Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and unashamed.
In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were naked and confident with one another. This nakedness and confidence extended beyond the physical to the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. In the verses immediately after these, Adam and Eve both sinned against God by disobeying his only command to them. That disobedience had effects on their openness and confidence with one another.
Genesis 2:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
What changed? Why did they suddenly feel the need to cover themselves up? Why didn’t they feel open and confident with one another anymore?
It does not state that they suddenly became ugly. Their confidence in nakedness could not be because of the quality of their bodies. After they sinned, I think there are three reasons that they felt ashamed and wanted to cover themselves.
- Because they felt guilt and shame for the first time in their relationship with God and felt the anxiety of their relationship with Him being in peril.
- Because guilt and shame about sin always causes us to be less open, less transparent, and less intimate with one another.
- Because they did not feel safe with the other person anymore due to the other’s sin. Adam could not trust Eve to love him perfectly because she acted selfishly, which made him want to build walls to protect himself.
God actually affirms their need for clothing. Rather than demanding that they take their clothes off and return to their state of innocence, God killed an animal and used its skin to make them clothing to cover their shame.
How God’s Loyal Love Frees us to be Confident and Open with Him
Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.
The truth is that we are all naked to God, physically and in every other way. God knows the deep, most intimate secrets of our lives. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our inner thoughts, our most carnal desires, and who we are in our most secret moments. God is a Holy God, and our sin, especially our secret sin, is fully known to him. If our secret sins are shameful enough for us to keep us from being open with other sinful human beings, how much more ashamed should we be about our known sins to a Holy God. They are an embarrassment that not only causes emotional pain, but also indict us to judgment from an angry God.
We put on all kinds of “clothing” in order to cover the insecurity, shame, and guilt that we feel in front of a Holy God. We may try to cover our guilt and shame by doing good things like going to church, giving to charities, or “paying it forward.” In this way, we hope that we will feel less shame and somehow pay off our guilt before God. We also may try to cover our guilt and shame by sinking further into our sins, in some kind of hedonist frenzy. In this way, we at least try to numb our shame and guilt with pleasure. We also may try to completely disavow any knowledge of wrongdoing (1 John 1:8-10), denying any sense of morality and even denying the God who made us Psalm 42:1).
None of these options work. Whether we feel shame or not, and whether we admit guilt or not, the truth is that we are completely naked and known before God. To recount, a 1) Perfectly Holy God 2) sees all of our most shameful sins 3) and will punish us justly and fully for all of our sins. Oh, 4) and there is nothing we can do to hide, cover, or avoid that punishment.
Many people have the mistaken notion that the Bible teaches how to be good and how good makes up for bad that we have done. THAT IS NOT THE MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE. The gospel tells us that we are far more shameful and guilty that we could ever know or feel, but that God made a way for us to be forgiven and loved.
The Son of God came to earth as a man in order to die on a cross and come back to life three days later. In his death, he took all of our shame, guilt, sins, and punishment on himself. If we believe trust in his sacrifice, we can be completely forgiven for all of our sins, even our most shameful sins. Through his death, we do not have to fear his punishment.
The gospel teaches us that God completely knows every part of us, but still offers free forgiveness. We are complete exposed to God, but, rather than being ashamed at our sin and guilt, we can be confident that he loves and accepts us. If we believe in Christ, we cannot lose that position of confidence before God. We are adopted into his family once-and-for-all. He will never love and accept us more, and he will never love and accept us less. That is good news for those of us who struggle with shame and insecurity.
Hebrews 10:22-23 Let us draw near with a true in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience … Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
How Our Loyal Love Frees us to be Confident and Open with One Another
God loves us with an amazing love that can never change! If we could lose his love by sinning today, then we would not have confidence before him, but rather we would live in a constant state of fear and anxiety.
This is why loyalty is necessary for any relationship, and especially in marriage. If I am worried that my wife might leave me if I mess up, then I can never have confidence in our relationship and never be completely open with her. If our relationship is based on performance, then we will never feel acceptance and love, and our marriage will not make it.
However, if the foundation of our relationship is loyalty, then I am free to pursue her good, not out of fear, but out of genuine interest in what would be best for her. A loyal relationship binds two people together so that petty arguments–or even large arguments–do not threaten to destroy the relationship, because performance doesn’t define the relationship. In a loyal relationship, two people are free to be completely naked with one another without shame and fear.
How can you pursue loyalty in your relationships?
- Affirm your commitment to other person through words of loyalty, hugs, sacrifices for them, and gifts.
- In the middle of an argument, remind yourself and them that you remain loyally committed to them and the argument cannot do anything to change that. In fact, one of the fastest ways to reconciliation is to perform an act of loyal love for the other person while still in a fight. This can be a word, a gift, physical affection, or in an act of sacrifice for them.
- In a marriage relationship, delete “divorce” and “break” from your vocabulary.
Let’s allow God’s loyal love to fill our lives and cause us to be confident before him. Then, let’s take that love and bend it outward in our relationships with others, and especially with our spouse.
Note: This blog is a general rule about the benefits that loyalty can have on a relationship, but there are exceptions to this rule. In cases of abuse, abandonment, and total apathy within a relationship, other steps may need to be taken to protect, challenge, and correct those who are involved. Because these exceptions are complicated, this blog has not tried to discuss what to do in these situations. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact us.