When God clothed them in coats of skins (MIPodcast Moments)
For those who don’t have time to listen to hour-long episodes of the Maxwell Institute Podcast I’m posting interesting moments for you to read. This excerpt comes courtesy of Lauren F. Winner, author of Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God. This quote is from MIPodcast episode 27.
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)Clothing Adam and Eve is the last thing God does before finally exiling them from Eden, it’s the last thing God does before sending them out. And it actually strikes me as an incredibly merciful thing for God to do. I think you can picture God actually feeling some sorrow and thinking or saying or feeling “you, Adam and Eve, you do actually have to leave now, but here’s this last thing I can do for you. I can offer you this protective and beautiful garb before you go.” And so it becomes, it seems to me, all the more remarkable that when we get the letters of Paul, when we get to Galatians and Romans, that suddenly God is no longer just clothing us. God is also our clothing. Paul describes us, the baptized, being “clothed in Christ.” So it’s not just that God clothes us with, you know, leather pants or what have you. God actually clothes us with God’s own self. And that just seems to be remarkable thing. So we can also begin to think about what clothing is and does in your own life. Yes, of course, it protects you from the elements. But beyond that it shapes your sense of self in a certain way. It conveys something about you to the world at large. It sometimes creates community, right—I teach at Duke and this is why on game days all the Dukies are wearing their Duke t-shirts; it’s clothing marking everyone as part of a particular kind of community. But to me—this is the most startling spiritual piece of this clothing metaphor—clothing is actually quite an intimate image. Clothing is very close to us. And when we think of how the Bible talks about God we’re pretty accustomed to its uses of intimate family language or kinship language—God is Father, God is lover, God is spouse. That language is intimate. And that’s of course absolutely right. That language can be very intimate. But clothing is intimate in a different way. Clothing is pressed up against you. [laughs] And it is pressed up against the parts of you that you find beautiful and delightful, and if you’re a thirty-eight-year-old woman who wishes that you weighed a little less than you do, it is pressed up against the parts of you that you’re ashamed of. And the notion that God is that to us, that God is pressed close up to us, and that God wants to be close, both to the parts of ourselves that we find beautiful and the parts that we’re ashamed of, just seems to be a remarkable and profound thing.