stay faithful to our partners and to share our responsibility of bringing up our children; and religions have used the expression of shame (and guilt) as a simple self-defence mechanism against adultery and fornication.Therefore, it is a common view that the human body is a sexual advertisement, flaunting it can send out a dangerous message. [Because> Nudity is a threat to the basic social contract, it is an invitation to defection. It exposes their person, their body and their sexual selves in a way that presents an opportunity for sexual behaviour outside of the principle union.
However, in modern times of liberalism, modernity and individualism, we have witnessed a massive shift in our perceptions about sex and nudity. We no longer solely engage in sex for procreation, many engage in sex for personal gratification and intimate bonding. A persons reservation about nudity then becomes more about being self-conscious of our physical bodies instead of religious impurity. Because of this, attitudes toward sex and nudity have become more relaxed and even welcomed. Just as we are creating new rules about sex and challenge the Church to create a new theology about sex; we too can create new rules about nudity and the risk offence, just like a nudist camp.Only humans have moral notions such as guilt and shame that enforces cultural standards. We are not born with sexual modesty we are taught to be modest, to hide who we truly are and to fear what lies beneath our clothes. In contrast, nudity is a blank canvas whereas; clothes tends to camouflage your true self. It is also important to remember that the state of nudity is the state of being human. Having a naked skin and understanding the evolution of that naked skin is understanding everything about being human.With nudity, we can finally experience deep relief in simply being who we are, with no need to pretend, nor pressured to be who we think we should be. Our bodys are a wonderful miracle that has been granted to us and we spend far too much time, criticizing our bodies, or hiding them away in shame or fear. It is time to love, honour and set our bodies free, and enjoy the delight that it has to offer us.__________________________________________________________________________________________________