Friday, March 31, 2006

Four Fold Pattern & Nakedness

So here's another thought... on nakedness...

Why did Adam & Even cover their physical nakedness after their sin? Why does Genesis 9 make such a big deal about Ham seeing his father, Noah's nakedness? Why does God forbid approaching His altar by steps in Exodus 20 lest the nakedness of men be exposed to the steps (they wore robes, remember)? Why does Leviticus 18-20 use the word "nakedness" 31 times in 3 chapters to emphasize the importance of not uncovering the physical nakedness of another? Why does Yahweh condemn Babylon in Isaiah 47:3 with these words: "Your nakedness will be uncovered; your shame also will be exposed; I will take vengeance..."? Or how about this humdinger from Nahum 3:5 ... "'Behold, I am against you,' declares the LORD of hosts; 'and I will lift up your skirts over your face, and show to the nations your nakedness...'" (Now THERE's a memory verse for your kids!)

Sociologists tell us that our feelings on physical nudity are cultural convictions passed down through family upbringing... They will even point to jungle cultures where nudity is normal. Of course, I could also point to cultures in which infant murder, cannibalism, & incest are also viewed as normal... but I don't think that negates the reality of some early inner conviction in every person that things ought not be that way.

Nakedness is vulnerability. It is exposure. It reveals our convictions on personal boundaries. It seems that there is a very real (not just metaphorical) connection between a person's body & their spirit. When Adam & Eve's spirits were tainted & enslaved by sin & death, they immediately recognized their naked bodies as tainted as well. Is this why children run around the house naked? ...because they're not mature enough to sense their own sinfulness?

Is this why RECEIVING LIGHT is so hard? ...because it exposes us? ...because it exposes our invisible nakedness? Are all those "caught in public wearing nothing but my underwear" dreams about something more than simply body-awareness? Could they be about the permeating human experience of shame that saturates our hearts & hovers over our bodies?


- What is there to learn from how we react to physical nakedness?
- Does this affect how we think about ministry?
- Does this change how we approach our relationships?

(Sidenote... The gospel of John & epistle of First John are great places to encounter these themes in order.)

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