Nudity is one of society's big dilemmas. While advertising posters and online newspapers overflow with naked bodies, young Norwegians refuse to shower naked after gym class. Where are the boundaries of healthy nudity?
Pop stars such as Miley Cyrus believe that it is oppressive to women when they can not show their breasts on social media, while secondary school teachers are alarmed that students are sending nude photos to each other on Snapchat. It is undoubtedly a challenge to teach children to keep their intimate boundaries in an almost borderless society.
To cover a naked body is setting boundaries.
In May 2015, nurse and public debater Maren Weum wrote a comment on "NRK Ytring" about the children's program Newton's Puberty series. She claims that the content can be harmful because it breaks down important boundaries for nudity. The comment was met with ridicule and opposition in the comments section. In connection with an abuse case at a primary school in Trondheim one year later, the police questioned the involved children. Some of them referred to the series as an inspiration for the offenses that were committed. Why is it wrong to touch other people's genitals or take nude photos when the presenter on Children's TV does the same?
Nudity is intimacy
To cover the naked body is to set boundaries. Getting undressed makes us vulnerable. The first two people were created naked, to be one body (Genesis 2:24-25). Nudity and intimacy are the glue that binds spouses together. When a man and a woman are naked together and have sex, they unite in such a way that they become one. From God's perspective, intimacy is meant to bind two people together in a lifelong relationship. We find some of this thought continued in the law God gave to Moses, where a whole section is set aside to explain the limits of nudity in various relationships (Leviticus 18:4-23).
You shall not dress your father's wife naked, it is your father's nakedness. (…) You shall not dress your brother's wife naked, it is your brother's nakedness. (Leviticus 18,8.16 NB88)
This tells us that nudity and sex bind people together in such a way that if a man sees another man's wife naked, some invisible boundaries are touched that is about more than seeing a naked female body. It is trespassing on someone else's privacy. It is entering the private space that belongs only to the two of them. The nudity of the wife touches the man. He feels stripped when she is seen naked. The intimacy of a healthy marriage is best described in the words of creation: the two shall be one flesh.
The intimacy that vanished
A friend of mine had a conversation with a group of young teenage boys. In the conversation, they touched on falling in love and having a girlfriend. "I'll never fall in love," said one of the boys. The others nodded in agreement. By having sex with constantly new girls, they avoided becoming emotionally attached to the one. They could satisfy their desires but avoided the emotional bond that closeness and intimacy bring with them.
Humans have limited intimacy. Intimacy is like a roll of tape. If you stick it on and take it off again, the glue will disappear. A society characterized by public nudity and free sex reaps the fruits of breakups and transgressive behavior. The intimacy that God intended to be the glue in a marriage is destroyed on the altar of liberal society. We need the voices that say out loud that nudity is not always normal and that sex is more than gymnastics.
As Christians, we also have a message for our time that God can heal people's capacity for intimacy. Through repentance, confession, and accepting forgiveness, wounds can be healed, and self-respect restored
A man and woman thing
Dressing brings with it some paradoxes. When a father exhorts his teenage daughter to dress modestly, the desire to protect is at play. He understands the dynamics that the girl herself doesn't always understand. When Jesus talks about the body and lust, he is talking to men:
But I tell you, whoever looks at a woman to lust after her, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
Women and men experience nudity differently. A humorist once said this: If a woman sees a naked man in a window, he is a blotter. If a man sees a naked woman in a window, he is a voyeur.
The feminist who demands her right to sunbathe topless or show nudity on social media wakes up one day to discover that half the world's population is turned on by a naked female body. She fought for respect but instead became the very object she did not want to be.
A Different Vision
Teaching young people that there is dignity and self-respect in dressing modestly, is not an area where parents get help from society. If respect is about the number of likes on social media, or attention from the opposite sex, the road is short to sell your integrity in relation to the body, nudity and boundaries. I believe that we need to convey a new vision to the rising generation. Other ideals where the focus is shifted from a rush for external confirmation to justice, holiness and godliness. As the apostle Peter writes:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Pet 3:3–4)
Helping a rising generation to make a choice in the tension between nudity and the burka is perhaps primarily about this: a motivation to live in purity, holiness and fear of God.
Reprinted with permission from Sennep.net