And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit and ate, and gave also to her husband who was with her; and he ate. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Ever since the Fall, humanity has desired to be fully known and fully loved — but has been afraid to be fully vulnerable.
This reality is perhaps most obvious in hookup culture, where individuals have ten-minute conversations before going to bed with each other, withholding any genuine intellectual or emotional vulnerability so that total physical vulnerability will have “no strings attached.”
They say it’s only about sex, but beneath the machismo and “no big deal” is an undercurrent of crossed fingers and held breaths hoping that one of these one-night stands will end up being The One — one of these people who’s seen, felt, and known everything physically will also want to see, feel, know and cherish the rest of the human being they’ve slept with.
We hide ourselves, because of our shame and because we’re afraid others won’t love us if they truly know us.
For the most part, we’re probably right. Just look at the media:
- Last month, Connecticut Democrats dropped Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson’s names from an annual fundraising dinner because of the early presidents’ ties to slavery.
- People are/were/have been incensed about fictional Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird being racist in Go Set a Watchman (never mind that he’s not real and the “sequel” is really a version of the manuscript that led Harper Lee’s original editor to prompt her to rewrite with greater focus on Scout’s childhood).
- Last week, the oldest Duggar son was found to have cheated on his wife — this on the heels of uncovering that he’d also sexually abused his younger sisters. Right away, people who’ve never even met him called him a hypocrite.
Gay Talese made an apropo statement with regard to Atticus being racist:
Well, don’t be surprised, because many people who on the front are defense attorneys, outstanding citizens, elected officials, have that other side, which does not exactly come out on all occasions, but lurks within their soul. And sometimes makes a rare public appearance, to the dismay of a lot of naive people.
We are naive toward the hidden sin and shame of others — and we’re dismayed when what’s hidden is brought to light — but if we’re honest, all of us are hiding something. The only difference between us and the people (and character) mentioned above are the sins themselves and our levels of fame. All of us present the world with a false self-portrait, our blemishes smoothed over. All of us hide our ugliness — our sin and the trembling shame it brings — beneath layers of faux confidence.
In a sermon I listened to on Friday, Timothy Keller made the point that all of our good deeds — all common virtue or common morality — is rooted in either pride or fear, both sins in their own right. In doing good outwardly, most people are actually feeding their inward sin. They do good because it benefits them, not because it is the right thing to do.
Disguised by so-called altruism are pride and fear, the same attitudes that drive our wrongdoing. Pride and fear are also the reasons that we hide.
But we don’t need to hide.
The first thing Adam and Eve did after sinning was try to cover their shame. When their aprons of leaves left them feeling still too vulnerable, they physically hid themselves from God. When God asked Adam where he was, Adam, instead of answering the question, said he was hiding from God because he was afraid, and he was afraid because he was naked.
We know what happens next: the confrontation about eating the fruit, the shifting of blame from Adam to Eve to the serpent, the curse of sin laid out. But in verse 21, something beautiful happens:
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
God sees their shame and He doesn’t shy away, He’s not dismayed. He takes it upon Himself to cover them. And then He sends His Son to take all of humanity’s sin and shame upon Himself and hang on the cross naked before the world, so that all humanity can be clothed in His righteousness.
We don’t have to hide our shame — not from God and not from the world — because when we stand naked before the throne of God, all of our sin and shame exposed, Jesus covers us with His righteousness.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)