I have a good group of friends with whom I participate in regular rap sessions about theology at a local pub. Last week, the topic of modesty came up. We were in agreement until a specific aspect of the topic came up: one of my friends (the only Protestant in the group…though we’re pretty sure the Holy Spirit is leading him into full communion), contended that even showering with people of the same sex (for example, after a football game) could be considered immodest. His argument was that nakedness was always associated with shame in the Scriptures. This seemed rather extreme to me and the other guys in the group. Where I’m from, nudity in the locker room is really just a part of life and I’ve never seen anything sexual about it; you don’t feel the same “shame” that you’d feel if a girl walked into the room. I countered that Isaiah was commanded by God to be naked for some time and we all know the story about St. Francis of Assisi. Also, Christian art includes examples of “non-sexual” nudity. What is the Church’s position on this? I hope I don’t sound radical. I am an orthodox Catholic that believes everything the Church teaches about contraception, modesty, pornography, custody of the eyes, etc.
I am not sure if there is any right or wrong answer. It has alot to do with what YOU feel comfortable with.
I would be on the side of your protestant friend personally, but not because of shame but because of privacy… and maybe also positive shame (the embarrasment when someone shows something intimate in a trivial manner ).
I am a woman and in my culture the public swimbaths have shower rooms without any privacy available if you wanna keep the rules about hygiene. I never liked that. I’ve been in other cultures where there were shower cabins to allow for privacy and that’s what I prefer, When I am naked I don’t like to be looked at, which is always the case whether people have ssa or not. Especially children and teenagers dont keep their eyes to themselves.
I am right now finding myself at a Catholic conservative place and though I live with other women we are all modest, and I never even once saw anyone in their underwear.
I am fine with that
I suppose there is a balance between a modesty of the body and a certain unhealthy prudery.The Catechism can only give us guidelines as to where natural nudity amongst the same sex and where this behaviour crosses the line offending modesty.
As the previous lady has rightly pointed out,cultural practises play a big part in this,for instance 2524 of the Catholic Catechism states—“The forms of modesty vary from one culture to another.Everywhere,however,modesty exists as an instuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man.It is born with the wakening consciousness of being a subject.Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.”
We are required to be pure in body,mind and heart;in 2516 the Church teaches in a quotation from the great teacher of The Theology of The Body-----"For the Apostle it is not a matter of despising and condemning the body which with the spiritual soul constitutes man’s nature and personal subjectivity.Rather,he is concerned with the morally good or bad works,or better,the permanent dispositions–virtues and vises-which are the fruit of submission(in the first case) or the resistance(in the second case) to the saving action of The Holy Spirit.For this reason the Apostle writes.“If we live by The Spirit,let us also walk by the Spirit”
I believe Pope John Paul encounted in his pastoral duties this attitute to the nude human body that you describe ;where this person seemed to have an apparent unhealthy view .The errors of Jansenism still remains even in our “modern” society;where the human body is seen to be evil in itself.One religious Marist(the French Orders were very affected) Brother told me that he remembers, as a novice that they were to shower privately BUT they had on a “bathing robe” so they would not look at their nude body ,as they washed under neath the robe!!
When I was at the army cadet camps when at school,all the boys showered as a group in the open shower set up of the military ,with a school master watching on and turning off the main supply after 120seconds!! I did not think it was a big deal,neither did my fellow students.I think that you have a health attitude to your body in my view ;so do not change!
anyone who finds same sex locker rooms a temptation to sin should avoid such situations.
most people probably would not find it problematic, especially if those involved observe locker room etiquette (don’t stare at people, watch where you look and how you conduct yourself etc.)
young people, those battling SSA, those with overactive imaginations might find the situation too uncomfortable and should avoid it. But for the average Christian nudity, disassociated with overt sexual activity or reference, by itself should not be problematic.
I always find this kind of argument amusing. Lets lookat what your friend says…
one of my friends…contended that even showering with people of the same sex (for example, after a football game) could be considered immodest. His argument was that nakedness was always associated with shame in the Scriptures.
My first comment would be that almost any situation “can be considered” problematic. So such an argument doesn’t really answer…
Secondly I would point out that the very mark of the old covenent was on the male piece of anatomy most likely covered - except when naked…
If a person utilizes the facilities of a locker room/shower as intended there need be no problem. Simply strip shower and dress in the most efficient manner and that’s that…
If you do not “Look with Lust” you have not sinned…If others look at you (even though you are doing nothing sexual) then the sin is theirs…not yours.
Maybe I am wrong, but I would think the concept of separate genger locker rooms is already a step towards modesty (and good enough). The main intent of modest dress (I think) is to help protect others from temptation to lust. I’d chalk your buddy’s concern up to overzealousness and also his understanding on nudity in the Bible being incorrect. Being naked with other men in a locker room setting is just about as normal as it gets.
There is one caveat: I think that same gender nudity could be a cause of temptation for our brothers who suffer with SSA. While I don’t think we should be so radical as to alter basic norms (like same sex nudity in a shower at the gym, etc.) we should be cognizant of this temptation for them. I know people with SSA who go to the gym and shower etc. and don’t really see the whole experience as sexual at all, so maybe it doesn’t matter either way. My two cents.
I appreciate everyone’s very thoughtful replies, especially the references from the Catechism and Theology of the Body! Wow, what a group of scholars! I agree that modesty can be subjective depending on the culture and that those with same-sex attraction should avoid the near occasion of sin. I would never fault anyone for choosing NOT to make use of locker room showers. A little off topic, I know, but I just cracked open G.K. Chesterton’s St. Francis of Assisi, and so far it is excellent; just a little recommendation for anyone looking for some spiritual literature.
Modesty relates to how we live our own lives. If I am around people with a different level of modesty its on me to maintain my level of modesty. If I see a pretty woman in a short skirt and heels its not her place to dress to my level of modesty it is my responsibility to myself and God to maintain my modesty ie: not to stare or lust are just 2 examples of how I might be able to maintain my modesty.
I also think “naked” in scripture can mean many things. I could be “naked” with my emotions couldnt I?
I agree with part of this. Yes, it is my responsibility keep custody of the eyes should a pretty lady in a short skirt pass by, but that doesn’t mean that men and women don’t have a responsibility to dress modestly.