I want to blow up a dam of false thinking about our bodies that impedes the desperately needed flow of theological truth. Only a trickle escapes, and our thirsty world ends up drinking from filthy drainage in the gutter. Destroy that dam, and a flood of creational, incarnational, restorational truth about the human body can wash away this lewd, gutter‑minded thinking from both society and the church.
All naked creatures God created remained so, except for us. Few animals artificially camouflage their natural appearance for protection or stealth, but none for hiding nudity. Except where humans learn body acceptance culturally, body shame takes over.
Most Christians won’t adopt body acceptance if they believe that body shame is humanity’s natural response ordained by God. Scripturally, that’s a groundless assumption. Historically, what’s recorded contradicts it. Culturally, its promotion reveals the “dark side” of indoctrination. Personally, just from these three categories, I’ve found enough truth to demolish the dam built by this false but widespread belief.
I began working at this by confronting the church’s ineffective approach to porn addiction. Strategies based on body shame get no help from God. He sets people free with truth. But a sacrilegious allegiance to body shame often stifles the truth of body acceptance.
Pornography is the tip of the iceberg. From body shame, and the sexual objectification accompanying it, come other social problems. The original sin undermined God’s will for us to accept ourselves as a divine fusion of dust and spirit. Body shame, which at first manifested as fearing nakedness, brought mental alienation into humanity’s body‑spirit self‑concept. Once disassociated from personhood, the body became open to self and social misuse and abuse. Among the results beyond porn addiction were body‑image dysfunctions, sexual promiscuity, gender confusion, and human sex trafficking.
The only sure way to “blow up” this stubborn dam of body shame is to reveal its diabolical origin. When I discovered that its source was the exact opposite of my assumptions, I was shocked. Until confronted by a critical mass of evidence against it, I too believed body shame was God’s will.
Like most Christians, I grew up hearing from pastors that bodies without clothing were indecent or obscene and that seeing the opposite sex undressed would cause sinful thoughts. My 34 years as a male RN proved otherwise, especially working 24 of them in L&D, helping mothers birth and breastfeed babies. Working routinely with unclad female patients never stimulated the sexual lust predicted by sermons. These religious warnings were mere suspicions, not reality. To serious Bible students, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Who dares teach that sexual lust comes from seeing naked Bathshebas, when Jesus clearly said it comes from the heart? (Mark 7:20-23)
Later in life, I took a college figure drawing class, where we drew from nude models. Neither I nor my classmates got sexually excited by seeing naked guys and girls. Although staring intently at their bare anatomy to sketch various poses, their nudity didn’t trigger the lust that church leaders led us to anticipate.
I learned something else. When missionaries first went among naked tribal people, they preached body shame right alongside the Gospel, insisting that converts cover up. But this backfired, opening up those lands to pornography. Modern missionaries quit this practice, letting these naked people keep their natural, wholesome view of the body. This policy reversal exposed the past mistake, but churches at home failed to admit and apologize for the error. Christianity’s enemies try to condemn the church of hypocrisy by broadcasting these historical facts. If we still preach body shame in the name of Christ, their criticism is justified.
Also, those visiting “clothing optional” beaches in Europe may discover a surprising absence of the body shame or sexual stimulation warned about by their religious upbringing. Experiencing no shame when joining their European friends in skinny dipping or nude sunbathing may heighten their doubts about the church’s credibility. Having found church ministers wrong about something as simple as the body’s natural state, can we blame such people for questioning our accuracy on something as important as the soul’s destiny?
Lessons and illustrations like these compelled me to search the Bible for the real source of the body shame taught so zealously from pulpits. The world desperately needs the Gospel, but it’s not “good news” when body shame is mixed into the liberating message of Christ. I wrote this poem to help blast away this falsehood from believer’s minds and from Christian preaching:
Dressed up as a serpent in crafty disguise,
A demon attempted, by using his lies,
To blot out the beautiful image that God
Had made of Himself out of hand‑woven sod.
As naked as truth from the day of their birth,
And destined by God to be rulers of earth,
Both Adam and Eve were alive by God’s breath,
But Satan used knowledge to put them to death.
The serpentine liar pretended to heal
Their blind faith in God for what’s moral and real.
His trick by that Gnostic fruit opened their eyes,
Remaking their minds independently wise.
“You see for yourself, God left both of you nude!
Your unhidden bodies are shamefully lewd!”
Our first parents listened to what Satan said,
For now their life‑bond to the Maker was dead.
The diet of conscience controls how it guides,
Which sins it allows, or what goodness it hides.
So, God found and asked them, with leaves round their waist,
Some call it God’s will to keep chewing that fruit,
Embracing its scruples in zealous pursuit,
Maligning His gift of our wonderful skin
By calling the sight of its nudity sin.
But others discover a godlier view,
Rejecting this prudery’s body taboo,
Resisting the porn that is wedded to shame
Passed on from the devil’s original claim.
These temples are sacred, not sordid, unclean.
If you would be holy, don’t call them obscene.
Our hearts can be dirty, or lustful and bad,
But bodies are closest to truth when unclad.
(c) David L. Hatton, 1/23/2009
Our ancestors in the faith didn’t have our modern body shame. In the first few centuries after Christ, believers were baptized in their birthday suits. These early church nude baptismal rituals required that each naked believer be anointed with the oil of exorcism, as he or she renounced Satan and his ways.
Most believers, preachers, Bible scholars and popes (except for John Paul II) ignore God’s question to the first victims of body shame: “Who told you that you were naked?” Of course, since God was rhetorically asking who taught them about nakedness, He already knew the answer. But do we? Obviously, Satan was the culprit. But by disregarding the implication in God’s inquiry, most attribute to God the satanic work of sowing body shame into the minds of fallen humanity. This ought to cause “fear and trembling” among Bible teachers guilty of this!
Today’s church needs to embrace the body acceptance exemplified in ancient times, exorcising body shame from believers by renouncing its deceptive originator, and perhaps validating that exorcism’s effectiveness by reinstating the requirement of a fully naked immersion. That, indeed, would be a stick of dynamite to blast away from Christianity the dysfunctional dam of body shame.
 On my website, I made a page specifically dedicated to “REBUILDING A GODLY VIEW OF THE UNCLAD HUMAN BODY ‑ Why and How to Stop ‘Thinking Dirty’ about God’s Image and Temple”.
 Some years ago, I joined some other pastors in creating the website “My Chains Are Gone” to help liberate porn addicts through the truth of body acceptance. Our site, though geared toward men, has been a blessing to both men and women.
 Read the “Art Policy On Nude Models” from the art department at Gordon College, an old and well known Christian school.
 From Poems Between Birth and Resurrection 82013 by David L. Hatton.
 See Chapter 21 in The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome (215 AD), which gives in detail the early church’s prescribed congregational pattern of fully nude baptism preceded by exorcism.
 The most extensive and comprehensive theology of body acceptance in all of church history is Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body - Male and Female He Created Them (1986).