Sunday, January 27, 2008
Cole Slaw Bible study: Take off your clothes
Happy Sunday, my brothers and sisters.
A few posts back I mentioned that I'm trying to read only old books this year. I became an atheist in third grade, so I've never read the Bible. I bought a paperback copy of the King James Bible, deciding that I would occasionally read key portions in the year ahead. It seemed like it might make for interesting reading.
Brothers and sisters, my margin notes include observations like, "God is not an animal rights activist" and "farming is god's punishment."
What I want to preach about today is being naked. It came as a surprise to learn that the Bible is confused about nudity. The big episode is well known, even to a heathen like me: Adam and Eve were happy being naked until they ate forbidden fruit, at which point being naked was horrible. God's punishment: clothes. Basically, clothes are punishment for being stupid and greedy, which is self-explanatory to anybody who's walked past Bergdorf-Goodman or seen an episode of Sex and the City.
So I think to myself, "Huh. According to the Bible's logic, I guess that means if you like being naked, you're a better person and not messed up by fruit-eating." Someone else must have thought of this I'm sure, and at some point after Martin Luther, I bet a sect had Naked Church, where you're not supposed to wear clothes and just be naked. Because, basically, if you're okay walking around naked, that means you follow the rules and aren't a rebel.
Later on, there's a bizarre passage that throws my logic into doubt. Noah (of flood fame) plants a vineyard. According to the Bible, he then gets drunk and passes out naked in his tent. (I swear to G_d, brothers and sisters; turn to Genesis, Book 9 in your Bible.) Now there's drunk naked Noah lying around in his tent, passed out. The details about the party aren't included, but it probably was a rager, which makes me think that the Bible approves of getting plastered and silly.
Noah's got a son named Ham. He appears to be an asshole. Ham sees "the nakedness" of Noah, and immediately goes and tells his two brothers about it. The two brothers go to cover up naked Noah, and, according to the Bible, "their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness."
When Noah wakes up from his drunken stupor, he's pissed that Ham looked at his junk, and he curses him. Ham gets in trouble and is exiled, and the other two brothers are in good shape because they didn't look at their naked dad.
This Jerry Springer scenario raises all kinds of questions. Obviously, it's implied that Ham looked at Noah's dick and told his brothers about it, and that this was a major problem for everybody. And when Noah woke up with a hangover, one of the brothers was like, "Dad, Ham just looked at your dick when you were passed out," and Noah was like, "Whaaaat? I'm kicking him out of the trailer park."
What's the message from all of this? One is that you shouldn't take advantage of drunk people by looking at their privates. In this lesson, the Girls Gone Wild are Noah and dudes are Ham. Another is that you shouldn't look at your dad naked -- again, a good Jerry Springer lesson. Third is that if you repeat stories about things that people do while they're drunk, you're an asshole -- a good lesson that most of us figure out when we're teenagers. Fourth is that apparently you're not supposed to be naked (or at least notice that other people are naked) which seems to me hard to reconcile with the early incident with Adam and Eve, where feeling bad about not wearing clothes was punishment. Seems to me that if you're into nudity, you should be square with God, as long as you don't run around telling your brothers about other people's junk.