Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Christian Model

I am a Christian and have been since I was in the third grade (although there have been periods where I didn't live like it).  I am also a nude model and have been for the past 27 years.  A lot of people in the Christian faith, and especially in my church, may find the two to be incompatible, but they are not.  Of course, I go to a Baptist church, the same denomination that runs Baylor University.  In 1993, the art department at Baylor was forbidden by the board of regents to use nude models.  As far as I know, that ban is still in effect.

This attitude that nudity somehow equals sex or that viewing a nude body will lead someone into lust is a lie.  Our bodies were made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, our bodies, in and of themselves, are good and wholesome, clothed or unclothed.  It was Adam and Eve who tried to cover themselves after their fall, not God.  Why would God want to cover His own image?  And once God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He gave them animal skins to use to protect themselves from the now sometimes harsh environment outside the Garden (and by killing the animals for their skins, He gave Adam and Eve their first taste of the wages of sin, death).

Nudity, even public nudity, was never condemned as sinful in the Bible.  In fact, God commanded the prophet Isaiah to go naked throughout the land for three years. that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush... (Isaiah 20:2-3 ESV).  Apparently, Isaiah wasn't the only one who received such a commandment.  Look at King Saul in 1 Samuel 19:24 (ESV):  And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” Judging from the people's reaction, prophesying and public nudity seemed to go hand-in-hand in Old Testament times.  Would God command someone to do something that was sinful?  I think not.

I believe that Jesus Himself was crucified naked.  The Bible says that Roman soldiers cast lots for His clothes, and the historical record tells us that it was a standard practice of the Romans to crucify prisoners naked.  Personally, I find it interesting that before mankind's original sin, man was naked, and that the One who redeemed us from sin did so while naked.

When I step onto a modeling platform in a life drawing class and drop the robe, I am both humbling myself and practicing the most extreme kind of modesty.  Whenever I read the word modesty in the Bible, I have to define it, based on contextual clues, as avoiding the practice of putting on adornment (braiding of hair, putting on of gold jewelry, etc.) to show off one's stature, as if one were boasting.  Today's parallel would be the wearing of expensive designer clothes, displaying expensive jewelry, or any other way in which people dress to show how well off they are, either socially or financially.  1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) says Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  What then could be more modest than removing everything that might, in someone's eyes, elevate my own status?  Isn't that what being humble is all about?  Wasn't Christ showing true humility when he allowed himself to be stripped naked and hung on a cross to die for our sins when none of us deserved it?

When I'm on the model stand nude, I am pure.  I am there just as God created me, with nothing artifical.  Most life drawing rooms have a skeleton available both for drawing and for study, and I am always fascinated whenever I look at one.  The structure of the shoulders, with the clavicles in front and scapulas in back, seems impossibly complex when you also consider the muscle structure that has to be involved to make the bone structure work.  And the pelvis is a wonder, with its complex shape, the way that it supports the internal organs above it and how the rounded tops of the femurs fit inside to make the hip joints which enable us to walk.  The human body truly is God's greatest creation and is worthy of artistic study.  In fact, I can't think of a subject in creation more worthy.  It is, after all, made in that image of God.  I love allowing art students to study my body, to draw the shape of my spine, the curve of my hip without the interuption of a waistband or any other apparel.

As a Christian, I desire to be transparent.  I want to be the same person in the art class that I am at church or at my full-time job or in my home as a husband and father.  I don't want to misrepresent myself in any way.  I haven't been extremely vocal in recent years about my modeling, but I don't want to deny to anyone what I do.  When people hear that I was once a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, their natural inclination is to ask to see a video.  I can usually point them to my Facebook page or to the Youtube video below, where they see my conversation with Regis Philbin about being a part time nude model.  Since the show was taped in 2001, long before my wife and I joined our current church, people there tend to assume that I stopped modeling some time ago.  Before starting this blog, I tended to let them keep assuming such things.

I volunteer in my church nursery every Sunday morning.  I've always had a natural affinity for babies, and on more than one occasion, I've been called The Baby Whisperer.  The job, if it could even be called a job, suits me, and I love doing it.  But that also makes me a "church leader."  I do have some concerns about losing that position as a result of starting this blog, mainly because of some objections within the church to drawings of me from 2007 that were posted on Facebook. If that happens, then so be it.  I am going to be the same Dan Hawkins, Christian, husband, father, IT technician, and art model, in public and in private, no matter where I am.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Doesn't the Bible speak of not making your brother stumble? Not everybody who views a naked person, especially naked girls, has clean thoughts. That may be natural as men are visual creatures, while women are emotional. So a man having these thoughts, is he not committing adultery in his heart? So therefore you are making your brother stumble. I really don't think a Christian should be parading around naked in public until the human race has come to think of nakedness as a natural and normal thing. Even Adam and Eve covered up in front of God.

    2. Kristen, thank you for leaving a comment. This particular blog post receives more Internet traffic than my other thirty-something posts combined, so it is nice to see a comment from one of those visitors.

      You claim in your comment that men are visual creatures, but I disgree. Men are taught by our society to be visual creatures. You also say that Christians should not be parading around naked "until the human race has come to think of nakedness as a natural and normal thing." And yet, if we keep hiding nakedness, how will it ever become a natural and normal thing?

      Addiction to pornography is, unfortunately, an epidemic among Christian men and even some women. There is a website designed by three ministers which offers a unique perspective in combating this epidemic. I recommend the entire site, but this particular article is a good starting point:

  2. Thanks for sharing - I appreciate hearing what it's like from the "other side" of the canvas, and from a Christian perspective, too! :-)

  3. Hey, you do what you want to do. Your choice, but I would have to think that for someone who is a Christian, being a nude model would not be a wise choice. Not that I am perfect. Far from it, but everytime I do something that is wrong, I am convicted. It is because of my faith that I want to change.

  4. Greetings, i am so glad i came across this site. The site you recommended was the very first site that by God's grace set me on course to freedom from my addiction to pornography for over 10 years. Ever since then i have been renewed by the truth and realized how much damage the lies have done in my life and that i am truly responsible for the choices that i made. As an artist myself i even drew my first nude model which was perhaps the hammer that truly hit the nail, for the first time in my life i could actually see a naked person (woman) and still respect her person without even a selfish or lustful thought!!. My mind is daily renewed by the truth and in the end regardless of what manner of woman i may see, its always a choice to see them as persons worthy of respect and dignity!!! I thank the Lord God for this testimony.

  5. Thank you for sharing Dan. As a married Christian man who models nude, thank you.