Faith/Spirituality Forum: Morality of nudism
Morality of nudism QUESTION from Leo on November 9, 2002 What does the church teach regarding social nudism? While in Germany I went to a public pool with sauna, and everyone swam suited, but went into the sauna without clothing. I did likewise. Is it morally acceptable for a catholics to participate in social nudity so long as we don't sin (adultery, lust, etc.)? Thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on November 19, 2002 Dear Leo:
The Bible and the Church teaches that we must be modest. Nudity does not constitute modesty in this culture.
Here is the Catechism on the subject, especially 2521-22
II. THE BATTLE FOR PURITY 2520 Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God's grace he will prevail - by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;
- by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God's will in everything;
- by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God's commandments: Appearance arouses yearning in fools;
- by prayer:
I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know . . . that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you.
2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.
2525 Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion.
I do not believe it is possible for men and women in the Western Culture to be naked and NOT have thoughts of lust. Those who think they can I think are lying to themselves.
If it is true that you can, you are a better man than me.
In any event the inappropriateness of social nudity is not dependent upon the issue of lust. As the catechism states, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man and Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness.
Bottomline: the social permissiveness in Europe is well-known. Because it is a common practice over there does not make it appropriate.
Immodesty is NOT a sign of a mature society as some Europeans often imply. Immodesty is a sign of a immature and depraved society.
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