After Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit (of the knowledge of good and evil) their eyes were opened, just as the serpent had promised. However instead of making them more like God they became less like him. In this post I will seek to answer the question: Why was it such a profound thing for Adam and Eve to realise they were naked?

So to recap, in Genesis 2 God created Eve and united her and Adam together because “It is not good from man to be alone…”(Genesis 2:18, ESV). Eve was created from the flesh of Adam making her a suitable to be his helper. After Adam saw her he was overjoyed, because he had finally found what he was looking for in all creation (a human helper). Therefore their flesh was the symbol of their union. This is why Genesis 2:25 is so important, stating that that Adam and Eve were both naked and neither of them was ashamed of their flesh, because they had a perfect working union.

Therefore it becomes clear why it is such an important and profound thing to say that Adam and Eve were so ashamed of their naked bodies and that they wanted to cover them. No longer does their flesh symbolise perfect unity, instead it has come to symbolise their treachery, shame and broken unity. The term flesh has so much negativity associated with it in the Bible after Genesis 2 that in Paul’s letter to the Romans he uses the term flesh to represent everything that is wrong with humanity (e.g. Romans 8). This is the flesh that Adam received from God (who judged it as good), the same flesh Eve received from Adam (he loved her at first sight because of it). So in the end their flesh and the clothing they use to cover it became a symbol of the broken union of Adam (humanity).

The accusations of Adam
The fractured union of Adam and Eve (and creation) is further highlighted when God confronts Adam with his transgression. Immediately he blames both God and Eve for what happened, “The woman whom you gave to be with me…” (Genesis 3:12). The pride of Adam is on full display here, before he was content to hide from God, now he boldly accuses God of giving him a helper that is not only unsuitable but outright evil (to his face).

In light of Genesis 1-2 there are three important implications of Adam’s accusations:
• The unity between God and man is broken. Adam accuses God of evil, of giving him a helper that is not just unsuitable but capable of insurrection
• The unity of mankind is broken. In Adam’s own words Eve’s flesh is his flesh and her bone is his bone, she was made from his flesh. The basis of their union was Adam’s flesh, for him to claim that Eve was inadequate is to completely deny their union and in the process he implies that he is defective. Such is the profound connection between members; to hate another is to hate yourself.
• The first husband turns against his wife. The union of mankind is broken, along with any hope for future unity. Adam is Eve’s husband, their marriage was designed to unify humanity and provide a relational mechanism by which humanity is to perpetuate and strengthen the union of Adam’s flesh.

Therefore it becomes clear Adam and Eve no longer seek to maintain and perpetuate the unity of Adam’s flesh in marriage, but rather out of self-interest they maintain and perpetuate a state of bastardised unity. Losing this union of family and species is a significant part of the image of God which humanity lost in the fall. Where there was once unity there is now disunity, individuals sharing in Adam’s flesh and not acting in accordance with the order of marriage God had given (Eve leading and Adam following).

So what has actually changed?
While remnants of their union remained, they still shared in Adam’s flesh and were still married, however their union was broken. At this point the union of man reveals itself to be more than just flesh (form) and marriage (order). What does seem to have changed is their attitude to both. They no longer view each others bodies and the order of their marriage as good things. Therefore unity must be seen as more than just form and order, it also includes some sort of attitude.

So what is this attitude? While it is not overtly stated in the passage, it can be inferred from the events in Genesis 1-3 with the following observations:
• When Adam saw Eve for the first time it was love at first sight because she shared his flesh. He was over joyed to see her (a positive attitude)
• When they realised they were naked they were ashamed of it (their flesh). This is at least dislike or at most hate (negative attitude)
• When God confronts Adam about his sin he shifts blame to Eve (pushes her under the bus). Adam reveals his attitude to Eve is at least apathy or at most hatred coupled with an instinct of self-preservation/interest.

Therefore what seems to be missing from their relationship is self-sacrificial love (the love of God). This will be discussed more in my next post.


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