Maybe I’m just crazy for thinking about this one, but it’s something I’m surprised that I’ve never heard discussed…
It is actually very comforting to me to know that, in some moments of life, God has been naked. Out of all the words we could pick to describe God, it’s probably one of the last we would ever think of, just as its the last we might pick to describe any great person who has, by human necessity, been, at some point, naked. But it points to something important in our faith: God has truly taken the time to be vulnerable.
There have been other gods who have been naked, to be sure. Especially with the Greek gods, there were frequent macabre displays of gods showing off their masculine prowess, most especially by raping or seducing human women. As a woman, I always wondered how any woman could wholeheartedly practice any of these religions. If you were beautiful and a virgin – or really, any woman – how did you develop trust and intimacy with a god you knew would gladly take advantage of you?
Jesus was the opposite. While he readily accepted the beautiful and the pure, he just as readily accepted the rest. He drew women who were sexually dysfunctional, loose, used, and downtrodden (John 8:3-11, Matthew 21:31-32, Luke 7:36-50). He enchanted prostitutes and adulterers, people who were possibly prior sex abuse victims, or were at least destroying their own lives with sex. And to each one of these women, he expressed peace, he expressed interest, and he expressed genuine love. He established intimacy with them, even physical intimacy, in ways that were acceptable to God (Luke 7:36-50, Mark 5:24-36, Matthew 28:9) And he behaved himself. Surrounded by women who were sexually immoral and looking for solace, women he could have easily used, he put his own needs aside, establishing purity and validation in the process. Despite what some pop culture movies say, Jesus probably died a virgin. He definitely didn’t fornicate, and while marital sex is blessed by God, Jesus probably put aside his chance at happiness in a normal human marriage as well (2 Corinthians 5:21a)(John 7:3-5, John 19:25, Mark 16:16)(Revelations 19:7-8, Ephesians 5:22-32).
Remember that, in a world where so many people suffer forms of sexual abuse, the Son of God carefully chose the manner and the steps of how he would die (1 Peter 1:11, Psalm 22, Isaiah 52-54). And when it was time for him to take on the full suffering of humankind, one of the steps he deliberately chose for this suffering was to have his clothes removed – not in some kind of display of masculinity, but as a form of shame and humiliation. Just think – for anyone who has ever been sexually abused or shamed for their body in any way, who calls on the name of the Lord – they call on someone who distinctly remembers being stripped naked in front of onlookers who spat on him and drove nails through his body. What an incredible depth of sympathy, to have someone to talk to who has been physically shamed. We as women, as victims, as all the different people from different walks of life who have been scarred, we talk to a God who has been through terrible pain, humiliation, and yes, nakedness. And while many people in the world think that God is just “made up”, I could not have made up a God that was more wonderfully accessible.
God bless you.
Morgan Grace Hart