Is nudity shameful or innocent?

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

Across villages and cities, nations and continents, it is common to see children naked. Though the number of naked children may vary from place to place, this sight is common. When children are seen naked, nobody interprets their nudity as evil. Of course, parents of such children might caution them, and ask them to put on their clothes, or make them do so, but no one picks any offense about their nudity.

As a matter of fact, some children have the habit of pulling off their clothes after they have been properly dressed or when they go to play. Some school playgrounds have collections of abandoned clothes from children who pull off their clothes when the go playing. In spite of the fact that, some adults could exploit children's nudity, and make pornography out of it, children's nudity is often seen as innocence. A child knows no evil about his or her nude body.

But it is not the same when adults are seen naked. When adults are seen naked, it looks offensive. It looks indecent. It looks evil. But then, the truth is that somewhere around the world, there are communities where nudity is acceptable. For instance, in 2009, the Jibu tribe living at the Gerinjina Mountain in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State, Nigeria were discovered to still go naked.

The people of an Oceanian nation of Papua New Guinea were discovered to be another nude nation. There are also those who identify themselves as nudists in Europe and America. It is true that before they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were nude. But they did not know they were. And their nudity at that point could be considered innocent - just like that of children.

However, the truth remains that generally across the globe, adult nudity is considered offensive. Isn't that the reason why after their fall, Adam and Eve, sought to cover themselves up? They realized they were naked, and they were ashamed. Nudity in the public eyes is shameful. It humiliates human nature, and as such, it is offensive.

Because of the offensive nature of leaving parts of the body naked, many civil societies have put embargoes on exposing parts of the body. For instance, after watching the havoc caused by indecent dressing among civil servants at the State Secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja, former Governor Fashola of Lagos State in February 2014 ordered dressing code for female workers in the state.

Under the directives, it became offensive for female workers to wear miniskirts, or clothes that exposed their bodies or shapes of their bodies when they come to work. The story is the same with people working in other offices, banks and so on. They have different dress codes set up for their staffers to caution the rising wave of indecent dressing.

Females working in such offices do not carry placards to protest such regulations, they simply abide by them because they need to keep their jobs. The one place that indecent dressing has become difficult to control especially among the female folks is in churches. Yet, the Holy Bible which is foundation of the church has scores of passages cautioning Christians on not exposing their bodies at places of worship.

In Exodus 28: 42 God instructed that some linen undergarments be made for the sons of Aaron to cover their nakedness up to their thighs. God did not want them to expose their nudity when they minister at the altar (See also Exodus 20: 25-26 where God instructed on how altars of worship should be built for Him to avoid exposure of the body when people come to worship).

In 1 Timothy 2: 9, St Paul calls Christian women to adorn themselves in respectable clothes with modesty and self-control. This, of course, is of utmost importance at places of worship.

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