“When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.””Genesis 9:24-27 NIV (New International Version)
Was there any moment in your family’s history that when you think about it, it causes great shame? In every family there is some kind of scandal that brings dishonor to the family name. The scandal that happened in chapter nine of Genesis was that after the flood, Noah planted a vineyard and made wine. He became drunk from his wine and his son Ham found his father exposed and in a stupor. He told his other brothers what he saw and they went and covered their father (without looking at his nakedness). When Noah woke up and learned what Ham did, he cursed him and his family tree. For a long time, I did not understand what the crime was that Ham did to deserve such a curse. When one looks closer at this passage, the crime committed was disrespect.
Respect for one’s family is very important. Even when a family member creates a scandal and behaves inappropriately that does not mean you make it worse by proclaiming it for all to see in order to shame the family member even more and making yourself look better in the eyes of others. Instead, because he is family, you ought to help the wayward relative to turn away from his behavior and strive to make things right.
Back to the case of Ham’s crime, when he saw the results of his father’s overindulgence, he didn’t show respect to his father and covered his nakedness. Instead, he proclaimed it to his brothers (probably in a mocking and condemning way). Ham’s brothers Shem and Japheth understood the gravity of this scandal. They also knew that when their father woke up from his drunkeness, he would be even more ashamed because of his nakedness. So out of love and respect for their father, Shem and Japheth went and covered their father. Love for the sinning family member works better to turning them to repentance than condemning them in public.
The results of Ham’s disrespect produced more shame for his family than any one scandal that Noah had caused. On the other hand, the love and respect that his brothers showed during this crisis made them blessed in the eyes of their father. So what is it that you and I are supposed to learn from this story?
As faith followers of Jesus Christ, we are all brothers and sisters in the family of God. Therefore when we see a fellow brother or sister fall into sin, we come to them and encourage them to turn from their sin. When we do this, we approach them with love and respect and not condemn them publicly. To do that will make the scandal worse and permit the wayward believer to wallow in their sin. Instead, we must cover up their shame, we do that by reminding them that they are still a child of God and that their sins are given through the blood of Jesus and that if they would repent, they would be forgiven. Love covers up a multitude of sins and the shame that is associated with them. Scandals will come, but they don’t have to stay forever, let us cover them up with the love of Christ.