Skins for Sins

Jan. 2, 2020

Scripture Readings

You’re about to read the part of the Bible called The Fall. It gets a lot of attention. Once Adam and Eve eat the fruit that God told them not to — literally the only thing he told them not to do — the wheels fall off pretty quick; deception, jealousy and murder are mere verses away.

Adam and Eve suffer immediate consequences, but they aren’t the only ones who get hurt. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” So… whose skin this is? Adam’s? Eve’s? The serpent’s? Nope. Someone else was using that skin.

Let’s say it was a horse. The horse had nothing to do with the forbidden fruit, he’s not in league with the serpent, but he winds up dead anyway. Presumably, the Lord is an ethical hunter, and the horse did not suffer needlessly, but this doesn’t change the fact that he was happily munching grass one moment, and Adam and Eve were wearing his tanned hide in the next.

Not exactly fair for the horse, is it? Does this mean is God unjust? No. It means that when we do bad things, the notion of fairness goes out the window. Sin causes collateral damage. Did Adam and Eve think about the horse’s undeserved death? Doubtful. They were likely focused on the prospect of growing crops and suffering through childbirth, sparing no thought for where the warm, comfy clothes came from. Likewise, I am keenly aware of how my sins hurt me, but I am less perceptive of how it hurts others. Indeed, I’m sure I’m unaware of most of it.

This passage is the forerunner of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, where you sacrificed an animal to get right with God: skins for sins. But it’s also a reminder that our tantrums, deceptions and cruel words take out unintended targets with disturbing frequency.
It’s that resolution time of year. And while I’m tempted to aim at ditching six pounds of belly fat, it may be a better idea to ditch my temper and pervasive melancholy. After all, it’s poison to my soul, but who else loses some skin for my sin? Is anyone getting skinned for yours?

Key thought: Sin does damage that we don’t see; let’s do as little as possible.

Adam Schnell

Congregant