Nudity in Church 2: The Wrap-Up

On Sunday morning Pastor Dan Kimball of Vintage Faith Church arrived at the coffeehouse where his congregation worships to discover three of the three hundred sketches decorating the space were nude drawings. After debating the nature of art, holiness, and the church's responsibility, Dan had to make a decision - flash the flesh or lose the nudes? Dan's first post outlined the nature of his deliberations. Here is the rest of the story.

The nude drawings were very tastefully done, classical and artistic, it was not erotica. But we took them down. I felt keeping them up would cause more questions than it was worth. Additionally, there was no time to warn parents about the nudes on the walls of the coffeehouse before our worship gathering.

I found the artist of the nudes and explained why we were taking them down. She was totally understanding. Each of the nude drawings had art on the other side of the paper, so we flipped the pages over and used what was on the other side instead.

It was an interesting decision to think through. You may conclude that I am a legalist for taking the art down. Maybe you think I am too conservative. Or, you may think the fact that we wrestled with the decision at all means we are far too liberal. As I said before, they don't teach you how to handle these types of things in seminary. So we must learn as we go.

December 14, 2006

Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

jira

December 21, 2006  10:31pm

It's interesting to see some people writing about an appreciation for the beauty of the human body. Well, most people are ugly and I don't want to see them naked. Male or female. When someone tells me it's about an "appreciation of the human body" I think they are only "appreciating" the small percentage that have something worth showing. I don't think they are thinking of the incredible intricacy of the human organism: How the most unappreciated body part is beyond imagination in it's design, how the systems interact seamlessly for most people, how even disease is interesting from a scientific perspective. Maybe I'm a cynic

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Jeff

December 20, 2006  2:12am

Unfortunately, I'm just now getting the original email, and so I'm commenting after the decision was made. I feel that what Pastor Dan did was the best thing. What would have been the next picture? If these had been allowed, then others would have submitted nudes, and they might not have been "tastefully" done. Better safe than sorry. God did indeed make the human body, and He declared it to be very good. But sin has entered the picture, and sin affects how we view things. Love you all!

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J.W.

December 15, 2006  7:31pm

David got naked in front of the servant girls when they brought the Ark of the Covenant back and God was happy with them. Meanwhile Michal watched from her room, filled with jealous anger. Whom did God have the problem with? Michal. Do all things to the Glory of God! :)

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Cal

December 15, 2006  6:39am

I agree that this was a good call. Simply reading the comments here, it would have been almost impossible for the nude artwork to be seen in a wholesome light. You want people to actually understand your message and that would have been difficult in this circumstance. As for the idea that nude artwork is automatically porn or, at best, better left to art galleries since it is not under the purview of the Church, that is just patently false. All of truth is the domain of Christianity. It is not humanistic, either. It IS human and that is "very good" as our Father has said. When we can't distinguish between simple, wholesome nudity and pornography we trivialize real pornography and make our stand against it laughable. Our message about human dignity and divine beauty should be razor sharp and full of conviction, not a watered-down, uneducated and ridiculous shrill. Nude artwork has a long Christian tradition, both Catholic and Protestant. Michelangelo is not alone. Lucas Cranach, Luther's friend, painted both Luther's portrait and several famous nudes, including "Adam and Eve". As for the Bible condemning nudity out of hand, that is just not true. Many worthy studies have been done on how the Bible approaches nudity. Verses taken out of context can be used to prove anything. For example, "uncovering the nakedness" is a euphemism for sexual relations, as any Biblical scholar will tell you. A hyper-sexualized view of the human body leads us to define lust incorrectly, also. To not look upon a women with lust has nothing to do with averting one's eyes. Lust is an intentional act to dehumanize someone. It is to violate your relationship with that person, seeking to posses them. To appreciate and enjoy beauty is godly. We should not mistake that with lust. In fact, I suspect that the trouble some Christians have with sexual impurity has something to do with this wrong way of seeing the human body and beauty in general. This discussion does reveal that we need to educate our members. We need creation affirming teaching and instruction in a theology of art.

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Truth Seeker

December 14, 2006  3:40pm

Some have said that Dan took the "easy way out" when he took down the porn..I mean art. But to them I would say that there is not an understanding of the flesh if you think that taking it down is the "easy way out." To take the pictures down means that you are not allowing those images to tempt your soul and flesh. You are not allowing something so minor to gain a foothold in your life and cause you to sin. Wouldn't it be better to remove the images now, than have to try and rescue someone 5 years from now who it hooked on porn? He saw the images in the church, went online to look at "art", soon he was looking at "erotic art", and before he knows it he is looking at "erotic" with no art in it. The "easy road" would be to give in to the flesh and allow simple things like nude images on the wall desensitize us. The "easy road" would be to let it hang and to show the world "why should playboy have all the good pictures?" The "easy road" would be to allow guys who stumble at the sight of a naked women, let alone one in a tight outfit, to be able to look up from their latte's and have it for their eyes to gaze upon. No, the "easy road" is not to remove it! The harder, better, way that leads to holiness is to "flee from youthful lust" and to remove the things that "so easily ensnare us." What is sad is that there is even a debate about this issue. How many men in here would allow a picture of their wives, sisters, girlfriends, to hang on a wall and let all your church buddies come and see it? How many? Now why do we let others, whether they sketched it or not is irrelavent, hang pictures of a women on the wall? I wouldn't because for one I want to maintain her holiness (no man shall look upon the body of another man's wife) and two I want to look out for my fellow believer's holiness (whole weaker/stronger brother deal). The "easy road" is to leave it up. The "hard road" is the one that leads to Jesus and to holiness and begs us to remove the trappings of sin! Blessings,

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