According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer. My beliefs and convictions regarding some new truth in my life are clearly laid out below. They are meant to be read in numerical order.
But first, a disclaimer. As mentioned, I did not always hold these beliefs. In fact, I resisted them for a very long time. In the same way, you might think some of this to be outlandish, far-fetched, if not crazy. I will admit the ideas espoused below at times sound like an oxymoron. While seemingly unconventional, I am grateful to have come to embrace these ideas. While I am passionate about this topic, it is secondary to my passion for the Christian faith and all that it entails. I must be obedient to the authority of God’s word where Scripture speaks. Where it is silent, less clear, or controversial, I hold fast to the postures of submission and humility. I will submit to the best interpretation available to me in my own thinking. If a better argument is presented, in humility, I must submit to it, trusting the Holy Spirit will guide me into truth.
Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church to take on an important issue in his day. The following (not 95, but rather 85) are my propositions for another issue of importance that is highly neglected in my day.
1. I believe a robust theology of the body is sorely lacking in the church today. 2. I believe these personal convictions of mine come out of much study, reading, and most importantly from the word of God.3. I believe hermeneutical principles of interpretation and historical context takes precedence over present day conditions or cultural assumptions when determining the biblical author’s intended meaning.4. I believe that to disregard something as untrue outright without studying it fully is never the best approach in regard to any topic. As Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame.” This was me for many years, to my own dismay. 5. I believe mankind was made in the image of God (Imago Dei), as male and female, and humankind is the crown (or pinnacle) of God’s glory in creation.6. I believe the union between a husband and wife is a sign of the desired union between God and his creation. One of the most common and powerful Scriptural analogies for the faith is that of a bride and groom’s marriage union, bound by a covenant. Scripture declares this truth with bookends, starting at the beginning in Genesis and ending with the wedding feast in Revelation. The many verses about adultery (and idolatry) prove that God is jealous (in a good way) and desires this relationship of fidelity with us.7. I believe sex in marriage is a beautiful expression of God’s love, especially when we correctly follow his plans and do not allow lust to pervade our hearts.8. I believe a wife should be able to fully trust her husband, and have no secrets and know that she is loved and adored above all else. Man is to rejoice in the wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18) and grow old together with her in loving harmony.9. I believe “sleep naked” is one of the best pieces of marital advice one could give.10. I believe man and woman were created naked and unashamed and this state was called “very good” by God. It is reasonably deduced that God intended humankind to be in the garden unencumbered and unclad, completely comfortable in the tropical-like climate of paradise, enjoying fellowship with one another and their Creator.11. I believe Adam and Eve covered themselves out of fear, not shame (Gen. 3:10). Their eyes had been opened to the knowledge of good and evil, and they knew they had disobeyed, so they hid. This is a natural reaction, but an unnatural act for them, because they had always enjoyed fellowship with God without any shame involved. Shame and guilt are not of God. They acted in this way before God came in pursuit of them. 12. I believe it must be assumed that the serpent is the “who” of “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen. 3:11). 13. I believe “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) started a lie that all of mankind has wrestled with ever since. Part of that lie is a distorted view of the body, that it is impure, dirty, lewd, or shameful in and of itself. As Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (Jn. 8:44) We must counter the lies from the father of lies, with the truth.14. I believe Satan still masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) to keep people trapped in wrong thinking. We must understand the Devil’s tactics, so as not to be fooled by them.15. I believe Satan is the ruler of the world and has employed an incredibly effective strategy for limiting the effectiveness of the church to combat a sexualized view of the body.16. I believe the devil is a deceiver, an imposter, and a counterfeit of all that is created as good. When we live as though the lie is true, we miss out on much of what God intended for our good.17. I believe the issues regarding the body and sexuality are most violently attacked by our enemy. He distorts this issue so much in so many ways because it’s such an effective strategy in the war he is waging with us. It’s no wonder Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, a chapter all about spiritual warfare, to gird our loins with truth! 18. I believe God mercifully clothed Adam and Eve with skins, which were far superior to the man-made attempt of using fig leaves, knowing that this would be a physical necessity for protection in the harsh changing of the environment after the Fall. This clothing was not a moral necessity, and the unashamed naked state did not cease to be “very good” after sin entered the world. 19. I believe dualism and gnostic heresies have crept back into the church and most are unaware of it.20. I believe this demonically-inspired way of thinking equates the naked state as sexual stimuli only. This creates a taboo for the simple sight of an unadorned body that is based on cultural bias, and is not founded in Scripture. We have been conditioned and socially programmed to view the body only through a sexual lens associating the fully exposed human anatomy with indecency and obscenity. This cultural indoctrination is dysfunctional, illogical, unnatural, God-dishonoring, and morally toxic. 21. I believe you cannot find one prohibition against non-sexual nakedness in the Bible. In fact, if you study the cultural landscape at the time, it was no big deal.22. I believe nakedness, even in a non-sexual social setting is not a sin.23. I believe the verses used to object to naturism take verses out of context (issues of poverty or conquest or shameful acts not having to do with nakedness itself) and do not properly understand euphemisms and the nuance of the original languages. For example, the series of verses in Leviticus 18 stating “do not uncover the nakedness of” has a clear sexual connotation, which some translations make very clear.24. I believe God would not command someone to sin.25. I believe the prophets were often naked. In 1 Samuel 19 Saul was as naked as Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 (same word) all day and night, which had many asking, “Is Saul among the prophets?”26. I believe God commanded Isaiah to prophesy naked for 3 years in Isaiah 20.27. I believe work in the nude state was commonplace in Bible times and for centuries after, and it was not an issue as it is today.28. I believe even Jesus was naked in public at times, his baptism, washing the disciples feet, his crucifiction, and after his resurrection when mistaken for a gardener.29. I believe baptisms were conducted fully nude for a couple of centuries after the church was established. This was due to practicality and for it’s symbolism of being bare before the one to whom we must give an account.30. I believe many pieces of art depict these truths, some have been sadly censored throughout the years. 31. I believe many naked cultures lived without much of the sexual baggage that we live with today. When missionaries told them they were naked, they introduced all sorts of problems that did not exist there previously. This is well documented in various cultures.32. I believe how we use our bodies can be impure and immoral (inappropriate sexual activity), but the body itself is not evil. Those who cannot easily reconcile truths in their minds often get hung up on the issue of lust, as was the case with me. Lust is a sin of the mind. Surely the allure of “forbidden” fruit is strong, but only as strong as we let it be in our own minds. 33. I believe every Christian claims to seek after a renewed mind (Rom. 12:2), but few actually obtain it when it comes to this application.34. I believe lust is the root of many evils in society today: fornication, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, adultery, divorce, rape, prosititution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender confusion, and everything in between.35. I believe pornography has a strong hold on both society and the church. It is more accessible than ever, harming people at younger and younger ages. Sexual addiction is commonplace and becoming widely accepted. Calling it every man’s battle without true solutions is waving a white flag of surrender instead fighting to win. Good intentions have done little to solve the problem. 36. I believe man-made methods of guilt and shame will never work to sustain victory over pornography and are in complete opposition to God’s liberating truth. The best ideas and solutions the church has to offer fall desperately short of eradicating the root issue. Unfortunately, the church has lost credibility on this front and has no real voice of authority in this regard.37. I believe Christians, including leaders, need to have their minds renewed on all issues regarding the human body. Many thought I was effective in ministry for two decades, when a few people knew I, like so many others, was actually in bondage. As much as it pains me to say it, modesty standards that the church promotes actually do more harm than good and therefore make the church complicit in this epidemic. 38. I believe prudery and pornography are two sides of the same coin, joined together by a hellish lie from the serpent in Genesis. The Victorian or puritanical “modest” covering up of certain parts of the body (which varies from place to place as to which parts) does more to cause others to objectify those parts, than if they were to remain uncovered.39. I believe it is possible to be chaste and modest while in the nude state. Conversely, it is also possible to be immodest while being covered up or even fully clothed.40. I believe modesty according to Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 is more of a holy humility than a clothing instruction. The instruction found there regarding clothing is to not be pridefully elaborate with gold or pearls or expensive clothes. Again, some articles of clothing and jewelry deemed as okay by the modesty movement are in many ways more prideful and fly in the face of Paul’s true teaching.41. I believe each one is tempted by their own evil desires. (James 1:13-15)42. I believe that a remarkable, real, and permanent victory over lustful thinking was easily achieved for me through the normalization of non-sexual nudity and a renewed mind, when conventional wisdom and tactics the church promotes got me nowhere.43. I believe using the methods employed by the church allowed me to have a few prolonged seasons of victory, but certainly not without a constant struggle. It took a renewed mind and a correct and godly view of the body to eradicate my problems with lust and objectifying women.44. I believe all bodies are beautiful as a sunset is beautiful. This is true regardless of shape or size or any deformity or blemish.45. I believe one can admire the human form as both the pinnacle of God’s creation and part of his very own image (Imago Dei) without falling into lust.46. I believe men can and do lust after women in clothing, everything from a burka to a bikini. In fact, the lust factor can be intensified with clothing as compared to a simple unadorned body.47. I believe all types of fornication and pornography are evil, degrading, damaging, and destructive to oneself and one’s relationships.48. I believe non-sexual nudity is not pornographic. It is actually the opposite. Normalizing non-sexual nakedness (sometimes known as ethical naturism) creates a powerful distaste for all things pornographic.49. I believe Hollywood and Madison Avenue have conditioned people to believe that airbrushed models are today’s definition of beauty and anything other than this is wrongfully considered more ugly and shameful. 50. I believe this body shaming is also from the pit of hell. Millions of women (especially) are in a serious type of bondage without even knowing it. They need to know and truly believe in their hearts that they are beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God and others see them this way. 51. I believe body acceptance, and self-love needs to occur for one to be at their greatest potential to love others well. (“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22:39) The world needs this message, and the church is mostly silent on the matter. Sadly, secular society is in many ways more biblical in this matter of body positivity than many Christians appear to be.52. I believe breastfeeding mothers are doing what is best for their babies and should never be shamed for it.53. I believe there IS hope, and the truth will make you free (Jn. 8:32).54. I believe my current views align with both God’s word and his heart, and I am at peace about my current conclusions.55. I believe freedom should be practiced in line with one's own conscience without intentionally causing others to stumble (Rom. 14 and I Cor. 8). This point is often misunderstood and misapplied. An earnest study of these passages is needed. Even though fellow believers may disagree over certain convictions, controversial or critical ideas and ideals should not be avoided as a result. 56. I believe that if one’s faith allows them to drink alcohol (in moderation, since the biblical prohibition is against drunkenness - Eph. 5:18) they should curtail those actions in the presence of the “weak” or uninformed brethren whose conscience would not allow it. In the same way, a Christian naturist should practice with those of a like mind or those who would not be offended by it. (Gal. 5:13).57. I believe it is virtually impossible not to offend someone somewhere, no matter how innocuous you might believe your actions to be. That is not the point. Jesus (the stumbling block - 1 Cor. 1:23) and Paul did not shy away from offending the stubbornly legalistic with truth. Paul chastises those who presume to make judgments about others with a freer conscience in Romans 14.58. I believe we must live in that tension, but abide by the rule of love, as much as possible, and make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Rom. 14:15, 19).59. I believe the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, but the adversary hurls accusations of shame and guilt. God’s tone is very different from Satan’s. God’s kindness leads us towards repentance (Rom. 2:4) where there is now no condemnation (Rom. 8:1).60. I believe my conscience is not seared, but rather those who have either a prudish or pornographic view of the body are the ones believing the lie, who need to reprogram their own thoughts.61. I believe Paul was right when he said in Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.”62. I believe Jesus was right to challenge the religious leaders who followed their own traditions (legalism) over God’s commands when he said in Mark 7:15, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”63. I believe that even those who hate legalism can become legalistic on this issue.64. I believe Job was correct when he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return.” (Job 1:21a), and we continue to enter and exit this life this way. 65. I believe decent people fall for the lie that nude is lewd and are corrupted by it, as I was for so long.66. I believe I am a biblical naturist by conviction, not simply for the relaxation and health benefits provided.67. I believe Vitamin D from the sun is great medicine and extremely therapeutic.68. I believe the simple act of shedding clothes can in many ways help to shed stress, anxiety, and many worries of the world.69. I believe bras are harmful for women and can cause many serious health concerns.70. I believe it would be silly to take a shower in a bathing suit, but not as silly as using a suit on a sandy beach.71. I believe certain nudists can engage in activities that go against my beliefs and convictions as a biblical naturist. Like in all other areas, there can be misuse or abuse of the freedom God allows.72. I believe naturism may not be for everyone and always must be practiced in the right environment.73. I believe God has used naturism to help many people heal from a number of issues that have plagued them for years.74. I believe when there is nothing to hide (in terms of clothing), pretense, phoniness and judgmentalism fall by the wayside and openness and honesty abounds. People and conversations become much deeper, more spiritual, and have greater authenticity.75. I believe many social nudists are not Christians, and this is a largely ignored group that also needs godly examples and tactful Christian witness.76. I believe that like many other facets of life, though logical arguments can be made in favor of a belief or activity, some things need to be experienced to be truly understood. (Faith in Jesus being the ultimate example.)77. I believe I’ve never been a better spiritual leader, both in my own home and in the church since embracing this new way of thinking.78. I believe I have never been closer to God. The freedom and love I feel from him and for him is different and greater, and I have been a Christian my whole life. That is to say nothing of the close connection to God through nature that is an added bonus.79. I believe my wife and I are closer than we have ever been before, and we had a great marriage before renewing our minds on this subject. 80. I believe we should porn-proof our children by normalizing the body, and alleviating the mystique that traps so many into bondage.81. I believe a strong and healthy relationship and open dialogue with our children will raise them up to love their own bodies and souls as well as those around them.82. I believe my parents raised me as they thought was right, and I in turn started to raise my kids the same way, which I now regret.83. I believe I am a better version of myself, and have finally embraced who God created me to be, as he intended from the beginning.84. I believe that if you tried to convince me that my former way of thinking about these things is more favorable than my current view, it would not make me want to revert. The thought of returning to my previous state of mind, feels like putting myself and my wife back in the very bondage from which we have been liberated by God’s grace.85. I believe you must find the truth of God for yourself.