Godly Nakedness

[From the archives.]

I learned a new word: gymnophobia. It’s not a fear of gyms. It’s not an aversion to working out. It’s not hatred of a six month gym membership when your job got transferred and you still had five months left on the gym contract.

Gymnophobia is a fear of being seen naked. According to this article:

There really are people with a crippling fear of nudity, a condition called gymnophobia.

“There are people who are not comfortable being naked in front of other people — and there are other people who are not comfortable looking at themselves naked,” said Martin Antony, professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, and author of “The Anti-Anxiety Workbook.”

Now I may cringe once in a while if I see an expanding waistline and realize there really is a price to pay for eating entire pepperoni pizzas by myself (hey, don’t judge me!), but I can’t say I have a phobia about the sight.

I get the part about nakedness and fear, though. It’s in the Bible.

“I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10.)

Did you ever notice that Adam said this after he and Eve made coverings for themselves? He knew the truth: God knows we’re naked under our clothes.

God also knows how to handle our fears. He made new clothes for Eve and Adam to wear, made from the skins of animals. Is this because the plant coverings couldn’t cover nakedness? No, we wear plant coverings all the time. In fact, I have a cotton shirt on right now.

God used the skins of animals because without blood there is no forgiveness of sin. (Hebrews 9:22.) Getting that skin meant shedding blood. This was the first animal sacrifice, occasioned because of the first sin. God covered their bodies but more importantly, he covered their sin. God did the covering for them; their own efforts were ineffective.

God’s simple act of providing the sin covering for his people foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice for sin, the death of Jesus Christ, God the Son. It is his perfect blood that now clothes us in righteousness. (Romans 3:25-26, 2 Corinthians 5:2-5.)

Like I said, God knows we’re naked. Without him we’re naked in our sin, naked of righteousness, uncovered for him to see our iniquity. But because of Jesus, our heavenly Father offers us the finest clothes possible, and they never wear out.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. …

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 13-14. See Revelation 3:18 as well.))

Covered in the blood of the Lamb, the great atoning sacrifice of God, who knew our nakedness and gave himself for us.

Gymnophobia has no place in God’s kingdom.


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5 Responses to Godly Nakedness

  1. deelmo says:

    I understand what you’re saying, and I agree. We cannot hide from God, and should not want to. But the way I’ve always heard this term ‘gymnophobia’ used is when a transgender goes into a restroom or locker room and a person already in there questions it. Other people will start bashing that person as a ‘gymnophobist’ Taking into the account the recent news of the 14 year old in a PA school system, you can see where this term has a derogatory meanings. I can imagine this boy was taunted with this name calling. It’s thrown out there the way ‘racist’ is thrown out now days.

  2. This made me think of a very good post I read on Sharon Miller’s blog a while back, about love and truth. She wrote about how truth reveals, and love covers. When we go into a change room at a clothing store, we can’t try on clothes without taking off the ones we’re already wearing, so we have to reveal ourselves (truth). But the change-room door or curtain is like love: it covers us, so that the revealing of truth doesn’t have to make us afraid. I thought that was a great analogy. The best thing is that God embodies both, showing us the truth of who we are AND covering us with his love.

  3. Lisa Deam says:

    I like this, Tim, partly because I’ve been thinking about the topic of nakedness. (Weird, but true.) Maybe we *need* to come to God naked? If we have nothing, not even clothes, we have to rely on God to give us everything. One of my favorite medieval mystics said, “Just as a true pilgrim going to Jerusalem . . . makes himself poor and bare of all that he has in order to travel light and without hindrance, so if you want to be a spiritual pilgrim you are to make yourself naked of all that you have” (Walter Hilton, 14th c.) I’m intrigued by his use of the word “naked” here. It seems to have a positive (if uncomfortable) connotation!

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