Passages from the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
There are a number of passages in the Christian Scriptures that might be considered to have a relationship to social nudism:
Matthew 5:28: "...I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (NIV) Some would believe that more lustful thoughts might be experienced at a nudist facility than at a textile resort. However, it can equally be argued that the suggestive nature of many modern bathing suits arouse greater feelings of sexual lust at a textile beach or clothed resort than in a naturist location. So, the passage could be used to support or criticize naturism.
Mark 10:46-50: "... blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging...And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus." (KJV) It is unclear why he wished to come to Jesus naked. But his actions were not condemned.
Mark 14:51-52: "And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked." (KJV) This verse is a bit of a puzzle. Some theologians speculate that the young man had just been baptized naked and had afterwards put on a white linen sheet. In the early years of the Christian movement, believers and the person doing the baptizing were both nude.
John 20:5-7: Two disciples visited the tomb where Jesus was interred. They found strips of linen and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. Presumably, when Jesus was resurrected by God (according to Paul) or resurrected himself (according to the Gospel writers), he was without clothing. See also Luke 24:12.
John 21:7: "...And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work); and threw himself into the sea.". (NIV) Once again, as in Genesis 3:7, the NIV translators seem to recoil from a vision of nudity; the idea of Peter working as a fisherman in the nude appears too much for them to handle. They chose an obscure term to describe the garment that Peter put on. The resultant passage is ambiguous whether he put the outer garment on over an inner garment, or over his previously naked body. The King James Version translates this verse quite clearly: "...he girt his fisher's coat onto him, (for he was naked)..." The New Revised Standard Version renders this passage: "...he put on some clothes for he was naked." This passage describes how Peter had stripped naked to work on the fishing boat, and later put on a garment and dove into the sea. Public nudity while fishing was apparently a common practice among fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, and Peter was no exception. Since Peter's nakedness was stated without comment, one could conclude that public nudity was/is acceptable behavior.
1 Corinthians 8:9: "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." Some interpreters believe that this is a generic statement that a Christian must not engage in any behavior that might cause another believer to falter. They might argue that nudism may tempt some persons to have unclean thoughts. Other interpreters note that the passage is preceded and followed with discussions of eating meat that had been used in Pagan rituals. The instruction may be limited to interaction with animal-sacrificing Pagan groups, as is seen today among the followers of Santeria. 1 Corinthians 12:23: "and those (parts) of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely (parts) have more abundant comeliness; whereas our comely (parts) have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that (part) which lacked." (ASV). Paul is apparently saying that parts of the human body which are not presentable are to be treated with special modesty, while the rest of our body needs no such special treatment. He is apparently referring to social practices in his culture, which did not allow nudity in social situations. There are three other passages in the Christian Scriptures where nudity is mentioned. Two are associated with mental illness. (Luke 8:27, Acts 19:13-16). The remaining reference is in Luke 10:30, when the man rescued by the good Samaritan was stripped and left for dead by robbers. None of these are related to consensual nudity in public.
"The Little Flowers of St. Francis", Part I, Chapter 30.