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Social and Religious Anxiety Condemns Nudity and the Human Body

In Genesis, humanity was created naked; there should be nothing shameful about it.            Michaelangelo / Wikipedia

In Genesis, humanity was created naked; there should be nothing shameful about it. Michaelangelo / Wikipedia

It seems like from the beginnings of civilization nudity was a taboo, one should be ashamed of the naked body. This has always puzzled me because as a young girl I was told that we are born naked, that God created Adam and Eve naked, and they dwelled in the Garden of Eden peacefully like that for a long time. The Christian God has no problem with nudity; He has not condemned it in scripture or practice for if He did he would have created them with clothes.

He was even displeased because Adam and Eve covered themselves, it showed they were ashamed of how they were created. I came to the conclusion that humanity transformed it into something licentious.

Human interpretations of scripture are the main culprits here, exaggerated and false interpretations of how Christianity, and Judaism and Islam, portray nakedness.

I have heard it said that nudity is considered obscene because is associated with original sin. Later interpretations have suggested that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge was not a fruit but a metaphor for Adam and Eve having sex.

After the Fall of Man, we see adverseness to the naked human body and the irrevocable bond between sex, nudity and obscenity is formed.

Thereafter politics and racism became vehicles for branding nudity obscene. Racism and colonialism associated nudity with savagery; through that association nudity became undesirable because it was seen as a symbol of hedonism, sin and a lack of civilization.

Clothing was idolized, even though, in all honesty, clothing is just used to display false pretenses. It hides insecurity and imperfections, flaunts wealth and vanity. It exposes damaging psychological dogmas and reinforces the idea that clothing, especially conservative clothing, is virtuous.

My problem with this association is that neither nudity nor sex were created or intended to be sources of shame and condemnation; they are both part of the purity of creation. We were created in the image of our Maker, right? It’s a negative mentality that condemns nudity and the human form.

Why is it that we feel the need to taint it with our perversion? In other parts of the world like Southern Asia, religion and society does not condemn nudity; it is accepted and commonplace during the festivals and rituals of religions like Hinduism, Raelism and Jainism. Christian Naturists uplift the naked state. Nonetheless, Western popular culture seems fixated on perverting the nature of nudity and condemning those who feel comfortable in that state.

Look at all the advertisements you see, they all attempt to turn nudity into filth, into something we are secretly drawn to because of carnal lusts. We do not present it the way it should be presented. I’m not saying that we should all be nudists, but we should not be ashamed of it or our bodies.

It is how we are born. It is a natural state of human creation, a way to establish a connection between two people, a oneness with all that is elemental, spiritual and natural.

We learn to present it this way, and appreciate how big of a part it plays in wholeness and ones with our bodies, society, nature and spirituality.

Philippa Hatendi can be reached at phatendi@ut.edu.

3 Comments on Social and Religious Anxiety Condemns Nudity and the Human Body

  1. Loved the article. I suggest exploring naturism. http://www.naturistsociety.com/

    Like

  2. Malcolm Boura // February 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm //

    An excellent article apart from one little stumble right at the start. The nudity taboo is a relatively recent development. Moreover it encourages attitudes which result in widespread and often serious harm.

    Like

  3. What a wonderful debate it would be between this article and the article about Hijab from a few weeks back.

    Like

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