I’ve heard people say that nakedness is always bad in Scripture; pastors, professors, regular folks; this idea seems to be widely held. Yet as we have already seen in this study, it may be widely held, but it isn’t quite accurate. About ten years ago, I was teaching Genesis in a church Sunday school class, and one day I was covering chapters 2 and 3. As you know, at the end of chapter two there is the verse (2:25) that says “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Which is then followed by the Fall in chapter 3, and the scene in which they realized they were naked and wove leaves together as a covering as they hid themselves from God (Gen. 3:7 ff.). Of course the question of whom and/or what were they hiding from came up and the discussion ran pretty much along the same lines that we have had here in our study. After the class, the pastor came up to me and said that he had really enjoyed the discussion, that it had been very interesting, and then he said, “I don’t care what anybody says, being naked is a sin.”
I thought this was a really fascinating statement on his part, and replied, “Did you take a shower this morning before church?”
“Yes, of course, but nobody saw me.”
Isn’t that an interesting thing to say? So I said, “Hypothetically speaking, suppose that right at the moment you were stepping out of the shower someone, thinking the bathroom was empty, opened the door and walked in, seeing you there getting out of the shower. Who is the sinner; you thinking you were alone, or the one who thought the bathroom was vacant?”
“I can’t stand around here chit-chatting I have to go greet people!”
That remark says it all…
By examining the three Hebrew words for naked/nakedness, we have discovered that naked, as a state of being is not in and of itself offensive to God, and if anyone doubts that at this point, I would have to remind them that God actually commanded Isaiah to go and prophesy naked for three years as a sign; God does not command us to do wrong of to commit sin (Is. 20:2). We also have the account of Saul in 1 Samuel 19 in which Saul took of his clothes and prophesied along with the other prophets, who were accustomed to doing their prophesying while naked. If being naked is a sin or offense before God, then it seems unlikely that the Holy Spirit would come upon a naked person to bring a message from God for the people.
Looking at the difference between the three Hebrew words we have studied, and looking at the context in which they fall, we can begin to discern that nakedness is as much a state of mind as it is a state of being, which will lead us to a concept that many of us are already quite familiar with which is called “naked before God”.
I think that I’ll wrap this post up with this:
The other day I received a call from a good friend who is a sociologist with many years in Christian counseling. He was calling because he had been following the posts here about the image of God and these on nakedness as a metaphor in Scripture, and had come to the realization that we were covering a basic human need. He said that the three most basic needs of any human being (and I hope I get this right in my paraphrasing) are first for safety from harm and danger, having basic physical needs met, and intimate relationship (not necessarily of a physical nature) with at least one other human being. He went on to say that this is what he is seeing in Genesis 2:25, the basic human need to be “naked and unashamed” before at least one other person, and God Himself; to be completely transparent, and to be safe when doing so.
That is what nakedness represents in Scripture, and we will see this more and more as we continue our study.