A Wedding Sermon – Naked and Not Ashamed

The rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.   Genesis 2:21-25

Of the text that I read before I want to accent particularly the last verse: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  Now I am not particularly suggesting that the two of you should run around naked, instead I think that there is something more with the word “naked” than what normally meets the eye.

I say that because there is a companion verse in the next chapter of Genesis: after they had rebelled against God’s command, verse 7 reads, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”  My Dad used to remark about how ineffective was this solution since leaves dry up and crumble away, and one is left with the same problem all over again.

The idea of “naked” is very prominent in this story and I don’t think it just deals with just the physical.  There seems to a profound shift in the way these people saw themselves.  They went from openness to an atmosphere where they were compelled to cover up and hide themselves, even from God.  They went from a world of acceptance to one of judgment, judgment of themselves and of each other, and judgment they knew they deserved from God.

Today as you begin a new stage in your life together, in a way you are faced with reversing this change, to go from a relationship of hiding to a relationship of absolute openness.

You see, “living together” can be adequate, yet it limps.  It’s problem is that there is no security; it constantly has an undercurrent of fear.  At any time, one or the other could walk out of the relationship and everything that you had is simply gone.  So you tend to protect yourselves.  You don’t want to discourage or disappoint the other so you hide concerns or past events, or won’t face key issues.  You become afraid of investing yourself too deeply because of the fear of being rejected and how painful that would be.

Unfortunately though, like the leaves that dry up and crumble away, our efforts to protect ourselves, to cover our butts so to speak, can still leave us scrambling to patch here and there where attitudes, opinions, and deeds suddenly are exposed.

How then do you go from a relationship in which fear dwells in the background to one which can be “naked and not ashamed”?  St John in his first letter wrote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love” [4:18].  So the answer is perfect love, but how does one arrive at that?
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Well, turning back to Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve’s rebellion God spoke of an ultimate conquering of Satan and the destructiveness which had entered into the world.  One would be born of woman Who would strip fear of its power to tear apart this bond between man and woman and God.

Then at the end of the account, we read, “the LORD God made tunics of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” [Genesis 3:21].  These skins were a enduring answer as opposed to the crumbly leaves, God’s solution would last as long as was needed.  But where did the skins come from?  An innocent victim of God’s choosing would give its life, shed its Blood to cover the shame of these humans.  Already God was revealing the characteristics of how He would deal with mankind’s shame and fear, pointing to what would happen as Jesus gave His life to provide the final solution to mankind’s rebellion.

We find that God’s way of dealing with our fear is to bring in a powerful and wonderful forgiveness, one which ends all judgment for any who are willing to be clothed with His solution.

Because you are making God a part of your relationship here today, that kind of forgiveness is available to you.  You are given the tool to strip away the fear that so often dogs our heels.  You then are equipped to reveal more and more about those areas which have been so hidden, the places of shame and anxiety, and to experience how God deals with self or other people’s judgment with an amazing forgiveness.  This is an acquittal in which He declares that whatever is turned over to Him will be remembered no more by Him, thereby freeing you also to turn away from these torments.

The net effect of course is a gradual returning to the “naked and not shamed” atmosphere which first surrounded Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  There is the ability then to experience a closeness which was always held at arm’s length by your various fears and cover-ups.

The progress toward that end is scary, but with God’s involvement and using the gifts and tools which He offers to you right now, it will be a very fulfilling journey together into that goal which God intends for you.

May He bless you richly in the years to come and may He show you more and more that perfect love which has no fear, no torment, but rather a deeper and deeper closeness to Him and each other.

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