Every once in a while I meditate on Biblical relationships. Whenever I meditate on Adam and Eve I come away with something new. Last winter I focused on their attempt to hide their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden. My thoughts looped around their nakedness being less a physical exposure than an emotional one.
Meditation Verse: Genesis 3:4-13
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Their action exposed their doubt over the sufficiency of God’s provision for them. They were acting as if they did not have knowledge already. As if God had not revealed Himself to them. It was the doubt they tried to excuse. “Well, the woman You gave to me gave me the fruit! Honestly, Father, I wouldn’t have eaten it otherwise.” “Yeah, well, I only gave it to him because the serpent in our garden said it would be okay.” With their pointing fingers, they sought to exonerate their greedy desire to obtain more without paying any consequences. They were grabbing for something they already had, because someone else repackaged it and presented it as something out of their reach. Adam and Eve were the agents of their own downfall because they didn’t take personal responsibility for their knowledge or for their actions. In conversation with the serpent they did not assert absolutely that particular tree, in a garden of amazing bounty, was off limits. And when God approached them and asked what they had done, they did not confess their sin.
Some argue that Adam and Eve knew no shame before the fall because they were innocent. The argument suggests they had no knowledge of good and evil. I think that’s rather simplistic. Adam and Eve were made in the image of their creator. They were connected to their source. They had all the knowledge they needed and access to whatever they wanted.
Adam and Eve were joined as one flesh as man and wife. Their joining created a unity and an emotional transparency that didn’t survive the enemies challenge. They became divided after the conflict with the serpent. Eve shared with her husband, and Adam willingly took what his wife offered. There was no remorse or shame in the receiving and eating. That came as an afterthought when God appeared in the garden to question them. At that point they both sought to hide and protect themselves. In this sense, they not only lost their direct connection with God, but the completeness of their union was damaged. Both attempts of covering themselves with leaves and hiding in the trees are examples of division and separation.
The first thing Adam said to God when God called to him was, I heard Your voice… and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. In other words, I was exposed and I couldn’t face you. I didn’t want you to see me – not like this. Adam and Eve didn’t hide simply because they ate the fruit. They hid because of the emotion associated with their action; the shame of having doubted and disobeyed God and they feared judgment. Adam’s fear speaks of his disconnection from his source more clearly than anything, as we are told in 1 John 4:16-18, quite clearly: God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are told explicitly that God did not give us a spirit of fear (timidity), but rather a spirit of power, love and of self-discipline (sound mind). When you know who you are and you are secure in your place, position and relationships (with God and people), reminding yourself of this fact is sufficient to check yourself when doubt creeps in.
Adam and Eve should have presented a united front and protected one another. Instead, they selfishly sought to please and protect themselves. We are told in 1 Peter 4:8, Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. I think, perhaps, that’s where the bulk of their shame came from. Not only were they caught doing something they knew not to do, they compounded their disobedience by not protecting their partner – they did not provide covering for one another. They didn’t defend or stand up for each other. There is no fear in love. Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Adam and Eve started off perfect in love. Their love could have covered their sin. Instead they chose not to take responsibility for their actions and passed blame in fear of punishment. Their choices speak directly to their separation from one another.
Their story is an illustration of a relationship in its perfect state. Two people joined as one flesh, caring and providing for one another. They were emotionally open and available to one another; they were naked together and unashamed. Their story is also an illustration of the destruction a relationship is susceptible to when influenced by outside forces and internal selfishness. They lost sight of one another’s best interests. They sought to shield themselves from the other.
Relationships are still susceptible to all the nuances that caused Adam and Eve to fall. We are in danger of destroying ourselves and our relationships when we build up defenses and guard against intimacy with our partner. There is danger when we blame our partner or others for our shortcomings and insecurities. When we hide our true selves from view in hopes of escaping judgment and recriminations. There is great danger when we fear our nakedness and our emotional vulnerabilities. More danger in the fear and hiding than simply revealing where we are.
Relationships fail for many reasons – outside interference, lack of trust, selfishness, individualistic attitude being a few reasons that come to mind. None of that has to be the end of a union. You can overcome anything simply by choosing to cover your spouse with your love.
With Adam and Eve’s relationship, certain characteristics were implicit in their joining and in their nakedness before the fall. Trust is implicit when you expose and open your heart to someone. It’s not something to be manipulated, taken for granted or set aside. Our nakedness is sacred and should be honored as such.
In Proverbs 4:23 we are admonished to guard our hearts above all things. We may be gifted with a spouse, but it is our choice to continue day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute in performing our love for our partner. So, be careful you are not giving away pieces of your heart before you get to your assigned spouse; only your spouse should benefit from your emotional nakedness.
Meditation Verse: Genesis 2:18, 20-25
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.