Lent Day 21: Shame in the Garden

IMG_1468Shame in the Garden (Genesis 3:9-13, Zephaniah 3:17-19 NASB)
Text: Genesis 3:9-13 (NIV)
But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Last week in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve surrendered to the temptation of the serpent. They ate the fruit which God had forbidden them to eat, and introduced sin into humanity. This week we will continue with the narrative and consider one of the profound and lasting impacts of that sin, which is the introduction of shame into the human consciousness. But before we do that, I think it is important to understand the difference between shame and guilt.
Guilt is an objective feeling which is associated with an event. There is a beginning which is followed by a resolution. For example, you are asked to do something around the house, or to pick up some milk on the way home from work, and you forget. You recognize your error, or in some cases you are confronted with it, apologize for the oversight and complete the task. The feeling of guilt compels us to take corrective action.
Shame, on the other hand, is a subjective feeling. It is associated more with our internal sense of value and self-image than it is with any one event. It compels action, but often that action is not only counterproductive, it can also be damaging emotionally and relationally. Imagine a toddler expressing himself on a newly painted wall in your living room. There will be a moment when the error of his ways is shown to him. In most cases, the child will understand the error, feel bad about it and apologize, and mom or dad forgives him.  Honestly, that is how they learn.  Yet sometimes that same child will hide in his bedroom—maybe under the sheets, or even under the bed or in the closet. Even though there has been resolution for the guilt, the shame remains and the child doesn’t even want to be seen by his parents, because of what he has done.
This is the impact of sin in the world. It destroys our innocence, our relationships, and our sense of responsibility.



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