Martin, Stephanie

HUDSON, Fla.-Natura, America’s first Christian nudist colony, opened this spring on a 240-acre Florida site near Tampa. The resort will eventually include 500 homes, a water park, marriage and family classes, and a clothing-optional church.

Co-founder Bill Martin plans a family-friendly Garden of Eden, saying God intended for people to be naked and free of shame and fear. Natura won’t allow dancing or alcohol, as some other nudist colonies do.

According to Martin, nudism was common throughout Christian history. he says Christ washed his disciples’ feet while nude, Peter rode in his boat nude, and baptisms were done in the nude.

Other Christians disagree. The Rev. John Reveil of the Southern Baptist Convention calls Martin’s claims “preposterous,” saying they have “no historical support.”

David Blood, Natura’s co-organizer, says, “We want to give a place where people can come back to feeling that the human body is very good, as God said.”

Nude tourism is a $400 million-a-year business, and some nudist camps for teenagers have opened. Advocates say the camps promote healthy body image and self-confidence during a crucial life-stage.

“I accept my body the way it is,” says camper Halie Nelson, 14.

Sources: Associated Press, Newsweek, Palm Beach Post, Time, The New York Times

What’s your reaction to a Christian nudist colony? to a teenage nudist camp? How popular do you expect each to be, and why?

Do you think God intended for people to be naked when he created them? after they fell into sin? Explain. Do you think he approves of public nudity today? Why or why not?

Do you think nudism was popular throughout Christian history? Why or why not? Can you imagine Jesus and his disciples preaching and performing miracles without clothing? How important is it whether or not they were indeed nude?

Do you associate wearing clothes with shame? Why or why not? Is being a nudist shameful, or does displaying your body show you’re proud of how God made you? Explain. Do you think the proliferation of nudist camps will encourage more people to feel good about their bodies? Why or why not? What other effects, both positive and negative, might the camps have? Explain.

Would you ever attend a nudist camp? Why or why not? If you were naked, do you think you could worship God? attend classes? talk to members of the opposite sex? Explain. Do you accept your body the way it is? Why or why not? What would you change, if you could? How else might you be able to boost your self-image?

Scripture links: Genesis 2:25; 3; Psalm 139:13-16; John 13:1-5; 21:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Copyright Group Publishing, Inc. May/Jun 2004

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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