My family and I moved to Missoula from Dallas last October to serve Missoula’s Orthodox Christian community. There were many things that attracted us to Missoula, including its progressive spirit and the willingness to organize to address issues of concern in the community. This Sunday, a group of Missoulians, desiring to bring attention to the issues of fossil fuel use and bike safety, will take to the streets for a morning of nude-biking.
While it is true there are things we should bring attention to in Missoula that will continue to make our community a more vibrant, inclusive, and just place to live, I would argue the use of nudity to bring awareness to any issue results only in the issue being completely ignored.
Would Pete Seeger, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mahatma Gandhi have been more effective at spreading their message of peace, love and nonviolence had they included nudity in their protests? Or would they have been reduced to a spectacle without a serious message?
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that we should not be ashamed of our bodies, which God has given us as a temple of the Holy Spirit; but I also affirm the importance of teaching modesty and respect for oneself, especially in a culture that hypersexualizes our children from an early age.
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As a father, modesty is something my wife and I speak about frequently with our children, letting them know it is okay to reject what our changing culture says is expected.
We as a society must be willing to recognize the role we play in this hypersexualization through the things we allow our children to see and experience, as well as by what we hold up as examples of how to bring about community awareness and change.
Our faith-based communities have always been important catalysts of social change, and should continue to be so today. So instead of biking nude or protesting nude-biking this Sunday morning, I invite you to go to church instead, praying that God will continue to guide our faith communities to every good and perfect gift.
Father Rob Spaliatsos is the pastor at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, located at 301 S. 6th Street West. He can be reached at FrRob@AnnunciationMT.org.