I know the title is a little on the edge, but just stick with me for a bit.
Last month, my husband and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. I can honestly say that my husband is my best friend, and God has truly designed us to complement one another. The best way for me to put it is we are like two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. For this I’m extremely grateful.
So, it’s an honor for me to host my husband, Ariel Nieves, today on the blog.
We’ve decided to share a message we tag-teamed together for a marriage event a few years ago entitled: “Getting Naked: Baring all with God and your Spouse.”
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25, NIV).
Here we read in the beginning of Genesis that Adam and his wife were both naked and felt no shame. We would like to propose that this was God’s original design for marriages—that we would be naked and without shame, transparent with one another.
The basic definition of the word naked is: bare of any coverings, defenseless, exposed, or unprotected. Because Adam and Eve were naked, transparent, bare of any coverings, there was no shame to get in the way of their relationship. There was a connection they shared—a special bond between the two. Nothing hindered them from being fully connected to each other, thus truly making them one flesh the way God intended marriage to be.
Then, in Genesis chapter three we read that Eve is in the garden and she’s having a conversation with a serpent. The serpent, which is synonymous to Satan, makes Eve doubt God’s instructions to her and her husband about not eating from a particular tree in the Garden of Eden.
We go on to read in chapter three that Eve eats a fruit from the tree, and she shares it with her husband. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:7).
They eat the fruit and they become aware of their nakedness. So what did they do? Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. They hid from each other.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God…” (Genesis 3:8). The Lord comes searching for them in the garden and their reaction, again, is to hide.
They hid from each other, and they hid from God.
A fear and shame settled into Adam and Eve’s union.
They became exposed, but not in the way God intended them to be. So their initial reaction was to cover themselves—cover themselves with things they created on their own. They were ashamed of their nakedness.
When shame enters a marriage it doesn’t allow us to be fully naked and transparent the way God desires us to be. Shame encourages us to hide and cover ourselves with our own coverings.
We hide from our spouse and we hide from God. We begin to disconnect from our spouse, and we also begin to disconnect from God.
Natalie here :). When my husband and I got married we had baggage. We weren’t perfect, and twelve years later we still are nowhere near perfection. Before I came to know the Lord, I dated someone I should not have been involved with, and I was told I was fat. Those words started me on a journey in which I struggled with anorexia and insecurities. Once I committed my life to the Lord, God began to work in me and He helped me overcome some of those struggles. A few years later, I began to date my husband and eventually we were married. During the early years of our marriage, I began to realize I was still hiding behind certain insecurities. Whenever a disagreement occurred, I would automatically shut down because I never felt secure enough to share what I was really feeling. So for me, those insecurities were my covering. I hid behind those feelings of inadequacy. This was incredibly unfair for my husband because having an honest conversation with me was like pulling teeth. I would resort to hide and disconnect from him whenever we went through a rough patch.
Ariel here. When I was conceived my dad was married but, not to my mom. I was born out of an affair and it affected the way I thought about marriage. When my wife and I were dating, I was afraid to propose to her because I expected my marriage to end in an affair. I didn’t have an understanding of what it was to be a husband. At the age of fourteen, I was also introduced to pornography. And it became like gum on the bottom of my shoe. No matter how hard I tried to get rid of it, it was still there. I walked around with a lot of shame and guilt, which I brought into our marriage. Shame caused me to hide and disconnect.
Maybe you can relate to our stories. Maybe shame has entered into your marriage and has caused you and your spouse to disconnect. Maybe you find yourself hiding.
In most instances, not only do we hide from our spouse, we also hide from God. We compromise our time of prayer, our reading of His word. We go to church only when we’re scheduled to serve. And when someone asks us how we’re doing, our response is, “We’re blessed and highly favored.” We hide. We disconnect.
So what do we do?
Is it possible to go back to the original design of marriage? Is it possible to have a Genesis 2:25 marriage?
We believe that James chapter five, verse sixteen gives us a roadmap to get back to the way God intended marriages to be – that naked, without shame relationship.
The verse reads: “Therefore CONFESS your sins to each other and PRAY for each other so that you might be HEALED.”
First, confess to one another. Confession is the total opposite of covering and hiding, which is our natural instinct. It’s bringing things out into the light. An act of exposing—getting naked and transparent with your spouse. Confessing is humbling because some of the things we have to confess may not be easy to say. This may also include confessing grudges, resentment, anger, and unforgiveness we may have had towards our spouse.
This process allows you to reconnect with your spouse. It’s a form of being intimate. Totally transparent, totally exposed, totally naked with your spouse.
A word of advice – it’s easier to confess before things grow or fester. No matter how small it may seem, don’t allow those things to build up. The idea of what your spouse doesn’t know won’t hurt them is a LIE! Those “little things” can grow into very uncontrollable monsters.
The other component of confession is acceptance. When you’re in a relationship with someone, you take the good, the bad, and the ugly. ‘Til death do us part. When it comes to dealing with humans there’s a lot of ugly. Allow freedom for your spouse to confess. And make sure there’s no penance, no payback. You may feel hurt by certain things, but choose to go through those feelings together.
This is not the time to change your Facebook profile status to single. Confession can be difficult, but love keeps no records of wrong (1 Corinthians 13:5). That is a tough verse to follow through on. The word love in this verse is agape love – unconditional love. The source of that kind of love is God. If you are connected to God, He is able to give you the love you need to love your spouse. The love you’ll need to overlook the offenses. Remember, your spouse isn’t the enemy. We don’t battle flesh and blood. The enemy is the enemy. It’s he who causes division and seeks to rob. (Note that if you are in an abusive marriage relationship, counseling is strongly recommended so a mediator can assist you and your spouse through your situation).
Our next step is prayer. There are some things that are only resolved through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29), which means if you’re serious about your marriage you’re going to have to go to war in prayer.
People are fighting in their marriages and they’re not fighting for their marriages.
Our weapons are not carnal; they’re mighty to bring down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). It’s not in arguments, or in trying to prove who’s right. The only way there’s peace is when we begin to intercede and pray.
Natalie here again. When my husband confessed to me his struggle with pornography, I didn’t feel too good after that. Just being transparent. Just being naked with you. My first thought was, man I’m not good enough. It came to a point where I had to realize that my husband wasn’t the enemy. The struggle with pornography was the issue and that’s what I had to fight. It wasn’t until I took that the stance in prayer and really interceded for my husband that that stronghold broke. I appreciate that my husband was so transparent with me. He spoke openly with me because he didn’t want to hide, and we were able to fight it and overcome it together.
The final step is healing. We really believe there is a divine exchange in the healing process. An exchange where we take off our coverings—all the stuff we’ve been hiding behind—and we become exposed, and we receive God’s coverings. We receive the coverings that God intended for our marriage. You have to be naked in order for God to clothe you with His garments. He’s not going to set his garments upon coverings we’ve made for ourselves. We shouldn’t feel guilty as we unwind those coverings – God doesn’t see us by those things we’re hiding behind. He sees us covered in his blood.
In Genesis chapter three, after the Lord has learned what has taken place in the Garden of Eden, the bible states that, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). God clothed them despite what they did. He covered them. He was replacing the fig leaves – whatever they made on their own and he covered them. He wants us naked, exposed, bare, so he can cover us.
Stop hiding from your spouse. Stop hiding from God. Be open to the fact that it’s time to begin confessing. Come together as a couple and pray. As you confess and pray you’re going to begin to see a healing in your marriage. You’ll experience blessing. You won’t be “just making it.” You’ll be overcoming. Your marriage won’t just be okay. Your marriage will be great.
In closing, years later the bible records in the book of Zechariah, a vision the prophet Zechariah has of Joshua who was the high priest at the time. The image is of Joshua dressed in filthy garments. He’s clothed in filthy coverings and Satan is standing next to him accusing him. God then rebukes Satan and requests that Joshua’s garments be removed. God takes Joshua’s coverings off.
“Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you’” (Zech. 3:3-4).
Like Adam, Eve, and Joshua, you may find yourself under some coverings. Perhaps those coverings are more like filthy garments. Maybe just like Joshua experienced, Satan is also accusing you—convincing you that it’s best to stay covered, it’s best to stay hidden because what will others really think of you? What will your spouse think of you?
The last thing Satan wants is for us to begin confessing, and reconnecting with God and our spouse. He might be reminding us of our shameful state, but God wants us to remove our filthy garments. God wants to quiet every accusation and lie from the enemy. He wants to dress us with His garments. They’re fine garments. They’re His coverings. He wants us to live out His original design for marriages.
We want to exemplify a Genesis 2:25 marriage. In a day and age where marriages begin and end so quickly, there is still hope. No marriage is too hopeless for God’s healing.
Confess. Pray. Receive God’s healing today.