by Jeff Rockel
All material copyright 1996, 1998, 2007 by Jeff Rockel
Chapter 5 (end)
Origins of the Modern Nudist Movement
A brief history of the origins of the modern day nudist movement is given below as presented in Therapy, Nudity and Joy pp. 205 - 214:
The nudist movement didn't just appear one day. It evolved, through a series of sociological and cultural circumstances, out of the Victorian lifestyle restrictions of the late 19th century -- plus the quest for pure air, good health, and a simple back-to-nature life. The nudist movement was a reaction to the stresses of urban industrialization.
The seeds of the movement were sown in Germany, around the turn of the century, with the emergence of the youth movement known as Wandervögel ("migratory birds"). Back-to-nature groups of young men and women became weekend hikers seeking refuge and relief from the newly industrialized cities and from their restrictive and stern lifestyles. Comfortably dressed, carefree, and toting backpacks with minimal supplies, they wandered through forests and meadows, singing, playing musical instruments, and casually dropping clothing whenever they found refreshing streams or lakes in which to bathe and swim.
The Wandervögel increased in numbers in the 1920s because young people had new reasons for wanting a life closer to nature. There was great poverty in Germany after its defeat in World War I, and the Wandervögel lifestyle provided the only affordable recreation and relief from the harshness of the times. Groups of unemployed city dwellers turned to the out-of-doors for air and hope, and with this came casual nude bathing and sunning.
Another influence, again in Germany, was the Naturheilbewegung (Natural Healing Movement). In sanatoriums, endorsed by eminent physicians and flourishing a t the end of the nineteenth century, featured nude sun and air bathing.
The third element laying the foundation for the nudist movement of the twentieth century was the birth of the science of psychology. Sigmund Freud and Havelock Ellis encouraged new thought about emotions and sexuality. In "The Evolution of Modesty," Ellis went so far as to question the logic of prudery and its guilt-producing effects.
This was the setting when Dr. Heinrich Pudor, a sociologist, published a philosophical treatise, The Cult of the Nude, in Dresden at the turn of the century. This book, proclaiming the benefits of freedom from clothing, was widely read and discussed. Pudor is now referred to as the father of nudism.
It wasn't long before Pudor's concepts were put into practice. In 1903, twenty-five-year-old Paul Zimmerman opened the first nudist resort, Freilichtpark ("Free Light Park"), south of Hamburg. It was located in a large secluded forest area adjoining a bathing beach on a lake. These stereotypical, early twentieth-century "nuts and berries" nudists were a hardy group of nonsmoking, non drinking vegetarians, believing in physical fitness and mandatory calisthenics.
It was Freilichtpark that contributed most to the expansion of nudism into England. In 1921 the New Statesman, one of England's most influential publications, printed a series of articles about the benefits of air and sun bathing. Following that, an article by Harold Booth in the New Statesman told of his reading Marquerite le Fur's report on her German "exposure" and of his subsequent visit to Freilichtpark. Readers responded, several joining with Booth to form Great Britain's first nudist club, the English Gymnosophist Society. While not as dedicated to vegetarianism or the German exercise regimen as Freilichtpark, the English Gymnosophist Society advocated "temperance and continence in every phase of life."
Once authorized [by the courts], naturism continued unhindered in most of Europe, except during the reign of the Third Reich. Almost all of the countries of Europe, including England, have designated specific public beaches for nude sunning and bathing.
In 1929, Kurt Barthel, a German immigrant living in New York, founded the American League for Physical Culture. The first outing of the League was attended by eight men and four women, who picnicked nude in the Peekskill mountains of New York. By 1931, the League had expanded beyond its German beginnings to become a representative American group with about two hundred members.
The Reverend Ilsley (Uncle Danny) Boone, minister, writer, and scientist, met Kurt Barthel and applied for membership. Rev. Boone, his wife, two teenage daughters and a young son subsequently became the leading family of American nudism.
Government opposition to nudist publications was strong in the 1940s and 50s through the Comstock laws and interpretations of obscenity laws. Finally, in 1958, the United States Supreme Court ruled that nudist magazines did not violate the federal anti-obscenity law.
Raids on nudist gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, by local authorities were somewhat common through the 1950s. One of the last notable persecutions of nudist resorts occurred in 1956 in Michigan, where radio evangelist Braxton Bragg Sawyer started a campaign to close Sunshine Gardens Nudist Resort. "It was an unusually vicious attack. One of the people molested was in delicate health and her subsequent death was attributed, in part at least, to the way she had been mistreated." The case went to the Michigan Supreme Court and resulted in a landmark decision, exonerating the nudists and upholding their right to private resort nudity. The judge declared the police conduct abominable.
Most Americans enjoying the freedom of nudist recreation today, either in the privacy of resorts or in their own homes, are probably unaware of the personal price paid for this privilege by pioneers of the nudist movement.
In their June, 1986 Bulletin, the American Sunbathing Association reported a membership of 30,000, estimating that 100,000 "drop-outs" have taken nude recreation and the nudist philosophy into their own homes and private social lives. However, the ASA laments the fact that: "In Europe, 18 to 20 million people, including 8 to 10 million Germans, go on nude vacations every year. Somehow they have managed to convince the authorities and their neighbors that they have a right to do so, and we must work for the same kind of recognition of our rights." The vacation scene in Europe referred to in the ASA Bulletin is one that is very foreign, indeed, to most Americans.1
The Nudist Movement in America
While nudism in Germany and England was readily accepted, though not universally understood, the growth of nudism in the United States has had a much more difficult time. David Ball, a British commercial film maker and spokesman for the English naturist movement, comments on the difference in British and American attitudes. "The United States, young and spirited, seems to take little in its stride. It reacts or over-reacts in all directions, being a country of extremes. Having been a naturist for twenty years and having traveled a fair amount, I've observed that in the American nudist's attitude towards nudism, there's less of a tendency to hide behind a facade. They are much more open and up front about their lifestyle than the English nudist. On the other hand, the non-nudists of America seem to be less tolerant and seem to feel threatened. I see an inherent puritanical trait inside the country which America has been unable to shrug off."2
In this section we will look at what constitutes the nudist movement in America today. Much of the information provided comes from the book Nudist Society. This book constitutes the findings of Hartman and Fithian. It is the most in-depth, scientifically conducted, sociological research into social nudism. Their four-year study details the makeup of the modern nudist movement and reveals the motivation of people to get involved in this controversial activity.
William Hartman, sociological professor at California State College, Long Beach, became interested in the nudist movement while studying the relationship between pornography and juvenile delinquency. Colleagues suggested the subject matter [social nudity, not pornography] might be "too hot to handle." Hartman considered the risks: "The field was obviously fruitful and ready for harvest. However, stigma that would attach to the researcher raised the pertinent issue of whether or not the price might be too high." He chose to pursue the research. But, as his colleagues had predicted, there was a personal price to pay. Hartman, a respected leader in his church, was on a church-sponsored lecture tour when, without any prior discussion or warning, he was fired by administrators of the large church-related university, a result of publicity regarding his nudist research. Hartman says, "It should be noted this action was taken not because I am a practicing nudist, which I am not, but only because I was conducting research on this subject."3
So where do nudists come from? How do they get interested? The information that follows comes mostly from Nudist Society. The references to "respondents" come from surveys conducted by Hartman and Fithian. These surveys were conducted in groups of nudists and nonnudists. The collected information was compared and contrasted to arrive at the statistics and conclusions presented. Most of the information dates back to the mid 1960's. However, the edition of Nudist Society used updated where necessary with information available up to 1990.
A study in 1957 by Downs asked the question: Did you have any nude experiences prior to a "nudist camp" experience? His study showed that most women had no previous nudist experience prior to visiting a nudist camp. Over one quarter of the men had been involved in nudity either in the home or in swimming activities.4
Here is a demographic look at nudists:
In a survey of 1,388 nudists, we found a relatively high degree of educational achievement. Approximately 20 percent of our respondents were either college graduates or college graduates who have done post graduate study. Approximately twice as many of our nudist respondents have the equivalent of a college education and postgraduate training, compared to the general California population which is possibly a most appropriate comparison, since the great majority of our respondents came from California. 5
From research done in California in 1965, comes the rough estimate that the income of our [nudist] respondents was approximately 50 percent higher than the income for the most comparable nonnudist group.6
The indication clearly is that nudists come from the higher socioeconomic groups rather than from the general population, as they sometimes claim. As an average, therefore, they possess higher social status, more responsible occupational roles, and higher incomes than does an average sampling form general outside society.7
With our American tradition of equality, we may tend to negate the concept of class structure; however, in our actions toward others we are unable to break away from the existence of social stratification. Mature individuals tend to seek out others whose beliefs and norms coincide with their own. Individuals sometimes seek out a new group if the values in existing interaction groups come in conflict with their own. Thus nudists, like persons with other specialized preferences, tend to group together. Many nudists mentioned this as a reason for joining nudism. They preferred to be part of a group whose values they could pass on to their children. 8
Nudists claim that nudism strips the individual of more than social rank. In the '60s, when this study was completed, nudism also obscured educational and ethnic ties. A number of nudists pointed out that they felt this was a major advantage of the nudist lifestyle. People come from all walks of life where, because of class isolation, they might never meet. In the equalizing environment of a nudist resort, they feel free to enjoy each other on an equal basis--as friends. 9
Social interaction is not by any means the only reason for becoming an nudist. One female in her late thirties indicated that nudism per se was important to her, not social nudism: "The 'social' part of nudism isn't the main appeal to me. I like the freedom of movement sans clothing, the feel of sun, wind, and water. But nudist clubs are about the only place a person can enjoy this freedom out-of-doors. I believe it is a sad commentary on our society that people have to pay extra and drive many miles to enjoy a healthful manner of living (nudism), which should be legally and morally acceptable on any public beach, as a matter of individual choice. 10
Others have found benefits from nudism that go beyond the social or recreational aspects. They find freedom from personal obsessions and emotional burdens. For men in particular, these obsessions manifest themselves sexually.
Quotations from nudist interviews and questionnaires reveal that our American society creates its sex problems--and its assumption that nudity and sex are synonymous--through its prohibitory moral system. Generally speaking, nudists feel that nudism represents an ideal type of nonverbal sex education with resultant development of wholesome heterosexual attitudes expressed in nonvoyeuristic and nonexhibitionistic ways. For some, it reduced interest in lewd pictures, voyeurism, exhibitionism, homosexuality, and masturbation. In their own summation, many nudists suggested that their sexual behavior was no better and no worse than that of nonnudists--a conclusion that is certainly neither condemning nor congratulatory.11
What happens after the introduction to nudism? Do nudists stay active in nude activities? An examination of the membership roles of national organizations shows a high "drop out" rate. Yet when questioned, these people responded that they were not abandoning the nudist lifestyle, just the formal organization. Practicing nudists virtually never give up nudism, even though they may resign from the national organization for reasons not directly related to nudism per se.12 These people generally continue to practice casual nudity around the home, in the backyard pool and often with smaller local recreation groups.
Taboo! The word alone sends a tingle of excitement down the spine. Our culture teaches the double standard that certain things are wrong and shouldn't be done, but in doing them we can achieve great exhilaration. This is commonly done with sex. We don't talk about sex with our children, yet we expect that they will understand when, where and how to be involved when the time comes. We are shocked when inappropriate sexual behavior is exhibited, yet we teach it in graphic detail in the Movies and on TV.
What the adult world fails to talk about becomes taboo; just as those parts of the body which the adult covers become taboo, even if nothing is ever said against them.... Any impulse to inquire becomes in itself a sinful proof of an inner evil.... When the very impulse to explore is felt as evil, we create for the child and for ourselves a hierarchy of evil.... An unwholesome atmosphere of shame and mystery is created about every aspect of our inner body processes.13
What has been demonstrated over the centuries with regard to the sexual taboo, is equally true with nudity. The revealed body is accepted to be evil and is treated with shame and guilt. Yet our human nature drives us to seek after the hidden. We want to reveal and experience that which we believe is unapproachable. A hidden body draws attention to the nude body beneath simply because it is hidden.
The naked body is still considered unnatural. Nudity on American television is rare. [While more prevalent in the 1990's, it is almost exclusively associated with sexuality.] During the daytime hours, when children are watching, nudity isn't permissible. Children are protected from the "damaging" effects of viewing a natural, normal, and harmless human body, but body violence is condoned as entertainment for our children and ourselves. Such confused value systems help fill the psychiatric couch!14
Through the 1800's, the clothing worn by Americans was tight fitting and covered the body completely. At the turn of the century, famous American dancer Isadora Duncan started wearing loosely draped clothing in ordinary life and on the stage. By her break with convention, Duncan not only started a new fashion in dance but opened the way to twentieth century modernism in clothing, making the corset obsolete.15
When viewed objectively, the fanatic adherence to clothing is as much a damaging obsession as most believe nudity to be. Dr. Heinrich Pudor called nudity aristocratic and slavery to clothes a plebeian characteristic, stating that all nations which completely disregard the rights of their people to nudity rapidly become decadent.16 If we as Christians can not accept the original state of man as created by God as wholesome, how can we hope to understand and heal those with far more damaging obsessions.
Ed Lange, in his introduction to Family Naturism in Europe, states: "The classic challenge to a defensive naturist/nudist--'why would anyone in his right mind want to run around naked?'--is now being replaced by the even more logical counter-challenge, 'why would anyone in his right mind insist on wearing a soggy, sandy bathing suit on a beach where there were a thousand nude bathers?'"17 Indeed, research shows clearly that a person adapts to the social norm of his/her environment very rapidly. Often within 15 minutes, the mental image of "normal" is reversed from clothed to nude when immersed in the environment. In a nude environment, seeing a clothed person quickly becomes abnormal in the mind of a person.
In his Psychological Review report, "The Psychological Aspects of Nudism and the Body Taboo," Dr. Howard Crosby Warren arrived at several conclusions:
1) The body taboo is not a fundamental trait, nor an inevitable consequence of man's social life. "The taboo sloughs off almost immediately. Maladjustments lasted only a few minutes at the most...." After that, social nudity seems perfectly normal, and the power of the taboo is entirely broken. "The behavior was natural and unconstrained. No action suggested anyone was doing something unconventional or daring."
2) "The shame reactions which ordinarily accompany body exposure (blushing, shyness, labored breathing, gestures of concealment) were entirely wanting in this environment."
3) Diffused attention: "At the start there may be special attention to those parts of the body that are ordinarily hidden. Soon the effect is merely the appearance of the 'organism as a whole.' Nudism is accepted as a normal condition, and one notices the general contour of the body, whether male or female, rather than the sex-distinguishing features. I did not find the abdominally rotund bodies any more displeasing in the flesh than they were in conventional attire."
4) Eroticism: Dr. Warren found there to be less sexual excitement, less tendency to flirt, less temptation to ribaldry or presumptuous behavior based on the exposure of the body. "I saw and heard nothing to suggest that social nudism induced the virile reflex, certainly after the first shock at the novel situation was gone.... Social nudism tends to promote a saner sex outlook and more natural relations between men and women, even during the years of early sexual maturity." He noted that a young couple, later in the evening when clothed, openly fondled each other.
5) He referred to the "near nudism and pseudo nudism" common on the beach and on the stage as detracting from the artistic unity of a beautiful body, "like a price label on a fine painting, or a cataloging tag on the arm of a statue." He maintained that, "the body taboo is present so long as any part of the body is covered for purposes of concealment, not protection."
6) Community nudism: "It is not clear from the data at hand whether the practice of nudism could be applied with advantage to the community at large." Alluding to the strong prudish or puritanical standards found among people in general, he stated: "If their ethical attitude were the result of a pathological nature, the experience might lead to a nervous breakdown."18
Shaw, Warren, Boone, Johnson, Webb, and many others have pointed out that this nudity-sex fixation approaches universality. It has repeatedly been demonstrated that in the minds of many public officials a naked woman is an automatic definition of obscenity, so much so that the words themselves produce a disturbed reaction in many.19 Again, whether the subject is sex or simple nudity, the reaction of the average American is the same. It is a subject not to be spoken of.
This same phenomenon of closely associating two distinct ideas is also found in other areas. In recent years (1960s), a number of court decisions have been handed down clearly stating that the nude per se was not obscene, but these findings did not deter vice officers of the New York police in 1967 from descending upon and arresting a female cellist who had chosen to appear in concert in a topless gown.
Several experiments were done by Hartman and Fithian to try and determine how deeply rooted the body taboo is in people. In one experiment, the play Barely Proper, which is a satirical look at the German nudist movement of the 1930's and incorporates full nudity in much of the one act play, was presented before a select group of public officials. In another experiment 45 nonnudists, at various times and in various settings were asked to experience recreational nudity at a nudist resort. The reaction of the participants in both these experiments shows the body taboo to be a culturally conditioned experience that can be rapidly revised when necessary or desired.20 As with so many other things, we need not be tied to a belief simply because it has always been accepted without question.
Nudist Morality and Ethics
If you were asked, "What do you think nudists do in their 'camps' or clubs?", what would your response be? Would it be similar to the responses gathered by Hartman and Fithian? Here are the major myths or falsehoods believed about nudists by non-nudists:
1) Nudist camps and gathering places are sites of sex orgies.
2) Nudists are sex-obsessed.
3) Nudism is anti-religious.
4) Nudists are mentally sick.
5) Before they go to camp, nudists imbibe saltpeter pills, or take shots to repress their sexual desires.
6) Nudists are sex perverts, and nudist males are in a perpetual state of erection.
7) Nudists are low-class trash, beatniks, sex maniacs, or at the very best, some kind of nuts.
8) Nudist camps are filled with voluptuous women.
9) Nudism is a completely sensual-sexual activity.
10) Nudist camps are sex camps for free love, wife-swapping, and voyeurism.
11) Nudists are health nuts, living in colonies.
Did you notice a general theme? To be kind, one could summarize and say nudists are immoral and decadent. In general, nonnudists can't believe that nudists are mostly average people, except for their acceptance of nudity.21 There's no doubt that millions of people of various cultures consider nude to be one of the four-letter "dirty" words. However, there are also those (though not nearly so many in number) who proudly call themselves nudists, and by their standards nudity is as pure and innocent as a new-born child.22
From the beginning of nudist activity in Europe and later here in the United States, an unusually severe code of ethics has been self-imposed upon the nudist community. From Ungewitter on, the pioneers and leaders were aware that they were operating amidst public distrust, and that among "outsiders" ideas of nudity and sex had become all but inseparable. Because of society's view of nudity, nudists felt that, because they were so vulnerable, any irregularity (even a small one which, in clothed society, would go unnoticed or receive a minor reprimand), could cause harm to the entire nudist community. To avoid any incidents from being blown out of proportion, the American Sunbathing Association (ASA) imposed restrictions which, when viewed objectively, must be regarded as puritanical, but which stood virtually unchallenged for decades. In general, nudist standards tend to be stricter than those normally impose by the community at large. By 1967, some voices had been raised to liberalize the long-standing rules, but the modifications suggested were, in themselves, notably moderate.23
June and Ed Lange of Elysium, Inc. saw a need to up-scale the nudist publications of the day (late 1950s). They planned to present their own strongly held beliefs regarding the physical and emotional benefits of clothing-optional living whenever appropriate. In addition, they saw a need to challenge the Puritanism of the nudist movement itself. According to June Lange, "The nudist resorts and organization had such crazy rules: You could only look straight into each other's eyes. There was the myth that you never completely looked at the opposite sex. No touching. The taboos were enormous. They squeezed the humanity out of people in order to prove that nudism was innocent. But I saw it as propaganda, a hypocrisy of the leadership more than of the members. The leadership was saying one thing, but I was clearly seeing something else happening, and not in a furtive way." 24
Martin, a Jesuit Brother who found Elysium through his psychotherapist says, "For myself, I see it [social nudity] as being a highly moral and healthy experience. Most of the people in my [religious] community know what I'm doing on my days off and either approve or don't see that it is wrong. Some of the 'old guard' don't approve. I live in a totally masculine world except when I come to Elysium, and I'm very grateful I'm now aware of the sensual part of me which I can no longer deny. I now know and enjoy some feminine companionship." 25
So what is morality or modesty? Certainly morality must be in accordance with God's character and laws. Moral behavior must be fundamentally aligned with the behavior God teaches in His Bible. Once again we come back to the fundamental commandments, "love God and love others." Modesty then must be interpreted as appearance or conduct that promotes morality.
Martin S. Weinberg constructed a typology of immodest behavior and analyzed nudists in terms of this typology. Three conclusions were drawn from research conducted in nudist parks in the Chicago area.
Our research made possible some general conclusions regarding modesty:br 1) Covering the body through the use of clothes is not a necessary condition for a pattern of modesty to exist, nor is it required for tension management and social control of latent sexual interests. Sexual interests [in a nudist park] are controlled to a much greater extent than they are on the outside. Clothes are also not a sufficient condition for a pattern of modesty; the manipulation f clothes and fashion in stimulating sexual interest is widely recognized.
2) Except for clothing immodesty, all other forms of modesty are maintained in a nudist camp (e.g., not looking, not saying, not communicating erotic overtures). This suggests that the latter proscriptions are entirely adequate in achieving the functions of modesty when definitions regarding the exposure of the body change. 3) When deviance from the institutionalized patterns of modesty is limited to one cell of our typology (i.e., clothing is dispensed with), and the definition of the situation is changed, the typically expected consequences of such a breakdown in the normative pattern does not occur. Rampant sexual interests, promiscuity, embarrassment, jealousy, and shame were not found to be typical of the nudist camp. 26
When asked What are the results of viewing members of the opposite sex nude in nudist settings?, in general interviewees indicated nudism to be an ideal social setting for non-verbal sex education. Many male respondents indicated that a more wholesome attitude toward the opposite sex evolved from being able to share an honest dialogue in the nude. One married couple in their mid-twenties noted, "To be very honest, my husband wanted to visit a nudist camp solely for the purpose of satisfying his curiosity. After we arrived and saw it wasn't a twenty-four-hour girlie show, we were amazed at the extent of real family life and cooperation that existed at the club."27 Nudists have a stricter code of sexual conduct than non-nudists.28
Several statements of nudist respondents explain that they regard their nudist practices as moral behavior of a type and quality above that found in the community at large. This is interesting from a standpoint that the community at large regards nudism per se, in many instances, as a form of immorality. Nudists report that they have found morality to be above reproach in nudist settings and that this is a way of removing the false modesty found in the normal community. They also indicate that there is a new morality that doesn't depend on shame or guilt as its controlling force. A forty-five-year-old married engineer and a nudist for seven years wrote: "A moral uplift is received and a satisfaction resulting from the freedom of clothes, from the established concepts of shamefulness of the nude body, and from the concept that immorality must necessarily come from exposure of the nude body.... Nudism has helped me develop a philosophy that says, "That which pleases me and benefits me but does not hurt, offend, or deprive my neighbor of his rights and freedom to live peacefully is not immoral."29
Of course I go beyond that statement to say that certain activities are clearly immoral as stated in the Bible. Sex outside of marriage, witchcraft, homosexuality, dishonesty, theft and disrespect all fall short of God's perfect mark. That which is sin is immoral.
Taking the Plunge
What happens to people who do decide to give this lifestyle a try? How do they brace themselves emotionally for this radical change? To those who have accepted their bodies as unique creations, the change from clothed to clothing free is minimal. It is simply the acceptance of a different and more natural state of existence.
To others, the fear of embarrassment will likely be worse than the actual experience. Women especially suffer from poor body images. They are embarrassed of how they look and fear the reaction of others seeing them. For men, the body image is often secondary to the fear of sexual arousal. This is something that is hard to hide and again the fear of other's reaction keeps them from entertaining the thought of trying nudism.
In many respects, the prospects of entering a clothing society are similar to the culture shock anticipated by Christian missionaries entering a foreign society. In discussing the process of learning how to enter a new culture, Marvin Mayers, in the book Christianity Confronts Culture writes, "The exciting aspect of today's learning explosion is that any person can be trained to face the challenges of change quite naturally and without anxiety."30 While one may consider the plunge into nudity far different than the introduction into a tribal culture, the examples given by Mr. Mayers indicate to the contrary. Experience shows that for both men and women, a first time nude experience is readily accepted, even with little preparation. Experience further shows that for both men and women, the introduction into nudism is the best therapy to a healthy understanding of self, body image and control of sexual fantasy. In general men will find the allure of nudism attractive and will want to try it. Women will generally take the plunge out of peer pressure from their friends or husband. Certainly, fewer single women will try nudism than single men.
"Why do some people become nudists?" By far the number-one motivation for joining was relaxation. (2) Freedom from clothing, (3) a desire for an all-over tan and enjoying the fresh air while sunbathing, (4) freedom from sickness, (5) social congeniality, (6) mental-health, (7) exercise, (8) friends, (9) recreation, (10) self acceptance. The three R's of nudism might be stated to be "Rest, Relaxation, and Recreation."31
Dr. Howard Crosby Warren, chairman of the department of psychology at Princeton University, said: "The difference between [bathing in even minimal clothing and] bathing in the nude can only be compared to the difference between a partial and total solar eclipse. The phenomena in each case belong to two distinct categories." He was struck by the sudden and painless removal of the body taboo, the emotional and physical impact of naked bathing and swimming.32
A clergyman, married, a nudist for several years, stated: "Nudism offers an indescribable relaxation, exhilaration, and sense of physical and mental well-being--free from false modesty, suggestiveness, prudery, and indelicacy. It offers an environment, as nothing else does, which is free from morbid physical curiosity, one in which children can grow and mature with a healthy attitude toward body difference and functions. It offers an opportunity for that organ with the greatest surface area, the skin, to function as it is biologically intended to function, to the general well-being and good health of the individual.33
While in nudist groups there are the usual restrictions that control our actions--courteous actions, good manners, and high moral standards--that we have in society as a whole, I find that at a nudist camp I feel more natural, less restricted. The pressures of everyday life are gone.... There is nothing like getting back to nature. Our family consists of four daughters, and although we did go nude at times in our home, I feel they have a better attitude toward sex through their experiences at nudist camps, where they learn that there is nothing wrong with the human body, and that the over-all emphasis on sex in our society is foolish and emotional.34
Despite the number of men who find nudism attractive, some young men hesitate to visit a nudist park because they fear they might experience sexual arousal, embarrassing themselves and others. However, the authors [of Nudist Society] observed no such incident during the period of their research, and the nudist member of the team has never encountered such a case over a twenty-five year span. When discussing this problem, one female nudist remarked: "When I talk to a man who worries about that happening I ask him when he last had an erection in front of his parents or in the presence of his younger sister. His response is invariable one of shock and some outrage. He isn't that sort of a man, he'll inform me. Then I'll say 'Well, in a nudist camp, you'll meet old women the age of your grandmother, women your mother's age, and lots of children. I wouldn't worry about having an erection, if I were you.' So far, those who accept my advice have all proved me to be right."35
In most large nudist resorts introductory visits are held several mornings each week and are preceded by a discussion of the clothing-optional concept and the [resort's] code of ethics. A question inevitably asked at these introductions is, "What about erections?" Men are surprised to find it isn't a problem. The brain is accommodating and directs the body into social behavior appropriate for the situation. In the rare case in which an erection does occur, it normally diminishes quickly. In a naturist setting populated by nude bodies of all shapes and sizes, one tends to blend into the scenery and not be particularly noticed.36
The speed with which the sexual cue value of nakedness is lost in the nudist environment is amazing as a first experience. Here nakedness is not an invitation for sexual encounter and with breasts, pubes, and genitals exposed there are no genital sexual overtones as in a clothed society. The women are not seductive, busy primping, swishing skirts, or tugging at hem lines as occurs with clothed. there is a quality of honesty or forthrightness in not hiding genitals as something precious or as disgusting, and the ability to be proud of self as an acceptable unit rather than accentuating one body part or another. In this situation there is a reduction of tension and a developing sense of exhilaration.37
Several responses by young men in their twenties follow: "I am surprised at my lack of sexual reaction. I like the friendly attitude of the people. I was most apprehensive to come to a nudist park because of fear of sexual arousal, which did not occur." 38
The following excerpt from the book Therapy, Nudity and Joy (p. 282) recounts the author's first nude experience:
I doubt that anyone beyond early childhood forgets a first experience in group nudity. Frankly, I put mine off as long as possible. Even though I was reporting the psychological benefits of freedom from body-image anxieties as a journalist for the publishing company representing the American Sunbathing Association, I was actually terrified and embarrassed to expose my own body to others in a group setting.
Eventually, however, my guilt for being a hypocrite, plus peer pressure, caused me to take the plunge. So, in 1964, I found myself near San Diego, California at the Swallows nudist resort parking lot. Before I could even get out of my car, people were disrobing in front of me.
"Good God, how uncivilized," I thought. "Not even a dressing room for privacy." Realizing my dilemma was going to be obvious if I didn't disrobe quickly, and since no one seemed to be looking anyway, I managed to strip while trying to appear nonchalant, giving thanks for the large beach towel casually draped over my shoulder. I entered the grounds to find a world suddenly and utterly incongruous: hundreds of people, including children and the elderly, doing all the ordinary things one would expect at a public park or family picnic, except that they had all taken off their clothes. What occurred next showed how sheltered I had been.
Up till that time I had seen very few nude men, and those mostly in sexual situations, so I spent the rest of the day being fascinated by various kinds of male and female bodies and the tremendous variety in genitals. What an education! It was an anatomy and physiognomy lesson I hadn't previously received either through textbooks or nudist magazines. Soon forgetting about my towel, I became part of the social scene--lying in the sun, swimming, and feeling warm breezes over my entire body; experiencing the sensuousness of physical comfort and freedom, and the emotional completeness of body/mind unification. I remember my surprise at realizing that this is really the natural human state, impossible to experience with the interference of clothing, even the tiniest of bikinis. The Langes were right--you have to experience nudism to understand it.
How did our forty-five subjects [first time visitors] react to the nudist environment? In no instance did any of the respondents ever indicate a wish to utilize any clothing for concealment purposes once they had disrobed in the parking area, nor did any respondent once disrobed withdraw from the nude social situation to seek shelter apart from the group. No respondent left the nudist park until after at least four or five hours of participation, while most remained at the nudist park after we had departed.39
The overall reaction of our nonnudist group to their experiences in nudism may be summarized briefly as follows. They were impressed with the variety of people of all ages, sizes and shapes, including the number of elderly participants. They noted the friendliness of the nudists, and particularly their consideration for outsiders. Several indicated the strangeness of the clothed or partially clothed individuals seen in a nudist setting; one might put on a shirt or jacket when it became a little cool, and this bottomless phenomenon seemed strange as opposed to the topless phenomenon of so many places of entertainment in the nonnudist world.40
An attempt was made to relate embarrassment at disrobing in a nudist park to religious conditioning, since Christian groups are largely responsible for American sexual mores. We recognize that such groups often lend their support to strengthen the traditional definition that nudity in a social situation involving both sexes is sinful activity, should produce guilt, and is basically undifferentiated from indecent exposure. The nonnudist respondents who had current religious affiliations were neither more nor less embarrassed at disrobing in a nudist park than those with no such affiliation. Religious affiliation reflects religious conditioning but does not differentiate people who experience embarrassment at disrobing in a nudist setting.41
In conclusion, the fear expressed by most people who try nudism for the first time disappears as soon as the environment is entered. Lack of clothing becomes the norm almost without notice. Indeed the fear itself is the greatest obstacle to overcome. Of all the many explanations offered for why nudity is so great, each ended with, "But you really won't understand it until you try it."42
Recreational Clubs and Parks
If a person chooses to relax or play in the nude, our society does not allow him to just strip at the nearest park or beach. As a result, nudists have established areas where they can enjoy their activities without interfering with the social norms around them. The variety of nudist clubs are as varied as the people who attend them. The quality of the parks depends on how much funding is available for development.
Clubs fall into two basic categories: landed and nonlanded. In other words some clubs own recreational land and some don't. The clubs that don't own land schedule activities at other's private facilities. These nonlanded activities may include pool parties, volley ball, backyard cook outs or even bowling. In general, if the club can find an accommodating location for an activity, one will be scheduled.
Clubs that own land have an advantage for outdoor activities. Most of these clubs allow use of their land to non members on a fee per use basis. An individual can spend a day sunning or swimming at one of these clubs for less than $20. The fees then go into grounds maintenance and development.
Each club has its own set of rules to maintain an orderly environment to enjoy. Each club reserves the right to exclude or expel anyone who does not conform to their rules. Activities that are generally prohibited from these parks are drunkenness, drug use, open sexual activity and fondling, and gawking. Photography is usually excluded without prior permission or is confined to certain areas in the park.
In the past, alcohol, smoking and touching of any kind was prohibited. This was done so that the nonnudist community would have no means to accuse the nudist community of misconduct. As more people from the general community became nudists themselves, they challenged the no drinking and no touching rules. The no touching rule seemed especially hypocritical to new nudists. Since nudism was portrayed as being a wholesome, natural, non-sexual experience, the prohibition of touching, especially between spouses seemed absurd. As a result, most clubs and resorts permit casual contact. Many also offer seminars in therapeutic massage and encourage the health benefits from body contact. Overt sexual activity and fondling are still prohibited.
The following is an abbreviated list of "Behavioral Guidelines" as published by Turtle Lake Resort, a large clothing optional resort in Michigan. You will notice that the regulations are no more restrictive than many private resorts or public camping areas.
Alcohol/Drugs: Alcoholic beverages are permitted in moderation. Illegal drugs are not permitted in the park.
Body Contact: We request that all body contact be limited to simple expressions of affection and friendship. Improper conduct WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
Curfews: Everyone under the age of 18 years must be on their campsites at 11:00 p.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Quiet hour are to be observed by EVERYONE from 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Jewelry: Body piercing jewelry is subject to the approval of management.
Photography: We are pleased that you would want to take pictures, but in order to preserve everyone's personal privacy, authorization of management MUST be obtained. Unauthorized film WILL be confiscated by security.
Pool & Beach: WE SKINNYDIP!! Nudity is proper attire at the pool, spa, waterslide, and beach.
Towels: For your protection, always sit on towels.
What kind of activities are found at nudist resorts? In general, all of the activities enjoyed by nonnudists to have fun and relax are enjoyed by nudists. Swimming and sunning are by far at the top of the list. Other outdoor activities rank high on the list such as volleyball, tennis, canoeing, fishing and ball playing of all sorts. When the sun goes down or the weather is bad, activities turn indoor to conversation, card games and board games. Indoor swimming, whirlpools and saunas are enjoyed where available. And in general, relaxing conversation and activities enjoyed by any group of people are found at nudist resorts.
Organized activities and parties are regular events at resorts and clubs. Party themes include movies, dances, costumes, crafts, dinners, card games and nature hikes.
Children at nudist parks enjoy all the activities that children everywhere enjoy. There are usually sand box areas and often swings and jungle gyms. But like any child, get two or more together and they can find something fun to do. There is a section later in this book devoted to nudity's effect on children.
As you would expect, a book on nudity would contain some positive experiences from nudists. Following are excerpts of some of these nudist experiences:
Being naked in a place where bodies in their totality are accepted allowed me to learn to be comfortable with my own body.43
There's a feeling of freedom and togetherness here that we've never felt anywhere else.44
There were a number of comments related to freedom and relaxation that were commonly expressed by nudists themselves. Five of the forty-five nonnudist respondents [experiencing nudism for the first time] indicated a feeling of freedom and three a feeling of great relaxation.45
On his second visit a month later in a different nudist setting the respondent indicated a strong feeling of freedom and the exhilaration attendant to the removal of clothing and no embarrassment at all.46
Another interesting nonnudist reaction came from a well known psychiatrist from the East. "As a participant-observer I directed my attention to ways in which nudist behavior is different than behavior in clothed groups. At first glance, the only difference is the lack of clothing. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes are engaging in a variety of activities similar to those of any resort. Some are alone in sunning, or swimming, others are in conversational groups or in group games. This is done with propriety and without genital-sexual overtones. None of the public lovemaking goes on as it does in transportation terminals, parks, or on public beaches.47
In general, the interviewees felt nudism to be an ideal social setting for nonverbal sex education. Many male respondents indicated they had developed a more wholesome attitude toward the opposite sex from being able to share an honest dialogue in the nude. Some men reported a "consuming interest in sex diminished," "elimination of morbid curiosity," "it concentrated my interest in the female body to that of my wife," and "dispelled sex curiosity; poise with girls." Several males indicated that when sexual curiosity was satisfied in a nudist setting, their interest in pornography was eliminated.48
Generally speaking, nudists feel that nudism represents wholesome heterosexual attitudes and nonvoyeuristic, nonexhibitionistic tendencies. Some indicated it reduced interest in lewd pictures, voyeurism, exhibitionism, homosexuality, and masturbation.
It would be expected that with everyone who has tried nudism, there would be a certain percentage of dissatisfied people. Often the negative reactions are temporary and associated with first experiences. Other negative reactions come from specific clubs or individuals whose expectations from the nude experience differ from the expected or norm. However, in general it is hard to find anyone who has had a truly bad nudist experience.
It appears that practicing nudists virtually never give up nudism, even though they may resign from the national organization for reasons not directly related to nudism. Two words head up the list of primary reasons why many respondents did not continue their nudist activities--distance and time. There was an 88.7% "yes" to "Are you a home nudist?"49
The negative responses [of first time visitors] indicated that there was some initial shock and some embarrassment. On individual indicated extreme embarrassment. Eight others indicated that they were mildly embarrassed.
Before disrobing, four people expressed some feelings of apprehension. These were general feelings of apprehension and vague anxiety which, based on our questioning of nudists regarding the introduction to social nudity, fairly accurately describes the experience of neophytes on their first visit to a camp.
Beyond the vague feelings of apprehension were specific sexual feelings. These had to do with fear of sexual arousal, the concern over whether one did or did not look at the genitals of the opposite sex, and whether they would be thought abnormal if they did or did not. Four individuals indicated disappointment at the non-sexual feelings they experienced. This supports the definition of the situation, which is that there will be no overt sexual response when one is nude in a nudist park.
The things that the nonnudists did not like about social nudism may be summarized as follows. They regarded the ultraconservative nudist restrictions on normal physical contact as undesirable. The ideas expressed were: "If nudism is such a natural experience why can't you have the same physical contact between unclothed as you have with clothed individuals?"50
The female responses consisted of eleven women who had never been in a nudist park before. All were in their twenties. Their reaction also dealt primarily with the subject of embarrassment. Several indicated some embarrassment for the first five minutes, one saying she was extremely uncomfortable at first. Several others indicated that they were comfortable and not at all embarrassed, and one woman is quoted as saying "[I was] a little surprised. It seemed a little peculiar to see people walking, standing, sitting, so comfortably in the nude." One twenty year old female said, "I wondered how men could be so calm." Se expressed concern over the reversal of the cultural stereotype that indicates that men are supposed to be sexually aroused in the presence of nude females.51
Health and Therapeutic Aspects
Coupled with relaxation and recreation, nudists have claimed therapeutic aspects of their lifestyle. It is easy to accept that any activity that promotes relaxation and the relief of stress will be beneficial. The question is raised as to whether relaxation and recreation in the nude is better than equivalent activities when clothed. Is being nude in and of itself therapeutic?
Elysium Institute, founded in 1965 in California, became a center for study of the beneficial effects of nudity on individuals. Elysium has developed programs to experiment with nudity for therapeutic purposes. Dr. John Money--a well-known author and a professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Behavioral Sciences at the John Hopkins School of Medicine--supported the work done at Elysium in a letter dated June 4, 1976. He wrote, "I visited Elysium Fields in Topanga Canyon in March, 1976 for the purpose of evaluating its facilities and program, and their suitability for patient referral. In consequence, I decided that Elysium Fields is ideal for the referral of patients who have extreme difficulty in establishing social relationships; for those who have an impediment to self-acceptance and self-esteem; and for those who have excessive shyness and sensitivity regarding their body image, for example, because of birth deformity, injury, obesity, and such like.... The recreational facilities of Elysium Fields, with clothing optionality, provide an ideal environment for families whose policy is to bring up their children with a healthy regard for the body, and with a chance for normal, wholesome psycosexual development.... It is my opinion that there should be branches of Elysium Fields, or similar institutions, throughout the country." 52
"I wonder what would happen as an experiment," Abraham Maslow wrote, "if these [therapy] groups remained exactly as they are but only added a physical nudism. People would go away from there an awful lot freer, a lot more spontaneous, less guarded, less defensive; not only about the shape of their behinds, or whether their bellies were hanging or not, but freer and more innocent about their minds as well. If I can learn not to be conscious about the fact that my ass is hanging or that my belly sticks out too much, if I can throw off this fear, this defense, maybe this act of freedom will enable me thereby to throw off a lot of other defenses--maybe the defense of looking ignorant, or uncontrolled, or something like that."53
Evidence collected from the first few experiments in nude group psychotherapy indicated that introducing nudity into an otherwise normal group session had profound effects. People opened up and shared their pain much more quickly and freely than in equivalent clothed sessions. The emotional healing that resulted was more complete and longer lasting.
Nudists point out the physical health benefits (validated by medical reports), the natural setting for teaching children healthy body attitudes, and the emotional joy of stress release in being able to temporarily remove the restrictive masks necessary to our everyday lives.54 Nudist settings provide a place to escape from all of the day's stress. Certainly, as in any organization, those involved in the business aspect of running a club or resort will experience the associated stress. But the release offered through the nude lifestyle is more complete and recuperative than in an equivalent clothed club or organization.
From research conducted by Dr. Hartman, it wasn't too long before statistical data and personal histories were indicating the possibility that the total effect of nudist resort life was much more than recreational. The nudist resort profile was beginning to coincide with the profile of a therapeutic community, and environment that provides a wholesome and healing situation in which human interaction can take place. By the end of the study, the research team reported: "We have gathered considerable evidence concerning many formal and informal activities that indicate nudity has therapeutic value. This properly comes within the definition of social milieus that, if not designated as treatment programs, have the effect of being wholesome and beneficial environments in which social interaction can and does take place."55
There seems to be no scientifically researched literature available to refute the findings, and there is ample evidence indicating that nudist resorts meet all the qualifications for therapeutic communities.56
But what about the emotional shock experienced by people when they dive into the nude environment. As we saw earlier, the fear of exposure is much worse than the experience itself. But for those individuals whose body shame is great, June Schwartz, a former student of Dr. Ida Rolf, founder of Structural Integration (more commonly known as "Rolfing") says, "The greater the shock, the greater the results of being nude."57
A behavioral scientist stated: "Growing as I had, in the heart of the Bible Belt with its attitudes of [non] body acceptance I was concerned about my own prurient characteristics. It was encouraging and somewhat of a relief to conclude that nakedness is not obscene, or even exciting--it is more wholesome, healthy, and honest psychologically speaking, and wonderfully unrestrictive physically speaking."58
A male in this mid-twenties stated: "The benefits are hardly physical, in terms of sunbathing, but rather mental--the rather peculiar mixture of Puritanism and sex exploitation that in our society is much easier to cope with if one can occasionally fraternize with a group of people who are quite unselfconscious about their bodies."59
"Since our deepest traumas are imbedded in our guts and muscles, to free ourselves we must free our bodies. Yet we are more than just bodies. We are minds and spirits, feelings and imaginings. And though the body speaks, it must always be the whole person to whom we listen." --Ron Kurtz and Hector Prestera, M.D. The Body Reveals: An Illustrated Guide to the Psychology of the Body
The skin is a living breathing organ, the largest organ of the human body. We know that man was created to be naked. It is no surprise, therefore, that this organ works most efficiently when exposed to the surrounding air. To a large extent, clothing cuts off air, sun, wind and touch sensations--pleasurable tactile experiences that enhance general well-being.60 Data show that more than 85 percent of the respondents indicated that nudism had a beneficial effect on their physical health. Less than 1 percent indicated a detrimental effect.61
Specific health benefits have been reported and are shared below. While these may be exceptions to the benefits gained by the general public, they serve as examples of the powerful healing power of nudity.
One psychiatrist reported of a thirty-eight-year-old Caucasian female, widowed with two children, whose eczema covered 90% of her body. Her appearance ran from red raw to thick scale. Understandably, the woman's mental condition was poor, and she also suffered from headaches, gastric neurosis, and insomnia. Since she had run the gauntlet of medical science, the psychiatrist suggested she try sunbathing nude...and she immediately began to improve. Aside from the eczema clearing up in fourteen weeks, her mental outlook completely changed, her hypertensive headaches completely left, she began sleeping the night through, and she has not complained of her former gastric disturbances. She became used to complete nudity and joined in the usual nudist activities, persuading her children to accompany her, and now mother and children are in excellent health.62
We have already seen this story, but it is worth repeating here: A thirty-seven-year-old former Berliner who said his children swam nude in public facilities in Germany until they were six years old without any offense to others said: "In Germany, adults changed their children's clothing on the beach without any disapproval by others. When we visited a public beach in the United States for the first time, we were very amazed because it was forbidden to change children's clothes on the beach. Even small babies had to run around in bathing suits. Because of this our three year old caught a severe case of bronchitis and in spite of doctor's care had a hard time getting rid of it. One year of nudism brought about a complete cure. We all got rid of annoying colds that come from climatic changes."63
The benefits of nudity are also coupled with the benefits of touching. Touch therapy has long been regarded as beneficial to those who are insecure and introverted. The necessity of touch in infants is graphically explained in the following account:
As late as the 1920s, statistics should that the mortality rate for infants under a year, being raised in foundling homes was nearly 100%. These babies were cared for only to the point of being kept clean and fed. Beyond this, little if any individual attention was directed toward them. Authors of the early 20th century reinforced this problem by teaching that babies should not be picked up or rocked when they cry and should be fed by the clock, not by demand. However a simple cure for this tragedy was found. "Pediatricians began providing schedules for 'mothering' of institutionalized infants. Mortality rates dropped to 10% or less. Being held, rocked, touched, cuddled talked to, and played with was the difference between survival or death for infants".64
In general, nudists extol the virtues and benefits of their lifestyle. After fifteen years' participation, a forty-one-year-old female teacher-housewife explained: "There are great rewards in being able to relate to other human beings without the artificial barriers that clothes impose. When I first entered a nudist park and disrobed, my sensation was one of exhilaration and freedom! I still feel the same way.... Actually, it is, in itself, a relief not to be competing at the clothes level. There is no costume as beautiful as a trim, well-tanned, well-kept body.65
On the physical side there is pleasure in moving about without the encumbrance of clothing. The sensations of moving air, sunlight or water on the total body surface provide an unusual total body awareness that adds to the psychological well-being. The common notion that supporting garments are necessary when doing vigorous activity is obviously not true.66
I would be remiss not to acknowledge the recent research linking skin cancer with overexposure to the sun. We must recognize that each of us is different physically. We also learned from the Greeks that everything should be done in moderation. The Egyptians, Greeks and Indians practiced their nudity indoors as well as outdoors. Everyone enjoys a certain amount of sun, some can tolerate more exposure than others. But remember, it is not just sun exposure that is beneficial in nude living. Total exposure to air and water is what the skin appreciates.
We often neglect our emotional health. Right thinking is not sufficient to maintain emotional well being. Emotional health is as much tied to physical relaxation and recreation as physical health is. A healthy mind relies on many forms of stimulation including input from all the senses. Nudity provides complete, unrestricted input on the largest sensory organ, the skin. The accompanying sense of well-being and balance with nature has been written about often, and by such notables as Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Kahlil Gibran.67
One man pointed to his children playing with some of the other naked youngsters and said, "If the rest of society was as comfortable with themselves and their bodies as those kids are, then psychologist would go out of business."
Many of the emotional problems we deal with as humans come from various obsessions. Being interested in a subject is good emotionally and can lead to mental health. However, dwelling on anything to the exclusion of other normal tasks, or when attention to something results in physical harm, then the action becomes an obsession and requires clinical attention. Lee Baxandall points out that satiation of curiosity is one of the benefits of attendance at nude beaches. He speculates that it might even save some individuals from becoming ingrown and intense in obsessional attitudes and needs.68 As reported in Nudist Society: "...there is relatively little psycho pathology among nudists, and this is particularly true for the female nudists. ...nudist females are better adjusted than the several non-nudist female groups [studied].69
We saw earlier that clothing acts as a mask to the wearer, a way to alter perception and hide from reality. A twenty-six-year-old married female, a nudist for five years, stated: "It seems that when people disrobe they leave the majority of the hypocrisy in their clothes. Nudist are more sincere, open-minded and willing to accept others for themselves, instead of their stations in life. 70 Mental health comes from a positive body image and from meaningful touch contact with significant persons in one's life.71
There seemed to be more male-female equality in this context. Both sexes participated in all of the camp activities and there was less segregation into male and female groups than there is in usual social gatherings.72 This is beneficial from several aspects. Communication between the sexes provides a better understanding of the opposite sex, which leads to better spousal relationships. Free exchanges between the sexes relieves the stress of how one will be perceived. The fear of the unknown is eliminated when open discussions can take place.
A nonnudist, well known psychiatrist from the East wrote: "Apparently the ability to be nude with strangers of both sexes goes along with a psychological openness and ease in relating, a friendliness and lack of defensiveness which is easier to appreciate than describe. This situation shatters the idea that the taboo against nudity is strong and deeply ingrained. This taboo relates more to the rules of the environment, what is appropriate, than to something psychologically fixed. Lack of clothing in other places would bring shaming from those around and thus embarrassment. Since shaming is not part of the nude environment, embarrassment does not occur, or if it does, is extremely short lived. The taboo against looking is dropped here also. Many people in clothed society will not look directly at others when walking down the street as if this were harmful or shameful. Nudists freely appraise each other visually although unobtrusively and without staring."73
Along with reduction of tension, there is reduction of hostility. In team sports there was competition, skill and enthusiasm but there was no show of hostility toward teammates who goofed or toward opponents. This reduction in hostility was strikingly evident in the kindly way in which children were treated. They were dealt with by parents and others as worthwhile individuals. There was none of the sharp direction, shoving, pulling, or threatening behavior that adults can be seen exhibiting to children in stores and other public places. Children were energetic and outgoing, playing together or with adults without bickering and without any show of sexual curiosity or sexual naughtiness.74
Participation in social nudity may not be a complete prescription for mental health, but it certainly seems to be beneficial. By accepting one's vulnerability, a person can more openly share in a counseling setting. Seeing the imperfections of others helps one identify and accept their own imperfections.
Bernie Gunther, a therapist who uses nudity in group sessions, says: "What I think is valuable about the nude experience is that it takes people out of their ordinary set and it almost establishes a way of symbolically saying, 'Here's a place where you can disclose yourself; here's a place where you can open up.'... In general, nudity does create a setting that allows people to open up more." 75
At a convention in 1965 a gentleman stated that his participation in social nudism had provided a more beneficial experience and therapy than all the hours of psychiatry he had undergone both in the Service and following his discharge.76 While nudity does not dispel the need for psychiatric counseling, it is clear that nudity encourages openness and self acceptance. These qualities encourage the traditional counseling process. Anyone who is serious about having a positive life change should consider the benefits offered by nude recreation.
Massage / Touching
Touching, like nudity, is often considered taboo in many natural situation. Casual body contact between men is discouraged in many circles. Like nudity, body contact is seen as a precursor to sexual overtures. "Needing one's space" has been the mantra for many years in America. Yet this prohibition has not lessened the need for physical contact. A reassuring touch can mean more than words.
In adults, the need for body contact, like oral needs, may become intensified during periods of stress. Oral longings may be readily satisfied with food, tobacco, or alcohol, but skin contact needs a partner. According to researcher M.H. Hollender, for some women, the need to be held or cuddled is a major determinant of promiscuity. He concluded that the great longing of these women for this type of closeness is a response to a need which was largely left unsatisfied in infancy and childhood. Ashley Montagu points out that this is true with men also: "The male is culturally encouraged, in the Western World, to remain all the days of his life a virtually non tactile creature--hungering for tactual experience, and seeking it, mainly, through sexual contacts."77
For married couples, the interaction through touch can be easily carried out, if communication exists between spouses. For singles the full body sensual experience of nudity provides some of this required contact. The feel of sun, air and water on the entire body can be very rejuvenating.
Clinical psychologist Shlomo Kreitzer writes about this tactile need: "Somewhere before adolescence we inherit our culture's nervousness about touching and sensual pleasure. The message we get is that skin and body pleasures are base, animalistic, and immature. We also naively pick up nervousness and confusion about sex.... Touching (stroking, holding) provides relaxation, emotional stability, increased self-acceptance, and self-regard. There is a subtle condition that I believe is affecting most adults in our society. It is 'Touch Deprivation....'"78
Hugging can lift depression--enabling the body's immune system to become tuned up. Hugging breathes fresh life into a tired body and makes you feel younger and more vibrant.79 One of my most difficult and most important awarenesses was becoming accepting of males touching males and females touching females, not sexually but just reaching out naturally such as in massage.80
Arturo Alomar, massage therapist and member of The American Massage Therapy Association speaks of modesty during a massage session. "If they [the clients] feel a need to cover particular areas, they are automatically going to have a certain amount of awareness and tension when the therapist's hand movements are in proximity to those covered areas during the massage process, and that gets in the way of complete relaxation. If the mind is at ease with the body, massage can more easily promote a euphoric state of relaxation that is what I would describe as a blending of mind, body, and spirit." First experiences with nudity are common in the professional setting of massage therapy, and they often require clients to come to terms with the question of body shame and body acceptance--a therapeutic process in itself.81
James R. Chamberlin "also lists some emotional effects of massage: The conveying of comfort, nurturing, and trust; a feeling of well-being. Massage can also help unblock emotional holding patterns, since feelings 'held in' cause physical tensions which relax while being massaged."82
Many sensory and self-awareness seminars have been offered at Elysium Institute. One of these, The Cosmic Joy seminar, was billed as "...a drugless turn-on to life, to self, and others around you". (Remember the "turned-on, tuned-in" 60's?) The session ended with the joyful and unique 'Von Newman Method,' a structured ritual of group massage.
"We were now in groups of five, one person at a time being the subject for this sensory experience. The other four followed Russell's movements and methods of laying-on of hands [not of the Biblical kind], with the subject lying on the stomach.
"It starts with one hand on the nape of the neck and the other hand on the small of the back, watching and feeling the subject's breathing and attuning our breathing to it. Hands are lifted and suspended above the body between each movement for two breaths. With loose fist, all eight hands gently thump the body from neck to soles of feet. Then a rather quick light touching with fingernails from neck to soles of feet. Then light kneading of the skin. Then blowing on the body with breath directed form the top of the head down the back, the sides, the arms, hands, buttocks, thighs, calves, feet, the soles of the feet. then stroking with peacock feathers, and then spreading gobs of lotion on the body and massaging to a blissful state which is beyond all words, ending with the subject being gently kissed form the top of the head o the soles of the feet.
"All troubles, all anxieties, all depressions seemed to dissolve. The feeling expressed by each and every participant was that we felt more loving toward the world in general and happier with ourselves. Amazement was expressed that a setting such as this, which our cultural standards would proclaim to be 'orgy' producing, turned out to be a tuning-in to ourselves, which each of us would carry back to a more honest and loving approach to human relationships." 83
I am not advocating that our Churches begin holding group massage seminars. This information is simply provided to show another aspect of total health that Christians often chastise. It also points out that there is a marked separation between sexuality and mere nudity or touching. While nudity and touching are often the precursors to sexual experiences, they can be clearly separated if we choose to do so.
Social nudity can extend into normal areas of life beyond relaxation and recreation. Unexpected life experiences can be emotionally devastating. Our attempts to grow out of the hurt can be difficult. Several examples are illustrated in the following stories:
Jim, in his early forties, was widowed and left with a ten-year-old daughter. Unhappy, but attempting to cope, he was trying to play the dating game, going to bars in search of a social life. At the insistence of a friend, Jim was introduced to social nudism and found it to be "what the doctor ordered," for himself as well as his daughter.... Curiosity about what a woman looks like, the flirting games, just don't get in the way. So the stress is not here, and I enjoy that.
"Since all the women are naked, you can talk to them as people and spend time with them as people. And this is an especially important experience for children. Kids here don't develop a morbid curiosity. The feel natural in the nude. There's nothing dirty or nasty about it, so they get to know their peers on an equal basis."
Jim told of the changes in his daughter: "After her mother's death, she became quite shy and closed in. It took about three nudist camp visits before she started responding to others, but look at her now." He pointed to a happy little girl laughing and splashing around in the pool with several other children.84
Tom, a victim of Polio, said, "Ten minutes after I arrived [at the nudist resort], I discovered that not only am I well adjusted but also socially desirable. So I enjoyed my nudist caper thoroughly, and after five years still do. Being here completely nude, being accepted by myself and others exactly as I am, gives me a sense of freedom hard to explain.85
Lawrence, an engineer, talked about how the clothing-free setting of a nudist resort has affected his family: "My daughter is thirteen years old, and we've been coming here on and off for the last seven years. It's been beneficial for her and for us, I think, because she realizes that God makes people a lot of different ways, but we find that the media tend to picture people one way--young, health, and slim. I think she has a real sense of her own body, her own person, but I don't think she would have had those kinds of feelings had she not been exposed to the different sizes and shapes and ages she's been able to see here. She sees everything from babies to very old people and realizes there is a difference in the body at different stages of life, that it's natural and all right."
Asked if his daughter was interested in boys, Lawrence replied, "I wouldn't say she's any less boy crazy than other girls her age, but in certain respects she isn't. So many kids equate nakedness and sexuality, but she sees as well as we do that it's not like that. Nudity has nothing to do with sex. We have told her that there are times when you do have that personal relationship--where it's part of an all-encompassing human companionship."
"I talked to a reverend here last week," Lawrence said. "He said man was born in lust and will remain in lust, but it's what he does with lust whether or not it makes him sinful. I questioned that for myself. Why am I here? Am I lusting when I look at a pretty female? No, for myself I'm not. A good-looking woman to me is like a beautiful sunset to be admired, and every sunset is different, and they're all beautiful in their own way. conversely, a man might be a beautiful sunset for a woman. But I don't see that as lust. My lust is directed to my wife. I appreciate her more now for what she is--unique from others and special to me.
"Observations and conversations with others here have helped us immensely with our own conversation in our intimate times, and I don't fantasize that I'm making love to somebody else while I'm making love with her. She is what she is, and experiencing social nudism has helped me differentiate this instead of imagining what the media have told me she should be. Here, we get a balanced perspective of who we are. 'Perfect' or 'imperfect' body parts don't take on the same importance they used to. I think we value each other more now for what we share together."
Joan, his wife, laughed, patted his arm, and remarked that body freedom had also loosened his tongue. Lawrence smiled, saying, "Yes, that's another benefit of nudism--you become more honest." 86
In 1962, 1963 and again in 1966, a unique opportunity presented itself to measure the public's response to complete nudity on state in two widely separated areas of the United States, Kansas and California. The occasions were semipublic performances by the Pacificans, a small nudist "travel club" with a membership of about seventy five persons, not including children. As one part of their activities, the club performed a rare one-act play called Barely Proper at nudist conventions around the country. The play, published in 1929 as a small hard-cover book for reading purpose only, was described by the author, Tom Cushing, as "an unplayable play." It was offered to the public as a satire on the nudist movement which was at that time active in Germany. Cushing called the play "unplayable" because it called for the presence of totally nude actors and actresses on stage, in full light and for extended periods of time.87
After an initially well received performance in 1961 in California, Barely Proper was performed in Oregon in 1962 by the same troupe. At this performance, invitations were sent to 30 unquestionably upstanding civic leaders to attend. Twenty eight of those invited came and saw the play that told the story of a very proper young Englishman of the late 1920s, engaged to a German girl, who goes to Berlin to meet her family, unaware that they constitute the dynamic nucleus of the German nudist movement. The opening scenes were clothed, but the time came and passed when the first nude appeared on stage. The audience laughed heartily at the many humorous lines. At the final curtain the applause was generous and enthusiastic.88
Following the performance, there was a reception for the guests at which they met the performers (now all dressed). The atmosphere was entirely normal for such a "green room" occasion. When the subject of nudity did arise, the nonnudist guests stated that after the first few minutes it became immaterial; it was the play that held their attention.89
Following the play Barely Proper, both in Kansas and at Olive Dell in California, a verbal invitation was extended to the nonnudist guests to go for a swim. The point was humorously made that they all had their swimming suits with them since only one-button suits were allowed in nudist park swimming pools. To the surprise of the nudists, thirty to thirty-five in Kansas and ten to twelve in California accepted the invitation and seemingly enjoyed their nude swim.90
When one can accept nudity as just another aspect of the human experience, the perspective of that individual on life as a whole is more open, better balanced and freer from stress producing thoughts. This balanced view of life will aid in our relationships with Christians and non-Christians alike. To be able to accept someone as-is, without question, allows us to be more aware of their needs. We can then respond more freely and effectively as Christians and will be perceived as people of genuine love.
The Nude Family
To some people, the idea of family nudity is not shocking. They grew up in homes where casual nudity was readily accepted. Nudity in the home ranges from not closing the bathroom door to running from the shower to the bedroom sans clothing, to lounging in the nude during the evening. Beyond home nudity, many people experienced recreational nudity while growing up. However, the 1957 Downs study showed that the majority of people, 62 percent of the men and 80 percent of the women, came from homes where no nudity was permitted.91
For many who did grow up in a home where casual nudity was accepted, the nude experience is seen as a family experience. Seal equated nudism with religious and fraternal organizations, basing this on family participation, close interaction in a limited geographic area, and some underlying spiritual motivation. The result, he felt, was a tendency to produce family solidarity and a decrease in the opportunity for other behavior that would be in conflict with society. He reported that family-group identification was supported through nudist practices because of the unifying influence of nudism on all family members, particularly the children. There was a greater degree of family cohesiveness resulting from the shared nudist experience during weekend and vacation periods.92
As one woman reflects, the emphasis on the family unit is basic in her family's practice of nudism: "We married when we were young, and now we have a teenage boy and a seven-year-old girl. We feel that camp is a wonderful place for families to be and to do things together. My children are always in good health and they look good. They have a healthy outlook on sex and the opposite sex not only at camp but at home and in school. They don't need to go around peeking and seeking misinformation on sex from other children and dirty books as so many children do. Nudism has brought a feeling of great trust and understanding between my husband and myself as far as everyday living and life is concerned (we have been married fourteen years). The things we do and really want to do are the things we can do together or as a family unit. This is what I receive as a mother and wife from nudism. As a woman and a person I get the feeling of the closeness of God. Near all the beauty He has created, I've come to know and understand the human body--not as a tool, but as a work of God. I've learned the difference between modesty and false modesty. I've learned that a feeling of contentment can be found near nature and God. As humans we crave and demand, big homes, fancy cars, furs, clothing, and so forth, but they aren't really as important as we always try to make them. This is the nudism I have come to know, enjoy, and love very dearly." 93
Viewing marital adjustment through the eyes of practicing nudists generally reflected nudism to be a unifying and positive influence. Wives particularly reported the benefits nudist practices had on their husbands and children, and thus on their marital and family situations.94 The Herb Seal study suggested that a high degree of trust existed between nudist husbands and wives. The Seal study noted a lesser degree of overt eroticism in nude culture than he observed in nonnudist environment.95
Of those surveyed, three-fourths were married and one-fourth single. It is noted that the majority of our respondents have been married only once, with approximately one in four being married twice and slightly less than 5 percent marrying three or four times. Seventy percent of those surveyed indicated they never had been divorced. Approximately one in four had one previous divorce and approximately 7 percent of both male and female respondents reported two divorces.96 These numbers are well above the national statistics for divorce rates.
The following quotation from a teacher who has been married for twelve years is indicative of several comments received about the practice of nudism in the summertime, where appreciable time is available to spend in a nudist setting. "The most wonderful benefit I have received from nudism is the wholesome, clean thinking of all the members of my family. My family can hardly wait to live at camp for the summer. We have a fellowship together that cannot be attained anywhere else. We enjoy being together doing the simple things of life. Swimming, playing volleyball, cooking around a campfire, all become very special. I have three teen-age daughters and my fears of 'Where are they? What are they doing?' are answered because their father and I are in the center of activities. I could write pages about why I am a nudist, not to mention the physical benefits of my polio-afflicted body, but I'm out of space."97
The following excerpt from an interview with a woman in her late forties reflects not only her concern from her husband's welfare but an indication that this is a genuinely shared interest and that her satisfactions from nudist activities approximate her husband's. "The satisfaction that I derive from sunbathing are many, but first and foremost is having my husband well again and free from the tensions of his work. He was becoming a problem to live with in his former state of mind. For myself, it is a pleasure to look forward to every weekend at our home away from home.... After seeing and observing the young boys and girls with the good qualities they show while I am with them, I only regret that we did not know of nudism when our son was growing up, so we could have reared him in this health environment." 98
We have claimed that social nudity does not promote sexuality. Some writers claim that social nudism destroys sexual interest, and a few of our single respondents pointed out that this had cut down their overt interest in the sexual area. Several nonnudists have speculated that since nudists have to repress their "natural" sexual urges social nudism is therefore deleterious to sexual functioning. Research indicates that either an increase of interest within marriage exists or there is no difference.99 This is likely due to the increased closeness between married couples. The open communication that is fostered by nudism enhances the ability for couples to become intimate. Furthermore, it is to be expected that the intimacy is deeper and there is a greater closeness between couples that practice nudism.
Newborns and infants in a family benefit greatly from the nude experience. Skin to skin contact between the mother and child are very important to healthy development. To the newborn, offer sensory satisfaction through breast feeding, rocking, infant massage, and a constant show of affection. Teach without shame the acceptance of all functions of the body. As the child grows, family nudity should be casual, and I would suggest families bathe together in Japanese-style baths.100 "The family bath should be used for socializing and relaxation and should provide a natural situation for children to learn about male/female differences. The beneficial stimulation of whirlpool baths should not be limited to hospitals or health club spas but should be brought into the home. Physical affection such as touching, holding, and caressing should not be equated with sexual stimulation, which is a special type of affection."101
Children and Nudity
There are professionals who believe that exposure of the genitalia, either male or female, especially around children, can be damaging. Of these the list includes Dr. Benjamin Spock, Iris Bancroft, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Dr. Sandor Lorand, Bennett Olshake, Haim Ginott, Jerome Fass and Dr. Toni Grant. The opinions of these authors were formulated either by philosophical reasoning or by very limited personal experience. Summarizing the writings of these people, Aileen Goodson states: "These various opinions, while unquestionably sincere and based on understandable concern for the general welfare and mental health of the developing child, appear to be fears that are unsubstantiated by scientific research. However, parental attitudes are passed on to children. When parents themselves feel sexually embarrassed or feel body shame if seen unclothed in the presence of their children, it's likely these children will get the message. And if the message is "sexual" or "dirty" or "shame and guilt," then obviously it wouldn't be a good idea for parents with these attitudes to "parade around nude" in front of their children.102
Marilyn Fithian, in her work as a sex therapist, also takes exception to the statements about nudity in the home encouraging incest. "I can tell you from our experience working with clients that incestuous behavior was not related to nudity in the home. It was more often directly related to lack of love, warmth, and affection from parents. Seeing parents nude was almost always received as a positive experience, except where peeping has to be done to see the parents without clothes."103
Swiss psychiatrist Helga Fleischhauer-Hardt, president of The School for Parent Education, in her book Show Me expresses a view that is exactly the opposite of Spock and Brothers: "A child who has never been allowed to see his parents and brothers and sisters naked sees nudity as something shocking. Children will only have a sense of their bodies as something 'good' if they receive much tenderness and devotion from their parents from birth. In order to enjoy sex fully, it is necessary to enjoy one's own body naturally." She stresses that it is not seeing parents and other family members nude which causes sexual trauma and poor sexual adjustments.104
Parents who consider trying nude recreation fear involving their children for reasons of social stigma. The parents fear that their children will reveal the fact that their last camping trip was in the buff. A child's openness, regarding the portrayal of "secret" body parts while associating with people in the clothed world, is not typical of most nudist children. At a very early age, they usually sense the fact that their family nudism is a private matter, not to be shared with those who don't practice it. (This is a major concern of neophyte nudist parents with young children, but like the erection so feared by uninitiated men, it rarely becomes a problem.) Youngsters learn through nonverbal actions as well as spoken instructions when and where certain types of behavior are appropriate; and the discussion or practice of family body-freedom falls into this category. They understand there needs to be a separation between activities here and with home and school friends, and they've adjusted to it easily; it doesn't seem to be at all confusing to them.105
Some parents have told about holding their breath when their children have been talking ecstatically about the wonderful time they have had at camp. The apprehensive parents wait for the "horrible truth" to be revealed. But then, apparently instinctively, their children have never mentioned the fact that it was simply a club or camp their parents belong to or they had visited. One parent said, "And my son is only five, and it was just as if he knew that it wasn't really to be talked about."106
Also, they feel a sense of community, like we have this special world here that's safe and where we can trust each other--a feeling of complete freedom. They love it. It's a healing and teaching atmosphere. In the nudist family you don't think about being nude. Nudity is what it is, and very quickly children learn that there are norms for the family, norms for school, norms for socializing, and so on, and they do. In general, I can see that nudity could be very beneficial to children.107
Dr. Lee Salk agrees: "Being natural and matter-of-fact about nudity prevents your children from developing an attitude of shame or disgust about the human body. If parents are very secretive about their bodies and go to great lengths to prevent their children from ever seeing a buttock or breast, children will wonder what is so unusual, and even alarming, about human nudity."108 Lloyd de Mause, Director of the Institute for Psychohistory and faculty member of the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training, says: "There is no evidence supporting claims that exposure to nudity produces a higher number of psycho sexual problems in either children or adults who were raised in such an environment." 109
Anthropologist Margaret Mead comments: "Ideally, parents will unostentatiously allow their children to become acquainted, from infancy on, with the nude appearance of family members, juvenile and adult, in the normal course of dressing, undressing, and bathing.... There are surprisingly many American children today who literally do not know the genital difference between males and females, others who have a great store of misinformation about reproduction to confuse them, and still others who know enough but are so inhibited that they can't talk about it. This is not to say that we should go all the back to nature, but that occasional exposure to parental nudity and a high school course in sex education are not enough."110
Nudist children seem to be very well behaved and for the most part orderly.111 One of the most commonly expressed statements in my [Hartman-Fithian] interviews with parents was the feeling that their children were more manageable and at the same time freer and happier because of the nudist setting.112 Herb Seal, a former Presbyterian minister who heard a statement that juvenile delinquency was unknown in nudist families, chose this subject for his dissertation research at San Francisco State University.113
It has been noted that children at Elysium are rarely noisy or obstreperous on the grounds. No one is sure why. It obviously has something to do with the unstructured body freedom and the open space in which to run about. But even at the children's playground, there is not the jostling and bickering ordinarily found among youngsters.114 In a comparative study of three-to-five-year-old children (100 social nudists, 156 non-nudists, and 8 at-home-only nudists), Dennis Craig Smith determined through interviews with the parents that children even this young already have clearly defined body self-concepts, [good or bad].115
A single forty-nine-year-old male said his outstanding impression of nudism was that: "...preschool age children don't do nearly as much fussing and crying. Practically never do they squabble. Is it because the restrictions of clothing are not present? Or do the parents have a way of bringing them up to avoid the pettiness found in nonnudist families?116 A number of nudists have indicated that they thought nudism had drawn their family unit closer together. They felt it was an activity they all enjoyed, shared, and participated in. The general indication was that nudism enabled their children to participate in a clean, wholesome life with plenty of room to let off steam where there wasn't the problem of drunken or offensive behavior often exhibited at the public beaches or parks.117
Smith's interviews with young adults raised in childhood as nudists were extremely informative in terms of their social adaptation. When interviewed, Mardy was a student at UCLA, active in the Sierra Club, in photography, and in skiing: "It's funny, I'm considered a prude in my circle of straight, non-nudist friends," Mardy said. "My ski club has skinny-dipping parties, but I don't participate. it's the sexual overtones I don't approve of. Too much peekaboo. I don't like the 'lets see yours' attitude." 118
When questioned about the sexual seductiveness of nude parents, the young adults all felt that idea was ridiculous. There were remarks such as Deborah's, who laughed, saying, "I think that's stupid, really stupid."119
The following is an interview with a man whose mother was an open promoter of nudism while he was a child:
Alan, a married college graduate with a career in the performing arts, who grew up in a family who were outspoken about their acceptance of nudity, was asked, "What are your recollections of benefits and/or problems of being exposed to nudism as a child?" Alan answered, "I'm not aware of any problems in being exposed to nudism as a child, only benefits. the feeling of freedom, the sense of being a part of nature, and simply enjoying the sun and water and air so fully are some of my most pleasant childhood memories.
And to another question, "Did you feel free to talk about your nude weekends to school and neighborhood friends?," he answered, "I don't remember talking about it much at school, but I don't remember not feeling free to do so if I had wanted to. I guess I didn't really feel such a need to combine the two worlds. I felt sorry for people who couldn't accept or take part in nudism, and it made me feel superior in a way."
Following are several other questions that Alan answered openly: "Do you feel that seeing the life cycle in male/female body development had any importance in your transitions into adolescence and adulthood?"
"Yes. It had a great importance in molding my entire outlook on life and in my accepting the body and its functions. But more specifically, the changes the body goes through from puberty to adulthood were no secret to me. I was excited seeing myself reach to various stages and wondered how long it would take to get to the next. I wasn't ashamed of the changes my body was going through (except maybe my voice cracking), as the others at school were. Of course, I had all the sexual insecurities that adolescents have, but these had mostly to do with being liked by the girls."
"Were your sexual experiences influenced by your early years of body awareness?"
"Yes, mostly positive. I was never ashamed of sex, nor did I have guilt feelings. My years of early body awareness gave me a feeling of openness about sex, without fear. As I started experiencing sex, it fit into the same category as the sense of freedom, pure enjoyment of the elements, and being a part of nature that I felt as a child. the only negative was expectations of me from those who knew about my nudist background and their association of nudity with sexual prowess. For an adolescent who had all the usual fears of rejection and of not being 'good enough,' this was an unwelcome pressure."
"Did seeing your mother or her friends naked seem seductive to you in any way?"
"Seeing my mother naked was never seductive for me. Seeing her friends naked was only seductive to me as far as any attractive woman under 30 or 35 was seductive (clothed or unclothed) when I was in puberty and adolescence. Nudity itself was not the factor."
"Do you think the warnings of some well-known people such as Dr. Joyce Brothers and Dr. Spock--than exposing children to nakedness in the home encourages a preoccupation with their bodies and sex--has any validity?"
"No. If anything, I think the opposite is true. People are always more preoccupied with that which is mysterious, the unknown, the taboo. As for preoccupation with sex, my friends and I, nudists and non-nudists alike, seemed to be equally preoccupied with sex during adolescence."
"How would you raise your children?"
"I would raise them as naturists. But I would do my best to help them understand where society has determined nudism to be inappropriate, and why."120
The National Observer, in an article covering the Midwest Sunbathing Association convention at Granger, Indiana, stated that "Not one of the more than 23,000 youngsters in the nation who have been raised as nudists is known to have ever picked up a police record...." The contention by the nudists we interviewed was that, even if a few cases had been hushed up, this still presented a fantastic figure and that left a high number of young people who had never encountered the law in any negative capacity. An eighteen-year-old miss pointed out in the article that the low delinquency rate was probably due to nudity being a family affair. Young people, she explained, go to camps with their parents and therefore are not out on their own--free to get into trouble.121
A thirty-seven-year-old female dropout [from nudism] stated that her family enjoyed nudism as a group until the children reached their teens, where changing bodies caused them to be reluctant to go to camp; and because of a lack of teen activities in the camp, they developed other outside interests. Another dropout respondent felt that it was too bad we had asked if they had discontinued participation because of their children since they felt that this had been "the most wholesome approach toward the sexes and a very positive aspect of social nudism."122
Concerning the viewing of nude females by adolescent males, a young man in his late twenties candidly said, "I suspect it to be a rare occasion when a person can look upon a member of the opposite sex who is fair to the eye and not have the thought cross his mind of what type of partner she would make. Except for children who have been brought up in nudism from infancy, there still remains a certain amount of fantasy connected with the nude figure. Even those children have this problem because of contact with other children."123
Sol Stern, past ASA president, mentioned that when nudists marry within their ranks, the choice of a mate is more likely to be influenced by feelings of love and respect rather than sex per se. He stated that he doesn't necessarily see that nudism is going to eliminate sexual desire, but there is no question about any physical misrepresentation on the part of either one--no falsies, pads, or camouflage to cover up what may be thought of as an imperfection; no fear on the part of the girls about what he will think of her big or small breasts or on the part of the male about what she will think of the size of his genitals.124
Some nonnudists have contended that experiencing nudism as children would lessen sexual interests as adults; research, however, is inclined to view it as a shift in area of importance, from sex per se to that of a total relationship. 125
Many parents point out that their children exhibited no shame or curiosity about their bodies. As a thirty-six-year-old mother said: "My daughter is two years old and is the only child on our block who is not 'ashamed' or curious about another's body. Hers is a wholesome attitude toward her own body and others."126 When nudists were asked if they thought nudism would have helped them in any way as children, almost all spoke of eliminating childhood curiosities about same and opposite sex and in dispelling their feelings of being different.127 A married thirty-year-old minister who had been a nudist seven years stated: "Nudism offers an environment as nothing else does, which is free from morbid physical curiosity, one in which children can grow and mature with a healthy attitude toward body differences and functions.128
The age of puberty, when physical changes are going on, seems to be a period when some nudist youth drop out. Forced nudist attendance during this period of sensitivity could cause resentments and hostility to develop.129
It has been pointed out that a great deal of harm can be done a child by the suppression of curiosity, and that while parents are unaccustomed to group situations involving unclothed adults, nudity of their children is an accepted phenomenon. Nudists have taken a step farther and accepted not only the nudity of the child but also that of the adult, and it would seem that when one is involved with a group where nudity is expected, the one who would feel the trauma would be the one who is different: in other words, the clothed individual would probably feel as uncomfortable in a nude society as a nudist "in uniform" would in a clothed society.130
A visit to a nudist park, where everyone is nude, is not the same situation as found in an unexpected encounter in a family situation, which without a wider perspective might be anxiety-producing. Age at the time of first experience may be a determining factor in how it is viewed; however, parental responses indicated that the child's perception of self may be a more important factor.131
If, as Alfred Adler contends, inferiority feelings are of prime significance in all children, the unexpected viewing of the adult male penis or breast development of the female may come as a real shock if seen in isolation, but this, of course, is not the situation one encounters in a nudist park.132
With particular reference to home nudity, Rose Franzblau indicates that observing anatomical differences doesn't necessarily answer a child's sex questions. If parents have hang-ups about openly discussing sex with their children, nudity per se will not resolve the problem. Franzblau postulates a thin line between instruction and seduction on the part of parents; also pathological and overemotional attachments may result from parental nudity and may create difficulties in breaking family ties in order to form a new family.133
John Gagnon contends that the lack of knowledge about sex produces fantasy that "may be projected onto and then shape the sexual situation." In most areas of our interaction we can weigh fantasy with reality, but if the child has no exposure to the nude human, the fantasy-reality scale can take on gigantic proportions especially in reaction to peer group talk and the general misinformation often bandied about.134 I can personally relate to the above statement when, as an adolescent, I began fantasizing about sexual situations. I did not have enough specific knowledge about man's view of sexuality, much less God's view of sexuality, to have my fantasies directed in a positive manner. As a result, not only were my day dreams off base when my body chemistry changed at puberty, but the fantasies continued into adult life, even after marriage.
Ralph Eckert states that it is through the naturalness of family nudity in the everyday events of dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom that a child is able to see sexual differentiation's. In this situation where questions may arise, there can be easy reassurance given the child about his own sexuality and that this will not change. He is a male and will always be a male, or she is a female and always will be.135 Again, I can relate to this statement because family nudity did not exist in my childhood home. I did not have any idea of the natural differences in male or female anatomy and this led to a somewhat unhealthy fantasy life.
Therefore proper preparation of children for social nudity is probably very important. Parents tell us that generally initial visits to camp have been talked over as a family unit before the actual event. It seems that where this is not done problems have developed with children not wishing to disrobe or to continue to go.136
The kind of nudity may have a markedly different effect at different periods of a child's life. The openness of social nudism in opposition to a familial situation and determination of differential effects on the child could be an important area of investigation. G. Fardell states that nudity as practiced in the home may have quite a different effect on children than the open nudity of a park. The type of atmosphere generated in the home may be conducive to arousal, and if this is so, then it should be avoided. However a nudist setting is something else again, and Fardell points out that the open nudity of a park allows adults by their actions to show complete acceptance of themselves. Children in this type of an atmosphere would probably pay little or no attention to otherwise taboo areas.137
Margaret Mead has made significant observations about the effects of nudity on children in both South Sea Island and American cultures. Briefly, they are summarized as follows:
(1) Clothing is an alienating factor in establishing our body image and separates us from our bodies. The dichotomy of the self apart form the body develops in childhood.
(2) Nudity in clothed Western culture involving children and adults may provide a traumatic distortion for the child because of lack of comparative elements. In an unclothed society all ranges of humanity of varying sizes, shapes, and descriptions are to be found and compared. It is significant that comparison of all anatomy be made. This involves breasts and penises in our society in particular.
(3) In many societies sex roles develop in early childhood through physical contact between parents and children. Mead feels that such paraphernalia as bottles, cribs and clothes create barriers between the bodies of parents and children and mute a significant communication process and learning experience.
(4) Muted childhood sexuality is followed by puberty and the dating game of finding a mate. In this game, the emphasis is on sex--emphasized through clothing. Preoccupation with sex per se, rather than personality, results.
(5) Because of absence of nudity in our culture, the child loses an important link in learning since he cannot observe the growth process of nude bodies at various maturational states that his body will go through.
(6) Nudity or partial nudity by no means indicates a lack of modesty among primitive people.
(7) Nudity per se is not the panacea for all learning. How it is handled and what it means to the child is important. Some primitive people were nudity exists still traumatize their children through various fears and actions. 138
Being raised in a clothing optional home may be fine and good, but what happens when the child is old enough to begin interacting with other children and parents? Will they quickly embarrass their parents by taking off their clothes or blurting out the fact that they get to be naked at home? The directory of Summerhill School in England, A. S. Neill, contends that children should freely view their parents' nakedness as they are growing up, but that as soon as a child is able to comprehend, it should be explained to him that some people don't like to be exposed to nudity, and, in deference to them, clothing should be worn when they are about. 139 It seems to me that the distinction can be very easily caught by the young child. After all, whenever mommy and daddy leave the house, they put on clothes. They wear clothes at the store, at Church and at their friends' homes. In the same way a child learns not to pee in the plant stand, the child will learn where and when it is appropriate to be nude.
A well-known female family counselor, after leading a weekend conference, took the occasion to visit a nudist park so as to satisfy her own curiosity about the effects of nudism on families and children. She was impressed with the children at play. She observed that there was no appearance of any sense of shame or embarrassment in the boy-girl relationships, and she felt it was a positive, wholesome environment.140
A warmth and openness among the children existed that we had seldom perceived in a clothed society, where you hear admonitions of, "Oh, you mustn't do that; it isn't nice," which stifles the exuberance, spontaneity, and creativity of the child as well as curiosity for knowing. It was sheer joy to watch these self-contained, adventurous spirits, who were not stifled by the alienating taboos of our society.141
We all accept the fact that certain words and actions are inappropriate in certain settings. But I agree with the quote above that many times we stifle our children in their play. Our society and Churches have established rules and policies regarding "proper" behavior that when evaluated honestly, are hypocritical and potentially damaging to the physical or emotional health of the child. For example, assume a young child, boy or girl, is playing outside with others on a hot day. The children are running around and are sweating a lot. One little girl sees that some of the boys is playing without a shirt on. That certainly looks comfortable and so she removes her shirt. As a parent your normal response would probably be, "Little girls don't run around without their shirts." Is that sensible? Face it, wouldn't you want to be free from the sweaty clothing if possible?
Nudity in Other Developed Countries
Europe and Australia are the two prime examples of accepted social nudity in public places. While some areas still restrict beaches to topless attire and not full nudity, there is a much greater acceptance of nudity in recreation than found elsewhere. It is not uncommon for families to plan vacations at nudist resorts in Europe. One account is that 10 million people vacation in the nude annually in Europe alone.
Nudity in Undeveloped Countries
Very primitive (by our standards) cultures in tropic climates accept nudity as a way of life. In these communities, the same values observed in nude communities in developed countries. It as been noted earlier that when clothing is introduced into these societies, the prevalence of sexual impropriety increases. The lure of the unseen is often stronger then that which is in plain view.
We spent a lot of time at the beginning of this book looking at the worth that we have as created beings of God. We must have self worth in order to value others and serve them. Yet many of us have a very difficult time accepting what God says about our worth. "Surely others are more highly valued than I am," we say.
Nudism is a means by which we can accept ourselves as we are. This happens primarily because other nudists accept us as God created us. The acceptance of nudism may be the end of a quest for self realization. Or nudism may be the means to that end. Either way, it is beneficial to the self esteem of the participant.
In nudism, the usual means of class identity are sharply reduced. Hartman and Fithian believe that nudism facilitates "being genuinely human." This aspect of the nudist community was mentioned often in interviews and personal histories.142 Nudists had significantly higher body self-concepts than non-nudists.143 "It was such a trusting, friendly, and serene atmosphere. I didn't have the feeling people were staring at me because of my appearance, as I felt they were in the supermarket or stores."144
In a study by Leanard Blank and Robert Roth, the short form of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was administered to 102 nudists in four nudist parks on the East Coast. They compared the nudists with college engineering students and some suburbanites, who supposedly represented nonnudist groups for these comparative purposes. They reported greater personality deviance among the males than the females. They also reported nudist females to be better adjusted than those in several nonnudist groups, which also corresponds to the findings of [other] research. Blank and Roth also reported, "Social nudism may provide a sublimated outlet for personality features whose deviant forms of expression would be voyeurism and exhibitionism." and, "Whatever the motives, the environment of social nudism may promote a benign influence on the nudist, perhaps a mental health influence."145
All of the [MMPI] profiles [of 196 nudists tested] are within normal limits. The married men are an average a self-assured group of active and perhaps somewhat impulsive people. They are free from anxiety and worry, although they take a mildly pessimistic view of the state of the world and of their lives. They are inclined, as a group to derive their principal satisfaction from their activities of the moment more than from long-term goals pursued through hardship. They are generally free from hostility and do not appear to be frustrated or resentful. In deed, they may be seen by some as a passive group of men, since they do not show any aggressive or truculent masculinity of attitude and are likely to be considered somewhat gentle by the average American standards.146
The married women are quite different. They are utterly normal. There is nothing in this mean MMPI profile to distinguish it form that of the average American wife. Some writers have described groups of women like this as full, uninteresting, and placid. These are women whose central interest lies in their families and homes. They are serene, calm, self-assured, and womanly without undue dependency. They are stable, contented women, and they derive their greatest satisfaction from their husbands and children. They very likely form the foundation of American character.147
In summary, we note that with the MMPI data of 196 nudists analyzed with knowledge only of the MMPI scores and the sex of the subjects, the results indicate that over all, this seems to be a reasonably normal group of people. Like almost any group in America today, it contains a number of people ( six percent) whose maladjustment seems to call for professional assistance. But 78 percent fall within normal limits. 148
In short, the MMPI shows this to be a group much like any other in our population. It does not permit any other generalization nor does it support any stereotype about the personality of the social nudist.149
Hartman and Fithian continue by saying, "Several of our respondents indicated that nudism had given them a degree of self-realization that would not have been possible elsewhere. A forty year old female reported: "Nudism's freedom and restrictions helped me work through other aspects of self-realization. It might have come through other means, but acceptance of my body surely was a necessary ingredient. My first year in nudism was both exhilarating and traumatic. I discovered, despite my previous beliefs, that I was still bound by many puritanical attitudes. Nudism heightened the conflict between these and more liberal and more natural impulses."150
A thirty two year old male wrote: "Only with nudists and Unitarians can I be completely myself--to say exactly what I think without eliciting any shock, or blank incomprehension. At all other times I must wear a mask of conventionality--always hiding my true identity. Living like a spy gets tiring.151 I would hope that Christians could be included in the list above. Yet many Christians have a difficult time getting past uncomfortable concepts to learn about the person making those comments. How many Christians would embrace someone that openly admitted to being a nudist?
We are who God made us to be. Granted, we have been corrupted by sin and the sin nature. Our excessive weight may be the result of sinful habits. Our bodies may be scarred by years of ungodly behavior. Our attitudes towards others may be colored by past teaching or experiences. The sin of this world and the sin that we have chosen to participate in have distorted the image that God had planned for each one of us.
But God has provided a means by which we can be free from the bondage of our past. The scars may never disappear, but scars are better than wounds. Scars are the evidence of healed wounds. Scars are the reminder that change has occurred. Some emotional scars may have to be painfully reopened so that the repair and proper healing can take place. But once genuine healing takes place, the small scar that remains will serve as a constant reminder of how much you have grown.
Scripture shows that God created us to be self accepting people. Research shows that nudism promotes this self acceptance. You may require certain emotional healing before you can accept yourself in the light of God's potential. But through the power of Jesus Christ, that self acceptance is available.
The quest for the "white teeth and fresh breath, cross your heart, lift and separate, tummy flattening, leg energized" body has been around as long as advertising. We strive incessantly to be like others, or at least better than we see ourselves to be. Yet each of us would be surprised to find that others view us much more highly than we view ourselves. Our own physical appearance can be as hard to accept as our emotional state is.
"Describe your body," we asked a woman who is five feet eight inches tall, broad shouldered, large breasted, wide around the middle, with rather slim legs. "I'm fat," she replied. "Describe your body," we asked another woman who is five feet tall, has thick calves, thighs, and hips, a narrow waist and small breasts. "I'm fat," she told us.152 Can you accurately describe your body? Or is your perception one of generalities? Are these generalities agreed upon by your peers?
Chronic overeaters almost compulsively focus on the view that they are "fat". Yet in reality, their outward expression "I'm fat," often covers the inward thought "I'm bad." I'm bad because I do not have control over my life, and my shape is a constant reminder. Yet it has been shown that people who accept their eating as an acceptable, self comforting activity and accept their appearance "as-is", begin a very natural process of recovery. Instead of thinking, "I'm bad because I eat," they can focus on "I hurt and need comfort." By addressing the "hurt" change and growth can occur.
June Lange, pursuing a career in the field of psychology, studied the field of body acceptance. "It became clear to me very early on that hardly any female thought she looked good enough," she says. "As a journalist I was always curious, asking people what their thoughts and feelings were, and the first thing I learned about nudists was that even the beautiful women, the women with the most beautiful figures, never thought their own figures were good enough. That aroused my interest in both nudism and psychotherapy. Their own body image was so much at variance with what others thought of them."153
The following exchange occurred after a nude therapy session where therapists were learning to accept their own bodies. One woman, Nancy, who recently underwent a mastectomy, felt unable to accept her scarred body. Another participant, Joe, tried to convince Nancy that he accepted her as-is.
Nancy (holding her hand over the area of her mastectomy) started crying. As she said, "I'm still fighting the feeling that no man is going to want me," a man and woman moved close to her. The man embraced her, and the woman held her hand.
Joe said, "I truly meant what I said. I have to admit that, when I first saw the scars of your mastectomy, I felt pity for you. However, when you started talking, I was more aware of the whole person you are. Frankly, it's my total impression of you as an attractive, interesting woman that came out. I admit to being insensitive [with what I said earlier]. I'm sorry."
Richard put his arm around Nancy and said to her, "What we've hit on is really important in terms of how we see our own bodies and how differently others perceive them.
Joe said, "Who of us here is perfect? We're all having to make the best of what we are.
In nude therapy, the group concluded, one learns rather quickly that the world around us doesn't emphasize our imperfections but, instead, blends them into the complete package of the person, which tends to minimize them. This insight can be tremendously supportive, an aid in gaining self-image balance for body acceptance problems.154
Because we are uniquely created by God, each of us has special needs that we must accept. Gloria, a businesswoman, is full figured, while somewhat overweight was always being told to diet. Because of her body structure, it was impossible for her to be 'slim'. "I had a lot of really bad images fed to me for many years. But being among nudists made me feel comfortable from the first day. I looked around and noticed that there were people from age two to ninety-two, and the so-called perfect body you see in advertising existed for maybe a few of those two-hundred or so people who were here that day." Gloria learned that once you've taken off your body's artificial wrappings and let the world see the exterior, it makes it a lot easier to let the world see the interior as well.155
A young man visiting a nudist camp for the first time said: "One of the most surprising things I've found today is that fat people are more interesting looking without clothes. Stuffed in clothes they're just blobs. But in the nude, they have individuality with some good and some bad features."156
None of us is perfect. Then again maybe you are the perfect one and everyone else is imperfect physically. There is no "normal" body shape or weight. There are only average shapes and weights which a few people may conform to. Unless we can accept ourselves physically, we are missing an important aspect of how God works.
God works through diversity. Remember the example used by Paul in I Cor. 12 where he describes members of the Church as parts of a human body? Each of us is a unique creation, equipped by God to perform a very special task in His plan. Unless we accept ourselves as God uniquely created and equipped us, we will not be able to fully realize the plan He has for us.
We must accept ourselves as complete individuals. We are physical, emotional and spiritual. Each of these aspects has been created and fitted together uniquely by God into us. Unless we learn to accept each aspect of ourselves completely, we will be less than fully effective in serving God.
Likewise we must recognize that the others we deal with daily are different than we are. We do them a disservice when we expect something from them that they were not created to provide. This is where being open with one another is so important. We must learn from each other how they are uniquely equipped by God. Then when a specific need arises, we know who God has equipped to meet that need. Conversely, we will not have unreasonable expectations from people who have not been equipped by God for certain tasks.
As an aside, by examining the bathing habits of a culture, it's possible to determine body-image attitudes with some precision. The Japanese, Turkish, and Scandinavian peoples in recent times, for example, have traditionally enjoyed communal nude bathing, as did their earlier cultures. In the Greco-Roman empire, until its decadent and declining years, the two sexes usually commingled during communal nude bathing because the emphasis of the culture was on cleanliness, health, and socializing, not on physical sexual differences. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church suppressed such bathing practices. However, communal nude bathing where the sexes were usually segregated survived in parts of central and northern Europe until, finally, the modern nudist movement initiated the currently relaxed European attitudes toward mixed-sex nudity in spas and on beaches.157
The western world, from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century, was not known for body cleanliness. Since the unclothed body was thought of as sinful, the sensual practices of languishing in a nurturing bath or soaking in a communal bathhouse was not only unavailable for the vast majority of people but was unthinkable and unacceptable.158
Turkish baths utilizing thermal hot springs were constructed wherever the Ottoman Empire ruled, introducing to many parts of Europe the pleasurable and health-promoting cycle of nude swimming, sweating, and massage regeneration. Both men and women of the Ottoman Empire used the baths as a social center, but always with the sexes segregated.159
However, in Japan, a country blessed with natural volcanic hot springs, nude family and mixed-sex communal bathing were approved by the prevailing religions for over two thousand years. The practice of social bathing in the nude spread throughout Japan and became as much a part of Japanese daily life as the rising of the sun.160
Who are you? Who am I? How do I know? How do you know? Does God intend that we be isolated individuals? Does God intend that we expose every last shred of secrecy that is within ourselves?
I don't know for sure!
But I do know that God wants us to interrelate. First and foremost, God wants us to interrelate with Him. God wants an intimate, open, ongoing, personal relationship with Him. God created us as naked, open, sharing beings, in His image. Because of disobedience, Adam and Eve hid from God. We have inherited that fear of being revealed through the sin nature. But God has provided a way whereby that open, naked relationship can be restored. Through Jesus Christ, we can be open and intimate with God.
God wants us to interrelate with our spouse. God's plan was that there would be one person on earth that could share in the complete intimacy that God wants. That person is our spouse. Through the bonds of marriage, God has ordained that we are to be as open with our spouse as we are with God. Sadly, that does not easily happen. Sadly, our relationship with God is not as open as He desires. While we may withhold some details of our pain from our spouse, our goal must be to be as open as possible. However, as the relationship between husband and wife draws closer, the ultimate act of intimacy, sexual union, reflects the intimacy that God wants with us individually.
God wants us to interrelate with others in the local Church. Next down in the hierarchy of intimacy are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Those who worship with us should be allowed to care for us as God directs. As we discover (and create) safety in small groups within the Church, we can feel free to share our needs and deep concerns with one another. As God equips, we can then care for each other. The intimacy of group prayer and worship in small, safe groups is the spiritual, group equivalent of sexual union in marriage. Those of us who have experienced God's Spirit interrelate with a group praying and caring can testify that it is an experience to seek after.
God wants us to interrelate with the world. Finally, God want us to share ourselves with the world. We can not open up with our business or school acquaintances as we can with our Christian brothers and sisters. People who do not know Christ, can not understand the safety that can be experienced to open up and share. Yet, to the extent possible, God wants us to be vulnerable with everyone in the world. Through this interaction, we show them life in Christ.
What other people see is a reflection of our spirit. In all the cases above, people see a reflection of our spirit. And our spirit is molded by who we see ourselves to be. If we are comfortable with our bodies, this is reflected in how we interact with others. If we are comfortable with our uniqueness, this is reflected in how we interact with others. If we are comfortable with our giftedness, this is reflected in how we interact with others.
How a nudist interacts with other nudists is a reflection of his spirit. His acceptance and openness reflects his willingness to accept others as they are. One need not be a nudist to accept others or be willing to be open emotionally. But one who accepts the benefits of nudism, can reflect that spirit in all aspects of his life.
I challenge you to try the nudist lifestyle as a means to know yourself better, and to make yourself available to others more freely. The freedom and openness you will come to enjoy will benefit you in all areas of your life. This will be especially helpful in your ability to accept others as they are, and so be better equipped to share the life-in-Christ with them. The Apostle Paul said, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Cor. 9:22).
"This is not an approach to compromise, but of enrichment. To compromise is to abandon principle, however little or much. To extend one's range of variation of life-style is to incorporate as many life-styles into his own as possible without producing destructive tension or cause abandonment of principle or absolute. One can therefore be 'comfortable' or 'at peace' when crossing cultural boundaries."161
Approaching the change to life as a nudist or merely accepting a brother in Christ who is a nudist is much like accepting the culture of a jungle tribe. We can have two views of anothers' culture: a monocultural view or a crosscultural view. "The monocultural approach to the behavior of others is to see in what ways that behavior is understandable to the one viewing it and how it can be changed to conform to the expectations of the one viewing it. [In other words, they are wrong and I am right.] The crosscultural or bicultural approach lets man be man and God be God in evaluating behavior. Thus, biblical absolutism is teamed with cultural relativism so that a Nigerian can be a Nigerian and be fully open to God; or a North American can be a North American and fully open to God [; or a nudist can be a nudist and fully open to God]. Such an approach effects maximum responsibility of the person and allows him to have those sociocultural uniquenesses that reinforce his identity and encourage mature growth in the Christian faith. Spiritual conflict is thus not intensified because of unnecessary social conflict."162
We are all unique. God designed it this way. We all express ourselves in different ways. This is the beauty of God's diversity in creation. To accept this uniqueness and diversity, we must,
Love God and Love Others
Not only is there is no other way to be happy as a Christian, but there is no better way.
The footnotes listed in the text above have not yet been included in this file due to the large amount of work involve.
A bibliography of all my sources is provided below for your reference.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice, Beyond the Farthest Star, Ace Books, New York, 1964.
Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology, Abridged Edition, Victor Books, 1988, ISBN: 0-89693-567-1
Hartman, Ph.D., William E., Marilyn Fithian and Donald Johnson, Nudist Society, Revised and Updated by Iris Bancroft, Elysium Growth Press, Los Angeles, (c) 1970 and 1991, ISBN 1-55599-041-X
Hirschmann, Jane R. and Carol H. Munter, Overcoming Overeating, Fawcett Columbine, (c)1988, ISBN: 0-449-90407-5
Goodson, Ph.D., Aileen, Therapy Nudity & Joy, Elysium Growth Press, Los Angeles, 1991, ISBN: 1-55599-028-2
Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of Christianity, Harper & Row 1975, ISBN 0-06-06452-6.
Mayers, Marvin K., Christianity Confronts Culture, (A Strategy for Cross-Cultural Evangelism) by Zondervan Publishing House, 1974, ISBN 0-310-28891-6
Penner, Clifford and Joyce, The Gift of Sex, Word Publishing, Dallas, 1981, ISBN: 0-8499-2893-1.
Last revised July 27, 1997 by Jeff Rockel