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IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Says Showing Skin in Public Reveals a Sinful Heart

naked adam and eve
Cartoon by Hilary Price

As I have repeatedly publicized his daily “devotionals,” I am sure local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor John MacFarlane wishes I would stop doing so. MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — a church I attended in the 1960s and 1970s — writes daily devotional articles for First Baptist members. Since he is publishing these devotionals on a public blog, I assume he wants people outside of the church to read them and practice what he is preaching.

Here’s a list of previous posts features Pastor MacFarlane:

Today, MacFarlane wrote a “devotional” titled An Un-BARE-able Devotion! about nudity. Being the good IFB pastor that he is, MacFarlane is against women showing “skin” in public.

MacFarlane states:

Let’s go back to the original National Nude Day.  Genesis 2:8, 22, 25 says, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed… And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man… And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  That’s the way it was originally.  This fact cannot be refuted.  So why did clothing get invented?

Genesis 3 records the sin of Adam and Eve.  Eve ate of the fruit first, gave it to Adam, he ate of the fruit, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7)  The moment that sin enters the picture and their eyes were opened, they saw their own nakedness and recognized that walking around just in what God gave you was sinful.  They did their best to cover up but it was inadequate.

After the Lord pronounces the curse of the damages brought on by their sin, the Lord reinforces their first inclination.  “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)  God was the first fashion designer.  He gave us our original pre-sin garments made of flesh and then, after sin enters the picture, He designs the first real set of clothing.

National Nude Day thumbs its collective noses at what God’s Word clearly teaches.  In Philippians 3:18-19, we read, “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  (19)  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”  Isaiah pronounces “woe” upon those who call evil good and good evil.  The celebration and encouragement to publicly shed clothing is ungodly and heathenish.

In certain parts of the world, missionaries will encounter tribal nations that are nude.  The moment they trust Jesus as their Savior, they recognize their nudity and start to cover it up.  As we are in the depths of summer, so many in our world are walking around nearly nude without shame or a concept of decency.  Their nudity, though it be partial, is a revelation of their heart.

Our nudity is necessary for showering and bathing.  It is God-blessed and sanctioned between husband and wife.  A degree of it may be necessary when going to a doctor, a profession God uses in the healing and care of our bodies.  But beyond that, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!  Cover up with modesty and decency.

Otherwise, there’s more than your body being exposed.  Your heart is being exposed.

Where, oh where, do I begin.

First, MacFarlane is a presuppositionalist and a Bible literalist. Second, he is King James-only. Third, he is a young-earth creationist. Thus, he genuinely believes the universe is 6,023 years old, and all humans descend from Adam and Eve. Fourth, MacFarlane believes what is recorded in Genesis 1-3 which was meant to be a mythical story, is scientifically and historically true. *sigh* MacFarlane believes Genesis 1-3 is a true accounting of human origin, written by God himself. When someone believes as MacFarlane does, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change his mind.

I spent five decades in the Christian church. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. For most of the years I spent in the ministry, my beliefs on Genesis 1-3 were indistinguishable from MacFarlane’s. No amount of evidence would have changed my mind. As long as I believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, my mind was walled off from reason, skepticism, and science. It was only when I learned that the Bible was NOT inerrant that I could consider that maybe, just maybe, my beliefs about the beginning of the universe and human origin could be wrong. Until MacFarlane entertains the possibility of being wrong, there’s no hope for him. Realizing that Genesis 1-3 is a mythical story forces Christian Fundamentalists to rethink their entire worldview. I know it did for me.

MacFarlane uses an oft-repeated lie to “prove” that getting saved leads new converts in clothing-optional tribes to start wearing clothes. Once filled with the Holy Ghost, these newly minted Christians know that not wearing clothing is sinful. I have read many of the same missionary stories MacFarlane has. Here’s what I know: new Christians were coerced by Western Christian missionaries to put on clothes. God didn’t have anything to do with it. Missionaries manipulated tribes to change all sorts of behaviors — all in the name of obedience to the Christian God.

I know how the game works. Through my preaching, private admonitions, and personal testimony, I successfully manipulated church members and new converts. Suddenly, women stopped wearing pants and revealing tops. Men stopped, well . . . I never preached on proper attire for men. People indoctrinated by me stopped swearing, smoking, drinking beer, watching TV, and countless other human behaviors. What I did at Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan is no different from what missionaries did in faraway jungles.

While MacFarlane gives no proscriptions to women (or men) about how they should dress, make no mistake about it, he expects congregants (and everyone else, for that matter) to follow IFB modesty standards. I have written about these standards numerous times since 2007, so I won’t do so again. Women should cover themselves from head to toe. Men? Well, um, uh . . . wear pants and shirts. But, remember, the focus of most IFB modesty preaching is women.

Surprisingly, women at First Baptist are permitted to wear pants. MacFarlane is “liberal” in this regard. I vaguely remember church squabbles in the 1970s over this issue. It looks like the pants crowd won the day.

MacFarlane believes that what you wear reveals the true condition of your heart. Women? Wear short skirts; wear tight jeans; show a bit (or a lot) of cleavage; wear a thong; wear short shorts; wear halter tops; wear tube tops; got out in public braless you are a harlot and a Jezebel, a temptress and a seductress. Men? Keep your shirt on, unless you are playing a shirts and skins basketball game.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Matilda

    I read that an anthropologist said that ethnic groups whose women are bare-breasted or whose men wear just a square of cloth over their private parts, have a dress code too about what’s acceptable…their lack of clothes doesn’t mean life is one long orgy of lust and rampant free naughty sex. They haven’t been taught x-tian shame about their bodies.
    Re:making heathen converts wear clothes.I recall reading old China Inland Mission biographies where missionaries took donated white wedding gowns to China so converts could have a proper white western wedding as the lawd intended. A modern missionary I know appealed for money. Her daughter was getting married in Uganda and wanted to invite village children but they’d all need a new white tee-shirt. Guess it would have spoiled the wedding pics if they’d appeared in their scruffy rags. She praised the lawd for the large donations that meant so many of these remote village kids could attend….she hallelujah-ed, such a great opportunity to preach jesus to them. Didn’t she see it was a rare opportunity for these poverty-stricken kids to get a new shirt and a rare large meal?

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      AFAIK, white is the colour of mourning in China. Bright red and metallic gold is the way to go for celebrations such as weddings.

      • Avatar
        Matilda

        Oh yes, that’s true, I’ve visited China and seen weddings. Those missionaries, so culturally insensitive and clueless….their western god only approved white cos virginity I guess!

    • Avatar
      Kel

      I posted my comment before realising that you had already touched on the issue. Thanks for your insightful stories!

      And as someone with Chinese roots: Yes, red is for celebrations and white is for mourning. Astreja is spot on. However, since some of my relatives are Christian, they wear Western-style white wedding dresses, too.

      I’m not sure if modern Chinese culture (in China or Taiwan) is still very strict on the dichotomy though.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    It’s funny, all the problems that people have, and could use encouraging and loving ministry in these struggling pandemic times, that HOW A WOMAN DRESSES is what matters. As I’ve expressed before and more and more frequently, I’m done with that shit. Yes, I’m using bad words (as defined by Christians) more and more here too. I’m actually a live and let live person. I’m not troubled by fundies/evangelicals practicing their religion, as long as they don’t try to take over. But when ever their special rights are terminated, they cry they are being persecuted.

    I believe I also mentioned I met the pastor once. (It was over 23 years ago.) He was pleasant and came into my house, the connection being that the next door neighbor was a member of his church. I think he was pleasant for the most part. (He was the assistant pastor then.) I don’t think I ever spoke to him again. Of course, I wasn’t really eligible to attend his church, as I didn’t believe in it.

    Anyway, I know there are people hurting here. And I know some churches have food banks and one church at least has had a shelter. But the reality is, the church exists to exult the church. Get money to run the church and gather lots of people in it. And apparently, too many ministers aren’t real Christian, empathetic, loving people, but driven men who are trying to rack up a score of “saved” people. Somehow, I think if there is a god he would be pretty offended by them. My 2 cents.

    • Avatar
      MJ Lisbeth

      BJW—I have come to see that the goal of most institutions—including all churches—is to perpetuate themselves. Their good works are, for the most part, virtue signaling.

  3. Avatar
    William

    These guys always go for ridiculous extremes … you drink? You’re an alcoholic car accident murderer etc…

    Same here, you don’t dress in a sack? You dress like someone out on the town on a Saturday night.

    There’s no inbetween with these people. Extreme polarisation is often the result of inexperience with real people.

  4. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    the whole “naked” thing always has amused me. So, per the bible, being nekkid is a sin and an objective one at that per Christians who claim their god is the source of objective morality. Therefore, as long as A&E didn’t know it was a sin, this god didn’t care what they did. Ignorance is an excuse and missionaries damn billions.

    which makes no sense at all…. as usual.

  5. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    This preacher reveals the true nature of evangelical Christianity in his ‘devotionals’ (gag me with a spoon)…Once you are aquainted with Jesus, you feel ashamed and embarassed by it. This kind of belief is a a true crock of cow-patty. It is ever so humbling and joyful to know that there is a way out of all that and it is simply, merely being human, merely caring for yourself and allowing yourself to be.
    The Jesus in Preacher MacFarlane must be one sick remnant of a human being. His hatred of life is palpable. It makes me shudder.

  6. Avatar
    Astreja

    (makes mental note to buy tank top to show off sinful deltoids)

    (I refuse to wear shorts, though – that’s my way of staring into the abyss and having it stare back and then collapse in a fit of abyssal giggles.)

  7. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    I need to get a sports bra that says “Jezebel and Harlot”. Not a t-shirt, mind you, as I work out and race in as little clothing as possible. My Jezebel heart is on display for all to see.

    The whole cover women up mentality makes me really angry, for a variety of reasons. I am a human being with agency and control in my life. No one touches me without my consent. If you get horny looking at me, that’s your problem, not mine. It’s taken me decades to shed those religious rules trying to shame me for having a female body. At 51 years old, I say F#$% that sh!t.

  8. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Even though I was far from Christianity (including Catholicism) when I started my gender affirmation process, I fell into the “modesty “ trap. I realize now that I was trying to be a “good” trans person who didn’t offend or intimidate “sensitive “ people who, Christian or not, were inculcated with that sense of body shame. Also, I had internalized self-blame for the sexual abuse I endured—which, of course, was a remnant of my Catholic and Christian indoctrination.

  9. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    The bible disagrees with itself in many places such as clothing. I am tired of the right-wing christian idiots telling me what to wear. I am glad women wearing pants won at that church.

    In most of the right-wing USA a woman cannot wear a skirt without NYLONS. Have you ever tried to wear these things??? They are one of the most uncomfortable pieces of clothing ever invented, freezing when the weather is cold, sweaty most of the rest of the time, and used to cause vaginal yeast infections before manufacturers were required to put a piece in which causes a little air ventilation!! Usually only last maybe a few days, so very wasteful of resources.

    What did the bible know about vaginal yeast infections??? Tell him that is what he is preaching.

  10. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    I hated nylons as a teen because they were itchy, like wool tights. I liked sheer hose up to a point. Decades ago. I don’t have a dress these days, nor the hose that goes with them. I did read someone hired at Focus on the Family say they had to get used to buying and wearing pantyhose. I didn’t know until today, that it’s a Right- Wing culture quirk. Live and learn,lol.😆

  11. Avatar
    Kel

    I remember watching a documentary about a tribe whose women wear a very long skirt covering their ankles but leave their torso bare. Since breasts are considered a functional organ, exposing them for all to see is not considered indecent or sexual. Whereas legs are a totally different matter for these people, hence the ankle-length skirts.

    I wonder if a lot of Christians think that these people will have to wear Western style clothing if they (hypothetically) convert to Christianity. If that is so, wouldn’t it be like forcing them to now sexualise the breasts, in addition to the legs? More temptations all around.

    This thing always confuses me: what kinds of clothing are acceptable then? Certain traditional dresses are more revealing than others but in their respective contexts they are “modest”.
    Must Christian converts only wear traditional European/American attire (whatever “traditional” is supposed to mean)?
    It seems that Christianity sometimes come with their own dress code (while at the same time disagreeing with the dress code imposed by Islam).

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Bruce Gerencser