Nakedness, Shame and Modesty

Salvete, omnes!

Is nakedness per se evil? Is it evil when it’s around anyone else? Is it evil when it’s around anyone else you don’t know? Around just the opposite gender? Before more than one person of the same gender? Before more than one person in mixed company? Is any of this true because of the potential to provoke lustful thoughts? Is any or all of this true because of the shameful component?

What, then, are we to say of (even Catholic) art that sometimes portrays full nudity? I think of the famous David, for instance. Could not seeing that alone provoke lustful thoughts and even physical response?

Furthermore, as I recall reading it, some of the early Fathers (of particular interest to me, primarily because of my field of study) seemed to approve of, say, going to public exercise (which, in those times, would have been done in the nude), though they stated that it should be only to improve one’s health and not because of any competitive desire. Some, as I recall, even approved of going to the public baths for similar health reasons. Again, we would there have had public nudity. However, even the pagan Romans of that day themselves seemed to be leery of public nudity outside of these situations (the Geeks less-so). Still, they seemed legitimately to have no shame being and seeing each other naked in the places I just mentioned. Even their art showed the member (please don’t ban me, I’m trying to keep it clean!) quite openly, and this seemed to cause no shame. Indeed, art depicting their heroes, for instance, often praised their bodies as the model example (again, taking influence from Greek thought).

Are we all to be required to be ashamed of nakedness? Are we all to consider it immodest?

If nakedness is permissible even in some of these circumstances, what does that say for modesty of dress? If full nudity is permitted in certain situations, why would more revealing clothing be deemed “immodest”? (I ask this seriously, as I’m not seeing the logical connections here.)

(Again, do forgive me if I sound vulgar in some of my phraseology. I didn’t not intend this and tried to be as careful in speech here as I could!)


The appropriateness of total nudity depends on the context - is it a group of Naturists at a Nudist Camp? Then it is probably OK, as the people concerned are all of one mind - accepting, and not liable to be titillated but other naked people.

Is it a streaker at a sports stadium? Definitely not right, as the person is out to shock as many people as possible.

Is it a group of same sex people at a sauna, spa or changing room shower? OK, as they are there for the same purpose, and need to be naked at the time.

Shame is often an acquired attitude. Victorian women showed their shoulders (in the evening only), but hid their legs and feet. Legs were deemed so risque that they were called ‘lower limbs’, and even pianos had their legs hidden by drapes.

Modesty is also relative - Islamic women cover from head to toe, and I’ve even seen them in sun glasses and gloves, to be totally hidden. One Asiatic country had topless women who wore little underarm guards so they would not show their armpit hair, while their breasts swung for all to see.

So, modesty is what your particular social niche considers to be modest. And modesty can vary from one family to the other, one marriage partner to another, one family member to the other. One boyfriend called me crude, the next one said I was a prude! What’s a girl to think? I hadn’t changed my behaviour at all. I finally found one who thought I was just right!

(Hee. Nice little rhyme there! :slight_smile: )

So, then, you’re saying that the “need” or necessity to be naked is a requirement in the above case for public nudity to be OK? But, in the cases you cite, is nudity really necessary (sans in the case of the changing rooms, perhaps)? Could there not be other ways to conceal/cover so that one person would not see the other? (I’ve never actually done the sauna/spa thing myself, so do forgive any ignorance I show in this matter.)

As a classicist, I’m also interested in your (and others’) take on the ancient examples I cited in my first post. Would these have been considered all right even if they existed today? What about in their time? Would they have been appropriate for Christians?

Back to the subject of necessity: Is this something officially defined in terms of teaching anywhere or just personal opinion? (Not to devalue personal opinion. I’m just wanting to be clear.)

I just finished up a clinical rotation. My class has 2 girls and 5 guys. The last day of clinicals we worked with bedbound, Alzheimer’s/Dementia patients with incontinence.
The boys worked on the female patients, so they could learn how to care for them and us 2 girls took care of our male patient. These people had to have peri-care. As students, we were standing around these people watching or actually caring for the patient.

So, no. I don’t think nakedness is evil. I don’t think being naked around people is evil. I don’t think that being naked around the opposite sex is evil. And I don’t think being naked in a room full of people is evil. I promise, there were no lustful thoughts going through my classmates minds.

Well, with all due respect, these were older folks and you guys (I assume) were much younger, so the likelihood of such occurring is seriously diminished.

Also, in your case, the nudity, again, would seem to have had the “necessity” component spoken of above.

Furthermore, while I sincerely applaud your fine work, just because you were required to do/did X, Y, or Z doesn’t make it automatically morally good or evil.

(I don’t mean to sound like I’m being intentionally contentious in this or any other post. I’m just really trying to flesh out these issues by being my own and others’, if you’ll pardon the expression, “devil’s advocate” in the most rigorous way I know. And, if you’ll permit me to say it, I think that this kind of rigorous analysis is sorely lacking on many issues in today’s society, so I call all of us to carefully examine what we believe/why we believe it so that a) we’re not believing something in error, b) that we’re more secure in it ourselves and c) that we’re more prepared to defend it to others. OK, sorry for the slight OT/tangent!)

Nakedness evil? No.
Evil can be in what people do, not in what they wear or don’t wear.

It isn’t that complicated: nude = OK; naked = you’re up to something!

No, you were thinking of nekkid :stuck_out_tongue:

If God meant for us to be nekkid, we’d be born that way!!!:slight_smile:


I believe it would most definitely be morally evil to allow a person to sit in their own waste. These people aren’t capable of even repositioning themselves, much less cleaning up their mess.
Also, while I was in this unit, I closed 2 doors so the patient could have more privacy because they were masturbating. They definitely have urges still. And not all patients that are incontinent are old people who aren’t attractive. It still isn’t a sexual thing that will turn you on. Believe me, cleaning poo doesn’t get many people’s motors running.

I believe taking care of my patients, being it giving them a shower, changing them, providing peri-care is definitely a moral good. It would be evil to not assist people who are in need.

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