The Bible has much to say about the human body, which was not only created perfect by God, but also created unclothed. Adam and Eve were innocent in their nakedness, but when they sinned, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Never before had they realized they were unclothed—the concepts of “clothed” and “unclothed” were meaningless to them. But sin affected their hearts and minds, creating vulnerability, guilt, and shame, and these things produced fear (verse 10). In their attempt to cover their spiritual shame, Adam and Eve intuitively covered their bodies. We should note that, when God took away their fig leaves—a sadly inadequate covering—He replaced them with something more permanent—animal skins (verse 21). Thus, God regarded clothing as appropriate and necessary in a fallen world. We are not saying that the naked body is evil or repulsive; on the contrary, we see the body as a beautiful part of God’s creation. The primary passages in which nudity is free of shame are those that describe Eden’s idyllic setting or that deal with marital relations (Proverbs 5:18-19; Song of Solomon 4).

We offer some thoughts for your thought and discussion today. In concert with biblical principles, most societies attach negative connotations to public nudity and place taboos on it. It is Western culture has determined that nudity in art is permissible. What is the Christian perspective? Can nudity be used in a valid presentation of truth? Can artistic nudity be part of making a larger, legitimate point? For the Christian, does exercising “artistic license” justify portrayals of the nude human form?

Of course, all sorts of tangential questions also arise: What about partial nudity? Is a bare leg too suggestive? What about cleavage? If someone paints a scene from the Garden of Eden, how much shrubbery should surround the carefree couple? Does Michelangelo’s David need underwear? Where does “art” end and “pornography” begin? If lust occurs, whose fault is it—the artist’s, the viewer’s, or both?

We can’t answer these questions in all their particulars—we’ll leave that to individual conviction and conscience—but we can lay out some general principles concerning nudity.

1) The naked human body is not inherently sinful.
2) The Bible declares that ALL of God’s creation is beautiful and good!
3) Lust is sin (Matthew 5:28; 1 John 2:16). We are responsible to guard our own hearts against lust. “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). We should make every effort to avoid whatever causes us to sin and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14).
4) Christians have been called to modesty (1 Timothy 2:9) and we should have nothing to do with the evil that is pornography. Jeremiah 17:9 warns us that “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” Part of the heart’s deceit is self-deception. The fact is, none of us are free from the influence of the flesh. (Romans 7).


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