A guest post by G S Royal.
I’ve been thinking about ‘In the beginning’. You know, let-there-be-light stuff, Adam & Eve, gardening naked. I’ve read the Genesis account numerous times and I always cringe when the enemy of our souls invades that ancient paradise. Knowing how my wife feels about the “S” creatures (which will forever go unnamed – the word is never spoken in our house) Satan would have found it necessary to embody a different animal to tempt her. Otherwise, original sin would have never occurred.
I’m no theologian, so I always leave the story with questions I can’t answer, but I only need to go three chapters deep to learn from where (or from whom) we get the tendency to have an increased desire for things we’re told are off-limits. We all are familiar with the simple thought, “That looks good; I think I’ll have some.” For some of us, it’s as benign as the need for a second piece of cake, or as malignant as the desire for another person’s mate. The Bible tells us that we inherited our bent toward sin from our Edenic forefather. It seems our tendency to be more concerned with how things look than how things are was inherited, too. Jesus spoke of this when he called the religious leaders white washed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones.
We react to the knowledge of our sin in strange ways at times. Denial is one. Pretending it will go away is another. Some even try to define it out of existence. I can understand the logic of trying to hide the evidence of a crime, but I can’t recall any of my sins that have prompted me to say, “Quick! Where are the fig leaves?”
There are different schools of thought on why Adam & Eve reacted that way. The Bible says they were afraid, but many believe that shame played a part in it too. Earlier, God had told them that if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would surely die. They had just done that very thing, and they knew what God had said would come next. I would have hidden in the bushes, too! They were afraid, and it had nothing to do with what God had earlier pronounced ‘very good,’ suddenly becoming very bad.
Some people believe they covered themselves and hid in the bushes because they were ashamed of their bodies. Look at the second question God asked Adam: “Who told you that you were naked?” God already knew the answer; He was helping Adam and Eve to see where they got that information. The second sin in the garden (It’s reasonable to believe there were more than one) was continuing to listen to Satan. They were exercising their new moral independence from God, and perhaps Satan told them their naked bodies were disgraceful, and they believed that, too. Isn’t it quite telling that their first decisions apart from God were already ‘missing the mark.’
Now what about that animal skin clothing? Some people believe that by making more durable clothes for them, God was apparently agreeing with Satan regarding their nakedness. Really?? Others, including myself, see a different story. In his infinite grace, God allowed the death penalty to fall to innocent animals, a foreshadowing of later Old Testament law and ultimately the crucifixion of Christ. Wearing the skins became a daily reminder of the awesome grace of God, not condemnation of their fearfully and wonderfully made bodies.
What we have is a heart problem, not a body problem. Nothing we do to our bodies can change that. I think this is one of the lessons to be learned from the creation story. Let me share a poem I wrote entitled Eden:
The majesty of mountains high – and snow!
Trees, and birds that perch in them to sing,
May flowers that the April showers bring,
Wild horses! Whales, the moon and stars aglow!
The handiwork of God is all around,
And richly on display for all to see,
Such loveliness and creativity,
A virtual smorgasbord of sight and sound!
So should the centerpiece of godly art,
The human body, be with reverence viewed.
The problem is within the human heart
When we’re ashamed to see or be seen nude;
We have it wrong, and have right from the start.
God made us beautiful, we made it lewd.
H. L. Mencken is quoted as saying, “There is always an easy solution to every human problem: simple, plausible, and wrong.” The only real answer is to be clothed in the righteousness of the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ. You won’t find it growing on a tree. It is found in the outstretched hands of God himself, with an invitation that says, “Here, put this on. It fits much better than those leaves.”