What About Children and Nudity?
Children are natural naturists. They’d rather be naked than clothed. They feel no shame of the naked body, theirs or any adults around them. They have to be taught by their parents or well-meaning relatives to be ashamed of their bodies. What in the world do we do to innocent minds when we tell them to cover up their bodies? We instantly begin to teach them about sex whether we mean to or not and we begin to create an incorrect idea of the body. The primary purpose of a penis is not sex! It is the expulsion of liquid poisons built up in the body through urine, why should they cover that up if not for an incorrect viewpoint or mindset about the naked body? The primary purpose of a breast is to provide nourishment for a child, why should they cover that up if not for an incorrect viewpoint or mindset about the naked body? There is nothing inherently sexual about our bodies! Of course, God designed us for reproduction and of course it helps to be naked for that to work right, but just because you are naked doesn’t mean it’s about sex. We have bought into Satan’s lie! A child knows nothing of sex, yet enjoys nudity as if it is a natural state, as if that’s almost how we’re supposed to be. It’s almost like he was created that way.
Imagine with me for a moment a child who has grown up in a naturist home, where nudity was commonplace and completely non-sexual. Can you see how that child will grow up completely unimpressed with pornography? When the neighborhood kids bring over a picture from a playboy magazine and he says so what, what’s the big deal? That boy or girl is not as easy a target for Satan’s trap of pornography because they grew up as God has intended from the start. They grew up seeing the human body as God’s most wonderful creation. I have interviewed a Christian family who raised their children as naturists from birth in a naturist home, when they are at home no one wears clothes, not mom or dad or the kids. They do devotions at night together as a family in the nude, they pray together as a family in the nude, they do their homework in the nude, they play out in their private back yard as God intended, they swim in their private backyard pool as God intended. He told me a story recently where his son, who is now in a Christian middle school, went to school and some of the boys in the locker room were passing around a picture of a naked woman. And as he tells it, his son said “so what, what’s the big deal, it’s just a naked body.” The boys raised in non naturist Christian homes were completely under the spell of the view of a naked body and became aroused, whereas the boy raised in a naturist Christian home could not care less and did not get aroused at the site of a naked woman. The proper view of God’s creation has made this boy free from the addiction of pornography. John 8:32 says “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” and John 8:36 says “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Do you want to break the cycle of pornography addiction in the Christian home, then make sure to raise your children as God intended them to be raised? Raise them in a home that recognizes the Bible view of a naked body and not the satanic view of the naked body. Raise them to know that God views them as a beautiful special creation of His and they have nothing to be ashamed of. Do you want to raise your children with a healthy body image…not needing to look like a Barbie doll or a sexy Disney star then raise them seeing the body and all of its beautiful imperfections? Tall and skinny or short and fat, tan or white or red or black we are all made in the image of our Savior and have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.
I am quoting now from a pastor friend of mine, Pastor David Hatton from the website www.mychainsaregone.org:
“Here in modern America, most of our parents stopped letting us see family nakedness early in childhood. The assumption behind this restriction is that, after “the age of innocence,” the naked body becomes a sexual temptation. Unfortunately, that assumption itself plants the seed of such a temptation, the restriction inevitably cultivates it, and society reaps the harvest of a pornographic view of the body.
I’m not blaming my parents or yours. They were misled by the prevailing culture, just as their parents were before them. But I do blame the church, not just for its past and present leadership in promoting a sexualized view of the body, but for its negligence in theologically correcting this error through a mature, realistic, incarnational view of human embodiment.
Missionaries and cross-cultural workers living among naked people groups get to see what happens when this aversion to nudity is absent. They themselves quickly become accustomed to seeing nakedness everywhere. Although they learned the body taboo just as we did, they soon stop experiencing the sexual temptation it preaches. This alone should cause church leaders to tremble and ask, “What have I been teaching?” But culture is blinding. Its authority can render normally intelligent minds oblivious to the obvious.
But stop and think. What would it be like to grow up in a naked culture? What if the bare bodies of friends, neighbors, and family members became a daily sight? Bodily growth from infancy to old age would be routinely visible. Adolescent emotional worries about the physical changes of puberty would be replaced by realistic expectations. Young people would grow up with total visual knowledge of the opposite sex, thus eliminating any prurient curiosity about body parts and their functions. Pornography could gain no foothold in such an environment, because a pornographic view of the body would be nonexistent.
Pastor David then goes on:
A frequent concern raised in emails sent to us by fathers with porn problems and by mothers married to porn addicts is how they can help keep their children from succumbing to the strong pornographic mindset saturating our culture. There’s a very effective answer: stop promoting a pornographic view of the body in the home. It must be rejected by precept and example.
They need to learn the truth of body acceptance long before they reach their teens.
But demonstration of body acceptance is more powerful than explanation. Children cannot be porn-proofed if a porno-prudish view of the body is continually reinforced in the home by how we act, even if the mindset is mentally and verbally renounced. Parents can pass on a true family legacy of body acceptance only if they practice it. In other words, nudity at home should be routinely seen without ever being treated as obscene.
For most American families, the practical living out of body acceptance would mean courageously reversing old prudish habits, establishing new body-friendly customs, and inventing creative opportunities for ordinary nakedness to teach its crucially needed lessons. Some of these might be:
· Adopting the age-old, healthy habit of sleeping in the nude
· Never shutting bedroom doors for dressing or undressing
· Celebrating a relaxed “birth-day suit breakfast” on the weekends
· Keeping bathroom doors open for sink or toilet access while tub or shower is in use
· Investing in a Hot Tub or pool for no-swimsuit family fellowship
· Building a backyard enclosure for full-body family sunbathing
Practical changes like these are powerful when body acceptance is simultaneously taught as a moral standard. But to ensure that this healthy understanding works at a social level—not just in the home—children must be shown that nudity beyond that of parents and siblings can also be decent and nonsexual. It might mean sharing that new Jacuzzi or backyard sunbathing enclosure with relatives or like-minded friends who are also trying to raise porn-proofed children.
As radical as that last suggestion may sound, it is therapeutically realistic. In the context of such social realism, fathers fighting porn or mothers struggling with poor body image often gain as much healing from past thought-patterns as their children find reinforcement for a wholesome view of everybody’s body. Beyond-the-family nudity won’t be intimidating if home nudity is already a comfortable routine.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but words are still important. The family practices mentioned above can quickly kill body shame and instill body acceptance. But open verbal communication is just as essential in porn-proofing children as open visual illustration. Children will be strong in behavior only when strong in understanding. Still living in a world where the body is toxically sexualized, they will be bombarded with sex-obsessed messages in the media and confronted by people indoctrinated by them. When questions arise, parents must be prayerfully open and ready to discuss the truth and its implications. Body acceptance is a holy way of seeing that is stronger than the cultural falsehood of body shame. Only by keeping children grounded in the truth about the body can they walk in freedom from the lie of porn.