Lately, I’ve been considering and re-considering the Creation Story in the first chapters of Genesis.
When I read the Creation Story, I think I typically read it from a scientific point of view, looking for explanations of human origins. But, the more I read it the more I’m convinced that neither the writer of the Creation Story nor the Spirit of God who inspired the writing of the story was trying to provide a scientific explanation of the beginnings of the universe and origin of human beings.
So, what I believe the story is about is relationship and restoration. Human beings were created in the image of God to live in eternal relationship with Him. They defied God and turned to their own devices and because they were created in the image of God, their defiance was a spiritual defiance of cosmic proportions, which impacted the whole created order. Thus, only God could bring restoration to His created order and to His eternal relationship with people.
When read without the baggage of scientific interpretation, the Creation Story provides considerable spiritual insight into the human psyche and the character of God. It may not exactly explain in scientific terms how the universe began, but it does give a good explanation of why we are the way we are.
In fact, the Creation Story exposes the naked truth about human defiance of God’s order and God’s response to this defiance. In the Creation Story Adam and Eve roamed completely naked in the Garden of Eden where God placed them to live. I guess you could say that the Garden of Eden was the world’s first nudist colony!
But, what’s revealing about Adam and Eve’s nudity is the contrast between their nakedness before and after they defied God. Before their defiance they were naked and without shame while after their defiance they were naked and ashamed: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’” (Genesis 3:8-11, NIV).
The Creation Story says that after they defied God Adam and Eve were ashamed before each other so they made clothing from fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). Then, they were ashamed before God (Genesis 3:8-10) so God clothed them with the skins of animals (Genesis 3:20).
The Hebrew word for naked used here is derived from a verb that means, “to be exposed.” So, nakedness in the Creation Story refers not simply to being without clothes, but to being fully transparent. And, transparency is what God intended in the relationship between male and female and it is what He intended in our relationship with Him.
But, transparency requires vulnerability–that is, to be exposed. Vulnerability is what Adam and Eve’s nakedness represents. Vulnerability to one another and vulnerability to God. When you enter into a trusting, transparent relationship, you become vulnerable to another.
So, exposure is the real issue in the fall of humanity from God’s grace. Vulnerability was lost. While we want to have transparent relationships, we fear the subsequent vulnerability that is required because we are not innocent ourselves. Because we are sinful and ashamed, we hide some part of our psyche from others and God in fear of being rejected for who we are.
Now, my interpretation may seem overly psychological, but the Creation Story is profoundly psychological! It reveals our selfish desire for complete control, our tendency toward self-sufficiency, our attempt at invulnerability. We don’t want our Creator or anybody else to be in control of our own will and the decisions we make.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they tried to solve their sin and guilt problem themselves. By covering their nakedness they attempted to cover their shame. Although their fig-leaf clothes seemed to have been sufficient covering in relation to one another, when God entered the picture their sin was exposed and their efforts to cover their guilt were not sufficient.
So, the plight of Creation Story lives on in our own personal lives today. While our efforts to become invulnerable may be somewhat sufficient in relationships among others who have likewise sinned, these efforts are always completely insufficient for entering into and maintaining a relationship with the Living God!
The naked truth of the Creation Story is that God must clothe us! Only God can provide atonement for the guilt of sin, which He did through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Only God can bring spiritual restoration to a relationship with Him when we become vulnerable to His Spirit who draws us to Him and then dwells in us.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:1-4, NIV)