Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
What has gone wrong? Adam and Eve have changed their perception of their bodies. Their prior state of nakedness is lost when covered by fig leaves. Prior to their disobedience, Adam and Eve did not need to hide anything about themselves from God or each other. What does it mean that they are seeing and covering? What does this verse imply about the bodily lives of Adam and Eve, the bodily life of Jesus, and our own bodily lives?
In this verse, humans come to see themselves in a new way. This new understanding causes them to begin to feel shame and their nakedness becomes a source of fear in exposure in contrast to a soft, transparent state of relationship with God and each other. Adam and Eve’s perception of their bodies change, and with it changes their relationship to creation, God, and each other. They engage in a mechanical process to order creation in a way contrary to its original purpose. These fig leaves represent an effort to hide aspects of themselves from God and each other. The fig leaves create distance from each other and God, but the relationship is not completely destroyed or obliterated. In Christ, God enters the world completely exposed to others and to God. Christ puts on the fig leaves we have created in order to remove them and restore a right, honest, fully exposed relationship to each other and God. When he is raised on the cross naked, all fig leaves are removed for all of us. Jesus is scandalously exposed during his birth, life, death, and resurrection. This enables us to live into slowly exposing ourselves to each other and God more rightly.
Adam and Eve’s creation of new “technology” (fig leaves as loincloths), can take many forms in our lives today. We hide behind legalism (idolatry of law), materialism (idolatry of security in things ordered by our oppressive will), and narcissism (idolatry of self). These fig leaves separate us from our bodies as we become separated from God and each other. Instead of being vulnerable, we use more and more to cover ourselves up.
Jesus corrects our improper coverings. He enters the world naked. He is God, fully exposed as a baby human to God and to the world. He puts on our loincloths in order to make us able to take them off again. He lived in a culture of legalism, narcissism, and materialism. But He hides nothing from His Father. Jesus is scandalously vulnerable throughout his life.
Jesus is God as human, naked on a cross. His resurrection is the resistance of a vulnerable life achieving victory. Imagine a flourishing beauty and softness of a flower on a harsh mountainside. It is resistance to harsh, life-depriving surroundings. It is not covered by any invented processes contrary to original purpose. It derives life from being fully exposed to the sun (Son). Delicacy is beauty and strength in hard conditions. God is the provider. This exposure is freedom. The harsher the condition, the more profound the power of flourishing beauty. When exposed on a windswept, freezing cliff face, it is tempting to try to cover oneself, but to do so is to cut off oneself from life.
Through Christ, I wonder what it looks like to be rightly vulnerable with God and others. We cannot hide behind how we look, what tricks we can do, or who we know. How can we be more truthful about who we are, who God is, and how to interact with God and the world like Christ?
By Stefan Seeling | Dillon, Colorado