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Friday, 26 August 2011

The Naked Rambler

The heading is, of course, the nick-name given, by the press, to Mr Stephen Gough, a former member of the Royal Marines, who has been endeavouring to walk from Land's End to John O' Groats, without any clothing.
It would appear that he managed to traverse the length of England with out any significant problem but, that since he crossed the border into Scotland, he has spent more time on prison than he has "on the road".

Now I am aware that there are those who object to any form of nudity, and claim that it is akin to pornography.  However, one must ask if this is, in fact, true.  Up until the age of Queen Victoria, partial nudity at least, was common.  Women who worked down the mines were naked from the waist up; little boys who were sent up chimneys didn't go there in their best "bib 'n tucker"; families lived in single rooms with no privacy for dressing and undressing.

I recall, at a Spring Harvest event many years ago, being surprised to hear a speaker say that, when John records, in 21:7 of his Gospel record, that "... when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea." (KJV), that Authorised Version translation is more accurate than the more modern ones that have him merely without his outer garment, or stripped for work - which could mean anything.  In fact, that speaker (whose name, unfortunately, I have forgotten), suggested that Jesus and the disciples would often have gone 'skinny-dipping' - as that was perfectly normal in that culture.

There are, in fact, a number of references to nudity/nakedness in the pages of God's Word.  David danced naked before the Lord (II Sam.6:20); Isaiah went about naked for a period of three years (Is.20:2-3); a young man (reckoned, by many, to be Mark) fled from the scene of Jesus' arrest - naked (Mk.14:51-52). 

But Gen.3:7 is the one to which many modern disciples of Jesus would refer. "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked ; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." (KJV).  This, I suspect, is the basis for any argument against "social nudity".  However, we read in the previous verses that "... they were both naked , the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." (KJV; Gen 2:25).  Then, a little further on, we read "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the YHWH Elohim make coats of skins, and clothed them." (Gen 3:21; KJV).  Thus, the argument goes, this shows that nudity is sinful - because God clothed Adam and Eve.

I would suggest that this is not what the sacred text is saying!  Adam and Eve were already clothed - with fig leaves.  This is, not a lesson about the need, or otherwise, of clothes (the fig leaves, after all, only covered the lower parts of their bodies), but about sin and its consequences.  The fig leaves were mankind's attempt to cover up his own sin.  But, right at the beginning, we are being taught that "... without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Heb 9:22; RSV), as at least one animal had to die in order that coats of skins (note the plural!) could be provided.

So, am I suggesting that we should all strip off, and join Mr Gough when he is next released from prison?  Certainly not!  All that I am saying is, that in a culture that is constantly displaying nudity as an advertising ploy; that has near-naked females on p.3 of certain popular 'newspapers'; that has easy access to, not just suggestive images of the naked human body, but the whole range of pornography, from 'soft' to 'hard', in either 'specialist' magazines, or through the internet; Mr Gough's desire to express his freedom of choice is barely (sorry!!!) worthy of the heavy-handedness of the Scottish Justice System - and the not inconsiderable expense, to the public purse, of his enforced residence in prison.

I choose to wear certain items of clothing - seldom the latest in fashion! - for only two reasons: climate and the prevailing culture.  Given a different climate, and a different culture, I have no problem at all about being totally naked.  After all, in that case, everyone else is going to be the same!

Of course, as someone once said, if God had intended us to be naked, we would have been born that way!!!!

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