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Genesis 3:1-13, The First Sin

Shame Exposure

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

For much of my life I envisioned this story as a magical event. Eve and Adam approached the enchanted tree, made sure no one was watching, quickly took a bite of the poisoned apple, and then in a wave of shimmering light, the enchantment melted away their innocence. They awoke to a new reality that was thrust upon them by the master magician.

That's no longer the way I see it. I have experienced enough in my life -- everything from unabashed joy to wickedly powerful shame -- to see this story through a more authentic and genuine lens. Here's how I read it now.

Eve and Adam lived a beautiful life in a beautiful land, free of strife and stress. They had everything they needed or wanted. They could do whatever they wanted and God would take care of them -- everything except eat from a single tree God appointed for the task. There was nothing magical about the tree or the fruit. The only thing that made this tree different was that God had forbidden them from eating from it. One lovely day, Eve and Adam approached the tree and were met with temptation in the form of a serpent. The serpent did not lie to them, but instead told them half truths -- enough to pique their interest in the forbidden tree. They ate from the tree, and what happened next is a shared experience by every human that has ever walked the planet. As soon as they ate, a wave of shame washed over them as they realized what they had done. Nothing external happened to them. They simply felt the pain of a new experience of shame -- one they had never felt before. They felt vulnerable and exposed, as shame tends to do. They hid from God because, in their exposure, they believed God would be able to see right through them. But God didn't know until Adam shared the secret of his newly discovered shame -- that he felt naked and exposed because of his sin. Their shame was revealed, as shame tends to be, and they were forced to face the consequences of their actions.

Nothing outside of Eve and Adam changed when they sinned. What changed was them. They knew the pain of shame caused by disobedience. And it changed them to their core. Once ashamed, they could never go back. 

Everyone experiences shame throughout their lives. Shame builds in strength when we keep the event of our shame silent. It isolates us, and in our isolation the shame grows. Shame only heals when we share it with others. When we talk about not only the event, but also how the event has shaped us. When we realize we are not alone. Only then can shame begin to heal.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Genesis 3:1-13

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

Earlier Event: September 11
Genesis 2:4b-25, A Second Account of Creation
Later Event: September 13
Genesis 3:14-24, Punishment