Genesis 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Much of our understanding of the nature and purpose for marriage comes from the description of life in the garden of Eden. This is because no other couple besides pre-Fall Adam and Eve have experienced a marriage unstained by sin. Today we will again look at how Adam and Eve’s relationship instructs us regarding marriage.
We begin our study by noting that all people, in one way or another, closely associate physical nakedness and shame. For example, even though our culture revels in the gratuitous display of nudity, it has not eliminated the shame associated with physical exposure. People continue to purchase apparel, curtains, and anything else that prevents others from seeing us without clothing.
However, shame has not always been associated with nakedness. Before sin entered our world, husband and wife were in relationship with each other and not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). This shame-free experience of intimacy was not limited only to physical nudity. The close association between spiritual guilt and nakedness after the Fall (3:6–7) means that the pre-Fall marriage was characterized by a spiritual and emotional nakedness free from shame. But since the Fall, the fear of shame hinders all forms of intimacy between spouses.
Though sin will taint all of our relationships until we are glorified, the story of God’s response to Adam’s sin shows us two ways in which God mercifully provides for protection from shame. First, that God clothed Adam and Eve shows us that it is indeed proper for us not to bare our body and soul indiscriminately. Not everyone is entitled to see us in our nakedness. Secondly, marriage was not abolished with the Fall. In fact, it is a dominant metaphor for the intimate relationship between God and His people (Hos. 2:16). Though sin does affect this relationship, that husband and wife would be physically and spiritually unashamed before each other remains God’s design for marriage. Marriage is the relationship that offers the most intimacy between two human beings, and so we must be careful to obey God’s regulations for it in order that both spouses might be protected from shame.
When we obey God’s will for marriage we glorify Him and help to avoid the exposure that is harmful to our well-being. Marriage is given so that we can find deep intimacy without shame. If you are married do what you can to avoid shaming your spouse. Do not make comments that make him or her feel less of a man or a woman. Whatever your marital status, remember that some forms of physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy are inappropriate outside of marriage.
God and Nakedness, Copyright (2022), Ligonier Ministries.