Many pagan cultures throughout history considered public nudity normative, especially Spartan, Greek, and Roman societies. In more recent years, public nudity has become more and more acceptable, with many groups promoting a “back-to-nature” philosophy and the supposed health benefits of taking off one’s clothes. Nudists, or naturists, form clubs, frequent clothing-free beaches, and engage in activities ranging from hiking to horseback riding au naturel.
Although the world’s standards may permit or even encourage nudity, the Bible has a different perspective. It is true that the first humans were created unclothed by God (Genesis 2:25). Adam and Eve were innocent in their nakedness, but after the fall everything changed. When they sinned, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Never before had they realized they were unclothed—the concepts of “clothed” and “unclothed” were meaningless to them. Sin affected their hearts and minds, creating vulnerability, guilt, and shame, and these things produced fear (verse 10). In their attempt to cover their spiritual shame, Adam and Eve intuitively covered their bodies. We should note that, when God took away their fig leaves—a sadly inadequate covering—He replaced them with something more permanent—animal skins (verse 21). Thus, God regarded clothing as appropriate and necessary in a fallen world.
Nudity now has implications of sinfulness attached to it. With few exceptions, the Bible presents nakedness as shameful and degrading (Genesis 9:21; Exodus 20:26; 32:25; 2 Chronicles 28:19; Isaiah 47:3; Ezekiel 16:35-36; Luke 8:27; Revelation 3:17; 16:15; 17:16). The only passages in which nudity is free of shame are those that describe Eden’s idyllic setting or that deal with marital relations (Proverbs 5:18-19; Song of Solomon 4).
We still live in a fallen world, surrounded by lust, immorality, and perversion. The innocence of Eden is gone. Naturist philosophy ignores the results of the fall. Even in “asexual” contexts, public displays of nudity dishonor God by pretending an innocence that no longer exists. A Christian should definitely not be a nudist or participate in nudist activities.