Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

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Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby Ramblinman » Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:51 am

Scripture tells us that Adam and Eve covered their loins when they felt shame after having sinned. It does not tell us whether shame about nudity, particularly focused on the genitals was a necessary consequence of sin.

Since scripture teaches that all mankind is subject to sin and death, we might test this theory by asking how is it that some cultures, particularly in warmer parts of the planet never learn to be ashamed of nudity, living their entire lives in total nudity in the presence of everyone in their tribe, male and female, young and old?

Some have put a prudish spin on this and said that these "naked savages" are so morally depraved that they have LOST any sense of shame that would be appropriate in a state of nudity.

Some naively claim that these tribes are live in a state of sinless ignorance and are like Adam and Eve before the fall. Anyone living among such groups quickly learn that members of these naked cultures are not sinless at all, nor worse sinners than cultures where clothing is worn.

So I don't think we can read too much into Adam and Eve's problem with nudity. It is a common problem, but since it is not universal to all mankind, we cannot say that we "inherit" shame about being naked (or being nude if you prefer to use that term)
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby Jon-Marc » Sat Jun 19, 2010 1:14 pm

I see it this way: Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves and hid in a feeble effort to blend in with the foliage and to hide from God (much as a soldier might do to hide from the enemy). I don't believe that they were suddenly ashamed of their bodies. Why should they be? They were the only people in the world, and they were husband and wife.

Also, God didn't clothe them because their bodies were suddenly offensive to Him, but because He was casting them out of a perfect environment into a harsh, cruel world that He had just cursed with thorns and other hazards to the body. The skins were meant for body protection and not for body shame. We were never meant to be ashamed of any part of God's creation. To be ashamed of our body is to be ashamed of God in my opinion.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby pugiofidei » Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:45 pm

I think the our problem of perspective has to do with the fact that we have no way of knowing what it's like to move from innocence to sin in a single instant; we're all of us born in sin, and grow up either figuring out ways to deal with that, or embracing it. Not so with Adam and Eve. Before their sin, they were completely innocent. Afterward, something happened that made them ashamed of themselves. We don't know what it was, but there are a few things to consider:

1. Lust is possible even in a marriage. Lust isn't physical attraction, or even the desire for sex. It is a way of looking at a person's sexuality that severs it from its nuptial, relational meaning. It is a dehumanizing act in which one creates an artificial separation between a person and his/her body, and treats the body as a tool for pleasure. Spouses can certainly do this to each other.

2. Sin of any kind damages and obscures our humanity, making it easier to fail to esteem each other properly. If Adam and Eve experienced this, and realized that the way they were looking at each other no longer carried the meaning it was supposed to carry, it could very well have made them ashamed of their bodies--bodies which they felt the other was not honoring.

3. Man is not a "ghost in the machine". We aren't a spirit stuffed into a body. We are body/soul/spirit composite, in the same sense that a basketball is a rubber/sphere/color orange composite. Sin makes the whole man less presentable. The body sins just as much as the soul. Now what do we do when we do something embarrassing? We cover our face with our hands, because we implicitly feel that we are less presentable than we were before. In the case of Adam and Eve, their mistake was far more serious an "embarrassing blunder". It was a sin. It is possible that they didn't think they were worthy to be seen any longer.

These are just a few things I've thought about when going over the passage. In the end, though, we don't know what they were thinking.
Last edited by pugiofidei on Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby natman » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:46 pm

Ramblinman wrote:Some have put a prudish spin on this and said that these "naked savages" are so morally depraved that they have LOST any sense of shame that would be appropriate in a state of nudity.


I have seem MANY documentaries that show that many of the "naked savages" are actually far more moral that we are when it comes to the body and sexuality. However, they often have their own sin issues to deal with.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby bn2bnude » Sun Jun 20, 2010 8:05 am

natman wrote:
Ramblinman wrote:Some have put a prudish spin on this and said that these "naked savages" are so morally depraved that they have LOST any sense of shame that would be appropriate in a state of nudity.


I have seem MANY documentaries that show that many of the "naked savages" are actually far more moral that we are when it comes to the body and sexuality. However, they often have their own sin issues to deal with.


While I believe that can sometimes be the case, if you listen to the life story of the author of "The Shack", he was a Missionary Kid who, at 4 years old was molested by the boys in the tribe his parents were placed into. He, of course, didn't tell his parents about that (this was the 50's and attitudes were quite different then). I don't know if this is an isolated case or not.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby natman » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:53 am

bn2bnude wrote:
natman wrote:I have seem MANY documentaries that show that many of the "naked savages" are actually far more moral that we are when it comes to the body and sexuality. However, they often have their own sin issues to deal with.


While I believe that can sometimes be the case, if you listen to the life story of the author of "The Shack", he was a Missionary Kid who, at 4 years old was molested by the boys in the tribe his parents were placed into. He, of course, didn't tell his parents about that (this was the 50's and attitudes were quite different then). I don't know if this is an isolated case or not.



Was the tribe they were paced into primarily "nudist" or had they already been corrupted by the western clothing-compulisve culture? That is usually the FIRST thing that missionaries did when they encountered nude tribal cultures. Like Victorianism, the result was a dramatic jump in rapes and sexually transmitted diseases. This is also similar to the result of spreading condoms in Africa in and attempt to reduce the spread of AIDS. Rather than reducing AIDS, it has caused an EXPLOSION of the disease and of babies being born with the disease. :( :cry:
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby bn2bnude » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:19 pm

natman wrote:Was the tribe they were paced into primarily "nudist" or had they already been corrupted by the western clothing-compulisve culture? That is usually the FIRST thing that missionaries did when they encountered nude tribal cultures. Like Victorianism, the result was a dramatic jump in rapes and sexually transmitted diseases. This is also similar to the result of spreading condoms in Africa in and attempt to reduce the spread of AIDS. Rather than reducing AIDS, it has caused an EXPLOSION of the disease and of babies being born with the disease. :( :cry:


They were the first contact.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby pugiofidei » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:27 am

Was the tribe they were paced into primarily "nudist" or had they already been corrupted by the western clothing-compulisve culture?


The "clothing-compulsive" culture is prevalent in the West, but is by no means exclusive to it.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby natman » Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:49 pm

bn2bnude wrote:
natman wrote:Was the tribe they were paced into primarily "nudist" or had they already been corrupted by the western clothing-compulisve culture? That is usually the FIRST thing that missionaries did when they encountered nude tribal cultures. Like Victorianism, the result was a dramatic jump in rapes and sexually transmitted diseases. This is also similar to the result of spreading condoms in Africa in and attempt to reduce the spread of AIDS. Rather than reducing AIDS, it has caused an EXPLOSION of the disease and of babies being born with the disease.


They were the first contact.


Okay, but were they "nudist"?

pugiofidei wrote:The "clothing-compulsive" culture is prevalent in the West, but is by no means exclusive to it.


I agree. There are plenty of eastern and native cultures that are as "clothing-compulsive" as those in the west, even if their "clothing" does not necessarily cover what the west consideres the "private" parts of the body. Even in these, the "dress" makes the man, such as fancy head-dresses, jackets or jewelry and body piercings and tattoos, anything that differentiats one from another.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby bn2bnude » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:27 pm

natman wrote:
bn2bnude wrote:
natman wrote:Was the tribe they were paced into primarily "nudist" or had they already been corrupted by the western clothing-compulisve culture? That is usually the FIRST thing that missionaries did when they encountered nude tribal cultures. Like Victorianism, the result was a dramatic jump in rapes and sexually transmitted diseases. This is also similar to the result of spreading condoms in Africa in and attempt to reduce the spread of AIDS. Rather than reducing AIDS, it has caused an EXPLOSION of the disease and of babies being born with the disease.


They were the first contact.


Okay, but were they "nudist"?


That I don't know...
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby Ramblinman » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:34 pm

pugiofidei wrote:I think the our problem of perspective has to do with the fact that we have no way of knowing what it's like to move from innocence to sin in a single instant;


I think you are not giving due recognition to the state of innocence of all very young children. While it is most likely that Adam and Eve were fully adult with full intellectual capacity when they transitioned from innocence to sin-guilt, the journey we all take as small children in many ways recapitulates the common human experience of falling from grace.

Secondly, your comment "we're all of us born in sin" rings true in a general sort of way, but doesn't explore the meaning nor the ramifications of what it is that we are born into.

I see it as inheriting a soul-trait that makes rebellion against God an eventual certainty, but neither do I see newborns as being in a state of rebellion against God.
I invite others to share their perspective on "original sin". Does it exist? If so, what is it?


Pug, you seem to be promoting a theory that shortly after their fatal decision to eat the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve lusted after one another then felt shame for that lust.
It is intriguing that they suddenly decided to hide their genitals.
But scripture shows them rather busy in blaming one another and running from God, not really sexually-charged moment, as I see it.

I have heard an alternate theory that suggests that they knew that their genitals were the source of all future generations (by divine revelation?) and they felt intuitively that they had spoiled paradise not only for themselves but for their progeny. This theory too seems to be a bit hard to infer from the text alone, but I have less difficulty with it than the idea you have proposed.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby pugiofidei » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:39 pm

I think you are not giving due recognition to the state of innocence of all very young children. While it is most likely that Adam and Eve were fully adult with full intellectual capacity when they transitioned from innocence to sin-guilt, the journey we all take as small children in many ways recapitulates the common human experience of falling from grace.

Secondly, your comment "we're all of us born in sin" rings true in a general sort of way, but doesn't explore the meaning nor the ramifications of what it is that we are born into.

I see it as inheriting a soul-trait that makes rebellion against God an eventual certainty, but neither do I see newborns as being in a state of rebellion against God.
I invite others to share their perspective on "original sin". Does it exist? If so, what is it?


Original sin is due to the state a child has at conception. Namely, he or she is conceived into the covenant God made with Adam and Eve, and through them, to all of creation. The effect this has on the soul may be better appreciated if we understand the meaning of "covenant".

Covenants are a set of sacred vows that put two or more parties into a familial relationship with each other. As long as all parties hold true to the covenant, all share in the riches of family. But if one party betrays the covenant, it removes them from the blessings of the covenant, and places them into its curses. In the case of Adam and Eve, the blessing was their innocence, sharing in the inner life of God Himself through his grace. The curse was death, both spiritual and physical.

When a child is conceived, he or she is born into this curse. Separated from the sanctifying grace of God, he or she has no supernatural life, and will tend to be inimical to God once their faculties are well enough developed to allow them to sin. But of course, until that time comes, he or she has no actual sin.

Pug, you seem to be promoting a theory that shortly after their fatal decision to eat the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve lusted after one another then felt shame for that lust.
It is intriguing that they suddenly decided to hide their genitals.
But scripture shows them rather busy in blaming one another and running from God, not really sexually-charged moment, as I see it.


That's one of the things I mentioned might be worth considering. I suppose "promoting it" would require me to think it was the only, or at least the most probable possibility. As it stands, I don't. I personally think their reaction of shame was an intense form of the same experience we have when we do something like fart unexpectedly on movie night. They were embarrassed, and didn't want to be seen.

The only difficulty lies in the word "naked", but that can be resolved by way the earlier "naked" in 2:24 (Heb "arom) corresponds to the "crafty" in 3:1 (Heb. "arum"). They were "nude", and were fine with it. The serpent was "shrewd", and they wanted to be, too. But when they fell for his trap, they realized they weren't "shrewd", they were just "nude". They were embarrassed and ashamed that they had took the bait and got nothing to show for it. So in their shame, they covered themselves up. That is what I think is the most likely explanation.

I have heard an alternate theory that suggests that they knew that their genitals were the source of all future generations (by divine revelation?) and they felt intuitively that they had spoiled paradise not only for themselves but for their progeny. This theory too seems to be a bit hard to infer from the text alone, but I have less difficulty with it than the idea you have proposed.


I'm not so sure they knew what the results of their sin would be.
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Re: Was Adam and Eve's body shame inevitable?

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:02 pm

We may not know the full story until we can sit down with Adam to ask him why he felt ashamed about his nudity in general and his genitals in particular.

There is a bit of circumstantial evidence about original sin and shame about nudity:
In the case of members of cultures in which clothing is never worn, there is no shame over nudity; it never develops.

The fact that shame about genitals is not universal would prove that it is not an assured consequence of original sin.
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