Genesis 3:6b-7 Confirms the Critical Role of Nakedness in the Fall
“And he ate. 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 loin coverings.” (Genesis 3:6b-7, NASB)
Of all the ills that the Fall brought into creation—and there are many, all of them devastating—the first ill taught the reader of Genesis that it shattered the innocence of nakedness (Gen. 3:7, 10-11). Does that seem strange to you? If it does, it is because you missed the repeated emphasis that the marriage and Fall narratives placed upon the shrewdness of the serpent’s attack as it relates to the nakedness of the first man and woman (Gen. 2:25; 3:1, 7, 10, 11, 21).
The Woman, thoroughly deceived by the Serpent, eats and nothing happens. The Man eats, obeying the naked Woman and defiantly rejecting God, and bam! Both of their eyes are opened. Weren’t their eyes opened before? Didn’t they see the beauty of God through His creation? Wasn’t the Man already thrilled when he saw the nakedness of the Woman? In what sense then did the Man’s eating of the forbidden fruit open their eyes? The answer the text gives is that they saw their sin in their nakedness and tried to cover it. Before the Woman was tempted by the serpent and before the Man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they enjoyed their nakedness from the perspective of God-given knowledge. Yet through the serpent’s seductive, shrewd use of the naked Woman, the Man followed the Woman for his self-centered pleasure and rejected God as His all-satisfying pleasure. The Man’s rebellious act marked the beginning of the sin-epidemic for all humanity (Rom 5:18), as well as the death of the innocence of nakedness.
Genesis 3:9, 11 Reveal the Radical Perversion of Nakedness after the Fall
“Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ . . . And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” (Genesis 3:9, 11)
Immediately after the Fall, God didn’t call the Serpent, nor did He call the Woman. The Hebrew text records with all the second person singular masculine pronouns you that God called the Man. God had entrusted the charge to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to the Man before He had created the woman (Gen. 2:16-17). Therefore God held him, as the head of their relationship, uniquely responsible for violating it.
God’s interrogation was not intended to find out, as if He didn’t know, what the Man did in the Fall. God questioned the Man, giving him a chance to confess the reason for his guilt and shame. As the only Man and Woman to have not known sin (apart from Jesus) the shame they experienced was profound. With their consciences pierced, they suffered from real guilt, which is a real liability of being worthy of God’s judgment. So they hid from God and tried to hide the source of their sin—their nakedness. God’s gift to the Man of his Woman’s nakedness was perverted into an idol in his heart for self-centered lust, and for the woman nakedness became the source of an illicit means of gaining power over the Man. By succumbing to the Serpent’s temptation the Man and the Woman perverted God’s gift of innocent nakedness, turning it into a source of utter shamefulness.
Genesis 3:16 Predicts the Painful Ongoing Consequences of Nakedness after the Fall
“To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you’” (Genesis 3:16).
Theologians are torn over the meaning of the word desire in Genesis 3:16. It appears in only two other places in the OT: in Genesis 4:7, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it”; and Song of Solomon 7:10 tells us, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” Scholars are split between definitions of the word desire in Genesis 3:16: some believe desire in 3:16 means sexual desire as in Song of Solomon; others believe desire means to control the man (as in Genesis 4:7). The repetition of the words desire and rule / master in back to back chapters (3 & 4) are so striking they suggest that the writer of Genesis places the same meaning for these words in both passages. Yet also, the way the Woman sought to control the Man in the Fall would suggest that she did so through a sensual seduction. Therefore, it seems that the meaning of the Woman’s desire for the Man in Genesis 3:16 would include the idea of the Woman’s ongoing temptation to control the Man—even through seduction.
If this is true, then God fit the punishment to match the crime in an act of divine retribution clearly taught in Romans 1:24, 26 and 28. Because the Woman and the Man did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to their degrading passions and the lust in their hearts. The book of Proverbs is replete with warnings against women in sin who hunt for (Prov. 6:26) and capture men (6:25) and bring them down to the grave (5:5). They are said to do so with the sensual sounds (5:3) and looks of any porn starlet (7:10), slaying many victims (7:25). And the Bible (as in history) is replete with stories of men who use their headship (in sin) to take women (2 Sam 11:4), rape them (2 Sam 13:12-15), and multiply them for their unquenchable lust for nakedness (Eccl 2:7). A profoundly revealing passage in Revelation 2:20-24 exposes the message of a false prophetess who entices Christians to engage in unbridled sensuality as “the deep things of Satan.” The ruin of nakedness is a satanic conspiracy. It began so in the Fall and everyone everywhere lives in the wake of its devastation, even to this present hour.
Conclusion: Fear God and Seek Wisdom
So far in this series of posts I have explored a very specific question (an essentially unexplored question), “How did nakedness effect the Fall and (as a result) effect the relationship between men and women from that point forward?” I have focused my exposition on answering that specific question from the opening narratives of Genesis. Even if you disagree with some of my finer expository points, it should be clear that nakedness played a critical role in the Fall, that the Serpent still uses it to seduce our world today, and that male and female sin tendencies make us vulnerable to the temptation of exploiting nakedness in distinct gender-specific ways.
The obvious question that remains to be answered is, “What can we do when the illicit enticement of nakedness is satanically inspired, universally accessible, and internally gripping?” In a final post I will explore an antidote, but for now, let me say, beware of sins produced through nakedness. The evil Serpent lies. He hides his face. He hides his intent to divide and conquer men and women. He hides the price of yielding to his titillating enticements. It has been well said that “Sin will take you further than you want to go, sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, and sin will cost you more than you want to pay.” Brothers and sisters, flee from all forms of sexual immorality!