Families Forver Naked and Not Ashamed

April 6, 2009
By

Mormon Matters Motto is Exploring Mormon culture in a balanced way- so bare with me on this one (excuse the pun).

Recently we have read that Utah has the highest rate of pornography per capita compared to all other states here

There has been a great deal of speculation about this on the bloggernacle. Could it be that Mormons have this penned up curiosity busting to get out (excuse the pun again). The internet has made pornography just a click away, not like in the days when you had to ask a grocery clerk to pull a magazine out from underneath the counter.

I sometimes wonder with all the emphasis on staying away from drugs, alcohol, pornography if it is causing a worse problem by bringing it to the fore front constantly to members minds.

For example don’t think of Christi Brinkley in a red dress, don’t think about hot percolated coffee, or an ice-cold beer. Could it be the more we constantly emphasize something the more good people who have been living a life of restricted behaviour all their lives start to feel they can’t do that forever without blowing up, then they cave in or take it underground?

Another view is of inoculation especially when it comes to nakedness or nudity. Christian nudist views are “Sexual decadence such as pornography and pedophilia (paedophilia) is the direct result of a lack of exposure to nudity in childhood (particularly of the same approximate age). This is most likely to occur when combined with other factors such as extreme parental attitudes (e.g. body shame) and social isolation. They believe that those that are raised their entire lives within Christian naturism should not have any temptation to engage in such behaviour “such as pornography.

Their experience and testimony is that complete nakedness does not incite individuals to lustful thoughts, unlike for example, a revealing skimpy top that exposes a good deal of a woman’s cleavage or a very short mini-skirt. When naked, all body parts are seen as equal and non-sexualised. When clothed, the focus is on the private parts that are partly revealed and thus objectified and sexualised

Everything you wanted to ask LDS Naturists but were afraid to ask?

Are there really Mormon Nudists?

How many active nudists are also active Mormons?

Where do you find other LDS members that have an interest in naturism?

Are there LDS naturist groups, clubs or organized activities that we can participate in?

How can you be a nudist and respect your Temple garments at the same time?

I know there are no scriptures or specific doctrine against it, but public nudity is just plain wrong – isn’t it?

Isn’t public nudity illegal?

Why get together with other LDS members?

Are Christian Naturists an anomalous group – acting ignorantly or in open defiance to their own doctrine against nudity?

Does “Body-Acceptance” place the flesh above the Spirit?

The church has given very clear council on modesty of dress – wouldn’t nudism be in conflict with that admonition?

Doesn’t being naked in close-company provide an excessive opportunity for temptation?

Click here for the rest of the questions and answers

A Utah Valley, Utah man writes about his first naturist experience…here

LDS Skinny Dipper Home Page here

Please leave a brief reply (sorry couldn’t help it)

309 Responses to Families Forver Naked and Not Ashamed

  1. Micah
    April 6, 2009 at 7:05 am

    If God had intended us to be naked, we’d have been born that way!

  2. April 6, 2009 at 7:09 am

    The golden phrase in the resource is this: “As swimming attire becomes smaller and smaller (following the world’s ever-declining standards), swimming nude is the only honest, reliable standard.”

    I don’t know that there could ever be any official condoning of this practice. Questions such as “Does “Body-Acceptance” place the flesh above the Spirit?” may have some interesting theological ramifications, but I doubt that most people will ever be comfortable in practice. For one thing, the only scriptural precedents we have for nudity are OT references to covering it up—in contrast to the question, “I know there are no scriptures or specific doctrine against it, but public nudity is just plain wrong – isn’t it?” I’m thinking of scriptures like Ex. 20:26 and the strongly negative portrayals of nakedness in Ezekiel and Isaiah and Nahum 3:5. Even as allegory, it is clearly not an appropriate thing.

  3. James
    April 6, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Neil 2 another scripture Thomas

    Gospel of Thomas Although no major Christian group accepts this book as canonical or authoritative (its translation was unavailable until the 20th century), the possibility exists that the following conversation took place between Jesus and his disciples:

    His disciples asked, When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you? Jesus answered, When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the Living One, and you will not be afraid.[

  4. James
    April 6, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Neal here are a few more from the New testament

    Mark 10:46-50: “… blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging…And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.” (KJV) It is unclear why he wished to come to Jesus naked. But his actions were not condemned.

    Mark 14:51-52: “And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” (KJV) This verse is a bit of a puzzle. Some theologians speculate that the young man had just been baptized naked and had afterwards put on a white linen sheet. In the early years of the Christian movement, believers and the person doing the baptizing were both nude.

    John 13:4-5: Jesus “… riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” This is a passage from the last supper. After finishing eating, Jesus removed all of his clothes, wrapped himself in a towel and later used the towel to wash the feet of his disciples.

  5. Jay
    April 6, 2009 at 8:20 am

    the LDS Skinny Dippers Forum is another resource with extensive discussion threads about all of the above questions and more. It’s at http://www.ldssdf.org.

  6. Cowboy
    April 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

    “I sometimes wonder with all the emphasis on staying away from drugs, alcohol, pornography if it is causing a worse problem by bringing it to the fore front of peoples minds all the time.”

    There may be something to the idea that if we were exposed to nakedness more often, perhaps the naked body would become somewhat de-sexualized. Even so, given that we live in society (America) which requires a modicum of “decency” in the way we dress, I don’t see that quality changing. Secondly, I given that most Americans do not follow the Prophet, and yet pornography is big business all across the country, I don’t think Church counsel to avoid it is counterproductive. Whether the Church was silent, or campaigned here like they did on Prop 8 (probably a more worthwile endeavor given the Utah statistics) I doubt the rates would go down much. Rather than allowing pornography to be the “elephant in the living room”, I think they are wise to tackle it head on.

  7. April 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I don’t think it has to do with “bringing it to the fore front of peoples minds all the time”, but certainly anything that is forbidden carries more appeal, and the shame and guilt around some of these behaviors, especially pornography addiction, often makes it that much harder to overcome. What I would like to see is a change in the church culture towards embracing and loving those among us who struggle with things like addictions. Laying on the guilt does not help, and probably makes it worse.

  8. April 6, 2009 at 10:33 am

    “If God had intended us to be naked, we’d have been born that way!” — LOL!

  9. geb
    April 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    What is seen as arousing is both cultural and particular to each individual. For example, most physicians can examine patients naked without arousal, but there are exceptions, and it can cause a great deal of trouble. In prudish cultures, just seeing a woman’s ankle can be arousing. In order to be pornographic, I believe the material has to be intended to arouse. When we were kids, some kids would look at women in their underwear in the Sears catalog, but the catalog was not pornography.

    I think the Church is right to tell youth to avoid pornography, but not to make them feel guilty for masturbation, which studies have shown every normal person does.

  10. Ray
    April 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    In public, my wife and I are about as modest as it gets without going overboard. (How’s that for a cultural statement? *grin*) In the privacy of our home, however, we are much more “relaxed” and “open” – and our kids range right now from 21-7 years old, both boys and girls. We don’t walk around naked, but we don’t go to extremes to avoid being seen naked or at varying levels of dress.

    I see the “cover your nakedness” aspect as a simple societal courtesy, and I see either extreme (the burqini and the micro-bikini) as perversions of simple modesty and decency.

  11. Alpha Echo
    April 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve always felt that my Dad said it best, “Dress so that people want to see more of you, not less.”

  12. hawkgrrrl
    April 6, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Nudity is definitely cultural, and ancient cultures were nude more often. For example, in “bathing” (swimming as we know it was not done recreationally as it is now), people were always nude. Nude baptisms make sense in light of that. Many togas in ancient Greece and Rome did not fully cover the torso for either men or women (often one or both breasts exposed). Greek athletes competed in the nude, which was part of the point – to glorify the naked youthful athletic body. Of course the Greek Gods were not exactly bastions of Christian virtue as we know it. Most modern prudery came about under Victorianism when the focus moved toward family vs. individuals (not that nudity/prudery was directly connected to that shift, but maybe it was). Americans do tend to be more prudish than other countries. When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in America, no shirt no shoes no service!

    Isn’t public nudity illegal? In the US, yes. It’s not illegal to be nude anywhere in Spain (not just beaches), believe it or not.

    Does “Body-Acceptance” place the flesh above the Spirit? Mormons are not anti-body as some other Christian sects are. We believe the body is glorious and part of the soul along with the spirit. Body acceptance is certainly more healthy and more aligned with our theology than body shame. But that’s not justification for body complacency!

    • Geak04me Com
      December 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      I have seen female magazines show what women are supposed to look like slim and beautiful. Women should be happy with what God has given them.

  13. James
    April 6, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    13 Hawk Girl
    Question:
    Isn’t public nudity illegal?

    Answer:
    Yes and no – depending where you go. The law is currently that nudity on public land is NOT illegal – as long as no one files a complaint. This is generally applicable to forests, streams, beaches, and any other place where people would have to go out of their way to discover you naked. Some places have imposed their own specific rulings for particular places and sites. In most cases the law punishes verifiable lewd behavior, and not simple nudity. There are places where simple nudity is technically illegal (in the same way that going 1 mph over the speed limit is technically illegal) – but in practice it is virtually unenforceable. Often the local law enforcement has made public statements declaring that they will ONLY enforce against lewd behavior. In court, that usually holds up. Private resorts are always legal, and are very good at screening. LDS nudists need to be conscious of the legality of their nudity, and never act in open violation of the law. You are better off practicing social nudity at home or at private resorts until you know for certain the legal status and current acceptability factor at any public place.

  14. Aboz
    April 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    When I first read this I’m like, please let this not be about nudists. And lo and behold, my gut feeling that it would be is realized….. sheesh.

  15. Slim
    April 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    #10 Ray

    So… who’s going to decide what’s a perversion of modesty and decency and what isn’t? I mean, in some European countries, and other places in the world toplessness isn’t a big deal for either gender, on the other hand, many people see covered shoulders and ankle length skirts as “a bit extreme”

  16. Ray
    April 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I agree, Slim. That is the mortal dilemma. I don’t have any answers other than a belief in moderation – and an openness to a reasonable range in the middle.

  17. Jeff Spector
    April 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Adam and Eve were given clothes to cover their nakedness. What about that is hard to understand? As I have said before, culture has nothing whatsoever to do with what is appropriate for Latter-day Saints and what is not. Otherwise, would middle-eastern LDS adopt the cultural mores of those countries with respect to how women are treated? I don’t think so.

    I find the whole thing rather weird and out of place in light of gospel teaching. I suppose what one does in the privacy of one’s own home, notwithstanding.

  18. Greg
    April 6, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    The Word of Wisdom warns us about the “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men.” In an overwhelming percentage of cases, the presentation of nudity in our popular culture is intended to convey notions of sexuality which completely contradict the gospel message about the topic. Is it too much of a stretch to decide that this, too, is the work of “conspiring men”? So I fail to see the point of encouraging more nudity in our public lives.

    Like Adam and Eve before the fall, my wife and I aren’t the least bit ashamed of our nudity. And, like Adam and Eve, we have our privacy. I’m not interested in seeing more naked people and, while I hesitate to point my finger around this group, I question the motives of those who do. And why does this conversation sound like stuff I’ve heard a hundred times before?

    1. Europeans are more enlightened about nudity than Americans. (Okay, and they’re also not very positive about religion in general compared to Americans.)

    2. The Brethren are wrong (to one degree or another) about modesty, pornography, sexuality and masturbation.

    Just where is this conversation headed?

    (And, no, I didn’t take the bait and look at the “Mormon Nudist” web links. I roll my eyes in your general direction.)

  19. Ray
    April 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Greg, nice Monty Python reference.

  20. April 6, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    There is clearly a world of difference between popular culture and the bit of Christian naturist philosophy presented here.

  21. April 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    For some reason, I’m not especially partial to the idea that church leaders’ repeated admonitions against pornography actually encourage the porn habit by piquing members’ curiosity. The Church regularly speaks out against alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, but Word of Wisdom problems don’t seem to be nearly as widespread among believing, active Mormons.

    My personal take is that Mormons’ apparent propensity for porn “addiction” has to do with negative attitudes about sex and sexuality. Negative, repressive sex attitudes typically precipitate extensive sex-related shame and guilt, and this seems to be a breeding ground for unhealthy, compulsive sexual behaviors.

    I think the Church is right in discouraging porn consumption. However, I think it’s important to take a more comprehensive and practical approach to the issue.

    Part of this may entail taking a more flexible and open stance on nudity and sexuality in general. I don’t it’s especially helpful to sexualize and “pornographize” everything with enough curves to cast a shadow. The LDS fixation on pornography in recent years has led to some pretty ridiculous extremes; to name a few, there was the BYU Rodin controversy, the BYU students who picketed Gold’s Gym for airing music videos on their TVs and letting aerobics classes be performed in view of other patrons, and the recent Daily Universe letter writer who pleaded with his female peers to stop “lying around half-naked” (i.e., in tank tops and short shorts) in Helaman Quad. If we refrained from pornographizing everything, more Mormons might be able to get comfortable with the idea that kneecaps, shoulder blades, and even breasts aren’t inherently sexual (much less obscene) body parts.

    We must also recognize that simply telling people over and over to not look at pornography, because it’s really bad, is apparently not a very effective strategy. For one, it’s not like we need this much reminding; most of us are very well aware that the Church is strongly opposed to pornography. But more importantly, this advice doesn’t provide any especially useful tools, especially for those who are already “addicted.” It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them not to look at porn–that’s just not going to work! And what’s worse is that constantly being reminded as to how sinful they are is only going to compound the shame and guilt, which in turn reinforces their compulsive behavior.

    Perhaps the most important thing is building positive and affirmative attitudes about sex and sexuality from an early age. It’s okay to talk about sex openly. It’s okay to say words like “penis” and “vagina.” It’s possible to be sex positive without encouraging unchastity. If we can raise youths who are educated about, feel comfortable with, and appreciate the value of sex; who are willing to abide by high standards of personal morality; but who nonetheless don’t freak out every time they see a thigh, navel, or (God forbid!) a nipple, then I think we will have done quite a bit to solve the porn problem among Mormons.

  22. Rivkah
    April 6, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    The study about porn usage in Utah has been debunked a million times already. It certainly is a serious problem, but Utah is not necessarily worse than other states.

  23. hawkgrrrl
    April 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    “If we refrained from pornographizing everything, more Mormons might be able to get comfortable with the idea that kneecaps, shoulder blades, and even breasts aren’t inherently sexual (much less obscene) body parts.” I have to agree. When my mother was in high school in the 1940s, she and her friend decided to wear pants to school one day. Women did not own pants, so they snuck their dads’ pants and wore those. They got in trouble for wearing pants (in Illinois) which was considered obscene. My older sister was sent home from school in the early 1960s for wearing sandals (in California) because “the exposed heel is the sexiest part of a woman’s body.” Modesty is relative to one’s culture and time.

    The church’s anti-porn stance is a no-brainer of course. It’s not like they’re going to come out pro-porn. I agree that it would be good to have some real advice to offer for those struggling, although I believe the GC messages are preventive messages to warn those who have not yet developed a problem, such as the youth (e.g. the “no sexting” message) or those who have never done a google search.

  24. Cowboy
    April 6, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    “We must also recognize that simply telling people over and over to not look at pornography, because it’s really bad, is apparently not a very effective strategy. For one, it’s not like we need this much reminding; most of us are very well aware that the Church is strongly opposed to pornography. But more importantly, this advice doesn’t provide any especially useful tools, especially for those who are already “addicted.” It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them not to look at porn–that’s just not going to work! And what’s worse is that constantly being reminded as to how sinful they are is only going to compound the shame and guilt, which in turn reinforces their compulsive behavior.”

    This comment has had me thinking that perhaps a problem with the Church’s aggresive emphasis on avoiding porn use is not in the message per se`, but the solutions. Generally the MO has been to make Bishops the gatekeeper to LDS couseling services, etc. While Bishops are there to help, despite how much love they are supposed to have for you, at the end of the day they are also supposed to judge you. They are even referred to as “Common Judges in Israel”. My thoughts are that while addiction recovery is tied directly to spiritual repentance (for lack of a better term), Bishops are uniquely suited to assist in the one (spiritual repentance), and quite often completely unsuited to assist in the other. If my brother were a Bishop counselling a member with porn addiction, I think his counsel would be “knock it off dummy, pay your tithing, say your prayers and utilize the atonement”. While sometimes the simplicity of this type of attitude can be refreshing in an overdramatic world, it can also be useless in situations where sensitivity and delicacy are in order. I fear there are too many Bishops who think like my Brother. On the other hand, if the Church emphasized/encouraged addiction recovery, even through their own subsidiaries, you might find a number of members who would willing get help if it could be done discreetly. I think you would also find that many of those members would be more willing to eventually seek out the Bishop for spiritual repentance (again, sorry for creating a word here) when they are already on the road to addiction recovery, or even recovered. While I do not object to Jesus’s ability to heal and succor those who need it, I am not always convinced that Bishops are the same. We ought to let Bishops assist in the spiritual matters and encourage members to seek out competent professionals in all others.

  25. Ray
    April 6, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    “We ought to let Bishops assist in the spiritual matters and encourage members to seek out competent professionals in all others.”

    Yep.

  26. James
    April 6, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    17 Jeff Adam and Eve

    Christian naturists view the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a model for their beliefs. When Adam and Eve were created and placed in the garden as a couple by God, they were both naked and “felt no shame”. (Genesis 2:25) Christian naturists see Adam and Eve being in the blameless state that God had intended them to be. God knew that they were naked, as this was how He had created them.

    Even before Eve’s creation, God had warned Adam “…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) Despite God’s warning, first Eve, then Adam, eat the forbidden fruit after being persuaded by the devil in the form of a serpent. (Genesis 3:1-6) Upon doing so, they immediately realize that they are naked, and sew fig leaves together as coverings. Shortly thereafter, Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden, which results with them hiding in the trees. God queries Adam, “Where are you?” In spite of the fig leaves, Adam replies that he is afraid because of his nakedness. God further asks Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” The implication, as Christian naturists see it, is that their shame was not of God; nor would the fig leaves cover this shame, regardless of their genitals being covered. God was displeased not only by their disobedience of having eaten the forbidden fruit, but also with their subsequent attempt to cover up their bodies. In addition, God gives priority to this question by asking it first, before any discussion regarding the fruit.

    Christian naturists maintain that Adam and Eve wore the coverings in an attempt to hide what they had done from God – not each other, noting they were married.[1] The devil had chosen the sexual organs as the area of shame because, unlike God, he has no ability to create life. As the next chapter begins with the couple engaging in sexual relations, they conclude Adam and Eve would have seen each other naked subsequent to the fall of mankind. Having thus sinned, and no longer living nude by their own accord, God expels them from the Garden of Eden. He also made garments from animal skins to replace the fig leaves.

    Christian naturists note there is no command in the Adam and Eve story, or elsewhere in the Bible, to wear clothing. The making of the garments by God was an act of love to protect them from the harsher elements outside of the garden, to which they are being banished. As Genesis 2:25 shows, there was no reason why Adam and Eve should be ashamed of their bodies; only of their sin. They believe the use of animal skins implied that sin requires a blood sacrifice, and that Jesus Christ is the blood sacrifice of Christians under the New Testament. Therefore, there is no need to wear clothes as a covering of sin; nor for any other reason, except protection from the elements.

  27. April 7, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Perhaps some “live data” is in order…

    We are a “Mormon Naturist Family.” We are open about nudity in our home, and our children have been raised as “nudists” their entire lives (now in their early teens.) They have known no other way, and I believe they serve as a fairly good litmus test for the positive benefits of familial nudity.

    My wife and I became “nudists” (there’s a hair or two we could split about such titles) about 19 years ago while attending BYU. (FYI: Yes, it’s possible to get kicked out of BYU for mere skinny-dipping. Fortunately there is at least one BYU bishop that was willing to fight for, and succeed in getting us quickly reinstated.) As our experience and our philosophy developed, we realized that the best that nudism/naturism had to offer us was to be found in how we raised our children.

    I will try to avoid boasting too much about our kids (which is difficult, because they are AWESOME people), but my intent is to share some results from our 19-year experiment-in-progress so far. Our children (one boy and one girl) stand out among the most polite, considerate, confident, spiritually mature and well-adjusted youth to be found – in or out of our Church. Whoever talks of the “terrible teens” doesn’t know ours. By no means do we attribute all of this to their experience with familial nudity, but we recognize that this is an important, even ‘key’ element in the overall equation of openness that they have been raised with.

    We have come to understand that barriers between people – and more especially loved ones – are at least harmful, when not outright destructive. That’s “barriers”, not “boundaries.” Our children have what we believe are excellent boundaries – but few barriers. They are truth-tellers. They have been raised with honesty and openness and comport themselves accordingly. They are trustworthy and trusting; they are alert, awake, thoughtful, and compassionate. They are exceedingly bright, gifted, and talented – and yet not the least bit vain or boastful (they leave that to us.) They also epitomize ‘true’ modesty – both in clothed and nude situations.

    As for pornography, I don’t recall that my wife or I have ever had to say, “Avoid it” to our children. They simply aren’t interested in it. They have seen nudity all their lives – their own, their parents, and many trusted friends. They have literally seen hundreds of nude bodies in a variety of wholesome, non-sexual activities. The nudity in pornography simply isn’t a draw for them.

    So what about sex? Our children also have seen very frank TV/Cable programs dealing with human sexuality (The Intimate Universe, The Miracle of Life, etc.) and rather enjoy watching and sometimes discussing these PBS/TLC/TDC type programs. There was one on the Discovery Channel last Saturday night that we really enjoyed (something like “The Anatomy of Sex”), that actually took MRI images of a couple during intercourse to create three-dimensional computer models to analyze the sex act in more detail. The kids were mildly interested in that, but not riveted. It was new info, but in a topic already familiar to them.

    So, non-sexual nudity is normal to our children, and good, valid, sexual information is also readily available to them. Where does pornography fit into this? Well, it doesn’t. Pornography doesn’t really have a place. When we talk about pornography I believe that, as a family, we understand it more clearly than most. We’re not as susceptible to it’s allure. We recognize that pornography is – regardless of what else it may be – a tremendous waste of time and energy. Our kids just don’t have much use for it.

    We’ve heard just about every argument for, against, and neutral to normalized nudity that you can imagine – we rarely hear anything new these days. Most are variants on the same major themes, and most seem fairly cliche to us at this point. We see in them all expressions of the vast variety of cultural sensitivities extant in our world. What we realize is that no culture matters as much as the culture of our own home.

    In practice, normalized nudity in our home works. It works in the sense that it is convenient, comfortable, simple, uncomplicated, and honest. It works in that it supports our overall parental philosophies, and is part of a positive family culture. It also supports the admonition by the Brethren to avoid pornography – not by focusing on the avoidance, but by providing better alternatives to deal with the normal curiosities and drives that would otherwise seek less positive sources of knowledge.

    Would normalized, familial nudity work for everyone? Maybe not. I can’t speak for everyone. It works for us.

    Please excuse the length of this post.

  28. Jay
    April 7, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Neal Davis, Aboz, Jeff Spector and Greg, I would be VERY interested to see your ripostes to Alan Palmer. By their fruits and all that, you know?

  29. Jeff Spector
    April 7, 2009 at 6:35 am

    To Alan, James and Jay

    Well, on face value, Alan’s story sounds a bit too convenient and pat. All I can say, I guess, is that it doesn’t square with my understanding of the gospel. I would say that for James post as well. One of the strong aspects of the gospel is our agency, our freedom to choose. So, we are fortunate to be able to exercise our agency and make whatever choice we wish.

    Who knows, we may all be right in the end, because we made the choices for ourselves. I just wouldn’t engage in those activities because of what I’ve been taught.

  30. Cliff
    April 7, 2009 at 7:50 am

    The justification that “Adam and Eve were nude in the garden” conveniently leaves out one very critical point. It was God himself that commanded that Adam and Eve be given clothing to cover their nakedness before they left the garden. And temple attending LDS should think back to their temple-recommend interviews. Those questions have some very clear statements about what one should wear, and when.

    These two points should be sufficient to put to rest any consideration of public nudity being OK with God.

  31. April 7, 2009 at 8:47 am

    As an addendum to my last comment (and in partial response to Cowboy’s comment), I think it might be beneficial for the Church to treat porn “addiction” (I use scare quotes because addiction is a loaded word, and some of the baggage may not be applicable in the context of a porn habit) as more of a psychological condition than a moral failing. Of course there is a moral aspect to it, and of course the Church should not deny that. But as previously discussed, if someone is truly dealing with a compulsive, uncontrolled porn habit (as opposed to mere casual and infrequent consumption), then it is probably attributable to deeper emotional and psychological issues (e.g., a excessively negative attitude about sex), rather than simply moral indiscretion. The balance should perhaps be tipped more toward treatment than repentance.

    A few years back, I recall President Hinckley describing porn addicts as “victims” in a General Conference talk. That seemed incredibly insightful to me. I get the feeling that a lot of these individuals are quite literally trapped by the habit. In other words, it’s not simply a matter of agency, moral resolve, or willpower. In these circumstances, a trained professional should probably take the point position, with the bishop providing secondary support (in his own realm of competence, of course).

    And for what it’s worth, the bishop need not act as the gatekeeper to LDS Social Services. The Church’s website provides direct phone numbers to LDS Social Services offices. I once called our closest office on behalf of my wife (who was experiencing work-related anxiety). Not only did they offer to set up an appointment with an LDS Social Services-employed counselor, but also gave us contact information for independent LDS practitioners in the area. I was very impressed. Many members may be unaware of just how available these resources are.

  32. Greg
    April 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Okay, I’ll respond to Alan. I think this is rather obvious but I’ll say it anyway. In today’s world, I can’t imagine bringing “hundreds” of naked individuals into my home around my naked children. It’s one thing to accept nudity and be open and calm about it in your immediate family, but rather alarming to trust hundreds of others to participate. For me, the appropriate background check for visitors to this environment simply doesn’t exist.

    Now, please don’t take this as an accusation but I do wonder how open your children are when talking about their home life to other kids. Do they casually tell their friends about their nude home life? Or have they decided that the easiest thing to do is avoid the subject among “judgmental” school and church associates? In other words, is this aspect of home life a big secret (which would make me wonder how well-adjusted the participants really feel) or is it out in the open (which would make me wonder how it’s accepted by other people in the ward)?

    I don’t doubt the praise you’ve given to your children, Alan. But I also wonder if the “naturist” aspect of their upbringing is really a footnote and if, without the constant nudity, the parental attitudes about life in general would still have made the kids turn out the way they are. I hesitate to give so much credit to the nudity.

    Ever since I saw this thread, I couldn’t help wondering about how we’re encouraged to “follow the prophet” and look to other church leaders as examples. And, for the life of me, I just couldn’t imagine President Monson living a “naturist” lifestyle at home. On the other hand, it seems like I’ve heard that, many decades ago at the Deseret Gym, it was common for all-male groups to swim naked in the pool and they were pretty casual about it. The stories suggest that, even back in those old days when this kind of thing was more common, some of the participants were embarrassed about being exposed. I think I can understand why nude swimming was okay back then. And I think I can also understand why its ridiculous to imagine something like that happening at a church-owned facility in today’s world.

  33. April 8, 2009 at 8:56 am

    RE: #31

    I think your first paragraph is a bit of straw man argument. You can’t go to a reputable nudist facility without ungoing a background check and having your named compared against the local and state law enforcement data base. And while there you’re as protective of your family as you’d be anywhere in public. A responsible parent would not invite strangers into his/her home without being assured about the safety of their family. It’s just very difficult for someone to appreciate what nudism is and more importantly is not without participating in it.

    As far as Jeff’s comment that Alan’s comments seeming too “pat”, he’s spent a lot of years trying to reassure and enlighten people that nudism is not contrary to gospel principles. He’s not proselyiting just asking for some understanding.

  34. April 8, 2009 at 9:52 am

    “Ever since I saw this thread, I couldn’t help wondering about how we’re encouraged to “follow the prophet” and look to other church leaders as examples. And, for the life of me, I just couldn’t imagine President Monson living a “naturist” lifestyle at home.”

    I think this isn’t a good argument either. I think this one falls into the category of reductio ad absurdum. To me “following the prophet” means being a decent, moral person and being honest in your dealings with your fellow man and treating your neighbor as you’d want to be treated. I think that’s what Alan is saying. Hope I’m not putting words in his mouth.

  35. wayfarer
    April 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I have always understood that to be temple worthy I am required to wear the temple garment at all times.End of story for me I guess.

  36. April 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    RE: #35

    ?In the bath, at the beach, getting some rays, playing (fill in the blank) ball, getting a massage, going to the doctor, etc, etc, etc. The point is if there’s something you would do without garments that could safely be done nude, then why not?

  37. Jeff Spector
    April 8, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    “he’s spent a lot of years trying to “reassure and enlighten people” that nudism is not contrary to gospel principles” How do you know that?

    Besides, I think the correct term is “rationalize.”

  38. April 8, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I’ve known Alan by the internet for about 6 years or more now and have appreciated his emails to me and his writing on the LDSSDC web site and have no reason to doubt his sincerity.

    As to your reference to “rationalize”, the only time I seem to see that term is when someone in a position of moral superiority looks down from his self appointed judgement seat to point out the failings of those lesser than himself. just an observation.

  39. Jeff Spector
    April 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    “As to your reference to “rationalize”, the only time I seem to see that term is when someone in a position of moral superiority looks down from his self appointed judgment seat to point out the failings of those lesser than himself. just an observation.”

    Really now, isn’t that just a bit much.

  40. GBSmith
    April 8, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Not really. I respect your opinion and would like to have the same. But that said, I’ll cede you the last word

  41. Ray
    April 8, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Jeff, you realize (technically) in order to honor GB’s offer to cede you the last word you have to type another comment, right? Just making sure. *evil grin*

  42. Greg
    April 8, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Well, I hope this isn’t the end of the discussion. I believe some of my questions remain unanswered.

    Meanwhile, my ponderings keep bringing me back to the Word of Wisdom, which is perhaps not eternal doctrine in its specifics. After all, Jesus drank wine. But the purpose of this policy, for our time, is well-stated. And for me, right now, as a member of this church, I’m obligated to honor the current policy until such time as it changes.

    I’m not familiar with Alan’s non-proselytizing enlightenment on the subject of nudity’s harmony with the eternal principles of the gospel, but I think I’m pretty clear on the church’s current policy on “modesty.” As for garment-wearing, I think the admonition is to do it “night and day,” not “at all times.” It’s an important distinction which explains why we can bathe, visit the doctor, play sports, etc. without wearing garments. But nudism? You haven’t convinced me yet.

  43. wayfarer
    April 9, 2009 at 3:11 am

    I think my point was ,that as a temple covenant making people,amongst which we are including ourselves I’m assuming since the OP refers to eternal families,we are required to wear our garments at all practible times,and not to seek out exceptions.So I’m really not getting how I can do otherwise and be temple worthy.Don’t think this would go down too well at temple recommend time-Stake pres was none too enchanted when i told him i was not wearing garments whilst feeding my babies(ech,so unhygienic)

  44. Ray
    April 9, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Fwiw, I agree, wayfarer.

  45. Jeff Spector
    April 9, 2009 at 5:30 am

    GBSmith,

    We can respect one another right to have an opposing opinion without agreeing with that opinion or the premise of that opinion. You can’t really “disagee” with another’s opinion itself, but the premise upon which that opinion is based.

    This is……………..the last word.

  46. April 9, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I’ll do what I can to respond, as time permits, unless and until this thread dies:

    First, Greg made some comments that are worth at least a basic reply:

    Greg> I can’t imagine bringing “hundreds” of naked individuals into my home
    Greg> around my naked children.It’s one thing to accept nudity and be open
    Greg> and calm about it in your immediate family, but rather alarming to
    Greg> trust hundreds of others to participate. For me, the appropriate
    Greg> background check for visitors to this environment simply doesn’t exist.

    Well, let’s both take a step back from the hyperbole for a moment. When I say that our children have seen hundreds of people naked, that’s not an exaggeration. However that’s not in activities at our house. We’ve only had a handful of trusted families over to swim at our place. But, we’ve been to various naturist resorts, nude beaches, and hot springs through the years, as well as several larger-scale events. We have found these places and occasions to be as safe or safer than similar destinations and events where clothing is mandatory.

    As for background checks, we hardly feel it’s necessary for people that we associate with in our clothes, including much of the ward. We have little if any concern about “background checking” naturists, who have a higher than average standard of behavior. Even less so for the LDS naturists we associate with.

    Greg> Now, please don’t take this as an accusation but I do wonder how open
    Greg> your children are when talking about their home life to other kids. Do
    Greg> they casually tell their friends about their nude home life? Or have
    Greg> they decided that the easiest thing to do is avoid the subject among
    Greg> “judgmental” school and church associates? In other words, is this
    Greg> aspect of home life a big secret (which would make me wonder how
    Greg> well-adjusted the participants really feel) or is it out in the open
    Greg> (which would make me wonder how it’s accepted by other people in the ward)?

    Good questions, all. We’ve dealt with this in a fairly straightforward manner. We have taught that we “respect the sensitivities of other people.” It’s a mantra for us, and it works for nudism as much as it works for Mormonism.

    When we talk about the Church with non-members, we don’t lead off with Baptisms for the Dead, Tithing 10% of our increase, or probably not even the Word of Wisdom. Similarly, we don’t talk about nudism with those who have shown no particular interest in or affinity for it. We network with others online mostly. We don’t feel compelled to talk about it in our ward and stake, where it can potentially be problematic.

    Our children don’t feel a need to be overly secretive about their nudist experience. They are aware of those who accept it (a growing number), and those who do not (relatively few), and they make no strong assumption about the vast majority of people who do not know.

    Greg> I don’t doubt the praise you’ve given to your children, Alan. But I
    Greg> also wonder if the “naturist” aspect of their upbringing is really
    Greg> a footnote and if, without the constant nudity, the parental attitudes
    Greg> about life in general would still have made the kids turn out the way
    Greg> they are. I hesitate to give so much credit to the nudity.

    There really is no way of knowing for certain how much credit to give to Naturism. Similarly, I can’t say for certain how much the Church has influenced our parenting, and how much would have come naturally to us without the Church. (Fortunately, we have blessed to have both as a positive influence in our home.)

    I strongly feel that the level of openness and particularly open communication we enjoy would be difficult to hang on to if we were concerned about hiding from each other physically. But beyond that, my wife and I had to overcome our personal body-phobias before we could begin to raise a family devoid of such hangups.

    For our children, much of this physical openness will be automatic, much as it is for families (LDS and otherwise) in Europe and in other parts of the world. For my wife and I, we had a lot of bagged to dump to make that possible. The familial nudity was therapeutic for us, but more preventative for our children.

    • Geak04me Com
      January 1, 2012 at 12:10 am

      Hey Alan your web site LDSSDC does not seem to to be working.

  47. Ray
    April 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Alan, do you believe what you describe is possible for those who do not embrace your nudist views – and do you see the inherent tension many might perceive in something you label as “naturist” – when there is a strong negative view of “the natural man” woven into Mormonism (not to mention the temple instructions regarding the garment)?

  48. April 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Greg> Ever since I saw this thread, I couldn’t help wondering about how
    Greg> we’re encouraged to “follow the prophet” and look to other church
    Greg> leaders as examples.

    I think some of us tend to overextend “example” when it comes to our leaders. I readily accept that we can take guidance in a Prophet’s example of testimony, faith, constancy, devotion to gospel principles, etc. I do not think that it extends to copycatting their lives, their lifestyles, their personal likes and dislikes, or their opinions in all things.

    Greg> And, for the life of me, I just couldn’t imagine President Monson
    Greg> living a “naturist” lifestyle at home.

    Well, I don’t imagine that he does, but that isn’t reason enough for me not to. I also don’t imagine him deer hunting, going 4-wheeling, or playing badminton. Whether he does or does not doesn’t mean that I should or should not. There are more fruitful ways in which one can “follow the prophet” – I believe he would even agree with us on a finite few, unrelated to “lifestyle” at all.

    Greg> On the other hand, it seems like I’ve heard that, many decades ago
    Greg> at the Deseret Gym, it was common for all-male groups to swim naked
    Greg> in the pool and they were pretty casual about it.

    Yes. I’ve heard corroborating evidence from several sources, including a firsthand account from my great-uncle, who claims to have seen several of the GAs swimming in the buff at the Deseret Gym. But that’s not surprising, when you consider that YMCAs across the entire nation were also nudity-mandatory in their pools (before the “integration” of women in the early 1970s), and that many High Schools and Jr. Highs had the same requirement, under gender-segregated situations. It was just “the norm” once upon a time. (FYI, there were women-only versions of the same, though less prevalent.)

    Greg> The stories suggest that, even back in those old days when this kind
    Greg> of thing was more common, some of the participants were embarrassed
    Greg> about being exposed.

    Usually that is true only before the actual exposure. If they were unaccustomed to it, that stands to reason. The anticipation is always more stressful than the actual event of being naked. After the first experience, it’s simple to forget about it (and perhaps it’s even less stressful and even simpler to forget about in mixed-gender situations, IMO.)

    Greg> I think I can understand why nude swimming was okay back then. And I
    Greg> think I can also understand why its ridiculous to imagine something
    Greg> like that happening at a church-owned facility in today’s world.

    Probably so. But that doesn’t stop groups of LDS members from using other facilities to enjoy that. :-)

  49. April 9, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    GBSmith> You can’t go to a reputable nudist facility without ungoing a
    GBSmith> background check and having your named compared against the
    GBSmith> local and state law enforcement data base.

    Ironically, the background check doesn’t add much to the feeling of comfort that I already have. Sure, it’s good to know that known pedophiles may be denied access to a naturist resort. That’s an extra safeguard that you wouldn’t necessary get at a resort for clothed people. (If that safeguard could be applied to my own city and neighborhood, THEN we’d really have something!)

    But I recognize that this background check is mostly for the protection of the resort owners, and for good marketing purposes. They don’t want to get sued for admitting a known sex offender, and they want to give visitors – and particularly first-time naturists – reassurance that their facility is “safe” against the (largely imagined) threat of sexual predators.

    In reality, naturists are self-policing. They look out for children better than any organization or regulatory body could. I pity the poor fool would actually try to do anything offensive or secretive toward children at a naturist resort.

    Additionally, the risk in naturist situations seems to be far less than the risk in non-naturist situations. There is an element of “mutual vulnerability” in naturism that you can’t find in comparable clothed situations. People who trust others in a vulnerable state tend to be trustworthy. There is mutual disarmament, which neither party wishes to violate.

    Early in our naturist experience, my wife and I were more concerned about background checks and such. We were also concerned that there not be more men than women in naturist situations, that there be enough children present to legitimize that it was truly a “family-oriented” situation, and – ideally – that there were mostly LDS members present (we lived in Utah at the time).

    We grew out of those concerns, however, after having met many naturists. We came to understand that our expectations were unrealistic, unwarranted, and unnecessary. There are good reasons why there are more men involved in naturism than women, and why there are fewer children than you might hope for, and we found that LDS members aren’t the only people with high standards in naturist situations. (Our best naturist friends are LDS, though.)

    A few years back we moved to a new state, and attended a few nude swims that had been going on regularly for a couple of decades. It was held once a month at a well-known gym, after hours. They opened the whole facility for naturists, including the large, indoor pool, the racquetball courts, and even the exercise equipment (sitting on towels was required!) We were initially startled to discover that they didn’t require any prior membership in a naturist group nor affiliation with either of the national naturist organizations (at the time – there are more than the big two now), and didn’t have ANY background screening.

    What was eye-opening to us was that it didn’t seem to make a difference. There was always a nice mix of singles, couples, and families. There were typically a few more men than women, but not overbearingly so. The attendees were nice, clean, well-behaved people! Some of them were regulars who knew each other from past swims, but many were newcomers, just as we were.

    Everyone got along great. No misbehavior or complaints. Somehow, all the bad things one might imagine could happen in such a non-regulated event never happened. They were able to carry on that way for fully 20 years at the facility – until ownership changed, and they ceased to allow the nude swim nights. But, they have since managed to rent CITY OWNED pools for a few swims in recent years, with similar success.

    What may surprise you – even some naturists are surprised – is that nude swim nights happen all across the nation, at various swimming facilities near you, in their off hours. (There are at least a couple groups that have regular swims in the Salt Lake City area, FYI.) Many (most?) don’t bother with background checks, and they are doing just fine without them.

    So, background checks are done for most of the clubs, but I don’t think they are really needed, nor accomplish what some may believe they do. I know there are wackos out there in the world, but you don’t find many in naturist circles. I believe wackos are self-excluding, when it comes to naturism. If they can’t be trusted, they probably have trust issues of their own. The last thing they want to do is be naked and vulnerable some place.

    Members of the LDS Church are even more self-excluding, in terms of nefarious motives. If they truly have evil in mind, a naturist activity is hardly where they’ll go for it.

  50. April 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Greg> I’m not familiar with Alan’s non-proselytizing enlightenment on the
    Greg> subject of nudity’s harmony with the eternal principles of the gospel,
    Greg> but I think I’m pretty clear on the church’s current policy on “modesty.”

    I think modesty would be a relevant to this thread. What’s the “church’s current policy on “modesty” as you see it? I’m not trying to bait you on this – I’ll tell you right up front that there is far more “talk” about modesty than there is “policy” on modesty. I don’t expect that you’ll be able to articulate the Church’s policy on modesty any better than the Church does. But I think that the attempt may be enlightening.

  51. April 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I really think the take on innoculation is an interesting one. It would be interesting to see a study done on pornography use, pre/extra-marital sex, etc among nudists vs not.(a study of LDS nudists would be better, but I’m afraid it’d be impossible to get a reasonably sized sample)
    I do think that if we as a society looked at illicit sex as the problem, rather than nudity, we’d be closer to the way God sees it. We really do make a bigger deal about nudity than we do sexual explicit behaviors. Look at the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” and the fuss that was raised. Compare that to the lyrics to some of her songs (I’m not singling her out here… there’s plenty with much worse lyrics). Which one do you think encourages immoral behavior more?
    The whole issue of modesty standards changing is a difficult one to deal with I think. I also see little sciptural arguement against nudity in all kinds of settings.

  52. April 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Greg> As for garment-wearing, I think the admonition is to do it
    Greg> “night and day,” not “at all times.”

    Garments are another topic relevant to this thread.

    First of all, we are asked in our TR interviews if we “wear our garments ‘night and day’ as instructed [some paraphrase "commanded"] in the temple.” Ironically, we are never instructed in the temple to wear them ‘night and day’ at all – not as part of the regular endowment, initiatory, nor even the orientation given before our own endowment. We are “instructed” to “wear them throughout our lives and not defile them” however, which is open to some leeway.

    So, we have an instruction (not commandment) that is somewhat in conflict. I’d lean in favor of the accuracy of the temple ordinances over the TR interview, but that may be immaterial if one day they eliminate this discrepancy.

    They have in recent years added a blurb that is read at the end of the TR interview, about our use of garments being a matter between ourselves and the Lord. I take that as a positive indicator: it could be that the garment question will be phased out, in time.

    Greg> It’s an important distinction which explains why we can bathe,
    Greg> visit the doctor, play sports, etc. without wearing garments.

    Is sports as important as bathing and doctor’s exams? Why? (Could have something to do with not defiling the garment, I suppose.) Is swimming any less important, as a sport? (FYI, LDS naturists tend to prefer swimming activities.)

    Greg> But nudism? You haven’t convinced me yet.

    Well, there’s not much point in convincing you – then we’d have nothing to talk about. ;-)

    I have heard some LDS naturists say that they feel that the regular practice of nudism in itself is at least as worthwhile to their well-being as are sports, or even a visit to the doctor, and will opt out of their garments for extended periods of time on that basis alone. I don’t adhere to that thinking myself, but I see some congruity in it.

    There is very little reference information on the LDS garment, how it came to be (by practice – there is no recorded revelation), and how its use has changed throughout the years. What reference information exists, however, I have studied carefully.

    I’ll summarize just a few snippets, as I feel I’ve already taken up too much space on this thread.

    - Garments in the time of the Kirtland Temple were worn only inside the Temple, as part of the ordinances.
    - During the Nauvoo days, before the temple was built, the Prophet and endowed members would conduct temple ordinances in dedicated homes, and would wear the garment for those occasions.
    - At some point, it was decided that the marks from the garment could be pinned inside regular clothing, so that they would be prepared to do temple ordinances in dedicated homes whenever the opportunity arose.
    - The marks were finally affixed to underclothing, and ultimately became the garment that was worn through Joseph F. Smith’s time, which was to the neck, to the ankles, and to the wrists (this variety is still worn by FLDS members, FYI.)
    - Joseph F. Smith had put up signs at the entrances of each temple stating that anyone not wearing the approved garment would be barred from entering the temple.
    - When Heber J. Grant became prophet, he ordered that the aforementioned signs be “taken down and burned.”
    - At the end of Heber J. Grant’s presidency, right before his death, modifications to the garments had been drafted and approved unanimously by the Twelve which reduced the mens’ sleeve size further than it has been to this day, and essentially turning womens’ garments into little more than a camisole, with thin shoulder straps (as I recall the account, the sister’s physical comfort was the goal here). Unfortunately, after his death, nothing more was done with this policy and it was not distributed to stake presidencies or acted upon.
    - Until the 1980′s, there was no “Authorized Pattern” and you could still, within reason, make your own temple garments.
    - To this day, there are garments for military servicemen and women which are the same color as military fatigues (I’ve seen the olive green ones). This is necessary because the white material of standard underwear (including garments) can be seen through the clothes of some night-vision technology, putting the wearer at greater risk.
    - Some members have medical conditions that prevent the normal wearing of garments. In such cases, Bishops and Stake Presidents will leave it up to the member whether or not they wear the garment, or how often, without restricting their access to the temple.
    - In some tropical, island regions, members are not required to wear garments. They are allowed access to the temple however, in spite of this fact, when the opportunity arises.

    References will be furnished only if you really beg for them. (And if there is genuine interest. ;-)

  53. Bryan
    April 10, 2009 at 12:22 am

    (I fear I am a late comer to this thread.)

    Wow, what a great discussion. I’ve read every comment and have very much enjoyed all of them, and I’m glad we can discuss this topic without sliding into personal jabs. Thank you.

    While my family has certainly not embraced nudity as fully as Alan’s, we have done so more then most LDS families, especially at home. Our two kids (one daughter and one son both still in primary (but not for much longer)) are familiar and comfortable with normal-living nudity at home. I’d say we don’t go out of our way to take off our clothes, but when the situation calls for it, we also don’t hide from each other. As a result our kids have seen their parents and each other without clothing pretty much every day of their lives and think nothing of it. Early in our marriage as our first was becoming more aware, we had a short conversation about this topic. It went something like this:

    My wife > Do you think at some point we will need to start closing doors when we change?
    Me> Why?

    And that was about it. But, to other people who are shocked and surprised that we are so open and trusting in our home, we often end up explaining our choice, and one of the points we always make is this: We want our kids to be familiar with the real human body that God created, and not the fake human body that Hollywood and the media will show them.

    Sadly, most kids born and raised in this country are only familiar with the fake, sexed-up, air-brushed, titillating nudity fed to them by the media. It’s the only nudity they ever see (and it’s only design is to separate us from our money). The unfortunate result is two fold: 1) As youth we grow up thinking that nudity is always like this fake nudity… sexual. 2) As adults we counteract this wrong with another wrong. Instead of presenting our children with real, wholesome, pure, undefiled nudity as a counter example, we instead banish all of it. In stead of allowing them the chance to learn for themselves what real humans look like, we label all nudity as off-limits, as immodest, and as immoral.

    The Church’s council to dress modestly is wise and good council, and we are right to follow it. When dressed dress modestly! I would also say that the Church’s teachings on modesty do not instruct us to hide all nudity, to never allow ourselves to be seen naked or to see others naked. Wear modest clothing, yes! Yet it is my opinion that those who read “always wear modest clothing” as “never be seen without clothing” are applying their own meaning. If you wish to do so, you of course have that right. Please understand however that this is only your implied meaning, and it does not carry over to the church membership as a whole as a commandment, either literal or implied.

    I’m aware that this line of thinking directly challenges what the vast majority of us have been taught all our lives. “Cover up!” has been the mantra for most youth in our society, especially Christian youth and especially especially Mormon youth. Yet these strangers on some Mormon blog site are now saying “it’s okay to uncover”? Why should I listen to them?
    I think it’s important to make this distinction: Nobody is advocating hedonism. Nobody is saying we should take the Church’s advice on modest clothing and on garments and toss them to the wind. What we are advocating is this: There are times and places where one can be without clothing when it is entirely within Church guidelines to be such. Not all the time. Maybe not even most of the time. Yet if there is an activity which could reasonably be done without wearing your garments, such as swimming at the beach, then it can also be done tastefully and modestly without a bathing suit as well. In the walls of your own home this especially applies.

    I guess all we ask is this: Keep an open mind and don’t pre-judge our position. Listen with the possibility that there might be a new way to look at this topic. Contrary to your knee-jerk reaction, we are not preaching anything that contradicts Church or Gospel cannon. We are only challenging long held Christian traditions which are the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, and yet held by most to be pure scripture.
    :-)

    Getting back to the original topic of pornography… I think that our wise and caring Church leaders are doing the very best they know how to handle the problem of porn in our ranks. I am not privy to the numbers of how many suffer from an addiction, nor am I privy to know if the constant reminders to stay away from it, and to get help if you are involved, are working. I sure hope they are. Yet I fear that until we, as a Christian / Western culture undo some of the recent taboos and negative stigmas around real, honest, safe, natural and wholesome nudity, that the problem will only get worse.

    As for me and my house, we are trying our best to heed church council on modesty and chastity, and we are trying to arm our kids with all the tools they need to live modest and chaste lives, including allowing them, with in the reverent, respectable atmosphere of our home, to become knowledgeable about the real human body as God created it.

    Bryan

  54. Ray
    April 10, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Bryan, fwiw, I see no way that your actions are in any tension with the teachings of the Church.

  55. James
    April 10, 2009 at 10:26 am

    in #17, Jeff said, “I find the whole thing rather weird and out of place in light of gospel teaching.”

    I often wonder what constitutes “Gospel teaching?” I truly believe that all teaching does not result in learning, and that all learning is subject to the filters that we individually apply to the teaching. This is how my wife and I can attend the same Sunday School lesson and have different things stand out in our recollection of the “teaching.” So I now present my filtered version of a portion of the gospel teaching related to this topic.

    We understand from the scriptures that God looked at all the creations on the earth that had be organized and pronounced them as “good”. (Genesis 1:27 & 31 – 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them…31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.)

    At this point clothing had not been introduced. We also understand that Adam and Eve would be visited and instructed by God on a regular basis. During this period it was said, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Gen. 2: 25) They were not ashamed to be seen by each other, nor by the God who visited and talked with them.

    At some point Lucifer made an appearance and began tempting Adam and Eve and ultimately they succumbed to the temptation and disobeyed (sinned) by partaking of that which was forbidden to them. As a result of this sin, they became fallen, not able to remain in the presence of God.

    As LDS we have a unique perspective of what followed, given to us in the temple instructions. Adam and Eve had their eyes opened and recognized what? That they were naked? No, they recognized Satan for who he was. They also recognized that he was “clothed” or that he was wearing an apron. He was asked about his apron and said that among other things it represented power. This is the first reference to clothing being associated with power that I know of.

    Soon afterward God again visits Adam and Eve. Before God’s arrival Satan gives this instruction to Adam and Eve, “See you are naked, make ye some aprons of fig leaves, run and hide.” I think it is very important to remember where the instruction for “hiding nakedness” came from. It did not come from the Father in Heaven, but rather from the father of lies. (Moroni 7:12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.) So the concept of shame and hiding being associated with nakedness came from Satan.

    This makes sense when considering the previous view we have of God’s opinion of the naked bodies of Adam and Eve, it was said to be very good. In fact when Adam says he is hiding because he is naked, God doesn’t reply by saying, “Whoa, yea you are. I’m glad you covered up that disgusting sight.” Instead he asks “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” (Genesis 3:12). Obviously the concept of nakedness being vulgar was not part of the knowledge given unto Adam by God.

    So it follows in my mind that naked=shame=hiding was instituted very early in the history of the earth. This was done with clear intent that it could be exploited later and was established not be God but by the adversary. He has cunningly crafted that seed into inticements to sin. This is exactly what pornography is and what pornography builds upon.

    I agree with those who acknowledge the goodness of simple nudity. Of the goodness of sexuality expressed within the sacred bounds of marriage. Neither is disgusting or perverse. But either can be dragged into something that can lure and entice to activities which are propagated with the sole intent of creating sin and separating us from God. (I often think we may have to include chocolate in this discussion as well :-) ).

    My view through my filter, yours may differ.

  56. Darren
    April 10, 2009 at 10:52 am

    #55 James, thank you for the step-by-step on Satan, Clothing, and the Garden of Eden. You have given me food for thought. I’m on board with the idea that our bodies are not shameful. What keeps me away from a nude beach is not a belief that our bodies are yucky or sinful, but the opposite. I choose to not visit a nude beach out of respect for my body, and for the bodies of my wife and kids.

    To Alan, James, Bryan and other nudists who seem to be congregating here, can you address these questions: Shouldn’t we opt to wear swimsuits at a beach out of respect for the sacred nature of our bodies? Does not being publicly naked for such trivial activities as swimming cheapen our bodies? I like the idea that nobody but my wife (exceptions for the doctor, etc.) sees me naked, and me her. It’s a privilege we reserve for each other, and which we are not willing to share with any stranger on the beach.

    Interested to hear your reply.

  57. Ray
    April 10, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    James (and Alan), if we are basing this on the Garden of Eden narrative, I believe it’s important to make the following distinction:

    Yes, Satan was the one who brought nakedness to Adam’s and Eve’s awareness and told them to hide (who attached shame to it), but God is the one who told them to fashion aprons and cover their nakedness with clothing – I believe specifically because of the temptations that would exist in the lone and dreary world they were about to enter.

    Again, based strictly on the scriptural account, I think it is important to draw the distinction between the privacy and intimacy of the Garden of Eden (in their “home”, alone with each other) and the public openness and impersonality of the world (outside their home in the company of others) . I agree we need to view nudity as natural and fine – and see our bodies as sacred and not be ashamed of them, but I also think we can’t cherry-pick some things from the scriptural record and ignore others – especially when the things ignored actually appear to be the most relevant parts of the record.

  58. April 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Ray, Satan told them to make aprons, not God. He (God) told them to make clothing of skins. Small point.

  59. James
    April 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    RE #56
    Darren – “To Alan, James, Bryan and other nudists who seem to be congregating here, can you address these questions:”
    - First I don’t want my response to be held as Alan/Bryan’s. They are much more eloquent and versed than I. Second, within my house I am the only one with these “leanings,” so I can’t classify myself as a nudist. (Actually since situation appropriate nudity is all we talked about, not a 24/7 lifestyle, I don’t think Alan/Bryan would care for the tag either.)

    Darren – “I choose to not visit a nude beach out of respect for my body, and for the bodies of my wife and kids. Shouldn’t we opt to wear swimsuits at a beach out of respect for the sacred nature of our bodies?”
    - I don’t think that acknowledging the sacred nature of our bodies requires a swimsuit. Following the thought that truth is eternal and unchanging doesn’t support the need for swimwear at the beach. There is and has been way too much variance in what is acceptable beach attire. What is acceptable (even for LDS) today would have caused coronary attack’s in our great grandparents. And world wide the “acceptable” covering standard can vary from skimpy “Speedos” to past the knee board shorts for men. What I wore 10 years ago, my kids now joke is “way too short”. The variation in women’s swim attire has equal extremes.

    Respect for bodies requires more than external coverings. We are counseled about piercings, tattoos, and consumption of injurious substances (Word of Wisdom). In the US obesity is a very real problem and a quick survey of any church function confirms that LDS members fitness/fatness levels are not any different than the rest of society despite our knowledge of the sacredness of the earthly taberenacle.

    Darren – “Does not being publicly naked for such trivial activities as swimming cheapen our bodies?”
    - Does not the perceived need to “cover our nakedness” for something as trivial as swimming not cheapen the sacred nature of our bodies and support Satan’s plans to distort the goodness of God’s creation? Sorry to twist the question, but it could be just as easily be stated from any angle. Our motives are what can cheapen any activity, in or out of the church, whether we are fully clothed, partially clothed, or unclothed. Am I the only one who thinks the recent depictions of temple happenings portrayed in TV shows possible “cheapened” that which we hold sacred. Yet full temple clothing was worn.

    Darren – “I like the idea that nobody but my wife (exceptions for the doctor, etc.) sees me naked, and me her. It’s a privilege we reserve for each other”
    - There are many privileges that we reserve for our eternal companions, sharing nakedness is certainly one of these and one that I hope brings couples closer together. Yet the mere presence of clothes is not an assurance that a situation will not result in weakening or severing the union between couples. Are we worried about lust? I’ll bet you lusted for your wife before you shared nakedness. In fact certain clothing serves only to “enhance” those desires. Clothing will never stop lust from happening, if that were the case there would be no infidelity or promiscuity in the clothed world. I only bring that up since the lack of self control resulting in sexual misconduct seems to be the ultimate reason that most people end up with in the nude discussions.

    Let me ask an additional question. The topic title included the words “Families Forever”. Forever passes beyond mortality to eternal life. If we agree with the concept that we can’t take earthly possessions (which include clothing) with us beyond the veil of death, then what awaits us in eternity? Even Christ left his burial clothes. Are we indeed “clothed in righteousness” or will there be more?

  60. Cowboy
    April 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    According to LDS doctrine the Garden of Eden was a paradaisical place, and while not exalted beings, Adam and Eve were living under those conditions as closely as those who have yet to pass through mortality can. When they partook of the fruit their eyes were opened, and yes Satan encouraged them to cover their nakedness. Even so, they were then provided with coats of skins by the Savior. Of course we all know that these coats of skins represented the Atonement of the Savior, and bare semblance to the Temple Garment. I might conclude then that as a condition of the fall, Adam and Eve were to be covered until which point, and through the actual workings of the Atonement, they are set at one with God and achieve their Exaltation. Perhaps this may explain why Moroni was mostly naked when he appeared to Joseph Smith. If so, then we as the offspring and literal representation of Adam and Eve, are now ourselves in the fallen/lone and dreary world, and are under covenant that we must (when reasonable, swimming, bathing, yada yada yada) take upon ourselves the coverings given to Adam Eve, to cover their nakedness.

    In other words, despite the appeal towards the social justifications for giving proper context to the human body, I find the religious implications in direct opposition to the LDS covenants. Of course we could be too extreme in this regard. I think it can be perfectly appopriate when in the confined space of home and family, for individuals to loosen their ties, so to speak. On the other hand, I would have to agree that the routine determination to be naked against the standard level of comfort and social normalcy a bit out of sync with the purpose and intent of the Garment.

  61. James
    April 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    #57 Ray
    Are you LDS and if so have you been through the temple? If yes, then please pay particular attention to the sequence as presented in the temple. You will find that it was not God who instructed to clothe with aprons.

    God did provide coats of skins to cover nakedness. The need for this was likely both physical and symbolic of things spiritual. Life in the lone and dreary world at times requires additional protection beyond our vulnerable (naked) skins. And since providing a coat of skins would have necessitated the shedding of blood, the coats may also be symbolic of the need for blood atonement to cover our spiritual need (nakedness). Thus the function of being a shield and a protection is understood in both a physical and spiritual sense. Markedly absent is instruction on “modesty”, or hiding nakedness. In fact the instruction on chastity came sometime later, after wearing of “skins” had been established. (Hmmm, is there a pattern to be understood here?)

  62. Cowboy
    April 10, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Without going into too much detail, the promises of being a shield and protection where directly related to the adversary, and hence spiritual. Certainly coats of skins would have provided physical protection for Adam and Eve, however today they hardly protect against mosquito’s let alone the elements.

  63. hawkgrrrl
    April 10, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I have actually often wondered if we are “clothed in righteousness” and nothing else in the eternities. We are born naked. Our clothing doesn’t go with us when we die. The thing that made me wonder this was JS’s description of the angel Moroni, that he was wearing a loose robe, and JS could see into his bosom. Now, if Moroni had been wearing Gs, they would have been sticking out. Obviously he was not. But a loose robe also sounds like something you just grab and throw on hastily. He didn’t have any belt or natty accessories, no suspenders, nor black socks with birkenstocks. Dress was certainly an afterthought, at least in those visions.

  64. Darren
    April 10, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Adam & Eve, Moroni, changing understandings of modesty… none of it matters to me as much as the idea of covering our bodies out of simple respect. It is not important to me why Adam and Eve got dressed or who told them to do so. It’s not important to me if Moroni was wearing temple garments, or what the history of our garments are.

    Here’s the one thing that does matter to me: Honoring our bodies by not showing certain parts to the general public.

    James: “I don’t think that acknowledging the sacred nature of our bodies requires a swimsuit.” Of course it does not “require” a swim suit. I’m willing to concede that a day spend naked on the beach night not be a sin that requires confession to your bishop, or even a private confession to the Lord (unless of course your motives in going were less then pure). What I’m saying is that I don’t want to spend a day naked on the beach, because I feel I would not be showing proper respect for my earthy tabernacle.

    James: “I’ll bet you lusted for your wife before you shared nakedness.” I should hope so ;-) And I see your point that simply wearing clothing does not in any way diminish physical attraction. But I would certainly not use this a logical reason to have said to her before we were married, “Let’s go to a nude beach and get naked!”

    James: “Does not the perceived need to “cover our nakedness” for something as trivial as swimming not cheapen the sacred nature of our bodies and support Satan’s plans to distort the goodness of God’s creation?”

    No. It does not in the least. Your point here is lost on me. Sorry.

    I would call it a “don’t cast your pearls before the swine” principle. My choice is to frequent clothed beaches, as they help me feel more reserved, more conservative and more reverent. I will grant you that I have never experienced a nude beach so I am not in a place to say how I would feel, but I can not project myself there and imagine myself not feeling that I was being disrespectful.

  65. Jen
    April 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I know these accounts aren’t scriptural, but in reading different near death experiences, I don’t remember anyone mentioning naked people greeting them. In fact, some I have read mention the clothing that their loved ones are wearing being similar to what they wore on earth, or what they felt most comfortable wearing from their “time period.” Anyone ever heard of someone who has had a near death experience talking of the nakedness of those on the other side? I would love to hear about it.

  66. Ray
    April 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    1) I was typing in a hurry and typed “apron” when I should have typed “covering”. That is a stupid mistake, since “apron” is not mentioned in any scriptural account of the Garden of Eden.

    2) I will be in the temple tomorrow, James. I will pay particular attention, but I am sure Satan’s instruction was NOT to “make an apron (covering)” – but rather to “hide”. When they appeared before God AFTER having hidden, they still were naked. It was only AFTER their subsequent conversation that they were instructed to cover their nakedness – by God. That means I was correct in my initial assertion that God commanded them to cover their nakedness, not Satan, even if my stupid wording mistake obscured that point.

    3) The actual scriptural statement form Genesis 3:21 is: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The version in 4:27 supports that completely.

    Summary: I stand by my (revised) statement that God clothed Adam and Eve in the Fall narrative and commanded them to go into the lone and dreary world clothed.

    James, I think anyone who interprets the command of God to Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (“clothed them”) as only spiritual and ignores the most simple meaning of also covering their physical nakedness is going out on a limb I’m not willing to climb – especially in context of the way it is presented to us in the temple. We can talk all we want about the protection of the garment being primarily spiritual (with which I agree), but the representations we wear inside the temple to cover out nakedness and outside the temple to remind us of our covenants are physical. I simply can’t bring myself to set that aside and agree that public nudity is in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel – as they are given to us for mortality.

  67. Jeff Spector
    April 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Ray,

    I think that Satan does refer to an apron. But, he was trying to make them ashamed of being in front of God, not man. Jehovah was instructed to make clothes for them because from that point forward they would be in front of man. They were going from a celestial to a telestial existence. Modesty then became the order of the day from that point forward..

  68. Ray
    April 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Jeff, as I think of it more, I think you are right. In trying to remember the exact wording, what I remember fits the first statement coming from Lucifer.

    Sorry, James, I think you are right on that point.

  69. Robert O. Despain
    April 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I’m surprised and pleased at the high level of discourse here (I’ve wandered over from ldssdf). On many lds-oriented sites, any discussion of naturism or nudism or naturalism quickly descends to name calling and denial of facts and ultimately locking of threads before the lds naturists can state their positions. (I speak from experience.)

    Makes me want to join up here and follow other topics.

  70. Greg
    April 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    If Satan’s the one who’s really behind some kind of mortal, cover-up conspiracy, why are so many scriptural heroes so obsessed with clothing the naked?

    Alan… You admit that talking about your Naturism in your own ward and stake can be problematic. To me, that’s a red flag. You mentioned that we don’t often start discussions with non-Mormons by talking about baptisms for the dead or tithing. But we get around to those subjects rather quickly. I’ve never known a missionary who was very shy about that stuff.

    I agree that following the prophet doesn’t mean “copycatting” every aspect of his life. Meanwhile, when it’s so easy to assume that the prophet would never accept [fill in the blank] in his lifestyle nor call [fill in the blank] advocates to become General Authorities, then I don’t have to think too hard about whether [fill in the blank] is appropriate for my family. And that’s often the point of encouraging people to look to the prophet (whom we generally don’t know personally) to figure out some of these things.

    As I see it, the church’s current policy on modesty is well-articulated and continually emphasized. Whether a General Authority addresses the subject in General Conference or it was in an Ensign article or an official publication for youth and youth leaders, the subject is everywhere and the church’s stance is consistent. I could bore you with endless quotes from those sources but I doubt anyone wants to read them here. Go to lds.org and knock yourselves out.

    To me, it would take a great deal of effort on my part to decide that the church’s position on modesty is unclear. I can parse words. I can focus on what isn’t said and then fill in the blanks with amphibian DNA. But the simplest interpretation is usually the most accurate. And that’s why I think it’s all pretty clear.

    You mentioned that examining the wording of the temple ceremonies is more important than the wording of the temple recommend interview. I disagree. This, to me, is another example of current policy which supersedes “timeless doctrine” on a given matter. The current policy is expressed through the questions in the temple recommend interview. A less-than-sincere effort to wear garments whenever it’s reasonably possible to do so would, for me, indicate that I lack commitment to temple requirements.

    I admit that your historical information about garments sounds fascinating, yet it’s not very relevant to current policies. (There I go again with the “current policies” obsession.) So, if I think it would be cool to wear green garments and I’m not in the military, then, too bad. I just can’t be that cool. And the policy about garment-wearing in tropical climates doesn’t apply to me in the Continental U.S.A. either. If I insist on something else, I’m rationalizing.

    In other countries, where the law doesn’t recognize temple marriages as the legal ceremony, couples can marry outside the temple and then go to the temple a few days later without having to wait a year. But that doesn’t mean I can convince my local leaders to allow the same policy here. Lucky for me that my non-Mormon father in-law didn’t make an issue out of being excluded from our marriage ceremony. But we were going to marry in the temple anyway, adhering to current, local policy.

    As for the idea of Satan’s exact portrayal in the temple… Wow. This sounds like a whole different topic which, unfortunately, is difficult to explore appropriately in this forum. Needless to say, there’s a lot of symbolism woven into that narrative. How much of it is a portrayal of things exactly as they happened? I, for one, couldn’t say.

  71. hawkgrrrl
    April 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Jen – “in reading different near death experiences, I don’t remember anyone mentioning naked people greeting them.” Yes, actually, I was also thinking of this as the counterpoint to my Moroni “loose robe” example. But Moroni was supposed to be resurrected, not just a spirit, so I don’t know. Are our spirits not naked? I always imagined mine wearing a white linen peasant dress, but what do I know?

    Robert – welcome to the site!

  72. Jay
    April 11, 2009 at 12:10 am

    @Ray #66:

    Context is everything. Of course you wouldn’t show up to Sacrament Meeting in a bathing suit. Yet how many ward or YM/YW activities have there been with bathing suits at the beach? And fact is that even the most “modest” bathing suit worn by the most conservative LDS women would have gotten them arrested for public indecency 100 years ago. I repeat: context is everything. In the right circumstances, with the right attitudes, in the right place, “public” nudity can be just as “modest” as being fully clothed in Sacrament Meeting. That may boggle your mind but I can assure you it’s true.

    I have been to a clothing-optional beach. With my family. With another active LDS family. It was a beautiful day and everyone had a marvelous time. And at one point, as the other dad and I were talking, we almost simultaneously said to each other “This is how it should be all the time, this is the closest I could ever imagine to how life in heaven feels.” It was genuinely a reverent and spiritual moment. And none of us had a stitch on. Lesson: context and attitude are everything, and spirituality and modesty are entirely possible without any clothing.

    With all due respect, if every form of public nudity were not “in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel” the Church would have said so. But it hasn’t. Nothing in the Scriptures condemns simple, innocent non-sexual nudity per se. The General Handbook never mentions the issue at all. There is no “policy” on this issue one way or the other. It is simply one of the many things left up to us as individuals to decide for ourselves. I have no problem with you reaching the conclusions you have, if they work for you that’s fine. As long as you understand that they are personal conclusions and that others may reach different ones and theirs should be respected as well. Personally I think if you will subject your beliefs about this subject to rigorous comparison with the Scriptures you will find that they are almost completely culturally based, and not scripturally based. The early Christians conducted communal baptisms in the nude. Was that not “in harmony with the teachings of the gospel”?

    @Greg #70:

    “Clothing the naked” doesn’t condemn nudity, it’s just an archaic phrase that refers to meeting temporal needs.

    Modesty is purely a cultural construct. The Church’s “policy on modesty” is no different than that of a hundred other conservative Christian churches, and has the same cultural bases. But real modesty is not a dress code, it’s an attitude. Church publications in fact confirm this; they say nothing about skirt or sleeve lengths. It’s an issue of attitude and deportment, humility, not calling attention to oneself. Once one understands that that is the real definition of modesty, and that what is considered modest today would have been criminal indecency a century ago, one realizes as I said above that context and attitude are everything.

    As to the garment, we are instructed in the temple simply to wear it “throughout our lives.” And the Church is emphatic that how we choose to implement that instruction is up to us. So as with Ray, I respect your right to interpret and decide for yourself how you will do that, as long as you respect the rights of others to do the same, particularly when they might differ with you on details, and you shouldn’t think less of them because of it.

    If both of you are strong enough in your convictions that you think they could withstand some rigorous examination, you really should go to http://www.ldssdf.org and find some of the discussion threads there about modesty and wearing the garment and so forth. I’ve read those threads and they will give you some serious food for thought. If you’re ready to have your paradigms challenged.

  73. Ray
    April 11, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Fwiw, there’s no paradigm challenging for me. I’ve considered this issue in depth already, and I’ve decided how I view it personally. I understand there’s no Church standard instruction, so I don’t condemn or try to forbid it with others. I simply draw my line a little more restrictively than some – and much more liberally than others.

  74. Jen
    April 11, 2009 at 10:33 am

    #72-”I have been to a clothing-optional beach. With my family. With another active LDS family. It was a beautiful day and everyone had a marvelous time. And at one point, as the other dad and I were talking, we almost simultaneously said to each other “This is how it should be all the time, this is the closest I could ever imagine to how life in heaven feels.” It was genuinely a reverent and spiritual moment. And none of us had a stitch on. Lesson: context and attitude are everything, and spirituality and modesty are entirely possible without any clothing.

    This is the first I have heard of this thinking within the church so I am trying to understand it better. I am curious about this experience you had on the clothing-optional beach. As you saw your friend’s wife naked, and other women and men as well, what types of thoughts and feelings do you experience and think about long after the experience? Do you feel that it has helped you to see them as daughters and sons of God more or less and do you find yourself comparing (the women) to your wife? Also, did your children have desires to touch you and your wife when naked (if they are younger) out of curiousity or if they are older have you discussed with them the types of feelings they might be experiencing? Is it possible they would be too uncomfortable to tell you what they feel because you have a much more liberal view than they might desire? And, lastly, do you have any concerns for how they might be treated if they talk to their friends about how their parents, brothers and sisters, look naked? Could this possibly limit their opportunities with relationships in the future and does this concern you at all?

    These are all questions that I am just curious about because I this topic is new to me. At this point, I see it being more damaging than spiritually uplifting and edifying. Please enlighten me.

  75. Greg
    April 11, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Why does this suddenly feel like it’s not non-proselytizing anymore?

  76. Jeff Spector
    April 11, 2009 at 10:53 am

    “I understand there’s no Church standard instruction.”

    If the question really got asked of the right authorites, I have a feeling I know what the answer would be. ;) To me, that’s says a lot right there.

  77. Cowboy
    April 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I would have to agree with Jeff. Whatever personal feelings we can have on the matter, I have hard time picturing Church leaders encouraging or even endorsing this type of behavior in the present day. Some of you may be aware, but about ten years ago BYU sponsored a Renaissance art exhibition which was on tour throughout the US. This exhibition was displaying authentic pieces of work which are highly revered in the art community. A local, and somewhat national, controversy immediately ensued because BYU required that any of the pieces (which I imagine in some cases were hundreds of years old) which depicted nudity be covered by canvas, and not available for viewing while on campus. Few would consider the pieces pornography at this point in time, and yet they were still required to be covered. So I have hard time accepting that participating in any type of social nude event would be considered appropriate by Church leaders.

    I also have a hard accepting that adults who have been raised in the same world I have can just suddenly turn of the sexuality switch, head over to a nude beach, and have a “spiritual and reverent experience”. A case might be made for Allan Palmer with regards to his kids who have been raised in a nudist enviroment, but I think that would be an exception to the American rule.

  78. James
    April 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Cowboy and Jeff

    I would tend to agree with both of you the church has become more and more conservative. When the apostles use to have a almost a 50 50 split democrat and republicans its now almost 100% republican now that James E Faust has passed away.

    Cowboy your right about the switch over as well. We discussed this as a family last night and we agreed it would be weird if we all walked around nude now. But if we had done as little kids to adults it wouldn’t be weird at all.

  79. Jeff Spector
    April 11, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    “When the apostles use to have a almost a 50 50 split democrat and republicans its now almost 100% republican now that James E Faust has passed away. ”

    TANGENT ALERT!!!! :)

  80. GBSmith
    April 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I can understand the opinions and feelings of those who would not be comfortable with social nudity and do not see it in keeping with gospel principles. And I can appreciate that asking your bishop or stake president “how do you feel about nudism” might not be a good idea unless you were willing to experience a long period of blank staring and stunned silence followed by an intense grilling about pornography, moral worthiness, drug use and political inclinations. At the same time those comfortable with home and social nudity have expressed their reasons why they do not feel their actions are sinful or out of keeping with the gospel. What I hope is that each side in the discussion would grant that the other has thought through their position and not feel the necessity to pass judgment on the others worthiness, intelligence or integrity. I think the general authorities over the years have wisely avoided lists of don’ts in the hope that the brain we were issued will continue to function and then come judgement it will all be sorted out.

  81. Jay
    April 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    @Jen #74

    Like other LDS families I know, we also took our decisions on this subject after much thought, consideration of pro’s and con’s, and prayerful seeking for inspiration. We are very much aware of parental responsibilities to teach the children what is good and right and virtuous. Having done all that, I am satisfied (and Alan’s posts confirm I’m not alone in this) that our approach will not only give them a healthy self image, but it will help inoculate the boys against the lure of pornography, which we’ve discussed many times. There is plenty of evidence to show that naturism has this effect by de-sexualizing the body and removing the mystery. In today’s debauched society what LDS parent wouldn’t want an almost foolproof shield for their kids against the flood of porn? I realize our solution may just be too radically outside the cultural comfort zone for many, but fact is it works. For the girls, they will be able to grow up without buying into all the self-doubts and dissatisfactions and body image hype that the media dishes out, because they’ll know what real life and real people are like. I see all of this as a win-win for the kids. We’ve talked about honoring and respecting bodies as priceless gifts of our Heavenly Father, as the temples which house our spirits. We’ve told them that just as we respect the Church’s temples, we respect the temples God gave each of us to live in while on earth. They know that respect doesn’t need to mean shame or guilt or paranoia, and we think that’s a very healthy attitude especially in today’s schizophrenic American culture which is saturated with sex on the one hand and so hysterically prudish on the other. We think our kids will be able to navigate all those cross-winds successfully because of our approach.

    Your questions about our trip to the beach aren’t surprising for someone coming from an LDS cultural background. I grew up in the Church myself and realize our family has taken a slightly different tack. But I’m happy to respond. Some readers may not believe what I say, but I promise you I’m telling the truth. Thoughts and feelings after the experience? It was a delightful day. I still think if it as one of the times I’ve come closest to heaven in this life. It was virtuous and pure in every sense. Not even an inappropriate thought. We were certainly not alone on the beach, and I looked at each person as simply what they were: a child of God, to be honored and respected as such. No comparisons of features. That’s what is so freeing about the experience and what I think most cultural conservatives can hardly bring themselves to believe: it is possible to get completely past those thought patterns of worrying about lust and all that. The Church relentlessly hammers us all, especially the guys, to control our thoughts. Well guess what. It’s a piece of cake for me precisely because of experiences like this.

    As to kids’ curiosity, we’ve talked openly with them about what is and isn’t appropriate. They know the boundaries and we have no problems. They know that not all families have the same standards we do, and that this is our business, no one else’s. They know that being respectful of others’ choices means they don’t pry into other families’ lives either. FWIW, we are active in the Church and routinely get compliments on how polite, articulate, and well-behaved the kids are. I also think this experience will help them as they head toward puberty because they already know what to expect. We’ve tried to give them the attitude that that is something to look forward to and be proud of, not worried or ashamed of as so many teens are. They know the standards for chastity and morality, and seem to be looking forward to the day when they can be parents too. No problems or issues so far!

    So if we’re supposed to judge all things by their fruits, so far all the fruits of our decisions have been nothing but good for our family. Others’ mileage may vary, but this is our experience. And I know for a fact that we’re not alone.

    @Cowboy #77

    You are one of the people I know will have a hard time believing what I wrote above, but I assure you it’s all true. The children are young and as James said, that makes it a lot easier. But I know of families who’ve made the switch later. Heck, I know of families in which the kids are the ones who pushed for it and the whole family ended up happier, less stressed, and more tolerant and caring of each other as a result. It actually can have that effect.

    As far as our family goes, it passes the 13th Article of Faith’s test. We don’t judge other families who do things differently, and hope they will return the favor.

  82. Jen
    April 11, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Jay-”There is plenty of evidence to show that naturism has this effect by de-sexualizing the body and removing the mystery.” In relation to removing the mystery I can honestly say that I would have appreciated the mystery when I was growing up over seeing my dad naked when he chose to parade around after showering…….. but that is just my personal experience. :)

    Being in the thick of raising 7 children (with several of them in the teenage years), I would say that most problems or issues won’t typically show up until they are actually interested in girls or boys. It is interesting to watch a child transform from thinking the opposite sex is annoying, to wanting to get their attention and be around them as often as possible. I think right now it is easy to not have problems and issues because the children are young. They really don’t care or think about it long enough for it to be an issue. I have taught my children what is and isn’t appropriate, that it is important to be respectful of others’ choices and not pry into other families’ lives, etc. as you have, and also have had people compliment me on how well-behaved my children are….BUT…they grow up and they start to talk more, form opinions and think they know more than you do. I realize that all of this is a natural part of growing up and it is healthy, but raising children in an LDS culture may create more of a feeling of embarrassment for your children later as they realize their mom and dad are doing something very different than a great number of other LDS families. Hopefully it won’t create feelings of resentment later as they grow into their teenage years and adulthood. It is not until kids really start talking to their peers and realizing that their parents aren’t perfect and right about everything (and maybe even a bit strange) that negative feelings may arise within them. I think the biggest concern I would have in teaching your children the approach that you are is that it may create a lot of strain in a relationship for them later. If they fall in love with someone in the church, it is quite unlikely their partner will have the same viewpoint as you are teaching them. This may lead them to go outside of the church searching for a more “liberal” thinking partner. This may or may not be an issue for you but if you are active in the church then I assume you hope for your children to marry in the temple. I know it may seem trite now, but issues like this one can be enough to keep people apart or separate them later. I think it is one thing to decide as adults to go to a nude beach, but I think when you involve your children, especially inside of an LDS culture, you are setting them up for difficulty later if they stay within that culture. Of course this is just my opinion and I realize you weren’t asking for it, but having worked with troubled youth and just living daily with teenagers I thought I would throw in my two cents worth.

  83. T
    April 11, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    This is for Jen in comment 65:
    I love to read about Near Death Experiences, but I haven’t read anything about those on the other side being naked. Although I once read a book about a man’s near-death experience (“I Saw Heaven” by Larry Tooley), and he said when he got to the other side, he realized he was naked. He was later clothed, I think in a robe.

  84. April 11, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Just wanted to get in my two cents… While I have not been to a certified nude beach, I have been to Europe a few times. Honestly, it was not a spiritual experience to be around nude women on a beach (not to take away from anyone who says otherwise), but I did realize that a woman in a tiny bikini is MORE distracting than a topless one. On that I can agree with the naturalists. I also agree that once I had that experience, the curiosity regarding mammaries certainly decreased. Men and women both have nipples, and I think our culture would be better off if we treated them all equally. Granted, that is not the case now, and similar to what Ray said earlier, I accept that I live in a certain culture, and am mostly okay with the norms.

  85. Greg
    April 11, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I went to the temple today… not because of this topic, of course, but this discussion made me examine things a little differently. The thought occurred to me that the nudity in the Garden of Eden was part of a “silent alarm” system. In other words, the Father knew that as soon as the children recognized their nakedness, He would immediately know that they had eaten the forbidden fruit. Of course, our Heavenly Father would have known anyway, but this way Adam is forced to admit the reason he’s suddenly behaving differently. So, maybe the point of leaving Adam and Eve in the Garden naked was like putting a dye pack into a bank robber’s bag. (It’s an imperfect analogy, I know, because I don’t think of Adam and Eve as common criminals… but my point is…) Once that dye pack explodes, there’s no denying what happened and we have to deal with the consequences. Or… another imperfect analogy: If you’ve got someone in custody in the middle of nowhere and you want to make sure he can’t do too much even if he escapes, you don’t let him have shoes.

    So, is nudity an essential part of any paradise or some kind of more-perfect way to exist in Heaven? Based on what I pondered today, no.

    And, next time you’re in the temple, examine exactly what the Father says when Adam admits to hiding.

  86. GBSmith
    April 11, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Since much of what’s discussed comes down to personal experience, mine has been much the same as AdamF mentioned above. When you’re around normal people that are naked you just don’t see them in a sexual way. I know that’s a generalization but that’s been my experience both in my profession and in a nudist setting. People like myself that have commented favorably about nudism have had positive experiences and just want others to know that we’re not bad people or engaged in sin. It’s very likely that no minds will be changed about this but it would be nice for children to be able to grow up with a more healthy acceptance of their bodies and I think that that is one definite result of nudism.

    As to Jen’s comments above about setting yourself and your children up for trouble later, Alan’s and others who’ve commented have not seen that to be a problem. I think people concerned about the negative effects of nudism are looking at it from a position of fear and insecurity about what other’s, especially in the church, would say or do if they knew. If your home is a closed door house, which is fine, the prospect of suddenly declaring it clothing optional is pretty weird to think about and is never going to happen. But if that’s the way you raise your children, then I personally think that they’ll grow up with a more healthy view of their bodies and not automatically link nudity with sexuality in a negative way. I know it’s all anecdotes and I’m sure there’s some sociologist somewhere that’s tried to study it.

    I guess as a final work I’d echo the sentiment, “when in doubt don’t”, because as you know, guilt, real or imagined is a bitch and as we used to say about my second mission president, “he didn’t tell me, I didn’t ask”.

  87. Greg
    April 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I wanted to get away from citing the temple so much. So just read Moses 4:13-17 to get the gist of what I was pondering today.

    Maybe the reason this discussion is doing such a poor job of changing my mind is that I’m sensing such extremes. My wife and I don’t accept the concept of Naturism. But we also weren’t raised in homes that gave us “baggage” or “body image issues” or guilt to overcome. Adjusting to married life and the newness of nudity was quite easy for both of us. From my perspective, some people in this discussion have addressed extremes in their upbringing by embracing the opposite extremes. I fail to see the need.

    I mean, society makes nudity too sexy, so the answer is to make it so that nudity doesn’t seem sexy at all? I don’t know if my wife would appreciate me saying, “Your nudity isn’t sexy. Aren’t you glad I’m so mature about this?” And she certainly isn’t keen on the idea that, “Since nudity isn’t sexy, I’m going to a place where we can be around hundreds of naked people.” Nope. She’s not that open-minded. But I love her anyway.

  88. Ray
    April 11, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I just got back from the temple with my son, as he went for the first time. As part of that experience, the Temple President talked with my son in the main office (both before and after the endowment session) about the overall experience, the temple, his upcoming mission and the covenants my son would be making / had made. As part of that instruction, he had my son read specific instructions from the First Presidency about wearing the garment.

    I won’t go into detail, but, while I understand the “naturist” views being presented here, and while my wife and I are MUCH more open than our parents were and many members are in the privacy of our own bedroom, I came away from the meetings today with my son with a crystal clear understanding that our Temple President and the “Brethren” would not be arguing for the type of public nudism being defended here.

    I’m not saying we will be clothed eternally; I’m not saying being nude is wrong or evil; I’m not saying regular exposure to nudity can’t de-sexualize nudity; I’m not saying much of what passes as swimwear in our modern society (or South Beach) is better than full nudity; I’m not saying much of anything except . . .

    I came out of the temple today having sat in on two meetings where this very topic was discussed without being discussed directly. I mean that. The meeting included aspects that DIRECTLY addressed this post and thread without mentioning it. I came out of those meetings absolutely convinced that “The Church” (meaning the authorities who set world-wide church policy [not doctrine, but policy]) doesn’t support the type of public nudity that is being espoused here.

    I’m ok with that, particularly since I believe I and my own kids are EVERY bit as “well-adjusted” when it comes to our bodies and sexuality as the naturists who are commenting here and their kids are. Iow, I don’t think nudism is necessary to be well-adjusted in this area, so I will go with the counsel of our current apostles and prophets, expressed directly in a letter to newly endowed members, delivered by the Temple Presidents.

    I also heard, however, that the specifics of the decisions as to how to honor the garment are left to the individuals who wear them to decide – not that anything they decide is right or good, but that the responsibility rests with the individual not a checklist from the church. So, to each his own – understanding that choices that appear to be in conflict with the general counsel carry with them the need to make sure they are inspired and not just desired – divinely directed and not just good ideas. This is one case where, lacking STRONG personal revelation, I choose to “play it safe” and remain within the general guidelines I read and heard today.

  89. April 11, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Which temple do you attend, Ray?

    Congratulations on your son’s endowment, by the way.

  90. Jen
    April 11, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    #86- “I think people concerned about the negative effects of nudism are looking at it from a position of fear and insecurity about what other’s, especially in the church, would say or do if they knew.”

    That would not be true for me. I do what I feel is best for my family and children based on what I feel is the Lord’s will, not because I fear what others might say or do in relation to me. I believe that if a person truly wants to know what the Lord thinks and seeks after Him to know what that is….he WILL find out. That is the wonderful thing about having a personal relationship with the Lord. Because our children are truly His children first, He knows them best, He knows where they are going and what they need to get there. We are entitled to personal revelation concerning them. Maybe nudism would not affect one child negatively, but it could affect another very negatively, depending on their personality and other factors. Because the Lord knows how things will affect our children we must be very careful about what we choose to expose them to and recognize that we don’t get to go back and do it over. I believe when it comes to children it is always best to “play it safe” rather than to take chances. Is that based on fear and insecurity? Absolutely not. The Lord gives us boundaries and guidelines and we are free to move within those. When we start to move outside of them then we are taking chances with His children and had better hope that He has given us the direction to do so, otherwise, it may be something we come to regret later.

    I personally don’t think the Lord desires for us to see other men and women naked in a public setting on the beach. What would the purpose be? How is it bringing a person closer to the Lord, to their family and children? IMO, healthy sexuality is taught by open discussion about sex, puberty, etc. and continuous discussion as a child grows, not by allowing them to see naked people at a beach.

  91. Ray
    April 11, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    #89 – Columbus, OH

    Hopefully, that will be Cincinnati, OH soon.

  92. April 11, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I’m not saying we will be clothed eternally; I’m not saying being nude is wrong or evil; I’m not saying regular exposure to nudity can’t de-sexualize nudity; I’m not saying much of what passes as swimwear in our modern society (or South Beach) is better than full nudity; I’m not saying much of anything except . . .

    But we will be clothed eternally in the garment of light, which is what surrounded Moroni when he appeared.

  93. Cowboy
    April 12, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Jay:

    I think you pegged me pretty well, your right I’m not convinced. Doctrinally speaking I think we could sum the issue up just fine with Ray’s experience (#88).

  94. April 12, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Well, it looks like I’ve got some catch up to do…

    Ray> Alan, do you believe what you describe is possible for those who
    Ray> do not embrace your nudist views

    Yes, but with limitations.

    In insisting upon not being seen naked even by those you supposedly trust, and in refusing to see (and accept) a loved one in their most vulnerable and naked state, you are withholding or restricting some of your openness. This is the “barrier” that I began to describe earlier in this thread.

    From Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden to today’s refusal to share group showers in school, clothing becomes symbolic of separation. Clothing separates rich from poor, authority from layman, royalty from commoners, and so forth. In a family it separates us from each other, isolating us.

    I remember when I was younger how I used to bathe with my older sisters. I enjoyed having company in the bath, and the camaraderie that we shared. At some point, that changed. I remember the last time we bathed together, I was instructed to sit at the front of the train and face forward, and not look back. I was puzzled by this, and curiosity got the best of me. I did turn around, and was sharply scolded for it (I take it my oldest sister was starting to develop breasts, and believed she was supposed to be ashamed of them.)

    Just like that, I was expelled from the garden (the bath) and was no longer allowed that association that I loved. I’ve heard from many, many people about their grief at having been “expelled from the Garden” – when their parents or siblings or others began to wall themselves off from each other, by insisting on being covered.

    So, even if a family does manage to reach a certain level of closeness, openness, and acceptance, I believe that they are still holding back, if they are not able to be vulnerably naked together, in wholesome everyday situations. Also, I believe that whatever premise they give to excuse their walling themselves off from each other is offensively dishonest. It cheapens the relationship between them, by placing dogma and taboos above their relationship with their loved ones.

    Ray> and do you see the inherent tension many might perceive in something
    Ray> you label as “naturist” – when there is a strong negative view of
    Ray> “the natural man” woven into Mormonism?

    It’s unfortunate that some LDS members have a distrust of things that are “natural” because of that one scripture. Certainly the “unnatural man” isn’t God’s ally.

  95. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Jen #82: “In relation to removing the mystery I can honestly say that I would have appreciated the mystery when I was growing up over seeing my dad naked when he chose to parade around after showering… but that is just my personal”

    It’s interesting how the word “parade” always comes up in these conversatinos. It’s as if one is unable to imagine behaving decently when naked, and assumes that if one is seen naked by others, that they must be putting on a show.

    Jen, If you don’t mind me suggesting a reason why you might feel this way, I would venture to guess it’s because society has told you that seeing your father naked is weird and gross. Our kids see their mother and father naked every day of thier lives and think nothing of it. In fact, a while ago we mentined to them that most familes are embarased to see each other naked, and in respoinse they were utterly confused. “Huh!?!?” they said with daft looks of confusion. “Why would they feel that way?”

    Nobody in our home “parades” when naked. :-) When the course of normal life calls for nudity, we just simply don’t see any reason to hide. Sunday mornings are a good example… our main upstairs bathroom becomes Grand Central as we all get in and out of our (glass walled) shower, dad shaves, mom and daughter do hair, we all get dressed, etc. Getting ready for church is a family event, and it’s fun and harmonious.

    I compare this to the family in which I grew up… we only had one bathroom with a shower and there were seven kids. A line formed outside the bathroom and there was always someone pounding on the locked door saying “HURRY UP IN THERE!” I look back now and think, “Why didn’t we just open the door and share the bathroom, for goodness sake!”

    I could relate story after story after story in which our kids, ages 10 and 8, have shown an incredible amount of body maturity, much more so then their friends (both LDS and non) who’s parents have a no-nudity policy at home. Our kids are at a loss when other kids crack jokes about body parts, and stare with blank expressions while others laugh and giggle. And this only scratches the surface of the evidence we have seen.

    From my POV, and that of my wife’s, there is no quesiton that having an Open-Door policy as our kids grow up is the right way to go.

  96. April 12, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Darren> I’m on board with the idea that our bodies are not shameful. What
    Darren> keeps me away from a nude beach is not a belief that our bodies are
    Darren> yucky or sinful, but the opposite. I choose to not visit a nude beach
    Darren> out of respect for my body, and for the bodies of my wife and kids.

    At the time of the restoration of our Church, the Protestant notion about the human body was that it was inherently evil, fallen, dust of the earth, and unworthy – hence, it should be covered. Joseph Smith preached rather that our bodies were sacred, and of divine in origin. What did the people do? Cover them anyway, saying that it was due to sacredness instead.

    The stated motive for covering our bodies may have changed, but the result is the same. Covering our bodies does nothing to redeem them, honor them, or improve them.

    Darren> Shouldn’t we opt to wear swimsuits at a beach out of respect for
    Darren> the sacred nature of our bodies?

    Sure – if it were true. In what ways does a swimsuit help us with respect? Where did the idea of a swimsuit come from in the first place?

    Darren> I like the idea that nobody but my wife (exceptions for the doctor,
    Darren> etc.) sees me naked, and me her. It’s a privilege we reserve for
    Darren> each other, and which we are not willing to share with any stranger
    Darren> on the beach.

    Your nudity is a shared thing – that’s unavoidable. You’ve just chosen that you’ll only share it with your doctor, your wife, the occasional man at the gym shower, and eventually the funeral workers who will be handling your body.

    In reality, it’s your sexuality (or at least the full expression of it) that you reserve only for your spouse. You’re just conflating the two (nudity and sexuality) and applying restrictions to both at once. But your doctor doesn’t really share in your sexuality – just the occasional nudity.

  97. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    #83 Adam: “While I have not been to a certified nude beach, I have been to Europe a few times. Honestly, it was not a spiritual experience to be around nude women on a beach (not to take away from anyone who says otherwise), but I did realize that a woman in a tiny bikini is MORE distracting than a topless one. On that I can agree with the naturalists. I also agree that once I had that experience, the curiosity regarding mammaries certainly decreased.”

    This is a VERY important discovery. I had a similar experience when I was 14….

    When I was 14 our family took a trip to southern France. It was August and it was HOT! When we first arrived at the beach and we were still in the parking lot when I noticed a teenage girl walking away from me wearing a bikini bottom but no top. I wondered how she was covering her breats, and then she turned around and I realized with all the estatic delight of a horny 14 year old American boy who had never seen real breasts in his life… THEY WERE NOT COVERED!!

    I stared in unabshed delight, only slightly worried that my parents might notice me feasting my eyes and call me to repentance, or make my put a bag over my head. After the initial shock wore off, I tried to apply meaning to this topless girl. She had forgotten her top in the car and had come back to get it? No… she would never have gone so long without finding some way to cover up. Her top had been ripped off by a wave and she was heading back to her car to hide? No… she was in far to little of a hurry. She was a prostitute? No… she was too young and innocent looking. What then? Why was she not wearing a top?!?!?

    As I was still trying to apply meaning to this topless teenage girl, I began to look around the parking lot and as I did so I spotted a mother ushering her kids into the car. She too was topless!!! What was going on here!!! Although her breasts lacked the attractive form and shape of the teenage girl, I could not help staring in awe and disbelief. Then I spotted another topless girl, then another, and another! Good grief! It was a pandemic!

    NO WAY my conservative parents would let me out of the car! I knew all too well how they felt about naked bodies, and there was no WAY they were going to let me loose with all of these rank and rampant topless women about. I sat in the back of our van trying to spot as many boobs as I could before my dad started the van, reved the engine, squealed the tires, and raced us away from this sinful place.

    But it never happened. In fact, they never said a word. I spent the day on the beach looking at hundred if not thousands of topless females. I learned a lot that day, but it can all boil down to this:

    1) Topless women are not as sexy as I had thought they would be. Even the good looking ones. In fact, when topless women are just enjoing a day at the beach, they are not sexy at all. Even the good looking ones.

    2) Pornography is a lie.

    These were good lessons for a 14 year old kid to learn.

  98. April 12, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Ray> Yes, Satan was the one who brought nakedness to Adam’s and Eve’s awareness
    Ray> and told them to hide (who attached shame to it), but God is the one who
    Ray> told them to fashion aprons and cover their nakedness with clothing

    Actually, God told Jehovah to clothe them – which I believe is a critical distinction. They weren’t commanded to get dressed. Jehovah was commanded to clothe them – in what? In the skins of slain animals. Not cotton, not wool, not fig leaves.

    Ray> I believe specifically because of the temptations that would exist in
    Ray> the lone and dreary world they were about to enter.

    That’s an interesting theory – though there should be no undue temptation in their mere nudity, if they were husband and wife, right? I also find it incongruent that God would concern himself with more with Adam and Eve’s clothing upon their exit from the Garden than with their food, water, and shelter. I don’t think that anything temporal or terrestrial was involved here.

    I believe, rather, that when Jehovah clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of slain animals it was a “type” of the Atonement which was yet to come. Their “nakedness” in this situation was metaphorical of their unworthiness – not their mere nudity. (There are actually 3 words in the source Hebrew used in Genesis that translate to “naked” in the KJV.)

    Adam and Eve weren’t clothed to keep them modest, but to show that they could be redeemed by the Atonement. It’s a private interpretation, but I feel good about it.

  99. Ray
    April 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    So, in essence, Alan, you reacted to one extreme (the overly-restrictive one in which you were raised) by adopting the other extreme (the totally non-restrictive one you found in naturism).

    Is that a fair conclusion? Can you see how someone who is VERY open about nudity and sexuality in their own home and with their own children can not like either extreme – and feel that either extreme is going too far from “modesty”?

    Fwiw, I’ve also known people who were raised in nudist environments who were REALLY screwed up when it comes to sexuality.

    As I said, to each his own.

  100. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    #87 Greg: “I don’t know if my wife would appreciate me saying, “Your nudity isn’t sexy. Aren’t you glad I’m so mature about this?” ”

    You do make a good point here. But I also think you are missing the point we and others are trying to make. The goal of being a naturist is not to make nudity un-sexual, it’s to put you in charge of when it’s sexual and when it’s not. For too many, all nudity is sexual all the time, and we excuse becoming aroused at the sight of nudity on sheer biology. “I can’t help it, I’m only a man.”

    The idea of a nude beach is disconcerting to many North American Christians because we assume it must be a lust-ridden flesh feast at worst, or at best a place where common modesty has been set aside. I think the point trying to be made is that’s it’s neither.

  101. Jay
    April 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    @Jen’s #90:

    I was with you through about the first half of your big paragraph. But then it looked like you started to project your own fears and worries onto us. I appreciate the concern, but if you really believe the first part of your paragraph, then let it apply to us as well, and please don’t be concerned. We’ve done everything you describe in order to know what’s best for our kids.

    Your last paragraph tells me that you really are more uncomfortable with the whole idea of communal nudity, at a very visceral level, than your earlier posts suggested. And that’s okay, I understand. But please allow for the possibility that others just may not feel that discomfort and that they really can look at such situations exactly as I’ve described. As far as the Lord not wanting us to see others on a nude beach, well, I think that’s something He’s left up to us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this, it is that context and attitude are everything. You may simply not be able to believe my description of that day, but I assure it was absolutely true for all of us. The benefits I see for the children are increased personal confidence, respect for others, an ability to look at others as whole people for who they are inside and not obsess about their appearance, a realization that (as Bryan said) pornography is a lie, a greater sense of connection to this magnificent world that God gave us, and a feeling of greater trust and closeness within the family since we are all willing to be so completely vulnerable with each other. What about any of those would the Lord not want us to have?

    @Cowboy’s #93:

    Not surprised. That’s fine. But Ray’s #88 has nothing to do with doctrine. It’s personal perspectives of current Church leaders who make policy. And what you refer to is not even official policy, actually. The actual policy is that how one wears the garment is a personal decision between the person and the Lord. All else is commentary.

    @Ray’s #99:

    We aren’t “extreme” in our house at least. We’re like Bryan’s family; we are clothed most of the time and don’t enforce nudity at any time. But if nudity happens in the course of normal life, NBD. The kids know that modesty is an attitude, it’s not a dress code. As to people who were raised in nudist environments who were really screwed up re sexuality, that just proves the point which seems to challenge so many who are skeptical about nude beaches, etc.: sexuality and nudity are NOT the same thing. There are plenty of people raised in totally clothed environments who are just as screwed up sexually, more, proportionally speaking. So it’s not the nudity or the clothing that does that. You’ve actually confirmed Alan’s point.

  102. April 12, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Greg> why are so many scriptural heroes so obsessed with clothing the naked?

    Keeping this in context, it’s usually: food, shelter, clothing (not necessarily in that order or priority). All are temporal needs, not spiritual or moral ones. When we clothe the naked, it’s not to make them more modest or chaste. It’s to provide for the needs they can’t provide for themselves. In New Testament times the truly poorest of humans would be lacking in at least those three resources. (They would have traded their last set of clothing for a few more days of food, in all likelihood.)

    Greg> Alan… You admit that talking about your Naturism in your own ward
    Greg> and stake can be problematic. To me, that’s a red flag.

    Yes, I readily admit that it is more difficult to talk about naturism with people in your local units than anyone else. The reason is simple: Mormons “look out for” each other. One of the three-part mission of the Church is to “Perfect the Saints” – something that can get out of hand, at times, when we look for imperfections (real or perceived) to correct in each other.

    One of our Mormon weaknesses is a suspicion of anything that is out of the ordinary. But we’re more tolerant of it in other LDS members if they live outside the reaches of our own wards and stakes. Or perhaps more apathetic about it, as the case may be.

    The other problem is the LDS grapevine, which travels more quickly inside of a ward, and sometimes a stake. It’s hard enough for an LDS naturist to explain their position to those unfamiliar with it – much harder for others to articulate it fairly in our absence.

  103. Jen
    April 12, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    #95 “If you don’t mind me suggesting a reason why you might feel this way, I would venture to guess it’s because society has told you that seeing your father naked is weird and gross.”

    First of all, my comment about my dad was in jest, but there was some truth to it as well. You can suggest that society told me that seeing my father naked is weird and gross, but I would disagree. I don’t remember anyone teaching me that nudity was weird and gross, but I do remember being taught about the sacredness of our bodies, and the importance of being modest. Because I was given the gift of the Holy Ghost at age 8, I learned to trust in that gift. I learned to trust when things made me feel uncomfortable and why. I never felt it was right to see my dad naked and I never had any interest in seeing my parents naked, in fact, I could care less. The person I enjoy seeing naked is my husband and the fact that I haven’t seen my parents, siblings, and loads of others naked makes it that much more sacred to me because he is not just another naked body.

    “Our kids see their mother and father naked every day of thier lives and think nothing of it”

    May I suggest that they may think nothing of it now, but I do know of a situation very close to me where a boy’s mother was openly naked in the home a lot and not only did he NOT develop healthy sexual attitudes, he ended up molesting several young girls as a teenager. Her open nudity policy contributed to these behaviors. Of course there are going to be situations where teenagers choose to do that when they are raised in no-nudity homes as well, but an open nudity policy is not insurance against teenagers acting out sexually. You may surprised when you meet your new children that arrive around 13, 14 and 15. It is quite an experience.

    “Getting ready for church is a family event, and it’s fun and harmonious”

    IMO, anyone who has been a member long enough and had to get children ready for church or just get children to church period will not believe this for a second! :D

  104. Jen
    April 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    #101-”As far as the Lord not wanting us to see others on a nude beach, well, I think that’s something He’s left up to us.”

    Like I said in my earlier post, I am new to this whole thought process in the LDS church. I would like to understand what the difference is to you between being told to stay away from pornography and going to a nude beach? I am asking these questions sincerely. Is it because one tends to be done in secret and the other is not? Or is it because one tends to be driven by sexual arousal and the other is driven by…. what?? This is where you lose me. I don’t understand what the PURPOSE of it is.

    I have been able to teach my children not to obsess about their appearance and have done so successfully. I also have been able to teach them about pornography and the falsehoods involved in it. They have been very vulnerable in front of me when they have shared diffcult feelings and experiences and we have a lot of respect for one another. That is why I am still lost about the purpose of open nudity in this process. I also am curious if you live in this manner openly, meaning are members of your ward aware (especially your bishop) that you go to nude beaches, etc.? If they are aware of it, I would really like to know how your bishop feels about it. I know that some are much more open minded than others, so I wonder if yours is or not.

    I hope these questions come across as they are intended because I truly don’t understand your thought process. I have a background in child and adolescent behavior and have worked with troubled youth so I am no stranger to the study of human development, behaviors, etc. I think what I may be struggling with is not necessarily your thought process in and of itself, but your thought process WITHIN the context of the gospel. Something doesn’t gel with me and I know it isn’t my own fear or insecurity. I think part of what may be different about you and me is our definition of what inappropriate is and isn’t. You mentioned in your earlier post (in relation to your experience at the nude beach) that you didn’t have one inappropriate thought. Maybe our definitions of “inappropriate thoughts” are quite different? Your experience at the nude beach seemed a little too “utopian” for me. I don’t tend to believe anyone who says things are perfect, there are no issues or problems whatsoever, my kids are angels, etc. That to me is truly a red flag. EVERYONE has problems and issues, even if they don’t want to admit to them. One thing I really wonder about is if the Lord has directed you in this manner with your family, why is He not doing it with a greater amount of members of the church as well? I am sure that is something that you have considered because you have mentioned that you have done all of that in relation to the Lord, but does it not make you the slightest bit curious as to why so many more don’t adhere to this philosophy in the church? I appreciate the time you take to respond to my questions.

  105. Ray
    April 12, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    #101 – Jay, you said:

    Ray’s #88 has nothing to do with doctrine. It’s personal perspectives of current Church leaders who make policy.

    That, in a nutshell, is where we differ. I understand the difference between policy and doctrine, and I understand the danger of equating the two and accepting policy in the same realm as doctrine – but in this case I have a hard time separating the doctrine from the policy in the way you and Alan are. At the most fundamental level, I have the same issue as Jen articulated in her last comment – that I don’t understand the UNIQUE purpose of public nudism. I understand the purpose you and Alan are expressing; what I don’t understand is why you think that the outcome is unique or special or more appropriate within “naturism” – especially when, again, that can’t be supported scripturally.

    I’ve already said, “To each his own” – and I believe that. I’m just saying Mormon nudists are consciously setting aside the teachings and opinions and interpretations and beliefs of ALL modern apostles and prophets – and I wish they would admit that openly as they discuss their choices. Again, that alone doesn’t mean they are “wrong” or “evil” – but not admitting it upfront undermines their arguments within Mormon communities.

    Summary:

    It’s NOT “personal perspectives of current Church leaders who make policy”. It’s “personal perspectives of (all) Church leaders who (have made) policy (since the founding of the Church in 1830).”

  106. April 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Cowboy> I also have a hard accepting that adults who have been raised in
    Cowboy> the same world I have can just suddenly turn of the sexuality switch,

    There’s nothing sudden about it. The same restraint that you use when you see women in swimsuits applies when you see them nude. You, I, and the next guy are all able to restrain ourselves just as easily in clothed situations as in nude ones. Perhaps more so in the nude situations, because of our desire to counter the societal misconception of impropriety in nude situations.

    We’re all sexual creatures – but we don’t let it overcome us. Swimsuits, however, are a constant reminder of our sexual nature – by outlining and thus placing focus on the body parts that we traditionally associate with sexuality. Nudists diffuse that breast/genital focus so that you see the whole person, not a person divided into sexual/non-sexual zones. The focus on sexual versus non-sexual is not as prevalent.

    Cowboy> A case might be made for Allan Palmer with regards to his kids
    Cowboy> who have been raised in a nudist enviroment, but I think that
    Cowboy> would be an exception to the American rule.

    It’s not so exceptional – only that relatively few have attempted it. Our kids have the benefit of never having been taught body-shame at home. But those who have can reverse the body-shame with which they were raised without too much difficulty.

  107. April 12, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Jen,

    I would like to understand what the difference is to you between being told to stay away from pornography and going to a nude beach?

    If someone goes to a nude beach to lust after naked people, I think there is little if any difference. But that’s not why most people go to nude beaches. At least, that’s not why most people who take their clothes off at nude beaches go there.

  108. Jen
    April 12, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    kuri-

    Why do most people go to nude beaches? And if you ask a person why they go to a nude beach and they really are going there to lust after naked people, are they really going to tell you that?

  109. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    ME: Getting ready for church is a family event, and it’s fun and harmonious

    JEN: IMO, anyone who has been a member long enough and had to get children ready for church or just get children to church period will not believe this for a second!

    ME: I’m sorry you don’t believe me. You are welcome to come hang out at our house any Sunday morning.

  110. Jen
    April 12, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Bryan-

    I was really trying to be funny! I have 7 children that I am dealing with every Sunday though, so that may be a big part of the difference and why I find what you said funny. I didn’t mean for you to take it seriously…..my apologies. :D

  111. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    JEN: I would like to understand what the difference is to you between being told to stay away from pornography and going to a nude beach?

    ME: Bingo! You just hit upon THE key point! What a sad and terrible thing to believe that the human body is pornographic. Jen, I am *not* calling you, or anything about you sad and terrible. But what you have just suggest here is a very terrible thing… that there is no difference between looking at a naked body in pornography and seeing a naked body at a nude beach.

    Pornography is a lie. It is a creation of evil men who exploit the human body to make themselves rich. The models have been starved and surgically cut to look unnatural. They are photographed in a way that is overtly sexual. Everything about porn is design to illicit an emotional, sexual reaction in the hopes of separating you, or more likely your husband and your sons, from their money

    God does not create pornography, and yet he is the creator of the human body. There is nothing pornographic in the least about the real, honest human body. The sad truth about pornography is that we ALL fall into the trap of thinking that the human body is pornographic, and thus we ask the question, “how is REAL nudity (ie: a nude beach) any different then watching or viewing pornography?” The truth is Jen, they could not possibly be more different. See my post above (#97) about my trip to a topless beach at the age of 14.

    Both LDS doctrine and naturism teach this one simple truth: The human body is a divine, sacred creation. Both pornography and traditional fundamentalist Christianity teach this one simple lie: The human body is carnal, lustful, and always sexual.

    I am impressed that are sticking around and asking these kinds of questions, Jen. It shows an open mind. Good for you!

  112. April 12, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I would think that most people who go to nude beaches and keep their clothes on probably go to lust after the naked people. I would also think that the ones who go there and take their clothes off go mostly for the kinds of reasons Alan has been talking about. I don’t see any reason not to believe him.

  113. Ray
    April 12, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    “Both LDS doctrine and naturism teach this one simple truth: The human body is a divine, sacred creation. Both pornography and traditional fundamentalist Christianity teach this one simple lie: The human body is carnal, lustful, and always sexual.”

    I agree with that completely, and it needs to be understood by every Mormon in the world – but it doesn’t convince me that I should believe in public nudism. :)

    “I am impressed that are sticking around and asking these kinds of questions, Jen. It shows an open mind. Good for you!”

    That, however, I find a bit disturbing – simply for the implication that those who are not participating or who have decided naturism is not for them (or a proper standard for all) are closed-minded. That might not be what you meant, Bryan – but it is an easy meaning to read into it.

  114. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    JEN:

    I have been able to teach my children not to obsess about their appearance and have done so successfully. I also have been able to teach them about pornography and the falsehoods involved in it. They have been very vulnerable in front of me when they have shared difficult feelings and experiences and we have a lot of respect for one another. That is why I am still lost about the purpose of open nudity in this process.

    MY REPLY:

    I guess I could say, “I am still lost about the purpose of closed nudity in this process”.

    What is being advocated here is a tool. Not the only tool, not the silver bullet tool… just a tool. Open nudity alone will neither turn a child into a sinner not a saint. Closed nudity is the same. In many cases, raising a child in a home where nudity is hidden results in happy, healthy, self confident children. But in many cases it also results in premature pregnancies, addictions to porn, and other even more serious problems. You have cited cases where children raised in homes where open nudity existed ended up with very real sexual problems as well. If sexually troubled kids can come from both types of homes, then the key factor does not seem to be the existence or lack of open nudity.

    This is so important it’s worth saying again: If sexually troubled kids can come from both types of homes, then the key factor does not seem to be the existence or lack of open nudity.

    My parents did everything right according to “the book”. They taught and testified on a daily basis and instilled in me a great love for the Gospel, a love for the scriptures, and yes, even an understanding of chastity, modesty, and respect for the human body. Yet I still stumbled as a youth. By the time I was 14 and went to the topless beach in France I had seen more porn then any child should ever see. (There was a boy down the street the same age as me who’s dad had a subscription to PlayBoy and he knew where their stash was. This dad later committed adultery and the boy was a father before we graduated from high school.) By the time I was 18 I had been to the Bishop’s office to confess sexual sins multiple times. I managed to stay a virgin until my honeymoon, but only just barely. Open nudity was never a part of our home.

    Do you want to know the number one factor that drove me to look at the porn offered by the boy down the street? It was not hormones. It was not sexual desire. It was not lust. It was….

    Curiosity.

    I looked because I wanted to know one simple thing: What do girls look like?

    The result contained two serious problems: 1) My hormones liked what I saw and I soon learned that looking once was not enough. 2) What I was seeing was not real nudity. It was a lie.

    My wife and I have opted to use all the tool our parents used, plus one: Open, safe, real, honest, chaste, modest nudity in an open, safe, real, honest, chaste, modest setting. We do not “parade around naked”, we do not invlove our kids in sex, and we do not howl at the moon naked in the back yard. (Being silly to make a point, of course!) I understand 100% that this seems an extreme tool to those not familiar with it, but now that we have been doing it for ten years, hiding nudity in unnatural ways by mandating it be kept behind closed doors…. well, to be honest, that now seems extreme to us.

  115. Ray
    April 12, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Bryan, do you go to nude beaches? Are you nude “in public”?

    You said you are not nudist to the extent that Alan is, so I’m curious as to what that means.

  116. Jen
    April 12, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Bryan-

    “What a sad and terrible thing to believe that the human body is pornographic.”

    I don’t remember ever saying that the human body is pornographic. My question was based on the statement that Jay made about going to a nude beach and the Lord leaving that up to us to decide. I personally believe the Lord HAS given us direction in this area. Just so you know, I don’t believe the human body is pornographic, and I do believe it is beautiful and sacred. Where we differ is that I believe the Lord does NOT intend for us to see random people naked (and this is obviously not including doctors, etc.) for NO PURPOSE at all, i.e. nude beaches. I am well educated with pornography, the lies and falsehoods involved with it and that there is much more to it than just looking at naked bodies.

    I have a question for you. If you were to run into a GA tomorrow and ask him if nude beaches were ok to go to as an active member of the church can you honestly say that he would say yes? Just as you mention pornography being a lie, are you sure that you aren’t just trying to justify nude beaches as ok because you consider your “intentions” as being different that those looking at pornography? Naked is naked right? So if your intentions are “good” when going to the nude beach, meaning you are viewing God’s creations, rather than “bad”, meaning you are looking to lust and be sexually aroused, then it is ok? It is easy to point back to me to justify your thinking but really I think you should take a look back at your own rationalization. The reality is one of the main reasons I have such a deeply fulfilling physical and spiritual relationship with my husband is BECAUSE there are boundaries and because we have kept our “nakedness” only for one another. You have pegged me very wrong if you think I view the human body as pornographic, I find deep pleasure in the human body, but it is in the context of the relationship that has been ordained by God. To me, you take away a segment of that when you view others in their nakedness in randomness and for no reason at all. I would venture to say that you won’t find a general authority who would agree with what you have to say about it. If you really believe they are witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ then that should mean something to you.

  117. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Sure Ray. Good question.

    I’ve never been to a nude beach, but I am not opposed and would if the opportunity came up. We live in Minnesota and there are no nude beaches any where even remotely close to us. We have never made it a priority to go to one, but my wife has indicated she would go with me if and when we ever happen to be near one. I honestly don’t see us making a nude beach or resort the primary purpose of a vacation, but we do have good (active LDS) friends who live near them, who go from time to time, and who have offered a dozen times to take us if we come visit.

    I have, however, been skinny dipping (or skinny soaking?) at Diamond Forks Hot Springs in mixed company. My wife was not with me on this trip to Utah but she knew about my outing to Diamond Form with some friends, gave her approval, and was anxious to hear about it when I got back into cell range.

    A couple summers ago we did go to a clothing optional resort about a half hour from our house, just to see what it was like. We stayed for about two hours, never took our clothes off, and met some wonderfully kind, warm, friendly, and perfectly modest nudists. On the way home my wife commented that she did not feel even remotely that she would have a hard time taking the sacrament for any reason the next day, and that the people had been good, warm, wholesome people who could easily have been LDS. (We live in MN, remember, where maybe 00.001% of the population is Mormon.) The resort, sadly, was a but of a dump, no more then a trailer park with a small swimming pool, and I don’t see us going back any time soon, if at all… not because there were naked people, or because we would be expected to be naked, but because if we are going to go someplace where we can swim (with or without suits), we’d like it to be a nice place. Had it been a bit classier, I think it’s safe to say we would have gone back a couple times by now and brought our kids with us, but it would never be our primary source of recreation.

    So all in all I suppose you would say that we are nudists in name only, and not practice (although as stated, nudity at home is no issue). We are not opposed to it, but have not embraced it either. I’ve never met Alan but I know of him and we have communicated via email a few times. I admire and respect how he is raising his family. His level of dedication to being a nudist is several steps above where we are. Jay and I, on the other hand, are close friends. His kids are close in age to ours and he is not stretching the truth when he talks about what fantastic kids they are. He is fortunate enough to live much closer to nude beaches and some world class clothing optional resorts and would love (if we can get out there) to host us at either. One thing he has not said here, and I hope he does not mind me saying so, is that his kids are often the driving force behind family trips to nude beaches or clothing optional resorts. They LOVE going to them! I’ve also met the family he mentioned with whom his family spent a day at a nude beach… never have you met a more posterchild candidate for the classic LDS Peter Priesthood and Molly Mormon family! (and I mean that in a good way)

    By way of full disclosure, I am the creator of http://www.ldssdf.org. I launched it several years ago because I had a thousand questions surrounding nudism and how (if at all) it could ever fit into the LDS religion. I found Alan’s site (www.ldssdc.info), read it top to bottom, but still had questions. I searched ways to have in-depth dialogs with active LDS members who were also nudists, and finding no way to have any, I launched the forum on Saturday afternoon. It has enabled me to answer all of my questions and many others I never would have thought to ask. While my purposes in starting it have long been meet, I leave it open so that others have a way to have questions answered as well. It has taken on a life of it’s own, and I’ve come to be familiar with Mormon families all over the country who are nudists from one degree or another…. some like me and my family, some like Alan’s family, and every shade inbetween.

    Ok, so… my reply was a lot longer then I thought it would be. Sorry! And if you are in the Central Time Zone, Easter will be over in three minutes. Happy Easter everyone!

  118. Bryan
    April 12, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    RAY:

    That, however, I find a bit disturbing – simply for the implication that those who are not participating or who have decided naturism is not for them (or a proper standard for all) are closed-minded. That might not be what you meant, Bryan – but it is an easy meaning to read into it.

    MY REPLY:

    I’m really glad you said that so that I can try again. You are right in saying this is not what meant. I expect you and Jen and others here who are asking questions will never go to a nude beach. And that, of course, is okay! I only meant that it’s refreshing to have a dialog about it with people who are asking honest questions. What I’m used to is more of a stubborn attitude of “You are wrong and I am right, end of discussion.”

    I love having conversations with people who think differently then I do. I strive to reach a point where I can honestly say, “I may not agree with you, but I feel at least that I understand your position and how you arrive at your conclusions, and if I had to, I understand your ideas well enough to explain them to others as well.” One might say it’s a bit of a passion of mine to have friendly conversations with people who think differently, to challenge their beliefs, and to have mine challenged in return.

    It seems to me that you are of a similar mind? You have no intention of becoming a nudist, and I respect that, but yet you are willing to have a conversation about it in an attempt to understand.

    That, to me, is impressive.

  119. Ray
    April 12, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Fwiw, Alan and Bryan and Jay (and Jen and others), I also understand totally the apparent double standard involved with public bath houses (with which I have personal experience from my time as a missionary in Japan), group showers (with which I have extensive experience from my time as an athlete and coach), the kind of behind the scenes partial nudity that accompanies many theatrical productions (with which I have experience through three of my sons who are or will major in some filed related to theater and were involved in performance show choirs throughout high school) and nude beaches. I also understand totally the definite double standard involved with MANY of the band-aid modifications that pass as swimsuits in our modern culture and nude beaches. That last double standard, however, is one reason I avoid nude beaches and public nudity.

    To elaborate, my own beliefs are influenced as much in opposition to what I perceive as decaying moral trends all around me as in pronouncement of an isolated morality, which makes it very hard for me not to believe a decent percent of those who frequent nude beaches (even if it’s only 10% or so) do so explicitly to see full nudity rather than partially covered nudity – and to flaunt their bodies free of clothing restrictions. I simply don’t want to participate in that type of narcissism and/or objectification, just as I avoid South Beach and other beaches known for the disproportionate swimsuit/breast-&-backside-size ratio.

    The irony of this conversation is that if we were talking about a family bath house that only allowed couples with children, I would be more likely to participate – as that is much more “private” and “family-focused” in my mind and would tend to weed out most of the narcissistic, roving-eyed people I am certain frequent nude beaches to check out the bodies there.

  120. Bryan
    April 13, 2009 at 12:10 am

    JEN:

    I don’t remember ever saying that the human body is pornographic…. You have pegged me very wrong if you think I view the human body as pornographic

    MY REPLY:

    Very good. Thank you for the clarification. I offer my apology if I offended you. My remarks were never meant to be personal. I was doing my best to apply meaning to your statements, and I got it wrong.

    JEN:

    If you were to run into a GA tomorrow and ask him if nude beaches were ok to go to as an active member of the church can you honestly say that he would say yes? … I would venture to say that you won’t find a general authority who would agree with what you have to say about it.

    MY REPLY:

    I’d say it would depend on the GA, and I would also expect to get their personal opinion, and not church policy (as there is not one.) My honest guess (only my guess) is they would evade the question because they know all too well that any comment then make even in the most casual setting can be written down and quoted far and wide as Official Church Policy. The church has gone out of it’s way to state emphatically that casual comments made by church leaders do not constitute church policy. But, more to your point, I would guess (only my guess) that Elder Uchtdorf and Elder Anderson (newest apostle) would say something like “So long as your motives are pure, it’s fine.” But if you asked Elder Packard you might get a very different answer. The best answer I can give to your statement is this: I have no idea what they would say. They are all individuals and will all have different opinions.

    Regardless, I do want to ever-so-gently suggest that it’s a good idea not to imposing one’s personal beliefs upon the entire church. Please be mindful that it IS possible for two people to be members of the same religion and not see eye to eye on a great many things. It’s perfectly okay for each of us to have our own opinions. Where it becomes not okay is when we assume our opinions are the “right” opinion, that every church leader will agree with you, and if someone disagrees then they are wrong. Please know that I have invested a mountain of time, effort, thought, research, fasting, prayer,and temple time into this line of thinking. My wife and I have NOT approached it flippantly or in disregard to Church teachings and standards. I am very open to having discussions, but where I tend to draw the line is when people start to say things like, “your inspiration is obviously wrong” or “you could not have been inspired of God, it must have come from Satan”. You won’t ever see me casting such disparaging remarks towards the personal inspiration of others, and all I ask is the same courtesy in return. :-)

    JEN:

    … are you sure that you aren’t just trying to justify nude beaches as ok because you consider your “intentions” as being different that those looking at pornography? Naked is naked right? So if your intentions are “good” when going to the nude beach, meaning you are viewing God’s creations, rather than “bad”, meaning you are looking to lust and be sexually aroused, then it is ok? It is easy to point back to me to justify your thinking but really I think you should take a look back at your own rationalization.

    MY REPLY:

    I’m glad you brought this up. If I were to ever go to a nude beach, it would have nothing to do with “looking at God’s creations”, unless by God’s creations you mean the ocean, the beach, the trees, the mountains, etc. I would go to a nude beach largely for the same reasons I would go to a non-nude beach… to enjoy a day at the beach.

    The question “why go to a nude beach” has been asked several times and nobody has really given the reply that I would. Your implication is that it might be because I (or others) want to see naked people. This is understandable, but in err. True, there are exceptions to every rule, but a “true” nudist is not interested in seeing others naked, or in being seen naked. He or she is interested in *being* naked.

    Here’s my reason: I hate swim suits when I’m swimming. I much prefer the feeling of being free. Add to that the irritation of sand, and it makes swim suits unbearable. I also *love* the feeling of sunshine and breeze on my entire body. I am a bit of an introvert and I love to go camping alone. It’s great journal and scripture time. When I go camping alone I always try and go to a place where skinny dipping is an option. Although Minnesota has no nude public beaches, it does have thousands and thousands of lakes, many of which are mighty remote, and a lonely skinny dip followed by an “au-natural” nap on a large sunny rock is no problem. I know you might not believe me when I say this, but for me, this kind of activity (a peaceful dip in a cool lake on a hot day followed by a sunny nap)… it’s liberating to the profound, and even spiritual.

    My initial interest in possible public nudism came not because I had a desire to see naked people, but because I began to wonder if it was possible, within the bounds of the LDS church, to experience this with other people, NOT to see them naked, but just to have some company. Initially, I doubted it would be possible to do this with others and remain a faithful member of the LDS church, but I also knew that these types of experiences alone were so positive, so liberating, and so spiritual that there was nothing wrong with them. I could sit on a sunny rock, far from the eyes of others, and write in my journal or read scriptures in the buff and not only *not* feel as if I was doing something wrong, but be perfectly in harmony with the Spirit. And if I could so this alone, could it also be done in the company of friends? Or total strangers?

    It was with this mind frame that I found Alan’s site at http://www.ldssdc.info. As I stated above, I am not the nudist that he is and most likely never will be, but I have experienced enough to believe that it’s within the realm of possibility to be a nudist and an active member of the Church in good standing.

    My (rambeling) point is: A true nudist is interested neither in seeing nakedness, nor in being seen. He or she is interested in being sans-clothing. It’s not about seeing. It’s about being.

    JEN:

    The reality is one of the main reasons I have such a deeply fulfilling physical and spiritual relationship with my husband is BECAUSE there are boundaries and because we have kept our “nakedness” only for one another.

    MY REPLY:

    I understand 100% your point of view. I honestly do. I guess all I ask in return is that you make an attempt to understand mine without judging or imposing less-than-pure motives. To your point I would respond by saying that you are super-imposing “nakedness” with “sexuality”. You and your husband keep your sexuality for each other, and rightfully so! My wife and I do the same. I am of the opinion that if she and I were to ever go to a nude beach, be it crowded with people or totally empty, it would in no way cheapen our sexuality between each other. You clearly feel differently, and that’s okay.

    It would be a boring world if we all thought the same way. :-)

  121. Bryan
    April 13, 2009 at 12:30 am

    RAY: makes it very hard for me not to believe a decent percent of those who frequent nude beaches (even if it’s only 10% or so) do so explicitly to see full nudity rather than partially covered nudity – and to flaunt their bodies free of clothing restrictions. I simply don’t want to participate in that type of narcissism and/or objectification, just as I avoid South Beach and other beaches known for the disproportionate swimsuit/breast-&-backside-size ratio.

    The irony of this conversation is that if we were talking about a family bath house that only allowed couples with children, I would be more likely to participate – as that is much more “private” and “family-focused” in my mind and would tend to weed out most of the narcissistic, roving-eyed people I am certain frequent nude beaches to check out the bodies there

    MY REPLY:

    I am with you 100% Ray. One of the reasons I have *not* gone out of my way to ever go to a publicly nude beach is for the same reasons you suggested…. it’s far too open and public, and there is no way to know the motives of all the eyeballs. Would I really bring my kids there?

    Clothing optional resorts provide a much more safe, cloistered setting. If you go to one that is AANR approved, they will screen you before you enter (quick background check, etc), and they are also vigilantly self policed. Anyone who is remotely suspicious will not only be escorted off the grounds, but will be added to a national black-list and will not be allowed into any other resort in North America. But the truth is, it’s rarely a problem.

    As I said in another post, if such a place existed near our home, and if it was an up-scale resort, we would visit it maybe once or twice a summer.

  122. Dan
    April 13, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Clothing was not given to man by God, Satan was the one who enticed Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness.
    God gave them coverings of animal skin when he expelled them from the Garden of Eden, knowing they would be in the drab and dreary world, with its thorns, extreme cold and heat. When he gave the coverings he didn’t give any instructions or commandments. It was pretty much up to them to use them at their discretion.

  123. Ray
    April 13, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Dan, that is every bit as much an extrapolated opinion as it is to say that God covered them in order to cover their nakedness from the world.

    You understand that, right?

  124. April 13, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Jen> I have a question for you. If you were to run into a GA tomorrow and ask
    Jen> him if nude beaches were ok to go to as an active member of the church
    Jen> can you honestly say that he would say yes?

    I can honestly say that he would probably say ‘no’ – in fact, I know at least 3 who already have said ‘no’, to varying degrees. Of course, I also know 4 more who have taken positions of impartiality. The difference between the 3 and the 4 were in the context provided in each case. The more information given, the more thoughtful their responses.

    Before Pres. Monson was the Prophet, a fellow LDS naturist and his wife happened to encounter him in passing, getting into his car. The wife of this naturist pestered her husband to go and ask Pres. Monson if it is okay for a Mormon to be a nudist. He actually did go ask him, and Pres. Monson stammered a reply that was something like, “You mean like ‘Nudist Colony’ or something? No, I don’t think that is alright.” (I’m paraphrasing somewhat from memory – I can fetch the man’s account of this if it matters.)

    For those who are looking for a reason to reject LDS naturism out of hand, that should be enough for you right there. You have your “no” from our current Prophet. An “authority” has spoken, and therefore the thinking has been done for you. (Never mind that he didn’t understand the question at all, and was given all of 5 seconds to produce an answer.)

    But we have to consider at least a couple of things: First, GAs have personal opinions. In the absence of any revelation, scriptural admonition, established doctrine, or even an agreed policy with regard to nudism/naturism, all they have are their opinions. Even if the majority opinion were against, it’s still an opinion.

    Secondly, you have to give the question more context – in some cases, a LOT more context. Here’s an example that hopefully illustrates the importance of context: Before there were flush toilets, everyone had outhouses. It was pretty inconvenient to have to go outside to use the bathroom every time. The first guy to seriously pitch the idea that an outhouse could be put INSIDE the home probably didn’t get too many ‘amens’ for it.

    Without adequate context, all that people could imagine is the horrible, stinky mess inside their home. With a little more context, however, it was possible to convince them that it wouldn’t be so terrible after all. The same has been true with a lot of ideas. Airplanes were once scoffed at – who would dare risk their life in such a contraption? A noted critic of automobiles once said, “It will scare the horses!” (You don’t see many horses on the road these days.) Microwaves? You’ll kill yourself with radiation!

    Those who’ve been watching naturist/nudist tends long enough know that it’s spreading steadily (I’ve seen dramatic changes just in the two decades that I’ve been aware of naturism.) What seems odd and unlikely to you now will seem commonplace (and acceptable) many years hence – just as what’s happening now may have surprised people 20 years ago, and seemed impossible to believe.

    Sometimes only time can fill in the missing context. Some things just can’t be understood until they unfold before them, over a period of time. Who would have thought that using the product of mold you could stave off infections and save lives? Or that people would actually use the product of botulism to hide wrinkles? Here’s another infamous quote: “256k of RAM should be enough for anyone” (Bill Gates). Sometimes the only ones who can see a trend coming are the ones who are really looking for it.

    Here is a fact that is current – one that you’ll have to take on faith, as I have no way to prove it to you without betraying confidences. Many good, upstanding, LDS people are nudists. This includes past and present bishops, members of stake presidencies, Relief Society Presidents, YM/YW leaders, seminary teachers, and literally every other auxiliary that you can think of. It includes several prominent members, including at least one member of the Tabernacle Choir. So far, it doesn’t include any GAs, though I have to imagine that will soon change (not that we’ll know it, as they’d likely have to be fairly private about it, for now.)

    You can imagine, if you like, that these are all made up people – or that they are all apostates or at least fringe members. But I have met many of them, and conversed with many more of them. They are good, decent, inspired people, from your ward and mine. They pass the “by their fruits” test with flying colors.

    So it may not be for you. It may seem inconceivable how an LDS member can remain in full fellowship and good standing and be a nudist/naturist. But the fact remains that it DOES in fact work for a growing number of people.

    By my tally there are three GAs who have said “no” to nudism – and all three said no without the benefit of context (“An outhouse in MY house? No way!”) There are four GAs I am aware of, however, who have had the fuller context presented to them, and have taken a neutral position on nudism, and referred the matter back down to the Stake level to decide (some deciding against, and others leaving it up to the member).

    I have a lot of faith in our General Authorities, and in our Prophet. Beside being intelligent, wise, and thoughtful men, they are also guided by the Spirit and have the added benefit of the mantles of their respective callings. When the fuller context of naturism is presented to such men, there is less about naturism that they are opposed to.

    That will continue to be the equation, as more information about naturism becomes available to them.

  125. Ray
    April 13, 2009 at 2:22 am

    For those who are looking for a reason to reject LDS naturism out of hand, that should be enough for you right there. You have your “no” from our current Prophet. An “authority” has spoken, and therefore the thinking has been done for you.

    Alan, you are starting to cross the line of civility in this discussion. I could have quoted a couple of other parts of your last comment, but this one is the most egregious – as it describes NOBODY who has commented in this thread. This has been a very good, respectful discussion thus far. Please don’t poison it now with this type of rhetoric.

    Also, in a group setting, it is bad form to quote someone else (especially someone in a visible position and on a controversial topic) without providing any citation for the quote. I’m NOT saying you are lying or embroidering anything. I mean that. It simply is bad form.

  126. April 13, 2009 at 2:38 am

    My apologies for stepping over the line. If I continue in the discussions, I’ll try to reign myself in a bit. (Not posting late at night might help too. Sorry.) :-)

  127. Ray
    April 13, 2009 at 2:43 am

    It’s cool. Thanks.

  128. Dan
    April 13, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Ray Said

    Alan, do you believe what you describe is possible for those who do not embrace your nudist views – and do you see the inherent tension many might perceive in something you label as “naturist” – when there is a strong negative view of “the natural man” woven into Mormonism (not to mention the temple instructions regarding the garment)?

    NATURAL MAN
    The natural man is
    Carnal – Criminal, robery, murder some one who disregards the rights of others for their own gain, who subjects another
    person to pain for the pleasure of inflicting pain.
    Sensual – This could be where pornography comes in. Also food addiction could be sensual, some thing that over stimulates
    the senses.
    Devilish – Some one who follows the Devil. A person who has become pure evil. Denied Christ.

    None of the definitions of the Natural man has anything to do with just being nude.

  129. Jeff Spector
    April 13, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Alan,

    “First, GAs have personal opinions. In the absence of any revelation, scriptural admonition, established doctrine, or even an agreed policy with regard to nudism/naturism, all they have are their opinions. Even if the majority opinion were against, it’s still an opinion. Secondly, you have to give the question more context – in some cases, a LOT more context.”

    Now, it seems that you are really reaching here for a justification. You can almost rationalize any behavior that has not been specifically spoken of, through a revealtory act, to justify it. Just because it has not been specifically spoken of, does not make it right behavior for a latter-day saint to engage in.

    It is obivious you enjoy our lifestyle, nothing that gets said here is going to disawade you from it, nor is your passionate defense going to convince most of us to try it.

    So, what is the point of this on-going discussion now?

  130. April 13, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Bryan #95“Nobody in our home “parades” when naked. When the course of normal life calls for nudity, we just simply don’t see any reason to hide.”

    I can’t remember where your stance is on this topic, but I wouldn’t necessarily call this naturalism. Fwiw this is basically the norm in my house, although our son is only two. I don’t think it is nudity per se that fosters healthy attitudes in this case, but rather openness about one’s body and sexuality.

    Regarding nudity among family members, there is a book I really like called “Sex and Sensibility” that addresses this topic. Basically it’s don’t worry about nudity one way or the other when they’re young, (here actually is no professional consensus on this). As the get older (school-aged) the author’s advice is, “Whenever a parent or child begins to feel some discomfort with nudity in each other’s presence, it’s time for setting a new limit. If not before, children tend to develop a strong sense of modesty as they experience–or even as they begin to anticipate–pubescence… What’s important is that parents communicate changes in a positive context: “Now that you’re growing up, it’s time for us all to have private time in the shower.” And be careful not to instill a sense of shame either about nude bodies or about the child’s curiosity about them.”

    It’s not about yes or no to nudity imo, but the messages we are sending to our kids. Either end of the spectrum (naturalism vs. always covering up even around family, esp. young children, regardless of circumstance) is a little extreme for me. I plan to continue our “open door policy” regarding the bathroom until our son gets older, and/or one or both of us wants more privacy.

  131. Jen
    April 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Bryan-”I am very open to having discussions, but where I tend to draw the line is when people start to say things like, “your inspiration is obviously wrong” or “you could not have been inspired of God, it must have come from Satan”. You won’t ever see me casting such disparaging remarks towards the personal inspiration of others, and all I ask is the same courtesy in return.”

    I hope that I haven’t cast any disparaging remarks towards you personally and if I have I apologize. When I mentioned that about the GA, I meant it sincerely for all of us….me included.

    “The question “why go to a nude beach” has been asked several times and nobody has really given the reply that I would. Your implication is that it might be because I (or others) want to see naked people. This is understandable, but in err. True, there are exceptions to every rule, but a “true” nudist is not interested in seeing others naked, or in being seen naked. He or she is interested in *being* naked.”

    This is the first response I have had as to why people go to a nude beach….thank you for answering. Honestly, the more I think about this, I don’t think I really care if adults choose to go to nude beaches, LDS or not. I think what I care about is involving children who don’t have any say in the matter. Adults process things much differently than children and so if they decide this is something they want to do and have felt good about, I say great! There are trips that couples take together for anniversary celebrations, etc. that could involve going to nude beaches together without the children. You and your wife may have desires to be naked in public, but would it not be better to allow children the option to choose for themselves later in life when they become adults themselves, especially if you are raising them in an LDS environment? You could share with them your feelings and experiences about your naturism, but tell them it is something they get to choose if they want in their life as they become adults. Just a thought.

    “It would be a boring world if we all thought the same way”

    I AGREE!! :D I also know that there has to be unification or oneness if we are to dwell together in a Zion society. What that means I don’t know for sure, but it is interesting to think about.

  132. April 13, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Jen, a thought about unity in Zion — perhaps unity does not equal sameness.

  133. Jen
    April 13, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Alan-
    “Before Pres. Monson was the Prophet, a fellow LDS naturist and his wife happened to encounter him in passing, getting into his car. The wife of this naturist pestered her husband to go and ask Pres. Monson if it is okay for a Mormon to be a nudist. He actually did go ask him, and Pres. Monson stammered a reply that was something like, “You mean like ‘Nudist Colony’ or something? No, I don’t think that is alright.” (I’m paraphrasing somewhat from memory – I can fetch the man’s account of this if it matters.)”

    These kind of stories always make me wonder because of my personal experience with being in the same room with another person and having two very different stories told about the exact same situation. I think it is always safe to have a direct quote, references, etc. from the person themselves….. not what Joe or Henry said he or she said….

    With all due repsect, I don’t see a correlation between indoor toliets and naturism. I understand what you are trying to say, but even if the idea of an indoor toliet is at first not acceptable to me, it still has nothing to do with my spiritual development and growth, and is probably because I don’t want to smell it and deal with the mess. On the other hand, accepting naturism/nudism involves the Lord and finding out His will and feelings concerning it (for me anyway). If you want to correlate something it will have to be on that level for me. All the other comparisons just don’t work.

    “I have a lot of faith in our General Authorities, and in our Prophet. Beside being intelligent, wise, and thoughtful men, they are also guided by the Spirit and have the added benefit of the mantles of their respective callings. When the fuller context of naturism is presented to such men, there is less about naturism that they are opposed to”

    Again I think it is not a safe assumption to make unless you have direct quotes and references from GA’s in direct relation to naturism/nudism. I noticed you have indirectly mentioned what some think and don’t think, but that just doesn’t work for me because there are no names or direct quotes by them. I would hope that if I were in that position that members of the church would give me the same respect and not say I feel this way or that way without it coming from my own mouth and being recorded as such.

  134. Jen
    April 13, 2009 at 9:48 am

    132-AdamF

    That’s why I put “what that means I don’t know for sure”….:D

  135. Darren
    April 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

    @ #129 Jeff: “So, what is the point of this on-going discussion now?”

    So, what you are saying is that if you can’t change someone then you see no point in having a conversation with them? At the risk of sounding a tad insensitive Jeff, that seems a little shallow to me.

    I’m not about to become a nudist, but I certainly don’t see any harm in trying to see this topic from a point of view other them my own. It seems rather pretentious of you to declare the conversation as over just because you are not going to change anyone’s mind.

  136. Jen
    April 13, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Admin-
    FYI-my click to edit button works only once in a while. I tried to fix the smiley face on my comment 134 and it wouldn’t pull up the comment at all. More times than not it has not worked. Just thought I would let someone know if they didn’t already. :D

  137. Darren
    April 13, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Alan,

    I very much appreciate the time you put into responding to my questions. Thank you.

    Alan> At the time of the restoration of our Church, the Protestant notion about the human body was that it was Alan> inherently evil, fallen, dust of the earth, and unworthy – hence, it should be covered. Joseph Smith Alan> preached rather that our bodies were sacred, and of divine in origin. What did the people do? Cover them Alan> anyway, saying that it was due to sacredness instead.

    I guess I don’t see your point. In my mind, the reason for doing a thing is as important as the thing itself. By introducing the falsehood that we must cover up because our bodies are sinful, he opened the door for a host of other body-based falsehoods as well.

    Alan> The stated motive for covering our bodies may have changed, but the result is the same. Covering our Alan> bodies does nothing to redeem them, honor them, or improve them.

    I would disagree on this point. I think that covering our bodies does, indeed, do something to honor them. As I said before, I view it as a “don’t cast your pearl before the swine” principle. That which is viewed by everyone becomes common and ordinary. Our bodies are neither. By keeping them covered as much as possible (within reason, I am not advocating Victorian prudishness) we do, in my opinion, honor them.

    On all of the points you and others have made I can sincerely say, “Ah! I see your point, and it’s a good one!” On this point, however, I can’t seem to get there.

    Alan> In what ways does a swimsuit help us with respect?

    By not putting our sexual organs on display for the world to see.

    Alan> Your nudity is a shared thing – that’s unavoidable. You’ve just chosen that you’ll only share it with Alan> your doctor, your wife, the occasional man at the gym shower, and eventually the funeral workers who will Alan> be handling your body.

    There are times when nudity is not practically avoidable, and in these times I don’t shy away from it. But I don’t use the existence of such times as an excuse for nudity when it is avoidable.

    Alan> In reality, it’s your sexuality (or at least the full expression of it) that you reserve only for your Alan> spouse. You’re just conflating the two (nudity and sexuality) and applying restrictions to both at once. Alan> But your doctor doesn’t really share in your sexuality – just the occasional nudity.

    Ok, you got me! You are right. I am conflating nudity and sexuality. I guess what I’m saying is that I like it this way, and don’t want it to change. I take comfort in knowing that as much as possible, my wife and I reserve nudity for only ourselves, and our sexuality always.

    (I hope I did this Alan> thing right and that it does not come out a mess. Sorry if it does. And I do hope, Alan, that you will continue to participate. I am enjoying this discussion.)

  138. Darren
    April 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Dang. I did screw up the Alan> thing. How do you do that?

  139. Ray
    April 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Darren, just go with quotation marks. like the following:

    #138 – “Dang. I did screw up the Alan> thing. How do you you do that?”

    It’s much easier that way, and everyone understands what you are saying.

  140. April 13, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Jeff

    “Now, it seems that you are really reaching here for a justification. You can almost rationalize any behavior that has not been specifically spoken of, through a revealtory act, to justify it. Just because it has not been specifically spoken of, does not make it right behavior for a latter-day saint to engage in.

    So, what is the point of this on-going discussion now?”

    The discussion is ongoing because Ray, Jen and others have asked and are asking quesitions that Alan and Bryan have respectfully been trying to answer. As regards your use again of the term “rationalize” I hope you understand how negative and accusatory it is. You’re basically saying that someone else knows they’re wrong and is making up reasons for continuing to do what they’re doing. I have to agree with Darren in #135.

    The other side of your comment is that some have to feel that they need to know that the brethren have spoken before they feel safe in making a decision. As I said above, I’m grateful that they haven’t felt the need to have lists for us. The other thing is that I’m not sure that every decision needs to be confirmed by the Spirit. My guess is that God would wish we’d figure things out for ourselves and not bother Him with questions that aren’t that big a deal.

    Lastly to answer Jen’s question about why you’d want to go to a nude beach. In my case it was to a naturist facility and it’s really simple. It’s a lot of fun.

  141. Jen
    April 13, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    GBSmith-

    I am curious if you have any particular feelings about involving children when going to nude beaches etc.?

  142. wayfarer
    April 13, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks for the conversation which has been an education.But this is the thing for me.Why would anyone want to see someone else’s children naked?Why would anyone risk the motives of another’s gaze upon their child? We simply have no way of guaranteeing what is motivating that gaze,and therfore we have a responsibility to keep our children safe from it. As adults,we get to make a choice.The intimate gaze of another is a matter of our own agency,and our’s alone,and anything other than this I believe to be abusive.I do not own that choice for my children.Actually,I’m even uncomfortable with the image that accompanies this piece.I think we cannot afford to go anywhere near that place.Why take the risk?

  143. Jeff Spector
    April 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    GBSmith,

    “As regards your use again of the term “rationalize” I hope you understand how negative and accusatory it is.”

    Sorry, I don’t see it that way. I went to the dictionary to make sure I understood the word “rationalize correctly. Among the definitions was this one: “: to create an excuse or more attractive explanation for.”

    “You’re basically saying that someone else knows they’re wrong and is making up reasons for continuing to do what they’re doing.”

    Yep, that is exactly what I think. But, as I also said, he can do whatever he wants. But, I cannot see how he or others, like yourself, can justify it against gospel principles and what we promise in the Temple. What was the purpose of the post in the first place then?

    I am not sure this is different than what most are also saying. you just seem to be reading it different from me than the others, I guess.

  144. April 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    wayfarer,

    We simply have no way of guaranteeing what is motivating that gaze,and therfore we have a responsibility to keep our children safe from it.

    I think other people have expressed a similar sentiment, and I don’t really understand it. I can, of course, understand keeping children safe from others’ evil actions (including even talking to them), but do you really think you can keep your children “safe” from others’ evil thoughts?

  145. April 13, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Jen

    “I am curious if you have any particular feelings about involving children when going to nude beaches etc.?”

    My only direct experience was seeing families with young children just having a good time playing in the sand and on swings under supervision from their parents. Based on that I’ve wouldn’t have any concerns. It’s like Kuri said above about keeping kids safe from others actions but thoughts are another matter.

    Jeff

    “Sorry, I don’t see it that way. I went to the dictionary to make sure I understood the word “rationalize correctly. Among the definitions was this one: “: to create an excuse or more attractive explanation for.”

    “You’re basically saying that someone else knows they’re wrong and is making up reasons for continuing to do what they’re doing.”

    Yep, that is exactly what I think.”

    I guess come judgment I’ll find out one way or another and if Jesus decides that I blew it, you can say “I told you so.”

  146. Jeff Spector
    April 13, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    GBSmith,

    “I guess come judgment I’ll find out one way or another and if Jesus decides that I blew it, you can say “I told you so.”

    First of all, I am only giving you my opinion on the topic and how I see it. I am not inclined to tell anyone “I told you so.” not my style, really. I have enough to work on myself that I am not in that position. So, please let’s not go there. You are welcome to exercise your agency in any manner you choose. Just as I am mine.

  147. Darren
    April 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    It looks like this thread is winding down, so I just wanted to say before everyone signs off completely that I have learned much here. When I first saw this post I said to myself, “Wha…? Nudists who are also Mormons? PuLEESE!” Now that I have read your thoughts I still have no intention of becoming a nudist, but I can say that you do present excellent points. I see this in a new perspective, and realize that it’s not as black and white as I thought.

    Thank you to all who have posted.

  148. Greg
    April 14, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Winding down? Rambling, perhaps, but someone declared “the last word” about a hundred posts ago. Who knows how much life is left in this thing?

    If I understand correctly, Alan thinks it’s inevitable that Naturism will become more popular generally and more accepted among Latter-day Saints. It’s part of society’s irreversible evolution… like indoor toilets. Someday, we’ll all realize how much better it is than the old way.

    But I couldn’t help thinking about the threat to the Naturist lifestyle from pornography. Some kids (like Alan’s) will grow up in a home where nudity is accepted and non-sexual. But a lot of kids will grow up in homes where pornography is accepted. To them, nudity won’t be a big deal and seeing others engaged in sex acts will also seem common. If these kids grow up to embrace Naturism, the purity of that subculture is doomed.

    I see that the Vermont legislature, after their historic action on same-sex marriage, is now working on a bill to decriminalize “sexting” among teens. I don’t know the reason, but this movement to make pornography more mainstream and erode the shame/guilt/penalties for participation seems like it will inevitably affect Naturism. And there may have to be a sub-sub-cultural Naturism movement to keep it non-sexual.

    (I’m assuming, for simplicity’s sake, that we agree that nudity by itself is not pornography but if it’s designed to arouse sexual thoughts it is considered pornographic. That’s why I jump to the conclusion that “sexting” is pornography.)

    This thing in Vermont really puzzles and alarms me. The legislature is, in effect, helping teens to develop pornography habits while they’re still young. And the kids aren’t just looking at it, they’re growing up as producers of pornographic material. How will that affect them as they get into adulthood? Will “sexting” seem like a normal element of courtship 20 years from now?

  149. April 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Greg,

    Current law in Vermont enables criminal prosecution as child pornographers of children who take nude (or partially nude) pictures of themselves. Those who advocate decriminalization believe that children who appear in pornography are victims, not criminals.

  150. April 14, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Greg raises a good point about pornography acceptance being on the rise. In fact, I think the acceptance of pornography is coming more quickly than the acceptance of non-sexual nudity.

    This is part of why I believe that naturism will continue to become more commonplace: it will become more widely recognized as the morally preferable alternative to pornography. Not merely the “lesser of two evils”, but a genuinely better choice than either of the two nudity extremes of repression or indulgence.

    I personally see naturism as a balanced, moderate-toward-conservative position. It’s not given to the extremes, but instead balancing your view of the human body and its essential dignity and acceptability. While clothes-compulsiveness despises and disparages the body (while claiming to honor it), and pornography glamorizes the body (while at the same time trashing it), naturism strikes a balance that is not excessive.

    Naturism accepts the body as good and decent in its most basic form, nude – appearing fully and unashamedly human. It doesn’t hide behind status, fine-twined linen, or “emblems of power and priesthoods”. Neither does it revel in physical debauchery and depravity, unbridled sexual expression and lasciviousness. Naturism is temperate, bridled, thoughtful and balanced.

    Most naturists see naturism as the ultimate antidote for – and inoculation against – the poison of pornography. In a Church that is extremely concerned about pornography – and rightly so – naturism is quite a balm of comfort to those who deign to try it.

  151. April 14, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    According to Google Trends, Utah leads the nation in the search term, “naturism” for at least the past 5 years.

    Check it out:
    http://www.google.com/trends?q=naturism&ctab=0&geo=us&date=all&sort=0

  152. April 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Re: Alan (#151)

    Now that is interesting. Maybe a sign that you’re right about naturism rising in popularity among the LDS. While I was there, I checked a few others. Utah also ranks high for “nude beaches,” “clothing optional,” “nude” “naked” and some others.

    I suppose this could be interpreted that there are an increasing number of enlightened individuals who have taken then position that Alan and others have. But, I suuppose that you could also guess that it’s due to the more sexually repressed mormon men who end up seaking out pornography, making Utah one of the highest per capita subscribers to porn.

    I sure hope it’s the former. (though I think it may be a bit of both)

  153. Greg
    April 15, 2009 at 9:37 am

    It looks, to me, like you’ve really entrenched yourself in your position, Alan. Terms like “clothes-compulsiveness” are new to me. It could refer to those who truly are extremists, but you just used the term in a way which makes me wonder how easily it’s thrown around among Naturists. Special-interest groups could very easily call a “Mainstream Mormon” like me a “homophobe” or “anti-choice” without knowing the least bit about me, especially how extreme my views about those topics may be. And, while I don’t think you were attacking me personally, the term “clothes-compulsiveness” seems to have a certain sting… and I wonder if you enjoy using that particular weapon to declare how ignorant your critics might be. Use of such terms usually indicates that nobody is listening to opposing views. I could declare that –your- lifestyle disparages the body while claiming to honor it. (Could I assert that the opposite of modesty is, in fact, pride?)

    I offer that paragraph as a caution and not to pick a fight. I hope you’ll accept it in that light. I would welcome a discussion more than an entrenched battle.

    I think it’s the growing acceptance of pornography which is giving momentum to the mainstreaming of nudity. And that’s why I see a dim future for Naturism as it’s been described here. Even when “the media” tries to treat sex-related issues in a documentary or news setting, lines of morality are usually avoided. They look into the world of sex therapists, nudists, Naturists, porn stars, sex toy manufacturers, prostitutes, strippers, people in nude beauty contests at Naturist camps, etc.. They’re all given equal consideration. None is really “better” than another, it seems. They’re all just different aspects of sexuality. So, media portrayals of “nudists” aren’t helping the cause of Naturism if it’s all just lumped into the larger group of people obsessed with sex. The mainstreaming of nudity by our media doesn’t appear to contain the temperance, balance, bridling nor thought that you cite as attributes of Naturism. The Naturism you see as becoming more commonplace is in danger of being completely overshadowed by pornography’s distorted version. And that’s going to make it much more difficult to attract active Mormons to your cause.

    One more thought about your entrenchment, Alan. You accused people who wear clothes of hiding behind status, fine-twined linen and emblems of priesthood power. I know you were trying to refer to Satan with that last one, but a lot of people here wear temple garments which are, in fact, emblems of the priesthood. I don’t accept the idea that wearing temple garments is a bad thing and your statement could be seen as direct rebellion against temple covenants.

  154. Greg
    April 15, 2009 at 9:49 am

    One more thought. (Sorry I didn’t weave this into the prevoius one, but…) I find it unfair to assign negative motives to others who choose to wear clothes. The question, which has been raised elsewhere in this discussion, is “How can you know what’s really going on in another person’s mind?” I imagine that the knee-jerk answer is “I know because I used to wear clothes!” And that, to me, would be like asking an ex-Mormon to tell me what the average Mormon believes. It doesn’t seem fair.

  155. Fred
    April 15, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I’ve never posted here before, but what an interesting thread. I haven’t seen anything posted about a nude beach that doesn’t apply to a “regular” beach.

    Now I’ve never been to a nude beach, don’t even have any near me, but I do live in a beach community (in NC) and we go to the beach as often as we can (as a family, probably 2-3 times/month.) When we have company, it always amazes me how “hung up” some people are about putting on a bathing suit and being seen in public. Now, I was born and raised near the beach, so I’m pretty used to it (I should also say that I am now 51, out of shape, and a little bit overweight.) At first, my wife was very apprehensive about the beach. When we were younger and just married, she always “worried” about what she would look like, and what other people would think looking at her. I can remember promising her that after we walked onto the beach that I guaranteed we would see 10 women “fatter than her” within about 30 seconds of crossing the dunes. And, we always would. And remarkably, within about 10 minutes, she would forget than she was wearing a thin, tight fitting, piece of lycra showing skin that you usually don’t show (one-piece, of course!) in front of a lot of total strangers. And we would stay for the day and have lots of fun and promise to do it again as soon as possible.

    I see this repeated many times every year as new people from elsewhere move into the ward and get invited to beach parties. At first they are terrified of wearing nothing but a swimsuit in front of the bishop, and the relief society president, and everyone else, but after about 10 minutes of having fun, you just completely forget about it and act pretty much the same way you do when you’re at church wearing “normal church attire”. You have fun, you joke around, you talk about your kids, you complain about Br. So-and-so, etc., you just do it wearing less than you usually do.

    And what people wear varies. Most female members wear one-piece suits, but when people bring their friends there are always a few bikinis, some pretty small. And of course, the people around us who aren’t a part of our group wear everything from skirted one-pieces to tiny, tiny bikinis. No one seems to mind and we just accept that different people have different standards and we all have a good time.

    My point is that people adapt very quickly to the situation. Being among friends when the males are wearing just shorts, and the females are dressed in nothing but a tight fitting swimsuit, is “no big deal”, and actually a lot of fun. I haven’t noticed anyone lusting after the RS President, or leering at the Bishop.

    I imagine it isn’t that much different from the situation discussed above.

    Just my two cents worth….

  156. April 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Greg has raised a few important points. I’ll offer some more of my perspective, and I beg your indulgence if I am a bit verbose…

    Greg> It looks, to me, like you’ve really entrenched yourself in your
    Greg> position, Alan.

    I’d say I’m committed, rather than entrenched.

    I’m open to change. My change to naturism came gradually, but I have woven the attitude into many aspects of my worldview over the past 19 years. I’m not stuck at any fixed point on this. Even my perspective on naturism changes, as life moves on. I’d say that I’m not a “typical” naturist, but that’s hard to classify anyway. I know that my views and particular approach contrast with that of many naturists. I naturally find more kinship and fellowship among other Mormons, who have similar sensitivities, standards and perspective on life.

    My commitment to naturist ideals runs deep – surpassed only by my commitments to the Gospel, my wife, my family, etc.

    Greg> Terms like “clothes-compulsiveness” are new to me. It could refer to
    Greg> those who truly are extremists, but you just used the term in a way
    Greg> which makes me wonder how easily it’s thrown around among Naturists.

    Sorry, that’s just naturist jargon that I’ve grown accustomed to. Clothes-compulsiveness would, from a naturist’s perspective, would describe the attitude and tendency of someone who has gymnophobia – the fear of being nude or seeing others nude. A person who is gymnophobic will compulsively wear clothes, even when not needed – even when entirely alone or in private with just their spouse.

    Greg> the term “clothes-compulsiveness” seems to have a certain sting…
    Greg> and I wonder if you enjoy using that particular weapon to declare
    Greg> how ignorant your critics might be.

    It isn’t meant to sting. I don’t deny that it can be perceived in the negative, but it is not meant to be pejorative. For that, there is the word “Textile”, which nudists often use to describe non-nudists. They’ll talk of nude beaches versus “textile beaches”, and will call non-nudists “Textiles”. It’s a bit silly, really, and I prefer to stay away from the derogatory monikers which tend to create us/them (or US/them) polarizations.

    I like to believe that clothes-compulsiveness is closer to an objective measure. Naturally there is some subjectivity as to what is compulsive behavior and what is not. But that can be evaluated on a case by case basis.

    I believe most people are not so polarized about nudity, but experience a wide range from gymnophobia to body-normalcy, and everyone may exist at various points in that range from one situation to another, and changing throughout their life.

    Greg> I could declare that –your- lifestyle disparages the body while
    Greg> claiming to honor it.

    Indeed you could – can you support that position with some examples?

    From my perspective, clothing tends to either enhance or de-emphasize the body. Not really honoring it, because in either case you are covering it. A useful application of that is in our temples, where we are all similarly dressed in white. Among other things, this de-emphasizes our bodies, and serves to focus our minds on spiritual, eternal matters. I agree with that use of clothing. Clothing is an important part of ritual and symbolism.

    Nakedness is also an important part of symbolism too – hence, it’s role in the account of the Garden of Eden, and it’s symbolic use in various biblical references. Likewise, as others have mentioned here, early Christian baptisms were done in the nude. My personal theory on that is that it was both a practical matter (clothes were an important commodity, and you avoided unneeded wear and tear on them) and also a symbolic matter. If you are born naked, it stands to reason that you would be reborn naked too, completing the symbolism. (No, I don’t mean to say that our baptismal practices are therefore invalid or corrupt – they just lack that one symbolic element. We do what is expedient, given our cultural sensitivities.)

    Greg> (Could I assert that the opposite of modesty is, in fact, pride?)

    On that I would agree. But I would not agree that nudity is an opposite to modesty, if that is what you may be suggesting. Modesty is possible without clothing, just as immodesty (or pride) is possible when fully clothed.

    In our LDS standard works, pride is strongly associated with clothing – and never with nudity. In the BoM particularly, the “fine-twined linens” are mentioned as symptomatic of or contributory to the emergence of pride. In the New Testament, fine-twined linens are not specifically mentioned, but modesty is described specifically as NOT being an attribute of clothing:

    Peter 3:3-4
    3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
    4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price

    Greg> I offer that paragraph as a caution and not to pick a fight.
    Greg> I hope you’ll accept it in that light. I would welcome a discussion
    Greg> more than an entrenched battle.

    Certainly, yes. I do welcome the discussion too. I’ve been treated with civility and thoughtfulness here, including from you. As that prevails, discussion remains possible.

    Greg> I think it’s the growing acceptance of pornography which is giving
    Greg> momentum to the mainstreaming of nudity.

    I fear you may be right about that. Mainstream nudity is not naturism, per se. The acceptance of “anything goes” nudity is not of great benefit to us – and naturism is the opposite attitude toward nudity. It recognizes boundaries, and tries very much to promote decency. Naturists and Mormons have something very much in common – they are pornography’s strongest (or at least most outspoken) opponents.

    The Mormon approach so far has been to avoid, avoid, avoid – and it doesn’t seem to be working all that well. The naturist approach is to redirect, redirect, redirect – and it does seem to be working, at least for those who take that approach. The lure of pornography really does go away.

    Pornography is a supply and demand proposition. It exists because enough people want it. With modern data transmission methods, the supply is virtually limitless. So, address the demand instead.

    Greg> And that’s why I see a dim future for Naturism as it’s been described
    Greg> here.

    I really hope that’s not so. I see naturism as being the best alternative for those who oppose the “anything goes” nudity that is becoming so widespread. It’s that or the burka, I guess. :-\

    Greg> Even when “the media” tries to treat sex-related issues in a documentary
    Greg> or news setting, lines of morality are usually avoided. They look into the
    Greg> world of sex therapists, nudists, Naturists, porn stars, sex toy
    Greg> manufacturers, prostitutes, strippers, people in nude beauty contests at
    Greg> Naturist camps, etc.. They’re all given equal consideration. None is really
    Greg> “better” than another, it seems. They’re all just different aspects of
    Greg> sexuality.

    I agree that the media often fails to differentiate between one bit of titillation and another. It’s all a ratings game for them – whatever draws customers for their sponsors. But I have paid attention to the coverage they give to “genuine” nudist/naturist pieces. Ironically, the story editors and news anchors usually try to add their own titillation to the pieces, as if they find them too mundane without the embellishment. Typically, they (or their writers) try to add levity with corny one-liners, double-entendre, and tired cliches.

    One thing that is clear to me is that new anchors are more comfortable talking about sex and sex-related nudity than they are about naturism and non-sexual nudity. You can see them squirm and fidget when they talk about serious nudism/naturism. My personal theory is that they are able to emotionally distance themselves from the sex and debauchery stories, but the naturist point of view challenges them personally.

    Greg> The Naturism you see as becoming more commonplace is in danger of
    Greg> being completely overshadowed by pornography’s distorted version.
    Greg> And that’s going to make it much more difficult to attract active
    Greg> Mormons to your cause.

    But just the opposite appears to be true. Mormons are finding naturism as an alternative to pornography. Mormons will never feel “good” about pornography. Those who are drawn to it, however, are glad to find a better way to redirect their interest.

    Greg> You accused people who wear clothes of hiding behind status,
    Greg> fine-twined linen and emblems of priesthood power.

    Let’s not paint that too broadly. That certainly can’t be applied to everyone who wears clothes (as due most nudists, for a good portion of their lives).

    Greg> I know you were trying to refer to Satan with that last one, but a
    Greg> lot of people here wear temple garments which are, in fact, emblems
    Greg> of the priesthood. I don’t accept the idea that wearing temple
    Greg> garments is a bad thing and your statement could be seen as direct
    Greg> rebellion against temple covenants.

    Woops! I think that went father than was intended.

    Lucifer’s approach to wearing his (counterfeit?) emblems is a far cry from how members wear their garments. I hold temple covenants sacred. I do believe that current practices in garment wearing are subject to change, as they have through the past. But the covenants stand, no matter the manner of the garment or how, when it is worn.

    Greg> I find it unfair to assign negative motives to others who choose to
    Greg> wear clothes. The question, which has been raised elsewhere in this
    Greg> discussion, is “How can you know what’s really going on in another
    Greg> person’s mind?”

    Yes, I agree with that.

    I believe that the vast majority of people wear clothes not for any clear or specific motive, but because it’s what everyone else does, and what everyone else has done for as long as they can remember – whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist Atheist, Agnostic, or otherwise.

    When people insist on wearing clothes under all but sexual situations or as required for health and hygiene, that’s where the line of motive has been crossed. Some will look to justify their practice based on a noble motive: modesty, religious edict, fear of harm to others (especially minors), and so forth. Comparatively few are willing to concede that they wear clothes merely for social reasons – out of tradition and in conformity with the perceived expectations of the majority.

    The “when in Rome” philosophy should apply, but some are apt to take their justifications with them, judging the “natives” as being less civilized, culturally refined, righteous, etc. This is where I question motives – not those who are honest about the fact that they are just conforming to social norms, but would have no problem with nudity if that were the social norm.

    When Jesuit priests encountered new tribes of South American natives, who lived mostly or completely nude, they reacted to this fact in at least three ways: 1.) They did everything they could to get the natives to put on clothes. 2.) They let the natives clothe themselves according to their custom. 3.) They JOINED the natives in being unclothed (at least for first contact situations) to put the natives at ease, and to create goodwill with them.

    Obviously, I consider the third option the most enlightened, tolerant, and compassionate approach. And I can tolerate the second approach, though it tends to separate each party into “civilized” and “savage”. The first (and far most common approach) I find reprehensible, and the motives I’ve heard used to be less than sound.

    I served my mission in Brazil, where mothers openly breastfed their babies (and often toddlers), making no attempts to cover up, while we taught discussions – fighting valiantly to maintain eye-contact. Sadly, at the time I regarded this as a third-world practice. I recognize now that was simply me elevating my own cultural conditioning above theirs.

    The most repugnant motives to me are the ones that drive one person to try to enforce the clothing of another person. It is one thing for a person to personally decide how, when, and how much clothing they will wear. It’s entirely another when someone makes that choice for them.

    Again, sorry for my longwindedness.

  157. April 15, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Sorry, that reference was supposed to be “1st Peter”

    1 Peter 3:3-4
    3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
    4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price

  158. April 15, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    CoriAnton> Now that is interesting. Maybe a sign that you’re right about naturism
    CoriAnton> rising in popularity among the LDS. While I was there, I checked a few
    CoriAnton> others. Utah also ranks high for “nude beaches,” “clothing optional,”
    CoriAnton> “nude” “naked” and some others.

    I think that Google Trends is per-capita, based on all searches from a given region or state. So “naturism” isn’t searched more in Utah than in California, perhaps, but “naturism” might be (for example) .001% of all searches done in California, and .002% of all searches done in Utah. Also, South Africa is the country that is highest in searches for “naturism” – and I’m pretty sure that there are more people overall in the US that make that search.

    CoriAnton> I suppose this could be interpreted that there are an increasing
    CoriAnton> number of enlightened individuals who have taken then position
    CoriAnton> that Alan and others have.

    That gets my vote! :-)

    CoriAnton> But, I suuppose that you could also guess that it’s due to the
    CoriAnton> more sexually repressed mormon men who end up seaking out
    CoriAnton> pornography, making Utah one of the highest per capita subscribers
    CoriAnton> to porn.

    Well, check this out… Utah is far and away number one for the search word “pornography”:
    http://trends.google.com/trends?q=pornography&ctab=0&geo=us&geor=all&date=all&sort=0

    In fact, Salt Lake City is the number one city for this term in the US, and solidly in position #3 out of all cities worldwide.

    But, Utah isn’t even on the top 10 for the search word “porn”. Nor is it or SLC in the top 10 for “xxx” and several other sexually explicit terms that I won’t mention here. By contrast Nevada, just over the border, shows up in the top 10 for many of those terms.

    I take that as a good sign: That perhaps there are a lot of Utahans (and particularly those in SLC) looking not FOR pornography, but doing searches ABOUT “pornography” – such as how to deal with it, or how to speak/teach about dealing with it. That would include many folks involved in Church curriculum, for research purposes.

    In any case, for at least the search words one use to find actual pornography, Utah doesn’t come out so high – definitely not as high as it does for “naturism”.

    I choose to interpret that as a positive indicator – as far as it is recorded correctly.

  159. April 15, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Oh, this is interesting. Utah also scores high with Google Trends for many non-explicit, sex-positive words. For example “foreplay”:
    http://trends.google.com/trends?q=foreplay&ctab=0&geo=us&geor=all&date=all&sort=0

    Utah came out on top for that too, with SLC the top city. That could be something to be proud of, actually. Likewise for several other anatomical and sex-related – but not explicit or profane – search words.

    Perhaps Utahan’s interest in sex (and nudity) is more wholesome than in most states.

    Google Trends is interesting. It’s raw data, but without any context. My interpretations could be way off base, but the comparative data between states and regions still means something. And it seems to be largely positive for Utah (and hence Mormons) generally. :-)

    Incidentally, Utah has more than double the score of the second place state for “necking”. Someone’s preparing a lesson on chastity! LOL

  160. Wesley Powell
    April 15, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    As an LDS skinny-dipper, I’ve enjoyed reading this thread and I certainly appreciate the civility of the discussion. My wife and I love to go skinny dipping on our Lake Powell trips, does that make us “naturists”? I guess if that’s the definition or the name for what we do, we’ll have to adopt it. Either way, it’s one of the best vacation traditions we’ve ever started and our kids love it.

    Thanks for such an open minded discussion, it’s been very educational.

  161. April 15, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Alan… I was refering more to a recent study that showed Utah as being the state leading in onine subscriptions to adult websites… http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/red-light-states-utah-tops-the-nation-in-online-adult-website-subscriptions … Now, I don’t think the study necessarily shows anything bad about the use of porn among members, but doesn’t look great.

    Isn’t google trends fun! That is interesting about Utah searching for pornography, but not porn and other explicit terms. I think you may really be on to something here. Combined with the searches for naturism, naturist, free hiking, etc, perhaps the members are shifting to a more wholesome view of nudity.

  162. Cowboy
    April 16, 2009 at 9:36 am

    “Pornography is a supply and demand proposition. It exists because enough people want it. With modern data transmission methods, the supply is virtually limitless. So, address the demand instead.”

    Actually, I think that makes alot of sense. I’m not sold on naturism, but I think this may be a way to address the consumption of pornography.

  163. Cowboy
    April 16, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I just found this article by doing a google search for “google trends, Utah”. It confirms what I already expected, so feel free to accuse me of confirmation bias, that many of the pornography related searches on google are probably not for research. Utah leads the nation on searches for terms which clearly are intended to locate porn for non-academic purposes. On the flip side, Utah also seems to lead in the number of hits for “Jesus”. So it is not all bad, let’s just not kid ourselves into believing that Utah only “appears” to have an unusually high rate of porn consumption because we are loaded an inordinate number of junior researchers.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20071012/ai_n21051739/

  164. DMichael
    April 16, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I’m just discovering this discussion, and I haven’t read every post–too many to do that at the moment. But I’ve sampled enough of them, I think, to get the gist of what’s being said.

    I happen to know Alan and his family personally. I can vouch for the accuracy of everything he’s said–especially the picture he painted of his family. His children are indeed awesome. They are thoughtful, mature, extremely moral kids. They are astoundingly intelligent. I attribute a great deal of this to their parents, but I also consider the family naturism they grew up with to be a significant factor. That openness and trust unfettered with prudish guilt and fear had to be a major contributing factor to their children’s willingness to explore and learn and grow, and to enjoy uncommon self-worth compared to other teenagers.

    And–very importantly–to trust their parents. There is NO rebelliousness among the Palmer children, because there is nothing to rebel against. The Palmer children are treated as full-flegded people and given respect accordingly.

    I discovered LDS naturism through Alan’s online networking. My first reaction was to be curious what sort of silly rationilzation these “LDS Skinnydippers” used to justify their behavior. By the time I finished investigating it, I was convinced. So much so that I put naturism (from an LDS perspective) to the test myself.

    Nine years later I can report that naturism has passed every test with flying colors.

    On the test of “by their fruits ye shall know them” alone, naturism passes the test. I would need no further test to be convinced of the goodness of naturism and the validity of the claims naturists make for their philosophy. In the beginning I prayed that their claims would be true, because I was one who was plagued with intense sexual temptation. Not that I succumbed on a regular basis, but I was sick to death of the frustration of dealing with it. The claim that naturism could diffuse the sexual trigger that female bodies could be was enticing to me.

    Happily, I found it to be true. I do not claim that female bodies hold no sexual enticement for me anymore–perish the thought! I claim that naturism was instrumental in training me to be in control of the reaction, to defang the monster of miserable wrestling with temptation that had tortured me all my life. I no longer fear the temptaiton of sex. I have learned to empower myselfin dealing with it in a positive way.

    I used to use cable TV late night shows as a sort of self-medication with sexual arousal. I wouldn’t quite call myself a pornography addict, but there were times of depression or stress where it would just help me feel better to surf the channels and look for those certain shows that could give me a sexual stimulus to drive out the painful feelings.

    Then I discovered naturism. After about a year of practicing it, I happened to be surfing cable TV one night and came across one of “those” shows again. The couple were on the verge of going at it, dressed in leather and lace and what-not. Before, I would pause at such a scene and relish the buzz I’d get from it, but this time I stared at it for a few seconds and said to myself, “This is ugly!” and surfed on.

    That was the first time I consciously noticed that the claims of naturism are true. Today I require no will power to resist the attraction of pornography, because pornography has no attraction. The difference between the wholesome images of naturist nudity and the degrading images of pornographic nudity are palpable. Pornographiuc nudity is ugly! I don’t need to fight the temptation to view pornography any more than I need to fight the temptation to eat worms.

    I could spend hours discussing the many experiences I’ve had over the nine years I’ve called myself a naturist. So I’ll attempt to summarize the results. I started out with an intellectual testimony of naturism–the arguments made sense to me. I put it to the test, and learned from personal experience that the fruits of naturism are positive, desirable, beneficial, even healing.

    But I didn’t stop there. I sought guidance from the Lord and received one of the most powerful spiritual manifestations of my life confirming that what I believed about naturism was true. It’s a spiritual manifestation that I’ve experienced over and over to varying degrees of intensity as I’ve practiced the principles of naturism that I believe in.

    Knowing Alan as I do, I feel safe in saying his commitment to naturism is built on similar experiences. There is nothing “entrenched” about his beliefs or mine. We simply know from years of experience that the principles of naturism are true ones. Our commitment to naturism is based on the same sort of experiences–intellectual, emotional, and spiritual–that Mormons base their commitment to the gospel on. We are no more “entrenched” in our naturist beliefs than Mormons are “entrenched” in their religious beliefs. We’ve simply had enough experience to have no reason to ever doubt again.

    My experiences have been so profound that any splitting hairs of what the Adam and Eve story really means or what the real meaning of modesty in dress is or any other academic debate are irrelevant. I KNOW. I must srtrongly recommend that those of you who have no practical experience with naturism yourselves really REALLY need to become more educated before arguing against it, instead of trying to debate in a vacuum of no practical information that can only come from personal experience.

    I sincerely do not want to sound antagonistic, but my commitment to naturism requires me to say that, until you actually experience naturism, you have no idea what you’re talking about. All your academic debating is no more relevant than the olden days when monks used to argue how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

  165. ken hiker
    April 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Alan and Marty are exactly right in their assessment of the benefits of naturism. I know both very well, and they are stating a truth that works. Naturism is a good fruit for sure; I know as well. My wife and I have experienced it for ourselves. It has “completely” eliminated porn and other related sexual issues from our lives, and it has greatly strengthened our marriage. It’s so unfortunate that we feel the need to hide these wonderful truths we have learned that can help others because of the reactions of those who refuse to know. Naturism fixed us. It can fix you as well. The fruits of naturism can be yours – decreased sexual temptation – increased love for your spouse, children, family, and others. You too can know the truth about naturism if you will simply try it out for yourself – it’s probably the only way.

  166. ddoger
    April 17, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Wow I’m impressed… What a great discussion. I think everyone has been extremely civil and courteous. I really enjoy discussion like this because it broadens my understanding and that in turn helps me to be more accepting of people that don’t think and act the same way I do. I spent many a day as a youth skinny dipping at the the beach and at the YMCA. As a convert to the church I thought I had to put all these things away. After coming across Alan’s website, I was astonished that maybe I was missing out on something I had truly enjoyed as a youth.

    To make a long story short I now enjoy private nudity at home and nude beaches on holidays. Why nude beaches?… not because I want to see nude people, but because I want to be somewhere I can just relax and enjoy the sun and the surf and not have to worry if I am going to offend someone or get caught in the wrong place. I have found it is no more sexual or arousing than seeing someone in a bathing suit. They are just people doing their thing, just like they would be on any other beach.

    I have also met Alan and his family and would like to consider them friends. I admire their family and respect their opinions. I have gone from being a stuffy Mormon trying to live every jot and tittle (and failing miserably) to a far more relaxed husband and father (and grandpa) who is trying to better understand the principles of the gospel and how to better Love my Father in Heaven. It has taken naturism and breaking the so called “Mormon Norms” to shift my thinking to what is really important. I love God more now than I ever have and I can say the same for my feelings for my wife.

    I love to attend the temple. I have served as a temple worker, several years as a seminary teacher, in Ward and Stake leadership roles and as a full time missionary. The more I have studied the gospel and reflected on the temple ordinances,the easier it is has been to be teachable and influenced by the spirit. We can’t rely on the “Mormon Myths” we hear in a lot of the rhetoric that is professed in Sunday School and Priesthood classes as our source for LDS Doctrine. I’m not referring to the lesson material that is supposed to be presented but to the comments offered by so called experts and theologians. We also have to understand that much of our cultural traditions have been developed from Victorian influences and old reformation style religious teachings that have crept in from other religions. Much the same way the Jews who converted to Christianity struggled with new doctrines when Christ established his church.

    Naturism isn’t essential for salvation. I don’t know if we are going to be naked in the next life. At this point, I don’t really care. I’m sure there are many that have had spiritual awakenings like I have had without being nudists. I just know the positive spiritual influence naturism has had for me and the enjoyment I have derived from it.

    fwiw

  167. Ray
    April 17, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Obviously, the word is out officially. :)

  168. Darren
    April 17, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Right Ray, I was thinking the same thing. Mormon Nudists are circling the wagons!

  169. Greg
    April 17, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Your testimonies of current, spiritual experiences are certainly more credible than the examples of nudity among Christians thousands of years ago. (I got to thinking, yesterday, about the concept of “fine-twined linen.” By the standards of biblical Christians, I suppose any fabric we use today would be considered fine-twined.) I keep harping on “current policy” and yet some people are preaching in favor of nudity citing the pre-Fall Garden of Eden which is, of course, the oldest example of “current policy” you could possibly cite!

    There seems to be an assumption here that anyone in a pre-Naturist mindset has serious and damaging hang-ups about nudity, pornography and sexuality. And Naturism is, of course, the best cure. But what if you’re not so hung-up about that stuff? Naturism seems like radical therapy. I don’t need brain surgery if I only have a mild headache once in a while. And you have to give me a little credit for being cautious. I mean, if the brain surgery doesn’t work right, I’ll have brain damage and a big scar on my head. Can you blame me for not taking the risk, especially when my church’s leaders keep telling me to be extremely careful with my “brain”?

    The credibility of the pro-Naturism testimonies could be enhanced if there were more female voices. I’ll assume that women are less likely to be interested in pornography, so they don’t have that issue to overcome so much. But they’re probably more likely to be unhappy with the appearance of their own bodies. I’m not hearing them flocking to this discussion to praise how Naturism cured them. Sure, you can tell me that your wife loves the lifestyle, but why hasn’t she come here to tell us herself.

    Please don’t be offended. I’m just trying to explore the topic a little more. And I’m giving you a chance to diffuse the societal assumption that men enjoy public nudity more than women because men are more crazy about sex.

  170. Paul in Carsopn City
    April 17, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Some points to ponder:

    -Eating the fruit was not a sin. It is taught by the General Authorities as a “transgression”. What, then, was the “original sin”? I submit it was following the commandment of Satan to cover up.
    -Wearing the garment 24 hours a day is not commanded, and doesn’t even make sense. The commandment to wear it “throughout our lives” is like the National Safety Council’s advice to “always wear a seat belt”. We are expected to use our God-given intelligence and make sound value judgments. I only wear my seat belt when I am in a car. I wear my garment whenever appropriate and only remove it when there is a good reason, such as the 4 S’s often quoted by the General Authorities – Sex, Showering, Swimming, and Sports.
    -Cover the body because it is sacred? Consider the implications of such logic. Nipples and navels are covered because they are sacred – except when swimming, then the man’s nipples and navel are no longer sacred but the woman’s still are. And the anus must be most sacred of all because it is never uncovered.
    -There is no mention of shame in the first part of Genesis, except to state that it did not exist. The idea of shame, the concept that the body was something distasteful and to be covered, was introduced by Satan. God’s provision of clothing was not due to shame or for the purpose of “modesty”. Adam and Eve were man and wife. There was no need for them to cover up in each others presence. The sole purpose for the clothing provided by God [aside from the analogy of sacrifice and atonement] was physical protection from the elements and hazards of the world outside the garden.
    -Cover the body because it is a temple? This is another example of faulty logic. We build our temples on high places, to be seen. We even light them at night to “attract the gaze” of all the world. Our bodies are God’s finest creation. Like temples, we hold them in reverence and respect. Like temples, we should carefully monitor what enters them.
    -Shame is Satan’s greatest tool. It is what puts the allure in pornography. It is what allows sexual predators to gain and maintain control over their victims. It is what prevents victims [adult as well as youth] from reporting abuse. It is what destroys self-esteem and initiates an ever-increasing spiral of abuse, shame, repeated sinning, and more shame. Shame of the human body, God’s finest creation, is the greatest victory we could hand to Satan.

    For insight on the garment and how/when it should be worn see; “The Temple Garment”, a talk given by Carlos Asay when he was president of the Salt Lake temple. It clearly shows that wearing the garment is between the member and the Lord and that detailed parameters of when and when not to wear it are not doctrinal, and should not be sought for. We need not be “commanded in all things” in matters regarding wearing the garment.

    There is much more I could say. There are references in scripture to prophets, and even Christ, being nude on appropriate occasions. Some of these have been referenced in other posts above. There is much confusion in the minds of many church members, of what constitutes doctrine, commandments, guidelines, and cultural customs. You need to seek the inspiration of the Spirit in such matters, and what may be appropriate for you may not be what is appropriate for others. That’s why we have the gift of the Holy Ghost to aid each of us in the search for the truths that are most appropriate for us in our present condition and circumstances. Seek the Spirit and do what is right at this time for you and yours. Then keep your heart and mind open to the possibility that those things may change as you progress.

  171. Cowboy
    April 17, 2009 at 11:33 am

    “There was no need for them to cover up in each others presence. The sole purpose for the clothing provided by God [aside from the analogy of sacrifice and atonement] was physical protection from the elements and hazards of the world outside the garden.”

    I think you have this backwards. Physical protection was most likely a by product of the skins, they relate exactly and entirely to the Atonement, which is why it is so important. I don’t recall any language in the Temple which specifies that the Garment was intended to be a physical protection. It is symbolic of being covered, by Covenant, under the Atonement. Furthermore, I think we should bear in mind that in a Temple ceremony we don’t necessarily undress. Rather we enter in all dressed in white plain clothes, figurative of Adam and Eve’s respective nakedness while not sacrificing our sensibilities, and then we actually layer ON clothing as we are further clothed in the Priesthood. When we enter the Celestial Room, we are not naked, either literally or figuratively, we are clothed both literally and symbolically.

    I can almost be persuaded by the logic that “naturism” could pose some social advantages, and serve as a “worldly” solution to the counterfeit forms of sexuality favored in the mass media. Where you lose me is in the theological arguments which seem to entirely contravene the covenants and practices, said to be divinely restored, regarding the Priesthood Garment. The impression I get is that naturists would, if found socially acceptable, function entirely in the nude on a day to day basis. This could not be done without setting aside the Garment. So while we each may determine how the Garment should be worn (which is not entirely true by the way), this was intended to serve as a matter pulling Church leaders out of a micro-management of member dress code. It is not intended to dempahisize the Church’s position regarding the Garment.

  172. Kevin M
    April 17, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Darren: “Right Ray, I was thinking the same thing. Mormon Nudists are circling the wagons!”

    I don’t care for the implications in that statement. It implies defensiveness… preparations to do battle. All I see are people bearing witness to their personal truths and experiences. Naturally, this blog thread has drawn interest from those who have an interest in the topics being discussed here.

    I am an old friend of the Palmer family, one who has skinny-dipped with them at their home, as well as other venues. I happen to know that Alan is an extremely busy person. To have people who personally know him come in and testify to his credibility, moral fiber, and claims about his children’s moral and psychological development is only fair.

  173. Greg
    April 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    You can define “original sin” any way you like, but Mormons don’t officially believe in it anyway.

    “Seek the Spirit and do what is right at this time for you and yours. Then keep your heart and mind open to the possibility that those things may change as you progress.”

    I can’t see that I’m violating that admonition. I’ll be the first to congratulate you when a General Conference talk or an Engisn article backs you up on the nudity issue. Meanwhile, the general message from church leadership seems headed in the opposite direction… unless you try really hard to read between the lines and focus on what isn’t said. I’m not sensing some kind of coded message from Salt Lake City which says, “but if you’re more sophisticated than the weakest of Saints, you’re welcomed to disreagard all of these annoying talks about modesty issues.”

    And, let’s see. Why do I cover my anus? Come on! I shouldn’t have to explain that.

  174. Greg
    April 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Hey! I found that talk by Carlos Assay which was mentioned earlier. And, yes, it says that ultimately we’re all personally responsible for how and when we wear temple garments. There’s no “Law of Moses” checklist. In light of the present discussion, the following paraphraph (quoted from a First Presidency letter in 1988) sort of screamed out at me.

    “The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it. Thus, members should not remove either all or part of the garment to work in the yard or to lounge around the home in swimwear or immodest clothing. Nor should they remove it to participate in recreational activities that can reasonably be done with the garment worn properly beneath regular clothing. When the garment must be removed, such as for swimming, it should be restored as soon as possible. ”

    This is where I found the talk…

    http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Talks/TempleGarment.htm

  175. April 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Modesty has been batted back and forth here a number of times and was dealt with pretty thoroughly 5-6 posts ago. To me modesty is an issue when the clothing a person wears in public draws specific attention to the person in a sexual and provocative way, i.e. bare midriffs, deep cleavage, string/thong bikinis, etc.. That to me is very different than what is being discussed with naturism/nudism. I don’t find talks about modesty issues annoying at all because first of all I agree and secondly we’re talking about 2 different things. When you’re with a group of nice people that happen to be naked, nobody’s being immodest. IMHO.

  176. Greg
    April 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Are we really talking about two different things? Some people think the term “sexual intercourse” isn’t polite enough in church settings, so you don’t hear the term much in General Conference nor see it printed on the pages of the Ensign. But I’ve certainly heard people in the church talk about “intimacy” issues among married couples. It’s clear to me that the official discussion of “modesty” includes advice about nudity. But the publications are usually too “modest” to use a word which may seem “impolite” to many in the church. When young women (and young men!) are advised not to wear “revealing” clothing I don’t read that as “But if you have no clothing at all, it’s not revealing clothing so that’s okay with us!”

    In The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A on the LDS.org web site, a chapter about Chastity and Modesty says, “We are responsible for the effect our dress standards have on others. Anything that causes improper thoughts or sets a bad example before others is not modest. It is especially important that we teach young girls not to wear clothes that would encourage young men to have improper thoughts.”

    You may say, “But I can never know what anyone else is thinking!” Nevertheless, this is a current and official publication… whereas the church web site goes out of its way to note that The Encyclopedia of Mormonism is not official. The Church doesn’t accept the I’m-not-my-brother’s-keeper defense when it comes to inspiring other people’s thoughts. The Church’s position always seems to err on the side of caution in most matters anyway.

    Honestly, I’m not trying to take the “Bible Bashing” approach to this topic, but when people claim that the church doesn’t have an official policy or that it’s not clear, I don’t believe it. I made an honest search and this is what I found.

  177. Ray
    April 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I don’t care for the implications in that statement. (about circling the wagons)

    Kevin, I also don’t like the wording. However . . .

    Then keep your heart and mind open to the possibility that those things may change as you progress.

    Can you see how this sounds just as condescending?

  178. Darren
    April 17, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Darren: “Right Ray, I was thinking the same thing. Mormon Nudists are circling the wagons!”

    Kevin: “I don’t care for the implications in that statement. It implies defensiveness… preparations to do battle. All I see are people bearing witness to their personal truths and experiences. Naturally, this blog thread has drawn interest from those who have an interest in the topics being discussed here. ”

    Point taken. Very poor choice of words on my part. Please let me try again. It seems the longer this thread goes on more people show up to say, “I’m a nudist too! It’s wonderful!” I had absolutely no idea this sub culture of the LDS religion existed, and they all seem to know each other. I can picture in my mind’s eye a sub-network of Mormon Nudists spreading the message, “Come check this out! Say something nice about us!”

    It’s humorous.

    Before reading this thread (and I’ve read every post) I would have dismissed a “Mormon Nudist” as a terribly confused soul. I see now that it’s not as black and white as I would have thought, and many times in reading some posts in favor of nudism I’ve thought, “that’s actually a sound point.” My biggest “Ah Ha!” moment here was when someone, I don’t recall who, said the reason they like going to nude beaches is because it feels wonderful to feel the sun and breeze and water on all parts of his body. That speaks to me much more then conversations about Adam and Eve, pornography, or temple garments.

    Let’s be honest! What person here has NOT, at least once in their lives, thought about how great it would feel to take it all off outside? Even if you have to reach back into childhood to remember the feeling of running around naked, I’d be willing to say that anyone who has never thought about how good it would feel just does not want to admit it, even to themself. Yet like most people, if I think about it the “other” voice kicks in that says, “It’s not modest!” and it wins.

    I won’t be taking my wife and kids to a nude beach any time soon (or ever), but at least I can say that a window has been opened in my mind that was not there before: Other LDS families DO go to nude beaches, and maybe, just maybe, it’s not a sin?

    (or maybe just not as bad of a sin as I once thought?)
    :-)

  179. April 17, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Greg> when people claim that the church doesn’t have an official policy
    Greg> or that it’s not clear, I don’t believe it.

    I think I’m one of the people who you are referring to who has made that claim. I don’t seek make you believe it, but I want to be more clear about what you are disbelieving.

    On the first point, about official policy, it is quite demonstrably the case that the Church has no official policy on: simple nudity, nudism, or naturism. It can not be found in the Church Handbook of Instructions, official Church publications, nor in writings of prominent leaders of the Church. Anecdotal evidence also confirms that there is no unwritten policy. Specifically, several GAs have been consulted about this question (simple nudity, nudism, and/or naturism), and have been quoted as saying that the Church does not have any official “stand” or “policy” on these things.

    In my perspective, the responses from the various GAs are similar enough to each other to suggest that the unwritten position among the Brethren is decidedly that “we have no official policy.” That’s just my speculation. This is not to say that these GAs are admitting to personal tolerance or acceptance of naturism – indeed, several have taken personal positions against, and some have been neutral. Those who were neutral generally urged caution. That is understandable.

    To the second point, about the lack of clarity, we need to be specific – what subject are we talking about that you believe is clear, and naturists are (or I am) calling unclear? The “no policy” policy seems clear to me. The absence of doctrinal teaching against mere nudity, nudism, and naturism is clear to me. Some other things, such as the prevailing LDS definitions of modesty are not clear to me. The precise origin of current garment wearing practices is not clear to me (and admittedly I am one who urges a conservative stance on that, out of sensitivity for the temple covenant association involved.)

    I admit that I once accepted on faith that the Church position on mere nudity must have been something concrete, set in stone, committed to pen and ink, and unambiguous. It doesn’t surprise me that many LDS members hold the same view I once did, from the other side of experience. Having studied it out, as have many others, I see that it is not so. It simply is not codified that way. I like to believe that this is not simply a loophole, or some anachronism of modern revelation not yet caught up to our times, but that the issue has been left open-ended by our Father in Heaven for a reason.

  180. Jerry
    April 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    When I was at Ricks College I had a dating courtship and marriage class. When we discussed orgasms and sex most of the students hid their faces and it was really quiet. After 3-4 hours of discussion the embarrassment was greatly diminished and mostly gone. Nudity is the same way.

    Our local TV station went to a local nudist club and interviewed several active Christians and most of them were Mormons. This seemed to be very out of sync with what we say publicly and I would have to agree. But just like even talking about sex there seems to be initial sexuality but it seems to go away pretty quickly. But honestly most nudists they have interviewed here on TV wouldn’t cause any sexual thoughts in my head. I also think Hollywood would also be in a world of hurt if we ever desexualized nudity. I can’t imagine how our culture would survive if we don’t reduce everything people wear to sex and sex appeal.

  181. April 17, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Greg

    “It’s clear to me that the official discussion of “modesty” includes advice about nudity.”

    I guess I just never got that message and don’t see it that way. I think it’s a matter of how a person interprets it according to their own experience. as I mentioned above modesty is what directs ones thoughts away from the sexual. Nudity in the setting we’ve been discussing just doesn’t have that affect of sexualizing the encounter.

    Jerry

    “But honestly most nudists they have interviewed here on TV wouldn’t cause any sexual thoughts in my head.”

    It’s true. In real life people look pretty normal. Nobody’s air brushed, nipped or tucked. Just normal. Real different than magazines and movies and the things that have totally warped our view of what the human body is and represents. Being naked out in the open air with a bunch of nice normal people is very enlightening about what we’re really like, not to mention a lot of fun.

  182. April 17, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I agree with GBSmith: I think if everybody is naked in a non-sexual context, modesty is not an issue.

    OTOH, it seems to me that keeping your garments on is the default position for members who have been to the temple, i.e., one should wear one’s garments when just hanging around and doing nothing in particular. Although I suppose that naturist members can argue that they’re “engaging in nude recreation,” which is impossible with garments on, and not simply “hanging out” (no pun intended).

  183. Greg
    April 17, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I don’t expect a Proclamation-to-the-World-level policy on nudity. I can imagine such a document (which you could purchase in a nice frame at Deseret Book to post in your family room). It would be ridiculous. No wonder the Church hasn’t produced one. So, since the document doesn’t exist and a small number of General Authorities have said, “no comment,” are you asking me to believe that the church doesn’t have a standard? I don’t buy it. All these talks and lessons which tell us to “dress modestly” tell me that being dressed in some kind of fabric is a given… a base line… so we aren’t trying to multiply by zero.

  184. Orson Argonaut
    April 17, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    FWIW, my wife and I are active, temple-going LDS naturists who love the Savior and who place the atonement at the center of our lives. My wife’s first experience at a clothing-optional beach brought tears of joy to her eyes. She saw a young father playing with his 2 children and having a wonderful time. The scene brought to memory a time in her childhood when she was whipped with a belt for accidentally seeing her father naked. We have shared numerous naturist outings, and have felt personally nurtured by each one. I was introduced to social nudity by my father when I was 14 (a clothing-optional sauna). At the time, my father was an active High Priest (he is now quite old and is a temple worker). He is also Scandinavian, and being nude was the only way he knew to steam. When he told me he wanted to take me to a sauna, I objected because I did not have a swim suit. He simply said that I would not need one. That was his only comment about the fact that everybody was nude. It did not bother him at all, and after a while it did not bother me either.

    I know that most members of the church would not consider naturism as being compatible (much less complementary) to the Gospel, but that is my belief, for that is how I have experienced it. I personally feel very blessed by the strength it has given me in controlling my thoughts and in increasing my love and respect for others. Of course, one must be careful about selecting safe, comfortable and nurturing environments. There are beaches and areas that are used for less than wholesome purposes by people who are naked but certainly not naturists. There are clothing-optional resorts that cater to lasciviousness. But there are many great places and people who just enjoy being who they are in nature, the fantastic feeling of the air and sun on the skin, and the uninhibited and innocent exuberance of childhood at any age.

    Thank you for hosting this discussion. I enjoyed reading all points of view.

  185. Kevin M
    April 18, 2009 at 8:12 am

    When you’re in a social nude environment, where you and everyone around you is nude, it only takes a little while before you cease to see parts, and start to see people.

    In 1st Samuel 16:7, God instructs the prophet to see as the Lord sees:
    “7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

    It is my witness that nudism helps us achieve this kind of vision of people.

    In the 20th century, the “Gospel of Thomas” was discovered. Its authenticity is well accepted by scholars, and I believe it would have been accepted as canon if it had not been lost in antiquity. Verse 37 says:
    “His disciples said, “When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?”
    Jesus said, “When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample then, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid.””

    This correlates well to the canonical verse of Luke 18:16-17
    “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
    Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

    It is clear that Jesus wants us to obtain a mindset of innocence if we are to enter into the Kingdom of God.

    One more scripture (Titus 1:15): “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

    The word “saint”, means “holy” or “pure”. So, to the (true) saint, all things are pure. When I chose to embrace nudism/maturism, it was a conscious choice on my part to change my mind and conscience from a state of defilement to a state of purity. The power to choose how you will see the naked body is part of the freeing power of social nudity. and why it is an inoculation against porn addiction.

  186. Kevin M
    April 18, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I’d like to add that it is not necessary to go as far as social nudity to achieve a greater state of purity of mind. Just choose to accept the human body itself as pure, and the sight of it as innocent. just as the poster who saw all the topless women at the beach in Europe when he was a teenager, you soon realize that “porn lies”. You can come to appreciate the human form and see it as God sees it… as a tabernacle for the spirit.

    What does the man, who hoots and howls and whistles lasciviously at the sight of a naked woman, have in common with the prudish man who hides his eyes from the same sight? They both agree that the woman’s body is there in their vision to arouse them. The only difference is that the first man enjoys the arousal where the second does not.

    But there is a third way. That is to choose not to be aroused. It need not have the power of arousal over you. This is the message of the LDS Skinny-Dippers. You can free yourselves from the bondage that Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and the porn industry wish to keep you in, if you will but shed your shame and accept the human body as pure.

  187. wayfarer
    April 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Kevin,I’m sure that there are many parents,nurses,doctors and care workers who have learnt the same lesson.The body of another is not there to serve us,it is for us to serve the sacred body of another.

  188. Jay
    April 18, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    @Greg #183:

    You have assumed an unstated premise and drawn a conclusion that may not be accurate: “All these talks and lessons which tell us to “dress modestly” tell me that being dressed in some kind of fabric is a given… a base line.”

    From this you have assumed an underlying mandate to be clothed whenever possible. But this is not stated or logically inferrable. It is an assumption that reflects your personal preference. The most you can defensibly extrapolate from “all these talks and lessons” is a conclusion that when one is dressed, they should dress modestly.

    This says nothing about when it is or isn’t appropriate to be dressed or not. Thus, the statement has no impact on the question of naturism.

  189. Cowboy
    April 19, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Do you have anything to support your argument that Greg’s “assumption” is false, and not supported by the Church leaders. Something other than the fact that there is not a single talk or policy which addresses naturism specifically. I can accept that every rule has it’s exception, I’m not sure naturism is that exception, but while commentary from Church leaders on naturism may be absent, Greg is right that all of the talks which lie within the domain of social nudity seem to be against it. Which is why I find your didactic rebuttall perplexing, the whole LDS pro-naturism position is based on a personal assumption.

  190. Greg
    April 19, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I’m afraid I can’t accept the Gospel of Thomas based only of the idea that scholars accept it. In addition to the fact that I never heard of it until now, I’m really not qualified to determine its authenticity nor usefulness (which is one of the reasons I’m grateful for the responsibility of “the Brethren” on such things). Meanwhile, you’re free to consider it among the “best books” available outside the realm of definitive doctrine.

    There seems to be a bit of a contest here to prove that “my lifestyle is better than yours.” Can we agree that the typical, mainstream Mormon has no idea that there’s such a thing as an “active Mormon” Naturist family? The original posting on this topic certainly seemed to imply an enjoyment of the shock value. And I still perceive a message which sounds something like…

    “It’s too bad that most Latter-day Saints aren’t living on a higher plain like we Naturists are. What we do is so much better than the advice about clothes and pornography which is coming from Salt Lake City. I’m sure that the mainstream of the church is on the wrong path about this, as proven by Google and the Gospel of Thomas. I’m not proselytizing, of course, but I want you to know that my lifestyle gives me a better perspective on important topics like respect for the body, acceptance of other people and rejecting pornography. I also understand the importance and proper usage of the temple garment better than you do. Since they’re pretty-much symbolic, I rarely need to literally wear garments. The General Authorities also know what I know, but they won’t say it in General Conference. Who knows why not? But it’s part of the reason I don’t openly talk about my lifestyle at church either. Anyway, Satan invented clothes as a way of institutionalizing shame. People on the higher plain know that the only way to escape shame is to reject clothing.”

    This may not be what was stated, but it’s what I’m hearing. Please feel free to clarify the message if I got anything wrong… even if the tone is the only thing I got wrong.

    Meanwhile, congratulations if you’ve actually found the best antidote for pornography. I’m not convinced, however, because you’d have to accept a concept which was rejected earlier: “Nudity is the primary element of pornography.”

    When I was in Junior High, my first experience with pornography was limited to what the kid down the street showed me. It was a magazine with still pictures of naked women who weren’t doing anything except posing. Today’s pornography includes every kind of so-called “sex act” you can imagine with sound and video, easily downloadable. I’m not convinced that being comfortable among nude people in non-sexual situations is really going to diffuse curiosity about pornography, precisely because pornography is so completely different.

    Consider the following scenario: A nice, mainstream Mormon kid has never been interested in pornography. A punk down the street shows him a hard-core web site with all kinds of “sex acts” portrayed. The nice kid knows it’s wrong to look at the stuff and feels badly about what he’s seen. But he doesn’t want to make a neighborhood-wide issue about it or include parents, so he just doesn’t talk about it. The next day, the nice kid goes to a Ward picnic and avoids eye contact with the Bishop. The Bishop doesn’t notice this behavior.

    Now, consider the same scenario except that the “nice, Mormon kid” comes from a Naturist household. And, instead of a Ward picnic, he’s going to a Naturist picnic where he’s going to see dozens, if not hundreds, of naked people. Which of these two, nice kids would be the most traumatized by his experience? Of course, I can’t answer this. Every kid is different. But I certainly have an opinion.

    Anyways… I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up with this conversation for a few days. I’ll be out of town and, most likely, away from the Internet too. I wonder what will happen to this discussion by the time I get back.

  191. April 19, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I’m sure that the mainstream of the church is on the wrong path about this, as proven by Google and the Gospel of Thomas ;)

    I know, I shouldn’t be posting in what looks to become the longest thread at Mormon Matters, but someone dropped me a note that it was a permablogger’s duty to add to the thread.

  192. Ray
    April 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Yeah, we probably should add at least eight more comments after this one to ensure it gets to 200 comments. It probably will anyway, as others find it, but this is a matter of honor now. Comment 200 should be posted by a regular Mormon Matters commenter.

  193. Jeff Spector
    April 19, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I am just waiting….

  194. GBSmith
    April 19, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Greg

    After reading your last comment I just wanted to say that I don’t think that was the message people that are naturists wanted to leave. In their enthusiasm people have emphasized all sorts of reasons why nudism to them has been beneficial but I personally don’t feel they’ve been consciously condescending or have tried to place themselves on some sort of higher plane. I think a good share of the comments have been to let skeptics know that it was something they thought through and feel in good conscience they can participate in and still be faithful members.

    I doubt there will ever be a specific counsel against nudism either from the pulpit or in print unless it’s perceived a a big enough problem or threat to show up on the Brethren’s radar. So again it’s left for people to think it through and decide for themselves.

    Lastly, since it seems a permablogger intends to be the 200th poster, just a word of caution. Remember, Jeff, sarcasm if the devil’s tool, no matter how you rationalize it.

  195. Ray
    April 19, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    What GB said in his first two paragraphs. I’d agree with the last one, as well, but sometimes sarcasm simply is a gift of God – or, at least, necessary – or, at the very least, justifiable. OK, it’s rationalizable.

    Five more, people. Don’t wait for #200; the reward is the same for all who get us there from here.

  196. Kevin M
    April 20, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I feel sad when I read that Greg feels he must depend on the brethren to determine the truthfulness of a book that claims to be scripture. I wonder if he also believes the Book of Mormon to be true because the brethren say it is? I would suggest that the Gospel of Thomas is just as subject to the test of Moroni’s Promise as the Book of Mormon is (bearing in mind that “if there be errors, they be the errors of men, not of God”.)

    As to his feelings about the message of LDS naturists being condescending; perhaps he’s right. Perhaps LDS naturists truly believe they have found a “better way”. I know that I agonized over the decision to try nudism/naturism for months before I tried it, and years afterward, as I worked to reconcile it with my beliefs. But in the end, I couldn’t deny the effectiveness and power of what I had found, and I was engaging in “counting the angels dancing on the head of a pin” with all my intellectual debate (both internally and with others).

    Now, I just try to follow the advice I give to any missionary: “Stop debating, and just testify!”

  197. Bryan
    April 20, 2009 at 9:33 am

    GREG: (in trying to voice the opinion of Mormon Nudists): “I also understand the importance and proper usage of the temple garment better than you do. Since they’re pretty-much symbolic, I rarely need to literally wear garments.”

    BRYAN: I’ve been silent here for a long time because there have been so many others who are more qualified to speak then I am. But there are a couple of things, Greg, that I feel I need to say in reply to your post.

    One of the first false assumptions that is made about a “nudist” who is also LDS is that the nudist chooses to always be naked, or at least tries to be naked as often as possible, and is thus seldom not wearing garments. While this may be true for an extreme few, I do not believe it’s the case for most. Most the of the declared “nudists” who are also Mormons that I know are fully clothed as often as you are, or as often as the average member of the church. The difference is that when they want to spend a day, or an afternoon relaxing, or hiking in the remote wilderness, or soaking at a hot springs… an activity in which MOST active, garment wearing members would opt to remove their garments to prevent them either being exposed or being drenched in sweat… a nudist will opt to wear nothing at all.

    As far as garments are concerned, I see no conflict.

    GREG: “Meanwhile, congratulations if you’ve actually found the best antidote for pornography. I’m not convinced, however, because you’d have to accept a concept which was rejected earlier: “Nudity is the primary element of pornography.””

    BRYAN: No! No! No! Nudity is NOT the primary element of pornography. This, Greg, is the grand lie of porn, and you have chosen to believe it. This is vital, so please try to understand: FALSE nudity and SEXUALIZED nudity are the primary elements of pornography. The differences between false and sexualized (porn) nudity vs. honest and non sexualized (real) nudity are monumental.

    - Porn nudity chooses models that do not represent reality. The models have been starved and cut to porpotions unnatural and unhealthy. Everything about the photographs (or videos) from the lighting to the setting is designed to be sexual.

    - Real nudity in a safe, modest setting is chosen by real people, not porn models. Real people do not look anything like porn models.

    - The models are posed in positions you will never see at a family friendly clothing optional resort, and their positions are meant to titillate, excite, and most of all, sell.

    - Porn nudity is created by evil men who extort the human body for money

    - Real nudity is nothing more then God’s creation

    Greg, this point is so important I can’t emphasis it enough: The idea that porn nudity and real nudity are the same thing is THE key point, THE key issue, the A#1 Lie that the nudist movement tries to expose. The idea that porn nudity and real nudity are the same thing is what (in my opinion) drives so much of the body shame and self esteem issues from which so many of us struggle. Follow this thinking to it’s logical conclusion:

    “Porn nudity and real nudity are the same thing” = “the human body is pornographic”

    Is this really the message we want to teach our kids? Do you want your sons and daughters to grow up thinking that they are a living, breathing, walking porn show? We rightly reject porn and declare it to be evil. But when we teach our kids (and ourselves) that their bodies are pornographic, we indirectly teach them that *their* bodies are evil. I REJECT this lie. I reject it with great emotion. I refuse to have anything to do with it.

    I’m not saying that becoming a nudist is the only way to reject this lie, but I most certainly AM saying that using it as a reason to reject the very idea of nudism is not sound logic.

    GREG: “Consider the following scenario: A nice, mainstream Mormon kid has never been interested in pornography. A punk down the street shows him a hard-core web site with all kinds of “sex acts” portrayed. The nice kid knows it’s wrong to look at the stuff and feels badly about what he’s seen. But he doesn’t want to make a neighborhood-wide issue about it or include parents, so he just doesn’t talk about it. The next day, the nice kid goes to a Ward picnic and avoids eye contact with the Bishop. The Bishop doesn’t notice this behavior.”

    GREG: “Now, consider the same scenario except that the “nice, Mormon kid” comes from a Naturist household. And, instead of a Ward picnic, he’s going to a Naturist picnic where he’s going to see dozens, if not hundreds, of naked people. Which of these two, nice kids would be the most traumatized by his experience? Of course, I can’t answer this. Every kid is different. But I certainly have an opinion.”

    BRYAN: I am not sure I know what you’re point is here. First, I don’t like the subtle suggestion that a nudist family would reject the ward picnic in favor of a naturist picnic. I can’t speak for everyone else, but my family would not make this choice. But that aside, it seems as if you are saying that the first boy who sees real porn will be just as damaged or harmed (or maybe even less?) then the second boy who sees dozens if not hundreds of naked people. If this what you are saying, then I could not possibly disagree with you more strongly, based on what I’ve said above. I would pose this question to you:

    Why do you feel that a young boy who would witness dozens or hundreds of God’s creations in a safe, nonsexual setting behaving in a dignified modest manner would be harmful?

    I look forward to your reply when you get back from out of town. (If I have come off as too emotional or too personal, please forgive me. This is something about which I feel strongly.)

    Thanks,

    Bryan

  198. Kevin M
    April 20, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Now that I think about it, I also want to say that I wasn’t quoting the Gospel of Thomas as a form of intellectual debate to “prove” by an “appeal to scripture” that what I believe is correct. I did so to bring into consciousness a discussion of the value of purity of mind, and what that truly means. That “purity of mind” doesn’t mean using one’s willpower to put on a suit of armor and going into battle against one’s libido. Rather, it is the process of “becoming like a little child”. Jesus said we must become as one to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, right? So what is the process by which that occurs? What does that look like? What does that mean? The passage from Thomas is a clear statement as to one method (or perhaps evidence that the process has occurred).

    If it is the goal of the Saint to have a clean mind and a pure heart, what does that say about how one should approach the subject of human nudity? Do we take on the assumption that the body should automatically incite lust at the mere sight of it? And that maintaining a clean mind and pure heart means to avoid the inherently lust-inducing act of seeing the exposed human body? Or do we have the option instead of consciously choosing to return to the Garden of Eden, where we may be “naked and unashamed”?

    This is the challenge of the LDS naturism message. LDS naturists are proclaiming that we can choose innocence of mind. From my own perspective, I see a great many people tragically choosing to embrace a worldly paradigm about the human body (whether consciously or unconsciously), and seeing some virtue in making the naked body the battleground upon which the Will must unavoidably do battle with the Libido, a contest which the Libido unfortunately wins all too often, to the great shame of that individual. Even when the Will wins over the Libido, I believe such a victory comes at the cost of creating psychological shadows (in a Jungian sense). Alma told his sons to “bridle [their] passions”; not to “kill the horse”.

  199. Cowboy
    April 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Jesus said that if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out. It appears that the conflating of nudity with pornography is taking place with the naturists as well. Throughout this post we can find many comments from naturists who feel that the “world” teaches that our bodies are pornographic, and this leads to body shame. First of all I don’t believe that for a second. Pornography falls into the same camp as voyeurism, not appropriate nudity. Whether Mormon or not, very few in the married population would consider their decent sexual behaviors, including spousal nudity, as pornography. This line of rhetoric falls into the camp of create the need to make the sale. Pornography and voyeurism attempt to take things which are sacred and personal, even if the basis is only cultural, and put it on display for the rank and file. So, it really is a matter of casting pearls before swine. Nudity within appropriate contexts never fit’s this mold.

    For the sake of argument, I will concede that social nudity could bring clarity to our social expectations of what the body should look like, compared to the counterfeit versions portrayed in the media.

  200. Bryan
    April 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    COWBOY: “Throughout this post we can find many comments from naturists who feel that the “world” teaches that our bodies are pornographic, and this leads to body shame. First of all I don’t believe that for a second.”

    BRYAN: For clarity sake, can I ask you to specify what you don’t believe? That the world teaches that our bodies are pornographic and this leads to body shame? That our bodies are pornographic and this leads to body shame (regardless of what the world teaches)? Or that our bodies are pornographic, but this does not lead to body shame?

    I’m not being coy, I just want to make sure I understand your point.

    COWBOY: “Pornography falls into the same camp as voyeurism, not appropriate nudity.”

    BRYAN: Well said. I agree completely. I just want to be sure that we ALL agree (is this is even possible). My concern is with these kinds of statements: “Nudity is the primary element of pornography.” When real nudity is confused with pornographic nudity, which happens all to often, I feel a need to speak up. And I do very much feel that when these two polar opposite kinds of nudity are confused that it can and does lead to body shame at worst, and at best an upside down and backwards understanding of what modesty really means.

    COWBOY: For the sake of argument, I will concede that social nudity could bring clarity to our social expectations of what the body should look like, compared to the counterfeit versions portrayed in the media.

    BRYAN: I am happy to hear this, but I wish you were doing this for real, and not just for argument sake ;-)

    Bryan

  201. Cowboy
    April 20, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Bryan:

    In answer to your first question. I do not believe that the prevailing social perspective is to consider a naked body, generally, a pornographic thing. Most people understand that there is a clear dichotomy between socially acceptable circumstances of nudity, vs. the forms displayed in pornography or any other type of voyeurism. Generally society does not conflate the two circumstances.

  202. Bryan
    April 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks Cowboy.

    I hope you are right. I honestly do. I am very glad that YOU do not conflate the two, but I fear many do. Let me share some of the replies people have given me they learn that we have an ‘open door’ home or that we don’t consider taking our kids to a clothing optional beach as off limits:

    “Oh nice! Why don’t you just sit then down and watch porn movies with them as well”

    “What? Do you invite them to watch when you have sex too?”

    “You are sick! Your children should be taken away and you and your wife should be locked up!”

    “You are trying to prevent a desire for porn as an adult by allowing them to see naked people as a child? Are you stupid? That’s like giving a child cocaine in hopes that he won’t want more of it as an adult!”

    There are variations of those themes, but you would be floored at how often I’ve heard these kinds of remarks. (Maybe this helps to understand why, after a while, we just choose to keep this aspect of our lives to ourselves… we have no desire to be constantly beat over the head by the shortsightedness of others.) So as I say, I’d love to agree with you 100%, but I’ve seen too much of the opposite attitude (from LDS and non LDS) to be able to say with total confidence that you have accurately assessed prevailing social perspective.

    The thing is, I’d be willing to be that if you ask these very people this simple question: “Is God’s creation, the human body, pornographic by nature?” that most of them would say, “No. Of course not!” But when you suggest the idea of children seeing adults without clothing, they come unglued and accuse you of showing them pornography.

    I’m left to believe that they do, in fact, view the human body as pornographic by nature, but just have not come to the self-realization that they do. It’s an ever-so-subtle lie that is presented by the porn industry:

    “Look! See! This is what girls look like naked! Isn’t this fun?”

    And then, sadly, the lie is unwillingly believed and perpetuated by well-intentioned religious activists:

    “Don’t let people see you naked or you will cause them to have impure thoughts! Don’t look at naked people or you will have impure thoughts!”

    Bryan

  203. Cowboy
    April 20, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I won’t argue that the naked body is sexualized within our society. I don’t believe that it is a bad thing when placed in appropriate conditions. The porn industry is not responsible for the sexualization of a naked body, rather it capitalizes and distorts on it. The fact that viewing a naked person can cause arousal is not the problem, it is a false sense of that aspect of our human nature and culture that is the problem. I could be persuaded, perhaps, that some exposure to naturism may serve to address problems associated with pornography addictions, but not that the naked body is percieved as being inherently pornographic. Therefore when we are asked to cover up our bodies, or to refrain from looking at others who are naked, it is not because the majority of society is feeling body shame, it is because we do not want to intentionally provoke sexual arousal when it can tempt others into innapropriate behavior. I would also venture that the majority of body shame imposed by the media has less to do with relegating it to a “dirty” thing, and rather setting false expectations for what it should look like. Obviously this applies mostly to the women who will often lose self esteem if they are unable to look like the stereotypical supermodel. Of course this could apply to men as well.

    Finally, may I suggest an alternative for interpreting the reaction’s you get from others. I am an obvious LDS skeptic on these boards. Ironically despite this topic, I tend to be more liberal than most Utah Mormons, though I could be moderate compared to those who participate on these boards. When I have expressed spiritual doubts about the Church or even left leaning political views to family and ward members in Utah County, I would say that their reactions are not all unlike the experiences you described. I am generally met with irrational rebuttals, particularly from those people who have little experience in dealing with or addressing issues outside of what they see as “the group”. Regardless of what you believe about the rightness of your naturism views, you cannot deny that it is outside of domain of typical LDS orthopraxy. When those who disagree with you begin drawing parallels to “showing your children pornography” it is not because they would consider the human body as pornographic, rather because in mainstream American/LDS society there are only few exceptions as to why a group of people would ever be together in group setting’s (particularly co-ed) completely naked in a non-sexual context. So, your behavior initially comes across as bizarre, regardless of your reasons, particularly within the LDS culture. Their responses should not however, serve as evidence to how they view the body because of their initial knee jerk reactions to your unconvential philosophies.

  204. April 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    For what it’s worth, I just got married on March 7th… and I think the mystery of modesty made that day a whole lot of fun for us both. The end.

  205. Ray
    April 20, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Congratulations, Arthur – for more reasons than one. :)

  206. Cowboy
    April 20, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Case and point Arthur, well said.

    Congratulations as well!

  207. Jay
    April 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    @Arthur’s #204:

    Congratulations Arthur on your marriage.

    Now I will make myself the skunk at the picnic and take issue with your phrase, which is nicely alliterative but inaccurate. Modesty is an attitude, it’s not a dress code. The “mystery” you both experienced resulted from the cultural clothing practices with which you were raised. Nice that it had a salutary by-product effect for you, but that really has nothing to do with the broader question of whether and how naturism fits into a gospel context.

  208. April 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    *exasperated sigh*

  209. GBSmith
    April 20, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Well, Ray, 200′s come and gone. Any bets on 300?

  210. Ray
    April 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Nope. Personally, I hope it doesn’t. I can’t imagine (or don’t want to imagine) what it would take to reach that number. :)

  211. GBSmith
    April 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I expect you’re right. There’s only so many depths that can be plumbed on the subject unless it morphs into something like naturism on the Malay Peninsula in search of King Noah’s palace.

  212. April 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I was hoping my little anecdote would speak for itself, but I must respond to #207. My wife and I share one another’s bodies like a beautiful, perfect, sacred gift, known only to each other. She’s tried her best to save that gift especially for me, and I have done the same. Never mind sexuality for a moment, we have created something sacred and choose only to reveal it to hopefully one person that we truly love and cherish. How is that a salutary by-product? To us it’s amazing and sacred and… perfect.

    I understand the Naturist perspective, I think it’s been made quite clear ad nauseum here and I don’t wish to disrespect you or anyone else. I just have to say that sharing this one personal, sacred gift with my wife has been… I just can’t find words for it. And I feel like that perhaps would have been diminished if the bodies we’re sharing with each other were “appreciated” by everyone else, too.

    To each his own, but I’m kind of glad we waited for this.

    That’s what I meant with my little comment there.

  213. Jay
    April 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    @Arthur #212:

    I’m glad this works for you Arthur. I have heard this same line of reasoning many times before. The premise is that we should stay clothed all the time because even the sight of one’s unclothed body is a “privilege” or a “gift” that should only be “given” to the spouse. I have heard other LDS husbands take this further and assert that allowing anyone else to see their wife’s unclothed body is akin to actual physical violation.

    I completely support your right to take this perspective, and at the same time I’ll be honest, I have never understood it. Hands and other body parts which are always on public view are also essential parts of physical love and intimacy, yet nobody has a problem with them being “appreciated” by others who aren’t part of that intimacy, and nobody seems to feel compromised as a result. To me it is again a question of context. I doubt you’d feel that the “amazing and sacred and perfect” marital privilege was compromised by you or your wife getting a physical in a doctor’s office, or changing in a locker room. Both are voluntarily actions that involve physical exposure to others. The differences are context, setting, purposes of the exposure, and actions taken. To me, those make all the difference. Again, I’m glad your experience has worked well for you. Others have found that naturism makes no difference in the satisfaction of their marital intimacy. You are right, to each his own. Another reason why I think this issue has been left up to individual judgment.

  214. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 12:47 am

    “The differences are context, setting, purposes of the exposure, and actions taken.”

    See, we really do all agree when it comes down to it. :)

  215. KG McB
    April 21, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Are bloggers supposed to have clothes on when posting?

  216. Roten
    April 21, 2009 at 4:01 am

    KG McB – some do and some don’t. if i’ve just gotten out of the shower and am air drying while I blog, I don’t have clothes on. if i’ve just come home from work, i do.

  217. Mr Moonella
    April 21, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I can understand why people think this is such a big deal – American culture equates nudity with immorality, and the church is against immorality, so it must be against all nudity, right?

    Speaking as a European, it’s interesting to see how different cultures and different time periods have different practices. There are also different norms for different settings. What you wear on a beach would be immodest in a restaurant. Why? By violating the norm in a way that normally communicates a desire to draw attention to your body as a sexual object. But on the beach it is entirely appropriate, in keeping with others on the beach. The principle of modesty stays the same, but a prescribed hemline is not the same as a principle.

    A hundred years ago, a normal knee-length skirt would have been seen as indecent in America, and still would be in some countries. The swimwear we now wear would have been shocking, and still is in some places. Yet Latter-day Saints in America in the early 21st century can wear these things without violating the principle of modesty, because they are regarded as modest by the culture they live in.

    Uncontroversial so far, I hope.

    But don’t make the mistake of making the 21st century American dress norms a requirement when it comes to honouring the principle of modesty. In many parts of Europe it is quite normal for women to go topless on a beach, and if an LDS ward went on a beach outing, some of the women would be topless. Are they immodest? Of course not – they are wearing the normal attire for a beach outing. No one is staring at them, they aren’t flaunting themselves to open-mouthed onlookers. It’s just a normal day at the beach. They feel no need to adopt the American norm instead of the European norm, any more than Americans should feel the need to wear 19th century bathing costumes.

    As for whether you lock the bathroom door at home or change clothes in front of your children, well that seems to vary from house to house. What passes for normal in some LDS homes which would never think of themselves as ‘nudist’ would cause other Latter-day Saints to have an apoplexy.

    What I’m trying to say is that in teaching the principle of modesty the church hasn’t laid down a diagram of what should or should not be covered, to stand for all time, in all circumstances, in all cultures. Modesty is about intention and about behaviour (including dressing appropriately to the occasion). The current American cultural norm is just that – the current American cultural norm. Not a dress code for all time and eternity.

    So to be a nudist in America is certainly against the cultural norm (both of mainstream America and the Latter-day Saint community in America). But that’s all. Most Americans wouldn’t go to a nude beach because it is frowned upon in their culture. Some Americans including Latter-day Saints have decided that they don’t like their cultural norm and prefer another way. Some have said it helps them to better live gospel principles. If that is so, and the fashion for swimsuits is only a cultural norm and not an eternal gospel requirement, then why not? Teach them gospel principles and let them govern themselves.

    Why is it OK for a Latter-day Saint to wear nothing but swimming trunks on a beach full of people wearing nothing but swimming trunks (which would be inappropriate anywhere else but is deemed perfectly OK and modest) if there is uproar over the idea of a Latter-day Saint wearing nothing on a beach full of people wearing nothing? If in both cases they are just there for a normal day at the beach, what’s the difference?

  218. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 6:35 am

    We might hit 300, GB. Especially if we go all gst on BCC and start posting comments one

  219. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 6:36 am

    word

  220. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 6:37 am

    at

  221. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 6:38 am

    a

  222. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 6:38 am

    time.

  223. April 21, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I don’t know if this adds to the discussion or not, but I think it’s related. I was at a fireside with Elder Bednar (well, this was right before he was sustained), and he had a question and answer session, and someone asked him about nude art. I.e. is it pornography? He basically said (I’m paraphrasing here) that it depends on the intention of the creator AND the intention of the one looking. I think this concept is partly why many of us disagree on the nudity and/or pornography issue. Nudity by itself is not necessarily bad, imo. Naturists are saying “hey it’s nobody’s intention to arouse sexual desire, in fact, it’s the opposite” and the other side is saying “nudity = porn” when really neither argument applies to everyone.

  224. Kevin M
    April 21, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Re: Mr. Moonella in #217:

    Thank you so much for your message! I think your point was very well made. Many nudists comment that if it weren’t for the prevailing norm of compulsory clothing, there would be no such thing as “nudism”. It’s only an -ism because it runs contrary to the prevailing cultural norms.

    I, for one, chose to cast off that cultural norm because I personally found it abusive in nature. The cultural norm was telling me that my body was obscene and not fit to be seen. So I found a sub-culture that rejects that particular norm… a sub-culture that says my body is acceptable. This has done wonders for my self-acceptance. Mind you, I weighed over 350 lbs. when I became a nudist/naturist. I was never once made to feel that my body was less than acceptable within that community. I have since lost a great deal of weight, partially BECAUSE I have learned to love my body, rather than to feel disgust at it.

    FWIW, I served a mission in Germany. I remember taking a short-cut by a small lake one day on the way to an appointment in the Summer-time. My companion and I soon found ourselves riding through a mass of naked or nearly naked people. When we got to the other side, my companion stopped, turned to look at me with his face beet-red and jaw about to get caught in the spokes of his wheel. He said, “We’re not going to take THAT shortcut again!” I nodded, but something inside me wondered what the big deal really was. A part of me said, “A good Mormon… especially a missionary… goes out of his way to avoid seeing naked people.” But I believe that was the part of me that bought into the norms of the LDS sub-culture (Yes, LDS folk are part of a sub-culture. LDS comedian John Bytheway makes a living on it). Another part of me was thinking, “That was just about the least arousing experience I could imagine.” I remembered seeing real bodies of real people. In fact, I almost didn’t NOTICE that people were naked. At first, as we were riding through, I was just noticing people. That experience stuck with me, and contributed to my later acceptance of- and involvement in- nudism.

    What’s the cultural norm of the Celestial Kingdom? Or even the Terrestrial? If we accept that clothing serves two main purposes; to protect from the elements and to protect from immodest thoughts, neither of those purposes apply in a Celestial realm, right? There is an additional purpose clothing serves: that of ceremonial purpose. I suppose there may be rituals and ceremonies in the Celestial life, but not all the time, I’d assume. Anyway, it’s truly just speculation, but I really doubt that anyone would bat an eyelash if Celestial beings walked around naked. Even in the Terrestrial Kingdom, comprised of those who have truly accepted Jesus, but did not choose to obtain or abide by the higher ordinances, I doubt that there will be a need for clothing. Of course, the Earth during the Millennium is supposed to be a place of Terrestrial glory.

  225. Roten
    April 21, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Re: Moonella 217 — But don’t make the mistake of making the 21st century American dress norms a requirement when it comes to honouring the principle of modesty. In many parts of Europe it is quite normal for women to go topless on a beach, and if an LDS ward went on a beach outing, some of the women would be topless. Are they immodest? Of course not – they are wearing the normal attire for a beach outing.

    My Observation: These are good points all. Without jumping on the “Wasatch Front” sense of modesty (as a way of dress), the worldwide church is a church of inclusion for those of us who make the atonement front and center in our lives, attend temples regularly and strive to keep our covenants. I am sure some standards of clothing I have observed at church in Nepal and Ghana would send many American members into convulsions – it just isn’t done. For instance, in Nepal we all took our shoes off at the church door, and happily went barefoot into church (socks in the winter). In Ghana, many of us wore flip flops to church, and slipped out of them as soon as we sat down. How beautiful are the feet of them …. In some wards in America, this would be scandalous. Bare feet would seem as inappropriate to some as bare tops would at some beaches or pools in America. Some people believe the only place for bare feet is home or at the pool.

    My wife, children, and I feel self-conscious at natural venues if we are the only ones wearing anything. It tends to draw attention to us, rather than allowing us to blend in, and is immodest in some senses of the definition of modesty. We don’t see the reason to avoid natural settings if there are no immoral activities going on and do not see chaste nudity as immoral.

    Perhaps we could change the course of this conversation to discuss what modesty means in the scriptural sense, rather than continue to ride the nudity horse, especially for those regulars who wonder if this blog has legs to reach 300.

  226. Kevin M
    April 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Sorry for making another post so soon, but I just remembered something, as a result of thinking about the choice that Arthur and his wife have made.

    We all agree that the LDS standard for sexual behavior restricts sexuality to lawfully married couples.

    But can sex within marriage be inappropriate? I don’t mean trying different positions, or playing with mail-ordered toys.

    Let me explain.

    Early on in my marriage, we were like Arthur and his wife, reserving our naked bodies only for each other. This was all good, or so I thought, until one day, as I made overtures to her after she got out of the shower, my wife testily asked me, “Can’t you see me naked without wanting to have sex?” I realized, as I thought about that question, I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen her naked without wanting to have sex with her. In fact, I realized that seeing her naked nearly always resulted in me trying to seduce her into bed, or otherwise pressuring her to have sex. It wasn’t a MAJOR problem in our marriage, as my wife was generally willing, but it certainly revealed a lack of control on my part, especially when I realized that she was, on occasion, giving in to my advances merely to please me. It was really disrespectful of the sovereignty of her own body. Sometimes, she just wanted to be naked without it becoming a love-making session.

    The moral of the story: While it’s certainly the prerogative of someone to give the gift of their naked image to their spouse, it ceases to be a gift when the recipient spouse takes it for granted, or assumes that they now OWN the naked image of their partner.

  227. Rich
    April 21, 2009 at 11:17 am

    wow.

  228. Rich
    April 21, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    In Joseph Smith History is says:

    “He had on a loose robe of most exquisite awhiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.” (JSH 1:31)

    I’ve often wondered about the description of Moroni’s clothing that Joseph made. When I asked my wife about it once she said that Joseph must have not seen it right. I asked her why. She said something to the effect that no heavenly messenger would dress like that. I asked her why. I said something to the effect – You mean that if he wore something like that he might commit adultery in the celestial kingdom someday? No she didn’t think that but he still would have worn more clothes than what Joseph saw.

    I still think Joseph’s description was accurate but I am without words on what I have just read in this post. I seek for truth. When a group of people get there, there can only be agreement. There are two sides to this – do it and don’t do it. Both come across with seemingly good arguments. As for the nudity side, I still can’t recommend it. I think my last entry summed it up the best. (my thumb is wet from sucking on it)

  229. April 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I hope I don’t end up regretting my participation in this thread.

  230. Kevin M
    April 21, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Arthur, I hope that I’m not the cause of that regret.

  231. April 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Nah, if I’m really pressed to identify a target to blame I usually pick Yoko Ono.

  232. Kevin M
    April 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Oh, good. I pick George W. Bush.

  233. Cowboy
    April 21, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I believe that Yoko Ono and John Lennon where inclined towards the naturism sort of nudism. For George W. Bush I think this would only apply while mud-wrestling in the tomb at Yale, I also think that was a male only event so I am not sure it totally applies.

  234. Roten
    April 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Cowboy #203 I am an obvious LDS skeptic on these boards. Ironically despite this topic, I tend to be more liberal than most Utah Mormons, though I could be moderate compared to those who participate on these boards. When I have expressed spiritual doubts about the Church or even left leaning political views to family and ward members in Utah County, I would say that their reactions are not all unlike the experiences you described. I am generally met with irrational rebuttals, particularly from those people who have little experience in dealing with or addressing issues outside of what they see as “the group”. Regardless of what you believe about the rightness of your naturism views, you cannot deny that it is outside of domain of typical LDS orthopraxy.

    Roten: Cowboy, you may also be a lot more liberal than typical LDS nudists. In the LDSSDC circle there are both liberals and conservatives. I think, though, that there are few, if any, “group” thinkers.

    My understanding of orthopraxy suggests that it means:
    1. Correct practice or action
    2. Right belief combined with right practice, with the emphasis being on the latter, a term specially used in Latin American liberation theology, often in contrast with an orthodoxy seen as insufficiently interested in the practical and political content of faith.

    I would prefer if your sentence above said, “Regardless of what you believe about the rightness of your naturism views, you cannot deny that it is outside of domain of typical LDS thought patterns.” I could agree with you, that even among thinking (American) LDS folk, the thought of chaste social nudity is usually inconceivable.

    A few here suggested that they are circumspect with regard to naturist leanings within their home wards/stakes. My wife and I are to some extent, but we have also been to hot springs with our HP group leader and his wife, our bishop’s wife, his counselor’s wife, some singles, and at least two other American couples in our ward while we were living in Japan. My wife does most of the introducing and inviting. And we have found that we are just as comfortable with our church friends when we meet them lovingly the next Sunday at church, or the next ward temple day, as ever. No one feels ashamed, or averts eyes, or looks only at the face of another member for fear of looking at some other place that is now clothed. It is our personal experience that liberation of chaste thoughts is one form of true freedom, as in, Ye shall know the truth, and it shall set you free. The only thing that I know that sets us truly free is the cycle of repentance, forgiveness, and the atonement – that is the truth that sets us free. Chaste social nudity is not antithetical to the atonement and the gospel.

    If you think this is a sense of superiority or a higher law, calm down. I neither think chaste social nudity is essential to this life or to exaltation. And it is not antithetical to this life or exaltation, either. It is not for non-thinking, “groupie” LDS folk. It challenges preconceived ideas and assumptions and forces the questions of why we believe the way we do, and the “Why not?”

  235. Ray
    April 21, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    It is not for non-thinking, “groupie” LDS folk.

    Roten, I was with you right up to the end, and then you had to go and drop in that subtle insult. It might not have been intentional, but I hope you can see how the valid response from many would be:

    “It also isn’t for many deeply thinking, individually responsible LDS people.”

  236. April 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Thank you to Mr Moonella for mentioning the differences between American and European attitudes toward, and practices with, mere nudity.

    Sometimes we are stuck looking at nudity – squinting, really – through the lenses of our own culture. When we see it through the eyes of another culture, our vision may improve.

    I am reminded of a co-worker, a woman from France, and her apparent comfort with her breasts. When she had her first child she sent baby pictures to the whole office, including an over-the-shoulder shot taken of the baby asleep, just after feeding, apparently.

    Only on a subsequent viewing of it did I realize that her breast was visible in the edge of the frame – with the nipple completely uncovered, despite the fact that the baby had detached long before. She obviously didn’t care about covering up for the photo, or about including that with the photos she selected to send to the whole office.

    There is a former bishop in the Netherlands that used to take his family to the beach, and included the photos of their trips in the family photo album, sitting on the coffee table for anyone to see. This is not necessarily a “naturist” but just a regular family. It never occurred to them that there was anything wrong with the nudity of those photos.

    Sharing saunas in the nude, beach toplessness, changing into your swimsuit right on the beach without covering up, breastfeeding openly and often with shirt off for convenience and comfort – these are things that everyday LDS members do, at least in Europe. Not naturists, per se, just regular folks.

    While in the USA there is a strong ramp up of the “naturist” movement in the last couple of decades, in Europe, that movement has already been largely won. They’ve got everything from clothing-optional sections at public parks (Munich), to a naturist resort city with tens of thousands of year-round residents (Cap D’Agde, France), to public nudity being legal anywhere in public (throughout Spain). The only “naturist movement” that Europe might need in the future is to guard against the encroachment of American prudery.

    There was a news story a couple of years back about how West Berlin and East Berlin are apparently divided on the subject of public nudity. Apparently one of the few freedoms that East Germans enjoyed before the wall fell was nude sunbathing (something the Nazis had tried to abolish, BTW). But now there is rumored to be a clash over nude versus prude, with the West Berlin side falling more in with the prudes (nothing on the scale of Americans, but more prude than former East Germany, apparently.)

    The “naturist movement” in the USA exists because it’s opposite exists. A social drift towards body-repression and body-obsession is what feeds the counter-movement of naturism, to balance the extremes and seek a culture of moderation.

    The Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton said (and I quote what I can recall from memory): “To straighten a bent stick, you have to first bend it back in the opposite direction.” We’ve lost the time-honored good of swimming nude with the boys at the YMCA (and Deseret GYM), but naturists have begun to do one better: Now it’s possible to swim nude with the whole family, and extend the good of past.

    That may seem like an over-correction to some, but it seems like the next logical step to me. It addresses something in our culture that desperately needs to be set straight.

  237. Roten
    April 22, 2009 at 3:43 am

    It is not for non-thinking, “groupie” LDS folk.

    Roten, I was with you right up to the end, and then you had to go and drop in that subtle insult. It might not have been intentional, but I hope you can see how the valid response from many would be:

    “It also isn’t for many deeply thinking, individually responsible LDS people.”

    Ray, I agree with you that chaste social nudity isn’t for many deeply thinking, individually responsible LDS people, too. I didn’t mean to be insulting to anyone. While I think there are many deeply thinking, individually responsible LDS people who can accept that there could be such a thing as chaste social nudity, and some of them might even join in, I think a majority of deeply thinking, individually responsible LDS people would have to be really hard-pressed to consider such a thing.

    Sorry I had you to the end, and then said something that seemed gratutious to you. Again, I did not mean it to be.

  238. Roten
    April 22, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Ray, I see that several days before I found this thread you said you served a mission in Japan. I served in Nagoya in 1974. Where were you? I was last in the Fukuoka temple in January. I’ve lived in Seoul for the past two years.

  239. James
    April 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Group Description
    http://www.truenudists.com/group/253/

    A place for Mormons, or those who are sympathetic to Mormons, to discuss LDS theology, and how it is compatible to nudism. Or it`s just a place for Mormon nudists to mingle and talk, and get together. NOTE: This does not reflect the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor does is it affiliated with it in any way.

    Group Rules

    1. No slandering the faiths of others. Mormons must be civil. 2. Non-Mormons can join, but they must be civil. 3. No vulgar or crude talk. 4. Kindness and courtesy towards all. Remember what Jesus said, “love one another.”

  240. James
    April 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    * You can be Mormon and a nudist, Sunstone speaker says

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is not against nudity, although a lot of LDS folk beliefs oppose it, D. Michael Martindale, an avowed naturist, said at the annual Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City Friday. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints balk at those who practice nudity because they find it contrary to teachings about modesty and the requirement that faithful Mormons wear sacred undergarments day and night, Martindale said.

    http://crossfeednews.com/weblink/you_can_be_mormon_and_a_nudist_sunstone_speaker_says

  241. James
    April 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=40821060

    Mark Martindale by two religious pastors. Starts at 2:34

  242. James
    April 22, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    240
    You can be Mormon and a nudist, Sunstone speaker says The gospel of Jesus Christ is not against nudity, although a l of LDS folk beliefs oppose it, D. Michael Martindale, an avowed
    naturist, said at the annual Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City
    Friday.

    Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints balk at
    those who practice nudity because they find it contrary to teachings
    about modesty and the requirement that faithful Mormons wear sacred
    undergarments day and night, Martindale said.

    The modesty question is easy to respond to, he said.

    “What we feel modest wearing today would have scandalized Brigham
    Young. What we wear to the swimming pool would horrify us if we wore it to church,” Martindale said. “Modesty is a fluid concept.”
    True modesty is in the heart and the mind and not in the amount of
    fabric we drape over our bodies, he said.
    Some also have objected to social nudism, presuming it increases
    illicit sexuality.

    Nonsense, Martindale says. “Rather than diffusing lust, clothing
    creates it. We make certain parts of our bodies more mysterious, more
    alluring. That heightens sexual awareness.”

    A naturist resort is one of the least sexual places on Earth, he
    said.

    As to the question of garments, he said there is a line in the
    instruction given to bishops saying that the proper wearing is between
    an individual and God.

    Martindale feels he is closer to God when he sheds his clothes as long
    as it’s in an appropriate, respectful settings. As long as he is doing
    so for the right reasons, he feels God would understand.

    When Martindale began hiking naked, for example, he experienced
    nature without artificial barriers for the first time, he said.
    Nudity, he argued, improves a person’s psychological, social and
    emotional health. It can decrease self-consciousness in a youth and
    body-obsessed culture. Children are conditioned from an early age to
    hide their bodies or feel shame in nakedness.

    Martindale does not want to convert anyone else to the idea of nudity, he said, but does want to be left alone to practice it as he feels is appropriate.
    “I am very serious about what I believe,” he said, “but I am constantly at risk of going to jail for it.”
    The United States and especially Utah have not been particularly
    welcoming to nudity, even in the creative world.

    Davie Pace, a writer who is immersed in Utah’s dance community,
    said it is important to look at the human body “as a work or art, in
    biology and in an erotic context,” Pace said. “The use of the nude
    body in dance and art has a rich history and rhetoric that is a useful
    corollary to naturism.”

    D. Michael Martindale, a naturist for the past 9 years, speaks at
    the Sunstone Symposium at the Sheraton Hotel on the topic “Mormon
    Nudist: Naked and Not Ashamed.”

  243. Cowboy
    April 22, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    A sincere question here. What is hoped for by arguing for nudism? Is it to create awareness regarding our cultural stigmas surrounding clothing and nudity? Is it to find social acceptance for naturist behavior? Is it to promote naturism?

    I have been waiting for a response to a comment made several posts back that noted the complete absence of female commentary. The total lack of this makes me wonder how truly effective naturism is. I bring this up because I thought it was a good point, but wanted to see if we could get some input. All I have heard instead is several men mention how this has helped them with pornography habits, while also surprising them as to how non-sexual hanging out at the beach can be their friends and their naked spouses. At 242 (excuse me, 243 – This new edit feature was a good idea) posts, I think the female perspective(s) is long over due in order for this conversation to continue productively, just my thoughts.

  244. Ray
    April 22, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Roten, I served in the Sapporo Mission from ’84-’86.

  245. James
    April 23, 2009 at 12:23 am

    243 Thanks Cowboy

    I will email Alan Palmer and see if he can help up us with your comment below

    “I have been waiting for a response to a comment made several posts back that noted the complete absence of female commentary. The total lack of this makes me wonder how truly effective naturism is. I bring this up because I thought it was a good point, but wanted to see if we could get some input. All I have heard instead is several men mention how this has helped them with pornography habits, while also surprising them as to how non-sexual hanging out at the beach can be their friends and their naked spouses. At 242 (excuse me, 243 – This new edit feature was a good idea) posts, I think the female perspective(s) is long over due in order for this conversation to continue productively, just my thoughts.”

  246. Greg
    April 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Wow! I leave town for a few days and I have to take an hour just to catch up with this discussion!

    First, in response to Bryan #197, I join others here in rejecting the idea that nudity is the primary element of pornography. This is precisely why I don’t believe that exposure to social nudity is such a bulletproof “inoculation” for pornography. Sorry if that wasn’t clear enough, but I didn’t want your passionate misinterpretation to mislead others about my opinions too. When I put that statement in quotes, I meant to show that it wasn’t my own statement! Your vigorous response seems to have prevented others from helping to explore the point I tried to raise.

    Again, I congratulate those in this discussion who have found solutions to their extreme problems through naturism. And I can’t help noticing that the testimonials all seem to include some rather extreme problems before naturism… which seems to reinforce a point I was trying to make about a hundred or more posts ago.

    A fair number of participants here seem to believe that nudity is a primary element of the Earth in a paradisiacal state. I don’t see a reason to accept that. The scriptures go out of their way to tell us that Adam and Eve were not only unashamed but also unaware of their nakedness. The point (to me) is that they lacked knowledge, nothing more. When they knew they were naked, this was evidence of that they had obtained knowledge, nothing more. If nakedness were such an essential element of paradise, perhaps the scriptures would have mentioned that the Father and Son were naked too. I can’t find that bit of trivia, however.

  247. Cowboy
    April 23, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    And to re-emphasize Greg, in the endowment we don’t undress but rather end up putting on more clothes than what we started with.

  248. Greg
    April 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    In my post #190, I didn’t mean to imply that the Naturist family in scenario #2 chose a Naturist picnic instead of a non-Naturist Ward picnic. If it helps, let’s say that the Naturist family attended both the Naturist picnic and the Ward picnic. Or, better yet, let’s say that the Naturist family is European and their Ward picnic included plenty of church members swimming in the nude.

    However you want to rewrite the scenario, my intent was to make it a very realistic possibility. Once again, I think the objection to the inferred meaning has served to discredit my question. But I still maintain that I asked a legitimate question. Perhaps it’s rhetorical and that’s why nobody else has responded. Whatever. If it makes us ponder real life possibilities and come up with our own insights then I’ve done something good.

    I appreciate the personal perspective about the European experience. I’ve heard a lot of people compare the United States to Europe (on this topic and others) but I often doubt just how well we understand the European experience when we make those comparisons. Even when an American serves as a full-time missionary in another culture, I never know how well they truly understand it or how much they’re still seeing it through a filter of their own experiences. I’m thinking of someone I know who served a mission in Europe and, as a result, feels that he has a more enlightened viewpoint about nudity. Yet, he uses this “enlightenment” to justify his hobby of photographing naked and/or provocatively-dressed models. Somehow, I think he missed the point of his European “enlightenment.”

    I’m sure someone has studied the use of pornography in different, developed countries. I doubt pornography is non-existent in Europe simply because they have a healthier attitude about social nudity. But is the use of pornography significantly different in Europe than among similar demographics in the United States? I’m curious.

    I know two returned, sister missionaries who served in Spain and Greece about 10 years ago. According to them, it was extremely common for men (strangers) to pat them and/or pinch them on the rear end in public. It happened pretty-much every day and they learned to take it in stride. Needless to say, it didn’t make those European men sound “enlightened” to me.

  249. Bryan
    April 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    GREG:

    Consider the following scenario: A nice, mainstream Mormon kid has never been interested in pornography. A punk down the street shows him a hard-core web site with all kinds of “sex acts” portrayed. The nice kid knows it’s wrong to look at the stuff and feels badly about what he’s seen. But he doesn’t want to make a neighborhood-wide issue about it or include parents, so he just doesn’t talk about it. The next day, the nice kid goes to a Ward picnic and avoids eye contact with the Bishop. The Bishop doesn’t notice this behavior.

    Now, consider the same scenario except that the “nice, Mormon kid” comes from a Naturist household. And, instead of a Ward picnic, he’s going to a Naturist picnic where he’s going to see dozens, if not hundreds, of naked people. Which of these two, nice kids would be the most traumatized by his experience? Of course, I can’t answer this. Every kid is different. But I certainly have an opinion.

    BRYAN:

    I was never sure what your exact question was. As I said in my response, you seem to imply that the second boy would be more traumatized then the first, but you leave it up to us to guess what you really meant. I think viewing porn is more long-term damaging then viewing real people who are not wearing clothing. For a child, seeing real people who are not wearing clothing would only be traumatizing is he had been taught to believe that it would be.

  250. Bryan
    April 23, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Hmm. This is odd. Earlier I posted saying “I’m sorry, Greg, for having misunderstood your earlier post about nudity not being the key element of porn. Now that post is gone.

    Weird.

    At any rate, I’m sorry, Greg, for having misunderstood your earlier post about nudity not being the key element of porn.
    :-)

  251. Bryan
    April 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Porn is rampant in Europe, and it’s much more available and much hardcore.

    There are many societal variables at work between our society and theirs, and it might be impossible to draw any accurate comparisons. Yet I can not deny that I met members of the church who were the very best kind of people… honest, humble, modest, temple going, valiant in their testimonies, etc. who saw nothing wrong with modest chaste social nudity.

    I’ve met the same kind of members here in the U.S.

  252. Cowboy
    April 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    If we are to espouse theory of European enlightenment, regarding social nudity, by advocating “when in Rome….” as a justificationg for nudity when in Rome, then wouldn’t we by the same logic advocate meeting American standards of dress when America = Rome in this equation?

    In other words, we may be able to point out the differences in culture and thought from country to country. While we may be able to find sincerely faithful members of the Church in New Zeland for example, who based on culture and practice are accustomed to going to public bath’s where non-sexual nudity is the norm, I don’t think this means that we should try and force this type of behavior against the grain of our (American) cultural norms. To be honest I think I would have a hard time managing the natural sexual impulses I might expect if I were to suddenly find myself in a naked co-ed situation with, albeit attractive women. This does not mean that I could not ultimately control myself, but I doubt it would be productive and I am not sure what the intent would be in the first place.

    Lastly the European reputation on sexuality is viewed as highly liberal (I realize that there is a difference in Amsterdam vs Italy.) While I would not dare say that the European members are less faithful and/or righteous than American members, I would argue that Europe is not exactly the prime specimen for superior adherance to chastity and, get ready I’m about to say it, modesty! So if the European sexual climate is to be any type of indicator regarding the effectiveness of social nudity in the context of the LDS perspective, I would have to say – Nudists, Strike One.

  253. Bryan
    April 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    COWBOY: I don’t think this means that we should try and force this type of behavior against the grain of our (American) cultural norms.

    BRYAN: Absolutly! I hope nobody here is trying to force. I think we are all about just helping others understand.

    COWBOY: To be honest I think I would have a hard time managing the natural sexual impulses I might expect if I were to suddenly find myself in a naked co-ed situation with, albeit attractive women.

    BRYAN: This is a very common belief, I applaud your honesty in stating this so openly. I would say this this idea comes from our well entrenched belief that nudity and sexuality are so closely tied together. All I can say is that many, many men before you have felt the same way, and have learned by experience that is simply is not true.

    This is part of the liberating aspects of naturism…. the awakening realization that you are more in control of yourself then you thought, and that you will not, in fact, easily give into your base sexual impulses as you have been taught all your life that you would. The realization that yo are more in control of yourself then you thought is exhilarating!

    COWBOY: I would argue that Europe is not exactly the prime specimen for superior adherance to chastity and, get ready I’m about to say it, modesty!

    BRYAN: Neither is America. In Europe the are just more open about it. I don’t think anyone was holding up Europe as a model of anything. But many of us did point to European members as examples of good faithful Mormons who also spend time at nude beaches and resorts. There are most likely more such members over there then there are here, so it’s reasonable to expect us to draw from their larger pool to show examples.

    COWBOY: I would have to say – Nudists, Strike One

    BRYAN: I did not know we were playing baseball, or keeping score. I’m not here to throw any fastballs or strike anyone out or to try and create winners and loosers. I’m here because I enjoy the free exchange of ideas in hopes that all of us come away more educated and enlightened then before.

  254. Mr Moonella
    April 24, 2009 at 4:58 am

    Hi again,

    Since I made one of the posts about Europe, I feel I should try to clarify it…

    If I gave the impression of holding up Europe as an example of enlightenment, then I have given the wrong impression. I was merely trying to show that what is regarded as ‘dressing modestly/immodestly’ varies from one culture to another. Of course, this in itself is not enough. Just because something is part of a culture does not make it a good thing. I remember a fine general conference talk a few years back about how sometimes a cultural tradition comes into conflict with a gospel principle, and so the cultural tradition has to be sacrificed. Drinking beer is part of the culture in my country, but it’s clearly against the Word of Wisdom, so I can’t have it.

    Similarly, if it were against the principles of the gospel for a woman to go topless on a beach, or for someone to go to a nude beach, then we should live the gospel and not do those things.

    My point here is that these things are NOT against the principles of the gospel. Immodesty is against the principles of the gospel, and rightly so. We should have modest intentions in our hearts and we should not behave immodestly (which includes, but is not restricted to, clothing).

    The mistake that is made is to use what is currently regarded as modest in America and assume that this is what the gospel teaches us is the correct way to dress in order to be modest, and that therefore everyone around the world should dress that way. But the specific details of the amount of clothing we should wear, and what should be covered or uncovered varies from culture to culture, from setting to setting, and from time period to time period. Unless you argue that there is a fixed standard which always applies and always has and will apply, but look at the implications of such a thought. An American may think of women going topless on a European beach and decide: ‘that’s obviously immodest’, but people in some places, or an American from 100 years ago, would think the same of a typical modern American swimsuit. Are all modern American men (General Authorities included) using immodest swimsuits because it doesn’t cover their top half like they did in the past? Are today’s LDS women immodest because their skirts/dresses don’t cover their ankles like they had to in Brigham Young’s day? Of course not. (Ironically, in Nauvoo days, while dresses were longer, they often showed more cleavage than LDS filmmakers are comfortable showing in reenactments).

    When the bra was first invented, wearing one was interpreted as being sexually provocative, therefore, wearing one would have been immodest. Nowadays, it is not interpreted that way, therefore wearing one is not immodest now.

    Now I’m not saying that you should walk through the middle of your American city in just a loincloth and say ‘but this is normal in the Amazonian jungle’. Because if you are knowingly dressing provocatively, drawing attention to your body, perhaps in a way that you know will offend people or tease them sexually, then you are behaving immodestly. This is true whether you are in a loincloth or completely covered up.

    But if you are dressed in a way which is normal in your culture, and you are not intending to behave immodestly and dress provocatively etc etc, then you are not immodest. That’s why today’s LDS women, whose attire would shock Brigham Young, are not immodest. That’s also why European LDS women going topless at the beach are not immodest.

    You may say the Europeans should conform to the American norm. Why? Why not conform to the norm of 100 years ago? Why is today’s American norm deemed to be the absolute standard?

    You may say Europeans should err on the safe side and not go topless. But this is said from within a cultural bubble which already presupposes toplessness to be risque. Someone else might say Americans should err on the safe side and wear swimsuits which cover their upper arm, but you’d probably never even thought of doing so.

    The question has been raised though – what about people who go to nude beaches in America, which obviously isn’t a normal part of American culture?

    The point I have been making so far (perhaps for too long – sorry) is that the gospel principle here is MODESTY. Wearing an American standard bathing suit is not the gospel principle in and of itself. If you’re going to a non-nudist beach, where you know that nudity may offend, or be interpreted as sexual permissiveness, then the correct thing to do is wear a swimsuit. Not because the gospel says swimsuits are always compulsory, but because it says modesty is compulsory.

    But if you are going to a nudist beach, where nudity is accepted and is not interpreted as being sexually provocative, then not wearing one would not be immodest behaviour.

    So if an American becomes a nudist, it does not mean that they are rejecting a principle of the gospel. They are deciding that they don’t like the way that American culture treats nudity, and they feel benefited by going somewhere where they feel a more positive attitude to nudity is found.

    I think the question being asked is: can someone with an American cultural upbringing actually go to a nude beach with the same modest intentions as someone from another culture for whom nudity is normal? The answer from nudists seems to be an emphatic YES. It is possible to throw off your cultural conditioning and adopt a new way of seeing and thinking (after all, this is what converts to the church are expected to do). I know that I have gained confidence from changing the way I think about my body. I don’t like society’s attitudes to the human body, and I believe that the gospel teaches us that we should see our bodies in a much more positive way than our culture tends to do. Of course, you don’t have to go to a nude beach in order to gain this attitude. But nudists say that the experience of a nude beach – the acceptance, the true realisation that your body is not shameful or embarrassing or inherently rude like we generally grow up believing – can reinforce a change of consciousness more deeply than merely thinking it.

  255. Cowboy
    April 24, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Bryan:

    I stand corrected on the baseball analogy. My point was simply that if we are using Europe as our model for the sexual effects of open co-ed nudity, then I think it would be a case against the practice rather than for.

  256. Bryan
    April 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    COWBOY:

    I stand corrected on the baseball analogy. My point was simply that if we are using Europe as our model for the sexual effects of open co-ed nudity, then I think it would be a case against the practice rather than for.

    BRYAN:

    No problem on the baseball analogy. I understood your point. My counter point is that you are right… we can’t use Europe as a whole for our model, or any other society. I don’t think anyone was saying, “Let’s make America more like Europe.” But what we legitimately can do, I feel, is point to faithful members of the church who live in Europe and who frequent clothing optional beaches and resorts as examples of Mormons who have no problem with social nudity.

  257. ken hiker
    April 25, 2009 at 7:03 am

    “. . . a Christian priest wrote in Australian Sun & Health magazine in 1990 about using naturism as a means for killing off the desires of Peeping Toms. In 1987, a 17-year-old boy called George was brought to him by his parents for counseling because he had been charged and found guilty of voyeurism. . . After giving him some counseling and finding that George had been given a lot of wrong ideas about the human body, the priest took him to a nudist beach which he visited frequently. For the first twenty minutes George’s eyes were swiveling in all directions trying to take in all the sights of the naked beachgoers. By the end of the day he had joined in and relaxed. During the following three years, George had become a naturist, a Christian, found a girlfriend, and his own parents had become naturists following on counseling by a psychiatrist.” – Dario Western

  258. Darren
    April 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    So, George found a “better” method to satisfy his voyeuristic tendencies? If this story was meant to persuade us that nudism is healthy, it didn’t really work, at least for me.

  259. Kevin M
    April 26, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Oh please, Darren!

    I think the point of the article was that the voyeurism was created by the natural curiosity coming into conflict with the taboo (of seeing people naked). Remove the taboo, however, and allow the natural curiosity to be satisfied in a proper context, and you cure the voyeurism.

  260. Kevin M
    April 26, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    You really don’t get it? There are no more voyeuristic tendencies in George. He was cured of them after “the first twenty minutes”.

  261. Kevin M
    April 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Curious…

    Did I have posts removed?

  262. Ray
    April 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t think so, Kevin. I’m not aware of any, and we almost never delete comments. I’ll check the spam filter and see if anything got caught there.

    UPDATE:

    I found two, Kevin, and released them. I have no idea how they ended up in the spam filter, since they do not include links – and since your question came through just fine.

  263. April 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    GREG:
    “I know two returned, sister missionaries who served in Spain and Greece about 10 years ago. According to them, it was extremely common for men (strangers) to pat them and/or pinch them on the rear end in public. It happened pretty-much every day and they learned to take it in stride. Needless to say, it didn’t make those European men sound “enlightened” to me.”

    Interesting point on Spain and Greece. I wanted to share some stats for consideration. It appears that Spain has less than HALF the rate of reported rape, per capita, than that of the US. Greece has only a fraction thereof (3% that of the US).

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap-crime-rapes-per-capita

    Not that I think pinching sister missionaries in public is enlightened – or a nice thing to do. It just gives us a statistic to consider in light of the behavior you mention.

  264. April 29, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Sharing this statistic was not intended to say that Greek immodesty works better than American modesty, or that Greeks have a better definition of modesty (maybe they do?) Saudi Arabia has the lowest rate of rape over all countries measured – is it their modesty or their threat of death that should be credited for this? Likewise, is the problem in Greece that people have given up reporting most rape cases, or is it that the lesser impropriety of pinching a woman against is more or less culturally tolerable, while rape is just not done there?

    I would consider Spain and Greece both as places where nudity is more commonplace. I don’t take that as a sign of enlightenment, per se, but of better body-acceptance, overall.

    While it’s not possible to absolutely prove this, there is a general trend that in cultures where there is greater acceptance of non-sexual nudity, there is a lesser instance of rape, incest, pornography addiction, and teenage pregnancy.

    Here’s some data on teenage pregnancy worldwide:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_tee_pre_percap-health-teenage-pregnancy-per-capita

    The US is overwhelmingly the infamous leader in teen pregnancy, unfortunately. Most of the European countries fall far, far below the US in this issue. Japan comes out at the bottom of the list (good news for them). I’ve speculated, as have many other naturists, that the long-held custom of communal bathing in Japan (co-ed, in the nude) is at least a partial causal factor in their low rate of teen pregnancy. Sadly, this Japanese tradition has been fading since WWII. I guess we can watch if the rate of teenage pregnancy starts to go up.

  265. April 29, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I think in the case of Saudi Arabia there are huge disincentives for reporting rapes. A woman who reports a rape faces social ostracism and possibly even criminal prosecution. So the actual number of rapes could be vastly higher than the number reported.

    I’m not sure that Japanese teens have much less sex than American teens. I suspect at least a big chunk of the low pregnancy rate can be attributed to greater use of condoms and easy access to abortions.

    I think the reason America tends to be an outlier when it comes to statistics like these is that it’s much higher in religiosity than almost all other developed countries. That religiosity tends to restrict access to (and maybe desire for) contraceptives and abortions, but not (in general) to restrict sexual activity. So, although there is probably an indirect connection between teen pregnancy and the sexualization of nudity in America (i.e., it may stem from the same religiosity), I doubt there’s any sort of causal relationship.

  266. Roten
    April 30, 2009 at 7:07 am

    I am also suspect of teenage pregnancy rate reports, too. If a pregnancy is terminated, does that pregnancy count, or are only the pregnancies that result in live births counted in pregnancy rates. Abortion is awfully common in Japan, and has been for several years. 30 years ago, when I was a missionary, it was standard practice to ask in the baptismal interview if a woman had had an abortion. If she had, she needed an interview with the mission president before being cleared for baptism. These MP interviews were not uncommon.

  267. mcarp
    April 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I remember when I was 16 or 17 we were on a church scout outing at Lake Powell and another party was camped in the same cove as we were. One day, one of the women in the other camp decided to sunbathe nude on a floating mattress.

    Of course, 10 or so 16 and 17 year old boys freaked out. I’ll always remember our explorer/priest advisor saying, “What’s the big deal? If you’ve never seen it, you won’t know what it is. If you have seen it, then it’s old hat.”

    In other words, he took a calm, almost disinterested, approach and pretty soon we all just went on with life.

    My FIL, on the other hand, was at Lake Powell on a house boat with one of the 70 and a woman on another houseboat stripped down and was bathing herself. The GA’s wife screamed, “Don’t look!” which of course makes everyone look. Then she made her husband turn around and stood behind him so he couldn’t see. That’s pretty much over-reacting and the opposite of my scout leader.

  268. Bryan
    April 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    ROTEN: When I was a missionary [in Japan], it was standard practice to ask in the baptismal interview if a woman had had an abortion. If she had, she needed an interview with the mission president before being cleared for baptism.

    BRYAN: I think this is standard practice in every country.

  269. Ray
    April 30, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Abortion is a severe threadjack. Let’s stick to the topic.

  270. Bryan
    April 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Sorry Ray… I was not trying to hijack. I was only saying that high levels of public bath houses in Japan vs. high levels of abortion in Japan is not a safe parallel. Asking baptismal interview questions about abortion in Japan is not a sign that abortion is higher in that country then others, as they ask this question in all countries. And, if Japan does have a higher abortion rates, I don’t think it’s because of public bath houses.

    In general, I don’t like to find stats and try and draw comparisons and results. It’s easy to say, for example, that Europe has more nudists then America, and that Europe has a lower teenage pregnancy rates then America, thus, more nudists results in low teenage pregnancy rates.

    Correlation does not imply causation. Just because both facts are true does not mean that one fact caused the other, or that they are even related. If we start playing the stats game, any side can find numbers to confirm their point of view.

    I prefer to stick to personal beliefs. My personal belief is that a day spent at a nude resort does not constitute any violation of Church teachings or standards. Others, of course, may disagree. All I ask is we all recognize that our personal beliefs are just that… Personal. They do not constitute Church Policy, and we should not use them judge the actions of others.

    Bryan

  271. wayfarer
    April 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    re 256.European,and have frequently found ourselves on beaches with the partially clothed. That’s a choice I get to make,but not a choice I feel I can make for my children in latency.The fact is that in these circumstances,they have no choices,but I’m happy for them to make these choices as adults.However,let’s not kid ourselves that this is not sexual.DH and I found it a real turn on,and I’m uncomfortable that in actual fact we were using our (unsought for)experience as a form of porn.We won’t be seeking it out in future because we’re not kidding ourselves.Incidentally,having lived in France,please don’t be deceived that women there are any less threatened by sexual violence then anywhere else.Sophistication has become a defence against institutionalised promiscuity.

  272. Bryan
    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    WAYFARER: That’s a choice I get to make,but not a choice I feel I can make for my children in latency.The fact is that in these circumstances,they have no choices,but I’m happy for them to make these choices as adults.

    BRYAN: I understand this point of view, but I don’t agree with it. It seems to me based on the premises that something is inherently wrong with letting kids see people naked. I keep going back to the idea that the human body is God’s creation, and there is nothing wrong with seeing it unclothed. Every good thing that God creates is twisted and abused by Satan. The fact that Satan does this does not in anyway defile the original good. Showing pornography to our kids… wrong. taking them to a clothing optional resort where there are nude people in a natural, non-sexual setting… not wrong.

    When our kids are small we make choices for them every day. Some are minor and won’t effect them much at all, others are profound and will have lasting impacts. So to say, “Taking kids to a nude beach is wrong because it does not give them a choice”… I just don’t see the logic in that.

    WAYFARER: However,let’s not kid ourselves that this is not sexual.

    BRYAN: I am not sure what “this” is. What, exactly, is “this” about which we can’t kid ourselves into thinking it’s not sexual?

    If you go to a hedonistic resort or some other resort that is adult only and where sexuality is open and approved, then yes, of course it’s sexual. It’s meant to be. But we are not talking about hedonism here. We are talking about non-sexual, family safe settings, and in these settings it is only sexual if you want it to be. Within the confines of any AANR resort, open sexuality is met with being railroaded from the property and blacklisted for life.

    WAYFARER: DH and I found it a real turn on

    BRYAN: Again, you have not given us any context of what “it” is that you found to be a turn on. Was “it” a public nude beach? Was “it” an AANR approved resort? Was “it” a hedonistic resort? We can’t use your statement as a condemnation of family safe clothing optional resorts.

    WAYFARER: I’m uncomfortable that in actual fact we were using our (unsought for)experience as a form of porn

    BRYAN: We are still operating on limited knowledge, but if I am following you correctly, you seem to be saying this:

    My wife and I went someplace where there was nudity. We were not looking for or expecting a sexual experience, but it was sexual and we both became aroused. We chose to see the experience as a form of porn, and the fact that we saw it that way makes me uncomfortable. We won’t try and repeat this experience in the future.

    If I got this wrong, please feel free to correct me. If I got it right, then I have some questions. What were the unclothed people around you doing? Were they engaging in sex acts? Or were they swimming, playing volleyball, sunbathing, eating lunch, etc? If they were engaging in sexual acts, did you make like Joseph, leave your coats, and run? If they not being overtly sexual in their behavior, then was it their simple nudity alone that made it sexual?

    I’d be interested to hear your reply.

    Thanks!

    [Admin note: The wording you requested be changed, Bryan, has been changed.]

  273. April 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    KURI:
    “I think the reason America tends to be an outlier when it comes to statistics like these is that it’s much higher in religiosity than almost all other developed countries. That religiosity tends to restrict access to (and maybe desire for) contraceptives and abortions, but not (in general) to restrict sexual activity.”

    I suspect you’re right that religiosity in a developed country is a major factor. With regard to abortion, the US isn’t at the top of the chart, but definitely on the high end:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_abo_percap-health-abortions-per-capita

    Japan comes out somewhere in the middle, but definitely behind the US. Europe seems to be split, but mostly lower than the US.

    The figures on contraception are also interesting:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_con-health-contraception

    Again, the US is high on this list. Interestingly, there is no data on France, Germany, Italy, and other European nations that I believe are known for a high degree of body-acceptance. The focus of this particular census seems to be on less-developed nations, with a few exceptions.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that America doesn’t score particularly well in several indicators that one might normally associate with higher moral standards (or rather, chastity, sexual responsibility, etc.) And some of the countries that do score better – in these measures, at least – also are among those countries that are known to have greater acceptance of non-sexual nudity in everyday life.

    Cause and effect is hard to determine. But the well-known American nudity taboo seems not to engender greater sexual responsibility, chastity, etc. Conversely, European comfort with non-sexual nudity appears not to contribute to widespread promiscuity or sexually irresponsible behavior. That correlates both with anecdotes and statistics that I’ve seen so far.

  274. Greg
    April 30, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    The example from Ken Hiker’s post #257 is, unfortunately, another story of an extreme problem which was “treated” with Naturism. Still, it doesn’t prove that George was cured of anything. It could mean that he just found a place to entertain his ideas without getting into trouble. (I’m not sure what a person does to be criminally guilty of “voyeurism.” Strictly speaking, the word simply means he took sexual pleasure in watching someone else. It doesn’t even really mean he did anything other than think about what he saw.)

    Meanwhile, I agree with Bryan’s post #270 when it comes to causation. I have to wonder about myself or anyone else who served as a full-time missionary in another country or even in another region of their native country. We think we’re totally immersed in the new culture. We think we understand what makes that new culture tick. But are we simply making sweeping assumptions based on the few things we’re able to observe and understand? Cultures can have roots going back many hundreds of years. So, I’m dubious of the missionary who may have served for two years in Sweden and, now, he thinks he “totally gets” the Swedish attitude about social nudity.

    I know some people think very highly of Europe but, as an American, I often feel the urge to reject notions of European, cultural superiority. And, in that sense, I’ll quote a talk from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf in October 2005.

    “Why did so many faithful members leave their home countries in those early days of the Church? Many reasons can be named: to escape persecution, to help build the Church in America, to improve their economic circumstances, the desire to be close to a temple, and many more.

    “Europe still feels the consequence of this exodus. But the strength that comes from several faithful generations of Church members is now becoming more apparent.”

    In light of the current discussion, it almost feels like a cheap shot to bring up that talk. But I often wondered (even before Elder Uchtdorf said it) about how the church took so many faithful Europeans away from that area so long ago. And, today, the people of Europe seem to struggle greatly with matters of faith. Is there a direct relation? But, hey, at least they’re not so uptight about nude beaches. Whew!

  275. Darren
    April 30, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    GREG: In light of the current discussion, it almost feels like a cheap shot to bring up that talk. But I often wondered (even before Elder Uchtdorf said it) about how the church took so many faithful Europeans away from that area so long ago. And, today, the people of Europe seem to struggle greatly with matters of faith. Is there a direct relation? But, hey, at least they’re not so uptight about nude beaches. Whew!

    BRYAN: Wow Greg, it seems to me like you have been mighty judgmental of current Europeans who are strong, valiant, and faithful not only in our religion, but all religions. Do you think that because a few thousand Mormon converts left Europe 150 years ago that the current Christians can’t be just as faithful as you and me? You are right that living in a country for two years does not make a missionary an expert on their culture, but it doesn’t mean that we did not see and feel the power of these member’s faith. If anything I would say that are required to be MORE valiant then you and me, because they are doing the jobs in their homelands that our early Church members did for us here… paving the way. Mormons are more misunderstood and more hated in France, BY FAR, then they are here in America, and yet these little branches of four our five families ignore the ignorance and bias towards their religion and struggle ahead in building the kingdom in their homeland.

    I honestly hope you did not mean what you said. It was a cheap shot.

    As for Europeans being less uptight about nude beaches, consider that if you had been born into an LDS family in Europe, you might feel less uptight about it as well. Or maybe not uptight about it at all. Attitudes and feelings towards nudity are really more a question of culture, not of faith.

  276. Greg
    April 30, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I think you misread me and Elder Uchtdorf. Neither one of us was refering to the faithful people of Europe in a negative light. I was only commenting on the void in Europe where, on the whole, people aren’t as religious as they are in America, nor as religious as they were 150 years ago. Allow me to continue the quote…

    “Europe still feels the consequence of this exodus. But the strength that comes from several faithful generations of Church members is now becoming more apparent. We see more young men and women and more senior couples serve missions for the Lord; we see more temple marriages; we see more confidence and courage by the members to share the restored gospel. Among the peoples of Europe and many other parts of the world, there is a spiritual vacuum of Christ’s true teachings. This vacuum must, can, and will be filled with the message of the restored gospel as our wonderful members live and proclaim this gospel with greater courage and faith.”

    Meanwhile, I have contemplated “the vacuum” in the past and continue to be disappointed that such a vacuum exists in the first place.

  277. Kevin M
    May 1, 2009 at 9:50 am

    As one who served 2 years in the Frankfurt Germany mission, and who met and shared meals with the Uchtdorf family, I can with near certainty say that the German attitudes toward nudity at beaches is not something Elder Uchtdorf was referring to as evidence of a “spiritual vacuum”.

  278. Greg
    May 1, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Just to be clear, the reasons I was afraid that quoting Dieter F. Uchtdorf was a “cheap shot” are:

    1. He’s the “Highest Ranking” European in Mormon leadership.
    2. Some people count on him to bring the greatness of present-day Europe into the LDS mainstream.
    3. He seemed to be saying, in this talk, that Europe still has a long way to go spiritually, despite some tangible progress.

    If we’re going to start listing facts and figures about how Europe is superior to America when it comes to sexual behavior, I think we have to be willing to take the good with the bad. He’s obviously not happy about an overall, spiritual vacuum. Is a low abortion rate really such a badge of honor when an overall society has little interest in Christ or contempt for religion in general?

    …not to mention that circular traffic intersections are pure evil but this European travesty is invading America in the name of progress towards a superior culture.

  279. Bryan
    May 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    GREG:

    If we’re going to start listing facts and figures about how Europe is superior to America when it comes to sexual behavior, I think we have to be willing to take the good with the bad. He’s obviously not happy about an overall, spiritual vacuum. Is a low abortion rate really such a badge of honor when an overall society has little interest in Christ or contempt for religion in general?

    BRYAN:

    You make a good point, and this is why I get uneasy when we start listing stats and numbers in a discussion which is revolving around such a highly personal topic. I can’t speak for everyone, but as for myself, the only reason I bring up Europe is because I met families who are faithful members of the LDS religion who are also much more comfortable with nudity then are most American families.

    Being LDS and being comfortable with family and/or social nudity can and does co-exist, and our willingness to allow for that possibility is heavily influenced by the culture in which we are raised. In America social nudity is regarded as weird and possibly sexually perverse, so it’s not surprising that as Mormon Americans we tend to blend church teachings on modesty with cultural views on nudity. In Europe, social nudity is much more accepted, so it’s not surprising the European Mormons will tend to see a division between church teachings on modesty vs. cultural views on nudity.

  280. Kevin M
    May 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I think Bryan summed it up nicely in #279. I have personal knowledge of high-ranking LDS church leaders in Germany who have family beach vacation photos displayed prominently in albums on their coffee table (with said members wearing a lot less than what would typically be considered “acceptable” by our puritan American standards) as well as other members and leaders who thought absolutely nothing of breast-feeding in public, with no covering. They even joke about the standard meeting house designs that incorporated a “nursing room” into the design.

  281. James
    May 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    280 Kevin M

    Since were bearing are all it’s only fair you tell us who these high ranking officials are?

  282. May 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I think by “high ranking officials” Kevin is referring to local leadership (stake, ward, district, branch, etc.) that he encountered at the time that he was a missionary. That is what I recall from past discussion with him years ago. I think it would be inappropriate to give names – whether or not these persons would be known to any of us.

    FYI, I see this thread is cold now, so I don’t know if it’s worth bothering, but my wife said she’d be happy to enter this discussion, if there is still any interest in some perspective from an LDS woman who is a practicing naturist.

    I’ll wait for a “ping” to see if anyone is still checking in here or cares to continue. :-)

  283. May 8, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I’d be interested in your wife’s perspective. It has been one sided gender wise and her comments could add some balance.

  284. Darren
    May 9, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Alan, Who first brought nudity to the table in your family? You or your wife? Was it accepted immediately by the other, or did it take time?

  285. Cpt_Moroni
    May 12, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Re #84 I am interested in the same question.

    I do believe that the Savior was baptised in the nude as were many Christians that followed. This view is also bolstered by the symbolism of a spritual rebirth which could be symbolized by our lack of cloting at our physical birth.
    I think my belief then leans more towards the pro-naturism camp. Nevertheless, you will not see me at ldssd meeting anytime soon. I fear that my wife and children would think me a freak if I suggested going swimming nude with a bunch of ward members. I am sure my wife would conclude that even suggesting it would cause her to think that she isn’t attractive enough for me anymore, which is not true at all. To her nudity is very personal and, except for a narrow definition, sexual state of being. For me then, a naturist lifestyle would cause a greater marital downside than benefits it could provide. While I could understand how a naturist lifestyle may not contradict the Gospel, intentionally causing discord and mistrust with my spouse would be.

    Furthermore, I need to ask myself why hanging out nude seems like a good thing. Am I there to express my freedom and worship with like-minded individuals or am I really just there to show off my goods and to catch an eyeful of the ladies’? Until I can honestly come to terms with that, I can’t risk trying it.

  286. May 14, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Hello folks! Sorry I’ve been silent here. I’ve been quite busy being the “Mormon Mom” – taking my kids to their various activities, serving on the PTA, etc. My husband, Alan, has been updating me about this thread, and I thought I should stop by and let you know, personally, that it is true. I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a PTA President, an advocate, a member of several boards of directors, a visiting teacher, a nudist, a Mormon…

    I started in the world naked, and came to realize, after forming a more personal relationship with the Savior, that nudity in and of itself is simply a state of being. What I bring to it, in the form of my brain and soul, is what it becomes for me. If I am pure and modest, then all is well! It is a state of mind and soul. Nudity is not sexual any more than cooking is sexual. Both can be, but aren’t necessarily so. As a matter of fact, with honesty and purity of heart, nudity has the potential to help families grow in their understanding of the Gospel.

    Those who choose to view nudity as “dirty” or “bad” or “evil” or “pornographic” would benefit through coming to understand how it is that they came to believe these things. Nudity is nothing – it is all in the interpretation.

    Kathy (who had her brain-washed ;) …cleanliness is next to Godliness)

  287. May 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Darren said:
    “Alan, Who first brought nudity to the table in your family? You or your wife? Was it accepted immediately by the other, or did it take time?”

    I’ve put off responding to this because it deserves a bigger treatment than it’s going to get. I finally decided I might as well at least say something, even if I can’t feasibly tell a more complete version in this space.

    I was the one who “brought nudity to the table” – though it was before we had a family, and indeed before we were married. I had stumbled onto naturism while at BYU, a few months after the end of my mission. After I (quickly) came to terms with it, I invited my wife (then fiancee) to try it with me. In this case “try it with me” meant going with me to a popular skinny-dipping spot within easy driving distance of BYU.

    Though the experience was positive, it wasn’t immediately accepted by my wife – nor was it immediately rejected. Our BYU bishop knew about this skinny-dipping event, was satisfied that nothing inappropriate had happened, and gave us our temple recommends so that we could be married in the temple 6 weeks later.

    Perhaps it is simplest to say that my wife “tolerated” the naturist nudity in the first few years of our marriage, but we did have strong disagreements about it at times. What ultimately turned that around was the realization that she came to about the value of non-sexual nudity for our children. As they started to grow and understand things better, we became more and more “naturist” in our home – largely at her urging.

    Ultimately, my wife took the better part of 8 years to become a convinced naturist (she would say that the tipping point was earlier, but it wasn’t apparent to me at the time). That delay was more my fault than hers, I believe, but that’s a long story.

  288. May 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I should add my perspective on “gender balance”, in reference to some things posted previously here.

    Often in online mediums we ask “why aren’t women saying more about…[this or that subject]“. I’ve got my own speculation about that. It’s the same just about anywhere you go online – including on Mormon Matters, where most of the authors are men, and most of the comments seem to be from men, regardless of the topic, and in spite of the fact that there are so many more Mormon women than Mormon men.

    I suppose that if you go to online forums, blogs, chats, bulletin boards, and mailing lists that are for topics of specific female interest, then you might see more representation by women. That doesn’t mean that the absence of female representation indicates that a topic or area of discussion isn’t of interest to women – rather, it’s simply a matter of men being more inclined to engage in an online medium for discussion.

    It could be that men are less put off by the lack of “face time” – something that women strongly prefer in their communication, where they can read a persons facial expressions, eyes, and body language to better understand what they are saying and, potentially, better relate to the person. Men seem to be, as a whole, more comfortable delving into faceless communication, without the real-time elements that an in-person or even on-the-phone conversation affords.

    Why spend your time typing online when it’s so easy to just phone a friend? And I guess the opposite could be asked of men – why will they spend so much more time typing to folks online than on the phone with people?

  289. May 17, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Sorry, back to Gender Balance…

    An assumption that non-nudists (and some newer nudists) often make is that nudism can only be “right” or “appropriate” or “at it’s best” when there are similar numbers of men and women engaged in it. Or conversely, the non-nudist (anti-nudist?) will point at the preponderance of men as evidence that there is something inherently wrong or sexually motivated about nudism.

    There is so much wrong with that assumption, I can only begin to scratch the surface of it. But here are two underlying assumptions that I believe form this erroneous thinking.

    1. Having more men than women is bad
    2. Having similar numbers of men and women is ideal

    Having more men than women isn’t bad – unless there is something inherently bad about men. We’ve known many nudists/naturists, and can honestly say that we’ve enjoyed the company of the men as much as the women. Probably even more so in the case of LDS men. In the naturist world, (in the Western US at least), the “natural balance” of genders appears to about 2 to 1. (This is based on public nude beaches, hot springs, and other public places where naturism is accepted.) I’m comfortable with that balance, and so is my wife. It’s no indictment against naturism.

    Having a similar number of men and women in naturism can be just fine too – but only when it occurs naturally, or by chance. Insisting upon it is not, however, and nor is it “ideal”. Some naturist resorts actually try to impose a gender balance upon their guests, which typically means discriminating against unaccompanied men. In so doing, they are denying entrance to many men who would actually be better guests than some of the women they admit, or the men that accompany them. (By “better” I mean more well-mannered, respectful, and more likely to adhere to the positive atmosphere that a naturist resort is trying to foster.)

    The “two-by-two” line of thinking is really only good for one thing: mating. When you push for equal numbers of men and women, it is motivated by mating urges, or by cultural conditioning based on those mating urges. An “ideal” mating situation (given our cultural and doctrinal imperatives) pairs one man with one woman. Nothing wrong with that, but naturism isn’t about sex or mating. Therefore, in my opinion, a focus on gender pairing is a wrong focus to have in naturism. Generally speaking, the more experienced the naturist, the less concerned they are that there be nearly one woman for every man.

    There is one indicator of the “ideal naturist situation” in my mind, and that is the presence of families. To me, this is the ultimate indicator of health for a naturist situation.

    (And no, I don’t expect my kids will come on here and post something to prove that naturism is good for LDS families – though they’d be happy to go swim naked with you, if you’re the nice people that you likely are. :-)

  290. Darren
    May 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Ultimately, my wife took the better part of 8 years to become a convinced naturist (she would say that the tipping point was earlier, but it wasn’t apparent to me at the time). That delay was more my fault than hers, I believe, but that’s a long story.

    Thanks Alan. Is your longer story available online someplace? I’ve read most of your website but did not see it. Your website, by the way, is enlightening. Thank you.

  291. May 21, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Darren. I’m Kathy Palmer – Alan’s wife. What exactly is it that you’d like to know in regards to how long it took me to recognize the goodness of naturism? Alan definitely gave you the short story. I don’t know that we have the long version in any public place online – bits and pieces perhaps, but not all in one place, iirc.

    Alan’s brief synopsis is accurate, but missing a lot of detail. One of the main reasons why it took me so long to accept naturism, had little to do with naturism itself – it mostly had to do with our growing relationship as husband and wife. As we grew and matured individually, and as we grew and matured in our relationship and in Love, we both came to have a greater understanding of and yearning for Truth. Through this process, and greater shared vulnerability and humility, I chose to live by the convictions that I had gained and chose to follow the convictions to live and support chaste (family) naturism.

    Hope that answers a few questions.

    Kathy (who has an incredibly fantastic and blessed marriage)

  292. mysticmight2
    June 4, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Anywhere that gets covered by the sacred garment is in my opinion, intended to be covered at all times.

  293. Ray
    June 4, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Um, surely you don’t mean at “all” times – right? :)

  294. mysticmight2
    June 4, 2009 at 10:13 am

    lol, no, just in public and around non spouses

  295. Roten
    June 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

    mysticmight2 Jun 4th, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Anywhere that gets covered by the sacred garment is in my opinion, intended to be covered at all times.

    Roten: May I take this to mean that you don’t approve of “modest” swimsuits? Or swimmint in public pools?

    How do you reconcile your opinion with the changes in the holy garment from the time that all people wore garments that were long-sleeved (to the wrists) and long-legged (to the ankles)?

    I wonder, because there were times that I preferred to swim in long-sleeved, long-legged skin-tight clothing. I also wore, at least some times on my mission, the old winter-length garments that were one-piece and came in either short-sleeved or long-sleeved, but always ankle length.

    I have since changed my opinions and habits, adjusted to two-piece garments etc, and am content to skinny dip at pools, swimming holes, and hot springs in mixed groups. I honor my covenant to wear the holy garment throughout my life, and have it on whenever I am clothed. When I am not clothed, though, I sometimes have nothing on.

  296. Roten
    June 4, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Readers, in your opinions, are some church members teaching double standards when they teach that we should keep the parts of our bodies covered from public view that are covered by garments while the Church sponsors the Polynesian Cultural Center and enables church members from the Pacific Islands to earn funds for their education and to keep some cultural traditions alive, and allows these members to dress less covered than they would be if the students, particularly the returned missionaries, were wearing garments? I am speaking of bare shoulders for many of the women and bare torsos for most of the men. See, for instance, http://www.polynesia.com/shows/rainbows-of-paradise.html

    I do not have any problems with these two sets of teachings, as the first is commonly taught by some church members (but does not appear anywhere that I know of as church “doctrine”)and the second, to wear throughout our earthly lives our sacred clothing that reminds us of our covenants, is the teaching that I believe is of God.

  297. Ray
    June 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    #296 – I think nearly all members make exceptions as they are explained in the temple – for recreational and other activities where wearing the garment would be inappropriate or flat-out ridiculous (based on our current standards). Your question about the Polynesian Culture Center is a straw man – since I think almost all members would see that as cultural entertainment and have no problem with it.

    It’s where each individual chooses to draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate times for being fully unclothed that is the issue being discussed in this thread – that truly is the thread that never ends. (three more comments until 300 – never thought I’d be saying that)

  298. Cowboy
    June 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    If there is not an award for longest running thread, there should be.

  299. mysticmight2
    June 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Roten: May I take this to mean that you don’t approve of “modest” swimsuits? Or swimmint in public pools?

    Actually yes, you may, a modern female bathing suit is essentially nothing more than a pair of panties and a bra, it reveals far to much flesh in my opinion, I see nothing wrong with a woman wearing a pair of shorts and an appropriate top while swimming. I find it odd that a man can get ridiculed for walking around in a speedo with his butt cheeks hanging out but it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to do so when in reality, the sexual stigma attached to the female body is a whole lot more pronounced than it is for the male. The female body has a much greater effect on the average male, than the male body has on the average female, that’s just a fact.

  300. June 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I like that comment mysticmight2. What I am wondering is, why is it okay for that ridiculed speedo man to walk around with his whole upper body hanging out?

    “The female body has a much greater effect on the average male, than the male body has on the average female, that’s just a fact.”
    I’m not going to challenge that, but I am really interested if you have any research to back up “the fact” there.

  301. mysticmight2
    June 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    “I like that comment mysticmight2. What I am wondering is, why is it okay for that ridiculed speedo man to walk around with his whole upper body hanging out?”

    Actually, it may not be okay http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,381527,00.html

    “I’m not going to challenge that, but I am really interested if you have any research to back up “the fact” there.”

    Yeah, actually I do, I’ve researched my self plenty of times lusting for female bodies I’d see at school, the beach, or at the pool.

  302. Ray
    June 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    #301 – Classic – both answers.

  303. June 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Hahaha I love the first answer already, and I haven’t even watched the video yet.

    #2 is great too, although you have an N-size of one, which is not a good study. ;) However, I’ll take your word for it–it seems you are saying you were lusting more for the women than they were lusting for you! ;)

    Really though, I am interested in “facts” when people say “facts.” I actually agree with you on this, but I brought it up one time and a female colleague ripped me apart just for thinking it. When I presented her with one study I was aware of (not sure where I got it from) that backed up my point, she of course shrugged it off and ignored it.

  304. June 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    How are we all back on this thread? Ah yes, nudity.

  305. Roten
    June 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    #297 RAY: I think nearly all members make exceptions as they are explained in the temple – for recreational and other activities where wearing the garment would be inappropriate or flat-out ridiculous (based on our current standards). Your question about the Polynesian Culture Center is a straw man – since I think almost all members would see that as cultural entertainment and have no problem with it.

    ROTEN: Ray, I think you are missing the point here, or glossing over it with the straw man label. When I ask the question, I am not referring to the PCC costumes as enciting lust in the audience. I am referring to them from a wearer viewpoint. Would you feel comfortable as an active temple attendee in wearing such clothing for work? If so, why? If not, why not? Does it make any difference when the work is at a church operated facility?

  306. Kaywil
    May 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    you guys are sick 

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