Naked, and Ye Clothed Me: On Nudity in the Home

The Fall of Man (source)

The local paper of record has a feature called “Family Council” where family therapists weigh in on reader questions. Today’s column revolved around the issue of nudity at home and whether—and if so, at what age—it harms children to see their parents nude. The concerned reader described the situation like so (translations here and below my own):

My husband and I are not nudists, but neither are we ashamed of nudity. At home, we often walk around completely naked. Especially in summer when it’s hot. We are always naked in the backyard. From birth we only dressed our children when needed—when it was cold or to protect them from the sun. We have two sons, one is now ten, the younger one just turned five. To be honest, we’ve never thought twice about it, and it’s normal for the kids as well. But the other day some friends, who also have children, said that they find it very strange when parents allow themselves to be seen naked in front of their children. At first I didn’t know what to say. Afterwards, a discussion ensued where it was said that children should learn that a naked adult is not normal in order to protect themselves from assault. I have felt very bad since then and am a bit unsure. It’s not like we are strangers to each other. Or am I mistaken and underestimating something here? My father and mother still undress in front of me (they are over 60) as a matter of course. I need professional advice!

Two family therapists responded at length, pointing out the roles of norms and context in determining what is appropriate behavior and, ultimately, concluding that kids can figure out the difference between naked strangers and parents and that the latter don’t pose an inherent danger to children.

It all struck me as imminently reasonable, but the reason I bring this up here at the BCC is because of a couple of comments on the article. It probably helps to know that while the editorial pages of the local paper of record lean left, the newspaper also hosts the largest internet forum in the German-speaking world with a fairly wide variety of views and experiences.

The reader “fizcaraldo” (as an aside, I believe everyone should see this film at least once in their lives) opined that

Some people are really paranoid when it comes to nudity. My wife recently showed me a post in a mothers group on Facebook. A woman asked the other mothers for advice because she was worried about her husband taking a shower with the 2-year-old daughter. The answers ranged from “tell him to wear a swim suit” to “Go to the women’s shelter and tell the police.”

The reader DevourMind responded, “Are you kidding me, those are Utah-like conditions.”

If the reader DevourMind’s response strikes you as an unfair generalization, consider this story from earlier this month:

A Utah woman has been charged with lewdness in her own home after her stepchildren walked into the room and saw her bare chest. […] The state’s lewdness statute criminalizes exposure of “the female breast below the top of the areola” in the presence of a child in a private place “under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm.” If convicted, Buchanan faces imprisonment, fines and the requirement to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

I invite you to read the article for more context, but in my view the added information doesn’t weaken the reader DevourMind’s implication that the pathologization of nudity in particular and the human body generally has reached an advanced stage in Utah. Considering the broad pattern of Utah’s settlement from the mid-nineteenth century onward, I can’t help but consider the possibility that religious norms represented by the innocuous-sounding term “modesty” have played a certain role. Of course, Utah isn’t the only region where modesty culture has raised generations of parents who hide themselves under coats of skins from their children; it just may be one of a few where the codification of the norm can cost you your freedom.

So what say you? Is the paradisaical Garden of Eden your model of domestic interactions or do you prefer the fallen state?

Comments

  1. I would like to note that the Rubens artwork gracing this post has been flagged on the BCC’s twitter feed: “This media may contain sensitive material.” So there you have it: a genre painting of America in the twenty-first century.

  2. kewinters@gmail.com says:

    My daughters are 8, 6, and 2. I think everyone should wear underwear when not actively showering/changing clothes. Personally, I do not lounge in anything less than a camisole and short shorts. I have been known to walk from my bedroom to the laundry topless to retrieve a recently-washed bra. The toddler regularly showers with or walks in on parents showering. The older two occasionally walk in and are reminded that people generally want to be left alone when showering. The three girls do frequently shower together.

  3. I’ve lived alone for almost 40 years, and I don’t leave my bedroom/bathroom without being fully clothed. I also shower and use deodorant even when I don’t expect to be within 100 feet of another human being that day. If at all possible I don’t fart or pick my nose in my kitchen or living room any more than I would in yours. That isn’t modesty culture — formality, maybe? Expectations for myself of a different sort? I don’t object to others’ different behaviors and hope I’m not hooted off BCC for mine.

  4. I’m not here to condemn anyone. I’m as much a product of my upbringing as anyone and certainly don’t always feel comfortable on my adopted continent. Still, criminalizing the exposure of breasts in the home (!) strikes me as problematic, even if the vast majority of everyone ever preferred to keep them covered at all times.

  5. Part deux. Been thinking about this. Dressing before leaving my room is definitely not “avoiding nudity,” in my case, so much as it is being ready to face the work of the day. Tied in with the rest, it definitely is not “doing it because someone else might be around,” when on a typical day no one else would be there. It’s certainly part habit by now, but I think it’s more about treating myself the way I would treat others, or drawing a line between the intimately personal and the potentially-if-not-likely social.

  6. Suomalainen says:

    As a Finn, nudity shaming seems like the strangest thing to me. I was shocked to find that in the locker room of gyms in the US (not in Utah, mind you but on the East Coast), I never saw any naked people. Why?

    For context, ward activities here often involve going to sauna together (separated by gender). We are stark naked, laugh, sweat, and have literally the best conversations. Highly recommend to my prudish (Puritan?) friends out West.

  7. Brother Sky says:

    Your final question is intriguing. I’ve got no thoughts on nudity in the home per se. I figure everyone will do what they’re comfortable with and it’s not my business. However, what I find interesting about the question is the general Christian (and specific LDS) narrative that nudity is associated with shame only after Adam and Eve eat the fruit. That’s always raised a number of questions for me, most of which concern the issue of self-awareness and shame. If nakedness (or one’s awareness of it) is associated with shame and sin, does that explain how easily (and wrongly, IMO) nudity is equated with sex, at least in certain cultures? Does the Garden of Eden story also imply that nudity is a more pure state than when the (fallen) body is clothed? Is nudity that is bereft of fallenness and sin a way to honor the God who created us by being unashamed of His creations? It does make one wonder. Thanks for a good post.

  8. Thanks, Brother Sky. One of the therapists in the linked article addresses self awareness and shame, noting that little children don’t think about their nakedness until they notice that adults do, and that shame arises when one doesn’t want to show a part of her or himself, be it, say a character trait or a body part, because it is subject to a norm-based evaluation.

    Anyway, I ‘ll be honest—when I was young one of the things I worried about was whether people were clothed in heaven. They always are when depicted in LDS art, but even the prospect of a robe was distressing to me.

  9. My mother, an adult convert from an irreligious home, would often walk around the house nude, partially nude, or wearing only her garments. My father, who was baptized at age 10 or so and raised by a socially conservative single mother, was never less than fully dressed (very rarely we saw him wearing his garment top without a shirt, but only for a moment). I do not remember ever feeling comfortable with my mother’s naturalist tendencies and do not walk around the house without clothing as an adult myself except when I forget to bring some article of clothing into the bathroom for after I shower. I tried as a young adult to sleep in the nude, but it didn’t take. I’m not sure if I just absorbed my father’s sense of modesty or if Church teachings I received in Primary and/or YW influenced that feeling of discomfort with being naked, which I always associate with being exposed. My mother told me that my sister and I would run around naked after our baths when we were little, and I remember seeing my little brothers do the same, but I’m sure that stopped well before puberty, probably at my father’s request. My own children have not seen my naked breasts since I stopped breastfeeding my youngest, and I don’t think they have any memory of seeing either my husband or me naked. We would sometimes take them into the bath or shower with us when they were babies, but that stopped at the point when they were able to reach out and grab us where we didn’t want to be grabbed, around age 1 or so. As teenagers, they seem to naturally prefer not to be seen without clothing, though my older son will sometimes walk around without a shirt on. At the risk of TMI, my husband and I don’t have a problem changing in front of each other, seeing each other nude, or being nude together when it’s appropriate, but we don’t just lounge around without clothes on.

    I also used to worry that we would have to be naked in the afterworld, but that was because I have body image issues, I think. Now I’m not sure what I believe about the afterlife at all, so I try not to be concerned. That said, I think we LDS people do have pretty terrible hang-ups about seeing body parts, even innocuous ones like shoulders or armpits.

  10. Nikonikonikole says:

    The culture in which we reside has this wonderful thing called onsen (hot springs), and they are experienced nude, but separated by gender. After Boy Scout hikes and camp outs it’s not uncommon to go to clean up and relax before people start going their separate ways back home. At home it’s similar. We aren’t walking around in the nude all the time, but I’m not afraid to bog and grab something before or after bathing. Kids typically take a bath with their parents until middle of grave school regardless of gender. It is just a cultural difference, though I do see a problem with criminalizing nudity in the home.

  11. I agree that this Utah prosecution raises some interesting questions, though, in my opinion, the interesting questions aren’t about nudity at home.

    Part of the reason that I’m not sure the nudity question is the interesting question is because there’s at least some dispute about what happened; the NPR and AP stories focus on the kids walking in on her and her husband when they’d taken their tops off after installing drywall. Prosecutors say she stripped in front of the kids to make a point.

    Even that doesn’t (probably) strike me as unacceptable lewdness, but it does raise what I think is the interesting question: how do you parent your stepchildren? Because, it turns out (as is explained in the Trib article on the same topic), her stripping in front of the kids made the kids’ mother uncomfortable. And, while that necessarily rise to the level of criminal, it does strike me as bad form (assuming that she stripped in front of the kids, and not that they walked in on her).

    I can only imagine how hard it is to be parenting your spouse’s children, especially if the divorce wasn’t amicable and your spouse’s former spouse isn’t getting on well with you. It’s possible that the kids’ mother was weaponizing this experience against her ex’s new wife. It’s also possible that the new wife was trying to push boundaries inappropriately with the kids’ mother. In any event, while uncomfortable, it strikes me as relatively critical to come to some sort of agreement about what’s out-of-bounds in parenting someone else’s children, and I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea that nudity is out-of-bounds.

    Should it be criminal? Absolutely not, if the kids just walked in, and probably not even if she took her shirt off in front of the children to make a point. At the same time, this came up as part of an investigation by Child and Family Services (that didn’t initially involve the stepmother), so we’re missing a ton of context here.

  12. My general thoughts on the matter are that your kids shouldn’t see your private parts once they’re old enough to start having thoughts which they will likely remember when teenagers. I also feel the similarly about your kids seeing you in just your garments.
    I have a coworker who was raised in a “hippie commune”. Public nudity was very frequent. He believes that since he saw grown women naked all of the time growing up, it affected his brain enough that he doesn’t find it very arousing’s. As a result it’s caused relationship issues because his significant others don’t get the reactions out of him that they have with others.

  13. The Trib remains blocked to residents of the EU, Sam, so thank you for providing additional context. I can easily imagine kids being scandalized by their stepmother if she was indeed setting out to push boundaries, and I’m guessing that a resident of Utah ought to reckon that displaying the female breast “will likely cause affront or alarm” even within the privacy of one’s home. So, yeah, probably not a great example of child-centered parenting, though not because the laws governing the universe require that a topless mother be regarded as a scandal but because by the time one is 13 one has already been more or less socialized.

    Nikonikonikole, there’s a sauna culture here that, thanks to my American upbringing, I’m still not totally comfortable participating in, though it doesn’t bother me in the least that others like to do it.

    Villate, I don’t know anyone here in Austria who lounges around nude as much as the reader whose question prompted this post, but FWIW I’m pretty sure I have the most hangups about nudity of anyone I do know, well, outside the church anyway.

  14. jader3rd, I think it is wise for parents to consider how their behavior affects their children.

  15. My wife is almost a nudist in our home, although as our kids entered puberty they learned from somewhere that it’s unusual to see your parents naked and is gross. So she tries to cover up but in a small home it’s difficult to not see nudity from time to time. I’m a runner and after I exercise will walk around in smalltight boxer briefs and nothing else. Nobody bats an eye. There are double standards lurking here…

    When I was a missionary in the 90s the Provo MTC had groups showers. One Elder was perfectly normal except that he never realized that, although most men experience them, it was extremely unacceptable to shower in a group shower with a morning erection. I’m pretty liberal but yes I can see how some people view even common and non sexual bodily functions as inappropriate. This poor Elder was stuck with the nickname Iron Rod and I don’t think he ever understood why.

    I served a mission where large families often shared a single bedroom. Some level of public nudity and even sexual activity is virtually impossible in settings like that so it’s completely normal. Although this standard is fraught with challenges, community or family expectations should be considered.

  16. On my mission in Finland, one member commented once to me about the differences between European and American media standards:

    -Europeans abhor violence but don’t bat an eye at nudity.
    -Americans find nudity scandalous but don’t bat an eye at violence.

    That comment has always stuck with me, and I believe we Americans have it backwards. Now I take my kids with me to sauna, but ensure they know that violence is unacceptable.

  17. Toad, I had totally forgotten about the Trees of Life at the MTC! That was definitely not my favorite part of the mission experience.

    Naku, that sound right to me.

  18. My wife is Korean and we’ve spent upwards of a year there since we were married. It’s rather moving to me to observe sons scrubbing their father’s back and vice versa in Korean bathhouses. I view it as a good amount of shared humanity. As such, my son will shower with me at times at home.

    We don’t cross gender lines as much as they age, but I don’t think it’s all that big of a deal, with some, but not many caveats.

  19. Anonymous says:

    After my mission to Japan many years ago, I was engaged to beautiful Japanese girl. She was so shy that she would not talk to any boy unless she was formally introduced to them by a trusted friend. Lucky for me I knew one of her friends who introduced us, went on double dates with us and coached me on how to win her heart. She did not like any public displays of affection such as holding hands or hugging or slow dancing. But when alone together, she loved to do things like that. Definitely no kissing until marriage for her.

    One day she wanted to show me this yellow dress on sale at Grand Central to see if I liked it before buying it. We went to the store and the line to the dressing room was long. She handed me the yellow dress, took off her blouse and skirt and handed them to me. Then she put on the yellow dress in the middle of the store for me to inspect and finally went back through the reverse process. It was not like, don’t look at me. It was more like she was trying on a pair of slippers. I was afraid we might get arrested for indecency. That I or anyone else might find this problematic or erotic did not seem to cross her mind.

    We explored a cave with a group of church friends. It was pitch dark with 2 or 3 feet of water. We climbed over rocks the size of cars and trucks. She was small and cautious so we soon got separated a few hundred feet behind the main group. She fell onto a sharp rock, right on her bottom. She winced in pain and checked herself. The blood on her hand frightened her. She handed me her jacket, turned around, pulled down her pants and asked me to wash her wound and keep pressure on it for 3 minutes. That was a very long time to be looking at a lovely bare bottom, let alone touching it. The bleeding stopped and she pulled up her pants. I shouted to the others that we were going back. I had to mostly carry her out to the car.

    Her brother and wife of a couple of years, not a members of the church, moved from Japan to California. We visited them for a weekend. We arrived there very late Friday night and slept in the same room. Nothing happened because we both didn’t do things like that. We got up the next morning, had a wonderful day visiting these gardens and the girls fixed a great dinner. My fiance took a shower and insisted that I do the same. Then before I could get dressed she led me out on the deck to a hot tub surrounded by bushes. I was embarrassed and confused. She took off her robe wearing nothing else. Then her brother and wife came out naked and we all got in the hot tub together.

    The tub was small so we frequently bumped knees. The water was not deep enough to cover breasts. The other 3 got out and back in a few times. I had never seen Japanese people so relaxed. Especially my fiance. She talked freely with her brother, his wife and me while her brother and this attractive woman (his wife) I had only met a few hours before talked with me. After about 3 or 4 hours we got out, put on our pajamas and went to bed. We slept in the same room again. We took them to church the next day and they had a positive impression. My fiance was very happy with me, being so flexible and trying to fit into her customs and showing her brother that I was not some strange, obnoxious “gaijin” (foreigner).

    Why do people wear cloths? Multiple reasons, that are far from consistent across cultures.

  20. Thanks for bringing up this great topic!

    I was raised in a pretty conservative Mormon household where nudity, after about 3 years old, was taboo. Personally, however, I often felt repressed in this environment growing up. When the occasion allowed, as a tween or teen, and I found myself home alone for an hour or two, I would just wander around the house naked because I never got the chance to otherwise. I just wanted to not be ashamed for being me.

    When I got married and started my own family, being more open with nudity among the family was something that I wanted to do. My wife, raised in the church by convert parents, came from a home that was all girls (except for Dad), and nudity among the girls (ie., most of the time because Dad was working a lot of the time) was not a big deal. So, she didn’t take much persuasion to agree to family nudity.

    Now, after 4 kids (from age four to tween) and 14+ years of marriage, nudity is generally not a big deal among family members. Even though we have multiple bathrooms, the kids all get ready for school or bed in Mom & Dad’s bathroom (since it’s the biggest) and getting into/out of the shower while others can see has never been an issue in the house.

    We got a hot tub in the backyard a couple of years back, where it’s very private. Initially, my wife was a little more reserved about family nudity in the hot tub (nudity for young kids was fine, but not older ones / adults). Though after dealing with a few too many wet bathing suits left on the floor of the basement (where everyone would strip off just inside the door and see each other naked anyway), she decided to just quit worrying about nudity in the hot tub and to instead treat it as an extension of the house. As long as it’s just in the family, swimsuits are always optional.

    I personally feel that openness with family nudity is entirely natural, and even beneficial for the kids. It’s consistent with the open communication that we want to foster in our house. It normalizes differences in bodies and stages, so there’s less shame in talking to kids about puberty and sex growing up. I will be clear, we definitely keep privacy with sexual behavior, though simply seeing each other in the bathroom or hot tub is totally fine.

    I feel that the modesty rhetoric in the church, though well intended, often takes things to an unhealthy extreme. I personally feel we as a church culture place way too much emphasis on modesty and sexual purity, often overlooking more foundational values of charity and service to others.

  21. felixfabulous says:

    Interesting post and discussion. I feel like we, as Americans, and as Mormons have a very unhealthy pudish/hypersexualized relationship with nudity. I feel like non-sexualized nudity makes people less body conscious and kind of opens the door to realizing that there are all kinds of bodies and what normal people look like. I feel like by demonizing nudity, the only nudity people see is in a sexualized context (porn, etc.) and gives people unhealthy expectations.

    It’s ironic that public changing, sunbathing and even breastfeeding are seen as shameful in much of the US and in a lot of Utah, but skimpy bikinis, lots of cleavage are seen as OK.

    This was not a conscious choice, but having a lot of kids close together and a smaller house has resulted in a lot of exposure to nudity in our home and our children being very comfortable with their bodies. We try to stress boundaries and what is and is not appropriate, especially when guests are over (close the door while you are using the bathroom, please!), I think it’s good that they are comfortable and hope it will give them a healthy outlook on life, bodies and sexuality in the future.

  22. The more kids and youth see photoshopped images of people, even “modestly” clothed, the more important I think it is that kids grow up seeing what real bodies look like. And I think that going to lengths to make sure family members don’t see one another naked, showering, changing etc the more a naked body is sexualized.
    How to balance that in real life is another story, especially since I wouldn’t naturally walk around naked even if I were home alone. My kids do see me change, shower, walk around in underwear only (especially when I’ve left clothes in the laundry room), etc and I hope my non-reaction helps eliminate them feeling awkward about bodies. But as my kids get older I try to tell them I’m getting dressed before they walk in looking for me so there aren’t any surprises and the older kids usually prefer to just ask their question from the hallway once I’ve responded to their calls by saying I’m getting dressed.

  23. Thank you, Anonymous, for those examples of how culture shapes our notions of appropriateness.

    Harry B.—I can definitely subscribe to this: “When I got married and started my own family, being more open with nudity among the family was something that I wanted to do.”

    Felixfabulous: “I think it’s good that they are comfortable and hope it will give them a healthy outlook on life, bodies and sexuality in the future.” Agreed!

    Tori: “I hope my non-reaction helps eliminate them feeling awkward about bodies. But as my kids get older I try to tell them I’m getting dressed before they walk in looking for me so there aren’t any surprises” This is basically my approach. For me, (brief moments of) nudity at home has a normal context that needn’t be scandalised, but at the same time I’m aware of broader cultural norms and try to choose my battles.

  24. Birthday Suits Are For Babies says:

    Call me skeptical but I have a hard time believing 14 year old Junior isn’t masturbating to fresh images of his 16 year old sister and his MILF. If home nudity was such a great thing it would have been adopted by most cultures long ago. Seeing the very occasional flash of butt is one thing, but hot tub fun and movie nights sprawled out in the nude is going to screw with kids sexual development. Nudity beyond 5 or 6 is asking for problems,

  25. I have a hard time believing…

    Really? I mean, sure, it is difficult to keep worldly influences at bay in the home, but it seems as though you have conceded the fight against the wholesale objectification of the human body if you can’t imagine a context where some degree of nudity among family members doesn’t lead to orgasm.

  26. Birthday Suits Are For Babies says:

    I fully understand and appreciate the thinking. It looks great on paper but I think it ultimately fails in practice. I think significant exposure to opposite gender nudity (whether communal as mentioned by jader3rd or familial, but especially familial) is a recipe for disaster. Change my mind: give me the studies that show family nudity results in less sex outside of marriage. After all, isn’t that what we’re striving for? Moral cleanliness? Which brings me back to culture adaptation. If home nudity is so great we’ve had thousands of years to adopt it. Instead, we’ve gone from early humankind when we lived in caves and were mostly nude to comfortable clothing and HVAC. Plenty of people in and out of church have healthy ideas about bodies and sexuality and they didn’t need home nudity to get there.

  27. Birthday Suits Are For Babies says:

    A key indicator — looking at a chart 2 from 2011 Inter Press Service “Premarital Sex: Increasing Worldwide,” it shows the countries with the greatest number of couples cohabitating, all of which anecdotally are big on nudity:

    Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, France, Norway, Netherlands, Iceland, New Zealand, UK, Hugary, Germany, Ireland, Austria………. The USA is way down the list.

    I’m confident I can find the same correllation of with respect to teens having premarital sex. From a similar study “The majority of Europeans found premarital sex to be morally acceptable or not a moral issue at all.” So, no, I have no confidence in the whole notion of “family nudity is wonderful.”

  28. Birthday Suits, based on your recent comment, I ask you to please never seek a job in statistics, trends, etc.

  29. nobody, really says:

    Modesty has consistently been that area where someone who wants to demonstrate moral superiority finds it really easy to do so. Anyone showing more skin than I do is automatically a person of loose morals, a Potiphar’s Wife, and headed straight on that path to perdition. Anyone showing less skin than I am is a Puritan, a prude, and a repressed person who just needs to loosen up and be more like me.

    I don’t think it’s just an LDS issue, but I always have to shake my head at the person who sits in Sunday School and complains about having too much nudity on their DVD player….

  30. Ah, and here I was hoping for some interesting doctrinal discussion about “naked and ye clothed me” being connected back to the Lord himself placing coats of skins on the mother and father of all living.

    How interesting is that to imaging the Lord clothing the first naked parents and in turn commanding us to go and do likewise. I never considered that perspective until I saw the title and the photo. So this post was good for something at least!

    And it’s just another modestly stand in debate… Bleh.

  31. ” . . . complains about having too much nudity on their DVD player . . . ”

    That’s a weird place to be naked. Just sayin’.

  32. Birthday Suits are for babies writes:

    > If home nudity is so great we’ve had thousands of years to adopt it. Instead, we’ve gone from early humankind when we lived in caves and were mostly nude to comfortable clothing and HVAC.

    Yes, modern conveniences do allow many luxuries–privacy is one of them. For those who cannot afford privacy (eg., shared bedrooms, public toilets/bathing), incidental exposure to nudity has almost certainly been commonplace. Before these modern conveniences (e.g., going back to anytime prior to the 1900s), occasional nudity was simply part of life in most parts of the world. I would speculate that our current aversion to nudity is much more of an outlier in the evolutionary timetable than what BirthdaySuits is suggesting.

    Also writes:
    >A key indicator — looking at a chart 2 from 2011 Inter Press Service “Premarital Sex: Increasing Worldwide,” it shows the countries with the greatest number of couples cohabitating, all of which anecdotally are big on nudity:

    Abstinence from premarital sex may be your personal success indicator, though looking at the countries where views on the immorality of premarital sex is highest doesn’t suggest you’re aspiring to good company (see Chart 1). Yet, not all will share your opinion that the lack of premarital sex or cohabitation is the best signal of success here. Rather, I think virtually all will agree that sexual activity should at the very least be consensual, then the signal of success looks quite different. Instead of subjective views about the morality of premarital sex, I think the incidence of sexual violence across countries could be a more useful outcome measure. Though I’m no specialist in sexual violence, my understanding is that countries that are more socially equal between genders are simultaneously 1) less likely to view premarital sex as a immoral, and 2) have lower rates of sexual violence.

  33. Plenty of people in and out of church have healthy ideas about bodies and sexuality and they didn’t need home nudity to get there.

    I wouldn’t say that this post is about championing home nudity as the path to enlightenment or righteousness. Rather it’s about the circumstances that cause us to view home nudity as a problem that the criminal justice system should resolve.

    So this post was good for something at least!

    I’m glad it wasn’t a total bust! FWIW, I chose the title to suggest that clothing has a legitimate role in helping humans meet the challenges of a fallen world that arose from a loss of innocence. At the same time, I’m sure we all recognize that what saves us is not a cotton-poly blend.

    Before these modern conveniences (e.g., going back to anytime prior to the 1900s), occasional nudity was simply part of life in most parts of the world.

    I think you’re on to something. My current residence in a European capital was built in 1913 for what I imagine was an upper middle class family. It features high ceilings, double doors, solid oak flooring, moldings everywhere, quarters for the hired help off of the kitchen and…a single bathroom (though speaking of cultural differences, the toilet gets its own closet separate from the room in which one bathes). People less fortunate living in tenements didn’t have any of that within their own four walls and relied instead on a common toilet shared by the floor and a public bath entirely separate from the building for bathing. I don’t know if those circumstances primed the pump, as it were, for the broader view of occasional nudity one encounters in Europe today, but it’s an interesting idea.

  34. Back to the temple…. And early church period. Maybe it’s just my frontier period imagining, but I assume the brethren saw each other naked more often.

    When they went swimming, I always assumed it was naked? When they were washed in the temple, it was more naked then it was when most of us were endowed and now not even at all.

    When the Jews washed themselves before going to the temple, it was in large pools and they actually removed all their clothing and got their entire body clean. Now they just wash their hands. (I’d assume in large part common in home running water then changed modesty dramatically as well by conditioning men to cover up in front of men)

    But I also disagree with the notion that consensual sex is just fine or that places with modesty are rape dens. It’s pretty hard to say what’s worse generationally a society with widescale multi partner, non marital sex, or higher rates of illegal and harshly punished rape.

    It’s possibly true that places where sexuality trends more “conservative” (misnomer) results in more sexually frustrated men seeking to obtain by force that which they can’t get otherwise. But I’m not sure we properly evaluate the Weinsteins, Lauers and Epsteins of the world when you talk of the west being lower in rape. They were surrounded by and supported by many of “progressive” proponents on sex as well who lined up overwhelming on the pro nudity side. It’s highly likely progressive attitudes on sex enable monsters like that to take by hegemonic cultural pressure what some warlord tribal chief takes by force. I guess it’s “better” because our men and women are brainwashed by if it feels good, doesn’t hurt anyone or advances your position, do it?

    The sexual violence against women is not due to modesty. What a terrible thing to believe. It’s even amazing that some enlightened people imagine “modest” cultures are rape havens. Talk about prejudiced. Ironically, these same people will often scoff at similar statistics showing minority crime rates. So let’s get intersectional here and point out the skin color of all those imagined rape havens that are modest. Hmmm, uncomfortable yet by the implication? There’s more going on there than modesty and melatonin.

    Sex is a powerful thing. I don’t trust most people to speak pure truth on sex when they see darkly though a glass filled with self justification, evolutionary life driving hormones that persist across eons, and tragically too often abuse of one form or another. I think the prophets have it right when it comes to modesty and sexual morality. And that includes the fact that they seem to have no general comment on the towel policy of what happens in your home or locker room (although I assume they’d disapprove of naked lounging that’s not within the privacy of husband/wife)

  35. Responding to Bc:

    I did not mean to imply that modesty causes sexual violence–if that’s the impression that you got from my comment, I want to clarify that was not my intention at all. And for sure, I did not say any country is a rape haven, nor did I name specific enlightened cultures. Sexual violence occurs everywhere–even within our own midst as a church community in spite of our hopes otherwise.

    I do stand behind my statement: “countries that are more socially equal between genders are simultaneously 1) less likely to view premarital sex as immoral, and 2) have lower rates of sexual violence.” My intention in bringing this up was to counter the notion that the highest we (as a broad society) should be aspiring to is to all agree premarital sex is bad–since these views actually correlate with something that we’d all agree is an objectively bad outcome. I didn’t say rigorous sexuality caused sexual violence or vice versa, but as my statement suggests (though I didn’t say this very explicitly), I believe the most likely cause is social equality between genders affecting both of these outcomes.

    Also, I don’t believe racial bias is at play, though I must acknowledge that could always be lurking in the background, as it could be unconscious. But, my understanding is that there are variations in gender equality even among African countries, Latin American countries, Asian countries, etc., which presumably could also lead to differences in views on sexuality, modesty, and rates of sexual violence.

  36. Just scanned the comments and thought folks might not be aware that there’s an active LDS nudist/naturist community. http://www.ldssdf.org/v2/

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