While I was reading the audiences about the spousal meaning of the body, I found myself wondering, as I’ve wondered many times before, what life would have been like if original sin had never happened. Specifically this time, what would original nakedness have looked like in a world with more than two people? Would they all have been naked, or would they have decided to wear clothes, after all? Would they all have had the vision of one another described by “original nakedness?”
John Paul says that Adam and Eve “interiorly free from the constraint of their bodies and of sex, free with the freedom of the gift, were able to enjoy the whole truth, the whole self-evidence of the human being.” (TOB 15.3) My first thought was that since this full vision comes from the “freedom of the gift,” and a man is only really, completely a gift for his wife, no one but his wife would be able to enjoy the whole truth of his being. (Similarly with a wife for her husband.) Therefore, he would have to wear clothes when he was around other women.
But then I rethought the clothes. They seem pretty clearly a consequence of sin in the story of the fall. Besides, the reason that we wear clothes is because of shame, and we feel shame because of lust and disrespect, and those things wouldn’t exist without sin. A sinless man wouldn’t lust after a woman, whether she was his wife or not, and he wouldn’t disrespect or objectify her body, so there would be no reason for her to hide it from him.
So does that mean that they have the full vision of original nakedness? I don’t think that’s exactly it, either. Let’s say Sinless John is married to Sinless Jane, and Sinless Bob is married to Sinless Betty. All of them are running around naked, happy and innocent, eating fruit from trees and naming animals and such. Sinless John doesn’t look at Betty the same way that he looks at Jane. Jane has given herself as a gift entirely to John, so she belongs to him in a way that Betty doesn’t. John is able to see the whole person of Jane because the two of them are gifts for each other, but he isn’t able to see the whole person of Betty. He doesn’t objectify her, lust after her, demean her or disrespect her, but he doesn’t have a spousal relationship with her, either.
My Answer: Clothes, no. Full vision of the person, no. Naked without shame, yes.
Accompanies: Spousal Meaning: The Body Expresses Love