To know and be known: the hope of us creatures. To deeply know and to be deeply known. In all of our trying to escape, in all of our hiding, in all of our grasping we are unable to deny the abiding pain that comes with not knowing and never being known. Each human desires a witness to their lives and another life to witness. It is the great attraction of friendship, romance and marriage.
Why must I take my clothes off? Couldn’t I be known just as well under yards and yards of intellectual, emotional and physical fabric? Why do the deepest relationships require every part of my person? There is war inside. This war rages against my great desire to know and be known. I want you to know me but not know me. I am aware of you and your subjective experience in this world. I know that you make decisions each and every day about flesh and blood. You make choices about how to treat and make use of the people that populate your days. Are you trustworthy? Could I expose my heart, desires, fears, troubles… .my deepest and dearest parts and be certain that you will not take any advantage of my vulnerability?
We are not stupid. Humans know what humans think, say and do. We are aware of the ways of mankind because we know ourselves. We know the tendencies of our own flesh. Our great desire is to reveal ourselves to one another, to God and man, but our greatest fear is what will happen when we do.
It has not always been this way. There was a time when we stood in the presence of God and man “naked and.. .not ashamed,” Genesis 2:25. God ruled the thoughts, words and ways of mankind. Our judgments of another’s heart and flesh were not subjective. We perceived as God perceived. Our concern was for the welfare of another’s being, not what we could usurp and obtain from their vulnerable humanity. But that changed… “…and they knew that they were naked,” Genesis 3:6.
“And they sewed fig leaves…” Genesis 3:7. Naturally. Yes. Of course. Who wouldn’t?! There you are standing fully exposed. It’s no problem until the eyes of another discover your nakedness. Suddenly you are aware of their thoughts, what they could possibly say or do… .their subjective judgments… .and you know that you must cover, quickly!
But now, I ask, how will you be fully known and how will you fully know? There must be a grand reconciliation of our vulnerability and our judgments. Fig leaves will not do.