Nipples, Sexism and Racism

Hawkgrrrl adultery, apostasy, church, Culture, curiosity, diversity, fear, feminism, Folklore, Humor, LDS, marriage, missionary, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, news, pornography, questioning, race, racism, religion, sexuality, thought, Utah 95 Comments

There was an interesting article in Time recently about Facebook’s censorship of pics with nips, specifically eliminating pictures of breastfeeding moms (and, in their defense, a few of topless women who just happened to be holding babies).  But, this brought up an age-old question of Mormondom:  why are there no nipples on the Nephites in the BOM vids?As expected, the Time article focused on the “merry war” betwixt the voyeurs (er, “shocked and outraged Facebook customers” or “trigger-happy censors” depending on your perspective) and the exhibitionists (uhm, “militant lesbian feminists” or “health-conscious nurturers” depending on your perspective).  But it also raised a few important questions about this very specific form of censorship:

  • Double Standards:  Breast vs. Bottle.  Is breastfeeding shameful or obscene?  Should breastfed babies be neither seen nor heard at least in “the act”?  Perhaps bottle-fed babies should also be closeted away in fairness or stuffed under a hot blanket for cover.  Who is to blame:  the baby or the mother?
  • Double Standards:  Sexism.  Does the female nipple have special powers not housed in the male nipple?  After all, males are capable of both lactation and breast cancer.  Is this bias strictly because men are more visually stimulated by women than women are by men?  Other examples of female nipple prudery:
    • “topless” models at BYU must wear bathing suit tops
    • Barbie has no nipples.  Except the ones we poked into her with a pin.  Ouch!
    • Thanks to TiVO, Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” had 125% viewership, meaning people who were watching TV watched it on average 1.25 times.  That would not have happened if 1) she had actually had a wardrobe malfunction (and it had stayed intact) and 2) access to nipple imagery was commonplace and 3) it had been an exposed male nipple.
  • Double Standards:  Racism.  And why are only native people portrayed topless with their nipples brushed out (or never brushed in)?  Could they have instead done the Mike Myers thing where they hold up various potted plants or small woodland animals to hide the naughty bits?
  • Extreme prudery.  If men’s visible nipples are perfectly acceptable in polite society (including YM/YW pool parties–you can’t airbrush actual nipples off an actual chest), why are they too obscene for Mormon BOM vids and temple murals featuring topless native people?  Other examples of male nipple prudery:
    • Rodin’s statue “The Kiss” was deemed too racy.
    • ZCMI attempted to censor be-nippled male mannequins and Tarzan comics.
    • The famed copy of David in the British Museum comes with a detachable fig leaf that could be used to cover his naughty bits when Victorian ladies came to the exhibit.  Nips were okay, though.  It takes a lot of prudery to out-prude the Victorians!
    • Chad Hardy’s calendar of shirtless missionaries could be added here, although the objection was more due to brand image rather than the male nipple per se.

Here are a few thoughts on the topic from various ends of the spectrum:

“While it wouldn’t be hard to come up with examples of Mormon literature that convey a sense of repressed or frustrated sexuality, rarely do we find Mormon artists and writers willing to celebrate the beauty of the naked body.”  Hugo Olaiz

“Michaelangelo’s David is a prototype of pornography.”  Orem high school sophomore at a Scorn Porn rally

““Don’t be paralyzed by prudery. Don’t fall into the opposite excess of pornography.”  Levi Peterson

Is this (pardon the expression) making a mountain out of a molehill or does the mere site of male nips send you into a frenzy of sin?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 95

  1. Interesting post Hawkgrrrl

    Im teaching Gospel Doctrine next week this would be an interesting topic vs the D&C

    Does BYU swim team wear the go fast one piecers now!!

    Did Adam have nipples?

    Sounds ridiculous, but men only have nipples because human babies are initially female and only become male during development. Adam never had to develop in a womb so logically he wouldn’t have nipples much like he wouldn’t have a belly button.

  2. Meh?

    This is one of those things where I just can’t get all worked up over either side. Either the presence of male nips or the airbrushing of nips. Let’s face it, in the USA and much of western culture, female breasts are highly sexualized–nipples especially. This is also true of many other cultures, but not all. Male & female nips include erogenous zones (lot’s of nerve endings, most specifically).

    As far as airbrushing out nips? Meh. I just can’t care that much. Either way. It’s one of those things where I’d certainly never take the energy to bother, but neither does it matter to me if someone else does.

  3. “bridle all your passions” Alma 38:12

    Hawkgrrl–this short, but insightful admonition from a father to a son opens the door to a scriptural discussion on this topic.

    As a parent, how do you teach your children how to “bridle” their passions? As we all know, men and women differ here, how do you deal with these differences?

    Here are a few other questions. How does your family deal with them?

    1. Do you control access to the internet?
    2. What TV programs are allowed?
    3. What movies are allowed, at home or at the show?
    4. What age do you teach your children they can begin to date?

    If you not a parent, how would you answers these questions if you were?

    Thanks for your post.

  4. I have no idea why nipples are what needs to be covered, as men have them too, but I didn’t realize that they were airbrushed out of murals and art etc. That is kinda weird.

    I wrote a post a few days ago on the facebook fiasco, and have a picture up of the surprisingly covered up mother that started the who fiasco. They allow all kinds of borderline pornographic ads, while taking down the other pics. It seems to me that there is no money behind nursing mothers.

  5. I think i may start an argument, or at the very least cause some eyes to roll when i take issue with something James said in his post above.

    “Adam never had to develop in a womb so logically he wouldn’t have nipples much like he wouldn’t have a belly button.”

    In what book of scripture did you read that Adam wasnt developed in the womb?

  6. Aaron, no, that is an interesting point that I missed, although I don’t know how serious James was about his statement. I’m guessing not very. But the debate on that however, would all be speculation, imo.

  7. I think that our taboo on the female breast and especially breastfeeding is not only counterproductive but damaging to our children. This is what they are made for folks!

    Ask your self the question. . .is your body inherently pornographic or holy? Is just the state of being nude or partly nude pornographic, or is it the perverted design/purpose of an image that makes it pornography?

    If we are truly created in the image of God as children of God, then our body in it’s natural state is holy. . . meant for a holy purpose. What could be more natural and holy than a mother using her God given gifts to feed a child?

  8. Aaron, Adam, James – I think the Adam not having a belly button dates to an old riddle. There are two totally naked couples standing side-by-side. One couple is Adam & Eve. How do you know which ones they are? (Answer: the ones without belly buttons). I said it was old, not necessarily good.

    Benjamin O. – I somewhat agree with your meh. But OTOH, the brushed out male nipples seems pretty funny to me as well as the whipped up frenzy over the statue of David.

  9. Another slow day here on MM, I guess. I found the whole Facebook thing rather strange. first of all, my wife breast-fed all other kids so I certainly do not have a problem with it. And I do not see a problem with discreetly doing it in public. After all, a kid’s gotta eat! But, I don’t get women who need to flaunt the fact that they breast feed their kids. What do they want, a medal? So, the idea of a picture on Facebook of they breastfeeding their kid is weird to me.

    Men, instinctively, are sexual aroused by just about anything. Even Mormon men. God made us that way. So, the idea of seeing a female breast/nipple is a temptation we all don’t want to admit to.

  10. We live in an age of extremes – those who want no limits on sexual expression and those who fight that extreme by supporting censorship of all sexual expression. As members of an institution with a “sexual morality base”, it is easy for members of the Church to gravitate toward the “out-victorian-ing the Victorians” stance you describe – and that is unfortunate, imo. I agree totally with the need to understand and avoid porn, but I also lament the approach of labeling everything with even a hint of sexuality as porn.

    See Reading Twilight Through the Lens of My Mormon Youth

    PaulW’s #7 is spot-on. We don’t teach that the body is a horrible curse and the original cause of worldly sin. Airbrushing nipples out of pictures is a great example of our over-sensitivity to all things sexual, and I really do think it is destructive (warping) in a real way. I believe the issue should not be whether or not nipples are visible, but whether or not the actual image is appropriate. If the image itself is appropriate, nipples (or any other part of the anatomy) are appropriate; if the image itself is inappropriate, nipples (or any other part of the anatomy) are inappropriate. I think our obsession with the anatomical has dulled our senses to the real, root, moral issues – and, ironically, allowed more of what really is pornographic to be created and distributed by airbrushing out the minor details (or covering them with a bikini the size of a couple of Band-Aids with some dental floss).

  11. #9 – “my wife breast-fed all other kids so I certainly do not have a problem with it.”

    All “other” kids – like the neighborhood kids? 🙂 (Sorry; couldn’t resist.)

  12. “Men, instinctively, are sexual aroused by just about anything. Even Mormon men. God made us that way. So, the idea of seeing a female breast/nipple is a temptation we all don’t want to admit to.”

    Gender essentialism strikes again!

  13. “Gender essentialism strikes again!”

    Big fancy academic words declaring the plainly obvious can’t possibly be real. That strikes again!

    Let’s do a test. All the hetero guys that get aroused by bare-chested, beautiful women stand over there (Valoel points to one side of the room). All you hetero guys that could care less, you stand over there (Valoel points to the other side of the roomo).

    See? Look at the results 🙂

  14. On a serious note, yes. The airbrushing is far more wierd than the images of our bodies. Wierd…

    If we didn’t make such a big deal out of nudity, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I lived in Germany for a couple years, and they sun bathe in public parks topless there. They have advertisements in store windows and billboards with partial nude people in them. Breastfeeding in public is not even noticed.

    It isn’t a big deal, because they don’t make a big deal out of it.

    My wife did long-term breastfeeding with all our many children. And yes, she did breastfeed other children a couple times. She was one of those more activists types at the time.

  15. @ 9.

    “I don’t get women who need to flaunt the fact that they breast feed their kids…the idea of a picture on Facebook of they breastfeeding their kid is weird to me.”

    This is the really under-appreciated and under-addressed question in the whole debate. Like some people have commented above, I just don’t really care one way or the other what Facebook allows or doesn’t allow, or what is porn and what is art. To me, the more interesting question is what on earth makes a person want to put pictures of themselves nursing on a social networking site. And please don’t say that it’s some kind of beautiful mommy-baby-experience, because then you leave yourself in the position of explaining why pictures of all the other kind of mommy-baby-experiences (say, vaginal birth, or onesie-blowouts, or stretch marks, or not washing your hair or getting dressed beyond sweats and a t-shirt for 2 weeks) aren’t posted.

    Please help me understand.

  16. “To me, the more interesting question is what on earth makes a person want to put pictures of themselves nursing on a social networking site.” That IS a great question. I’m personally not a fan of people whipping out a breast in any public forum; it just seems socially awkward to me. Yet, there is enormous pride and self-congratulation among breast-feeding enthusiasts about their willingness to suckle the way God intended or whatever.

  17. Oh Yeah, Well, what about this:

    Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?(Numbers 11:12)

  18. @ 17.

    I understand the pride and self-congratulation for breast-feeding. I don’t understand the need to for photographic proof to the masses. Wouldn’t a simple status update like “Jane Doe just let her baby suck milk out of her breasts” suffice? Is she concerned people won’t believe it? Moreover, the very fact that people KNOW many people find such pictures awkward/offensive/stupid and post them anyway indicates a less-than-self-congratulatory motivation.

  19. #17 – which leads to the question of whether God intended breast-feeding to be a private (or discreet) or public (or flaunted) activity. Since I think the answer is, “I have no clue whatsoever,” and since I think it depends totally on the sexualization of the particular society, I lean toward moderation in all things – meaning publicly discreet or private in our modern, American society and more public openness in others. I just don’t think there is a God-sanctioned, universal norm.

  20. Ray left a great quotes that I want to highlight:

    “our obsession with the anatomical has dulled our senses to the real, root, moral issues – and, ironically, allowed more of what really is pornographic to be created and distributed by airbrushing out the minor details…”

    I completely agree. Why is something not considered pornographic when some very small details are covered, but everything else is showing and the intent is obviously for sexual arousal?

  21. Wow, some of you seem so anti-breastfeeding. . .if a woman breast feeds(as she should) she is at the mercy of her baby. Many people have either the choice to sequester themselves in there homes for 1-2 years for each child or breastfeed when required, where they are. Many places don’t have accommodation for women to feed their child in “private” unless you want them to feed in a toilet stall.

    I’m sorry folks but this is what “they” are for. Breasts are not sexual objects or toys. They are a useful beautiful part of the human body and our children and the public should see them being used as such. I’m not saying that a woman should just go around flaunting her breasts. What I am saying is that this cultural taboo we have is damaging to our view of women and the human body.

  22. Regarding PaulW’s comment:

    “Breasts are not sexual objects or toys. They are a useful beautiful part of the human body and our children and the public should see them being used as such. ”

    I am married and have very young children. To them, their mothers breasts are not sexual objects or toys. I am a 29 year old man however, and to most 29 year old men breasts ARE sexual objects (and toys:P). This is what tends to get my goat on public breast feeding.

    You wont get many arguments against breastfeeding being a natural and beautiful thing. I definately wont argue that. The issue is not the beauty of it but the location in which a woman chooses to participate in such a beautiful act. The fact is that men the desire to resist ogling at a womans breasts can be hard enough to overcome when they arent on public display.

  23. I meant my last sentence to read thusly:

    The fact is that for most men the desire to resist ogling at a womans breasts can be hard enough to overcome when they arent on public display. It can be practically impossible. Or am I the only one?

  24. “The fact is that for most men the desire to resist ogling at a womans breasts can be hard enough to overcome when they arent on public display. It can be practically impossible.”

    You know, I go through some of exactly what you are describing here myself (I’m just barely 30). This is what I’m trying to describe as the problem here. It’s not healthy. You and I have this reaction because our society has conditioned us to do so. We have been damaged.

    I do have to say though, when I have seen a mother breastfeeding a child I’m not thinking, “man I’d like to give those things a squeeze”.

  25. Re: # 13,

    “Men, instinctively, are sexual aroused by just about anything. Even Mormon men. God made us that way. So, the idea of seeing a female breast/nipple is a temptation we all don’t want to admit to.”

    Yes, sexual attraction is instinctive. But the sexualization of female nipples (but not male nipples) is cultural. If we weren’t conditioned to think of female nipples in sexual terms, I doubt that instinctive male urges would kick in at the mere sight of a bare nipple (breastfeeding or otherwise).

  26. Okay, I have to chime in, because the tone and words of some of the comments really bother me. I absolutely can’t stand this attitude among most Westerners and Mormons that by breastfeeding in public and not being “discreet” (I’m assuming you mean everything hidden away under the blanket), the breastfeeding mom is at fault for “stimulating” men. Grow up, men (and some women too!) A woman has to curtail nursing her children because you might get turned on? She’s at fault??? There is something seriously wrong with this message. And it’s the same message we give the young women time and again that *they* are responsible for the young men’s self-control or lack thereof. Where is the personal accountability?

    Okay, Meg, down girl. Deep breath. I’m sorry if I am giving offense to those who have already chimed in, but this is a hot button for me. I did not grow up in this country and absolutely do not understand the attitude that public breastfeeding – even if you happen to get a peep of the nipple in the transition of baby on or off the breast – is in any way wrong.

    (Not having looked at Facebook, I can’t comment on why women are posting pictures of themselves breatfeeding.)

  27. P.S. I should have said fellow Mormons, so no one thinks I’m attacking Mormons. I’m just going on my experiences at church in the U.S. and in the wide, wide world.

  28. Meg,

    there are two issues here you are interweaving:

    1. Heterosexual men are generally sexually aroused at the sight of women, period. The fact that some women might be on display in some way only makes it more so. It’s not the woman’s fault, it’s biology. We are not blaming women for that god-given fact of life.

    2. We are commenting on some women’s need to expose themselves while breastfeeding, in public or on Facebook. Most of us are not objecting to discrete breastfeeding, in private or in public, only the fact that some women seem to like to expose themselves for no apparent reason.

  29. Meg, I am the one who used the word “discreet”. When I used it, I only meant “modestly unobtrusive.” By that I simply meant “not in a flaunting manner” – like, “I’m going to take off my shirt and latch my baby onto a nipple with my other breast fully exposed to one and all, you Neanderthal males be damned.” I’m not talking burkas and extensive hiding. My wife can breastfeed in Sacrament Meeting, and I won’t bat an eye – as long as she is discreet about it by not calling attention to herself in the process. If someone else wants to be offended by that, it’s there problem.

    Balance my statement about discretion with my other comments about over-sexualizing everything.

  30. You are the only one Aron S. 🙂
    One thin we all do several times a day is going to the bathroom. I have never heard of unisex bathrooms with open toilets. Or maybe public street toilets; just sitting on the corners. I hope this doesn’t make me anti- going to the bathroom something or other. Just because one answer makes you appear intellectually superior or politically correct doesn’t make it right. If something is natural; you can count on it being against God.

  31. Sorry Ray, it wasn’t your use of “discreet” I took exception to, in fact I didn’t take exception to anything you said; I did balance it out, I promise. 🙂 And I appreciated what you said. It’s just that reading some of the comments dredged up the times I have been told that my nursing during sacrament meeting can never be discreet. “It’s just a little sacriligious, don’t you think…to be doing such an intimate act in SACRAMENT MEETING.” Someone actually said that to me. One person’s discreet is another person’s burka. (Although Arab women are not opposed to showing breasts when nursing, just as long as their heads stay covered.)

    And please don’t think that I think all men are pigs. 🙂 ‘Cause some of the roughest comments I’ve had come from women.

    As for the blatant exposure: some women may feel the need to thumb their nose -or breast- at the sexualization of it all. Not sure.

  32. Jared – not at all. I think I overlooked your questions (which would be a fine post in their own right), but here goes:
    1. Do you control access to the internet? Yes – always in a public place, and no internet on kids’ phones.
    2. What TV programs are allowed? Parental locks are set to PG-13 and TV-14. When content causes our kids to ask questions that might not otherwise come up at their age, we stop watching those shows.
    3. What movies are allowed, at home or at the show? We look for content and try to read what is objectionable specifically. Although we don’t live in UT, we check Jeff Vice’s recaps for content – they are much more specific and helpful.
    4. What age do you teach your children they can begin to date? 16, although my kids are under 16 still.

    I’m not clear how you link those questions to the questions raised in the post. I have taken my kids through the Louvre, for example, which is full of Renaissance art that includes a lot of nudity. I try to explain the difference between historically significant art (allowed) and erotica (not allowed), although I admit that they were not big fans of nude art.

  33. OK, Bengt Washburn to the rescue.

    He starts with circumcision, but gets into the creation:
    “Yes, Eve, very good, I like her better with the breasts on the front, she can feed the baby and keep an eye on him.”
    “Adam, yes I like the matching useless nipples.”

    Warning: It is a little sacreligious. (But, I loved it.)

  34. “Is breastfeeding shameful or obscene?’

    Nah, you ought to do a mission in South America. There moms on buses and trains will just flip one out to feed a restless baby (and sometimes toddler) and all the men and women on board are thankful she does (that is shutting the kid up). No one see’s it in any way sexual or bad; the mom and the baby certainly don’t so why should anyone else?

    Interesting though is that I never saw a mom breast feeding a baby in church -maybe due to gringo influence?

    Its probably what’s left from Victorian age stuckupedness that judges public breast feeding as somehow bad -and seeing natives nude as normal since they were subhuman for victorian society!!

    ……………………

    “After all, males are capable of both lactation and breast cancer.”

    What the….? Say what……? so men with man boobs should get checked for breast cancer? and maybe get a patch……this is all too much for me 🙂

  35. ““Breasts are not sexual objects or toys”

    Dam!!

    Is there something psychologically wrong with me because I do see them as ‘toys’ when a baby isn’t around?

    But then again when the baby is there happily eating his dinner its more than enough to stop any balanced man from ogling, shouldn’t it? Same with seeing a vaginal birth….nope, can’t ‘ogle’ then.

    But then again I got this not so long ago in my work email:

    “This is not a joke. It came from the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Great news for girl watchers: Ogling over women’s breasts is good for a man’s health and can add years to his life, medical experts have discovered. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out” declared gerontologist Dr. Karen Weatherby”

    I hope it’s true….I’ll live till I’m 150 then!!!!

  36. I see that the mention of female breast has already brought out the “stud” mentality in a few. I don’t think our sisters understand, or ever will, the power of attraction the Creator placed in men; I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, the commandment is to bridle our passions so we can be filled love, and not lust.

    I don’t think Dr. Weatherby is conversant in the Doctrine of Christ.

    Hawkgrrrl said: I’m not clear how you link those questions to the questions raised in the post.

    When I read your post it called to mind something I have seen with LDS parents, even those who are estranged from the church, they are very conservative in teaching their children about sexuality. They know the power for good or ill it has. My point is that Heavenly Father is pleased with us when we do as we teach are children. Otherwise, our children will pick up on the double standard and will be prone to follow the natural man instead of the Spirit because of the duplicity of their parents.

    Failing to bridle our passions is a leading cause for members to lose their testimony. It is seldom admitted, or even realized by some, but is the driving force behind apostasy of all kinds. I see all sorts of reasons brought forth why one is having trouble with their testimony, but failure to bridle passions, particularly sexual passion, is nearly always part of the equation. The Spirit’s influence withdraws and the adversary’s moves in.

    I’m sure, not all will agree with this, that’s alright, I’m a witness to the power evil spirits wield. They delight in the fact most members give them no thought, thereby under estimating their influence.

  37. Jared, I agree with the fundamental point you are making, but the following simply is overly broad and, in my own experience, incorrect:

    “I see all sorts of reasons brought forth why one is having trouble with their testimony, but failure to bridle passions, particularly sexual passion, is nearly always part of the equation.”

    I can’t agree that we can equate sexual promiscuity of some sort with nearly all cases of struggles with a testimony. I have see those charges incorrectly levied against individuals who are struggling, and it has been the final push out the door in almost every case.

    We quote Matthew 7:1 all the time, but the next verse gets shorted far too often – and is MUCH more applicable to how we view each other than many people realize:

    1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

    I don’t want others to speculate about why I have my own trials, so I try hard to keep from speculating about why they have theirs.

  38. Hi Ray–I didn’t say sexual promiscuity, you used this term. My thought on this subject is that in our day, a day when evil is called good, and good evil, a time when the media uses sex to promote everything to bring in the all-mighty dollar because it is a proven method–our society is reeling. The family is the target and there is no better way to hurt the family than to pervert concepts of sexuality.

    Promiscuity is one element of not bridling our passion. Look at the impact of pornography and violence in our society (a person can be addicted to pornography and not be promiscuous) The reason the Lord brought the flood in Noah’s day was due to violence. Sexual perversion isn’t mentioned, but is part of the reason for violence.

    The earth was corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence.
    And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.
    And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth. Moses 8:28 – 30

    Regarding judgment. We are commanded to judge and we’re required by circumstances to do it nearly every day. Would you hire a suspected child molester to baby sit your children? Of course not. I suggest a careful reading of the Dallin Oaks talk. Following is a quote from it:

    I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. Ensign, Aug. 1999, p. 7.

    I feel my comments fall into the category of “intermediate judgments”.

    When a person is not obtaining answers to their prayers there is a reason for it. I feel that not bridling ones passion is a major cause.

    We may not agree to a 100% level (I would guess 85%), but I sure appreciate your insightful comments. I have lots to learn and I have learned a lot from you and others who make share their thoughts in a respectful way.

  39. Jared, respectfully, you’re ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’

    Next thing overweight men will be forced to cover up (because of their man boobs).

    Its only a baby having his dinner, nothing more. There’s no reason why we should condemn a baby’s feeding.

    But maybe there is a problem with the racism bit. Why is it OK to see a discovery channel doco with topless Papua New Guinea women but not topless BYU female students? there’s the real problem.

    We shouldn’t see either of them off course -unless the BYU student is breastfeeding, then its just a baby having his lunch.

  40. CarlosJC–I never said a word about breast feeding. I went on a church mission to a country where the missionaries had to adapt to giving the Joseph Smith story while sitting on a red hot floor (in winter) while the young, and I might add, beautiful wife openly breast fed a baby. Of course, this wasn’t erotic in anyway, just took a little getting used to.

    I would think, if we suddenly found our society accepting women going topless, it wouldn’t be long before it wasn’t a big deal for many, but not all. The amount of flesh showing isn’t what leads to the break down of morality. I think it has more to do with how society views accountability to God. In the 50’s there was an unspoken ideal that individuals and nations were accountable to God. Nowadays, there is an unspoken hostility to God evident in denying his existants, or portraying believers as being uniformed or fools.

  41. I’ve always thought it was interesting that, considering what the ancient Nephite women must have been wearing, there isn’t a single call to modesty in the Book of Mormon. We hear about how expensive their clothes were, but no exhortations to cover their mammaries. Were all of these pleas for modesty excised because they weren’t needed in Joseph Smith’s day?

  42. Jared, we are defining “promiscuous” differently.

    You said, “failure to bridle passions, particularly sexual passion, is nearly always part of the equation.” When I used “sexual promiscuity”, I meant simply, “lacking standards of selection; indiscriminate; casual; random.” That is precisely what happens when sexual passions are not “bridled”; they lose the control of selection and become indiscriminate, casual and/or random.

    Again, I just don’t see that as “nearly always part of the equation.”

  43. Well, we can go back to the Garden of Eden for the lesson: God gave Adam and Eve clothing to “cover their nakedness.” So he must of wanted it covered. In spite of societal norms in many parts of the world, it seems clear God directed modesty.

  44. Jeff, That after they ate the fruit, correct? They didn’t care about their nakedness until they fell. So perhaps part of being in the fallen world is that we need to be covered, e.g. God sees everything but is not corrupted by it like we can be.

  45. Huh…

    At the risk of ruining my reputation…

    Has anyone considered that maybe the reason men find women’s breasts sexually attractive is because they are used for breast feeding? And are therefor connected to childbearing and raising- something that ought to be a turn-on for men.

    Maybe I’m just weird, but to me, babies and sex are inseparably connected. I mean, even my dreams tend to connect the two. But then I actually want babies, and that’s one of the things that makes me want sex- cause that’s how you get babies.

    Thus breast feeding is evidence of fertility and good mothering that should make a woman attractive to a man? Some married men have agreed with me on this, but single men apparently do not agree.

    It seems to me thinking my way should be normal, but it apparently is not at all. Instead the opposite is the case that people want sex without the babies- and therefor you would expect breast feeding to be a turn off for those men- and yet it doesn’t seem to be.

    Of course, maybe everybody in today’s society is so dreadfully confused about sexuality that there aren’t any consistent standards.

  46. Cicero,

    “Has anyone considered that maybe the reason men find women’s breasts sexually attractive is because they are used for breast feeding?”

    Dude?? what the…? Actually they are attractive because they bounce around and we don’t have them (except the fat guys) and they taste like latex when they aren’t leaking!!

    “”Maybe I’m just weird, but to me, babies and sex are inseparably connected…..”

    Yes, you are weird, very very weird.

    But I wonder if gay guys find man boobs attractive?…..Hmmmmmm.

  47. Jeff,

    “we can go back to the Garden of Eden for the lesson: God gave Adam and Eve clothing to “cover their nakedness.” So he must of wanted it covered. In spite of societal norms in many parts of the world, it seems clear God directed modesty.”

    Really? but didn’t they try covering themselves with leaves cause Satan told them to? so Satan also directs modesty but with leaves. Then God made then clothing so Satan prefers leaves and God prefers prada? Oh, and after God had them running around naked in the garden until that little problem with that apple.

    But still since the baby covers the nipple then the mom is actually ‘covered’ as she breastfeeds, true?

  48. “Jeff, That after they ate the fruit, correct? They didn’t care about their nakedness until they fell. So perhaps part of being in the fallen world is that we need to be covered, e.g. God sees everything but is not corrupted by it like we can be.”

    I agree, but we do live in a fallen world and must adhere to the laws created for it. Which means, as I said, modesty. The argument that certain societies are more permissible is not relevant and, in fact, against what God himself intended.

  49. RE: #55 “I agree, but we do live in a fallen world and must adhere to the laws created for it. Which means , as I said, modesty.”

    Does that mean we should condemn the LDS naturist movement? I hope not.

  50. “Does that mean we should condemn the LDS naturist movement? I hope not.”

    I don’t even what to think that it exists.

  51. Jeff, I’m surprised and puzzled by your comment about LDSSDF. You don’t strike me as the type who’s afraid to re-examine his own comfortable cultural paradigms lest he discover there actually is a credible and different point of view out there.

  52. Jeff:

    What “boundaries”? To quote Stephen Hopkins in one re-telling of the Declaration of Independence debates: “In all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t even be talked about.” You’re saying you are afraid just to read something?

  53. Looks like I’m a bit of a late-comer to this discussion, but I am finding it wonderfully interesting. Thank you, Hawkgrrrl, for the original post!

    Something I am surprised nobody has mentioned yet is how families (internally) handle the question of nipples and other body parts. Question for the masses: Do you (mom’s and dad’s) hide from your kids when you change and shower? Do your kids hide from you and each other?

    Our family has taken the approach that our bodies are God’s creation and, when we behave modestly, don’t need to be hidden from family members who we trust and love. We’ve already noticed our kids (ages 10 and 8) seem to have a much cleaner, simpler, more healthy understanding of the human body then my wife and I did when we were there age. Our hope is that by removing the cloak of mystery in which we shroud our bodies that our daughter will have more self esteem and our son will not be driven to pornorgraphy.

    Both of these (esteem for girls and porn for boys) plagues our society something fierce, and the ready-baked answer always seems to be “More Prudishness! More Victorianism! More making the body a mystery!” And we do all of this in the name of modesty. But is this what modesty really is? Does modesty mean teaching our kids to fear their bodies?

    To this, my wife and I say” Wooo! Maybe the extremes to which we have pushed in this direction are backfiring. Yes! We teach our kids modest dress. Yes! We teach them respect and reverence for their bodies, which house their souls. We also teach them that our bodies are not to shameful, fearful, or naughty.

    We are never nude at home for the sole purpose of being nude, but when changing or getting in an our of the shower, we see no need to hide. Sunday mornings, in particular, find all four of us in the bathroom in various stages of dress and church-readiness, nobody caring who sees whom or what.

    So I’m curious… what say ye? Anybody else out there in LDS Land practice an open-door home?

    Bryan

  54. I’m a little late to this discussion, too, but I thought I’d leave my lame $.02.

    I am a woman. I did breastfeed my children. And I’d have to admit that I feel that my breasts serve more than one function – I feel that they are both utilitarian (ie – feeding my children), but I also find them to be sexual – and not just because my spouse is obsessed with them. (It is a real win-win (x2) situation.)

    anyways. interesting conversation nonetheless.

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    CJC – “But I wonder if gay guys find man boobs attractive?…..Hmmmmmm.” That sounds like wishful thinking. I don’t think ANYONE finds man boobs attractive.

    CJC – “Really? but didn’t they try covering themselves with leaves cause Satan told them to? so Satan also directs modesty but with leaves.” I suppose leaves were just what was on hand, although it would have been cooler if Satan had said, “He will see your nakedness. Let’s go to Bloomies!”

    Bryan – good questions. Everything I’ve read said that nudity boundaries at home should differ by age of the child when allowing a child to see adult (parental) nudity. Younger children have no issues, but kids ages 8-12, the caution is shared that they not be exposed to adult nudity which can be traumatic due to: 1) guilt associated with sexual attraction to a parent or 2) inferiority complex when comparing their budding bodies with full grown versions or 3) disgust when viewing the adult body and self-rejection or desire not to grow up (with things like anorexia being associated). Hey, I don’t know the right answer, but that’s guided our behavior. I do know Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell had an open-nudity policy in raising their kids. But since they aren’t Mormon (or even very average in any respect) I can’t state whether that is a helpful comparison to my own life.

  56. #62 jay,

    “What “boundaries”? To quote Stephen Hopkins in one re-telling of the Declaration of Independence debates: “In all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t even be talked about.” You’re saying you are afraid just to read something?”

    Don’t think this was top of mind of those debating the Declaration of Independence. And, it goes against what I think is top of mind for me as it relates to Mormonism. I was never very interested in skinny dipping anyway. If you saw me, you’d know why.

  57. @Jeff #62:

    It’s not an actual quote, just a phrase I borrowed to make the point. You don’t have to be interested in skinny dipping in order to give a good faith hearing to somebody whose views might be different from yours, that’s all I’m saying. And still a bit surprised at your reaction, given your insightfulness on other points. Your choice, of course, but there are more things in heaven and earth, Jeff, than are dreampt of in your philosophy.

  58. Jay,

    “Your choice, of course, but there are more things in heaven and earth, Jeff, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.”

    Please, you just gotta be playing with me here? 🙂 I sure hope so.

  59. @Ray #70: True. Although “I don’t even want to think that it exists” and “I’ll be sorry [if I even read the Web site]” and “[that one crosses my] boundaries big time” suggests more than just lack of interest. But whatever.

    @Jeff #71: LOL. Actually, no. I’m daring you to read the Web site. 🙂

  60. I didn’t; I have no interest – as someone who has NO problem with nudity in and of itself and who has a very liberally open policy at home.

  61. Hawkgrrl,

    Thanks for the reply. I’ll respond to your three points.

    1) guilt associated with sexual attraction to a parent

    Hmm. Interesting. There are some popular authorities on child-care (ie: Dr. Spock, Ann Landers, Dear Abby) who will preach that it’s dangerous for children to see others naked, especially as the kids get older. I suspect that what they are dishing out is old and re-hashed cultural tradition, but not well-researched facts. Real, actual research actually shows the opposite. The small number of studies that exist state children reared in an atmosphere containing family social nudity may actually benefit. (I’ll cite sources in a bit…)

    The thinking you expressed in your first point is based, IMO, on the assumption that there is an inherent / unbreakable association with the naked human body and sexual attraction. In fact, it is *exactly* this association we would like to UN-teach, or, I should say, NOT teach in the first place. Most of us grow up in a home where nakedness, in all of its forms, is hidden and off limits. (Nakedness is bad. Sex is bad before marriage. Sex done naked. Naked = sex.) Even casual nudity such as when changing cloths is taboo or taking a bath becomes taboo after the age of nine or ten (maybe even sooner). Kids who grow up this way become convinced that nudity and sex are inseparable, and that when, for example, a boy sees a girl naked, he simply can not avoid having sexual thoughts about her. (I speak from experience, having grown up this way.)

    I propose that this is association (nude = sexual) is learned and not an inherent, unbreakable association. Our goal is to help our kids understand that the human body is a beautiful, sacred creation of God, but that they don’t HAVE to become horny (being crass to make a point) every time they see a body sans clothing.

    The premises of your first point is built upon the false foundation that nudity and sexual desire are inseparable. Without that association, why would there be guilt?

    2) inferiority complex when comparing their budding bodies with full grown versions

    This would only happen without open dialog. If parents will takes the time to teach their children why their body is different then an adult body, and about the changes they will experience when they hit puberty then this is a mute point. For most adolescents, puberty is embarrassing, awkward, and even shameful, but it does not need to be.

    Consider these two cases:

    Friend “A” has a son who recently hit puberty. This poor kid was scared to death to shave for the first time because this would be admitting to the entire world that his body was changing in “those” places, so instead he waited until his 13 year old mustache and beard was a disgraceful embarrassment and his parents angrily forced him to shave. His father confided in me that after shaving, his son was scared to go to school because “people would know.” I’ll also confide in you that this friend of mine and his wife are two of the most body-phobic people I’ve ever met. On a visit to their home years ago, this same son, then about eight, came out his bedroom without a shirt on and was told in raised voices to get back in his room and not come out until he was modest.

    Friend “B”, who subscribes to an open door policy, has explained in depth to his children the changes a person goes through at puberty, and has even promised a party when each of them start to develop. They are looking forward to it!

    3) disgust when viewing the adult body and self-rejection or desire not to grow up (with things like anorexia being associated)

    I’d be really curious to know where this idea is coming from. I’ve certainly never heard anything like it… in fact I have seen research that suggests the exact opposite.

    In 1995, UCLA psychology professor Paul Okami published a review of existing clinical and empirical studies of childhood exposure to parental nudity. He found no evidence that parental nudity in front of children was abusive to the kids. He cited another study which concluded that children from nudist households had a more positive body self-concept than the non-nudist children, and another which concluded that childhood experiences with exposure to nudity were not adversely related to adult sexual functioning or adjustment, in fact, there was some support for the view that it had a positive impact in that regard, particularly for boys.
    He concluded that “no empirical evidence links such experiences with subsequent psychological harm”.

    In ’98, Okami published the results of his own 18 year study on early childhood exposure to parental nudity that followed 200 boys and girls from birth to age 17-18. Results: “Consistent with the cross-sectional retrospective literature (and with our expectations), . . . exposure to parental nudity was associated with positive, rather than negative, sexual experiences in adolescence, and with reduced sexual experience overall. Boys exposed to parental nudity were less likely to have engaged in theft in adolescence or to have used illegal drugs.

    Anywhoo… I could go on. I’ve studied the issue a lot 🙂 and I feel confident my wife and I are doing the right things for our kids. I’ve said enough! I hope at least I’ve given you something to think about.

    Thanks again, Hawkgrrl.

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    Bryan – “I hope at least I’ve given you something to think about.” Definitely. I’m not convinced by all I’ve read on the topic, but I’m also just not sure I have a better way or that full frontal familial nudity is the ideal. It’s hard to go from zero to sixty in one generation. It works for you, so that’s a good example to share. I’m somewhat nudity ambivalent. I think nudism has many valid points that are not easily dismissed. Yet I’m glad I didn’t see my own parents naked past the age of 5; is that gladness a byproduct of my conditioning? Doubtless. Yet I somehow am neither voyeur nor exhibitionist as a result (some theorize that all people are one or the other).

    To the 3rd point, this probably stems from the difference if your parents are Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell or Rosanne Barr and Tom Arnold. “The horror! The horror!” as Col. Kurtz might say.

  63. The problem is the statement “if it works for you….” The latent negative effect may not be known for many years. The children have no choice to be subjected to what the parents choose to do.

    There are just as many example for things parents subjected their children to “for their own good” which ultimately had disastrous results. Using studies defend ourselves is a weak arguments since studies often conflict in their results and conclusion.

  64. @Jeff #79: Jeff, I find lots of your posts very well thought out and insightful. But your comment here just doesn’t quite do it. What you say is true of any decision a parent makes, therefore it’s not particularly persuasive on this topic. Fear is not the best motivation for decisions on child-rearing, and it looks like Bryan has researched this issue about as thoroughly as anybody could. I’m sure that you make the best judgments for your own kids and it looks like he’s doing the same. That’s all any parent can do. And if you disagree with the studies he cites, you’re a smart guy, Jeff, show with responsive evidence why they’re wrong, don’t just sidestep them by saying “all studies are weak arguments.”

  65. Jay,

    Thanks for the compliment which you then take back, I guess, as related to this topic. All I am saying is that studies do not form the basis of good parenting. Good judgment and the adherence to gospel principles to me is a much better guide. I just heard a report on TV that coffee is good for you. The results of a study. That is not going to make me go out and drink it. Just as the results of a study would not inspire me to appear nude in front of my children.

  66. @Jeff #81: The compliment is a general one. We just obviously disagree a little on this topic. Does a gospel principle form the basis for the conclusion in your last sentence, or is it purely a matter of personal judgment? If the former, I would be very curious to know which principle. I am not trying to be snarky, this is a good faith question.

  67. #66 Hwkgrrrl,

    “Let’s go to Bloomies!” Good one, made me laugh! 🙂

    But the man boobs and gays, well…..I’ll trust what Nick says about it.

  68. Here’s one that I have read from Elder Hales last year:

    “The Principle of Modesty

    Some Latter-day Saints may feel that modesty is a tradition of the Church or that it has evolved from conservative, puritanical behavior. Modesty is not just cultural. Modesty is a gospel principle that applies to people of all cultures and ages. In fact, modesty is fundamental to being worthy of the Spirit. To be modest is to be humble, and being humble invites the Spirit to be with us.

    Of course, modesty is not new. It was taught to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Unto Adam … and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21; see also Moses 4:27). Like Adam and Eve, we have been taught that our bodies are formed in the likeness of God and are therefore sacred.” Robert D. Hales, “Modesty: Reverence for the Lord,” Ensign, Aug 2008, 34–39

  69. Sorry to disagree but clothing improperly designed and worn contributes more to immodesty and the increased sexualization of the body than social nudity ever will, IMHO. Spend 5 minuted naked on a sunny day around normal and not air brushed people at a reputable naturist facility and you’ll understand.

  70. @Jeff #81:

    We agree and disagree in part.

    I agree with you that modesty is a gospel principle. Absolutely right. The question is how we define modesty.

    In fact modesty is entirely a cultural construct. The “modest” one piece swimsuit that any member of the current General Young Women’s Presidency would approve and wear themselves today would have gotten its wearer arrested for public indecency 125 years ago, when “modest” women at the beach wore a big billowy dress that covered everything from neck to wrists to ankles. This confirms that there can never be a single standard of “modesty” but that it will fluctuate wildly according to time, place and circumstances.

    Members of the Church commonly assume that because God gave Adam & Eve clothes in the Garden, that therefore means that modesty consists in wearing clothes. But as shown above, we have to ask about details. What is “modest” where and when? It varies widely and wildly. “Garment-standard” coverage”? Then why the exceptions that the Church itself approves, and why has the garment itself changed shape and coverage so much? And remember that it was Satan who suggested to the couple that there was something shameful or wrong in their being naked, it wasn’t God, who clearly had no problem with it. Some may say “well, that’s because they were husband and wife and nobody else was around.” But that is itself purely a cultural construct and personal projection; the Scriptures themselves say nothing like that.

    If you look to the Church for a definition of “modesty” you probably can’t do better than the current For The Strength of Youth pamphlet, which defines it as “an attitude of humility and decency in dress, grooming, language and behavior. If you are modest, you do not draw undue attention to yourself. Instead, you seek to glorify God in your body and in your spirit.” Note that the Church itself has defined modesty as an attitude, not a dress code. Those who conclude that this standard still requires being dressed and mostly covered up at all times may do so not because the definition actually requires it (it doesn’t), but because they may not be able to think of the uncovered body in anything but shameful or sexual terms themselves. And remember who was the author of that idea. Again, we are forced to return to attitude and context as determinative. GBSmith’s post just above confirms that in fact it may be entirely possible to be completely without clothes and yet be completely modest, and that flagrant immodesty with clothing on is rampant. Attitude is everything.

  71. Hawkgrrrl #78: Your post made me laugh! Thanks for keeping an open mind.

    Jeff #79: You make a good point: “The latent negative effect may not be known for many years.” I can say with certainty that the approach my parents took towards the human body, which is also the approach I see most Christian / North American parents take, had profound negative effects on me. We never talked about it. We most certainly never let it be seen. Anything related to it’s parts or functions were taboo and off limits. We all locked our bedroom doors to change and never, ever shared the bathroom. One the rare occasions when I did commit the major sin of running from the bathroom to my bedroom naked because I forgot a towel (age ~nine) I was scolded soundly.

    The result is that I was raised with some major hangup’s about bodies, and epically about sex. I struggled mightily as a teen with immorality, and only via a series of miracles and very loving Bishops did I somehow manage to maintain my virginity until the night of my honeymoon. This problem is, sadly, becoming the norm even for LDS youth, and the reaction I see from leaders and parents is more and more heavy-handedness towards the attitude of “How can hide the human body even MORE from our kids? The current level is not working.”

    I want better for my kids. I know… the approach my wife and I take seems radical to many. But I am convinced this is due to cultural upbringing. I served a mission in Europe and was amazed at the stark contrast with how they view their bodies. One of the branches I served in was on the coast, and on P-Day they held a branch beach party. Many of the females, including the Branch President’s wife and daughter went topless. None of the kids under the age on ten wore anything at all. Can you imagine this happening in a U.S. ward? It’s unthinkable. But it was only us four American Elders who found it unusual.

    The idea of an open-door family is not only not-shocking to LDS families in Europe, it’s pretty much the norm. (Can’t speak for all of them, of course, but I had conversations with enough to say this with comfort.)

    GBSmith #85: I have never been to a “naturist facility” as you describe, but so long as there was no overt sexual behavior going on, I don’t think I would be opposed to it.

    Great conversation!

  72. Post
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    Bryan – your story of Europe reminds me of a family in my own European mission. They had the TV on with some racy scene including nudity that would only have been available on cable in the US, kids sitting all around the room watching this, and the father said, “Hurry and turn it off! The missionaries can’t see that!” (But apparently the 5 year old is good to go). Of course, that is not an example of the European casual nudity norms. It just extends to casual attitudes about viewing things sexual as well as nudity.

    I have to agree with you that shaming kids over their nudity is very harmful. But I can also say that I didn’t experience any of that. We just covered up. I considered it more of a courtesy (of course that implies “no one wants to look at that!”). With our own kids we have more of a sense of humor about accidental nudity, and that seems fairly healthy to me. Someone might say “Boom-chica-wow-wow” if you forgot to bring your clothes in when you took a shower, or something like that. But we would just laugh it off.

  73. #85 – I agree with GBSmith’s comment completely as to the over-sexualization of much of the clothing in our society.

    Speaking of embarrassing nudity stories that can accompany openness (and its unintended consequences), a Catholic friend shared the following with me:

    When his daughter was about 3 or 4, he came out of the shower not realizing she was standing there. When he turned around, she was staring directly at him and asked, “Daddy, what is that?” Wanting to be totally open with her, he said, “That is my penis” – and promptly forgot about it.

    The next Sunday, while he was talking with a group of other fathers at his Catholic Church, this daughter walked up to him and said, “Daddy, will you show me your penis again?”

    Sometimes, openness has unintended consequences, and he is grateful to this day that there wasn’t a social worker standing anywhere near him at the time. 🙂

  74. To be honest, I think there is quite a bit of rationalizing going on here. To think that the “Strength of Youth” pamphlet does not have a dress code in mind when discussing modesty is a bit of a stretch given how Dances are monitored, for example

    “Note that the Church itself has defined modesty as an attitude, not a dress code. Those who conclude that this standard still requires being dressed and mostly covered up at all times may do so not because the definition actually requires it (it doesn’t), but because they may not be able to think of the uncovered body in anything but shameful or sexual terms themselves.”

    If the church says no exposed bellys on girls, do you really think that exposing more is OK?

    No one here, certainly not me, is saying that the exposed body is shameful or that we need to be extra modest around the same sex. But it does seem that running around our homes in various stages of undress in front of our children is a bit over the top. Not making it evil, but not flaunting it either.

    As I stated either, when did we use Europe as a benchmark of morality? I suspect if church officials knew that endowed members were going without clothing at the beach, they would be concerned.

  75. Jeff, to your points:

    “To be honest, I think there is quite a bit of rationalizing going on here.”

    Paul said to “prove all things” and “hold fast to that which is good.” We shouldn’t be afraid to question anything, especially in a Church which teaches that the more light and knowledge we attain to in this life, the better for us in the eternities. Principles that are true will stand the scrutiny. Those that aren’t, won’t. Call it rationalizing if you want. I call it honest inquiry to see what’s true doctrine and what’s just cultural preference subject to individual decision.

    “To think that the “Strength of Youth” pamphlet does not have a dress code in mind when discussing modesty is a bit of a stretch given how Dances are monitored, for example.”

    Non sequitur that mistakes a few trees for the forest. Of course the principle of modesty can cover how one dresses. The fact that church dances are monitored for dress code compliance means that in the context and circumstances of a Church dance, certain types of dress are modest and other types aren’t. But that doesn’t change the overarching principle that modesty is not ultimately just about what one wears and when.

    “If the church says no exposed bellys on girls, do you really think that exposing more is OK?”

    Reductio ad absurdam. Again, depends on context and circumstances. “The Church” has said a lot of things over time that have proven to be ill-advised. Whether or not your example is one, we do have a responsibility to think for ourselves.

    “No one here, certainly not me, is saying that the exposed body is shameful or that we need to be extra modest around the same sex. But it does seem that running around our homes in various stages of undress in front of our children is a bit over the top. Not making it evil, but not flaunting it either.”

    A purely personal and cultural preference. That’s fine, it is individual choice. As long as others who reach different conclusions aren’t judged negatively for doing so. BTW, I have noticed a consistent pattern of phrases like “running around the house” or “parading around the house” from those who would never do such a thing themselves. The opprobrious subtext is pretty clear, actually. And as a side note, the Victorian prudishness that Bryan talks about seems to be increasing in the Church even on the same sex side. I heard a stake president scold some young men for being “immodest” just because they played basketball without shirts. The MTC is removing open showers and replacing them with private stalls. The trend seems pretty clear there too.

    “As I stated either, when did we use Europe as a benchmark of morality? I suspect if church officials knew that endowed members were going without clothing at the beach, they would be concerned.”

    Non sequitur. We are not talking about morality. You illustrate the point perfectly, Jeff, that many Church members simply can’t separate the concept of nudity from sex/morality/immorality. But obviously it can be done. In Bryan’s story, church officials were not only aware that endowed members were going without clothing at the beach, they were right there with them, saw it happen, and didn’t give it a second thought. Endowed members are allowed to take their garments off sometimes.

  76. Jeff,

    It can be impossible, sometimes, to see past our cultural upbringing. This may sound argumentative, but I don’t mean it to be. I would like to know if you can show me a quote from a Church authority that says “Kids should not see parents naked past a certain age.” I don’t want a general quote on modesty from which you then draw conclusions, I want a solid quote.

    I am aware that you may respond to this with an argument such as Pres. Hinckley’s when he said “The Word of Wisdom does not specifically warn against the danger of diving head first into an empty swimming pool…”. There is common sense, of course. But there is also taking clear church teaching on modesty, mixing it with cultural and tradition, and then coming up with our own perceived idea of right and wrong.

    For example: The Church teaches us that it is wrong to wear clothing which is too revealing. (Nobody disputes this, I hope.) As a matter of tradition, most American parents don’t let their kids see them naked. Add these two together, and we might come up with: “The church teaches that it is wrong for parents to let their kids see them naked.”

    If I were a lawyer well versed in Latin and Logic, I could maybe come up with a name for this kind of faulty argument, but the best I can do is call it “fuzzy math”.

    If this is A PERSONAL belief, that of course if just fine. Nobody should knock you for it. But it becomes dangerous when we start taking our own conclusions, believing them to be hard-and-fast truths, and then judging others against them. That’s just wrong.

    As for your question, “when did we use Europe as a benchmark of morality?” I am not talking about Europe in general. They have their good sides and bad sides just as we do. I am talking only about the good, honest, God-fearing, hard working, Temple Recommend holding members of the branch in which I served. It seems to me that you are passing judgment on them, but I hope I am wrong.

    You mentioned, “I suspect if church officials knew that endowed members were going without clothing at the beach, they would be concerned.” Well, my junior comp at the time was so shocked and upset by it that he called the Mission President as soon as we got home. He just chuckled and said, “Thanks for your concern Elder, and welcome to France.”

    It can be impossible, sometimes, to see past our cultural upbringing.

  77. I just found this post – so many excellent thoughts! I mostly just wanted to say that Bryan, I loved all your posts. I see things very similarly to how you do.

    And by the way, to return back a bit to the topic of breastfeeding… I do breastfeed, and I do it in public – even in Sacrament Meeting. And I’ve had pics taken while breastfeeding. I don’t know everybody’s reasoning, but I think one reason to post pics of yourself is to help normalize breastfeeding in public. We lactivists are sad that so many people think breastfeeding is not normal, and we hope that seeing it more often will help normalize it. Jesus was breastfed. And I doubt Mary went into a bathroom stall to feed him. 😉

  78. This discussion seems to be straining at a gnat. I think the larger discussion needs to address the plague of pornography that is addicting many in and out of the Church. Pornography addiction is keeping many young men from serving missions, weakening and destroying marriages, and keeping others from marrying. Many do not realize how addictive pornography is and how difficult recovery is. Recovery usually requires the help of a wise sexual addiction therapist, a recovery group, a caring bishop, and the help of the Savior. The Church is creating recovery groups of sexual addicts which have a twelve-step approach that focuses on the atonement.

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