“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.’”—Genesis 3:7-10 NIV
Imagine the most vulnerable situation in which you could possibly be. Odds are it has something to do with your being naked. Whether physically, emotionally or psychologically, nakedness equals vulnerability in the minds of many. We all have this image of nakedness that congers up feelings of dread and fear.
But why is that? Are we hardwired for this fear? Are we conditioned to believe it? We see in Genesis that when Adam and Eve knew they were naked, they were ashamed. They felt vulnerable. But it wasn’t always that way. In the previous chapter of Genesis (chapter 2), they were both naked and were not ashamed. What happened?
They listened to the world, that’s what. In their desire for control, they gave up the freedom that comes from being vulnerable. Have you ever thought about vulnerability being freeing? When we are vulnerable, we don’t have to worry about whether people approve of our words, actions, or attitudes. We give up the desire to win or be seen as “right.”
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a nudist lifestyle (though I cannot disapprove of those that do); I’m advocating a lifestyle that leans into the original design for life, in which we are open and honest about our lives. When we allow ourselves to be “naked” regarding our fears, doubts, and desires, we are freed to speak up concerning injustice because we don’t worry about “making trouble;” we are freed to pursue a life of love for the other because it is right, rather than easy; we are freed to develop our own identity because we no longer need to conform.
When Adam and Eve chose to follow the world, they lost their innocence and their place in paradise. They chose worldly knowledge over divine intimacy. If vulnerability is what it takes to recapture that intimacy, I’m all for it. Vulnerability leads to intimacy. That may be a leap for some, but I believe it’s true. When we are vulnerable, we are seen by those around us as real and authentic. When we are vulnerable, others feel safer being vulnerable around us. The relational potential in this is amazing!
The more vulnerable we are, the more human we become. And the more human we become, the more we express what God has created us to be. If our biggest need is for lasting, real relationships, then being “naked and not ashamed” is a good way to start.