The image of Adam and Eve hiding themselves with fig leaves is one that artists have been fascinated with for centuries. It’s a little comical—a couple lives together in Paradise, totally naked, then suddenly become ashamed of their bodies.
But there’s a serious lesson for marriage to be found in this story.
When God created Adam and Eve, according to Genesis 2:24-25, the man and his wife were both “naked and unashamed.” This represents one of God’s important laws related to marriage: The Law of Purity.
Before sin entered the Garden of Eden, it was pure and wonderful. In fact, the word eden itself means “pleasure and delight.” Adam and Eve were naked together in a place of delight. That was marriage in its ideal state.
Then came the Fall. After this, the first thing Adam and Eve did was cover their genitals with fig leaves. Why the genitals? Well, those are the most sensitive areas of the human body. Those are also the areas where men and women are most different. They hid these places from each other.
A marriage lived in purity is one where the husband and wife don’t have to hide their differences. They can expose the most sensitive areas of their lives without any problems.
A marriage made impure by sin results in a man and woman hiding from each other. They feel the need to protect their most sensitive areas.
When Karen and I first got married, our relationship wasn’t healthy. I was verbally abusive and dominant. I hurt Karen with the things I said, and it made her “cover” herself. She refused to let me into the most sensitive areas of her life. It was a form of self-protection.
I wasn’t treating Karen right, and because of my behavior, she didn’t trust me or share herself with me.
I didn’t know my wife. We had no intimacy at all.
It wasn’t until I repented that our marriage became pure. I had to ask God to change my heart and I had to ask Karen for her forgiveness. She said, “Jimmy, you really wounded me with your mouth.”
When I finally apologized, the fig leaves started coming off. It didn’t happen overnight, but she began opening up more to me, little by little. Eventually she began to tell me things I didn’t know. The things she told me took me by surprise.
“How long have you felt that way?” I would ask. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
Her answer was devastating: “It was because I couldn’t trust you,” she said.
A disrespectful spouse will destroy trust. A spouse whose language is always sarcastic and critical will cause the other spouse to hide their true feelings. We simply can’t trust our hearts to someone who isn’t careful in the way they treat us. That’s when we protect our most sensitive places with fig leaves.
The fig leaves only come off when we feel safe with each other. That’s when the man and his wife are “naked and unashamed.”
If we aren’t careful with our words—if we disrupt the safety of the relationship—then we must apologize. We have to take responsibility and say, “I’m sorry.” Only then will we become each other’s safe place.
Trust and intimacy are only possible in an atmosphere of purity. Does that describe your marriage?
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today