Why did nudity become shameful after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Was it because they realized what sexual attraction was? Was it because of the potential for lust that God clothed them? Or were there other reasons that God clothed Adam and Eve, and nakedness became a shame after Eden?
There was no shame about nakedness before the fall
The Bible says this about Adam and Eve right after they were created by God:
“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:25(KJV)
Shame felt for the first time
In Genesis 2 – God had told Adam not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. Then we read in Genesis 3 that sometime after God created Eve for Adam, and brought them together in the first marriage, Eve was deceived by the Devil. He promised her this “knowledge” that God was hiding from her and told her that she and Adam could become gods by eating the fruit.
Eve ate the fruit, convinced her husband to eat it and the Bible says:
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden… And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” – Genesis 3:8-11
The Bible tells us “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” and they sewed leaves together to cover their nakedness. They instantly knew after eating the fruit that they were naked, and needed to be clothed.
The reason for Adam and Eve’s shame
The source of Adam and Eve’s shame was not some new knowledge about sex or lust as is many times presented by various theologians and writers. The source of their shame was not even knowledge of evil, but it was in fact a new and expanded knowledge of what is good.
What is often overlooked is the fact that the tree was not just a tree of the knowledge of “evil”, but also of “good” (Genesis 2:17 & 3:22). Most people only think of the tree giving Adam and Eve knowledge of sin and evil, but the fact is, it also gave them a more complete knowledge of what is good.
When we see little one and two year olds running around the house naked and unashamed, we call them “innocent”. But we know Biblically that children are born sinners, and they sin just as adults do, just in different ways. Little children lie, steal and hurt one another. What we really mean when we call that naked two year old running around “innocent” is, that they are “ignorant” of the fact that as human beings we are not meant to be naked at all times, but we are meant to be clothed.
Just as babies and one and two year olds are ignorant of their nakedness, and the need for clothing, so too Adam and Eve were ignorant of this need for clothing as well, this why they felt the shame they did about their nakedness.
If nakedness were truly a symbol of innocence, then when we get to heaven and when we dwell with God for eternity, we would again be naked. But look at what God says in the book of Revelation regarding clothing:
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9(KJV)
In the eternal state, we will be clothed in white, not naked. We will once again be completely innocent from sin, yet we will not be naked.
Who told you that?
What was God’s first response to Adam and Eve’s knowledge of their nakedness?
“Who told thee that thou wast naked?” – Genesis 3:11(KJV)
Let me give an example to illustrate from a parents point of view. Imagine you have a 6 or 7 year old child, and they find out at school from some kid in their class about sex. Any parent would reasonably ask “Who told you about that? It’s not that the knowledge of sex is bad thing, it is simply that it was not yet time for the child to have this knowledge. This is exactly what happened in Eden.
Make no mistake, God was angry at the way Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of their nakedness through sin, and not in the way he intended for them to find out, from him and in his perfect time.
God did not clothe Adam and Eve because of the presence of sin. He did not cloth them because of some new knowledge about sex or sexual lust.
He clothed them, because they were always meant to be clothed.
This has been the first article in our series on “Biblical Nudity”. In this first post we talked about the shamefulness of nudity, in other posts in this series we will cover topics such as “Why God meant for people to be clothed”, “Why nudity is not always shameful”, “Can Christians pose for and paint nudes?” and other related topics to Biblical nudity.