Summary: Adam and Eve felt shame when they sinned and discovered their nakedness. God never excuses our sin, but does not define us by our shame.
Lost and Ashamed
June 25, 2006
I don’t know if you have ever heard of Mental Floss Magazine or not. Mental Floss is a bi-monthly magazine and is described on its web site as “…your cheat sheet to a complete education. Let’s face it; we all want to feel smart. We all want to feel well educated. But, we need someone to make learning simple. That’s where Mental Floss steps in. Mental Floss will teach you the things you’ve always wanted to learn.” I thought that was an interesting way to catch someone’s attention. Now since I am all for learning, I thought that it would be a good idea to check out this new publication. And I did in fact, learn some new things.
Back in the November-December 2004 issue, the editors catalogued what they considered to be the most important questions in the history of the universe. Haven’t you ever wondered, for example, why you can’t tickle yourself? Why do snooze buttons on alarm clocks only give you nine minutes of sleep? Why do we call those big clocks in the parlor “Grandfather Clocks?” Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?
Let me add a couple more inquiries to the list of the world’s most important questions. “Why do we feel shame?” and “What do we do with our shame?”
It all starts with a bit of nakedness. Back in the third chapter of Genesis, the serpent, who was more clever than any of the other animals that God made, got into a conversation with Eve. You remember the story. After God created Adam and Eve, he put them in the Garden of Eden to care for it and tend it and manage it. It was all there for their enjoyment and well-being. They had free run of the place with only one stipulation. They could enjoy everything in the garden with the exception of the fruit of the tree that stood in the midst of the place.
The serpent told Eve that he understood that God told them they couldn’t any of the fruit in the garden. Not so, said Eve. She told the serpent that God told them they could eat anything except the fruit of the tree in the very middle of the garden. God told us, she said, that if we eat that fruit, we’ll die.
That’s not true, said the serpent. God doesn’t want you to eat of that fruit because when you do, you will become as smart as God is. You’ll know everything that God knows. You’ll see everything that God sees. You will really know what is going on in the universe.
So Eve gave in to the temptation, took a bite of the fruit and gave some to Adam, who lost no time in snarfing his share. And then a funny thing happened. They looked around at each other and noticed for the first time that they didn’t have any clothes on. They were naked! It hadn’t mattered before, but now it did. The New Living Translation of the Bible says that they “felt shame at their nakedness,” so they sewed leaves together and became the first tailors in history as they made their first clothes.
Interesting, isn’t it? I have thought for a long time about whether or not to tell you this story. You may go home thinking that it wasn’t an appropriate story to tell. At the least, it will probably leave you with an image that you could do without. But here goes.
When we moved here two years ago, we came as empty nesters. For the first time, we didn’t have any kids with us. We left one in Elkhart. One was in Indianapolis and the other was in Terre Haute. It took us about ten minutes to begin to really enjoy being alone.
We had only been in the house for about a week. One morning, I got up and walked down the hall to the main bathroom to take a shower. Now remember, the kids are gone. They all live in different cities. Toni was over at her office. I was alone in the house.
I got out of the shower and quite frankly couldn’t see any reason to wrap a towel around me for the trip back to the bedroom because I was alone in the house…right? So I walked out of the bathroom in the same way that Adam walked around in the garden. But I have something that Adam didn’t have. I have a mother. And this particular mother was standing in the hallway looking for her son. She found me!
It’s kind of embarrassing to be caught naked, isn’t it? But when Adam and Eve were caught naked, they were beyond embarrassment. Being embarrassed might make your cheeks turn red, but you get over it in awhile. Adam and Eve didn’t feel embarrassed. They felt shame. There is a big difference.