Naked And Proud Of It

16 01 2008

“I was afraid because I was naked.” Genesis 3:10b (NLT)

And thus spoke Adam as he and Eve cowered behind a row of bushes near a fig tree.  God was in the house, or more specifically, in the garden, and they had just eaten of the forbidden fruit.

Incidentally, I have a theory about the forbidden fruit.  Although never specified in scripture, it is commonly assummed that the fruit was an apple.  I don’t think so.  I believe it was a persimmon.  I’m not certain if you’re familuar with persimmons, but they are abundant in southern Indiana where I grew up.  My favorite desert is persimmon pudding (a very moist cake with a sweet glaze topping).  I’m not sure how to describe its flavor – although I suppose you could say it has pumpkin-ish qualities about it.   I learned at a young age that you don’t collect persimmons by picking them directly from the tree.  You want the ones that have fallen to the ground.  That seemed strange to my young mind, since persimmons were so abundant on the tree.  So, my dad, being his fatherly best, invited me to pick one from the tree and take a bite.  I did.  I learned.  When you pluck them from the tree, they are extremely bitter; only when they’ve fallen to the ground are they ripe enough to consume.  I puckered for the next hour after my lesson on persimmonology.  Thus, I believe the forbidden fruit was a persimmon…  it was taken directly from the tree…  and mankind has puckered ever since.

This was also the birth of our embarrassment and fascination with nakedness.  Even the most sanctified of men find it a test of their will to turn their head when any degree of nakedness is displayed by a woman (another blog for another time – ladies, help us – cover up!).

The shame with nakedness comes from being fully exposed, as is.  All of our faults and freckles on display for those able to look on without any modicum of disgust.  Sadly, our culture today has put less emphasis on physical modesty, while over-emphasizing emotional and intellectual cover-ups.  You can attend church with someone for years and never truly know the person.  In my job as pastor, I’ve come to realize that making my own vulnerabilities known (to the degree that propriety allows) helps my parishioners to learn that we’re all struggling to grow. 

There’s another side to this – I’ve witnessed far too many people who’ve ran away from the church or its people based on gossip, half-truths, or outright lies.  Human relationships require nakedness to work – we must be open with each other even at the risk of being exposed.  We cannot develop healthy worship atmospheres if our people are hiding behind veils of suspicion, distrust or discontent.  Certainly, we must be careful not to foster an air of too much openness – there is a point at which this goes from being healthy to hurtful or unwise.  You don’t really want to tell Sister Martha that her outfits look like they were made for the circus. 

Trust is built upon honesty balanced with common sense.  Worship thrives where there are no fumes of bitterness in the air.  The church is at its best when its people are naked.  And proud of it.  Keep your pants on, but open up your heart to those around you; this is the beginning of a growing ministry work.

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