Just Like Adam: Christianity in Florida Part 1For those of you who do not know but actually care, the parental force in the Sikora family are packing up their stuff and moving to Florida. To be honest, I have always had mostly terrible feelings about Florida, perhaps spawned by envy over being just miles from the ocean AND the gulf of mexico. Regardless, to prepare for said move, I have decided to do a little research about what is going on in the fair southwestern state in regards to your and mine favorite religion, the Jesus one.
Our first stop on Jesus in Florida tour is just outside of Tampa Florida where Jonathan Palmiter and his friends live out their spiritual disciplines au natural. Ever the purist, I am intrigued by anyone who can say they spend their days communing with God "just like Adam did." Now for you "textiles" who insist on wearing clothes, you may be prone to jump to the same conclusion I did, writing these believers off as ultra liberal, hippy Jesus freaks. In this case, you couldn't be more wrong.
According to Philip Wahba's article on the Columbia website, many of these nudists are coming out of fundamentalism. While often these individuals are forced to choose between their denominational affiliation and being vocal about nudism, the fundamentalist mindset is clear in their discussion of the issue. As Jim T. so perfectly put it, "As a conservative Christian, I had to let the Bible be my guide. I'm the one who'll have to answer to God." And this direct, divine justification for nudism comes in multiple forms. For Nathan Powers, who begins his days by praying naked in his backyard, being naked intensifies his quiet time. "I feel closer to God. It's an act of humility. It is absolutely spiritual. I am how God made me."
But, like all fundamentalists, everything comes down to the Good Book. Paul Bowman, the Josh McDowell of conservative Christian nudism, self-published the decisive book on nudist biblical interpretation, Nakedness in the Bible. (sadly, not available on Amazon.com) "The book cites key biblical events, including God's order to the prophet Isaiah to go naked for three years, and states that, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was naked when he washed the feet of his disciples, when he was baptized and when he was crucified and resurrected." For those of you who are instantly thinking of that messy scene where Noah is "seen naked" by his sons, Bowman's point is specifically that "nothing forbids nonsexual nudity and that misinterpretations of the Bible stem from faulty translations of ancient Hebrew words for nudity."
Turning from the scholarly opinions of Bowman to the decidedly Wright Hall sounding arguments of the lay naturists, I found the following two arguments in favor of Christian nudism particularly compelling. Citing Paul's claim to practice modesty, Jim T. and Shirley from Tampa suggest that the egotistical displays of women in church wearing "designer clothes and $90 haircuts" are more immodest than a naked person. While I would tend to believe that these are just two different types of immodesty, I am of course a "textile" and am biased to wearing clothes. Finally, in something that I swear came out of a Wright Hall RA's mouth in the fall of 2004, "Parker and his wife said they've attend many naked parties that were entirely wholesome. Some of the most spiritual conversations they've had have been in hot tubs with other couples, he said." So, Rick Hammer, if you're out there, perhaps I should apologize for disagreeing with you on this one.
While I don't believe that my parents will be moving into this community, it will definitely have to be a stop along the way if I ever decide to make Jesus in Florida '06 a reality.