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Naked Woman
nudity and sin

It is difficult in our time to keep a sense of balance.

A novel that helps to liberate you from outdated Catholic sexual teaching

On the one hand, Christian culture still carries the scars of associating body and sin, and of considering nakedness, especially that of a naked woman, a symbol of seduction and sex.

On the other hand, the permissive culture of secular society cheapens respect for the body, and degrades sexual love and chastity. So I want to start with a principle. As Christians, we believe in the essential wholesomeness of all human bodies. We believe that we were created by a God who loves us as we are, body and soul. Our bodies, as God’s creation, are nothing for us to be ashamed of.

In this document we focus on nudity and its role in the exclusion of women from being fully accepted in the Church. The way nakedness was understood and represented has deeply effected, and continues to effect, the way women are perceived by many members in the Church, including some of our leaders. See also: Is naturism for Catholics?

 

Naked Eve: the temptress

The second creation story in Genesis described how Adam and Eve lost their original innocence.


Shame for nakedness shows awareness of sin.

“And when Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
Genesis 2,21-23 and 3,1-24


Notice how Eve and Satan both wear the same face and have the same (female) body!
To enlarge, click on the picture or here.

To see the whole painting, click here.

Genesis, however, began to be interpreted so as to demonize the body and sexuality. “The myth in Genesis, even read with earnest doctrinal intention, does not name sexuality but the breaking of Yahweh’s commandment as the cause of expulsion into the human condition, nor can the knowledge of good and evil, which they gained by their act of disobedience’ be totally explained in terms of sexual knowledge. Yet both the disobedience and the knowledge soon became associated with sexuality because the first thing Adam and Eve ‘saw’ when ‘their eyes were opened’ was that they were naked. Before that they were naked and unashamed; afterwards, it is implied, they were ashamed because they knew they were naked, not because they had broken the word of their Lord God. Shameful nakedness soon became sinful sexuality, ... A view of sexuality as ‘ungodly’, underpins the character of Eve herself.”
See the excellent account in ‘Eve: the Mother of All Living’, by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford.

 

See also: the representation of Adam and Eve in Christian art.

Naked Woman

Some influential Latin Fathers of the Church saw a direct link between a woman’s nakedness and marriage.
Jerome held that marriage was only instituted after the fall. Marriage partakes in the effects of sin.
Augustine thought that original sin was transmitted by sex, and that sexual pleasure itself was sinful.
Tertullian taught that Eve’s curse lies on every woman.

Thus arose one of the reasons why women could never be admitted to holy orders: because every woman is a creature riddled with sin. “Woman was the effective cause of damnation since she was the origin of transgression and Adam was deceived through her, and thus she cannot be the effective cause of salvation, because holy orders causes grace in others and so salvation.Guido de Baysio (1296 AD)

To enlarge, click on the picture or here.
   

The association between woman, sin and death, as well as the fear of menstruation, led to Church customs, and later Church laws, forbidding any woman to touch sacred things.

“No woman may receive the holy eucharist with bare hands.”
“Every woman must have her dominicale ( = a linen cloth to cover her hand) at communion”. Canons 36 and 42, diocesan synod of Auxerre, France, in 585 or 588 AD..

Until 1914, the general code of the Church contained these laws:

To enlarge, click on the picture or here.
   

Naked catechumens: rebirth

It is not to be wondered at that, when catechumens were led to baptism, they were first anointed over their whole bodies, and then immersed in the baptismal water. The whole body needed to be cleansed and to be reborn.
That is why ordained women deacons were required, viz. to anoint and immerse female catechumens.

“The baptizer pours the oil for anointing into the cup of his hands and rubs it on the whole body of the catechumen, also in between the fingers of his hands and the toes of his feet, and his limbs, and his front and his back.”

   

To see the whole painting, click here.

It is interesting that, in Walesby, England, a lead baptismal font of the 5th cent. was found that shows two women, probably women deacons, preparing a female catechumen for baptism.

Naked Christ: vulnerable humanity

Jesus probably hung naked on the cross. It showed his human vulnerability, in solidarity with us.

To enlarge, click on the picture or here.

To enlarge, click on the picture or here.

“An object of curiosity or rejection,
she hangs, bloodied and bruised,
stripped of her dignity,
crucified on the cross of her calling. Above her head it is written:
‘Woman priest’ "

This is how Catholic women feel whose vocation to the priesthood is rudely rejected.

   

Christ’s nakedness on the cross is at times invoked to demonstrate that only a male priest can represent him at the Eucharist!
* See the background information here.
* Read the refutation by Emily C. Hewitt.
* See ‘Blasphemy and God-with-us’ by Tina van Lieshout.

“The priest consecrates at the head of the people because God has singled him out in his maleness to be Christ for the people, the summation of the naked man before his mother at Golgotha and the whitely robed man before the harlot in the Garden: Sex and Eucharist are together”.

George William Ruder, Priests and Priestesses (Ambler, Pa.: Trinity Press, 1973), pp. 83-84.

Naked Mary: restoring woman’s dignity

 

The Belgian artist, Malagoli, painted the Pregnant Virgin in 2002.



To enlarge, click on the picture or here.

As she describes in the accompanying article, she was amazed to find how many Catholics took exception at this representation. She asks: How can a religion that believes in the Word made Flesh object to imagining and representing this flesh that welcomed the Word?


An English artist, Guy Reid, produced a sculpture of Mary and Child in which both figures are totally naked. He said his intention was to portray the New Adam and New Eve.

About this naked figure of Mary, read the following reflections:

* ‘The Naked Madonna’ by Sarah Boss;

* ‘The Handmaid of the Lord’ by Louis Weil.

   

AMRUTHA. novel by John Wijngaards
how to escape outdated Christian sexual morality
The Christian Enjoyment of Sex Frequently Asked Questions
Fantasies Nakedness Contraceptives Guilt Homosexuality Masturbation
Is love simply sex? When is sex sinful? Periods
New Focus in Catholic Sexual Morality - academic sources Origin
of negative attitudes to sex

John Wijngaards Catholic Research

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