Are “Au Naturale” Destinations Okay?

Today’s question from my Q&A with J at HHH post is from a reader who wants the bare facts about nudity in public places. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

I’m so happy for the chance to ask this question b/c I have no idea who else to ask and I love your blog so much! Please talk to me about au natural/nude beaches. My dh and I are both strong Christians, but when he’s in Jamaica at a resort, he loves the au natural beach – he’s private about it and doesn’t look at other women, but loves the warm sun and sea on his skin. I’m much more modest, and I haven’t found any biblical grounds for nudity in a public place like that. This is a real problem, ’cause I want to bless him with what makes him relaxed and happy, but I don’t have the conviction that this is o.k. as a Christian. How can we resolve this? Thanks!!!

I posted a brief reply to that question. We’ll start with what I said then:

“I can do a whole post on this, but my quick answer is no, it’s not okay biblically. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, ‘The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.’ Our bodies are not for public viewing, but belong to ourselves and our spouses. Some parts are indeed private. Moreover, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24: ‘”Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.’ I can’t see how traipsing around on a nudist beach is beneficial, constructive, and for the good of others. It sounds like your husband is pursuing his own interest. And I’m sorry to say, his claim that he isn’t looking at other women if he sees them on the nude beach is at the very least questionable.

“Personally, I really enjoy skinny-dipping. I can understand the pleasure of warm sun and sea (or river or pool water, etc.) on your skin. However, there are ways to accomplish this WITHOUT visiting nude beaches where you see others naked or expose yourself to others.

“Somehow you need to let him know this is not okay with you. Of course, attacking him with anger and scripture isn’t likely to get you the results you want. Try approaching him with your concerns and questions about why he does this and how you and he might do it far more privately and biblically. My thoughts and prayers are with you!”

So here’s the skinny. (Seriously, couldn’t resist.)

For your spouse, not others. This is an activity a couple should probably engage in together. If one of you wants to frolic around naked outdoors, why would you do it in the presence of others and not with your spouse? The better route would be to save outdoor nudity for those trips you can take together. That way, hubby can gaze to his heart’s delight on the woman who belongs to him, and the wife can do the same (and yeah, I’m kind of thinking she can be there to keep his eyes where they belong). It may feel very uncomfortable the first time you get naked outside, but if you choose a secluded area, you might find that you and your spouse can enjoy the experience.

Accommodating destinations. Some places will accommodate your request for such privacy. Since the wife mentioned Jamaica, I started there — at the Visit Jamaica website. According to the website, au naturel settings are popular in Jamaica and accommodated by several beaches and resorts. While there are nude beaches, the site claims that guests can “ask for a little more privacy at Reggae Vibes, Ocho Rios, and the managers will corner off a section of the beach just for you.” I take them at their word that there are options for a couple to have a private space where they can bare it all — for each other and each other alone.

Finding a spot. You can also hunt down your own place to enjoy an au naturale experience. Find a secluded cabin or house, and I bet no one would bother you. Seek out lodging that has a private pool or hot tub for the two of you to enjoy. One of my readers suggested looking at a vacation rental website for “private cabins who ask [their] hot tub users to not wear anything into [the] tub.” This anonymous reader also mentioned that “There [are] also places where they have private ponds or lakes that you could do most anything nude in your own private place.” I feel certain that such places exist, even if you might have to look a little harder to find them. You can also tap a travel agent for advice and lodging options. In almost every church I’ve attended, there has been a travel agent, so ask around to find someone who would understand and accommodate your desire.

Be careful. There are laws against public nudity (also known as “indecent exposure,” “public lewdness” and “public indecency”) in many places. In the U.S., these laws are set by each state. Thus, you have to be careful where you show your stuff. You don’t want to have to explain to your children that mommy got in trouble with the police for letting it all hang out.

Avoiding lust. One of the biggest problems with the assertion that one isn’t looking at others on the nude beach is that, even if true, you could still be a temptation to lust for others. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Then in 1 Corinthians 8:13, Paul says about meat sacrificed to idols: “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” Tying these biblical principles together, we can conclude that going nude in a way that causes someone to sinfully lust is not okay with God.

It’s hard to avoid lusting with our own eyes as well. I have a difficult time imagining a guy enjoying a visit to a nude beach and not being there in part to look at the naked women. I don’t want to cast doubt on your husband’s integrity, nor do I want to cause a wedge between the two of you, but that sounds like a tall order for any guy. While I aim my posts at the wives (did you ever notice the feminine pink and orange [original] background?), I know I have male readers and they can provide a man’s perspective which I obviously cannot, so maybe they can chime in here on whether it’s possible to go to a nude beach and not look at the women there. I gotta say that plenty of us gals would have a challenge as well if a Daniel Craig-type walked by naked. In Job 31:1, Job wisely says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” We need to make that covenant ourselves, which means that public exposure of private parts isn’t a good or godly idea.

Just say no. Another obvious solution is to simply not get naked outside, period. I mentioned in my brief response to the commenter that I enjoy skinny dipping. I do, but I haven’t been in (counting on fingers) . . . forever. Because seriously, how important is it for me to get naked in a pool or body of water? Is it worth hunting down a secluded location for me to strip down and show my stuff? Is it worth the cost of putting a pool in my back yard and a high (possibly electrified) fence to keep my goods hidden? How badly do I really want to swim nude? Not that bad. If an opportunity arises someday for me to skinny dip in a private, holy way, I may indeed do so. But in the meantime, it just isn’t that important.

That said, if naked outings are a priority and a great pleasure for your husband, then the two of you should expend some time and money finding a way to enjoy this activity together and in a private, holy manner — not exposing your nudity to others. Will it take more effort? Quite likely, yes. But the benefit of keeping yourselves only for one another and not tempting others to lust is worth it.

16 thoughts on “Are “Au Naturale” Destinations Okay?

  1. larrysmusings

    Dear J:

    From a man’s perspective, No, it is not possible to go to a nude beach and not look at the nude women. It really is that simple. Most men, I think, go to nude beaches for the purpose of seeing the women sans swimsuits. As well, many of the women at such beaches are young and have trim figures that men, being visually oriented beings, cannot help looking at and, yes, lusting after.

  2. mamarachael

    For once, J, I think I disagree. I think that ‘nudity’ is culturally bound. No one can walk into an African tribe, or Papua tribe and tell them that they are wrong and sinful for not wearing bits of fabric that cover all *those* parts. Now, to say that, as Americans, it not advisable — that different. You quoted the very passage I thought of… — all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. And the arguments you present are good and solid towards why it isn’t beneficial, but I don’t think you can say its not ‘Biblical’.

    Glad you tackled this topic!

    1. Anonymous

      It is biblical.. That’s why god covered Adam and eve up when they felt the guilt of being naked… Says it in the bible..

  3. Paul Byerly

    Ah yes, the cultural gambit. Frankly I don’t think it has any bareing (sorry!) since we are not talking about a man who grew up with nudity all around. Our sexuality is mostly formed even before puberty, and by the time a man is an adult he is beyond having the mind he’d have if he’d been seeing naked women daily for his entire life.

    Can a man see women naked and not get aroused? That depends on how you define aroused. If he was hooked up to an MRI I assure you his brain would show activation due to those naked women. Is that why he wants to go to a nude beach? Beats me, maybe it’s not, but that does not change the face he will see bits and pieces and will be effected by that.

  4. Greg

    It’s sad that for husbands and wives, reclaiming Eden is virtually a pipe dream anymore. The fortunate ones are those who live far enough away from urban areas and have a secluded body of water and/or dense foliage nearby to enjoy that intimate privacy together.

  5. Anonymous Man

    I don’t think nude beaches require nudity, I think they just permit it. If the two of you go together, he can get nude and you can stay comfortably covered up. As long as his intention is not to pursue relations with anyone else, I think the experience can be a fun and honorable one for both of you. That said, if you can find a private place to be naked together, he will likely come out ahead of the game anyway.

  6. Brad

    J,
    I love your approach to this issue! So many Christians would simply stand on the wrong part, and totally ignore the possibilities of exploring the fun and positive with each other!

    Thank you for reminding all of us that we serve the God who designed sex and he really wants us to enjoy it!
    -Brad

  7. Anonymous

    Thanks for the topic. I agree – public nudity is really not going to edify anyone. Privately – between husband and wife – anything goes if they both desire it. Why not?

  8. Anonymous

    “From a man’s perspective, No, it is not possible to go to a nude beach and not look at the nude women. It really is that simple. Most men, I think, go to nude beaches for the purpose of seeing the women sans swimsuits. As well, many of the women at such beaches are young and have trim figures that men, being visually oriented beings, cannot help looking at and, yes, lusting after.”

    The only nude beach I’ve ever encountered was populated mostly by old, fat men. Lust was the last thing on my mind – it was more like “pass the eye bleach, thanks”

  9. J

    I’m getting a ton of comments from naturists/nudists and those in opposition to that practice. This post is about a married couple and how they can find private ways to be nude together (or not).

    So with all due respect to your arguments–and mostly respectful debate–I will forego publishing the recent flurry of comments on the topic of nudism. I am especially uncomfortable with publishing those that promote public nudity with links to other websites. The viewpoint I present here is widely accepted in the church mainstream–that Christians should be publically modest in whatever culture they are in.

    Thanks to all!

  10. Gina Parris

    One time Paul and I were on vacation in St. Maartin, where we stayed away from the “clothing-optional” beach. (Heck, I just knew I’d end up all over the internet if I went nude- probably for an anti-cellulite campaign) Anyway, we made friends with this GREAT couple on the beach next to us and at one point Paul said to the modestly-clad wife, “I’m so glad you’re not naked. I could never have had this great conversation!”

  11. Anonymous

    There is something just so primal about being out there au-naturale as you call it. It is really great if you can keep it private. We we were at a place in Pa that has an outdoor hot-tub on a private deck that asks hot-tubbers to not wear anything into the tub. Bathing suits hold laundry soap and make issues in tubs with foaming etc. Hot tub owners apparently know this. We highly recommend this romantic place for married couples only. It is the Little Stone Cottage in Lancaster. You can google it. We had several wonderful times there and want other couples who appreciate marriage to know about it. Theres just something about wet wild and naked…that well… you try it out!

  12. Anonymous

    As a christian male I am offended (& i’ve come across this time & time again) by the way you just assume that all men are dogs and have no self control, or respect for women. Not every male is a pig, thanks.

  13. Anonymous

    J — As a married (nearly 40 years) Christian man, I can relate very much to the husband who is described in the original question. My wife and I stand on the same idealogical positions as described in the question. It is a marriage issue — how a husband and wife work through differences (even differences in music tastes, child-rearing, alcohol consumption or not). I agree with several of the posts — it is good that you don’t simply condemn, but offer creative alternatives; the Christian male who resents the assumption that all men have no self-control. If we are going to examine any issue and try to make moral judgments, then let us who name the name of Christ, do so by examine what Scripture says (or does not say) on the topic. Everyone of us who read this blog do so with the aid and use of a device (computer) which is not mentioned in Scripture. Our moral use is determined by the application of other Biblical principles. Personal use/presence at clothing optional beaches should be examined by marriage partners in light of Scripture — not simply what the majority of Christians around them might consider okay or not.

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