This semester, I’m taking about three English classes. One of them is Advanced Composition. For that class, I’ve written an annotated bibliography, a literature review, and my most recent assignment was to write a Rogerian letter. (A Rogerian arguement is a way to argue a point while charming your opposition so much that they don’t mind being argued with.) But before we could write our Rogerian letters, we had to write terrible editorials–using biased sources, making fallacious though impassioned statements, etc… (Mine was about evil vaccinations.) Once those were finished, my professor instructed us to choose one of our classmates topics and respond to it in a Rogerian manner. Well, one of my classmates wrote a very clever little editorial promoting nudism. If we all just chucked our clothes, so many societal evils would be remedied–unhealthy body image, social cliques, thievery and the like. So, below is my Rogerian response.
1000 Some Rd.
Whoville, MI 49001
March 3, 2012
The Nudist Times
2000 Breezy Rd.
Barely There, MI 49021
I had the opportunity to read your latest editorial, “Your Right to Bare Arms, Legs, and Other Body Parts” in The Nudist Times last week at the dentist’s office and I spent a considerable amount of time pondering it. I now find myself compelled to reply in what I hope will be an effective manner. Before your editorial, I had never really considered the topic of nudism and its philosophy. Though I disagree with your ultimate conclusions, it is clear that your intentions are admirable. Many of the points you brought up were quite valid. The problems you have observed in society and seek to fight against through social nudity are real and clear and they trouble me as well.
It would seem that you and most nudists in general are troubled by the materialistic attitudes of our society—this constant drive to express our exalted place in the social stratosphere through our clothing. The way humanity tends to divvy up social standing according to appearances is extremely unfortunate, especially when it affects children. As you rightly pointed out, many school children are obsessed with designer clothes so that they can be accepted by their peers. The fact that children worry about these things and face rejection based on appearances is sad and it ought not to be. This inordinate focus on outward appearances leads to cliques and takes attention away from the main purpose of school which is to learn. Your comments on the idealized body image of our society were appropriate as well. It is tragic that women should feel inadequate as women when they compare their own bodies to the photo-shopped images of supermodels and actresses.
I understand that while all nudists are not religious, a large number of them would classify themselves as Christians (Bullough). I noticed that you (and other nudists I have read since I came into contact with your article) spend some time praising the magnificence of God’s creation that we can see in the human body. Nudists often point to the fact that God sees to it that babies come into the world naked as proof that God certainly cannot disapprove of nudity. As I said before, I do not entirely agree, but I am encouraged that you include God in the equation. I am also a Christian, and I believe that though our conclusions on the matter may be different we ultimately have a common goal. So, I would first like to discuss your Biblical rationale for social nudity and then my Biblical opposition to it.
When I first learned that a large number of nudists were Christians, I began to wonder why they would come to that conclusion. My mind immediately jumped to Genesis and the creation account. The Bible clearly states that when Adam and Eve were first created, they were naked, not ashamed of it, and God called it “very good.” So I thought to myself, “I see. They must believe that since God created us naked, we would be doing ourselves a favor if we shed our clothes. Clothing, after all, is nothing more than a reminder of sin and shame.” It turns out that I was right. In my research online, I came across a Christian nudist organization whose arguments practically mirrored my speculations (Naturist Christians). This viewpoint is particularly interesting and one worth thinking about.
My difficulty is that I have a question about one small detail. Why did God kill animals and make clothing out of their skins for Adam and Eve to wear after the Fall? The passage I am referring to is Genesis 3:1-21. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the Bible says, “…the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (King James Version) Now right here, I am certain you would point out that the very act of them rushing to cover themselves up was only proof for your argument, but that still does not explain why God helped them cover up only fourteen verses later. God exchanges their rather useless fig leaves with coats of skin. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (King James Version, Genesis 3:21)
In addition to all this, nakedness is never looked upon favorably in the Scriptures. Nakedness is always portrayed as a very shameful thing and clothing a good thing. In Chapter 9 of Genesis, another account seems to give further evidence of this. After the great flood, God blesses Noah and his family. Noah plants a vineyard, makes some wine and gets himself roaring drunk, so drunk in fact, that he ends up lying in his tent wearing nothing but his birthday suit. His son Ham wanders in about that time and has a good laugh, telling his brothers, Shem and Japheth, all about it. Shem and Japheth take a “garment” and go into the tent backwards to avoid seeing their father naked and cover him up. When Noah, a man very close to God’s heart, came out of his drunken stupor and realized what had happened, he said this, “’Cursed be Canaan [Ham]; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.’ And he said, ‘Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.’” (King James Version, Genesis 9:25-27) In Noah’s opinion, it was not a light matter for his son to have seen him naked.
These are the observations that cause me to pause. Because of them, I feel reluctant to accept the nudist position completely. It would seem to me that God does not entirely approve of nudity. At the same time, I understand your concerns and your desire for a change in the attitudes of our society. Since our goals and concerns are so similar, surely there is a way that we could work to change these problem areas in our culture in a way that would be less offensive to the rest of the population. Perhaps one would be to seek to glorify God and bring attention to Him in the way we dress rather than attention to ourselves through our clothing choices or lack thereof. Whatever the outcome of this debate, I feel that more open dialogue on this issue would be beneficial to both sides. I look forward to it.