In the Garden of Eden, naked and unashamed.
As I try to understand more about nudity psychologically and spiritually, I keep finding myself being presented with conflicting information – nudity and pornography versus nudity and spirituality. Somehow the conflict makes sense from a perspective of depth psychology, but I wrestle with it as a spiritual person. Everything about the human psyche has a duality which is captured in the image and the idea of yin and yang. We actually get to feel this duality within ourselves as we cycle from good feelings to dark feelings. The words hate and love are words that get a good work out in our daily speech. And in our world, the response to seeing a human without clothing evokes responses that range from intense goodness to intense darkness.
If I shift perspectives for a moment, I can begin to grasp an elementary idea of what might actually be an answer. I am a parent. I took part in a creative act with my incredible wife which led to the birth of three children. I saw each of my three children as they emerged from the womb into the world. They were perfect; they were unclothed; they could do nothing that was wrong in them, no possibility to commit any conceivable sin. And, as far as I could tell, in the beginning of each of their lives, they were Eve and Adam in their turn. Their presence in my life evoked a sense of awe. All doubts were cast aside. I believed.
Yes, it’s hard to accept that his creation of darkness, the face of darkness, was part of his plan. Yet, we can’t ever fathom that any God could or would make mistakes. God made humans naked and called it good. The original human response to being naked was without shame. Clothing didn’t exist, the need for clothing didn’t exist. Questioning anything including their nudity didn’t exist. But [there is always a “but”] the truth of our own lives tells us a different story – a story that also must be good and true if there is such a being as God, and if we are to believe in her/his Word also known as the Bible.
Humans and the spiritual face of creation where all is good.
So, how can I understand the apparent contradictions of human responses to nudity? What is the message, or the messages that are being given? I have to assume that none of this is by accident. I can’t accept that God bungled the whole mess and it has spiralled out of his/her control and into the hands of his arch enemy, Satan who then would become more powerful than God. I needed to dig a bit deeper.
So where did it all go wrong? Before I answer that, I want to step back to look again at the scene in the Garden of Eden. What is present? God is there of course, as are the two humans, an assortment of flora and fauna, and everything else that had been conceived in the grand plan of this God – everything else. Adam and Eve didn’t question anything as there was no need for questions – everything was perfect. Even the idea of questions was absent in their minds. They were engaged in living a live of perfection, a sort of participation mystique with their creator. Yet hidden in this garden are two other elements, the tree of knowledge, and another being of sorts, the face of darkness. If one truly believes that God created everything, every sentient being; we have to accept that this tree of knowledge and this face of darkness were also his/her creations. God knew that his creation was perfect and said so.
Adam and Eve at peace in the Garden of Eden before their fall from grace as illustrated for bible studies in the modern world.
We all have bodies; we all are born naked. There is no dispute about these two facts but that is where agreement seems to end. For a significant portion of the modern western world there is a belief in Christianity where God made these human bodies naked and called it a good thing. Adam and Eve, the creation of the first man and first woman, lived naked in a place called Paradise, or The Garden of Eden. The place was a place where there was no darkness, no sin, no awareness of anything that wasn’t good. Though these two humans, a man and a woman were naked, able to see each other completely, there was no shame in their nakedness. Their bodies were simply their bodies. Penis, pubic hair, vagina, breasts, skin, arousal, movement – all of this was as it should be, all of this was good – at least that is what the Word of God tells us. Now, if you can’t believe the Creator, who can you believe? Yet, we cringe as a society with the thought of Adam and Eve being fully nude and rush to cover them up, even before the fall.
Time passed in my home and these incredible little beings that my wife and I had brought into this world began to be aware of us as parents and of themselves. I watched in fascination as they became more and more conscious of life. Life began to be difficult for them. In place of a oneness with their universe, consciousness brought separation. Consciousness brought an end to their life in paradise. And when I think back on the story of creation, it was consciousness that caused Adam and Eve to become aware of their separateness from God and the Garden. A little bit of knowledge does more harm than good as they quickly found out. With consciousness came suffering for my children as well as for Adam and Eve. God sent them out of the Garden; and in time, I sent out my children into their own adult lives.
I have to assume that God has more love within her/him than I do; and with that being the case, the door to come back home will remain open and that the return to the Garden will be a return to perfection. The difference will be that the return will be a return to Paradise as fully conscious beings; beings that have eaten of the fruit of life to its fullest. The return as fully conscious beings to the Garden where clothing will not be an option, for shame will no longer exist. There will no longer be a motive for hiding the perfection of creation.