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 The Biblical Base of Naturism, from a Christian Perspective 

The text is adapted from articles by Nobilangelo Ceramalus and Angela Lund.
The verses are from the King James, or 'Authorised Version,' of the Bible (and listed in Chapter order).
(Note: the superscript links go to the verses: just move the cursor to a number to see the relevant quote reference - don't click!)

God never told Adam and Eve they were naked.1 2 God declared his handiwork, including the complete human form, as "very good". 3 4 Man clothed himself after he sinned,5 because of necessity, fear, and as a self-righteous act to redeem himself.

God recognised the need for clothes; like that for food and water - it is not possible to go through life without them; but that doesn't mean we must eat all the time, drink all the time, or be clothed all the time.6

Some Christians point to the prohibition on 'uncovering nakedness' of various kin, in Leviticus;7 as an anti-nudity injunction. First, the term is obviously a euphemism for sexual intercourse; second, even if taken literally, the injunction is against uncovering another's nakedness, not one's own. We are, thereby, warned against what's currently called a 'power trip.'

Another favourite passage of the naysayers of nudity lies in the Genesis story of a drunken Noah,8 after the flood. Here the real issue is shame: drunkenness is a disgrace, and Ham indulged in the sight of an inebriated father. The story warns against telling others of observed failings, and of breaking the commandment to honour thy father and mother.

Prophets were known for prophesying naked;9 it was a normal practice of the Hebrew prophets.

King Saul became jealous of David, and sent parties of men to kill him. At that time David was staying at Naioth with Samuel and the prophets. But as each of Saul's parties approached Naoith 'the Holy Spirit came upon them.' Finally Saul himself went to kill David, but he too became enraptured, and like those who went before him, prophesied naked "all day long" after the Holy Spirit of God came on them.10 David danced naked, i.e. wearing a vest (or "linen ephod")11 before all Israel, as an "act of worship" to God. When his wife, Michal, rebuked David's actions as "vulgar;" she was cursed.

The prophet Isaiah was commanded by God to go naked for three years, as a witness against Egypt of the shame they would suffer for not obeying God.12 But God would not command someone to sin. Ruling men, though, used enforced nakedness as a means of humiliation - as seen these days, in the likes of Abuh Grav in Iraq.

In Exodus it is explained that if you are given a garment by a neighbour as security you must return it to him overnight.13 God's focus here is on the man's need when he sleeps in the cool of the evening not on the fact that he'd be naked during the daylight hours.

A follower of Jesus fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane during the arrest. He had come to see it, dressed in just a light linen night covering.14 Jesus was hung on the cross completely naked, the way Romans crucified all their victims.15

It was customary for people to work without the encumbrance of clothing in those days. Peter, one of Jesus' twelve disciples; fished naked, and was doing so16 when Jesus came to him after the resurrection. 

There is confirmation of Jesus' casual acceptance of nakedness, at the Last Supper, where he washed his disciples' feet.17

A transformed, purified heart is stronger than any clothing, to keep one free from lust and sin. 18 19 The body is the garment of the spirit. As the temple of the Holy Ghost,20 your whole body is lit, "having no part dark," if your vision is sound. 21

Paul, in Corinthians, likens the church to the body, making it clear that the body, like the church; is a unit with "no schism" - properly balanced, with no sense of division.22

Repeatedly, biblical passages proclaim the basic message: it is the spirit which needs to be clothed,  the body does not.23

In the New Testament era, in Greece, the common garment was called a himation. The himation was typically the sole garment owned by ordinary people in those times. (Hence Moses' injunction against keeping debtor's garment.24) More wealthy persons also could own a chiton, made of linen. In the Old Testament, wealthy persons and royalty also possessed numbers of garments.

As reported by St. Hipolytus of Rome around 200 AD; by St. Cyril of Jerusalem circa 350 AD; and 50 years later, by Theodore of Mopsuetia; in those early centuries of the Christian church it was the custom for men, women and children to be baptised together, naked.

The garment industry slowly developed in the ancient Near East over the period between 4,000 BC to the time of Christ, as the population increased, and the economy made it feasible. Clothing was worn for warmth; to show that a man had married a woman and to show prestige25 (as in Joseph's coat of many colours); but not to hide 'private parts.' That came later with the teaching of the Gnostics and subsequently, Augustine.

Historically, underwear as we understand it, first came into general use only about 200 years ago (see The Importance of Wearing Clothes by Lawrence Langner, 1991 edition, chapter 16). Thus, lacking underwear, when people removed their himation (and chiton if they had one) they would have been merely naked.26

Genesis 1:31
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
Genesis 2:25
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 3:7
And the eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Genesis 3:11
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?
Genesis 9:20-27
20 - And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 - And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 - And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 - And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 - And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 - And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 - And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 - God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Exodus 22:26-27
26 - If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down:
27 - For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
Leviticus 18:6-19
None of you shall approach any that is near of kin to him; to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord. [The next 13 verses simply specify which kin.]
I Samuel 19:23-24
23 - And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesised, until he came to Naioth in Ramah.
24 - And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesised before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?
II Samuel 6:14
And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
Psalm 30:11
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.
Isaiah 20:2-4
2 - At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying,  Go and lose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from they foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 - And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years, for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;
4 - So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Ezekiel 16:7-8
7 - I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and though hast increased and waxen great, and though art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, wheras thou wast naked and bare.
8 - Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and though becamest mine.
Micah 1:8
Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.

Mathew 6:25-33
(Jesus' words) 25 - Therefore I say to you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 - Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 - Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 - And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 - And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 - Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 - Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 - (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 - But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Mathew 21:8
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way;
Mathew 25:41-43
41 - Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 - For I was hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 - I was a stranger and ye took me not in: naked and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Mark 14:51
And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
Luke 11:34-36
(Jesus' words) 34 - The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
35 - Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
36 - If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give the light.
Luke 12:22-24
22 - And he said unto his disciples: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 - The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 - Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storeroom nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
John 13:4
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
John 19:23
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
John 21:7
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
Romans 14:14
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
19 - What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 - For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
I Corinthians 12:21-25
21 - And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 - Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 - And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 - For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 - That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
Galatians 5:16
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh:
Timothy 4:4-5
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Titus 1:15
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.