An Artist Statement
Brief History of Nudity and the Church

Living Granite nude by Allio

Amber Lee

Brief History of
Nudity and the Church

An Artist Statement

The real issue of nudity and the church began in 27BC with the emergence of Augustus - the first emperor of Rome. Once in office, Augustus proclaimed himself as the supreme moral legislator.

By the third century, the Roman empire was falling prey to invasions from the Barbarians. In order to fight back, Emperor Constantine aligned the Roman government with the emerging Christian Church.

With the fall of the Roman empire, when the Goths ransacked Rome in 410AD, Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine, using the name of the church, corrupted traditional ideals and established new standards for nudity and morality. Their goal was to enforce personal preferences - primarily antagonistic to the historic beliefs of the contemporary Romans and earlier Greeks. Those prejudicial declarations of the Fifth Century clergy continue to be endorsed by the modern religious establishment as perfect moral standards.

"Christian morality did not originally preclude nudity, but by the Fifth Century the anti-body philosophy adopted by the church fathers was so entrenched that Saint Jerome considered it immoral for a Christian virgin to bathe in the nude - even if alone." stated Ray Bowen Ward, a professor at Miami University.

Perverted by power, Saint Augustine using the influence of his religious title declared that there was only one church approved physical alignment for male/female intercourse. According to Saint Augustine, sex in anything other than what became known as the Missionary Position was deemed to be sinful.

In 1506AD, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Later, Pope Paul IV asked Michelangelo to censor the nude paintings. The artist reportedly responded, "Tell the Pope that this is a small matter and it can easily be made suitable; let him make the world a suitable place and the painting will soon follow suit."

"His disciples asked, 'When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?'
Jesus answered, 'When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments
and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them,
then will you see the son of the Living One, and you will not be afraid'."

- Gnostic Gospel of Thomas -

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