Have you ever considered what Adam and Eve may have looked like? Think about it—two people directly formed by the hands of God. What could be more perfect than that? No wrinkles from age. No crooked teeth. No defects. They were people completely untouched by disease or deformity, walking images of perfection and beauty. I imagine they were super-supermodels.
So how could two of the most gorgeous people to ever walk the earth look at themselves and feel shame?
We encounter shame only a few short chapters into the Bible, and it arrives as the first known byproduct of sin. The serpent deceived Adam and Eve into eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the only “do not” command given them by God. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Gen. 3:7). In short—they woke up to the reality of their nakedness and felt ashamed. And in their shame they hid from God.
The point here isn’t that nakedness is evil. That’s how God made Adam and Eve before sin entered the picture. It’s that our first parents had a level of self-awareness that went far beyond God’s original intentions: eyes focused on self instead of their Creator. That same self-awareness has gotten humanity into trouble ever since.
Our society puts too much emphasis on appearance. All you have to do is look at a store’s magazine rack for proof. This hyper-focus on physical beauty twists something good—God’s creation—into something evil. It’s the sort of vanity that turns other people into idols. But it doesn’t matter whether our self-awareness leads us to shame or idolatry. Both paths take our focus off of the holiness of God.
Christ’s work on the cross is a triumph over sin and death. Jesus has freed us from the curse of self-awareness. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we can now move our eyes from ourselves to our Lord and Savior. As Romans 8:5 states, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
For more thoughts on beauty and the church, read “Eyes to See True Beauty” by Mary DeMuth.