Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Something people don't like to talk about:

I have recurring dreams about being naked. Many times I am in public, often I am trying to take a shower and people are watching or won't give me any privacy, and though the dream might begin with my feeling confident and secure, it usually ends with shame and frustration getting the better part of me. Now, if you are a professional psychoanalyst, I am sure you have a ready diagnosis, but let me offer a few observations of my own.

Despite being a somewhat shy person, I have little trouble revealing some very private things when I think there is a point to be made. I have shared these dreams with people on several occasions, and there are always two reactions.

1. People listen politely and then pretend they never heard it. And if I bring it up again, they either change the topic or leave the conversation. There are some things people are just not comfortable talking about.


2. A few people respond by taking me aside (for some reason it has always been men) and wanting to speak to me about their own disturbing dreams regarding sexual matters. Ugh! My dreaming about nakedness seems to make them think I am qualified to hear all about their deviant desires. I kindly but firmly direct them to a male counselor as quickly as possible.

Avoidance or perversion can't be the only two responses! So what's the big deal about nakedness? Mankind is naturally naked. We were created naked, in fact, this was our perfect state! Covering the body only became necessary after sin and guilt and shame entered the equation. Isn't it strange that we have managed to turn this 'cloak of shame' into not only a huge industry, but an art form of sorts, a status indicator, and a national obsession? So what was the original intent of clothing? Plain and simple, it was a symbol of our need to have our sinfulness covered in the presence of a holy God. The first people tried to make due with a few leaves, but God replaced their inadequate covering with something more appropriate: animal skins. Blood had to be shed to cover the effects of sin. I am not going to get into the ethics of leather and natural versus man-made fabrics. Suffice it to say that we have come a long way since those first hairy tunics. Much of today's fashion exhibits a sort of dichotomy in that it covers to some extent while at the same time tries to reveal. Unfortunately, nakedness has come to be equated with sexuality and I believe that is just so far from the truth.

Because of our seedy history, the naked body has lost its innocence, that is true, but there is still something about the human form that is inherently beautiful. Some artists have found a way to see and represent that without perversion, but it is admittedly a most difficult thing to portray with purity, especially in adults. In babies or children, we acknowledge it much more readily. Most of us Christians, though proclaiming to be redeemed from sin, still live with the effects of it every day, and quite comfortably. We have grown accustomed to the trappings associated with our downfall. We actually enjoy acquiring and wearing clothes. Many people derive their living from the field of medicine and pharmaceuticals and count on sickness being around for a long time in order to feed their families. The justice system does not stamp out crime, but merely attempts to manage it in such a way that society can continue to function.

So are we to accept the effects of sin or chafe against them as if they were bondage? I think for the most part, we have simply grown tired of the effort required to truly believe and live in redemption. It is much easier to embrace things as they are and really, they aren't all that bad, right? That's the first lie.

So what do my naked dreams mean? I believe they are a cry for innocence, a desire to be known as the person God created, to be free from shame and the man-made coverings that promise to make me more attractive to my fellow sinners, and to be able to confess and come clean with dignity and confidence that righteousness is really possible.

I don't think the world is ready for Christians everywhere to strip off their clothes (we are certainly not purehearted enough to handle it!) and I am not advocating joining the nearest nudist colony, but I think it is time to stop running and hiding like Adam and Eve did.

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