Drunk and naked in his tent? That is how we find Noah in chapter 9 of Genesis, and it is a startling situation to find. After all, Noah was introduced to us as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9, NIV). This unusual situation, although it may be uncomfortable for us, provides an excellent illustration of the “approaches to nakedness” principles.
1. Noah’s son Ham “saw his father’s nakedness and told” others about it. This is the way of the serpent: when nakedness (weakness, wounding, or sin) is revealed, it is used to shame, dishonor, or accuse.
2. In contrast, when Shem and Japheth learned of their father’s nakedness, they “took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness.Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.” (Genesis 9:23, NIV) This is God’s way: when nakedness is revealed, the one who loves will seek to bring healing and to restore honor.
In marriage, when we encounter the wounds and brokenness (“nakedness”) of our spouses, we can choose to respond like the serpent and Ham, or like God, Shem, and Japheth. If we choose to shame or degrade, we reduce ourselves spiritually to crawling on our bellies and eating dust, like the serpent. If we choose to dishonor, we will find ourselves cursed as “the lowest of slaves,” like Ham (Genesis 9:25, NIV).
However, instead of shaming, we can work to bring healing and honor. Like Shem and Japheth, we can walk into the darkness and make effort to restore honor. While we do not love the brokenness, we willingly enter those areas and work to love well in those areas. When we do this, we are responding as God responded to us.