nakedness, prayer, spirituality, Theology

Frank Answers About Embodied Theology

I was contacted by a Catholic priest in Europe who is a member of a religious order and a writer on spirituality. His email included questions to me. My answers to him may be of interest to other Christians whose religious upbringing could have had a negative affect on their attitude toward their body, and therefore effected negatively their relationship with God who created their body. My correspondent writes:

Warning: some nude images

I want to congratulate you for your blog and perhaps to enter into discussion with you about your theology of the body and nakedness. It’s quite rare among us priests, and I’m so happy to find a colleague on the internet about these topics. I myself have practiced silent prayer naked for about 25 or 30 years and it’s a part of my spiritual life.

[In my writing] I tried to invite priests and monks to more freedom with their body and pleasure, in a serious respect of their vows, but I didn’t dare to develop nakedness in it. I don’t agree with what is called today “sexual identity.” I don’t believe that our desire is the definition of our identity. So I want to be very careful to avoid any identification of nakedness practice or theology with gay practice or theology. A lot of men have huge problems with their body, both “gay” and “straight.” We can try to offer them a new theological point of view which is a basis for more freedom, for a rehabilitation of the body, whatever is their sexual desire.

Nowadays, I know quite clearly what could be said from a Christian point of view about body and nakedness. I know, by theology and by experience, what is interesting to promote about naked prayer. The big issue is: “How can I communicate about that?” Most of the people who need to hear that will run away if I propose some experience, or retreat on the topic; and I think that they will never read a text on it either. I don’t want to speak about “body” to people with 30 years experience in yoga and others practices. They are kind and interesting, but they know what is a body. I would like to preach to my brothers in religious life and the priesthood who are so suffering on the topic. My purpose today is to be suggestive. I offer some ideas on the body within a comment on prayer or on chastity, without explicitly mentioning the body in the title of the article or the book so as not to scare away those who have the most need to hear about it.

Do you have some experience with that: how to speak about the body to Christian people…?

Frank answers: Dear Father, I am pleased that you found my blog and made contact with me. I commend you on your practice of praying naked. It can be a profound experience to be physically naked in the presence of the living God before whom “no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (Hebrews 4:13). 

I have had experience speaking about the body to Christian people. When I was going through cancer treatment in 2006/2007 while serving as pastor of a congregation I did not hesitate to share what I was experiencing in my body from the effects of chemotherapy in sermons and my congregation appreciated it. My physical demeanor spoke to what I was enduring since my head was shaven and I wore a baretta (actually a Lutheran Saxon baret) throughout the service, I wore white gloves to handle the metal vessels since my hands got cold from touching them while I was injecting the chemo through a port in my chest, and I sat to preach because I tired easily. My body spoke to the congregation as much as my words.

On this blog you will find several sermons I preached to congregations that touch on the body: “About the Circumcision of Jesus,” “About Touching Jesus and Being Touched,” and recently “About Embodied Racism.” Some early articles on my blog, “About the Resurrection Body and Tattoos,” “About Christians Practicing Yoga,” “About Meditation,” and “More About our Resurrection Bodies,” appeared in earlier forms and without all the images on my parish web site before I retired in 2013. My article “About ‘Christian Yoga’” is based on a workshop I led for lay people on “Yoga and the Theology of the Body” at the Hartwick Seminary Summer Institute of Theology.  And my book on Embodied Liturgy is based on a course I offered in Satya Wacana Christian University in Central Java, Indonesia in 2014 to church music students and Reformed pastors who were invited to participate in the course. I included yoga sequences in the course to help the participants get in touch with their body; none of them had experienced yoga before. In fact, it was a bold step not just to do yoga practices in a classroom but to do it in Indonesia. I have made available on this blog an article about how Embodied Liturgy could be used in an academic course or a church retreat. One professor wrote to me that he used my book in a course and actually included the yoga practices. I don’t expect everyone to get into yoga. It happens to be the way in which I reconnected with my bodily self after cancer treatment, so I’ve used it to help others get in touch with their bodies.

Frank leading a yoga sequence in the Embodied Liturgy class at Satya Wacana Christian University 2014

I agree with you that our identity as Christians should not be based on our sexual desires. Our identity is our common baptism into Christ, whether we are male or female, gay or straight (see Galatians 3:28).

On the other hand, we can’t ignore the body with its physical experiences and sexual desires. In articles I’ve been writing recently I make use of Mark Johnson’s proposal in The Meaning of the Body (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007). He proposes that the meaning of the body is simultaneously biological, ecological, phenomenological, social, and cultural (pp. 274—78). [See also Frank Answers About the Meaning(s) of the Body]. This includes our sexuality, as I analyzed it using these five dimensions of the meaning of the body in “The Body in Protestant Spirituality,” in Frank C. Senn, ed., Protestant Spiritual Traditions, Volume 2 (Eugene, Or: Cascade Books, 2020), pp. 194—95. We don’t realize how important the body is to spirituality. We are bodily creatures and God in Christ relates to us bodily in the sacraments. But this includes our sexuality.

It is unfortunate that nakedness, especially for men, has come to be associated with homosexuality. In my youth (1950s) boys swam naked in schools and in the YMCA. It was a practice we took for granted. Boys who were shy about being naked with other boys were unfortunately sometimes regarded as queer. But today many men and boys think of males swimming naked as a gay thing. Why this change of attitude? By the 1970s—1990s, as the gay liberation movement was gaining traction in our society (1969 was the year of the Stonewall Inn Riot in New York City’s Greenwich Village), homophobia was also increasing. The evangelical men’s ministry Promise Keepers that flourished in the 1990s was very homophobic. But if men got emotional and hugged one another in small group experiences, this was defined in familial terms as “brotherly bonding,” and that made it okay; it wasn’t gay.

Gay or brotherly? Does it matter? It is not inappropriate for men to hug. In some cultures it’s common.

The late 19th century clinical distinction between “homosexual” and “heterosexual” was a mixed blessing for those who identify as homosexuals. As Michel Foucault wrote in A History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. by Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), “As defined by ancient or canonical code, sodomy was a category of forbidden acts; their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The nineteenth century homosexual became a personage with a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a type of life, a life form, and a morphology, with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology. Nothing that went into his total composition was unaffected by his sexuality” (p. 43).

On this basis the homosexual could say, “this is who I am.” But then heterosexuals felt that homosexuality had to be suppressed in society lest it infect others. Men had to suppress homoerotic urges in themselves. This was dangerous because, as the Kinsey Report showed, men have varying degrees of homoerotic feelings. They emphasize their heterosexuality by bashing homos verbally or physically. In spite of the advances in LGBTQ rights in Western societies, there is still a latent (one should say an embodied) homophobia and a fear of being perceived as gay. As a result “straight” men suppress their interest in masculine spirituality.

This is the “problematic” (as Foucault would say) for men today. It is considered “gay” to look at a man’s body, to enjoy being nude with other men, to desire to hug or even kiss another man out of friendship. So we eschew focus on the body, experiences of naked camaraderie, and physical contact with another man (other than aggressively in sports). But this homophobia also gets in the way of our relationship with God, because that relationship is based on the body.

Gay men have also experienced body traumas because of social stigmas associated with their sexuality, as well as bullying and rape. They went through trauma en mass as a result of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. This led gay former Jesuit Joseph Kramer to create workshops for gay men to help them explore their erotic energy and need for intimacy in a safe container. Called “Celebrating the Body Electric,” these workshops were sponsored by the Body Electric School of Massage in Oakland, CA, which specialized in Taoist and Tantric modalities. These program continue today under the name of The New Body Electric and are offered for men, but also for women and for men and women (couples). (See

The name “electric body” comes from Walt Whitman’s poem, “I Sing the Electric Body,” in which he celebrates the beauty and wonder of all human bodies, including the bodies of male and female slaves he saw being auctioned in Baltimore. The poem ends with the most complete body scan probably ever put in words by a poet.

All of us need to come to terms with our bodily selves. As phenomenologists teach, we are our body. Christians especially need to understand ourselves as bodily creatures. We are created as bodies from earthly material (Genesis 2:7). God redeemed us by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, his body naked in his flogging, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead (with grave clothes left behind). By our Baptism we are joined to the death and resurrection of Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit who dwells in the temple of our bodies. We receive the body of Christ in bread and wine into our bodies for forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing. We look for the promised resurrection of our bodies when Christ comes again in glory as judge of all. Our life before God in Christ through the Spirit is all about the body. It is experienced in the body. That’s what embodiment means.

The body is central to Christianity’s incarnational theology. The naked body is also a theological focus because the image of Christ crucified is central to our devotion. The crucifix is placed before our eyes in our worship spaces. The late medieval saint and mystic, Catherine of Siena, had visions of Christ throughout her life. She usually envisioned him wearing a bishop’s attire. But one time she had a vision of the crucified Christ during a period of disturbing demonic visions. “Catherine, My daughter,” said Christ, “see what torments I bore for your sake; you should not think it so hard to suffer for My sake.” The vision changed, and Jesus stood gloriously before her. Catherine asked, “My Beloved Lord, where were You when my soul was filled with such terrible bitterness?” Jesus replied, “I was in your heart.” After this vision she emerged from her room and became involved in charitable work among the poor and sick and insinuated herself into the affairs of church and state.

Kristian Zahrtmann (1843–1917). The naked crucified Christ appears to St. Catherine of Siena.

There is no reason to think that Christ was not totally naked on the cross. That’s how Romans crucified their victims. He wasn’t provided with a loin cloth out of deference to Jewish sensibilities. Christ’s nakedness was emphasized artistically in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance as a way of seeing his identification with suffering humanity. This is discussed by Leo Steinberg, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, second edition (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1996). The nakedness of Christ is a profound theological symbol and is held before our eyes in the crucifix, which occupies a central focus in our worship spaces. Vietnamese Catholic theologian Dan Le wrote a dissertation on The Naked Christ: An Atonement Model for a Body Obsessed Culture (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012).

We have issues with our bodies. Dissatisfaction with our bodies and body shame is pervasive among both men and women. It affects our living of life, our relationships with others, and our relationship with God, because we live as less than God created, redeemed, and sanctified us to be. As Dutch psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk wrote in The Body Keeps the Score (New York: Viking, 2014), traumas we have experienced in our lives (addictions, abuse, diseases) are retained by the body, and therapists can’t really get at our lingering feelings about those traumas except by unlocking the information that the body holds.

I also believe that there is an increasing interest in our bodies in the Western world. As Dan Le observed, we are a body-obsessed culture, although not always in the best sense. People are becoming more aware of their physical body due to traumas of physical, sexual, or substance abuse or chronic illness. They are becoming more aware of their emotional body due to sexual confusions as we deal with our fast-changing social norms, and in our changing cultural expectations regarding gender roles. They are becoming more interested in health and wellness. Membership in gyms and vigorous exercise has proliferated. We idolize models of fit bodies that we cannot approximate; hence our dissatisfaction with our own bodies.

Perhaps training for a triathalon.

Books are being written about these issues, including theological and spiritual books. Perhaps Pope John Paul II set a trend with his theology of the body, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein (Boston: Pauline, 1997, 2006). A group of Christians could read and discuss a book. But I believe that it would be more effective to have an embodied experience of a theology of the body. That means we have to experience our theology in the body.

A Proposal: An Embodied Theology Retreat

Therefore I suggest organizing a retreat (perhaps over a weekend) that would focus on the work of the Trinitarian God in our bodies for healing and spiritual empowerment that could have a healing and liberating effect. The retreat would feature an exploration of one’s life in the body under the theme of the embodiment of the Trinity in our bodily experiences as God’s creation, as redeemed by Christ, as temple of the Holy Spirit.

I would further be bold to suggest that the retreat be clothing optional in the sharing sessions. The discussions and sharing about one’s body could be done enclothed. But then it remains abstract. Yes, we know there is a body covered by our clothing. We can imagine it as we talk. But in these sessions about our actual bodies – our physical sensations, our emotional feelings — our bodies should be front and center without the social conventions and cultural overlay of our choice of clothing. While being naked might make participants apprehensive at first, they will eventually feel more comfortable with themselves and become less self-conscious. And they will share their life stories more freely and honestly since everyone is equally vulnerable.  “Clothing optional” means no one is required to be naked, but the option is available. Being naked with others in a safe, non-sexual environment provides a rare opportunity to quiet the negative voice within us about our bodies.  

I actually had a Saturday workshop on men’s body and sexuality issues conducted in a Circle of Men session by a physical trainer and yoga teacher with an interest in these topics. It was “clothing optional” (all seven participants ended up choosing nakedness). Stories the men told were honest and respected by others in the group. Perhaps not surprising, religious issues were involved in the stories of some of the men. But there were also stories of abuse and bullying. The positive experience of that “Circle of Men” provides the experiential basis for my following proposal.

I suggest that everyone leave all their clothes in their bedroom and wear a sarong to the sessions, which may left on or removed if the participant feels self-prompted to do so during a sharing session. The facilitator should be similarly attired at the beginning of each session but remove his covering at the beginning of the sharing portion of the session to model permission for others to do so.

Men in a men’s retreat. All shapes and sizes of men’s bodies. Nothing to be ashamed of.

The format would be small groups of about 6, plus the facilitator. Groups could be male or female but not mixed sex. The participants will share stories about themselves. Rules: stories heard from participants are not to be interrupted or challenged by others or shared outside the group. Each group with have a facilitator of the same sex.

Obviously the facilitators would have to be carefully chosen for their spiritual maturity, skill in facilitating group discussion and sharing, as well as willingness to model nudity.

Each small group session will begin by reciting the Apostles Creed and end by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Each study/sharing session will be devoted to one article of the Creed. The Lord’s Prayer provides a formal prayer that everyone can say while experiencing naked prayer.

Session 1: “Who told you that you were naked?”

Read and discuss Genesis 2:4b—3:24. Focus on the bodies of Adam and Eve in these stories. Why did they cover their “private parts” with an apron made of fig leaves?  Hint: Was intimacy impaired between Adam and Eve and God? Did God have any problem with human nakedness? Why did God provide Adam and Eve with leather garments of animal skins when they were banished from the paradise garden?  Note: the text doesn’t say why God clothed them. What conclusions might be drawn from his divine act of grace?

Peter Paul Rubens. Adam and Eve covering their genitals with fig leaves.

Going around the circle share your experiences of your physical body as a child, as a teen, as a young adult, as a middle age adult, and as older adult. Suggestion: let each person in the group share the experiences of each stage of life before moving on to the next stage at the next go-around. These may be experiences of accidents, illness, performance (drama, music, sports, etc.), relationships, sex, sexuality issues, etc.

Do a group body scan meditation with participants sitting or lying on the floor. Have participants take a deep breath, hold it, exhale, and relax. Mention slowly each part of the body from head to toe, asking the participants to note any sensations without judgment.

Joel Benjamin leading men in a body scan savasana at Yogasmith in Seattle

Session 2: Stripped/Clothed

Read and discuss Mark 14—16:8. Focus on the body of Christ and other bodies in the story. When was Jesus stripped? When was he clothed or covered?  What do you think is the symbolism of the young man running off naked into the night during the commotion in the garden? What’s the relationship between that naked young man and the clothed young man in the tomb on the third day announcing the resurrection? How are both nakedness and clothing spiritual values? Read Cyril of Jerusalem’s Mystagogical Homily 2. See Edward Yarnold, SJ, The Awe Inspiring Rites of Initiation: Baptismal Homilies of the Fourth Century (Slough, UK: St. Paul Publications, 1971), pp. 74—78. Discuss the symbolism of the stripping, anointing, and bathing offered by Cyril. What is the value of nakedness in Christian initiation?

Giovane Correggio. Detail of the naked fugitive in “The Capture of Christ”

Going around the circle share your experiences of body shaming or personal dissatisfaction with your body as a child, as a teen, as a young adult, as a middle age adult, and as an older adult, one stage of life at a time.

The leader does an anointing of the body of each participant, wherever on the body the participant desires to be anointed, whatever part in particular needs healing.

This is Indian abhyanga oil treatment. But the ample use of oil poured on the body should be a model for Christian anointing.

Session 3: Naked to follow the naked Christ

Read and discuss Isaiah 20:2—4; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:12—20. Why did God direct Isaiah to be naked for three years? For whom was his nakedness an object lesson?  How do we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice? How do we glorify God in our bodies?  How do we understanding the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit? What is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Hint: the Spirit is the source of spiritual energy. Read the story of St. Francis of Assisi appearing naked before the Bishop of Gubbio. See Arnaldo Fortini, Francis of Assisi, trans. Helen Moak (New York: Crossroad, 1981), pp. 227—30. How did Francis’ nakedness symbolize a radical change of life?  How would you interpret the Franciscan motto, “naked, I follow the naked Christ?”

Detail of St. Francis’ nakedness being covered by the bishop of Assisi after Francis stripped off the clothes his merchant father had provided for him and gave them back. From a series of paintings of the life of St. Francis in the Basilca of St. Francis in Assisi, attributed to Giotto.

Go around the circle sharing your experiences of using your body in the service of God, as a young person and as an adult. Discuss ways in which we connect with others through our bodies.

Pair off as partners standing or kneeling and facing each other. Pairs of participants hold hands and look into each other’s eyes for a couple of minutes.

A tantra men’s connection exercise. (Pardon the head of Buddha.) Connection exercises can be powerful experiences in retreats and the Buddha’s practical wisdom about body-mind connections need not be dismissed out of hand. The men are wearing their retreat sarongs.

Have some time for debriefing the retreat experience. Discuss how praying naked in private might enrich one’s devotional life. Conclude with free prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, holding hands in the circle. Share the greeting of peace with others in the group. Hugging each other while fully or partially naked is permitted.

Perhaps this is, as I said, a bold suggestion. But my experience in the “Circle of Men” experience on a Saturday morning convinces me that men will open up to one another when physically they also have nothing to hide. If someone offers a retreat like the one I describe in this Frank Answer, I would like to hear about it.

Pastor Frank Senn

The image above this article is the scene of Francis of Assisi removing the clothes his father gave him and giving them back, from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1976 film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Naked, he would follow the naked Christ, embracing poverty.


  1. Comment by post author

    I was contacted through this platform by a Jewish man who appreciated my positive view of the male body and nudity. He wrote to me about a naked men’s support group he has been organizing. He wrote:

    “This is not a sexual group. However, we do acknowledge and talk about sexual questions as part of our discussions. We are getting a mix of ethnic and religious backgrounds. I am Jewish. One of our primary members is Lutheran. We have another one who grew up in an evangelical church. He suffered from some abuse and is still Christian at heart but is afraid of organized religion… We make it clear we are not psychologists or counselors. Just guys helping guys like ourselves. Issues have included career, financial, family relationships, etc. Just a safe environment with males as males. No magic answers. Just positive mutual camaraderie. You seem to have a lot of knowledge. I believe we would benefit from your insights and would like to explore working with you.”

    Frank interjects: What guidance I can provide and even how his group can continue to meet “in the flesh” during this COVID-19 pandemic would have to be explored. But I referred him to this article and asked if he would write more about his group that I could post anonymously in the comments section. Here is his response.

    “This is long, but I think you will appreciate it.

    “When we are babies, we learn that there is more stimuli in the world than we can deal with. When each of my six children was born, at first it was difficult for them to wear clothes. The clothes touch so many nerve endings. The stimulation was too much. The babies learned to ignore those stimuli.

    “Human beings can keep track of about seven things at one time. When we drive cars, we ignore the engine noises, and a lot of other stimuli. Instead, we form models of ourselves and the world we are in. When we form good models, we interpret stimuli to fit the model. When we form bad models, we also interpret stimuli to fit the model.

    “Since Western society started confronting racism, sexism, etc. in the 20th century, there have been a lot of good changes. White males seemed to be in charge before. All of the faults were blamed on them. Their achievements seem less important now. By this point in time, the model of the male human beings in society is not one that is positive. In fact it is harmful.

    “There are five primary senses. The more logical senses are easier for us to filter. The less logical, harder. If we want to change those models, we can leverage that. Some stimuli may be less logical, such as tattoos. However, when we have a more logical sense, our minds are better able to interpret them to support the models.

    “Sight is highly logical. We read sentences which are logical models constructed of words which are logical models which are constructed of letters that are logical models. Sound is also highly logical and we model spoken words in the same way. It is a little less logical because we also pay attention to tone. Touch starts the less logical senses. There is a lot of logic in touch but some touch is not logical. If I give you a hug, there’s a lot of illogical touch in it. Taste is less logical. It is harder to use taste to break models. Smell is the least logical of all. It’s even harder to use smell to break models.

    “If we want to change someone’s model of himself and the world around him, we can put him in an illogical setting to break through his filters and help him build a healthier model.

    “Being male is not good in the current environment. There are negative expressions such as ‘toxic masculinity.’ ‘Junk’ is a reference to male genitals. Even nudists have to cover erections as offensive because sex is bad and erect penises mean sex. Pubic hair is offensive,. Some are even offended at males peeing standing up as it shows male dominance.

    “Males are growing up in households where there are no older males. Boys lack positive role models. We need to reclaim pride in our masculinity. That includes our male bodies, body hair, and healthy sexuality.

    “When a woman has her period, there are hormonal changes that make her feel unattractive. After all, if a naked erect penis had ejaculated sperm rich semen in her vagina, one healthy sperm would have been able to merge with the egg in her fallopian tube and she would be pregnant. When her husband’s penis fills with blood as a reflex and becomes fully erect because he finds her attractive, and then his erect penis ejaculates in her vagina because she is irresistibly sexy, it is a huge ego boost. Combined with substances in the semen that are absorbed into her body, she feels a great contentment as long as society allows her to enjoy it without any guilt.

    “Therefore, a male’s inability to control erections is essential for his penis to be able to demonstrate how sexy and attractive she is. Erect penises are never bad and when they are as a result of an uncontrollable reflex they are gifts to females.

    “Sometimes, males don’t even know why we have erections. However, there are other times when it is a glimpse at cleavage, a cute butt, or even a barely covered vulva and we know why. It may be one of those 7 thoughts. That means that 1/7th of our attention may want sex with her. That does not make him a pervert or mean he is going to assault her.

    “If we are naked with another male, we know innately that his penis is also a sexual organ. His naked butt may also provoke sexual thoughts. We may even have erections if we don’t think of ourselves as gay. That may be 1/7th of our attention. That is the price of having penises that uncontrollably become erect so women know we find them sexy.

    “We are sexual beings that seek pleasure. Some may be only attracted to men or women, but I believe that is very few. Most have a range of attractions. A penis rubbing on the inside of a vagina, a woman’s or a man’s rectum, a woman’s or a man’s hand, a sex toy, etc. can still ejaculate. Our penises don’t care where the stimulation comes from. Sexual attraction is a complicated mix or genetics and experience. In males, it is usually a reflex.

    “When there are 15 or 16 naked males sitting around together, we are all aware that our own naked butts and genitals are visible and are being looked at and seen by other naked males. Penises will from time to time get into a variety of states of erection or just be flaccid. Illogically, an erection may be caused by our feeling of the air on our naked bodies or any scent of each other, etc. illogical senses re-enforce that we are wonderful. There is a mutual acceptance for and vulnerability about this in our group.

    “If from time to time we touch, even hug, when, yes, we may even feel each other’s skin on our penises, and each other’s penises on our skin, even if there may be erections, for camaraderie, we have mutual acceptance of each other that is very powerful. The touch is illogical and helps break harmful models and reinforce positive ones.

    “When our group formed, we planned to start naked or in shorts. After reading about your proposed group, I would be open to a towel as an option. However, pretty soon, we would all be naked.

    “Feeling the air on our naked skin, knowing we are being looked at when we are naked, while we look at other males naked, and wonderful mutual support takes place, reinforces the idea that our bodies are wonderful and so are we.

    “I am not able to address the Christian theological questions you pose in your article because I am Jewish. One of the great questions is what is often referred to in Christianity as original sin. In Genesis, after Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden fruit, Chapter 3, verse 10 provides Adam’s response when the Almighty calls out and he does not answer. Adam says: ‘I heard the sound of the form of your presence that I can sense in the garden, and I was afraid because I am naked, so I hid.’

    “The Almighty responds in verse 11, ‘Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’

    “This whole exchange seems foolish on the surface. Earlier that ‘day,’ the Almighty made Adam, and later Eve. They have been naked the whole time. They were not offensive to the Almighty. Why would the Almighty ask who told you you were naked, when Adam and Eve knew they were naked the whole time.

    “And what is the connection to the forbidden tree? In Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 25, it says: ‘They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.’ Clearly, prior to eating the fruit, they were naked, aware, and it was okay. Now, after eating the fruit, something has changed.

    “The key to understanding this is in the Hebrew for Genesis, Chapter 17. The Hebrew says (transliteration provided by me): Eitz Hadatz Tov Varah or Tree of integrated knowledge of good and evil.

    “Prior to eating of the fruit, everything the Almighty said to do was good, and said not to do is bad. However, prior to eating of the fruit, if Adam or Eve were confronted by something that was good, they desired it as part of their service of the Almighty, and if not, they were repulsed as we would be to the odor of spoiled food. Now, the body could desire and experience pleasure from something that was not good.

    “If a man were to have sex with a woman, the physical pleasure would not be based on a higher purpose. Rape, pedophilia, incest, etc. could now be pleasurable, and that pleasure creates an integrated idea that these harmful sexual activities would provide good pleasure.

    “When Adam and Eve were naked before eating the fruit any sexual desire was purely to serve the Almighty. Now, Adam saw Eve and had physical sexual desires without any sacred purpose and Eve saw Adam that way. In order to not be overwhelmed by those desires, they needed at least the fig leaves. Clothes helped them master the desires and not the other way around.

    “After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve, as well as Noah were still blessed to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (in the vernacular), or ‘have sex and children” (in the literal understanding). At no time were or are our naked bodies and sexuality bad. Now, after the fruit, we must be in control of them and discipline them so our behavior is good. Sexuality, like every other drive and activity must serve the Almighty and others created in that sacred image. It must be mutually satisfying, wanted, and reaffirming. That requires some self-discipline and control on how we behave, not our spontaneous arousal.

    “When we can be naked and healthy, that helps us learn how to live with those urges. Your post includes: ‘The format will be small groups of 6, male or female but not mixed sex, who will share stories about themselves.’ I need other bodies like mine in order for us to be able to provide that validation for each other. Not only that, but if I am in a group of 6 people, and 3 are females, and I have an erection, the erection may lead to shame and confusion. That reinforces bad ideas. Your plan therefore is wise.

    “The groups we are putting together are for camaraderie. Sexual interaction is not practiced. Sexual interaction confuses and we need the positive camaraderie. The mutual nudity is one non-logical practice we leverage.

    “Since we have all ages from 18 and up, we have a less structured approach and the meetings are ongoing. We expect an older man to discuss sexual issues differently than a younger male but we will all learn from each other. The 19-year old male at full potency will feel less threatened as his body changes when he knows it is normal. The 19-year old struggling with his sexual drive may benefit from the perspective of older men who have been there. The older man who hears from the younger male, “I wish my sex drive was more of a partnership than a master.” will feel better. Career planning, education planning, a 48-year old man trying to understand his 14-year old son getting feedback from an 18-year old man helps.

    “When all are sitting together totally naked, it is very open, safe, and mutually reaffirming. Even when there are no answers, just feeling it is normal and okay and we are still wonderful, in a safe, naked, no boundaries setting has strong positive benefits. When we become healthier males and we are comfortable with ourselves, we accomplish a lot.”

    • I read this from the Jewish man who started the group. wish there was one near me. I have hang ups from my earlier years that would be great therapy for me.

  2. Gerald L. Austin

    I have two comments. First, I thought it very interesting that you mentioned that the Romans crucified people totally nude. Where and why did this thing about depicting Christ as having a loincloth when he was on the cross come to be? Did the Christian world have a problem with nudity that was so severe that they couldn’t depict reality?
    Just a comment about a comment. The idea of being naked and hugging another naked man with our bodies feeling the other’s penises against our skin is very loving, and much to be desired.

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