Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Who told you that you were naked?

Immediately after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit “the eyes of both of them were opened; and they realized they were naked.” What manner of eye opening was this?

Was it like the visual jump we experience when looking at the picture on the left?

Which do you see, saxophone player or a young woman? Now do you see the other?

Adam and Eve were naked--they just hadn’t noticed. Once perceived, they scrambled to cover up. Why this sudden modesty? Was it because this was the first time they had noticed their naughty bits—which clearly needed to be covered up? Did they have company--the serpent hanging around, exulting in his victory, or were there children about from already obeying God’s command to multiply?

I think they realized they had been parading around the Lord of the Universe wearing nary a stitch.

Various theories suggest human attributes which distinguish us from other animals. Language and the use of tools are possibilities, but some animals (e.g. whales) seem to communicate, and some animals use simple tools like rocks or twigs to obtain food. However, I am not aware of any creature besides mankind that has a sense of modesty. The mode of modesty varies greatly, ranging from bursas, to a string around the waist with a few trinkets attached, to nothing but tattoos--but the concept is there. Little children start out without any modesty at all, but that changes, at least for a while.

So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 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.

Presumably the fig leaves are still in place, but the couple still hid from God. Have they become aware of more than just their nakedness? They had disobeyed God’s command. Like kids that had just broken the vase in the living room, their first impulse was to hide.

God walks through the garden and asks, “Where are you?"

Why would the omniscient deity just in from the creation of a multi-billion light year universe pretend He could not see two humans cowering amongst the trees? In reality those half-naked creatures had become something different; they had become god-like, “like one of us.” Was God treating these newly minted, god fearing creatures with respect? The same respect a parent grants when they play peek-a-boo with their toddler, or calls out "where are you” during hide-and-go-seek, even though they see legs sticking out from under the table. A parent knows that these stages are necessary for children to develop a sense of self and a model of how that self fits into the environment around them.

Adam responds, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

The fig leaves weren’t doing their job; they had not restored the world back to the way it was. Adam and Eve felt their souls, as well as their bodies exposed to the gaze of the Creator--and they knew fear. Likely they feared for their lives, after all God had said, "when you eat of it you will surely die."

God pursues, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

God offers an opportunity for clarification and confession. Could the serpent have told Adam and Eve that they were naked in a failed attempt to shame them into disobedience? Is this all a misunderstanding? No, sin did happen.

The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’

Adam responds to God with a pattern we know well. Yes, I disobeyed, but it wasn’t my fault. In fact this situation is really your fault for giving me that woman. Unwilling to take responsibilities for our actions, our first reaction when challenged about our sin is often to blame God. God, you created those appetites in me. God you gave me no choice. God, your commands are so unreasonable.

Adam makes no other defense and he offers no apology. The first couple were the first to fall, and the first to suffer the consequences of their sin. We don’t know if they ever repented of their sin.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

Their knowledge of good and evil got Adam and Eve tossed out of the garden into a hard life. But God gave them a good set of clothes to replace the innocence they had lost.

1 comment:

VirusHead said...

What stands out for me is the phrase "garments of skin."