I grew up a nudist, in the Bible belt of the Southern U.S.
When one says nudist or naturist, most people in the U.S. immediately think of sex, pornography, child pornography, child molestation, partner swapping, orgies and the like. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nudism is about being natural, wearing only what you were born with, usually in nature and has little to do with sex. I’m not saying that there is no sex at nudist venues, I’m just saying there is no more or less sex at nudist venues than there is out in the “real” world and the same rules apply, keep it to yourself.
I chose the words of that first sentence very carefully. I wasn’t raised as a nudist. My mother tried her best to influence me otherwise, but I was the kid who would shed his clothes anytime he got the chance, totally against my mother’s wishes and teachings. I was spanked for taking off my clothing, but I still did it anyway when I felt I could get away with it. I found out early that to get along with my mother I had to hide my predilection for nudity the best I could. I finally gave into my mother’s pressure, and I was only nude when I was alone, for the most part, although I went skinny dipping with others when I could. My mother, all the while, telling me that anyone who wanted to be nude was going to hell because it was a sin to be naked. To this day, I do not believe my mother’s stance on nudity. I say more on that subject on my article, “Can a Christian be a Naturist?”
My brother, several cousins and I used to sneak off to a pond in the woods on our family farm to go swimming, but my mother ordered us to never swim when she was not there. The logical conclusion in our young minds, since my single (divorced) mother, the sole breadwinner of our family was hardly ever home, was to swim naked. That way there were no wet clothes to be used as evidence that we had disobeyed. After swimming we would run around amongst the trees and play naked until our bodies dried, which in the summer didn’t happen quickly because running around made us sweat. This activity continued for years.
I started sleeping nude when I was about 15. By that time my older sister and brother were both married, and out of the house, it was just Mama, me and the animals left at home. About that time, the younger cousins and I started skinny dipping together, or going out into the woods and hiking or just hanging out together in the buff.
But finally I bowed to public pressure and from the time that my mother died during my senior year in high school, after which I went to live with one of the elders of our church and his family, to the time I got married I was naked only in the shower. Between working a part-time job, and being a full-time student there wasn’t much time or place for me to practice nudity during my college years. I buried my natural tendencies, finally convinced that the world believed that being naked was a sin because everyone else seemed to think so, no matter what the Bible said. I believed that my beliefs would never be accepted. So I vowed to live a “Christian” life and suppress my inner desires, to do what I felt was right for me.
After I was married, I gave into the temptation to be naked outdoors for the first time since my childhood and went into a vacant field next to our apartment building, and to a relatively secluded section of the field behind a copse of trees, stripped myself bare and laid out on a blanket and did my college homework while nude sunbathing. It brought back fond memories of my childhood.
That evening while speaking to my wife as we worked together to make supper and she asked about my day I admitted with trepidation and embarrassment what I had done. Her reply reeked of astonishment and shame, “I hope nobody SAW you NAKED!” This left me feeling rejected, with increased shame. I gave up, and was never nude outside our bedroom and bathroom again for years.
When our children were young, I saw how unashamed they were of being naked, and how innocent they were while doing so, how much they hated wearing clothing. It reminded me of my own childhood, and my beliefs that God says nothing against nudity anywhere in the Bible, but since my wife obviously didn’t share my beliefs, I kept silent and let her raise our children with her values instead of mine.
Our first house came with an above-ground pool in the backyard. Once or twice, when nobody else was home, I would give into temptation to skinny dip. I would go out and get into the pool, strip off my swimsuit and skinny dip with my swimsuit floating in the water, but put it back on before getting out of the pool. During my entire life, I had seldom been nude around anyone except my wife since skinny dipping with my brother and cousins as a child, basically only when in a shower. After skinny dipping in the backyard, I felt dirty, ashamed because that was what society thought of what I did, and never told anyone this story until now.
Gradually, I’ve fallen away from the church. The hypocrisy turns me off. The professed belief that the Bible is the sole guide by which to live our lives, something that I believe with all my heart, contrasted with the reality that the church rejects many Biblical passages, doesn’t preach them, and is embarrassed by them. The Church even hates to admit that the open sensuality of the Song of Solomon even is part of the Bible, and totally ignores all of the passages about nudity. This profession of belief in the Bible, while rejecting the parts that don’t fit in our society really chaps my hide.
Years later, I found a story on the internet, a coming of age story about a young man who grew up as a nudist, going to nudist resorts with his family. One of the families they met there was a Christian nudist family. My first reaction was like most people’s. “Can someone be a nudist and a Christian?. That got me to researching and I found that there are several Christian nudist organizations that believe what I do. And reading the apologetics of the Christian nudist and naturist websites leaves me more convinced than ever that Jesus would be rejected by our society as a nudist, that Jesus himself, like most of the society he grew up in, sees nothing wrong with common nudity.
I was smacked in the face by my own mortality by the death of the first of my cousins to die of natural causes. She was in her 60s, and it was near my 50th birthday. After that, I had a bit of a mid-life crisis. I began having dreams about skinny dipping as a child, and about the nude hiking through the woods that I did as an adolescent. I also began having those dreams I’ve always heard of, about appearing naked in public settings. I dreamed about getting to work and discovering I had forgotten to get dressed.
I had heard about a nudist resort, years before, that was not too far from my home, (strangely enough from a member of our church who was railing against “those sinful heathens”) and began researching. I found out that there were actually two nudist resorts just a couple of miles apart. One was nudist (nudity required by everyone) the other was clothing optional for women and children, but men were required to be nude, which struck me as being unequal. I began dreaming about visiting one of the nudist resorts.
About that same time, I ran across the Sunny Day website written by a young woman who was chronicling her journey to nudity while in college. Also a Christian nudist story, although she didn’t go into any of the Bible study. I joined several forums about Christian nudity, along with a mailing list of local Christian naturists, and read other people’s stories about their lives. I even told my story. I admitted that I was hiding this part of myself from my wife and our grown children. Several of the people on the mailing list of local Christian naturists encouraged me to come clean with my wife, and just have an open conversation. I tried it.
Afterwards I didn’t end up feeling it was successful. I admitted to her about the dreams, the internet research, and my longing to visit the nudist resorts near our home. She seemed very reasonable at first, she listened but didn’t have much to say. She did tell me that she supported me, and wanted me to go and experience it. But she did not agree, and would not be participating with me.
I was disappointed at having another thing that I felt I could not share with my wife, but elated to have her verbal acceptance and support and I began making plans. I emailed both of the nudist resorts near us, and arranged to visit them both during the same week around my 50th birthday. The next day my wife admitted to me that she feared that if I started going to a nudist resort on a regular basis I would meet another woman. That I would have more in common with this new, imaginary woman, and leave her. This left me between a rock and a hard place. I felt damned if I did, damned if I didn’t. A real, no-win situation. I tried to reassure her that this wouldn’t happen. I don’t think I was successful.
I visited both of the resorts. Most of the people I met were very nice. I spoke with people who had been nudists for a while, one who had grown up on a nudist resort owned by his father, the one we were at as a matter of fact. After the death of his father, he had inherited half of the resort, and co-owned and co-ran the resort with his step mother.
There were a couple of things that turned me off about the clothing optional resort. While eating lunch there that day, and shooting some pool in the clubhouse afterwards, there was one woman who was eating with her nude husband, and she was clothed. Every time I glanced around and noticed her again, I found her glaring at me with a blazing hatred that left me feeling rejected and uncomfortable. I decided that if I joined one of the resorts, it would probably be the nudist resort, not the clothing optional one. I didn’t want to be nude around people who didn’t want to be nude also, and worse, didn’t want me to be around them nude.
When I returned home, my wife didn’t ask any questions. She listened to me, but said little. That’s not unusual. Actually it’s very usual. Most of the time I feel that she doesn’t really want to know that much about who I am, what I think, what I feel. I feel that she really, silently disapproves of me most of the time, with occasional bouts of active, verbal disapproval.
Later that year, I went to a nudist resort in the neighboring state for the annual convention of AANR (American Association of Nude Recreation). I loaded up my van with tent and other camping supplies, food for the week, and drove 4 hours to the nudist resort. I met some people face-to-face there with whom I had corresponded. I met some new people. The young couple in the next tent over from me were from Arkansas, the most conservative state in the U.S. where it is illegal for a woman and a man to see each other naked unless they are married. Needless to say, there are no nudist resorts in that state. Talking to the husband, he said even if there were nudist venues in their state, they would not go to them for fear of discovery. His wife was a school teacher, and would be fired from her job if it were found out that she was a nudist. The trip was a nice break from work, and I enjoyed it while there, except for the large number of people (I don’t really like crowds), and the fact that although I was at the same resort as the AANR convention, I was a little out of place not being an AANR member. Over all, I felt out of sorts, and on the way back a little guilty for enjoying being away from my wife. But I loved the resort, and it’s miles of hiking trails that I could hike naked without worry about meeting someone who would disapprove.
Afterwards I talked to my wife, I told her about not feeling accepted at the clothing optional resort, and not feeling I really fit in at the AANR convention. I had decided to just be a home nudist, not a social nudist. But now, after 10 years as a home nudist I find that I feel confined, and isolated, I find living in a textile home as the sole nudist is lonely. As a matter of fact, I feel that I am lonelier now than I was as a single college student.
In the intervening decade since that time, I’ve visited nude beaches twice while on trips alone. I’ve been to Black’s Beach in San Diego, and Baker Beach in San Francisco. Both left me a little disappointed because people just spread out and stayed isolated. There was little social interaction, and I don’t think I would go back to either. Twice while my wife has been out of town, I’ve found myself craving human interaction with others who share my beliefs and gone back to the nudist resort near our home. I’ve never felt truly accepted anywhere else except at the full nudist venue, not at any church (because I have to hide this side of myself to be accepted), not even in my own home. I’ve often said to myself that the open acceptance that I feel at that full nudist resort is what I ought to feel at church. Being nude in nature is the closest I’ve come to church in decades. I’ve often wished I could find a resort near me that had a chapel with nude church services. The nearest one like that tis he resort in the next state where I visited during the AANR convention and is a 4 hour drive away.
While thinking about retirement, I’ve been dreaming about homes near a full nudist venue with a private back yard where I could spend time outdoors while nude without being arrested, One dream that I have is to have some forested land of my own where I could hike nude, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be almost as lonely as what I have now. Just being a home nudist with a wife who cannot bring herself to stay nude for more than 2 minutes after her shower, or leave the confines of the bathroom while nude is discouraging and I find myself feeling alone, unacceptable and disapproved of.
Another dream is to buy a retirement home in a gated nudist community. I’ve found a couple of them in Florida near a nudist resort with a nude church. The nude church is even in one of those resorts. I think if I could find a nudist church to be a member of then I might be able to return to church. I’ve never really felt accepted for myself anywhere except the few nudist resorts I’ve visited. But I realize that this is also something I cannot, will never be able to share with my wife. I feel that she would never be comfortable living in that environment.
I dream about buying several properties on Ile Du Levant, an island in the Mediterannian off the south coast of France, a nudist village where the inhabitants live life in the nude. I could live in one small house, and rent out the others to tourists to make money to live. Nude living, nude beach, nude hiking all within walking distance. Sounds like the Garden of Eden.
I sometimes dream about quitting my job, buying some land, and developing a gated nudist housing community where I could live in a nude society.
I took this panorama photo (top of page) with my iPhone 7 in panoraman mode at Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah.
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