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The art and sin of nudity

Nudity is shun among Christians because the bible has taught us that nakedness is sinful, shameful and degrading. For example,

In Genesis 3:7, the fall of creation

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Adam and Eve were aware of their nakedness and were ashamed of it so they sewed fig leaves to cover themselves.

In Isaiah 47:3, the humiliation of babylon

Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
    and your disgrace shall be seen.
I will take vengeance,
    and I will spare no one.

The Babylonians were humiliated by sitting on the ground and stripping.

In Ezekiel 16:35-36, the Lord’s faithless bride

35 “Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord: 36 Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them,

In this context, the Lord is making known to Jerusalem her abominations, her unthankfulness and wrongdoings with nakedness being used to shame.

There are many other verses in the bible that talks about nudity with similar connotations to it. But first let me just zoom in on Genesis 3. In verse 21, it says

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Once sin flooded the perfect bodies that God created, it was disgraceful, distasteful and utterly disgusting to be naked. Notice also, how God took away the fig leaves-something so temporal and uncomfortable and replaced them with garments of skin-something far more permanent and comfortable.

However, there is also an art to nudity.

In Genesis 2, God created Adam and Eve without clothing them and it was perfect

25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

And in Song of Solomon 4, Solomon admires His bride’s beauty

Your neck is like the tower of David,
    built in rows of stone;[a]
on it hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of warriors.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle,
    that graze among the lilies. 

Solomon describing His wife’s body in such a delectable, respectful manner.

Also in Song of Solomon 7, Christ the Beloved expresses His love to the church

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
    O noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
    the work of a master hand.
Your navel is a rounded bowl
    that never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is a heap of wheat,
    encircled with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle.

Christ expresses His love and acknowledges God’s beautiful work of art again by describing the beautiful body He created.

The human body is a beautiful anatomy and a vessel for us given by the Creator. Nudity in this sense is a masterpiece done by the artist Himself. The reason nudity is shone in a bad light now is because of sin. Sin has corrupted our minds. It has made us aware of the shame we feel and it has opened us up to temptations and lust.

All this being said, I want to talk about a question that I’ve been pondering about. My lecturer encouraged us to do some live drawings in studios to practice anatomy drawing. And I also went to the Louvre museum which featured lots of art from the Renaissance period. This means that a lot of the art pieces were mostly nude drawings of plus sized females and muscular males.

This got me thinking. If nudity is now having sinful implications, is it wrong to have nudity in art?

If the answer to this is yes, I can understand why.

Looking at nudes be it on a painting or during live drawings makes us all the more vulnerable to our natural sinful nature-lust and is not what God intended for us.

1 John 2: 16

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Mathew 5: 28 

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

James 1: 14-15

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Because the flesh is weak and the heart is deceitful, we will easily be enticed by the nude in front of us and when we give in to that desire, we give in to sin which will bring us down a dark path that will eventually lead to death. Not physically, spiritually.

That is why the bible tells us to flee from temptation

2 Timothy 2:22

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

1 Corinthians 8:13 says “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”, likewise if looking at nudity in artworks, or if creating a piece of art involving nudes causes you or your brother to stumble, then I would say nudity in art is indeed wrong.

I could also counter this by saying that the nudity in my art pieces are to admire the once perfect bodies that God created. To remind us that we have fallen short of his perfect standard and therefore the nudes in my artwork does not cause me to lust, instead it causes me to glorify God all the more.

When doing live drawings, there will definitely be this sense of sexual attraction or arousal but it is not the attraction nor is it the arousal that is a sin, it is what we choose to do with this attraction and arousal. If we choose to act on it, it leads to lust which will then be a sin.

So to conclude, I cannot come up with a definite answer for this, but just keep in mind that God covered Adam and Eve with garments once they disobeyed Him and He covered them for a reason. It is up to one’s self to be responsible for his or her own sin because God will hold you accountable to all your sin and you will have to answer to Him.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Pain and Suffering

At some point of our lives, we will experience loss, excruciating pain and unbearable suffering.

We may ask God why He is doing this, why He allows such pain to be afflicted upon us or what His purpose is for bringing us through this time of trial.

I am not one to share my burdens with others as I feel like they would look at me in a different light, like I’m always the one with the sickness, like I’m always the one with the problems and because I’m sick, I’m afraid people would treat me differently. I don’t like to place my burdens on others for them to carry as well because I would think they have enough problems of their own. But God reminds me that we are all Christians and adopted as sons and daughters of Christ. And because of this, we are one family. We are one body of Christ. And Galations 6:2 tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. Christ has made it clear that if a child of God is suffering, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are to bear the suffering of that one child and go through the trials with him/her, just as Christ has taken all our burdens and placed it on his shoulders and carried the cross for us.

I must admit, although I am reminded of this, and I know this by heart, it is still very difficult for me to share my pain with others.

For those of us who do not understand why we go through pain and suffering, here are a few reasons:

  1. Pain and suffering is essential in the Christian life

Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. And he faced many trials on his time on earth. But even as he faced those trials, he learned obedience. (Heb 5:8) If the Son of God learned obedience from suffering, what more can we learn from our time of suffering. There are many lessons that God is trying to teach us through this time. We just have to pray for an open heart and an open mind, that we may not be oblivious to the works of God around us.

2. Pain and suffering strengthens our faith

It is through the difficult times where we really learn to rely and fully depend on God for strength. We will start to see the beauty of God through our time of suffering as He reveals Himself to us. I say this by experience. It was only through the long hospital stay that I truly felt the closest to God as I looked to Him for hope and strength. By fully surrendering  it all to Him, our faith grows. The devil will do all it can to separate and destroy our walk with God. But there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God (Rom 8: 35-39) as He has promised us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. We are His sheep and He, our shepherd. He will watch over us. To see your faith grow in such a time is a joy. Take pleasure in your suffering for it strengthens your faith. (James 1:2-4)

3. Pain and suffering glorifies God

God uses the weak to shame the strong. And He can use us too, in our darkest times, to encourage others. When they see Christ so deeply rooted in us, how we call on Him for help, they will be amazed by God working in us and through us. It is easy for one to praise God when given a news that enlightens us but it is all the more glorifying to God when we praise Him even when we are suffering. Because of the experiences we have been through, God uses us to encourage and build one another up. We must remember that this pain and suffering is NOT God’s wrath on us for He has not destined us for wrath. Instead, it is our salvation. (1 Thes 5:9-11) which should give us hope for “whether we are asleep or awake, we might live in Him”

Now I hope you see that your pain and suffering isn’t meaningless. It has a purpose. And be glad that God is using you during this time of your life for His glory as it is truly an honour, in any way, whether be it through suffering or not, to be used by Him for His purpose.

Heathens

Recently, my favourite band, Twenty Øne Piløts, released a new single for the Suicide Squad Soundtrack. Both of which I love. At first I just listened to it as a form of entertainment. However when I looked at the lyrics, I found a deeper meaning to the song.

As we all know, Tyler and Josh (the lead and drummer), are Christians. But they don’t really speak about their faith. However, if you look carefully at the songs and analyse them, you can find subtle clues about their faith and Christianity.

“Heathens” are people who do not believe in a widely held religion (esp. Muslim or Christianity)

It starts with

“All my friends are heathens, take it slow

Wait for them to ask you who you know”

Tyler states it very clearly. All his friends are heathens. And sure, we would want to evangelise to them and share the good news. But Tyler is telling us to take it slow. Don’t be too quick to share your faith. We have to be patient. They may not be ready or open to hear what we have to say yet and if they really want to, they would ask.

“Please don’t make any sudden moves

You don’t know the half of the abused”

We shouldn’t “make any sudden moves” because it would just scare them off and catch them off guard. We should first take the time to know them and understand them because we “don’t know the half of the abused”. When Tyler says “All my friends are heathens”, he could also be talking about the people he got to know by listening to their stories. The strangers that he got close to who are now his friends.

Verse 1

“Welcome to the room of people

Who have rooms of people that they loved one day,

Docked away “

These people (heathens), although they are lost, they are still people with families, they are still someone’s son or daughter even though their loved ones might be distant from them.

“Just because we check the guns at the door

Doesn’t mean our brains will change from hand grenades”

Tyler is saying here that just because we take the time to get to know these people better, be their friend and care for them, doesn’t mean they will have a change of heart so easily. We must be ready for rejection. (1 Cor 1:18)

“You’ll never know the psychopath sitting next to you

You’ll never know the murderer sitting next to you

You’ll think, “How’d I get here, sitting next to you?”

But after all I’ve said, please don’t forget”

We are all sinners and we will soon realise we are loving someone so broken, so sinful, so dirty and how hopeless they are without Christ. For all we know, our closest friends may be hurting but they just put on a mask. We never really know someone until we tear down those walls they’ve built. And we’ll start to ask ourselves how we got into this situation. Because now we have a burden for this person whom we just met and we would want so badly to share Christ, “but after all I’ve said, please don’t forget”, Tyler reminds us again, to take it slow and be patient. It goes back to the chorus, which is the start of the song, “All my friends are heathens, take it slow”.

Verse 2

“We don’t deal with outsiders very well”

Christians can come across as forceful when we share our faith and it may rub people off the wrong way or scare them away. That is why Tyler says here, “We don’t deal with outsiders very well”. We don’t know how to approach them with the right attitude, we just come right at their faces and start shouting the gospel at them.

“They say newcomers have a certain smell”

We tend to place ourselves on a podium when talking to new believers. We can tell who a new believer is from the way  they talk and the questions they ask. We tend to judge new believers and laugh at how simple minded they are. In a way we are like wolves and the new believers are fresh meat which we can smell from a mile away and Tyler phrases it very accurately.

“Yeah, trust issues, not to mention

They say they can smell your intentions”

This is why new believers are intimidated and do not dare to voice out any doubts because they are afraid of being judged. This makes them have trust issues with us and result in a stagnant walk with God. It may even deter them away from God. Although they want to grow in their faith, they can smell the stench in us. That stench is our pride. It may be subconscious but sometimes we ask them questions so that we can correct them and show off how much we know and they can sense that. They know our prideful intentions.

“You’ll never know the freakshow sitting next to you

You’ll have some weird people sitting next to you

You’ll think, “How’d I get here, sitting next to you?”

But after all I’ve said, please don’t forget”

This goes back to the Christian’s point of view where everyone is a sinner and we become aware of who we are really talking to.

Tyler repeats the chorus again and ends with this last paragraph which is from the once-a-heathen-now-a-new-believer’s point of view.

Outro

“Why’d you come you knew you should have stayed

(It’s blesphamy)

I tried to warn you just to stay away

And now they’re outside ready to bust

It looks like you might be one of us”

Because of all the judgment, all the flaunting of knowledge that we place upon the new believer, it is daunting and they start to ask themselves why they became a Christian. And if they ever bring that up to a Christian, we would say “It’s blesphamy”. Everyone is bombarding them with new information, everyone is shoving the bible at their faces. And the new believer, reverting back to a heathen, starts to think to themselves, Christians are not so different from them after all.

This is just my interpretation of the song. I find it very deep and meaningful. Us Christians, must humble ourselves and be careful when we talk to a non-believer and when we disciple a new believer. Sometimes pride can get in the way and we laugh at the obvious simple questions they ask. But is this really how we should act? We mustn’t forget that we were once at that point. The Christian life is an ongoing journey. There will always be new things we can learn about God because He is everlasting.

Modern-Day Churches

Acts 2:40 “Be saved from this perverse generation”

Our generation now is the most narcissistic generation. We idolise and worship ourselves. I am disgusted by our generation and I am in no way setting myself apart from this generation. I am fully aware of the pride and self idolatry I place upon myself.

We live in a culture that is so focused on numbers and statistics. How do we measure our popularity? By the number of friends, followers, retweets and likes. How do we measure success? By the number of properties you own, the amount of money you make, the number of hits you get and that number on your graduating certificate.

The church is sinking in this generation. Society has such a huge impact on the world that the church feels the need to compromise in order to fit in to society. Shouldn’t the church be set apart from society’s mindset? (Heb 10:10) The church should place the importance of God’s word above everything else. Why then, is the church conforming to society if society is placing numbers and statistics as of greatest importance? (Rom 12:2)

Modern churches are focusing so much on the numbers that they start to promote their church like some cheap advertisement for gasoline. They downplay the word of God and place more emphasis on the events held in the church to attract the crowd. There is competition between churches for its members. Its all about the “hype” and not about the “heart”(Acts 2:44-47).

We are forgetting that in the end it is God who does the work. Whatever events we plan, however we try to sell and promote our church to attract its members will not help if God does not will it. It is God who adds to the numbers, not us. The problem today is that we focus too much on what we can do and not what God can do. I’m not saying that we should stop trying to attract members with events nor am I saying it is wrong to do so. I am saying we should know where to place the right emphasis and focus on. We must always remember that it must first happen internally before it can happen externally. For if we have the heart, then only will we do things with the right purpose, the right mindset and all in all placing God at the center of it all.

“And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:47 (NKJV)

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