“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame” –Genesis 2:25.
I know many people who look at Genesis 1-2 as proof that God only sanctions heterosexual relationships. Not going to lie. I used to be one of them many, many years ago. Until I began looking through another interpretive lens when I was in college because the literal view of Adam and Eve created too many intuitive problems of logic. So, I tweaked my beliefs to include grace for gay relationships; but I still hadn’t made the leap (what I considered, across a scandalous chasm) to believe that gay relationships just may be God’s best for some. Until I began to live life more vulnerably and more openly about my own inability to measure up to church standards. Once you realize the energy it takes to keep up the facade of presenting your life as ‘holy’ to other church goers as well as the ‘unsaved,’ you live much more humbly, graciously and less reactionary. Other people’s ‘sin’ no longer concerns you–because you know the only people who ‘fit in’ with the church standards are the ones who create enough emotional/spiritual ‘clothing’ to hide their shame–and those garments will not last forever…. It takes a lot of time and energy to patch up the holes in those garments, so we tend to divert attention to other people’s worn out garments while we scurry to make ours look less unseemly again.
Except we don’t hide well. In Genesis 3-4, the man and his wife sew fig leaves together trying to hide their shame. Not an opaque, very protective or lasting covering. God creates clothing made from animal hide for them–lasting, protecting and fully covering their shame. Mankind’s first protective covering comes from another creature’s sacrifice. See, it takes sacrifice to free someone from shame.
What makes these thoughts important? Why haven’t I mentioned eating fruit, talking serpents or banishment from a perfect garden? Because I believe we have missed the point of the story. Because we define ‘sin’ as actions or behaviors. According to the Genesis creation chapters, God describes a life without ‘sin’ as one lived in His presence, without covering up or shame. Man tells God that the reason he hid and covered himself is that he was ‘afraid because I was naked.’ Not because his actions were wrong–but because he realized how exposed he had become. In the life of Jesus, He seems to bring people who have lived in shame by society’s standards back into a place of security and confidence. Their shamefulness no longer has power over how they see themselves or how they believe God sees them.
People living with shame do not believe God can love them unconditionally; therefore, they live separated from God. Jesus’ sacrifice offers us freedom from that shame and full access to God’s presence and unconditional love. Not based on our actions. Not based on how well we behave. Not based on if we live up to the rules. Just unadulterated, without ulterior motive, forgiveness and union with God. That’s GRACE!
I no longer view Genesis 1-4 as God’s verdict about relationships and heterosexual marriage. I view those chapters as God opening the conversation with mankind that we have all fallen; but He gave us hope that He planned all along a strategy that would remove the chains of shame and allow us to live with Him in freedom.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” –Romans 8:1-2.
May we all learn to live in the freedom from shame that God offers us by the Holy Spirit’s revelation to us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. HALLELUJAH!!
How have you allowed shame to dictate what others see of your life? Do you let shame keep you from experiencing God’s presence? Have you hidden yourself to fit in and feel accepted? Are you weary of living under the constraints of shame?