Recently, I came across an article entitled “Art, Nakedness, and Redemption” by William VanDoodewaard, a church history professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. In this thought-provoking treatment, he inquires how the believer ought to treat visual media which portray human nakedness — whether in classical and Renaissance art, or in modern cinema. Somehow, I suspect that Paul would not have wrestled too hard with figuring this one out, but VanDoodewaard documents modern-day professing Christians who have come to the conclusion that in the name of redeeming culture, believers may indeed expose themselves to — and even participate in — art and film that portray human nakedness.
VanDoodewaard determined to “examine what Scripture has to say on nakedness and redemption and what a history of nakedness in art might reveal.” He concludes that after the Fall, “Scripture’s testimony over and over again is that nakedness in contexts outside of marriage and necessity is shameful, spiritually destructive, a denial of the reality of sin and God’s holiness.” He turns to history and briefly probes the purposes of nakedness in pagan art, noting Clement of Alexandria’s and Augustine’s condemnation of such.
Concluding, he notes that
Scripture and history indicate that nudity in art (and now film) is not actually the domain of the mature, the wise, or those engaged in “redemptive activity.” Rather: “we dress because we sin… [it is] a reminder that man is an unholy fugitive, in hiding from God and from his own fellows” and a picture of the need for bloody atonement for sin, and clothing by the righteousness of Christ. As such, “whether it be in a nudist colony, at an orgy, in primitive society, or in the nursery, public nudity is only possible for those unconscious or aggressively heedless of their sinfulness.” It is far more likely that the attitude of the acceptability of nudity for “the mature” in art, film, and pop culture is contributing to the rising tide of infidelity and divorce in the church.
The whole article is worth your time.