On a day like any other day before, but never a day like it afterwards, the first man and woman experienced something. From that day forward, woman and man were changed irreversibly. They felt things unknown to their minds prior to that day. They said new things. Adam and Eve said things to the Lord they had never said before, and had never needed to in the days of their innocent obedience. They saw in each other what they never realized before. The first man and woman saw in their Maker reasons for distancing and qualities inspiring fear. Mankind changed that day, and it has never been the same ever since. Also, what changed that day is the fundamental way in which mankind has come to understand God, our Maker. Despite many efforts, we revert to that same fear and guilt. It hues our understanding, as it has from the day the likeness of which never has come in the entire existence of mankind. It was the day, Adam took the forbidden fruit from the hand of Eve, partook of it against his better judgment, and condemned themselves and all their children to death.
What is nakedness?
Nakedness is the shameful realization of guilt. Denial of guilt is a presumption, and a temporary construct which disappears in the presence of God. Eve had already eaten of the forbidden fruit, but she did not feel anything unusual. There is nothing in the narrative of Genesis to suggest, she realized a change. She simply desired the fruit, and kept the desire secret. She ate of it, and then thought of offering the same to her man, Adam. The entire awakening, the change, the realization happened from the moment man ate of the forbidden fruit. In fact, the realization of nakedness occurred simultaneously in Even and Adam, upon the man’s eating of the fruit. Was it the reaction of Adam that gave Eve the realization that something wrong had happened? Were Adam and Eve bound together in a relationship in such a way that, it was the disobedience of Adam that also had the effect of a painful awakening in Eve? The finality of the act and the implications only come to complete light when, the Lord God questions the man and the woman. The reactions of God and His judgments give perspective to what our senses might still discount as a minor incident. We understand the significance of disobedience, and we understand a personal God from the response of God. We see human nature and the humanity of the Divine Being from this incident.
So, is it the nature of God that inspires guilt? Is it the social arrangement of being in interaction with other humans that gives the realization of shame? For the second question, one can reason, that a man or woman is not ashamed of nakedness in isolation. The realization comes in the presence of another human. Curiously, as long as Eve and Adam maintained their innocence in obedience, they had no suggestion of shame or guilt in their mind. The realization came from disobedience. So the answer to the first question must be that, it is not the nature of God but the changed nature of man and woman from the time of the first humans that gives rise to shame and guilt.
It is also interesting to observe from the narrative in Genesis that, the feelings of shame and realization of guilt arose within humans without anything yet having been said or done by the Lord. Till a later point, the Lord was unaware of what had transpired in the garden of Eden during his absence. HIS reaction is of surprise, as well as of discernment, shown in the words of Genesis 3:11. So many questions and later analysis have been elicited from the narrative of Genesis 3, but there must be reason why things are written the way they are. There must be reason why some details are mentioned and some are not. It so easily happens that, one gets lost in speculating over details that are not mentioned while not giving enough thought to the details that are mentioned.
…the feelings of shame and realization of guilt arose within humans without anything yet having been said or done by the Lord.
What is confession?
Confession is the admission of guilt. Humans seem not to have given up the tendency to hide error, but rather attempt to cover it over with insufficient attempts and justifications. One of course, goes with the logical assumption that God is always right and humans can be wrong. From the time those words were written in Genesis, humans have learnt more sophisticated ways of “appearing” correct and right. Rather than confessing, people have learnt to act bold. People have learnt to deny error with courage. People have learnt to entirely do away with feelings of guilt by trying to mentally do away with its reason – admission of relationship and accountability toward other humans, or toward God. When no one is around and there no one to answer to, why be ashamed of nakedness? Once all sensation of guilt is done with by personally destroying the reason for guilt, people can truly feel liberated. Can’t they?
Yes, people have tried to be free of the burden of guilt and shame for so long. We might be wrong in the way we do it. It wasn’t God that made Adam or Eve feel guilty. The realization came from within the first humans. Their ingenious way of dealing with that guilt also came from their own minds. In all their exercise of free will, there was no interference from God at all. They had the choice to eat the forbidden fruit, or to refuse it. They had the choice to admit to God, to confess what their consciences told them. Before being dishonest to the Lord, they had to be dishonest to themselves. And perhaps, a re-evaluation of their relationship with each other too! In all this afterthought, the simplicity of the narrative is getting lost. It could well be that, the brief narrative was kept so, in order for later readers to invest their own minds in examining it and learning from it.
Why confess nakedness?
Adam and Eve acted out of fear. Was their fear justified? They were not put to death instantly. Yes, they were held responsible in proportion to their error, each one – Adam, Eve, and the serpent (Satan) – and also in proportion to their experience and understanding. They were ousted from the garden.
It would be a mistake to take the understanding of who Adam, Eve, Satan, and the Lord were if we don’t remember the context of the entire situation. It is easy to overlook the intimacy between humans and God at that time, when unashamed and open audience were possible with the manifestation of the Maker. This is simply irreplicable today, no matter who is the man claiming to speak for God. If there is a man speaking for God, let him prove it beyond doubt as we are informed of in the narrative of the prophets and the apostles. Without that advantage of meaningful miracles, each man has all the more reason for humility if he has understanding of the sayings of the Lord. It is good to remember how fear, shame, and guilt distanced humans from their Maker. It was true then, and it is true today. What humans have tried in error is, tried to do away with the feelings associated with the original disobedience of humans rather than understand better the nature of God through creation.
The creation around us is, the first and foremost means to learn of the Creator. Sufficient evidence exists to not be afraid, not to be ashamed, and not be guilty; certainly not in the way of the first man and woman. The sight to see in creation too is subjective. IT has to be. We see in the variety of the world, a reflection of our own hearts and minds. Where one sees death, competition, and destruction, another sees life, survival, and continuation. Only that, one shouldn’t be too quick to absorb the views and opinions of another without the filter of personal examination. This is also true of a book like the Bible. To claim that one single understanding or observation is the only correct one is foolish! To admit the multitude of ways of understanding is, wise and it is humble. We only wish to take care, to realize the implications of putting certain understandings into practice. And we wish to take care, to realize the freedom of each human to choose how to understand and what to do with that understanding. This is what the Maker wishes too!
We see in the variety of the world, a reflection of our own hearts and minds.
Adam and Eve were always naked, naked from the day they were made. The realization of nakedness and to cover it over was a later realization. Each person reading that story has a chance to revisit that time, and imagine what he or she might have done as an individual, as a companion, and as a creation of God. This is the beauty of retrospection! What we could all basically agree on is, their nakedness. How one chooses to deal with their and personal nakedness is choice. As then, so it is now, the judgment of each and in relation to others should rest in the hand of the Lord. Who is to say, how he looks upon you, me, and others in difference to those who existed in times past!