Some thoughts on theology, desire, and shame…

The sermon at my church on Sunday was about freedom and the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t just a good sermon, it was a fabulous sermon. I’ve been very lucky in my life to usually follow pastors who have some very awesome things to say.

So, my pastor was talking about freedom and he mentions The Garden of Eden, and how he pictures that to be the ultimate freedom. Adam and Eve were in Paradise, free to do whatever they wanted, as long as they avoided the Tree of Knowledge. And of course, they didn’t, because they’re human, after all, and it wouldn’t make much a story if Eve told that serpent that she was already full on persimmons and pomegranates.

And then he mentioned this, “ As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves.” (Genesis 3:7) The way that I’ve always understood this verse is that they became ashamed of themselves, or embarrassed by their nakedness, and hid from each other and from God. This event in history is known as The Original Sin.

For some reason in church, sitting with my family, it occurred to me that this didn’t make any sense. Because the reason that Eve had been created was to be a companion for Adam. God straight up told them, “Don’t use protection. Have lotsa babies. That’s basically the point.” So… I mean come on. Nice little sunset, nice walk on the beach, a good meal of Not- Wisdom-Granting Foods, and you get the picture. One thing leads to another. I am sure that Adam and Eve were enjoying themselves.

I don’t want to gross anyone out here (my Dad reads this, after all…) but I’m pretty sure that we are all familiar with the concept of two adults living together. Now, I’m an American woman who grew up during the Bush era, so I have been pretty much trained to believe that my own sexual thoughts and desires are definitely wrong and evil, but since falling in love and being in love with the father of my children for many years, I now know that Desire is more than what popular culture would lead us to believe. I’m not saying I’m a saint or that I don’t ever think that I wouldn’t mind running into Dylan McDermott some time when maybe I remembered to shave my legs and throw some lipstick on, but Desire– Desire with a capital D– is totally different with my husband than the way I remember it from back in Ye Olde Single Days. Which is why, as I was listening to this sermon on Freedom at church on Sunday, I realized, for the first time, that there is basically no possible way that Adam and Eve hadn’t already been working on populating the planet. They were innocent, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t Desire each other before they ate the Fruit. It’s simple math, people. And there’s nothing shameful in that.

So, then, I thought, well hey, what’s there to be ashamed of? What was the problem?

So then I started thinking about the word Nakedness. Our society is so superficial that of course, the only way that we’ve ever been taught this lesson is with the idea that they looked at each other, got a little hot and bothered, and needed to cover-up (I read an entire article a few years ago about how women aren’t supposed to wear yoga pants anymore because they are designed to be flattering and men just can’t control themselves. This is the kind of thinking that leads us to believe that sex/desire are bad, bad things). The thought made me roll my eyes a little, to be real, because I’ve only been married for 5 years and there is basically no way I can think of that Mitch could see me that would be embarrassing at this point in the game. Not to play the mommy card, but after your partner has seen you split open from hip to hip and his own offspring pulled from your insides, there just really isn’t much left up to the imagination.

But… there are times that I don’t want him to see me. In the real sense and the figurative sense.

I believe that I am a beautiful person who does ugly things. When we fight, I go too far. Sometimes I’m selfish, and I know I’m being selfish, and a part of me doesn’t even care, as long as I get my way. I don’t tell lies, but sometimes I just don’t say anything. Sometimes pieces of my past catch up to me, and even though I haven’t done anything wrong and all my husband wants to do is help me, I don’t want to be around him. I punish him for things that someone else did.

So I thought about Adam and Eve, and how they had probably been sinning before they ate the fruit. I mean– come on. Are you really telling me that Adam didn’t snatch some grapes off of Eve’s lily pad and not tell her that he took them? Maybe one day Eve was super angry at Adam for not putting the bark down on the toilet puddle, and said some things she shouldn’t have. Maybe Eve really, really liked cashews and was hoarding them and hiding them from Adam. You know, married people stuff.

What I’m saying is, they didn’t suddenly start sinning when they ate the Fruit, at least, I think they were doing the kind of sinning that we recognize as sinning. They didn’t think it was sinning, because they had Take-Backs, because they didn’t know any better. However, by deliberately flaunting God’s command to them, and becoming ‘wise,’ they realized that they had no where to hide. They realized how vulnerable they were. They realized they’d done some messed up things to each other, and some messed up things to God, and they were ashamed.

We are often told that sin is what keeps us separated from God. I’m not saying that is untrue, but I was thinking about Adam and Eve, and how unlikely it was that they hadn’t sinned prior to the Fall, the real difference was that they were innocent. They were like little kids pushing each other in the sand box. They didn’t know any better. Once they did, once they were wise and the veil was lifted, they were more than just guilty. They were ashamed.

So maybe, it’s more than just sin that keeps us from God. Maybe it’s shame. Maybe it’s an unwillingness to accept Grace and Forgiveness, and do better next time, the way that little kids do when they mess up.

And maybe that’s what keeps us from each other, too. We don’t want anyone to see us Naked– not truly naked. We’d rather spend hours a day at a gym to get the perfect body, thousands of dollars on our bright, white, straight smile, too much time on our hair and make-up, too much money on our clothes, all of it in the hopes that it will be enough to make someone look past what is REALLY there when we are our most Naked.

Freedom, I think, is being able to be Naked– both literally and figuratively– and not feel ashamed of what you are. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means you’re a beautiful person who sometimes does ugly things. And you’re working on it. And that’s where Grace comes in– Eternal Take-Backs, as long as we promise to try harder next time.

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