Imagine this: Adam and Eve not eating the forbidden fruit. What would our life be like then?
Have you ever tried to imagine it?
Before sin and death, the creation was “Good”. In fact God holds Judgement Day seven times on the first week before he creates Sabbath (Gen. 1:3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). At each Judgment he returns the verdict: “It was good”, and the seventh time he says it is “Very Good” . Through the Bible, we know a few things about that “good” world he made and about the people he made to live in it. So let’s take our cues from Genesis for a start, and then from Jesus after.
Adam and Eve are made in God’s very image, male and female, he makes them (Gen. 1:26-27). And they are naked. Their male/female parts connect in holy, sexual nakedness! This is the image of God – FULL FRONTAL!!! No vision of him walking away as seen from the safety of the cleft of a rock (Exod. 33:17-23). No, this is Genesis, and we get to really see God here.
So, yes. Naked. We need to get this straight. In the beginning, they are naked and not ashamed (Gen. 2:25) – which makes sense because when you look at them, you see God! They are his image bearers which among other things he pronounces ” Very Good”! (Gen. 1:31). So why would they be ashamed?
In fact, God gives them rule and dominion over all the other creatures, which makes sense when you figure they bear his image. Thus they are like spiritual mirrors reflecting the image of God back to God and out on all the creation too. As long as both God and creation can look at them and see God, every creature knows its place in the shalom God makes. It might make you uncomfortable from where you stand, but this is God’s shalom, and this is how he makes it.
But why naked?
This surely is a mystery. The very first Apocalypse… God reveals himself as naked, vulnerable, and trusting beyond measure. It actually seems rather counterintuitive in today’s world!
If I were a great master builder, and I built a vast home to live in, a home filled with marvelous and wondrous things and mysteries too great to contemplate and riches and glory beyond compare, I would NOT want to entrust it all to a novice. I would want a very wise person (or group of wise people) to manage this masterpiece that I built. And I would also look for security measures, thus I might deploy a staff of soldiers. Point being: I would want someone (or a group of people) who were wise and strong, not naïve, vulnerable, and naked.
In fact, though nakedness sounds interesting to our sexual curiosity, which implies it is highly prized even today (Oh… come on! Be honest. Or else explain the massive rise of the porn industry!), I would note that nakedness – and especially sexual intercourse – is a vulnerable state in which to be. Heaven forbid you ever suffer a home-invasion burglary, but if the invaders strike in the midst of love-making, then they exploit you at your most vulnerable moment!
Did I say God’s Apocalypse seems counterintuitive?
Well, that’s not all.
God sets out basically one rule. Don’t eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:17). (Talk about counterintuitive… He gives Israel Ten Commandments later after Adam and Eve prove they cannot handle even one! And not only that, but I very purposely set out to teach my kids right from wrong! So why does God seem against this???) This certainly is a strange and counterintuitive command to place on the one creature you put in charge of all the marvels, wonders, and mysteries of creation. After all, this creature lacks worldly wisdom and strength, and instead has an abundance of naked, vulnerable, trust!
Yes, it is counterintuitive by today’s standards, but the more wisdom and strength you have, the less naked, vulnerable trust you have. And let’s note carefully, nakedness, vulnerability, and trust are the nuts-n-bolts of LOVE.
So what if Adam and Eve had chosen to LOVE God when faced with this temptation? They would not have sinned. And if they had not sinned, we (presumably) would not live in a “Fallen World” where we deal with fear, shame, pain, hate, and indifference. There would be no death, but instead shalom.
Thus it seems we can biblically imagine Adam and Eve would still be here alive among us today, and we would be their children, all naked, vulnerable, and trusting God and one another completely and without reservation. Just think of it!
Perfect love with no lust even with all that nakedness???
Yes. That is what we find in shalom.
There are many other facets of this to consider as well – implications we would not be out of line to consider.
Recall that God, in that “Good” creation, is fully visible in the male/femaleness of the lovemaking this married couple enjoys, and that to the extent that God is seen in this reflective creature, the rest of creation responds in subservience. I can only imagine that when Adam and Eve cultivate the Garden of Eden where God places them, they must share passionate, apocalyptic love and the flowers bloom! It certainly doesn’t involve weeds, thistles, and sweat of the brow.
Yes, we can speculate almost endlessly on the implications and possibilities. I expect that when Jesus says “All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), we will do well not to get all reductionist. Nevertheless, we will strive to structure our image of a world in which Adam and Eve do not sin. And one of the strongest cues I find for this exploration is St. Paul’s description of Jesus as “The Last Adam” (I Cor. 15:45). Thus it would seem that whatever Adam had going for him, Jesus does too – only more so. After all, Jesus did not sin!
Someone will say, “But Jesus wasn’t naked”.
You would be mistaken about that.
At the moment Jesus is raised up on a Roman cross with a crown on his head and a sign proclaiming him as king… he is completely naked as they shame him! (Oh, that little loin cloth you see on Catholic crucifixes??? Yeah… the church put that there in a vain attempt to dignify this “Last Adam”, but I assure you, the Roman centurions did not!). Yes, Jesus is just as naked at his coronation as the first Adam is at his, but even more vulnerable and trusting than the first Adam ever dreamed. Thus Jesus, at Golgotha, supremely bears the image of God unparalleled in all of creation and rules it like God always desired in utterly naked, vulnerable trust.
I hope I have clearly demonstrated and established Jesus as thoroughly congruent with Adam (Don’t deny his humanity!) so that we can now continue our exploration into our biblical imagination – imagining life if Adam and Eve had not sinned. Of course we would not have Jesus and the cross as part of that story IF in fact they had not, but since he is “The Last Adam”, he can help us to see what we missed all the same.
The first and foremost thing we see in Jesus is the Spirit’s anointing (Mark 1:10-11) which then raises him from the dead (Rom. 8:11) . This is the same Spirit God blows into the first Adam’s nostrils when he forms him from dust (Gen. 2:7). Subsequently, it is the same Spirit that blows like a mighty wind into the assembly of Jesus’ disciples after his ascension (Acts 2:2,4) and brings that body to life too!
But I particularly want to notice that the Gospels quote Isaiah the prophet when he says that at the sight of the coming God every valley will stand up at attention, every mountain will bow low, every crooked place will straighten out, and every rough place will smooth out in preparation for the image of God (Isa. 40:4-5), and the Gospels then apply this to Jesus. It means that before sin and death come into the world, the first Adam experiences the subservience of the rest of creation like this! We see Jesus walk on the water as well, and thus can reasonably conclude that the first Adam, bearing the image of God walks on water as well! Disease flees his touch! Water turns to wine! The deaf hear; the blind see; and it is said that Jesus is able to enter a room without use of the door! If the first Adam doesn’t do some of these things, it’s not because he can’t, but because it doesn’t come up at that time. (Where is disease before “The Fall”?)
Such is the world ruled by LOVE – when the image bearer is true to his maker. This is how it used to be. I can only imagine that in the Age to Come these things are all mere child’s play. The wolf lies down with the lamb, the leopard with the goat, the calf with the lion, and a little child will lead them! (You might have read this stuff somewhere!!!)
So… Why do I bring all this up on a blog like this?
(Glad you asked.)
Well, for one thing, I surely hope you use your Christian imagination for what it was made to do. But for another, because it has become vogue in resent years for people in outreach ministry to the poor and homeless to tell us to “seek shalom”. And I really think that as far as that is stated as such, it is a good idea. And if Adam and Eve had not sinned and brought curses and death into the world, we would live in shalom – shalom that would be characterized with the observations we have made here.
So it would be really odd, in that world, to find a person in need to begin with since all these naked, vulnerable, trusting people who would populate it would thus be bearing the image of God and experiencing the total and complete subservience of all of creation everywhere they go. But if they did, I would expect these image bearing people would be utterly self sacrificial like Jesus (and thus like God) and bear the burden on behalf of this needy one as part of that image bearing vocation, and in so doing would find the shalom.
So it would be deeply mistaken to think these naked, vulnerable, trusting image bearers would be too quick to tell a bum to “get a job”.
Don’t you think?
Yeah. The Naked God is like that.