Q: In their original state, Adam and Eve were naked in Paradise. Is it wrong for Christians to be part of a nudist colony, or, as it is now called, a “naturist” gathering?
A: The book of Genesis tells us that prior to the Fall of man, Adam and Eve were naked in the original Paradise (2:25). As husband and wife in their innocent state, everything was fine with that. But then they disobeyed God and, as a result, became dominated by a sinful nature, which they passed on to all their descendants, including you and me. The reason they clothed themselves with fig leaves (3:7) is because they were then ashamed and guilty before God, and thus tried to hide behind the fig leaves just like they tried to hide behind the trees (3:8). They had lost their innocence.
Before God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden (Paradise), He gave them new clothes (3:21), indicating that He did not want them (and their offspring) to be naked. The significance of the animal skins, from which the new clothes were made, is that it was the first shedding of blood in the Bible, and pointed to the Lamb of God, whose blood would be shed to “clothe” all mankind in righteousness (those who choose to believe).
Though today in the USA we often hear the figurative phrase, “Another day in Paradise,” it is light years from the truth: Paradise is long gone—and that is why God no longer wanted man to be naked. One of the chief characteristics of the sinful nature is sexual lust, and both the Bible and human history are overflowing with examples of people’s lives being destroyed by giving in to such lust. The Word of God has much to say about doing our best not even to think such thoughts, let alone act on them.
God instituted rules about clothing and covering our bodies to avoid embarrassment and sin. For example, He specified that steps not be used to approach His altar. “And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it” (Ex. 20:26). Through the Bible, and throughout history, public nakedness for anyone but small children was related to shame, evil circumstances, and slavery, and examples from the Bible fit that paradigm (Isa. 47:3; Lam. 1:8; Nahum 3:5).
Interestingly, the Bible reveals something else that is now well known about nakedness: excessive alcohol consumption lowers a person’s concern for godliness and modesty. Habakkuk 2:15 says, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.” People who are normally concerned about modesty become much less so when drunk.
God says He wants people to be appropriately clothed in the presence of anyone who is not their spouse. For example:
1 Timothy 2:9
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.
If God says He does not want women to dress immodestly, He certainly doesn’t want them naked, and the same goes for men. We think the reason God specifically addresses women’s clothing is because men are much more visually stimulated than women. Of course, Satan knows this, and that is why he is absolutely inundating the world via movies, television, billboards, magazines, books, and now the Internet, with images of naked or scantily-clad women (and men too, though not as many). He does this because he knows that seeing a naked body generates sexual thoughts in people’s minds.
And consider the following verse, speaking of a man who, until Jesus had delivered him from a demon, had been living in a cemetery and cutting himself with stones. The verse indicates that the man had also been naked, and it connects his being clothed with being in his right mind.
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
It is noteworthy that Jesus was always clothed in the presence of people, even in his resurrected body, and James 2:15 indicates that if someone is too poor to buy clothing, we should help him get some.
Furthermore, we will wear some form of covering over the new bodies we receive at the Rapture, for in Revelation 19:13 and 14 both Jesus and the armies of God who come down to earth out of heaven are specifically said to be clothed. Lastly, we should mention that even in the Kingdom of Christ on earth people will be clothed, and the priest’s clothing is mentioned in Ezekiel 44:17-19.
Therefore we see clearly that no, the Word of God does not condone nudism.
NOTE: If you want to do an awesome word study, the Greek word enduo, translated “clothe” and “put on,” will lead you to these magnificent truths.
Because of Adam’s original sin, all men have since been born spiritually naked, that is, without God and without hope in this fallen world. As God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins (Gen. 3:21), so through Jesus Christ has He now “clothed” every person who has confessed Jesus as Lord and believed that God raised him from the dead. Christians are no longer naked and ashamed before God, because we have been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49), which is to be clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27).
Now we are to put on the new man (Eph. 4:24) and the armor of light (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:11) so that we say and do what glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:12). And finally, when the Lord comes to take his Church out of this world, he will consummate our sartorial splendor by clothing us with a new body (1 Cor. 15:53-54; 2 Cor. 5:2).