Nakedness in Marriage: One Flesh, Part 1

I can never make love to my wife without thinking what a crazy, preposterous, utterly unlikely thing is this business of sex. Who ever dreamed it up?

Just one answer: The only person with that big and wild an imagination is the glorious God of the cosmos whose essence is love. Of all the absurdities of atheism, none is more ludicrous than the notion that nature itself, through evolution, somehow came up with this staggering invention. If the thing were purely a mechanical or biological act, one might possibly conceive of it as godless. But how much greater it is than that! Celibate mystics have ecstatic visions, but married couples also enjoy an ecstasy, an orgasmic fusion of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bliss such as evolution never dreamed of.  

Let’s ask a foolish question: What is required for sex? Some anatomical organs might be suggested, but in order for these to be deployed something even more basic is necessary: nakedness. Nakedness is the complex set of floodlights that illumine the stage for the act of lovemaking. Without the lighting crew, there’s no movie. Without light, no photography. Which is to say that nakedness is a form of light—a spiritual light designed to irradiate the image of our Maker, capturing a picture of Him on living film. You want to see God? Get naked with your spouse. 

Adam & Eve, by Lucas Cranach

After over three decades of marriage, my wife and I have all but eliminated arguments. Of the many stages in this journey, one was the year we decided that whenever we started to fight, we would take off our clothes. (I recommend this also for armies at war.) While we never actually tried this ploy, the mere suggestion of it sometimes brought a smile to our faces, enough to break the deadlock of an argument. Why? Because nakedness ushers us into the presence of God. Nakedness holds a purity and an innocence that has the power to remove—along with clothing—anger, defensiveness, lies, subterfuge, all the bristling weaponry that fuels marital strife. 

We cannot speak of nakedness without discussing sex, because exposure of skin is only nakedness on the outside, while sex is nakedness on the inside, a coupling of one’s interior being with another’s. As Paul says, “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’” To be naked with another person is both a symbol and a demonstration of perfect honesty, perfect trust, perfect giving and commitment, and if the heart is not naked along with the body, then the whole action is a lie and a mockery. The giving of the body but the withholding of the self is an absurd and tragic contradiction. For exposure of the body is like the telling of one’s deepest secret: afterwards there is no going back, no pretending that the secret is still one’s own or that the other does not know. This is, in effect, the ultimate step in personal relations, and therefore not to be taken lightly. It is not a step that establishes deep intimacy but one that presupposes it. As a gesture symbolic of perfect trust and surrender, it requires a setting or structure of perfect surrender in which to take place. It requires the security of the most perfect of reassurances and commitments into which two people can enter, which is no other than the loving covenant of marriage.

(To be continued)

The above article appears in Marriage: Its Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World, edited by Curt Hamner & John Trent, etc (2018). Conferences based on this book will soon be held at three major seminaries—Dallas, Denver, and Moody. For anyone who lives near me, I have several copies to give away to the first comers to 166 Anglo St in Bracebridge, Ontario.

Next Post:  Nakedness in Marriage, Part 2: Shaking Souls (conclusion)


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