by Rob Tims
Show up at my house between 6:30 and 7:00 PM, and you show up during bath time for my 3 year-old daughter and 1 year-old son.
Well, most nights.
This is almost always a shared experience. That is, they bathe together. Warm water, extra bubbles, bath-friendly toys, and an engaged parent to police horseplay usually make for a great experience. There is no talk (yet) of their anatomical differences, and there is no desire to hide their bodies after they dry off on the bath mat. Arguably, the best part of bath time is the opportunity to run naked room to room in hopes that someone will see you.
Generally speaking, my young kids love being naked.
Our culture seems to love it as much as they do to. The sheer volume of television programs with the word “naked” in it is evidence of enough. Not all continue to air, but they are recent enough.
- Syfy’s Naked Vegas centers on a body painting business in Las Vegas. In each episode, the cast is faced with the task of creating fascinating art on nude bodies, usually to help promote a business’ opening.
- Skin Wars on the Game Show Network seeks to find the most skillful, accomplished and versatile body painters in the country.
- A few years ago, there was The Naked Office, a UK show. The show’s leader helps businesses boost their morale by implementing “Naked Fridays,” in which the employees show up to work in the nude. Hmmmm.
- VH1 has Dating Naked. Show creators introduce two people in the buff and stage a variety of dating experiences for them. Some have gotten married, by the way.
- Discovery had Naked Castaway. The series followed a survivalist for 60 days as he was dropped on a desert island with no food, tools, film crew, or clothes.
- Last, but probably most popular, there’s Naked and Afraid. In each episode, two strangers are paired and stranded together with no food or clothes, and have to survive 21 days.
While my children currently find nakedness wildly entertaining, their enthusiasm for it is not the same as the culture’s. The root of my kids’ laughter is a form of innocence. It’s grounded in candor. It’s more closely aligned (though admittedly fallen from) Genesis 2:25—”Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” The root of our hunger for such entertainment as these shows is a form of shame. It’s grounded in fear. It’s aligned with Genesis 3:7—”The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.”
As my children age, they will come to know less of innocence and more of fear. Like their 10 and 12 year-old brothers today, a time is coming when they won’t be caught dead naked in front of their parents or siblings. They may laugh at the thought of accidentally seeing someone naked, or even gawk at these kinds of television shows, but it won’t be because of innocence: it will be because they will inherently know something is wrong with the human condition.
And this won’t just apply to the covering of their bodies. As D. A. Carson once wrote years ago, “Would you want your spouse or your best friend to know the full dimensions of each of your thoughts? Would you want your motives placarded for public display? Have we not done things of which we are so ashamed that we want as few people as possible to know about them?”
This kind of naked truth is almost too much to bear.
It is why we must proclaim with the Apostle Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.