Originally posted in Rabyd Theologian 2.0 on May 12th, 2009
I had a professor in Bible College that had an expression when dealing with dress issues — “God does not like nakedness!” I agreed with him a lot as a fellow Wesleyan, but on this issue I just couldn’t get true Biblical support for the idea that God hates nakedness in general and always has. If that were so, why on earth did he create Adam and Eve naked? It lead me to ponder the question of nakedness and whether or not God hates nakedness.
I think the problem with nakedness is not nakedness in itself. The problem is sin and the resulting loss of innocence that causes shame from nakedness.
The first reference to nakedness in the Bible is Genesis 2:25 — And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. I think this expresses the nature of innocence and purity on the part of Adam and Eve. They could see each other as wonderful creations of God and with no knowledge of good or evil, that is all they could see. They each had beautiful bodies and that is what they marvelled in. God declared all things ‘very good’ after their creation and that included ‘naked and unashamed’. They walked before God and each other naked and without shame of any kind.
Sin changes this forever. Suddenly they are aware of their nakedness where before they had been blissfully ignorant. This shame could not have been about each other in truth though being husband and wife. I know we find it had to imagine but Adam and Eve Being husband and wife they must have consummated their marriage on the grass of the garden of Eden and so covering their shame of nakedness could not have had much to do with concealment from each other. It had to do with God. Now they were naked and vulnerable to God. Fear comes in, fear of God and being truly helpless before him — naked before him. The couple covers their loins with aprons of leaves — waist to mid-thigh. There is no mention of any other area being covered on either one. In fact when nakedness is mentioned by the prophets this is the focus that Israel would be shamed with nakedness having their buttocks exposed. The focus of shame seems to be the buttocks and genital regions
One fact that needs to be mentioned is that female breasts and nakedness are never really equated except in Ezekiel 16:7 where God is speaking to Israel about how she used to be like a teenage girl whose breasts were formed but she was still naked until God clothed her. In all other references to female breasts there is some other thing at issue not nakedness. There is an exhortation to men to let themselves be satisfied with the breasts of their wife in very frank language at times in the Song of Solomon and Proverbs. The other way female breasts are addressed is in reference to nursing children. Even Jesus was addressed this way buy a woman in Luke 11:27. Jesus is not embarrassed by the statement and in fact refers to women’s breasts in the same way in Luke 23:29. What this all indicates to me is shame associated with women’s breasts being bare in a culture may be just that — cultural. That why here in the USA ,where part of our cultural has been shaped by both puritanical and holiness roots with their emphasis on ‘modest’ apparel, exposed breasts have some shame to them but this is not the shame of sin so much as the same of elements of culture say it is wrong. Go to another culture and you see women topless and the men think no more or less of it than any other part of a woman’s body. Something to be admired, but not necessarily immediately arousing.
Shift south of the border, so to speak, and the Biblical idea of shame of nakedness comes in full force. This is where shame comes in from Genesis, The Law, through the Old Testament prophets and even the Revelation this is presented. Noah’s nakedness is exposed by his son, but not by the other two sons — they cover him. I find it hard to believe that four hard-working men building an ark didn’t strip down for work like Peter did when he fished. The nakedness of Noah had more to do with exposing his ‘apron area’. The term nakedness is also used to refer to sexual relations in the Law — this is where incestuous relationships are condemned — see Leviticus 18. The prophets refer to this area as well for shame of being sold into slavery as exposed because of the failure of Israel to follow God. Mark runs away naked to escape in the garden when Jesus is arrested. Revelation also talks about nakedness in reference to the shame of Laodicea and the whore of Babylon. In all of these, sin is the main culprit not nakedness in and of itself. The real question is the nature of sin and how it made and makes something good and beautiful into something shameful. It is the lust of mankind that is at issue.
I don’t think God hates nakedness — he made us that way to illustrate true intimacy and openness — what I think he hates is what sin has done to our innocence about nakedness. The positive about nakedness is that it illustrates how we ultimately have to come to God and be naked before him and let him cloth us and raise us up. It is lust through sin that has caused a wonderful creation of God to be fouled up.
Next: Where Lust Lives