bed, room, bedroom

Marriage & Sex (Part 4): Nakedness

Many things just aren’t made like they used to be. Many manufacturers have cheapened products by substandard design and quality control. We recently purchased a tiny remote control car for our youngest son for his birthday, and within a day or two, it malfunctioned. We returned it and purchased a different car, an upgrade, for a few more dollars. What a fun little car. It worked great until the boys launched it off our basement steps and the shocks broke. When I examined the now broken fun little car, I saw how cheaply the shocks were attached. The RC car I had as a kid was built tougher. We expect more from many products and are often disappointed because they haven’t been made to last.

Our culture has cheapened marriage and sex in numerous ways. Think about our culture’s fascination with pornography, sexually explicit content in mass media, widespread acceptance of hookups, and co-habitation. Think about the redefinition of marriage, the confusion about sex or gender, and the progression of LGBTQIA+ lifestyles from social shame to social celebration in America. Marriage and sex have been cheapened in numerous ways because similar to manufacturing today, people have lost sight of the essential and quality components that go into a God-glorifying and mutually beneficial marriage and sex life. As in manufacturing, the cost is just too high for quality.

Our culture has lost touch with reality; it fails to see and understand how God intends marriage and sex to be good. People think more about how their carnal or fleshly or selfish desires can be indulged and gratified than about how they can glorify God and love others, namely their spouse, in and through their marriage covenant and sexual expression, and this has left many people with more insecurity, anxiety, depression, doubt, and the like. Cheap has consequences.

Genesis 2:20 says that among the animals there was no suitable helper found for Adam. So no, your dog should not be your best friend, and if it is, something is wrong. Adam was alone. He had no complementary companion. So the Lord God gave Adam deep sleep, removed one of his ribs, and skillfully fashioned a beautiful counterpart that suited Adam really well. God made, from the flesh of the man, a woman. God made her uniquely and exclusively fit for him. Think about all that the word “fit” means. She was his helper, his friend, his lover, his wife, and more. In a grand wedding ceremony, God brought the woman to Adam as a father brings his daughter to the groom, and Adam responded, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). Adam bestowed on her the noble name of woman.

Many people would be less confused about marriage and sex if they simply believed Genesis 1-2. These two chapters could provide them with much clarity, direction, and comfort in life. The further we depart from God’s authoritative Word, the more confused we become about God, ourselves, sex or gender, marriage, sexuality, and all of life including love, and the more troubled and discontent we become. How can we truly understand marriage, sex, and love if we exchange God’s intended meaning of these things for our own conceptions of them? God alone exhaustively understands these beautiful and good things, and He has revealed much about them in the Bible so we can properly use and enjoy them.

Look around you at how the world misunderstands nakedness. It cheapens it. The world sees people as objects to be used for the gratification of others. Pornography and sexually explicit content turn nakedness into a commodity to sell with little to no regard for the naked person. Marketers know that “sex sells” so they pursue money, power, and fame by exploiting the nakedness of others. Even immodesty seeks the glory and attention of self over and above the love and service of others.

If you are married, your nakedness serves your spouse. When, in those intimate, vulnerable, and sensual moments, you take off your clothes in front of your spouse, and only your spouse (unless we take medical professionals into account), it is an exclusive and beautiful gift you give them. Nakedness is a mutual gift that should compel married couples of all ages to thank and praise God. Marriage is the appropriate context for sensual nakedness and the best context to enjoy sensual nakedness to the glory of God. God gives His people good things to enjoy.

God communicates in Genesis 2:24-25, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Much is said in those two sentences, but here are a few thoughts. Marriage is a man and woman leaving their parents and clinging to each other. Interestingly, Adam and Eve had no human parents, so God was making a statement about all marriages in general. To become one flesh was unmistakable and profound anatomical intimacy and oneness. Marriage and sex are more than anatomical intimacy but certainly not less. Only Adam and Eve existed, so their nakedness was before each other’s eyes and exclusively for one another. They were beautiful, sensual, sexual, and they were not ashamed because their nakedness was entirely appropriate to their marriage. Plus, how could there be shame when there was no sin distorting marriage and sex?

Are you grateful to God for your spouse’s nakedness and the freedom given you to express your nakedness in their presence? Do you view your marital nakedness as a good gift from God meant to bless you and your spouse? Your spouse is an unmerited and gracious gift to you, so enjoy them to the glory of God.

Perhaps there is shame in your marriage and sex life. Perhaps your enjoyment of nakedness is being hindered by some obstacle whether it be pornography, past abuse, the comparison game, or some other difficulty. Do you realize that it is sinfulness and brokenness that have distorted the joy of marital nakedness in some way? Perhaps it is your sin or someone else’s, but either way, sin corrupts that which is good. But we have hope. God’s marvelous and redemptive grace and love are leading us to forgiveness, repentance, true faith, healing, and greater love. We must be alert to the ways culture has influenced our views of nakedness and must return again and again to the gospel of God’s goodness and grace to allow His authoritative truth to shape our thankfulness.

Let us not cheapen God’s good gift of sensual marital nakedness. Instead, let us treat marriage and sex with utmost respect and honor. Let us be ever conscious of God’s good Word, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4). Let us promote and preserve the goodness of sensual nakedness by our careful and prudent use of it in marriage, and let us delight in our spouse for God’s glory, our spouse’s good, and our good.

About the author

Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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