COVERING” THE “NAKEDNESS” OF MY FATHER
“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled. Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers…’” (Gen 9: 18-25)
So “the whole earth was peopled from these,” – from one who did not cover “the nakedness of his father,” Ham, “the father of Canaan,” and from those who did, Shem and Japheth. This biblical account is counter-cultural in our age, I think, when popular psychology, due to largely-Freudian influence, often places responsibility for all our “issues” at the feet of our parents and their “nakedness” (or their “dis-grace,” i.e., “lack of grace”). But the Bible dignifies also us, the children of our parents, (or “adult-children” of our parents, as was Ham, who had already fathered Canaan), with responsibility for our “re-actions” to any of their dis-graceful “actions.”
So let me accept responsibility today, and be dignified by “covering” the nakedness of my “father(s),” as did Shem and Japheth. This doesn’t mean that I ignore it or run away from it, no. But it does mean that I do what needs to be done, to “cover” (from the Late Latin co-oper-ire, “to put something over (something else)”), with the positive energies of God’s grace or “blessings” to me today, any negative stuff I may have witnessed or endured from my parents. Because I continue to be called to, and be capable of, growth and change in my “adult-child” years. It doesn’t only happen at the feet of, or as the sole responsibility of, my parents.