It is the kind of verse that makes children snicker. Or it makes groomsmen giggle. Maturity doesn’t always accompany age.
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25).
This seems like a strange and unnecessary detail, especially at the beginning and most fundamental section of Scripture.
So what’s going on here?
This verse follows the first wedding ceremony. After making a good world, the Lord declares that something is not good. The man is alone.
So the Lord takes something from Adam’s side to make a woman. The story then describes the Lord acting like the father of the bride, walking his daughter down the aisle. When Adam sees her, he sings poetically something like, “We were made for each other!”
The man and woman are declared husband and wife as God defines marriage as two people becoming one flesh. This ceremony had no wedding dresses. They were both naked and felt no shame.
But after they give in to the devil’s temptation and sin, the first sign that something has gone wrong is a garb of greenery. “They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:7). Not only were they trying to hide their bodies from each other; they snuck into the woods, avoiding their Maker.
What this means is that before their fall, Adam and Eve experienced complete exposure. They were fully known; they held nothing back from each other as spouses. And yet at the same time, they felt no shame. They were fully loved.
This is one of our deepest desires. To be fully known and fully loved. Usually we experience one or the other. If we are fully known, others see our selfish motivations. Such wickedness is not lovable. Or we are loved and admired but at the great expense of covering our messes and softening our jagged edges.
But there is a way we can experience a slice of paradise. The apostle Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church . . . cleansing her” (Ephesians 5:25,26). In other words, when husbands and wives apply to each other what Jesus has already done for them, they can once again get a glimpse of the Garden.
Unfortunately, this is not always what couples experience. A hardened heart cannot receive or give grace. But where God has broken through and Jesus has made his home, the Spirit can do his work. He can lead spouses to forgive and love one another just like God in Christ has loved them.
Each of us has ugliness that demands a covering. But when we disclose our dirt to our spouses and they cover it with God’s grace, then we can be known and loved, naked without shame.