Naked and Ashamed

Naked and Ashamed

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;” Gen. 3:7

Peggy and I once stayed in a hotel where the entire wall opposite the shower was a mirror. The proximity of the shower to the mirror meant, at some point, you would be forced to look at your naked body for a prolonged period of time. It didn’t take long for me to realize, I don’t like looking at my naked body.

The impact of the experience is enduring in my life. I talk about it all the time. It helped me realize the negative impact of mirrors. Whenever I look into a mirror all I can see is my need for improvement. True happiness is discovered when I avoid mirrors altogether.

Discomfort with my own nakedness helps me make sense of Adam and Eve’s response to eating the forbidden fruit. Immediately, they discover their nakedness and are ashamed. However, if you’re not hung up on nakedness, the story doesn’t make much sense.

Adam and Eve were told they would die from eating the fruit. They did not. We are told the first humans living in a primitive garden are ashamed of being naked. Yet, most primitive cultures in warm climates seem quite comfortable with nakedness. The Inuit people of the Arctic regions do not clothe themselves out of embarrassment.

Something seems to be missing when we read the story too literally. Or, when we try to place it into a modern context. Yet, what takes place in the story shapes the rest of the Biblical story. And, I would argue, speaks deeply to the human condition.

God wanted us to be happy with how we were created. Yet, when our eyes are opened to see ourselves as we are, we feel shame. Shame has a unique form of expression in each human life. I have not met a human without at least a remnant of it. Shame is a destructive force wreaking havoc on the soul. It causes people to hate others and to hate themselves. We seek to hide it, but God wants you to bring that shame to God. So God can take it away and make you whole again.

Click to read: Genesis 3: 1-8

Reflection Questions:

  • What part of yourself do you not like looking at?
  • Where do you feel a sense of shame and what role does it play in your life?
  • What do you want to tell God about your shame?
  • What does happiness look like to you?

Photo Courtesy of and Jairo Alzate

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