Imagine someone saying to you, “I am naked and I’m not ashamed.”
Did your eyebrows go up? Mine did. Yeah, TMI hippie, thanks for sharing… This comment is at least a little inappropriate, and definitely awkward.
But the Bible tells us Adam and Eve were able to say this, and not just to brazenly make someone else feel uncomfortable, but say it and mean it.
Would I ever be able to be “naked and not ashamed?”
Jesus, be with me today as I unpack this phrase.
Adam and eve were created naked. That was their natural state, of course they would not need to be ashamed. But when they disobeyed You, sin entered their lives. They suddenly felt an urge to cover themselves, to hide their bodies from each other.
God my Father, You asked them: “Who told you that you were naked?” This was met with a stunned silence. Your conclusion was that they had found out through their act of disobedience.
Your question does not seem to imply that it was evil for Adam and Eve to know of their nakedness – but that the source of that knowledge was problematic. Adam and Eve’s discovery of their nakedness was not through a loving, well-informed source, but through a dangerous and sinful choice.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
They turned to the products of this earth to inform their minds. The result of that awakening was an unhealthy sense of self – an understanding of the body as evil, as something that needs to be hidden, covered, concealed.
They were no longer able to view their bodies as glorious creations.
They were ashamed of what should have been beautiful.
How contrary this is to Your original design of the body. When You created them, they had no need to cover their bodies.
They saw each other as You saw them: designed beautifully, intricately, complex! Their bodies expressed their glorious souls. They were created from Your generosity and reflected that generosity; they had the capacity to give freely to each other, to love each other completely. They saw with their minds and their eyes this wonderful, perfect plan You created for them.
With their self-image formed by You, they had no reason to hide.
But when they turned away from You for the formation of their minds, and instead consulted the world, they lost their ability to see clearly, to appreciate the grandeur of Your creation.
Instead of seeing their bodies as a gift, they saw them as something to guard selfishly and keep for themselves. Instead of being able to see each other as a beautiful creation, they began to see each other as an object to be used. They were no longer able to recognize Your reflection in themselves.
Instead, they were ashamed at this body You had given them. They were disgusted. Discontent.
Now that original sin is passed down through the generations, it is so much harder for me to see my body as the beautiful creation You originally intended.
I am surrounded by a culture that perpetually tries to feed me perverted and false conceptions of the body.
From contraception, to false views of marriage, to food and alcohol marketing, they try to tell me that my body is mine, to do with as I please, to use to get whatever pleasure I want – disregarding the wants and needs of others.
The world constantly tries to tell me that my body is not good enough.
I must be skinnier, tanner, more toned.
My hair must be blonder, browner, smoother, curlier.
My skin must be flawless and my makeup must be perfect.
My neckline must be lower, and my heels must be higher.
No wonder I am tempted to feel “ashamed.”
I must not let the world dim and smudge the fact that I am created as an Image of You, my God. I must continue to build my self-image based on Your view of me as revealed and explained in Holy Scripture, and the traditions and teachings of Your Church. I must remember that it is not physical perfection which I seek, but perfection in the virtues of charity and generosity.
My body is a beautiful and glorious tool that helps me put these virtues into practice in the physical world.
Lord, help me always turn to You to inform my understanding of good and evil, and to resist the temptation to eat the fruit of the worldly tree of knowledge.
Help my view of self, especially of my body, always conform to Your view of me; help me see myself as a work of art that reflects Your beauty and allows me to love and give and live in relationship with others.
I can be “naked and not ashamed,” because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.