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Are We Naked or Do We Just Feel That Way?

Are We Naked or Do We Just Feel That Way? July 26, 2013

Is there a difference between feeling naked and actually being naked?

Figures_Adam_and_Eve_were_both_naked_&_were_not_ashamedOver at the Gospel Coalition, Gavin Ortlund has written a post about shame called “Naked and Unashamed.” He focuses his attention on the subjective, psychological aspect of shame. This is the typical way evangelicals look at the topic of shame. In this respect, he does a good job.

“Our first parents were said to be “naked and without shame,” but when sin entered the world, they sought covering (Gen. 2:25, 3:7). Shame exists due to our deep inner nakedness and desperate attempts to cover it. It’s the place in our hearts where, like Adam, we say to God and others, “I was afraid, and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10). Shame is when we go into hiding because we fear our real selves being seen by another. The root of sinful shame, then, is often the answer to this question: What do I most fear being exposed or uncovered about myself?”

I really appreciate his attention to a variety of biblical texts. So many others seem to minimize the importance of shame.

Shame is also Objective

His article also illustrates the tendency people have for neglecting the objective aspects of shame. I discuss this point in my book, Saving God’s Face. Consider the following sentences:

“We struggle with shame because we struggle with sin.”

“The one worthy of all honor entered into the deepest place of shame—guilt before a holy God.”

Notice that “sin” is treated as the objective problem, distinct from the subjective problem of “shame.” Obviously, there is some truth to this. However, there is a fundamental error that must not go unnoticed––sin is dishonoring God, shamefully treating him as though he were not worthy of all praise and allegiance.

Shame itself is not necessarily sin, but all sin is shame.

Ortlund seems to view sin most basically in terms of “guilt.” He uses a courtroom illustration, talks about Christ’s “perfection,” and Satan’s “accusation.” I don’t deny the truth value of any of these themes. However, we must also consider the implications of our language. If we are not careful, we may subtly push aside major ideas in Scripture. In this case, we may miss something essential about sin––namely that is concerns our bringing shame upon the name of our God and King.

As sinners, we feel naked because we are naked.

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