Yes, you read that correctly. Although, if you think about it a moment, you’ll probably agree with one writer who finds this just another entry into the category of Christians who segregate themselves from the world with Christian radio stations, Christian plumbers, and Christian bookstores. I always wonder why believers advertise their faith; it seems to me nearly an excuse for mediocrity–sure my work ethic and expertise suck, but I’m a Christian!–but that’s probably a diatribe for another day.
I find two fundamental issues with Christian nudism as described, at length and NSFW, by one adherent. Let me disclaim first, however, that I couldn’t possibly belong to the Puritian/Pietist tradition that would have women wear Christianized burkas, if at all possible. The gratuitous nudity in Game of Thrones doesn’t bother me a bit. My skepticism concerning Christian nudism doesn’t belong to the Victorian stripe.
It does belong to a conviction that Christian nudists (and I can’t help but chuckle each time I type that) are after the wrong goal. Attempting to return to some bucolic state isn’t what the Christian faith is all about. We’re not trying to become like Adam and Eve, even before the Fall–and Weinstein does get style points for using “prelapsarian”, by the way. Being nude neither returns us to a state of pre-Fall grace, and neither does it indicate we have been returned there. Our state of grace is both secured and advertised by the cross of Christ. And I wonder: If existing in the state that Adam and Eve did pre-apple is so faithful, why stop with nudity? Why not live outdoors in the Fertile Crescent? Only eat what can be gathered locally? Forgo medical care? It does seem interesting that wanting to live in Adam’s and Eve’s prelapsarian world appears to start and stop at getting naked.
I’m also a bit skeptical about the movement’s use of nudity. Weinstein’s description of it sounds a bit bipolar, to be honest. On one hand, it’s a sign that believers are redeemed; on the other, it’s so diminished as no big deal that adherents sing hymns in the buff. (Please, no jokes referencing “Rise Up, O Men of God”. I just don’t think I could take it.) But nudity is an essential part of the human condition, which is to say it gets to the essence of being human. We are embodied souls, and to diminish or laud that truth too much is to get into trouble. Our embodiment, which includes our nudity, should raise our thoughts to God and his heaven. This is, in part, what the Renaissance artists did in their depiction of nudity. Yes, they were drawing from Classical antiquity when displaying the human body nude–Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” comes to mind–but the incessant nudity in depictions of Biblical scenes such as the Sistine Chapel indicate that the human body could very well be devotional and meditative in a way that seems to escape the contemporary Christian nudist. Conversely, a fixation on nudity without the devotional element, which is the scourge of our culture in pornographic material, launches a myriad of problems upon us as our thoughts are drawn away from the Creator and debased to the more animal elements of being embodied.
Quite frankly, the self-indulgence of Christian nudism seems to be a benign version of the latter instead of a strident attempt at the former. So if you want nudity to be a part of your Christian devotion, throw on something comfortable and study Michelangelo’s “David”. It comes with the added benefit of not having to cover your barstool before bellying up.