Nudity And Why “Go Topless” Dishonors God

Dog with blanketToday, there will be thousands of women protesting in the streets of major cities. They will be fighting for their right to publicly “go topless” in the states that currently ban this form of nudity. The major complaint they seem to be raising is that it is unfair and sexist to ban women from showing their breasts in public when men are allowed to do so. This is understandable. In today’s world, people are constantly shifting toward a more secular and evolutionary viewpoint. This causes some to question modern rules of conduct due to their seemingly unnecessary existence. Of course, if we are just animals, their plea is just. Why on earth would nudity be a problem? But we are not animals. We are God’s beautiful creation, and going against common decency in the name of feminism is not how we honor Him.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

This tells us how we came into being. God made us to be His special creation above all the animals and all the earth. We are the caretakers of what God has made. It says that He created us in His own image, both male and female. What should this mean to us regarding nudity and public decency? I believe it gives us a much more accurate picture of who we are. We are not animals who wear clothes. If that were true, why should we have to wear anything? We were made as a higher creation than animals, and God highlights this fact here in Genesis.

“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman,  because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:22-25

This shows us something quite interesting. Before sin, Adam and Eve were both naked and were not ashamed. Why? This is meant to show that their relationship with God and with each other was pure and sinless. They had no need to hide what God created them to be, for they were fulfilling every aspect of themselves. They walked in harmony with God. This is a sign of their holiness and their lack of shame.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:6-8

This passage contains some key points. First, it says that they only fully understood their nakedness when they disobeyed God, and this drove them to create clothes for themselves. Why would they feel the need to cover up their bodies? I believe they are newly ashamed, and this is God’s way of exposing them and revealing to them their sin. They wanted clothes to hide from each other and from God. They cannot trust each other anymore, and they have dishonored God in their rebellion.

Secondly, it says that they made loincloths. The Hebrew word used here describes a girdle or loincloth, but nothing more than that. In other words, the passage does not say that Eve made anything to cover her breasts. This is a point in favor of the protesters in the streets, it seems. But of course, this does not prove that women should not cover themselves today. It simply doesn’t mention anything about tops specifically. Lack of evidence does not make a case.

“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Here, God confirms their actions by giving them real garments to replace their leaves and twigs. I believe God is doing this to communicate that they ought to be ashamed. They are not who God made them to be, and clothes are appropriate in that they acknowledge this fact, not in hiding their sin but in confessing it as a problem. To reject clothes, then, is to deny our own guilt before God. Nudity is not an act of freedom, but of rebellion and self-glorification.

The Sacred Vessel

The Genesis account gives us insight into how and why we became ashamed of nakedness. Obviously, clothes have more purpose than just to cover up. They give us warmth, convenience in carrying things, and a way to display wealth or status. But they represent more than that. They represent a deeply rooted sense of shame in every one of us for how we have rejected God’s commands. In this context, it is natural to wear clothes in our current state of imperfection. But let us forget about clothes for a minute and focus on what makes a woman special. She is given the immensely important and God-given task of procreation.

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” Genesis 1:28

The man is involved in the process, of course, but the woman is given the utmost burden of bearing children. Part of that process involves her breasts in the act of feeding her newborn baby. This is a sacred function of the female body that God designed. Men do not have it. It is a special connection between a mother and her baby and no one else. I believe this bond ought to remain sacred and private, not something without value or meaning. To say that a woman’s breasts are no more sacred than a man’s is dishonorable to the woman, not empowering. A woman’s breasts are far more special and ought to be treated as such.

Another important point is that breasts are seen as sexual in today’s culture. Feminists seem to despise this and argue that a woman’s breasts should not be seen as such. But simply getting mad over it won’t change the widespread cultural viewpoint that breasts are part of what a woman keeps sacred outside the bedroom. I believe it is natural for a woman to reserve that part of her for her spouse. What does this mean for us? I think it’s important to consider the culture when deciding how best to follow God’s commands. If going topless would likely disrupt those around us or lead to temptation, we ought not to do it (Romans 14). As we have seen, the very function of breasts is sacred, so even if they are not technically used in the sexual act, they are still to be kept private and protected.

The issue at hand is not equality. Women are not equal to men in what God has given them; they have an even higher calling and purpose in this matter, and this ought not to be dishonored. Clothing is a right response to our sin and shame in the presence of a holy and perfect God, and removing it only rejects our guilt. Instead we ought to confess that we are broken and honor our Lord by keeping our bodies sacred for His purposes.

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