Sense of Shame

In a recent interview an actress who recently did her first nude scene in a movie explained her discomfort the first time she disrobed on the set before the director, cameramen, and other members of the cast. She explained how reluctant she was, how awkward she felt — as though she at first felt a sense of shame. She then noted how much more comfortable she became and how much easier it was with each take and repeat of the scene as the director worked to get it just right.

This illustrates how in time, with continued practice, any person can become shameless and insensitive to shameful actions. It has happened in this country with fornicators, abortionists, homosexuals, lewd dancers, divorces for frivolous reasons, and nudity and filthy speech on TV and in the movies. Our sense of shame as a nation is all but lost and we, as Israel of old, no longer know how to blush (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12).

But let's get back to the subject of nudity. Shame has been associated with nakedness since the sin of Adam and Eve, who hid themselves in embarrassment and tried to cover their bodies with fig-leaf aprons. Jesus, in the book of Revelation, joins shame to nakedness a couple of times (Revelation 3:18; 16:15). And in the case of Adam and Eve, God replaced their inadequate aprons with coats of skin which, according to Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies, were garments that generally had sleeves and came to the knees (p. 81). It is also interesting that God made undergarments for the priests that covered the thighs to hide the nakedness that could be seen under their outer garments when they climbed the high steps up to the altar (Exodus 28:40-42).

All of this should be put in the context of marriage — the honorable and pure relationship in which men and women may view one another's bodies and join themselves in a one-flesh relationship (Hebrews 13:4). Jesus made it clear that viewing the body of one to whom you are not married and lusting after it is impure and adulterous in heart and thought (Matthew 5:27,28). Men and women are, as a result, responsible to clothe themselves in a way that such illicit thinking is not provoked.

This begins with a sense of shame and sensitivity about exposing breasts, private parts, and thighs to someone other than your mate. This, we believe, is the meaning of nakedness in the Bible. Women need a sense of shame about wearing low-cut and short clothing which expose areas of their bodies that only their spouse has a right to look upon. And so it should be with the men.

By L. A. Stauffer

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