Title: And Then it Happened!
Text: Genesis 3
We all know the story of Genesis 3 when Eve and then Adam ate from the tree that God had placed in the Garden next to the Tree of Life; God forbade them to eat of that tree. Yet, after consultation with that famous serpent, they went for it anyway. As we have already seen, their having eaten from the forbidden tree did not change the fact that they were bearers of God’s image, but it certainly changed how they viewed it, and of course there were consequences to their actions.
They now knew both good and evil; that will certainly change one’s thinking about a lot of things, in fact, it might just make a person’s thinking evil.
In this chapter, we find out why 2:25 is there; it turns out that it wasn’t as random as it seemed at first. They had been unashamed, and then they disobeyed God and were ashamed. Exactly what they were ashamed of is something that is open for debate, and many have indulged in that debate over the centuries. Personally, as I view this chapter, I see several apocalyptic elements, and if this were a study of Genesis per se, I would get into them in detail, but since this isn’t a study of Genesis, I will only say here that naked or not naked is one of those elements, and that nakedness is a powerful metaphoric component in Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, representing our having been created in God’s image on the one hand, and our separation from Him on the other.
God goes searching for Adam, who has made for himself a covering of leaves, and hidden in the trees, along with Eve. Of course, you can’t hide from God, who finds them, and has a little chat with them. As a result of this chat, God pronounces curses on the serpent, the woman and the man, and has them removed from the Garden forever. Interestingly, another one of the apocalyptic elements is found in 3:15 which is the first messianic prophecy.
While this is all very interesting, it doesn’t explain why they suddenly found themselves ashamed. Here’s what I think happened:
When the two ate from the forbidden tree, they were ashamed of what they had done and sought to hide themselves. It would appear from the text that they went into the bushes and shrubbery of the garden to hide, and they made clothing out of leaves to hide from God− since they had made a covering of leaves, they were not naked when God came looking for them, as Adam claimed in 3:10. Eating the fruit was the first sin, this lie was the second.
Obviously, this view fits with the Genesis 3 text, yet we still have the traditional teaching that they hid their shameful naked bodies from God let’s take a look at the text:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
For me, the really telling part of this little passage comes when God asked Adam who had told him that he was naked. Think about it… Who told you that you were naked?
The God’s next question, did you eat from that tree…?
So, let’s think about this scene as part of a larger whole: If Adam is telling the truth about his feelings and actions, then his body shame came about only when evil was introduced into his consciousness. Since we know that he had not ceased to bear the image of God, and God’s image cannot be evil, the shame here is in Adam’s thinking and actions, not his state of being, and that shame was actually that Adam had willfully and deliberately disobeyed God’s one simple little command, and eaten the fruit anyway. Much more likely, Adam knew he had really screwed up, and compounded matters by covering himself in leaves woven together and hid from God so that he wouldn’t get in trouble; history’s very first cover up.
Yet, all these millennia later, we still have the issue of body shame to deal with as Christians in the here and now.
We saw at the very beginning of our study together that the entry of sin into the world did not alter the fact that we are made in God’s image (Gen. 9:6), so I must respectfully ask how the human body can be shameful?
That simply cannot be, unless we are prepared to tell God that His image is shameful or unclean… and I really wouldn’t recommend that. Sometimes however, we behave shamefully. Yet our poor behavior has nothing to do with whether or not we are dressed; think about it… Not very many crimes are committed by naked people. Thus, in today’s culture we might rightfully say that nakedness is frowned upon in public, that it might be socially awkward, even that it violates the predominant social conventions, but not that a naked person is shameful or sinful simply because they are naked.
But they might well be shameful for their behavior…