And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons
The theme of “to open the eyes” runs through the Bible and ends at the New Testament. Typically, the eyes open to see things that normally are not visible (see e.g. 2 Kings 6). Opening the eyes is a metaphor of the faith’s vision, through which you can recognize the action of God in history (see eeg. Lk 24; Jn 20).
However, in this case the eyes open not to see God, but to discover something of ourselves. It means to discover who really we are without veils or masks. The first two human beings became aware of “being naked.” In Hebrew, “to be naked” is arom. This is a word that is very similar to arum which means rather “subtil”. If you remember, at the beginning of the chapter three it is said that the “the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” The two hebrew terms have a similar sound because they link the discovery of nudity to the serpentine cunning.
And if so, what’s the problem? Is it not good for man uncovering himself as “fragile, poor and in need of help”? In fact, they were naked even before eating the fruit of the tree. The problem is not to be naked, but to be ashamed of being naked. The text says, in fact, that the two sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
If you live in the presence of God, if he is present in your life, you are not ashamed of your nakedness. If you believe in God you don’t need to defend yourself, to hide your true and deep identity before him. God has created us fragile and needy; the description of the men who lived over five hundred years (cfr. Gen 5) and the depiction of Eden where man didn’t suffer belongs to the myth of origins.
The man who actually wrote these chapters is the same as that of today: each of us is fragile, in need of God, of the other ones and of the mother earth from which we came from. This is the truth that Genesis teaches, beyond the literary and cultural influences of the time.
Why be ashamed of being sinners, fallible, flawed? The shame and the guilt don’t come from God. The basic question is: is there God in your life? Or God has been replaced with yourself? If so you will need of the “fig leaf”, the “mask” that hides to others and to ourselves who we really are.