For some reason I have a high number of male friends who really enjoy being naked around one another. There’s nothing weird or sexual about it–they just like the freedom of it I guess.
In fact, some of them consider it to be a valued form of quality time! I even knew some guys in college who lived together and would set aside one afternoon each week for their “naked time.”
As a girl, I really can’t relate. In no way does that sound fun to me. It only sounds awkward. And kinda weird.
With few exceptions, girls are just the opposite of boys in this regard. Unlike our male counterparts, we will do almost anything to avoid being naked in front of other people.
But why is that? Why are guys so comfortable with their bodies, whereas women are not?
This is a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. My first instinct is to blame the media–when I look at myself in the mirror, I see a stark contrast between my body and the bodies of the Victoria Secret models. As a result, I can’t help but be ashamed of my body, therefore causing me to hide it.
But this issue cannot be blamed on the media alone. It goes back much further than that. All the way back to the beginning of time…
Think, for a moment, back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall of humanity. What was the first thing that Adam and Eve did when they had disobeyed God? They covered their bodies.
What does this tell us? That there is a very real connection between the way we feel about our bodies and the way we feel in relation to others. In particular, the insecurities we have with our bodies reveal a more deeply rooted issue in our relationship with God.
For Adam and Eve, to be naked before God was to be fully known, inside and out. But after the Fall they didn’t want to be fully known by God, because they were ashamed of what He would find.
That said, when we hide our bodies, we are doing more than hiding our physical features. We are hiding our souls as well. We are afraid of being fully known, for fear of what people will find. We are afraid of being rejected.
Given the fact that Adam and Eve both felt the need to cover themselves, why are women so much more insecure about their bodies than men? Well this is the point at which culture partners with our sin nature to target women most acutely. Due to our sin, there is already a tendency to want to hide ourselves, but culture feeds that fear all the more by attacking a woman’s natural beauty. It mounts shame upon shame.
So how do we fight this?
Well I have one creative solution, but before I reveal it, the first and foundational step is to work on your relationship with God. No person, including yourself, can even give you the wholeness you need to stand before God and others without shame. Only your Creator, the one who granted you life with purpose and intention, and then loved you enough to sacrifice His son, can give you that security.
But in addition to that, I have a little homework for you. I want you to pick out the physical features that you like the least, and start thanking God for them. Pray that God would reveal to you how beautiful those things are. If you don’t like your nose, or your legs, or even your butt (that’s right, God thinks you’ve got a great booty! After all, He gave it to you!), pray that God would open your eyes to the beauty that He sees in them.
For some of you, you might even consider standing in front of the mirror completely in the buff, looking at your whole body, and worshiping God for it. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but your body really is beautiful to God, and we don’t praise God nearly enough for our bodies, so try it!
It may sound a little off the wall, but given that we were created in the gorgeous and divine image of God, I think it’s time we mount a grass roots effort to resist the turn of our culture. And it starts with you.
Tangential to this topic: the early church required catechumens to be naked during their baptisms. I do not know why, but the church employed Deacons for the men and Deaconesses for the women to ensure modesty.
I doubt this was done at the front of the church.