The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
14th of September, 2014

Towards an Orthodox Nudism

The only thing that is assured of being constant about a human is his weakness in regard to the righteous law. They continually fail to live up to it, and this is why the way to maintain Adam in good conscience before God (“they were both naked, and were not ashamed”) was to keep the knowledge of good and evil from him.

For as long as man knows good and evil, he also knows that he himself is not good as he is. Humans show their acceptance of this standard by dressing up; because God created us with nakedness which, if you know good and evil, is clearly something to be ashamed of. And yet that is how God made us. The nakedness was there, and its badness was also there, but it should not be a problem if we had obeyed and abstained from knowledge of good and evil. If you say that God did wrong by creating nakedness (or evil, or whatever), you are standing on your rebellion—the knowledge of good and evil—and presuming to judge His Perfect Wisdom.

The rebellion even started when, in our limited animal wisdom, we thought we had the capacity to evaluate the pros and cons of eating of the tree. “She saw that it looked good, and was good to make one wise.” Yeah, but that is based on human evaluation which is less-perfect than that of God, who said not to eat of it. The problem is that increased wisdom on Man’s part—acquiring knowledge of good and evil—gives him a standard which he has not been created for; it includes forbidding nakedness to Man, the image of God, and yet he, as an animal on the Earth, is fittingly created naked.
Even when human wisdom is convinced of the rightness of something, the thing is still wrong if the perfect wisdom of God says it is wrong.

So, God did no wrong to create us naked—animals are supposed to be naked—but we did wrong to find out that nakedness was not good for us. The relationship between Perfect God and us, His creation, who are necessarily less-than-God, would never have suffered, had we abstained from acquiring knowledge of good and evil, as we had been commanded.

Nevertheless, here we stand: created naked, and aware that it is not good. What then?
For everybody, in every religion, this is a problem to overcome. They set up laws to war against their evident imperfection. The first rule is that they enjoin clothes and forbid nakedness; this is true of every human and every society. The one thing that is constant from human to sane human is this: cover up your gonads! As a result, we are the only animal that is never as it was created, but always covering up its natural state.

The continuing dependence on clothing bears witness to the continuing imperfection of man. —For if they were in the state of innocence, they would not be ashamed of their nakedness. Babies, who are innocent, don’t care. But humans continue in the rebellion that they fell into by knowing good and evil, and they cover their gonads as acknowledgement of it.
And for as long as they continue to cover up, they continue to need a cure for the state in which they find themselves.

Enter Jesus.
At Calvary, Jesus was not dressed. Even though the gospels point out very clearly that Jesus was stripped naked—as was normal for convicts—all the artists are too ashamed to put Him up there with His circumcised dick visible, limp with pain, flaccid with shame, and shrunken from hæmorrhage. I understand that; I understand that fallen man even has trouble speaking of Jesus and penises in the same sentence (as though we confess in vain or pretence that He was truly and fully man). In spite of all that, it is simply a fact that Jesus was fully God and fully Man; that He had a dick like all of us; that He was stripped naked on the cross. So while the first Adam shed the innocence of nakedness and covered himself up in vain, the second Adam shed the honour of the seamless robe and hang up there doubly-undressed: circumcised and naked. (Haha!)

But this nakedness of Jesus on the cross bought for us an exit from the original nakedness. Faith in Christ is the solution to not just the shame of nakedness—which is merely a symptom—but rather the solution for knowledge of good and evil itself.
This continuing need for covering our nakedness bears witness to our continuing knowledge of good and evil; and this continuing knowledge of good and evil bears witness to our continuing need for the salvation that comes by Jesus Christ; such that if we ever have no shame before God—if we stand before God as though we are perfect, aware of good and evil, but unaware of our imperfection, even in spite of the continuing witness of our need to cover up our nakedness, this testimony to our rebellion—it is because we are aware of the complete perfection of our restoration, by faith, in Christ Jesus.

And so our weakness, our imperfection, our nakedness, which is the witness to our rebellion—for we would not even be able to discuss it, if we were not rebels in the first place—makes the salvation relevant.
You can always be sure that, if a man is sane, then he is aware of his need to cover up, his need for salvation. You can always be sure that a man will need Jesus Christ if he understands that his need for underwear, at the very least, is witness to his need for Christ. Men will always need clothing, therefore they will always need the grace of God in Christ; because the problem is not even nakedness itself—the cats and dogs, for instance, don’t mind it—but rather the rebellion that makes nakedness a problem to us in the first place.

Christ doesn’t just give us a pair of jeans; He puts us under grace.
We can’t deny our rebellion, because we cannot deny our need to dress up. We therefore can’t deny our need for Christ. This continuing awareness of nakedness is not a problem, because we have clothes; and also the continuing awareness of our rebellion is not a problem because we are in Christ.
Christianity—the true, Reformed Christian faith—does not pretend that the Christian is perfect and lacking in weaknesses. It doesn’t deny the awareness of nakedness. It merely affirms that there is no shame, since we are dressed; it affirms that there is no condemnation, since we are in Christ Jesus.

It is very central to our faith that we confess the reality of our nakedness, and our continuing awareness of the nakedness, and not deny that this—unambiguously, and on the authority the scriptures—is testimony to our rebellion. If we acknowledge nakedness, we acknowledge rebellion against God. And we all acknowledge nakedness—because we dress up—so we continually admit that we are rebels. If we were not rebels, we would be naked and unashamed, like the babies and the cows. But we are rebels, so we dress up, every day and every moment.

Similarly, we freely admit that we are sinners, so we cling to the grace of God in Christ. It is a real and continuing grace, because so is the weakness. There are those who downplay the imperfection of man, and so they downplay the centrality of grace in the life of the believer. In reality, it all begins at the grace of God. And if the grace of God is real and continuing—as indeed it is—so is the need for it. Those who are ashamed of admitting that they are continuing sinners, in the sense of simul justus et peccatore, are also the ones who are ashamed of the grace of God. (Here I include Roman Catholics, and all other legalists.)

And for this reason I am not fully dressed unless I have some Christian symbolism somewhere in the dressing, even if as a necklace or a bangle. This is my solemn tradition, and I hold to it firmly. Dresses are a placeholder, a prophecy, and a witness to the real fix for nakedness: Christianity. They only make sense if they bear witness to the real fix for nakedness; otherwise the dressing up is in fact mere superstition which cannot successfully contend with a nudist heresy, for instance. I actually prefer nakedness; but if I can’t have it, I should have clothing that makes sense. And if I can’t get the clothes to speak the truth, I don’t bother with them (much to the loud chagrin of my prudish neighbours).