I believe that it was God’s intention for man and woman to be clothed whether or not Adam and Eve ever sinned – the proof is that we will be clothed in the eternal state.
Humans have no natural protection from elements
We as human beings in our natural state are exposed, and thus we are meant to be clothed. Clothing protects our skin from extreme temperatures (hot and cold), and from being cut and scraped. This why we wear clothing and shoes.
Symbolic Purposes for Clothing
It is clear from the Bible that God loves symbols. Marriage while have practical purposes in this life, is also a symbol of the eternal relationship between God and his people. Yeast was symbolic of sin. Boaz redeeming Ruth was a symbol of Christ’s redemption of all mankind. There are countless symbolisms in Scripture, and clothing is no exception. While clothing has practical purposes that we have previously pointed out, clothing also has symbolic purposes.
Being clothed separates mankind from all other creatures
God could have designed people with a super durable and protective exterior to the extent that we did not need clothing, but he did not. The reason was that he wanted to separate us out as special from all his other creations. Every other creature on this planet does not need clothing, but they are given custom clothing by God himself. Birds have feathers, bears, dogs and cats have fur. Some creatures have scales, while others have extremely thick skin. Turtles have shells.
In the Scriptures God made a man to be like an animal for sinning against him:
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.”
King Nebuchadnezzar sinned against God, and God made him go about as an animal for a time, because of his sin. The phrase “his body was wet with the dew of heaven” is acknowledged by many commentators as meaning he was naked. He replaced his clothing with excess body hair, in the same fashion as an animal, or more specifically like eagle’s feathers.
As we saw in the first section, the temporal reasons for clothing are practical ones.
Clothing is symbol of righteousness, while nakedness is symbol of shame
In Revelation chapter 19 we see that clothing is a symbol of the righteousness of the saints:
Job shows us that his righteousness was a clothing:
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” – Job 29:14(KJV)
John tells us in the book of Revelation that clothing was symbolic of the righteousness of the saints:
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” – Revelation 19:7-8(KJV)
In Revelation chapter 3 we see that clothing covers the shame of nakedness:
“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” – Revelation 3:18(KJV)
Clothing is a symbol of salvation:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10(KJV)
While clothing has many positive symbolisms in the Bible, nakedness is often associated with poverty or shame:
Christ spoke about nakedness as symbol of poverty:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” – Matthew 25:35-36(KJV)
The scripture also see nakedness as symbolic of shame:
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” – Revelation 16:15(KJV)
In this third second article in our “Biblical Nudity” series, we have established why God always meant for mankind to be clothed (even if the fall had never happened). We can see that unlike other creatures in God’s creation, man was not made with a natural and durable covering to brave the elements and protect his body from damage. We can see there is great symbolism in man being clothed, and it separates and distinguishes us from all the rest of God’s creation on earth.
Clothing, for the most part, has a very positive symbolism in Scripture being symbolic of things like righteousness, salvation and prosperity. Nakedness on the other hand, is often associated with shame, disgrace and poverty.
In our next article in this series, we will discuss “Why nudity is not always shameful”.
See these other related posts in this series “Biblical Nudity”: