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"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and
they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They
heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the
evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of
the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the
man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in
the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He
said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?"
Most people assume that all the Bible has to say about
sex is that it is bad. This is not true. It has lots of
good things to say about sex, and we will be getting to
those in the coming weeks, but today we do need to start
with some sort of Biblical foundation for where sex and
sexuality first went off the rails. And it is right here
in Genesis. Adam and Eve have been frolicking in the
primeval Garden of Eden. And they had been doing it
naked. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with this.
But then they ate from the Tree. You know the Tree, the
one with the apples? Yeah. That one. They ate from the
one they weren't supposed to eat from. And what did it
do to them? Did it make them yell and fight with each
other? Did they try to kill each other? Did they start
tearing up the garden and hurting the animals? No. None
of these things happened when sin entered the world.
Instead what happened is they became embarrassed.
Ashamed. And they covered themselves up.
When God showed up, and they were not only ashamed to be
naked in front of one another, but also in front of God,
they predictably hid. And God knew what had happened.
They had been changed by the knowledge of that which is
evil. Now I would wager all of us know the feelings of
shame our own bodies can induce within us. We look at
ourselves, see the bald head, the round face, the
scrawny legs, and we see imperfection, and we are
ashamed. We are ashamed because we imagine how we must
look, specifically how unappealing we must look, in the
eyes of others. And in our highly sexualized culture,
where body image counts for so much (better looking
people earn more, don't you know), we become
particularly ashamed. And that shame we feel at our own
bodies, that shame which tells us that we are
unattractive, unwanted, unlovable; that our bodies just
aren't good enough and need to be covered, shaded,
tucked, lifted, surgically enhanced, is sin! It's sin!
It is the oldest manifestation of sin. The inability to
see ourselves as creatures in the image of God, but
instead as an imperfect and flawed body, is a sin. God
doesn't see us that way. When we stand before God,
awkwardly trying to cover our worst parts and enhance
our best, God still says, "who told you that you were
naked?" It's still a good question.
Prayer: Holy God, forgive me for the shame I feel
about myself and my body. Help me to remember that I was created in
your image, and that you are pleased with me, and have called me
good. Help my trust in you to set me free from my shame. I pray in
[Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]