Who told Adam he was naked? Had he gotten a glimpse of himself in some body of water? Did Eve tell him he was naked? Was it the serpent? However it happened, someone or something called his attention to the fact that he was naked.
Adam’s awareness of his nakedness brought with it a measure of shame and guilt. So heavy was his and Eve’s newfound awareness and guilt that they felt the need to identify themselves by and with this condition. Similarly, according to Robin DiAngelo, in her groundbreaking work, White Fragility, “White supremacy [as] a system of global European domination: [brought] into existence whites and nonwhites, full persons and subpersons.”
Come Out of Hiding
Nonwhites see themselves through the lens of White supremacy and identify themselves by and with their non-whiteness, their “nakedness”. This is unfortunate, considering that the legal definition of whiteness has only taken shape over the last 150 years. Such terminology arose specifically in the context of immigration law so that courts in the United States could decide who was to have the privilege of living here. Furthermore, Ibram Kendi writes that while “ethnic and religious and color prejudice existed in the ancient world, constructions of races, like White Europe and Black Africa, did not, and therefore racist ideas didn’t [either].”
Therefore, just as we find Adam and Eve hiding from God because they recognized their nudity, we often find non-whites hiding “problematic” aspects of themselves that they have “recognized” only because whites have pointed them out.
Identity Comes By Relationship
Here, however, is our opportunity to highlight God’s love for all non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual, Christian and Non-Christians alike who are covering themselves with that which they believe will make them more acceptable. God first came down to earth to create. Then, when the serpent convinced the couple to veer from the revealed word and will of God He returned to save.
His first question to humanity upon catching up with them – “Where art thou?” – was not spatial but relational. He knew where they were spatially but sensed a distance relationally. God was in their physical presence, but they were emotionally distant. He wanted to restore the relationship.
The second question – “Who told you that you were naked?” – wasn’t solely about their nudity, but also about their identity. Even though they had sewn aprons to cover their nudity, they had allowed their condition to define their identity. Unfortunately, their misconceptions about identity were not limited to themselves. They had allowed someone to redefine them and their concept of God in one fell swoop. Because they knew God only as Sovereign, they were ignorant of Him as Savior. This is why when God arrived they hid from Him. They didn’t understand that God, with all His questions, had come to restore their true identity.
The Grace in God’s Questions
You see, the fact that God asks questions when He already knows all things reveals His attitude about and toward us. In that very moment when he was being questioned, man wasn’t standing in judgment, he was standing in grace. When we are lost and confused, when we have lost our identity, when we are naked, God comes looking for us. God’s questions are the sweet sound of amazing grace!
Recognize that when we have allowed someone to convince us that we are naked, that is not of God. It is an enemy who tells us we are naked, that we are non-white, that we should be afraid of and hide from God. But it is God who takes the time to seek us out, to essentially tell us, “I never told you you were naked / less than / inferior. Who told you that you were…and why have you listened to them and run from My love?”