Title: And Then it Happened!
Text: Genesis 3
We all know the story of Genesis 3 when Eve and then Adam ate from the tree that God had placed in the Garden next to the Tree of Life; God forbade them to eat of that tree. Yet, after consultation with that famous serpent, they went for it anyway. As we have already seen, their having eaten from the forbidden tree did not change the fact that they were bearers of God’s image, but it certainly changed how they viewed it, and of course there were consequences to their actions.
They now knew both good and evil; that will certainly change one’s thinking about a lot of things, in fact, it might just make a person’s thinking evil.
In this chapter, we find out why 2:25 is there; it turns out that it wasn’t as random as it seemed at first. They had been unashamed, and then they disobeyed God and were ashamed. Exactly what they were ashamed of is something that is open for debate, and many have indulged in that debate over the centuries. Personally, as I view this chapter I see several apocalyptic elements, and if this were a study of Genesis per se, I would get into them in detail, but since this isn’t a study of Genesis, I will only say here that naked or not naked is one of those elements, and that nakedness is a powerful metaphoric component in Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, representing our having been created in God’s image on the one hand, and our separation from Him on the other.
God goes searching for Adam, who has made for himself a covering of leaves, and hidden in the trees, along with Eve. Of course, you can’t hide from God, who finds them, and has a little chat with them. As a result of this chat, God pronounces curses on the serpent, the woman and the man, and has them removed from the Garden forever. Interestingly, another one of the apocalyptic elements is found in 3:15 which is the first messianic prophecy.
While this is all very interesting, it doesn’t explain why they suddenly found themselves ashamed. Here’s what I think happened:
When the two ate from the forbidden tree, they were ashamed of what they had done and sought to hide themselves. It would appear from the text that they went into the bushes and shrubbery of the garden to hide, and they made clothing out of leaves to hide from God− since they had made a covering of leaves, they were not naked when God came looking for them, as Adam claimed in 3:10. Eating the fruit was the first sin, this lie was the second.
Obviously, this view fits with the Genesis 3 text, yet we still have the traditional teaching that they hid their shameful naked bodies from God…
Even so, we saw at the very beginning of our study together that the entry of sin into the world did not alter the fact that we are made in God’s image (Gen. 9:6), so I must respectfully ask how the human body can be shameful?
That simply cannot be, unless we are prepared to tell God that His image is shameful or unclean… and I really wouldn’t recommend that. Sometimes however, we behave shamefully. Yet our poor behavior has nothing to do with whether or not we are dressed; think about it… Not very many crimes are committed by naked people. Thus, in today’s culture we might rightfully say that nakedness is frowned upon in public, that it might be socially awkward, even that it violates the predominant social conventions, but not that a naked person is shameful or sinful simply because they are naked.
But they might well be shameful for their behavior…
A 150 years ago, there wasn’t much confusion about the meaning of sexual immorality, the same was true 100 years ago, even 50, but today; that’s a whole different story. We have names for sexual practices and proclivities that none of us had even heard of when I was in my 20’s, and things that were frowned upon in society then are now matters of human rights and Constitutional protection, even though the authors of the Constitution would be mortified to hear of it.
Maybe these are the ramblings of someone who is just past his prime… you can judge that for yourself.
Not too long ago, a preacher friend of mine was telling me that he has people, mostly on the young side as he is, who ask him questions about sexuality, questions for which they seek answers, but which he has a hard time answering because they are asking about things that aren’t in the Bible, and even when they are in the Bible, he feels like the answers he gives are sounding very hollow in light of the changes in society, changes that have come upon us very quickly.
So, what exactly is sexual immorality?
It strikes me that this might be the wrong question; maybe we should ask what sexual morality is, rather what sexual immorality is. In our investigation of the image of God and its significance, we have already found that answer, and it is such a significant answer that it is actually a central part of God’s eternal purpose from the very beginning. We have seen that God made us in His image, our bodies, souls and spirits comprise His image in both male and female. We have seen that because of this, a man leaves his parents and unites as “one flesh” with his wife in the ultimate expression of their love for one another, and that their physical union is symbolic of Christ and the church.
God’s love is expressed in His giving life to us; our love is expressed in giving life to new image bearers, so that in each case life is the result of love.
It is altogether fitting and proper for a man and woman to become one flesh in marriage, and their sexual union is a gift from God: It is also sexual morality, and we have already cited the Scripture to support this.
Sex outside of this relationship, whatever you might see fit to call it, is not the exercise of the gift as God intended it to serve His purpose and makes a mockery of His image, which is why the Bible makes such a big deal about it.
There is the information, simple and clear as it is; the real question before us is, “What will we do with the information?”
Next time, let’s think about that, and talk about it a bit…