Christian Nudism and spirtualism
Christian naturists are Christians found in most branches and denominations of Christianity who practice naturism or nudism. They find no conflict between the teachings of the Bible and living their lives and worshiping God without any clothing, believing that covering the body leads to its sexualization. Many Christian naturists have very little disagreement with the core beliefs of long-established churches, and may even be a member. They feel the error of obligatory dress is cultural, rather than anything related to salvation.
Organized Christian naturism is known to exist in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Brazil mainly as a parachurch. Rules of conduct are similar to those of family-oriented naturist resorts.
Although there is variation in the beliefs of Christian naturists, many of them believe that much of Christianity has misinterpreted the events of the Garden of Eden story and the Fall of Man. According to this interpretation, God could see the sin that Adam and Eve had committed by eating the forbidden fruit. It was for this reason alone that the couple was ashamed and tried to hide this sin by covering their bodies with fig leaves. Adam and Eve were not motivated to dress by being able to see one another nude. When God subsequently clothed them with animal skins, He made no mandate for humans to be dressed in public, but left a reminder of the severe nature of sin requiring a blood sacrifice.
Christian naturists may believe that many prominent figures in the Bible participated in social nudity, including members of early Christian sects such as the Adamites. Being nude is a wholesome way of life, and acceptable state of dress which was never condemned by God in the Bible. Christian naturists note there is no command in the Adam and Eve story, or elsewhere in the Bible, to wear clothing.
If parents forbid children to ever be seen nude outside of their own family, generally such a prohibition begins within the months or years leading up to the age of reason or accountability. The exact age and circumstances may vary by denomination and culture. Quite the opposite of what Christian naturists believe, non-naturists (whether Christian or not), may feel that if children were to see others nude and be seen nude themselves, that is precisely what would cost them their innocence.
Christian naturists view the story of 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) They 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 fearfully hiding among 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?" Only God, Adam, Eve, and the devil are a party to this matter, as there are no other humans on the planet at this time. Therefore, Christian naturists believe it was the devil who told Adam and Eve that they were naked. 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 eating the forbidden fruit, but also with Adam and Eve's subsequent attempt to cover up their bodies.
Christian naturists maintain the fig leaves were worn in an attempt to hide what the couple had done from God—not each other, noting they were married, and equally guilty of the same sin. 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 Adam and Eve engaging in sexual relations], they conclude the couple 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.
Originally, Jewish mikvahs, and later, early Christian baptisms were performed with individual naked. This included mass baptisms involving men, women, and children. They signified the participant's restoration to man's original sinless condition, having their sins blotted out. Others claim that children were baptized first, then men, then women, all separately.
Public bathing was the common practice through the time of Jesus and still occurs today in a few cultures, including the Turkish bath or hammam, the Finnish sauna, Japanese onsen or Sentō, and the Korean Jjimjilbang.
With the exception of the family-focused Finnish sauna, most public baths are gender-segregated today. Entire families took part in the public bath—including Christians. Jesus even preached at the public baths in Jerusalem (John 5:1-7).
Some historic religious sects, both Christian and syncretist, have made nudism a general practice. Probably the best-known of these were the Adamites, though some of their beliefs were contrary to orthodox Christianity.
The post-resurrection belief of the unclothed body being evil or sinful may originate in Platonic Asceticism (founded largely on the works of ancient Greek philosopher Plato) which was adopted and passed down by "Christian" Platonists in early church history. Platonism is a dualistic theology which proposes a realm of forms to include, on the one hand, "pure ideas", which are good; and, on the other hand, "matter", which is evil. When applied to humans, the soul is necessarily good, and the body is necessarily evil. Therefore, according to this philosophy, our "evil" bodies must be covered by clothing. Christian naturists reject such notions as unbiblical.
Plotinus (ca. AD 204–270) was a major philosopher of the ancient world who is widely considered the founder of Neo-Platonism (along with his teacher Ammonius Saccas). His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics. About 150 years later, Saint Augustine (AD 354-430) was heavily influenced by the teaching of Plotinus.
As one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity, St. Augustine strongly endorsed asceticism, which meant self-denial of worldly pleasure and total sexual abstinence. Eventually, this reached its peak in monasticism. Those pursuing a monastic life are usually called monks or brethren (brothers) if male, and nuns or sisters if female. While similar activities existed previously in pre-Christian times, early Christian monasticism attracted a large number of followers due to its enormous prestige and high social status in the period where the Roman Empire was near collapse. St. Augustine is one of the very few saints considered important not only by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox religions, but by many Protestants as well (including Martin Luther and John Calvin). Christian Naturists do not believe that monasticism, along with its clothing requirements and isolation, is how Jesus taught us to live. If asceticism is practiced, it begins by living nude.
Naturalistic Spirituality and Spiritual Naturalism
Naturalistic Spirituality and Spiritual Naturalism are interchangeable terms for the same philosophical perspective, with the latter term more commonly used. Book searches for the two find no usage for Naturalistic Spirituality before 1956 whereas Spiritual Naturalism may have first been proposed by Joris-Karl Huysmans in 1895 in his book En Route - "Huysmans was the first to defect to 'Spiritual Naturalism' and eventually to a form of mysticism; he was followed by Maupassant:" and "In 'En Route' Huysmans started upon the creation of what he called 'Spiritual Naturalism,' that is, realism applied to the story of a soul. ...".
Coming into prominence as a writer during the 1870s, Huysmans quickly established himself among a rising group of writers, the so-called Naturalist school, of whom Émile Zola was the acknowledged head…With Là-bas (1891), a novel which reflected the aesthetics of the spiritualist revival and the contemporary interest in the occult, Huysmans formulated for the first time an aesthetic theory which sought to synthesize the mundane and the transcendent: "spiritual Naturalism". This new approach carried him through the remaining volumes of his "spiritual autobiography
Spiritual Naturalism is a term that can be applied to a variety of philosophical/religious worldviews that are naturalistic in their basic viewpoint but have a spiritual/religious perspective also. Chief among modern forms of Spiritual Naturalism are religious naturalism, religious humanism, dualist pantheism, and humanistic religious naturalism. The term may also apply to the beliefs of some pagans, many Taoists, some Buddhists, a number of Hindus, and a variety of non-affiliated independent thinkers who base their spiritual experience directly on Nature itself rather than traditional deities and the supernatural. Some liberal Jewish congregations, nontheist Friends, and Unitarians have similar orientations in their adoption of Religious Naturalism beliefs.
Although the overall movement toward these attitudes remains relatively small and loosely organized, various forms of Spiritual Naturalism have existed since time immemorial, with the pantheistic philosophies of Taoism and similar Eastern nature-mysticisms being perhaps the most notable example. At present, there is a growing interest in adopting a Spiritual Naturalism rational alternative for the modern world because many are losing their belief in more traditional spiritual avenues. This is demonstrated in the recent rapid growth of Religious Naturalism, pantheism (particularly of an avowedly naturalistic variety) and some liberal Christian perspectives. Theologians such as John Shelby Spong and Paul Tillich have embraced thinking that is non-secular naturalist.
Crucial challenges for the spiritual naturalism movement in its various forms currently involve developing and promulgating a conciliate understanding of the somewhat ambiguous terms spirituality and naturalism. The difference in interpreting the difference between religious and spiritual, humanist and naturalist and free will and determinism also needs a consensus. In addition the individualistic nature and thinking of many of the adherents preclude organizing cohesive communities. However a proliferation of recent authors (Ursula Goodenough, Chet Raymo, Karl E. Peters, Loyal Rue and Stuart Kauffman) are highlighting the paradigm via their naturalistic writings.
The most recent work on Religious Naturalism is Donald Crosby's Living with Ambiguity published in 2008. His first chapter is titled Religion as a Form of Religious Naturalism. Also in December 2008, an in depth look at the history of this worldview was published by Jerome A. Stone.. In addition a few modern theologians with liberal orientations have rejected some of the historical claims of some biblical doctrines and supernaturalism and moved to progressive forms of Christianity and Judaism akin to theistic naturalism. Examples are:Mordecai Kaplan, John Shelby Spong, Paul Tillich, John A. T. Robinson, William Murry and Gordon Kaufman. Some of those into process theology may also be included in this movement.
Spiritual Naturalism has advocates that cover the religious spectrum from neo-theism (neo-Christianity, process theology) to atheism. The majority probably are agnostic or atheistic while many prefer not to be categorized. There is a vast difference in opinions on how to address the question of a deity of some kind, if at all. There are those who see God as the creative process within the universe, those who define God as the totality of the universe (The All), some who use God in metaphoric ways, those that have no need to use the concept or terminology of God even as a metaphor and some who are atheistic proclaiming there is no such entity what so ever and rebel against usage of the term.
Spiritual Naturalism is chiefly concerned with finding ways to access traditional spiritual feelings without the inclusion of supernatural elements incompatible with science and a broad naturalism. Adherents believe that Nature, in all its diversity and wonder, is sufficient unto itself in terms of eliciting the intellectual and emotional responses associated with spiritual experience, and that there is no need for faith in the traditional anthropomorphic concept of 'god' and similar ideas.
Adherents of Spiritual Naturalism are generally scientifically-oriented in most aspects, with their primary difference from other naturalists being their belief that the abandonment of superstition does not necessarily entail the abandonment of spirituality. To adherents, the intellectual and emotional experience of something greater than oneself is seen as a phenomenon of enduring value, a positive facet of the human condition to be preserved even while they purge themselves of so much that has traditionally accompanied it. Furthermore, some adherents of spiritual naturalism view their philosophy specifically as a form of mysticism.
There is some debate as to the similarity of, and differentiation between, the view of spiritual naturalism and the related view of religious naturalism. They are both clearly form of pantheism but it is unclear which category they fit best. The term "spiritual" seems to imply that spiritual naturalism is Monist idealist Pantheism. This debate is generally view as purely academic or meaningless semantics.
New Religions, A Guide states that:
after the Second World War, the religious landscape in the West dramatically changed" and cites the reasons for this, two being religious pluralism and better communication of all kinds. Also "Religion is increasingly a private rather than a public matter… as religion is simply a matter of personal preference, and since there is little evidence to establish the validity of one choice over another, or indeed to establish the validity of any choices, there are few reasons to limit choice….consequently, spirituality is being explored in some unexpected areas of Western life… it is not a return to previous ways of being religious, but rather the emergence of new ways of being religious.
The Guide continues "the term 'spirituality' tends to be associated more with non-institutional forms of practice and a radical rethinking of tradition, space, community and the body. In this sense, postmodern spirituality reflects the collapse of religious authority and institutional practice…. Post modern spiritualities question the division between the transcendental and the immanent… the transcendent is seen either as present or a false division, making creation divine." Thus Spiritual Naturalism (Naturalistic Spirituality) along with its related naturalisms, can be seen as a rebellion against traditional religious thinking and a naturalizing of the concepts of God.