Where as ldssdc.info is no longer available, I’m reposting this to keep the information available.
The Standard of Truth – Part 4
What’s the Truth about the Sacredness of the Body and Nudity?
By Michael S. Ai, Southern California
“The body is sacred; therefore, cover it.”
This is probably the most common argument used by the “nudity is evil” proponents. This belief provides the reasoning for the rest of their arguments.
From this perspective, God gave Adam & Eve the coats of skins to cover their nakedness “because their bodies are sacred and should be covered.” The coats of skins represent the garment of the Holy Priesthood and should be worn at all times “because the body is sacred and should be covered.”
Interestingly, the reason for the “coats of skin” was never given, other than to “cover their nakedness.” On the other hand, when we take symbolic interpretation, we find that the reason is clearly given, and it has nothing to do with physical clothing or the body itself.
Now, the fascinating thing about this “cover the body because it’s sacred” argument is that it’s the argument that’s riddled with the most glaring inconsistencies and contradictions.
Let’s take a closer look to see why this concept couldn’t possibly meet the Standard of Truth.
Is Man inherently good or evil?
This is one of the most important, foundational questions of life.
Throughout the vast majority of our history most people have believed that Man is inherently evil. Man sins because he naturally desires to sin. It’s his nature. We even hear the term “the natural man,” which is defined as “an enemy to God.” We conclude that if being an enemy to God is “natural,” then Man was created this way.
Yet, this begs the question: Why would God create Man to be evil?
This leads to all sorts of speculation. Among the many possible answers we find this one: Man is not inherently evil; it’s the physical body that’s evil. The body is full of sinful lusts and wars against Man’s spirit, often winning the battle and causing Man to sin.
The body, therefore, becomes “the evil one.”
This belief dominated the dark ages. In fact, another dominant belief during this time was that Adam and Eve’s punishment for their “sin” was their physical, lustful, evil bodies. Consequently, salvation became possible only when Man could escape this evil body.
Then Joseph Smith came along. As a result of his experiences, he restored the truth that the body is not evil, but is in fact sacred. It is good and wonderful, the vehicle of our experience in this life. In fact, gaining a body was one of the primary purposes for our coming to this physical existence. Further, obtaining a fullness of joy is not possible without our physical bodies (see D&C 93).
Now, here’s where we have a problem with the “cover the body because it’s sacred” concept.
During the dark ages the predominant belief was “cover the body because it’s evil.” After Joseph restored the truth about the sacredness of the body, the belief became “cover the body because it’s sacred.”
Both concepts can’t be true. So, which concept—“cover the body because it’s evil” or “cover the body because it’s sacred”—is true?
Since we now know that the body is sacred, the general conclusion is that “cover the body because it’s sacred” is the true concept.
Now, if this concept is true, then what would we expect to see during the dark ages when the church wasn’t on the earth and Satan ran rampant?
Wouldn’t we expect to see the people run around naked?
If the concept “cover the body because it’s sacred” is true, wouldn’t Satan convince the people that they should discard their clothing and be nude, so he could lead them into sin?
Yet, what actually happened? The exact opposite: Throughout this period people wore more clothing than at any other time in history.
People—both men and women—covered themselves from head to toe using many layers. They even often wore gloves. The only part of the body that was uncovered was the face. Why?
If “cover the body because it’s sacred” is true and the dark ages was a time of decadence and sin as we suppose, why would the people cover the body to such a great extent? According to the scriptures, Satan persuades no man to do good, “no not one.”
What we see in the dark ages is totally inconsistent with the concept “cover the body because it’s sacred.”
Therefore, we have to seriously question the truth of this concept.
Further, consider this: How far have we really come in our belief about the body being sacred? Do we really believe that? Or, is this concept just a nice-sounding justification for covering the body? After all, what happens when people are unacceptably nude?
Think very carefully about this: Anytime in our culture today when someone is unacceptably nude, they’re arrested. For what crime? Obscenity, lewdness, indecency.
In other words, our society as a whole believes that a nude body is obscene, lewd, and indecent. These are hardly words that I’d use to describe something sacred. This is just as true in the church as it is out of the church. All you have to do to understand the truth of this is just listen to what members say about the body, covering the body, people who don’t cover their bodies “appropriately,” etc. Especially listen to what they say about their own bodies and how unhappy they are with it.
It appears to me that we say one thing out of one side of our mouths while saying another thing out of the other side of our mouth. The body is either sacred or it’s not, whether it’s covered or not; and it’s good and wonderful regardless of what it looks like.
Is the concept “cover the body because it’s sacred” consistent with everything else we consider sacred?
What else do we cover up because it’s sacred?
Think very carefully about this. The answer is, “nothing.”
We cover nothing else that we consider sacred. The body is the only thing that people cover because they believe it’s sacred.
We may guard special sacred things against ridicule and disrespect by misunderstanding and unappreciative people, but we don’t “cover them” and hide them from others.
In fact, while we closely guard these especially sacred things—like the temple ordinances, etc.—we have a worldwide campaign being carried on by over 60,000 men and women to bring people to a point of understanding and appreciation where we willing reveal (expose) these deeply sacred things.
Further, we openly use very sacred tools—like scriptures, sacrament meetings, priesthood ordinances, etc.—to help them reach that understanding and appreciation.
The truth of the matter is that everything in life is sacred, being a creation of our Great Creator. If the reasoning behind the “cover the body because it’s sacred” is true, then we’d have to cover everything in life, which, obviously is not only impossible, but it also renders life impossible to live.
If “cover the body because it’s sacred” is true—meaning that it meets the Standard of Truth, being invariable throughout time, culture, circumstance, desire, or belief—then how do you explain these 2 major events in our church history: Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith, and the Father and the Son’s visit to the School of the Prophets?
First consider Moroni’s visit to Joseph:
30 While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
31 He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.
This description gives rise to some significant questions, like, what did Joseph mean when he said, “I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom”?
Contrary to what many suppose and would undoubtedly like to believe, Joseph said the robe was open, not partially open, not closed by a sash, but open. He declared that Moroni was wearing “no other clothing.” He didn’t speculate that Moroni was wearing any kind of undergarment covered by a partially closed robe.
Even if we accept that Moroni was wearing undergarments covered by a partially closed robe, we still have to look at the fact that Moroni, in conducting one of the church’s most historical missions, was wearing very little clothing. He was hardly “covering the body.”
Now consider the visit of the Father and Son to the School of the Prophets:
Zebedee Coltrin, a devoted Saint and one of the participants in the original School of the Prophets with Joseph Smith, related the following events to President Taylor:
At one of these meetings after the organization of the school, the school being organized on the 23rd of January, 1833, when we were all together, Joseph having given instructions, and while engaged in silent prayer, kneeling, with our hands uplifted each one praying in silence, no one whispered above his breath, a personage walked through the room from east to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did and Joseph answered that is Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother. Afterward Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer, which we did. Another person came through; he was surrounded as with a flame of fire. He (Brother Coltrin) experienced a sensation that it might destroy the tabernacle as it was of consuming fire of great brightness. The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw Him.
When asked about the kind of clothing the Father had on, Brother Coltrin said: I did not discover his clothing for he was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but his person. I saw his hands, his legs, his feet, his eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man. He sat in a chair as a man would sit in a chair, but this appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed I should melt down in his presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it thrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. The Prophet Joseph said: Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that they exist and that they are two separate personages.
This appearance occurred about two or three weeks after the opening of the school.
Source: Minutes, Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 3, 1883. Presidents John Taylor and George Q. Cannon, Apostles Erastus Snow, Brigham Young, Francis M. Lyman, and Heber J. Grant, and Elders L. John Nuttall and Zebedee Coltrin present.
Again, this description gives rise to significant questions, like, how could Zebedee see the Father’s body without seeing his clothing if He was wearing clothing?
While many believe it’s way too much of a stretch to accept the idea that the Father wore no clothing except His clothing of glory, as represented by the fire, we can certainly see that He hardly covered His body in a way that’s consistent with the “cover the body because it’s sacred” concept.
I’m going to make a bold statement that’s just as true as the fact that you’re reading this post.
Here it is: No one—including you—truly, fully, and completely believes the concept of “cover the body because it’s sacred.”
Everyone—again, including you—has other motivations for covering the body, but it’s not because the body is sacred.
Before you get too excited about these statements, I ask you to carefully consider what it would really mean to fully believe in the concept “cover the body because it’s sacred.”
As you do, carefully consider the answer to this question: Is the entire body sacred, or just parts of it?
If the body is sacred, then every part of the body is sacred, not just parts of it. The body is all-encompassing. It includes all of the parts. In fact, that’s the very definition of the word “body.”
Therefore, if you fully believed that you should cover the body because it’s sacred, you have only one choice available to you: cover the body in its entirety. Not just some of body: ALL of it.
After all, if the body should be covered because it’s sacred, it should ALL be covered. Head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet, etc.
Therefore, this belief would require you to wear burka-like clothing every second of every day for the rest of your life, whether you’re a man or woman.
Are you prepared to do that?
About the only people on the planet who currently cover their entire bodies are Muslim women who do wear burkas, at least when they go out in public. Whether or not they’re wearing burkas because of a belief that they should cover the body because it’s sacred (which I find to be highly unlikely, given the male dominance of their culture), they are the closest example of what living this concept would look like.
The fact that no one in our society, either in the church or out of the church, wears burkas proves the truth of my bold statement: No one really truly believes the concept “cover the body because it’s sacred.”
Based on what we see, we have to conclude that as a whole our society—including our church society—believes this concept instead:
- The head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, legs, and feet are not sacred, and therefore, can be exposed
- Only men’s genitals and buttocks, and women’s vulvas, buttocks, and breasts are actually sacred (of course, the majority of church members also believe a female’s stomach is also sacred), which is why these are the only body parts that are required to be covered
Following are just a few of the seemingly infinite inconsistencies and contradictions associated with EITHER concept:
- A woman’s chest is sacred, but a man’s is not, which is why a woman must cover her chest at all times whereas a man can expose his chest.
- At the beach a girl/woman can wear a swim suit that reveals a bare leg all the way to and including the hip, but away from the beach it would be unacceptable for her to wear “short shorts” or a “mini-skirt” even though they both cover more of the girl/woman’s legs than her swim suit does.
- Similarly, a girl/woman can wear an acceptable one-piece swim suit that reveals her entire back, but if she wore a dress that likewise exposed her entire back, it would be deemed unacceptable.
- At the beach or pool people can wear swim suits, but can’t wear them in other public places, like stores, libraries, schools, work, church, etc.
- At the beach or pool a girl/woman can wear a one-piece swim suit that does nothing to cover her body, as every curve, bulge, protrusion, and dimple is visible under that suit, but it’s considered acceptable. However, all that’s really being covered is the skin, not the body, for the body is fully visible to everyone. This is just as true with most clothing that people wear, especially women.
- A man’s bulging penis and testicles are considered unacceptable, yet a woman’s bulging breasts are acceptable.
- Society allows people to build special places where men and women can bare their entire bodies for money, but society resists and fights against other people who try to set aside special places for clothing optional recreation.
- People wearing swim suits is acceptable, but people wearing underwear is unacceptable, even though the underwear covers as much or more than the swimsuits do.
I could go on and on.
Any thinking person can reach only one conclusion: Circumstance dictates what acceptable “body coverage” is, not the sacredness of the body. What’s considered acceptable in one circumstance is considered unacceptable under other circumstances, and vice versa. This is just as true in the church as out of it.
This reality prevents this concept from meeting the Standard of Truth.
As far as I’m concerned, I believe the body is sacred. It’s good and wonderful and beautiful, regardless of its form and condition. The only thing we need to guard the body’s sacredness is not clothing; it’s a correct understanding and appreciation of the body as a beautiful creation of God, just as we protect the sacredness of all things that are sacred to men.
“Cast not your pearls before swine” gives us the correct instruction.
Now, that brings me to this question: Why is it that the only body parts that are required to be covered are men’s genitals and buttocks, and women’s vulva, buttocks, and breasts?
Could it be that society as a whole demands these body parts be covered, not because they’re sacred, but because they’re considered to be sexual body parts?