After the flood, when God reboots the world, it's worth noting that one of the first things that man has to deal with in the new creation is the most devastating thing he dealt with in the original - shame.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit and discovered that they were naked, so God knit them together some fig leaves to cover their shame before kicking them out of the most perfect place on all the earth. It's why they hid in the bushes - they were ashamed. It's why they didn't want God to find them - they were ashamed. Shame is a powerful thing, and in the Scriptures, it's closely related to nakedness.
Fast forward to after the flood. Life is starting to settle back down. Plants and animals are making homes again, and man is starting to make his own place once more. One of Noah's sons - Ham - comes upon his father, drunk in a barn and naked.
What Ham does next is important, for reasons we'll look at tomorrow (you're gonna love this; it's great): he goes and tells his two brothers that their father is drunk and naked and exposed.
His two brothers, in turn, do something unexpected, perhaps - they care more about their father than about the spectacle of his nakedness. They devise a plan where they drape a blanket over their shoulders and walk backwards together into the barn where their father lay passed out and exposed, and they drape the blanket over him while he sleeps.
They cover his nakedness without ever seeing it.
More of us in the world today would benefit from the example of Shem and Japheth. We live in a society that's centered around gawking. We all want to look. We're taught that we ought to look. We're taught that there's nothing in this world that we need to hide our eyes from, nothing we shouldn't look at because if there were, others wouldn't put it out there.
We slow down when we drive by vehicle accidents. We soak up headlines about murders and rapes. We put in our two cents about child molesters and abuse cases. We watch pornography with eyes wide open. We gossip about the addictions of those in our pews. We spend our entire lives watching, with great anticipation and expectation, the world's failures, exposing its shame, convincing ourselves that we're entitled to every detail.
What if we're not?
Spoiler alert: we're not.
We are a people created to walk backward into this world with a blanket draped over our shoulders. We're a people called to comfort the shame of the world, not expose it further. We're a people called to turn our eyes away, not to gawk.
The truth is that you can do a lot for someone's shame without ever seeing it. You can do a lot for the human soul without exposing it. You don't need to know all the details to help. You don't need to know all the details before you step in. You just need to know what what you are hearing actually means.
Shem and Japheth heard that their father was drunk and naked in a barn, and they knew instantly that that meant that his shame was exposed. And that's all they needed. They draped their shoulders and tiptoed in without looking, then walked away without a whisper.
We ought to do more of that. Imagine how we could help heal the world.
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