June 10, 2014 Broadcast

God and Nakedness

A Message by R.C. Sproul

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, nakedness has been associated with shame.  To be naked is to be vulnerable, to risk someone taking advantage of your self-exposure.  In fact, nakedness is more than just skin deep; it is an expression of our most intimate selves.  In this lesson, Dr. Sproul explains that marriage is a safe haven where shame need not exist, and where vulnerability leads to intimacy.

From the series: The Intimate Marriage

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    Building Relationship

  2. devotional

    Naked and Unashamed

  3. article

    One Flesh

Building Relationship

You may have noticed that many of the Scripture passages suggested for further study in our examination of Christian marriage have come from the Song of Solomon. This book remains one of the most neglected in all the Bible, which is unfortunate because few other portions of Scripture have as much to say about the glories of a godly marital relationship as this piece of wisdom literature. The Song of Solomon tells us many things, including the goodness of the physical relationship between husband and wife and the need to express our love and admiration to our spouses verbally.

Throughout this poem, today’s passage included, we find many instances where Solomon and his wife praise each other. These examples, as well as many other biblical passages, remind us of the importance and power of the words we speak to one another. If the tongue can tear down another person (James 3:9), how much more can we use it to build up our spouses with our spoken words?

The words that we speak have a powerful impact on the trust and intimacy that we are able to achieve with our spouses. Kind and trustworthy words are essential if we are to develop the type of intimacy that glorifies God. Unfortunately, we too often pay little attention to what we say. Thoughtless words can instantly damage a relationship that takes years to build. What we say to our spouses today can continue to do damage years from now.

However, God has not called Christians to use our tongues to tear one another down but to build up one another (1 Thess. 5:11). Since this is necessary within the context of the wider Christian community, it is even more necessary within our marriages.

We can build our spouses up by giving them compliments when they are due. This does not mean we necessarily tell them that they are very good at something when they are not; such compliments will not be trusted. It does mean, however, that we eagerly and frequently let our spouses know how much we admire and appreciate them. When we do this, we fulfill the command to build up our spouses and can further the intimacy that glorifies God.

Naked and Unashamed

As Moses concludes his narrative on the creation of Adam and Eve, he tells us that in creating woman, God provided marriage. Today’s passage is foundational for how we are to understand marriage, which was demonstrated by Jesus when He appealed to it in order to clarify God’s will regarding divorce (Matt. 19:1–9).
Genesis 2:24 gives us four essential elements of the marital bond. First, and fundamental to the relationship, is its being between one man and one woman. This should go without saying, but recent attempts in the West to expand the definition of marriage make it necessary never to forget this essential truth about marriage.

Second, verse 24 asserts that a man will “leave” his parents. The idea here is not that the man will abandon his filial responsibilities or that he must live a great distance from his family. This term instead indicates that his primary obligations change in marriage. Prior to the wedding, he is to be most concerned with his parents. Once married, meeting his wife’s needs becomes his first responsibility.

Third, the man is to “hold fast” to his wife, alluding to the permanent, exclusive nature of marriage. The image, rendered as “cleave to” in other translations, also suggests passion between spouses.

Finally, husband and wife are to become “one flesh.” Marriage is a God-ordained bond, a gift of His grace for which we give thanks by obeying His will for it. Becoming one flesh suggests God-honoring intimacy in all areas of the relationship — emotionally, sexually, spiritually, and the like. To achieve this intimacy, husband and wife must follow the roles God ordained for them in His Word. Each spouse must likewise be honest and respectful toward each other and do all they can to help, and not hinder, the other’s sanctification (Ex. 20:14,16; Judg. 16:1–22; Prov. 5; 31:10–31; 1 Cor. 7:1–16; Eph. 5:22–33).

Before Moses concludes chapter 2, he writes that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed (v. 25). In Eden the goals for marriage could be easily achieved because there was no danger of one spouse shaming the other in any way. However, this blissful state did not endure, and we will examine its demise in the coming weeks.

One Flesh

Jay Adams

Liberals have a way of renaming things in order to make them acceptable. When former-President Clinton committed adultery he called it a “mistake.” Of course, it was sin. Everyone knows that the words “choice” and “fetus” have been used to justify murder. Recently, politically correct wordsmiths have coined the phrase “same-sex marriage.” From a biblical perspective, however, a proper name for this activity, is “legalized homosexuality.”

Regardless of the attempt of two same-sex partners to justify “marrying” by declaring in a ceremony that they will be faithful to one another, God will neither condone nor accept their acts — even if the state eventually does. Indeed, taking vows to remain in such a sinful relationship only aggravates the situation. Moreover, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ must never participate in nor promote the legalization of homosexuality. “Ministers” who do so either willingly or by coercion (should it ever come to that) thereby disqualify themselves as servants of Jesus Christ. In contrast, it is our duty and joy to affirm the biblical view of marriage — the union of one woman and one man. In the Bible, several facts are clear: It was God Himself who united a man and a woman in marriage (Gen. 2:22). Marriage, therefore, is a divine institution, not a human one (Matt. 19:6). Consequently, God, not man, has the right to define the terms of the institution.

And, as other articles in this edition of Tabletalk will make clear, homosexuality and lesbianism are not “natural” (Rom. 1:6, 27). When Paul uses the word phusis, to denote that which is against “nature,” he speaks of an act that is contrary to creation — contrary to the way in which God designed human beings to function sexually.

It is not as though Christians demean or oppose sexual activity. Quite to the contrary. When, within the bonds of godly marriage, people properly engage in sexual activities, the marriage bed is “unpolluted.” Indeed, in order to dispel false, ascetic notions, the writer of those words urges all Christians to “honor marriage” (Heb.13:4, The Christian Counselor’s New Testament [CCNT hereafter]). The distorted view that some people have of Christian teaching about sexuality would lead you to believe that we think the devil, not God, was the source of it. Quite to the contrary, God requires the fullest expression of loving sexual activity within marriage, an expression that may be properly initiated by either the husband or the wife (1 Cor. 7:4–5). And it is in that very passage Paul warns that failure to satisfy the sexual desires of one’s marriage partner may lead to temptation by Satan. Plainly, then, godly marriage must be encouraged in every way.

Marriage has many purposes, only one of which is procreation. That is a subject in itself. But, in this study, of greatest importance is the fact that marriage is to be a “completion” of one’s self — something that isn’t possible in a homosexual relationship. In providing a marriage partner for Adam, God said “I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). The Hebrew word translated “comparable” in the New King James Version means, literally, “that which approximates something else.” If you cut a grapefruit cleanly in two, the halves will fit exactly when placed in proper juxtaposition to one another. But if you halve another with a jagged cut neither of the two resulting pieces will fit with either of the halves of the previously sectioned fruit. It is only those halves that exactly approximate one another that make a suitable whole. It is this concept of shared wholeness that is inherent in the Genesis passage.

Men and women were designed to become “one flesh” (Gen. 2: 24). But there can be no oneness apart from a male and a female partner who approximate one another at every point. This “oneness” is not to be thought of merely as sexual union (though it certainly includes that). Rather, in Hebrew thought, the term “flesh” referred not only to the physical body, but also to the whole person. When Moses described the destruction of the entire human race (Noah and his family excepted), he described this catastrophe as “the end of all flesh” (Gen. 6: 13). Surely, he had reference to more than bodies when using this phrase. Rather, in a manner similar to our use of the word “everybody” (by which we refer to more than flesh and bones), he used the Hebrew word “flesh” to mean “person.” To become “one flesh,” then, is to become “one person.” Male and female marriage partners not only make an exact “fit” sexually, but their maleness and femaleness “fill out” or “complete” one another in every respect. The two constitute a “whole.” In a proper marriage, men have the opportunity to see the world through their wives’ feminine eyes, and women through their husband’s masculine eyes. My wife has brought lace curtains into my life; I have brought muddy boots into hers (sometimes messing up her curtains!). Same sex relationships lack entirely such expanded views of the world.

What of the single person? Must he or she forever lack the benefits of this married outlook? Perhaps, but God does compensate for it. When Jesus spoke of the indissolubility of marriage, except for adultery and desertion, the disciples (who, doubtless, knew Rabbi Hillel’s teaching that almost anything disagreeable might constitute grounds for divorce) said, “If that is the way it must be between a man and his wife, it would be better not to marry!” (Matt. 19:10). Now, of course, they all did anyway (1 Cor. 9:5). But, in answer to their hasty response, Jesus explained that not everyone has the capacity to live the single life, which He declared is only for “those to whom it has been given” (Matt. 19:11). Clearly, to compensate for the fact that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 3:18), God gifts such persons with a “capacity” for a special, fulfilling service, which He expects them to discharge (see Gen. 3:12b; 1 Cor. 7:7ff.).

Marriage, carried out in a Scriptural manner, affords great benefits. It is only necessary to read Ephesians 5:21–33 to understand how, in reflecting the relationship of Christ to His church, marriage can afford one of the deepest joys possible. In it is love, care, intimate fellowship, unfettered sex and so on. When God wants to explain the fullness of the future glory that we shall have in union with Christ, He writes: “Let us be happy and delighted, and we shall give Him the glory; the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to dress in fine linen that is bright and clean (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints). Then he said to me. Write this: ‘Happy are they who are called to the Lamb’s marriage supper” (Rev. 19:9 ccnt).

To describe that perfect, glorious event, notice that God uses the metaphor of a wedding. From this we should learn not only that marriage is good and holy, but that God intended it to be a wonderful blessing to mankind. How tragic to spoil and sully its character by using the word marriage to describe legalized homosexuality! In mercy, even though homosexuality is a sinful way of life, and not a genetic problem, Paul makes it clear that it is possible for a homosexual to be “washed” from his defilement through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. However, it is not only non-believers who are caught up in this sin that God will reprimand, but also those Christians who fail to exhibit and enjoy all that marriage can be. It is one thing to condemn homosexuality; it is another to live a married life that in itself condemns it by contrast. It is, therefore, our privilege not only to enter into the delights of this marvelous God-ordained institution, but by the way in which we honor it to exhibit the glory of God.

Principally, those who will read these words are believers in Christ. If, perchance, some who are not a part of His people are doing so, let me urge you to enter into the greatest relationship possible both for now and for eternity by becoming part of the bride of Christ. This bride is His church, which some day will be “glorious arrayed, not having spot or wrinkle, but rather … holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27 CCNT). That even transcends sex (Matt. 22:30).

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