Nudity: The state or fact of being naked.
Looking back on the Catholic education I received in high school about the body, modesty, and sexuality, I feel like I was taught to fear the opposite sex.
I know that’s not what I was actually taught, but that is, nonetheless, the impression I have.
I saw the female body as nothing more than a means of temptation.
It wasn’t until college that I realized that nudity isn’t inherently sinful.
Why is nudity not inherently sinful?
When looking at nudity in art or in real life, or being naked yourself, ask yourself What is the intent of the artist? The intent of the person who is naked? My intent?
If the answer is Arousal, the nudity is pornographic.
Because what the nudity is doing is reducing the subject of the work of art, the person who is naked, or you, to the sexual desire felt by the person looking.
The nudity isn’t saying “Look beyond this naked body and see the person underneath.” It’s saying “This naked body is all that matters.”
An example of non-pornographic nudity would be Michelangelo’s David:
If you’re looking at David and jerking off, you’ve missed what Michelangelo was trying to say.
An example of pornographic nudity would be the movie 50 Shades of Grey (2015).
If you’re watching 50 Shades of Grey and you’re not jerking off, than you’ve missed the point of 50 Shades.
One reason why nudity is considered immodest is because:
The intent of the person who is naked is to cause arousal.
An old saying is “Out of sight, out of mind.”
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first thing they did afterward was cover themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
Adam and Eve, I believe, didn’t cover themselves because they thought My body is no longer like God made it — very good. (Genesis 1:31) Adam and Eve covered themselves because they didn’t want to risk one seeing the other as a means to an end, not as a human being.
There’s a reason why a woman walking down the street naked is at a greater risk of being leered at or sexually assaulted than a woman who is clothed: The woman’s pleasure-inducing body parts are visible.
To the wrong kind of man, the naked woman is not a fellow human being — she’s a means to an end.
That’s another reason why nudity is considered immodest:
There is the risk that the person who is naked will not be seen as the human being they are.
When Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, God clothes them. (Genesis 3:21)
God doesn’t want Adam and Eve to be naked.
Which is why going naked for reasons that don’t have to do with sex or bathing — going naked for the sake of going naked — can be seen as a person saying “I am naked without shame, like Adam and Eve were before the Fall.” (Genesis 2:25)
The reality is: It isn’t possible to be naked without shame. There will always be a sense of shame — a sense of unease — associated with nudity. Why? Because we don’t know if the person that is looking at, or will be looking at, our naked body, sees us as the human being we are.
To say otherwise is to say “I am beyond sin.”
Saying such a thing is not modest.
No one is beyond sin. No one is perfect. We all fall short in one way or another.
That is another reason why nudity is considered immodest:
The people who are naked can consider themselves to be above the potential consequences of their choice to not be clothed.
On a related note:
“Is nudity the ultimate in modesty?”
It makes sense to say that it is.
When a person is naked, all that they physically are is exposed for all to see. It takes discernment, bravery, and strength to be naked. Qualities that go hand-in-hand with modesty.
And when two people are naked, it is impossible to tell who is the king and who is the peasant.
That’s why I would say “Yes. Nudity can be considered the ultimate in modesty.”