In the Garden, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)
We tend to infer from the conversation in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve were somehow physically unable to see their nakedness. However, from the Genesis 2:25 language and later understanding that we gain from Bible study, that is not likely the case. Not so much blinded, but oblivious to what did not matter.
In the perfect environment without storms or snow or burning sun, what need was there for clothes with two people who lived in perfect harmony and love? They tended the Garden and cared for the animals who were naked, and they had nothing to hide from each other, from the animals, or from God.
What was missing from their knowledge that they could gain from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? God had made everything “good” day by day, and in the end “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) They knew everything good that was in creation, naming the animals and working the soil to growing delicious food, eating fruit from perfect pear and apple trees. Now look at the name of the Tree from which Satan tempted them to eat. What could they learn? Only evil!
There was something to learn; something which their eyes had not seen yet, in all the “good” that God had made. But it was not something they would enjoy as much as Satan made it sound: “You will be like God!” (Genesis 3:5)
Don’t you wish you could go back to that setting and yell to Eve, Don’t do it! It’s a trick! It’s a lie! It’s what Lucifer wants to be: like God (Isaiah 14:14), and since he has failed, he wants to pull you and Adam down, too! He wants to spoil this perfect creation and make it as evil as he is! . . . But we were not there, and likely we would not have understood any better than Eve did.
So she ate and gave to Adam to eat, also, and suddenly they did see things they had not noticed before! It was as if their eyes were opened for the first time since creation. In an unconscious sense, they probably knew that they were naked before, but because it did not matter, it did not register in their cognition. It simply was something they did not think about. But now, their awareness of their failure to obey a simple command that only required them to trust the benevolent Creator who would visit them every evening brought into sharp focus that there was nothing they could hide! And NOW they had something that they wanted to hide!
How the devil must have laughed and jumped with sadistic glee at the success of his deceit. He grinned as he saw their futile attempts to sew fig leaves together. He laughed as he heard the Creator coming to visit them in the Garden. Because he was without understanding of God’s unbounded mind and ignorant of His eternal plan, he thought he had dealt a terrible blow to God.
Ever since, we have worn clothes. Every society (with the exception of a few nudist nuts) has required some kind of cover for the body. Add the mess that came after the flood with snows and rain and hail, and clothes became necessary for most of us most of the time just to survive the damaged environment. But apart from protection from the weather, we have always worn clothes, and societies have developed complex systems of clothes to express rank and social importance.
Only in the marriage relationship is nudity acceptable (or under a doctor’s care, but that’s for another blog). We usually marry at 20-30 years old and most of us have accumulated a lot of emotional baggage by then. How do two flawed people with so many things in their past that they would prefer to hide, stand naked and unashamed? And what about when we get out of shape or age begins to change how nice things looked on our wedding day? Can we return to “naked and unashamed” or are we always going to hide until the end of days?
In The Gift of Sex by Penner and Penner, the authors make a case for marriage being a place of safety and exposure. They note that sexuality is part of God’s plan, not a deviation from it. “The Bible portrays sex as a symbol of the relationship between God and His people . . . The husband-wife sexual relationship is used throughout Scripture to symbolize the God-man relationship.” They provide astute advice about body image and how to deal with body issues in a loving, mutually supportive and realistic context that removes the pressure from having to be a beauty-pageant winner or a world-class body builder.
The key of it is their perspective on mutual submission to the Lord of Life. Jesus restores purity where there once was only shame and disgrace. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) He welcomes us into His family with open arms and forgiveness for all our past; such complete forgiveness as though the sin never happened!
God cannot reverse time and change what you did in the past. He cannot restore your virginity; He cannot remove the marks left in your mind from rape or immoral behavior; He cannot go back to the Garden of Eden and remove the fruit from Adam’s and Eve’s hands. What He can do is make you sexually pure again. He can bring you into His garden of love, grace and forgiveness, and even though you know the difference between good and evil, He can guide you into discovering all that is not just good, but “very good,” again. You can stand before Him and your spouse, “naked and unashamed.”
For additional understanding see Paul David Tripp’s article here: 10 Things You Should Know About Sex In a Broken World.