And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.--Genesis 3:21
I was driving down the road, listening to Taylor Swift's magnificent album, 1989, when I realized that this album is totally the sound track to the story of Samson and Delilah! So I promptly started writing the stage play in my head for the next big Broadway musical. Okay, this is going to be fun…
The curtain rises on Samson dancing over the bodies of a thousand dead Philistines that he just killed with a donkey's jaw bone. "I never miss a beat. I'm lightning on my feet." Haters gonna hate, bro. Just shake it off, Samson. You do you.
4 Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek (welcome to Philistia, it's been waiting for you). 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her (because she's got a blank space, and she'll write his name) and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.” 7 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
8 So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them (because Samson and Delilah never go out of style). 9 She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms of her house, and she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Afterward Delilah said to him, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now please tell me how you can be tied up securely (I wish you would)”.
11 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with brand-new ropes that had never been used, I would become as weak as anyone else.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. The men were hiding in the inner room as before, and again Delilah cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But again Samson snapped the ropes from his arms as if they were thread.
13 Then Delilah said, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now tell me how you can be tied up securely.” Samson (who is so bad but he does it so well) replied, “If you were to weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric. 14 Then she tightened it with the loom shuttle. Again she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson woke up, pulled back the loom shuttle, and yanked his hair away from the loom and the fabric (this is not how you get the girl!).
15 Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? (This love is good, this love is bad…) You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” 16 She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
18 Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him. 20 Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, (NOW WE GOT BAD BLOOD!) “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
21 So the Philistines captured him (because he didn't know places he could hide) and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
Okay, that was a bit silly…but why? Because it's accurate? Because it's true? Yeah! It's so accurate that you either have to chuckle at the silliness or weep at the brokenness that is so profoundly deep that we have no idea what else to do but force a laugh.
What a mess!
This is a story that reflects our relational and sexual brokenness back to us. It is absolutely tragic and we can all relate because Taylor Swift is living out the relational dynamics that have been a part of humanity since Adam and Eve had their first awkward "you're naked" moment.
Human sexuality has become our shadow and it haunts us because we just know that something amazingly glorious resides in our embodiment but it seems so far away…but oh so close. There is something glorious about our bodies, our sensuality and eroticism that does not have to be based on and enslaved by power and manipulation and animal instinct…there's just got to be! There's just got to be, that's why we keep trying…but we fall short.
In Genesis 3:21 shows God covering the nakedness of Adam and Eve with animal skins. We Christians look at that as a picture of how Jesus' death would be our covering for sin but we shouldn't rush to that imagery before we look at what is happening in that moment.
It's a change of status. By clothing Adam and Eve in animal skins God is identifying them with the animals. They are less like God and more like the animals. They are falling back toward the rest of creation and away from the glory of God, away from the transcendent distinction of being bearers of the image of God. They are more like animals than gods. There is a bestial quality in their existence now.
But we don't want animal skins. We long to be free of shame. We want to know and be known. This is what TS and all of us want. We want the change of status that comes when we are clothed in white. We want wedding garments. We want the one who covers us in his own righteousness, the one who makes us fully human.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”
I confess, we've made a mess of things. We are unable to embody the glory that is to be revealed to us bearers of your divine image. Forgive us for desperately clinging to power and manipulation. Remove our shame. Clothe us in white. Amen.