It would seem as though we have come full circle!
In paradise Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed. They fell into sin, and the fast thing recorded of them after they fell is that their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Although we do not read literally that now they were ashamed, it becomes quite evident that such was the case, for we do read that at once they sewed fig leaves together and made aprons to cover themselves. In light of the fact that before they sinned they were not ashamed, though they were naked, and being aware of their nakedness after sinning they sought clothing, what else can it mean but that now they are ashamed? But today without any shame men and women in nudist colonies parade in the raw before each other. And outside of these nudist camps women without shame, at the shameless demand and shamelessly expressed desire of men, go about in all degrees of undress even unto stark nakedness before men, and that even while serving food! Then, too, on every level today not only are the matters of man’s sex life, its members and activities, spoken of freely in public without the slightest hesitancy or trace of shame, but immoral speech is openly spoken and publicly printed. Indeed it does seem as though we have come full circle, to where our first parents stood in their state of righteousness in paradise.
All this, if you please, is entirely apart from the Cross and Spirit of Christ. It would, therefore, seem as though the world has brought us (many in the human race at least) back to Adam’s and Eve’s shameless nakedness. We have here, it would seem, to a degree rediscovered paradise lost, and learned how silly it was for Adam and is for us today, to have such shame before those of the opposite sex.
Shall we ask, What has God wrought? Or with grief shall we declare, What hath Satan wrought! Surely this unashamed nakedness in the world today is not something that God wrought through the Spirit of Christ. Indeed, this shamelessness has crept into the church in varying degrees with Sunday-go-meeting mini-skirts as short as, if not even shorter, than those worn by the unbelievers in their Sunday-go-sporting clothes, and with recreation’s scanty bathing suits that outdo those of some in the world for brevity and enticing revelation! Yet this does not make this removal of shame the work of God through the Cross and Spirit of Christ. It is not a condition in the world that the church has succeeded in realizing. The opposite is true. The world has succeeded in bringing into the church the evil in which it rejoices.
Adam and Eve knew no shame because they knew no sin. And they knew no sin because they still were wholly dedicated with body and soul in a joyous service of love before God. Today’s unregenerated advocates of exposing the human body without shame likewise know no shame because they know no sin. But they know no sin because they have given themselves over completely to the satisfaction of their lusts, which have now become their gods. Adam and Eve had pure minds, and therefore they knew no shame. The unregenerated have filthy minds that are hardened by their sin and cannot know shame any more. They are calloused by a walk of abandon in this sin. And this boldness, this shameless nakedness which they practice is not here by a conquering and removing of sin, but it is here because of a steady development of sin!
To understand this presence of shame in Adam and Eve, although formerly they had none, we must remember that it was a mutual experience. Eve alone did not feel shame before Adam; but Adam felt shame before Eve as fully as she did before him. They were both ashamed, and both made fig-leaf aprons. We must, therefore, reject any explanation, or attempt to explain this shame, that suggests that it was due to the fact that now Adam found that he had no control of his passions. If that is the explanation, then Eve also found this out at the same moment Adam did. If we take the position that Eve felt a strong aversion to being thus before Adam’s eyes, then we must insist that Adam also had just as strong an unwillingness to be naked before Eve.
Now it cannot and should not be denied that there is a symbolism in their nakedness. The words of God to them, “Who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” indicate that sinning against God and their awareness of nakedness go hand in hand within them. And the significance of this surely is that they were naked before God and knew it! It was not simply a nakedness before each other. They did not simply try to hide from each other by means of fig-leaf aprons. They tried also to hide from God by these aprons, and later by running under the trees of the garden.
Yet it is also a fact that they did feel shame before each other, and that they covered just specific areas of their bodies. They did not try to cover themselves completely from God’s eyes by those aprons. And when God tore from them their Arminian-inspired, salvation-by-works covering of fig leaves, He also gave them coats that covered only those parts of the body that Adam and Eve now realized had to be covered. Their shame was, therefore, more than an awareness of guilt before God. And remember that they were man and wife. What is more, man still today to a great degree feels this same shame even in his unregenerated state. In unregenerated man there still is the “glimmerings of natural light,” as the Canons of Dordrecht state it, “whereby he retains some knowledge of God, and of the differences between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly external department.” Who would be so foolish as to deny this? Although this hardening process, which comes with the development of sin, removes this shame from many, it still is in the souls of unbelievers today, and they can wage strong warfare against pornography, and prostitution, and the like. But let it not be foolishly maintained that God’s grace causes these unbelievers still to have shame and to cover their bodies before each other.
The article quoted from the Canons (Heads of doctrine III, IV, article 4) says much more than what was quoted above. It adds that “so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil, Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.” Now it would be a very strange grace of God that would give the unregenerated man a natural light that makes him incapable of doing what is right in the sphere of the natural and civil and which enables and empowers him to pollute his way and to walk in unrighteousness. And here, in this article, exactly, instead of a restraint of sin by this so-called “common grace” of God, is taught a development in sin, and of sin, which man could not have performed without those glimmerings of naturallight. Spiritual light it is not. And that God preserved in man after the fall his rational, moral (thinking, willing) nature was not a matter of “common grace” but of saving grace. With a view to His elect children God kept in man that nature in order that Christ, His Son, might come into our flesh, and in order that there might be that which could be regenerated to the activity of saving faith. It was with a view to His Church—not the human race in general—that God did not take away from man the formal side of His image, and did not let him fall to the level of the brute beast of the field that can never have faith in God or love in its heart for Him. God kept that thinking, willing nature in mankind in order that He might be able presently to put enmity in some men against the serpent and his seed.
But the point we wish to make, while we still have space, is that although Adam and Eve were husband and wife, and therefore to commit literal adultery or even fornication were impossible, the moment they died spiritually they, because of these glimmerings of natural light, as well as the fact that they fell into the arms of Christ and were regenerated, became aware at once of the sinful drive within them to use their powers and faculties, yea, their whole being, for themselves and apart from the service and love of God. By eating of the forbidden fruit they broke the first table of the law, pushed God aside, sought to rob Him of His sovereignty and embraced the idol that Satan presented them. God’s name and God’s works meant nothing to them any longer. But in this shame that they felt they also realized their potential to break the second table of the law as well. As man and wife they could hardly steal from each other, Adam could not break the fifth commandment, for he had no authority over him among the creatures. Bearing false witness against each other could not come until there was a third party on this earth. Murder was possible and covetousness could likewise be practiced. But before them in their nakedness was the whole array of sexual immorality from which their eyes could not withdraw themselves, and which therefore required that they be clothed. This, at the moment of their fall into sin, became the closest sin of the second table of the law into which they could direct themselves, now that hatred of God had come into their hearts to replace the love wherewith they were created. Indeed, man’s sin in paradise did not simply open up the door to all kinds of rebellion and acts of hatred against God. It also introduced all the evil that man would commit against man, using the neighbor in a personal lust that asks not after the good of that neighbor.
Be not deceived, then, by any propaganda that comes from the lust mills of the world. You do well to have shame before those of the opposite sex when you are caught naked. Blushing brides and virgins who take the marriage vow are still to be commended and are not to be called prudish and old-fashioned. Any lack of shame that results from the world’s fashions and ridicule of the work of the living God Who saw fit to clothe Adam and Eve, and did not rebuke them for seeking a covering, will not take away guilt from before His holy eyes, but it will harden you to break also the other commandments in the second table of the law. The law is one, and a hardening in respect to one of the ten commandments will make you calloused in regard to the others as well.
In the resurrection, however, our grave clothes will not be restored; and we will have no need of them. For Christ shall restore us to a shameless nakedness through the covering He has given us for our sins. The beauty of the resurrection body will not be covered, nor will it need to be. That beauty of it presented in I Corinthians 15:42-44 will be seen. There, in the glory of the kingdom they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels in heaven. There, in the new Jerusalem there will be a full church, and there will be no need to bring forth the covenant seed, and no need for a sex life, or sex organs. Besides, we shall have pure minds and every thought and desire will be directed to God and His glory.
Indeed, Christ covers us so fully that we may shamelessly be naked in the new Jerusalem. He covers the sins of our present bodies; and as a result we have no guilt anymore, nor love of sin. In the new Jerusalem we shall know ourselves to be naked before God and before each other; and yet we will have the comfort of being covered by Christ’s righteousness. We will not need to hide, and will have nothing to hide from each other to avoid shame and temptation; and we shall be in honour and joy with perfect dedication unto God with body and soul. This dedication of our souls will result in a consecration of the spiritual bodies so that both in body and soul God shall be all in all, even in all of our experiences.