Saturday, June 6, 2015

The First Clothes

“Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes….`Hebrews 4:13a

 Saima bought some fabric and sewed me a lovely top. It needed some alterations so while she sewed I thumbed through a clothing catalog on her coffee table. I asked her, “Saima, do you know where clothes came from? You know there was a time when the first people on the earth were naked. They didn’t wear clothes.” She told me her version of Adam and Umm Hawa(Mother Eve), ending it with, “They were thrown out of paradise and landed in different places but found each other in Saudi Arabia. They felt shame looking at each other’s nakedness and sewed leaves together for clothes. And oh yes, Umm Hawa put a flower in her hair.” That last tidbit seemed quite important to her and she repeated it. Hmm....Her version of the story ended with the leaves. I listened attentively without interrupting and then relayed the Biblical story of how sin entered the world and consequently Adam and Eve felt guilty and became ashamed of their nakedness and sewed  leaves together for clothes. God knew that they could not adequately cover their shame and nakedness with leaves and provided a better covering by clothing them with garments made from the skins of animals.  She listened keenly with a quizzical look on her face.

 Zahra, who is a conservatively dressed Muslim woman, was very upset seeing young ladies who didn’t have their belly buttons covered up. “Don’t they feel any shame?” she asked me indignantly. “No,” I replied, “they actually don’t feel any shame.” The subject of immodest dress will come up with many Muslim women.  It’s important to know how to steer it along to something spiritually productive.  As Christian women it's good to affirm our conviction of dressing modestly and to be an example.  I also use it as a topic of discussion with Muslim women because it often leads into talking about our spiritual nakedness before God and our consequent shame and how God has provided clothes of righteousness for us through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross for our sin. You can expect Muslim women not to fully comprehend the spiritual concepts at first. Don't let that throw you off. I keep going back to Genesis chapters 2 and 3 over and over. It is vital to be aware that the Garden of Eden story and its theology are different in the Qur'an and the Bible. The Genesis story talks about physical nakedness and the origin of the first clothes but more than that about God giving people freedom of choice, warnings, Satan, deception, temptation, sin, fear, guilt, shame, blaming others, hiding, numerous consequences, cover-up-attempts, separation from fellowship with God, beginning of physical death and decay and the introduction and foundation  of a wonderful blood atonement for sin which is ultimately met through the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God. The subject of clothing which is of interest to Muslim women can lead to significant spiritual dialogue. It helps to lay a solid foundation of Genesis 2 and 3 of how sin began before sharing about the cross and the resurrection.

Dear heavenly Father, even though You see me with all my faults You still love me and make provision to clothe me with Your righteousness.  Thank You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.