Where as ldssdc.info is no longer available, I’m reposting this to keep the information available.
The Standard of Truth – Part 5
What’s the Truth About Nudity and Sexual Body Parts?
By Michael S. Ai, Southern California
The belief that “nudity equals sex” is one of the most dominant and emotionally-charged beliefs in our U.S. society.
It seems to be intertwined into so many areas of our lives that I don’t think we can afford to ignore it and just accept it without analysis.This belief has existed for centuries, dating back to the dark ages. And in some ways, it continues to gain strength in our society today, not throughout the world, but primarily in the U.S.
The “nudity equals sex” belief focuses on the idea that some body parts are sexual and should, therefore, be covered up in order to prevent sexual thought, or lust, in one’s self and/or in others.
This idea of covering the body is extremely emotional and powerful. (I have some ideas as to why this is so, which I’ll share in a minute).
What I find extremely interesting—and quite disturbing—is that all throughout the media, particularly on network TV, cable TV, reality TV, and the movies, we can see people having sex (or acting like they’re having sex, as in the case of movies and TV shows), but we don’t see the “sexual body parts.”
It’s as if seeing the “sexual body parts” is worse than seeing the actual sex.
So, seeing people having sex is okay, but seeing “sexual body parts” is not.
And yet, aren’t we covering up the “sexual body parts” because we don’t want anyone to “think of sex”? Yet what do we see?
People having sex!
Am I the only one who thinks that’s a bit inconsistent?
Seeing people having sex apparently doesn’t make us “think of sex” so it’s okay, even on network TV, but seeing nude “sexual body parts”—even if the nude person is doing nothing remotely related to sex—is not okay, because these nude “sexual body parts” make us “think of sex.”
The reality TV show Survivor is one of my favorite shows, yet the way they deal with this issue is hilarious. For example, more than once two contestants have “hooked up.” The show has shown them making out, which is a mild form of sex, if not a precursor to more extensive sexual behavior. Yet, on the other hand, the show’s editors blur a contestant’s slightly visible butt crack.
Other TV reality shows are similar, where they’ll show participants actually having sex, if only under the covers, yet they’ll blur “sexual body parts” that are exposed in non-sexual circumstances.
Consider the infamous Super Bowl, when Janet Jackson had a strategic “wardrobe malfunction.” Janet’s exposed breast with a covered nipple caused an unbelievable amount of controversy and negative reaction, yet I didn’t read one negative comment about the Super Bowl performance leading up to that moment, a performance that was extremely sexually suggestive, with male participants wearing barely more than jock straps and songs with sexually suggestive lyrics.
So, from this fiasco, Americans in general—and the FCC specifically—demonstrated that a nude “sexual body part” is unacceptable, but the actual “sex” is perfectly acceptable.
No wonder the rest of the world laughed at our reaction.
Now, so far I’ve consistently put “sexual body parts” in quotes. Why? Because I believe that the term “sexual body part” is terribly mis-defined, which mis-definition is the root cause of a misconception that leads us to extremely unhealthy and destructive behavior.
So, let me now take a close look at “sexual body parts.” What are “sexual body parts”?
Are they body parts used only for sex? Are they body parts use primarily for sex? Are they body parts used during sex?
Based on what body parts our U.S. society insists must be covered, I think it’s safe to say that the common “sexual body parts” are a woman’s breasts, a woman’s vulva, a man’s penis, and to a lesser degree both a woman’s and a man’s buttocks.
But let’s take a closer look.
A “sexual body part” can only truly be defined as a body part that’s used during sex. However, all perceived “sexual body parts” are in reality secondary sexual body parts, as there are no primary sexual body parts visible on either a naked woman or a naked man.
Consider this: Have you ever made love with just your genitals, which are generally considered to be primary sexual body parts?
My guess is “no.” The reality is that when 2 people make love, their entire body becomes a “sexual body part,” as all parts of the body are used during sex. The most “sexual body part” of all is the mouth/lips/tongue, yet we don’t cover it/them up.
In fact, kissing is one of the most sexually stimulating activities two people can engage in, yet kissing has long been deemed acceptable everywhere. Still, the lips and mouth—as extensively as they are used in making love—are not considered “sexual body parts,” so we don’t cover them up.
Consider this: For heterosexual men, the most sexually appealing part of a woman’s body is her face, yet we don’t cover it up. It’s been said that a beautiful face can launch a thousand ships, yet we’re so used to seeing this sexually stimulating body part that we don’t cover it up. Interestingly, in some cultures, they do cover the woman’s face.
Consider this: The primary purpose of women’s breasts is feeding and nurturing infants. The only time breasts become “sexual body parts” is when someone thinks they are.
Thought is the determining factor.
The primary purpose of a penis is urination. Again, the only time a penis becomes a “sexual body part” is when someone thinks it is.
In fact, a penis can’t possibly be a “sexual body part” until it becomes erect. Only then can it be considered a “sexual body part.”
And even then, because a penis can become erect for reasons other than sexual stimulation, an erect penis doesn’t necessarily mean it’s now a “sexual body part,” just like a woman’s nipples can become erect for reasons other than sexual stimulation.
So, a flaccid penis is not, and cannot be, a “sexual body part.” It’s impossible.
In fact, the only primary sexual body parts on either a man or a woman are the female clitoris and the female vagina, which are hidden from casual view.
Every other body part used during sex is a secondary sexual body part, and that includes the entire body, not just certain parts.
Further, the “standard sexual body parts” can’t even become aroused by touching (direct physical stimulation) alone.
Try this experiment: Some time while watching your favorite TV show or movie—something that gets you totally engrossed—have someone touch your “sexual body parts” and see if you get aroused.
If your mind is on something else, you cannot get sexually aroused. Sexual arousal is totally of the mind. The body follows the mind. Where the mind goes, the body goes. If the mind doesnt become sexually aroused, the body can’t either.
So, in my opinion there is no such thing as a “sexual body part.” Body parts can only become sexual when the mind makes them so.
This is clearly demonstrated at every clothing-optional resort across the country where we see a multitude of nude men, women, and children together in various recreational activities and no man has an erection. Why?
Because they’ve separated nudity and sex.
The only reason the naked body arouses anyone sexually is because (1) the “sexual body parts” are covered all of the time; and (2) we’ve been conditioned to believe that a naked body is sexual, so our mind leads us to react according to that belief when we see nudity.
Even then my guess is that the vast majority of men don’t get so sexually aroused when they see a nude woman that they immediately get an erection. There has to be additional time and thought. It’s not just an immediate, unconscious reaction.
Here’s another interesting point: Sexual stimulation is a very temporary thing. Without the accompanying sexual thoughts, the body cannot stay sexually stimulated. In other words, unless a man’s mind is sexually aroused, a penis cannot stay erect. Unless a woman’s mind is sexually aroused, her clitoris cannot stay engorged.
Again this is proven over and over again at clothing optional venues throughout the world. The thing first timers learn is that, after about 10-15 minutes, they totally lose any kind of sexual arousal, even though everyone around them is nude.
Consider this: If we were to see nude “sexual body parts” on a regular basis, the novelty would wear off, and we’d totally break the “nudity equals sex” belief. The meaning of breasts and genitals would change.
This also has been proved countless times throughout history, as the clothing standards have changed. Every time someone wore less clothing than what was acceptable, the masses cried, “Evil! Wickedness! Perversion!” Yet, over time, everyone adjusted to that new level of skin exposure and gradually accepted it, even to the degree that no one gave it a second thought.
Today, the amount of bare skin that we take for granted was once considered “sexual.” 100 years ago a woman’s bare ankle was considered just as sexual as her bare breasts are today. The dress standards that we consider to be modest today were considered to be terribly immodest yesterday.
Now, let me ask you this question: Does clothing really hide the body?
Take a look around. What do you see? Can you tell what a person’s body looks like even though it’s covered with clothing?
Sure you can. In fact, most of what women wear today hardly hides anything but their skin. We may not know what their skin looks like or how they style their pubic hair, but we can certainly tell what their body looks like. It rarely takes much imagination.
Try this experiment: Sit in sacrament meeting some Sunday and look around. How many nipples do you see poking through what is otherwise “modest” clothing?
Better yet: Go to a Ward beach party where the members are wearing “modest” swim suits. How much of the body can you see? How many nipples can you see?
Again, I ask: does clothing really hide the body?
And that brings me to this question: What is “modesty”?
I believe that most would define “modesty” as wearing clothing that “properly” covers the body. And, of course, “properly covering the body” means to not only hide the “sexual body parts,” but also to cover a significant portion of the body surrounding those parts.
Now, the actual definition of “modest” is this:
- Having or showing a moderate estimation of ones own talents, abilities, and value.
- Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident.
- Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.
- Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious.
- Moderate or limited in size, quantity, or range; not extreme
The true definition of “modest” indicates a humility that motivates reserved behavior rather than extreme behavior that causes one to stand out from the crowd. It’s rooted in a belief that all are equal rather than a desire to be superior.
I would suggest that modesty is of the mind and heart, not of the clothing. A person can be perfectly modest in a state of undress, and another person can be immodest while fully clothed.
The fact is that we can’t possibly tell how modest a person is by what they’re wearing, for we have no idea what the person is thinking, feeling, and seeking to accomplish.
Moreover, does wearing clothing stop all lustful thought? Of course not!
It’s very possible that a person can look at a fully clothed person and think sexual thoughts about that clothed person. The clothing does nothing to stop sexual thought.
In my opinion, modesty based on clothing (seeking to cover “sexual body parts”) is a false modesty, and therefore, has no power and no life.
It’s a false modesty because:
- It’s not based in the truth of what “modesty” really is
- Clothing doesn’t really hide the body
- Clothing can’t prevent someone from thinking sexual thoughts if that person wants to think sexual thoughts
- The requirements for what needs to be covered changes based on circumstance (a woman wearing a “modest” swim suit at the beach can show her bare leg all the way to her hip, but in another setting can’t show any of her leg much above the knee [according to some])
- It takes our focus away from what really matters, which is the quality of our hearts and minds.
In my opinion, church members’ dominating focus on using clothing to create “modesty” deceptively shifts the focus away from the very core of true modesty, which is modesty of the heart and mind. And without working to purify our hearts and minds, we damn ourselves and stop our progression.
Now, as I hinted to earlier, I’m going to make a very bold statement about why our society—and especially the vast majority of Church members—believes so strongly that “nudity equals sex” and therefore, we should cover the body.
Let’s be totally honest: The bottom-line reason people hide behind the “nudity equals sex” belief and that “sexual body parts must be covered” and that “we’re commanded to wear modest clothing” is because of one simple reason: they’re ashamed of their own bodies.
Now, they’ll never admit it. They’ve been taught that our bodies are sacred and that they’re God’s greatest creation, so they don’t want to come right out and declare that they hate their bodies, for that would put them in contradiction to what they’ve been taught about the body, which would displease God and, thereby, be sin.
So, they created a way out: They made “covering the body” a commandment and something that “righteous” people do.
Rather than purify their own minds and hearts regarding the human body—especially their own body (which, by the way, would totally destroy any form of body shame)—they seek “righteousness” through external means.
They seek for whatever justification they can find to support their position, using a variety of scriptures and statements made in the temple. And then they zealously live this “cover the body” concept and puff themselves up thinking they’re so “righteous” and demonstrating that “righteousness” to all around them.
If you don’t believe me, try this experiment: Ask a number of people this question: If God Himself came down to you and told you that being nude in mixed company of other nude people is a good and healthy thing, and that He wanted you to begin doing that, would you do it?
See how many people say “yes.” I would be very surprised if anyone said they would.
You see, if God Himself declared wholesome family and social nudity to be a good and wonderful thing, that should make it right, shouldn’t it?
Yet, that wouldn’t really matter to most people because their covering the body is really not about trying to be righteous. It’s about covering their shame.
Consider this: The media has so successfully defined what a “beautiful” body is and has so effectively ingrained that belief into people’s minds, that very few people believe they’re beautiful. In fact, I believe that virtually everyone believes that something’s wrong with their bodies, and that other people would laugh at their bodies.
Because this is such a powerful, emotional issue, people will do just about anything to prevent anyone from seeing their nude body. And it’s not just members of the opposite sex. This trend has grown to include members of same sex.
Think deeply about this: A few years ago, we had several Anthrax scars. In Seattle, hazardous waste people were rushed to potentially contaminated office buildings. Workers in those offices were rushed out and ushered into areas where the hazardous waste people could hose them down to wash off any possible Anthrax that they may have been contaminated with. Of course, the people had to undress to be hosed down. A Seattle newspaper reported that even at the risk of dying, some of those people refused to undress.
This and other similar stories reveal just how emotionally charged this body issue is.
What’s so disturbing to me is that our children are suffering terribly from the attitudes and beliefs of their gymnophobic parents. Today, some junior high schools have taken out the locker room showers, so the kids never shower after gym class. In high schools, the kids rarely, if ever, shower after PE classes nor do they shower after athletic events. They come to their games dressed in their uniforms and then wear their sweaty uniforms home.
These kids are not able to benefit from seeing other kids their age nude. I believe it’s having a detrimental effect on their self esteem.
I can bet you that even the most “righteous” kid has great curiosity regarding the human body, of both sexes. They want to know what people look like nude. They want to know how they compare. They’re constantly bombarded with what the world says about what manhood and womanhood is.
The question is: Where can they go to have their questions answered? Where is it safe to go?
They really don’t have anywhere safe to go. So, where do they end up going?
To pornography, of course. Not because they’re really lustful and want to participate in sexual material, but because they’re curious. Sure, they may be curious about sex, too, but most of them are going to pornography because they want to know what naked men and women look like.
And what do they see?
Abnormal men and women. “Abnormal” referring to the size of the standard “sexual body parts.”
Since this is their reference point, and since they never see other kids or adults nude, how can they possibly feel anything other than a failure to measure up? Even adults in locker rooms now cover up!
Our bodies are our vehicle of experience in this life. They are of infinite worth and value. The way we feel about our bodies will have a huge and lasting effect on our happiness. Which is why, in my opinion, so many people are unhappy, even in the church, though they always put on a “happy face” around others.
Now, I’m going to end this with this outrageous concept. Outrageous because, at first, it will seem so ludicrous. In fact, my guess is that because it will be judged to be so ludicrous, few will take it seriously. Yet, I believe that if one will honestly and sincerely consider it, the truth of it will resonate within them. Yet, that realization may just be too much for them because of the ramifications.
Nevertheless, here it is: Anyone who supports the ideas that “nudity equals sex” and “nudity is evil” and “cover the body because it’s sacred” actually supports pornography and contributes to its growth.
Consider this very carefully: What conditions must exist in order for pornography to exist and flourish?
- We must define certain body parts as being sexual (the sex drive is unarguably one of the strongest urges we have).
- We must make it “evil” to see those parts and/or to expose those parts to others.
- We must believe that it’s harmful, especially to children, to see those “sexual body parts.”
- We must define the naked body—which really means those naked body parts—to be lewd and indecent.
- We must make laws that require men and women to cover those “sexual body parts.”
- We must create a movie rating system that labels all “naked sexual body parts” as being “Restricted.”
All of this combines to create a very powerful curiosity and drive to see what’s hidden and forbidden. And because this drive becomes so powerful, certain entrepreneurs set up businesses to charge people money to see these naked “sexual body parts.” As a result, pornography has become the top product sold on the Internet.
Yet, we could very easily destroy it—or at least substantially reduce it—through wholesome family and social nudity
- Through an extensive exposure to the nude body, both adults and children would come to see that bodies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
- They would see what’s real and what beauty really is.
- They would be able to develop a much stronger sense of self worth.
- They would increase in self-esteem and in the acceptance of themselves and of others.
- They would find much greater peace and joy.
- Their curiosities, especially the children’s, would be safely satisfied.
- They would gain a greater appreciation for the correct and proper purpose of all body parts.
- They would develop a healthier and more correct attitude about sex.
- They would no longer need to pay to see nude bodies.
- Teenage pregnancy would decline.
- Sex-related crimes would decline.
- People would be friendlier and more secure within themselves.
- Those who have pornography addictions could be freed from their enslavement.
- They could come to understand that the sacredness of the body is not preserved by covering it up, but rather by having a correct understanding of its sacredness and by treating it accordingly.
I could go on and on. And how could I prove that these would be the results of practicing wholesome family and social nudity? Because these things have already been unquestioningly proven in those countries that have much more relaxed attitudes about the body.
Further, these things are being proven now at clothing-optional resorts and camps across the U.S. and among those who practice wholesome family and social nudity in their homes and communities.
Now, I’m going to make a bold prediction.
As we march forward toward the reconciliation of man with God, more and more truth will be revealed and accepted. In fact, man can only be reconciled with God on a foundation of Truth, for God is founded upon Truth.
Therefore, the error and misconceptions that we have must and will be purged out, both individually and collectively, as we are sanctified.
If what I’ve presented in this 5-part series is true, what would you expect to see in the coming years?
Would you expect to see more and more acceptance of nudity?
Would you expect to see more and more clothing-optional venues appearing?
Would you expect to see laws regarding nudity change?
Would you expect to see more and more families practicing wholesome family and social nudity?
Would you expect to see the definitions of modesty change?
Would you expect to see fashion change to reveal more and more skin?
If what I’ve said is true, then, yes, of course, we’d see all of these things, wouldn’t we?
Now, instead of looking forward, look backwards. What do you see? Everything that you’d expect to see in the future—if what I’ve presented is true—is the very thing that you’ll see looking backward.
All of these “what would you expect” conditions have already occurred and are occurring now. And I predict they’ll continue. As we proceed toward our reconciliation with God, we’ll see less and less clothing and more and more bare skin.
Beginning at the Dark Ages, when the people were covered from head to toe in multiple layers of clothing, through the restoration of the gospel and on through to today, people are wearing less and less clothing.
We would think that, if God wanted the body covered, as we proceed through our sanctification, we’d wear more and more clothing, not less and less. Could it be that clothing represents “the wisdom of man,” which is infused with error and misconception, and that as Man becomes more purified, He wears less and less clothing?
Is it possible that when the day comes when we will be filled with a fullness of Light and Truth—the Glory of God—that we’ll be covered with a covering of light instead of material clothing?
Here’s the final question: If we’re willing to accept error in any form, can we be received back into the Presence of God?
Our early church leaders spoke definitively about the importance of Truth, regardless of what it is and where it’s found. Through this series Ive suggested that there is a Standard of Truth by which all concepts can be tested, including this very controversial issue of wholesome family and social nudity.
As for me, Ive made my commitment to seek and understand Truth. I have no agenda other than to understand the Truth of all things. I make no other commitment than to be true to the understanding I have. I put no conditions on the Truth. I am determined to accept and live the Truth, regardless of what it is, where it’s found, or what the consequences may be. And while I believe very strongly in the understanding I currently have, I reserve the right to change my beliefs as my understanding expands and increases.
Where do you stand?
I believe that the reason the vast majority of members and especially leaders can’t honestly look at this issue is because of the ramifications.
Does God expect us to live truths that we come to understand? Of course. So, what would happen if, for example, a church leader humbly, honestly and sincerely sought to understand the truth of this issue—with real intent?
It would obviously mean that that leader from that time forward would be expected to live and teach that truth. What would the result be? Especially if other church leaders had not done the same?
Clearly, the vast majority of church members are not ready for the truth regarding this issue. But many are, and the numbers are growing. And, as I suggested, they will continue to grow.
The honest in heart who are humble, honest truth seekers will eventually be led to the truth regarding this issue.
At some point, we must all stare this issue in the face and make a decision. Our decision will determine the quality of our lives and our ability to progress toward our reconciliation with God.
All of this is, of course, just my perspective.