This morning, I read the story of Noah as part of my quiet time. I wasn’t reading the part that we hear in Sunday School or in children’s Bibles. I was reading Genesis 9:20-28- Here is part of the story:
“Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.”
I’m guessing you can figure out why it’s not in Sunday school curriculum! (The flannel graph picture of my youth would be disturbing!)
While there are numerous interpretations of this story- here are the basics: Noah gets drunk, goes streaking, and finally passes out in his tent. One of his sons, Ham, sees his father naked and calls his other brothers to check out their old man. If the story of Noah was happening in 2013, Ham might be preparing to post pictures on Twitter or Instagram of his passed out, naked father- or sell them to the highest bidder in the tabloids. But Shem and Japheth go a different route- they take a garment or sheet, hold it up to their shoulders while walking backwards so that they don’t see their father’s nakedness. The preserve their father’s dignity in a compromising situation.
Ham- saw his father’s nakedness and sought to exploit it in some way (he called his brothers to join in). Shem and Japheth did the right thing by covering up their father until he could wake up, sober up, and get dressed. The descendants of Ham were cursed for his involvement while Shem and Japheth were blessed.
This other day, my friend and youth pastor Josh Gill posted a NPR story about Slut Shaming. I believe that any sort of bullying is wrong- whether it’s by jocks in the locker room or through what the article says is slut shaming. The bigger question I have as I think about the blog post and the story of Noah is what do we do when someone makes a mistake, or puts themselves in a compromising position (willingly or unwillingly)? Do we take advantage of the situation (through gossip or digitally by “liking” or re-posting a picture/story?) or do we do the right thing and seek to live as people of grace?
(Interestingly enough, Anne Hathaway was photographed getting out of a car in a compromising fashion last month- her response to the pictures hitting the internet are spot-on. “I was very sad that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment and rather than delete it, and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants…”)
As Christians, we are called to follow the example of Jesus. At the cross, Jesus took on our sin, our shame, our indiscretions, our weakness, our brokenness, our pain, and our insecurities. The love of Jesus, compelled him to the cross, and covered up our sin. This is grace- getting what we don’t deserve.
Shem and Jepheth lived in grace and love- seeing their father in a compromising situation they covered him up. Let us as Christians, live in love and grace and rather than exploit, point out, perpetuate, or highlight someone else’s sin, let us lead these people to Jesus whose grace and love covers our sin and makes us new again. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sin.”