San Francisco nudity: the people’s view

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank God for clouds! As I’ve learned via the news on TV and the internet over the past couple of days, there’s no ban on public nudity in San Francisco. So, there’s a chance that the fog acts like a huge fig leaf censuring the inappropriateness. Okay, maybe not. But, the city is considering the ban because of the effects it’s having on the community.

Could you imagine it? While walking down the street with your children doing some window shopping, a man strolls by in the buff. Yikes! Apparently, the people in the city are beginning to feel the same way.

And once again, the public casts our votes with our dollars. The reason that this discussion is coming up – at least in the report that I saw on NBC – is because businesses are losing patrons. As important as freedom is, there is a limit to what people are willing to tolerate. So this discussion, as far as local politics is concerned, is less moral than practical. It’s a pretty smart approach that prevents outrage that could result from a decision that would be considered a moral fight in a city that is known for resisting such standards.

Maybe they’re on to something.

In the Outreach Magazine article “Staying On Message” (Nov/Dec 2012), the number one detour Larry Osborne encourages Christians to avoid in their conversations with people who aren’t Christians is an argument about morality. That’s probably the one thing we can be sure that we don’t have in common. Otherwise, why would judgementalism be the primary reason people don’t go to church?

Feel free to not try to fix people using your Christian morals when they’re not even Christians. Bill Hybels, in his book Just Walk Across The Room, calls those types of Christians the Morality Police. He suggests that it is silly to apply Christian morals to people who haven’t put their faith in him. And, it isn’t effective.

Jesus hung out with sinners. I wonder what they talked about around the table? My guess is that Jesus laughed a lot and enjoyed the company of his friends – even the immoral ones. As passionate as he was about the Good News, maybe his approach was less moral than practical at times. After all, it’s hard to relax with a guy that’s always trying to pick a fight. It’s even harder to hear what he has to say.

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10 thoughts on “San Francisco nudity: the people’s view

  1. Hmmm. Idk. I think there needs to be some balance. To say we shouldn’t speak of morality with unbelievers at all is a far stretch from saying we shouldn’t be bible-thumping morality police people. Two extremes. IMHO, when I’m in mixed company or hanging out with those I know are unconverted, I don’t avoid speaking the truth in love…ever. But I also do not constantly have an ulterior agenda for our conversations which just so happens to *always* include a right vs. wrong argument.

    On the other hand, though, I am who I am and the Lord is my Lord…and so I will speak of Him and His Word whenever He just so happens to come up in conversation…which is usually frequent because He and His Word are central to my life. So idk…it’s not as though we condescend argumentatively when speaking of right vs. wrong, it’s more like we speak honestly about what we believe and live naturally…just like every other person does (Christian or non-Christian.) I think these kind of relationships are always more about transparency and a willingness to be a true friend than they are about forcing a 3-point gospel presentation in at every meeting OR avoiding making mention of the truth altogether. These relationships are about being real…and that is what my generation is starving for. I would venture to say that we don’t care if you’re black, white, punk, prep, religious, or atheist. We want real. And real for me means speaking about the God I love as well as His moral statues when controvesial subjects come up in conversation.

    Also, we would do well to consider the early church. Did Paul shy away from moral arugments? Did Jesus? Did they hammer people with the truth? I believe they did neither. They spoke the truth in love and did their very best to relate to those whom they were trying to reach. And what were they trying to reach people with? The gospel…so it’s not really about morality anyway. It’s about the gospel. And if you’re going to preach the gospel, eventually, you’re going to *have* to address moral issues. Morality doesn’t save people, but saved people are moral people. =)

    • Well put. It’s a tough balance. I believe that if we can present our beliefs as our beliefs instead of pushing them on everyone else, then they are more willing to hear what we have to say. It gets really complicated when views on morality in our community (Gay marriage, public nudity, etc.) come into play because I can’t help but recognize that they are trying to push their views on me. And, as you so aptly put it, I am who I am. I will not minimize or compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      Just last week I was at a coffee time with international students at Youngstown State University. Many were Muslim, and it isn’t the point of the gathering to convert. If it were, nobody would come. Anyway, one of the kids started talking about God and so it opened the door for me. Two of the kids at the table were Muslim, but the conversation was cordial because of the small talk that had led up to it (and they didn’t know I was a pastor at first).

      This is tough to be sure, but we’ll work on it ’til we get it right, Lori!

      • I just dealt with a situation like this…where I was the one whose rights were being violated and infringed upon…yet when I said so, the firestorm began about ‘you can’t judge me’ and ‘what kind of Christian tells people they are wrong?’

        I just seem to think that whether we bring morality into the equation or leave it out, the issue really comes down to the exact same thing…is there absolute truth and if so, who’s to say what it is? Because really, either way, it’s just a battle of what I prefer vs. what you prefer.

        That’s why this country made laws to protect the people from one another. You can do whatever you want and I’m certainly no one to tell you that you shouldn’t…but if and when your decisions injure and violate me or my rights and beliefs, you are simply no longer entitled to carry them out in public. No moral fight about it…it’s about mutual respect. So I say do whatever you want…it’s a free country… just don’t do it in front of me.

        The left has taken their crusade to intimidate and indoctrinate everyone so far that tolerance no longer means to agree to disagree and coexist peacefully. It now means we must accept and approve of all that they choose to do or else we’re being intolerant hatemongers. And I’m just not willing to stand around and take that kind of absurd abuse without a fight.

  2. 1 Corinthians 5 is probably helpful: What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.

    But yes, if there was a place of constant nudity, I’d probably avoid it. I don’t think that makes someone a “prude” or old-fashioned. If they have a choice to go unclothed, we also have a choice to not be there. Freedom goes both ways.

    I’d also add that moral outrage looks very different in America. People here feel entitled to the silliest things. There are still citizens of other nations fighting for their basic right to live. I think Apostle Paul falls into the latter end of the spectrum: he prioritized his morality for the basic dignity of human life.

    • You’d “probably” avoid it? Talk about being real! (Ha!) Though I imagine your tone as being a bit sarcastic.

      You are certainly correct about moral outrage looking different in America. I was going to suggest that it a side effect of such a large percentage of our population being okay with morality as a moving target, but even genuine Christians in the western world fall into the trap of fighting the lesser fights because the more significant ones don’t hit close enough to home.

      Nice. You had to go all Bible on me with 1 Corinthians 5 (Cause I failed to!). Great reference to back up the point. And, prioritizing morality for the basic dignity of human life is a great way to go. Thanks JS. I’m honored that you take the time to read and comment.

    • I agree. I’ve recently dealt with this with both believers and unbelievers. This is what I’ve been considering…

      How are we to differentiate between “passing judgement” on a person and “making a judgement” about a person? Because we really do need to know bc one we are told NOT to do and the other we are told TO do.

      Here’s the key: In the former, one person writes another off as inferior and hopeless and condescends that person because of their sin while justifying their own sin. In the latter, one person assesses the actions of another professing believer and holds them accountable for the faith they claim to possess while humbly admitting their own faults as well. The first is done out of hatred. The second is done out of love.

      We would do well to learn the difference. Because even within the world and unbelievers, we must make judgements even to differentiate between believers and unbelievers (although some are quite obvious.) Passing judgement is different than making a judgement and being wise about who we’re dealing with and how to deal with them biblically.

      • True. I think the word “judgment” has taken on a solely negative connotation, much like the word “discrimination”. The positive side is forgotten, and possibly the thought behind it as well. The final judgment will be very bad for those who have rejected salvation through Jesus Christ, but for those of us who have it will be awesome! Similarly, our judgment about what is right and what is wrong is entirely within our rights, and is in fact our responsibility as followers of the Holy One. Great point, Lori.

    • You’d think so. It hasn’t happened so much with this one yet. It may be one of those posts that keeps getting visits for months after it’s posted, though. Strangely enough, a post I did on Mara Wilson (the actress who played the girl in the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire”) on April 18, still gets several visitors every week. It’s hard to figure out the insanity of this whole blogging thing.

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