Without question, the book of the Bible I’ve read the most times has to be Genesis. This is for a number of reasons. To my credit, I love the book and love to explore various questions that come up as I read it both on my own and with others. To my shame, it is the first book in the Bible and I have numerous failed attempts to re-read the Bible from cover to cover. That’s one way to get really familiar with Genesis!
One question that has been nagging at my brain is the concept of Adam and Eve being naked and unashamed. Don’t worry, by the way, I plan to keep this post rated G. Having said that, I’ll ask again. What does it mean to be naked and unashamed?
Of course there is a literal aspect to this. Our first parents had no clothes and were not bothered in the least by it. After the fall, they sought to find their own substandard coverings until God covered their nakedness.
But what about pondering another angle of what it means to be naked and unashamed? There is a lot of symbolism going on in this part of Genesis that is manifested in literal actions and events. God providing a suitable covering when the leaves wouldn’t do is both a literal and a symbolic act for example, and is meant to give a small glimpse of the gospel to come. Humans will try to cover their own shame but only God can provide the covering we all need. And that covering is obtained only by blood. The gospel isn’t explicitly stated in the covering provided only by God, but make no mistake. It is there.
So, aside from the literal answer, what does it mean to be naked? And why is being naked presented as a good thing before the fall, but as a bad thing for the rest of the Bible?
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
They lie all night naked, without clothing,
and have no covering in the cold.
Looking at the book of Job, being naked implies a lack of possessions and a lack of protection from the elements. Naked = exposed
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews shows us that being naked before God means that we cannot hide any of our deeds. Naked = exposed
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
(“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)
In the book of Revelation, being naked is shown as a state of being oblivious to the fact that you are unprepared and in dire need. And again, naked = exposed.
So Adam and Eve were naked in the garden and they were unashamed. Or you could say that they were exposed, but they were not ashamed by this and did not see any reason to protect themselves from the elements.
Aside from the elements, how else were Adam and Eve exposed without worry? Sin had not yet entered the world, that is an important fact to remember here. They had nothing to hide whatsoever, from each other or from God. They had full communion with one another. No emotional scars from previous arguments. No self-serving plans to hide from the other. They were exposed to each other in all ways, able to speak whatever came to mind, knowing that the other would not take it badly. And they were exposed openly to each other with no reason to be ashamed.
As you read the flow of the Bible, much of what once was will one day be restored in this world. There will be a New Heavens and a New Earth. Our rightful place of intertwining work and worship will delight us to the glory of God forever. And yet we will no longer be naked. We will be given our clothes from the same savior who earned our salvation. I believe that these clothes will be an ever-present reminder of the worthiness of Lamb who was slain and who now is enthroned and is Lord over all.
Soli Deo Gloria