The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. (Leviticus 18:7)
Admittedly, there are some things in Scripture that make you go “Hmmm.” Some things Scripture addresses can be a bit embarrassing to read, much less discuss, in mixed company. Nevertheless, the Creator is well aware that certain things must be addressed because there are things lurking in the hearts of men that must be restrained. In fact, rather than restricting life as some have supposed, the instructions given in His Word serve to restrain the evil inclination within man’s heart.
So then, to expose one’s father’s nakedness was regarded as taboo and, frankly, it is a sin that appears to be much more than what we might think it to be. Some commentators equate it with committing an immoral act with your father’s wife as Reuben did with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). Still others suggest it could be even more sinister, possibly even as wicked as what is inferred to have occurred between Ham and Noah. Whatever it might be referring to — and it could be a number of things — the point is that to uncover someone’s nakedness is to bring shame and humiliation upon them, whether father, mother or loved one.
Consequently, the term is used most often today to refer to when someone willfully exposes someone else — a brother in the LORD perhaps — to shame and humiliation. If we are aware that another is in error and we have a relationship with them, or the spiritual authority to act, we should go to that person and correct them privately. Depending on the outcome will determine what must be done next, but I would argue that it is not appropriate to be quick to expose their sin to everyone in order to humiliate them and, potentially, destroy them. In my humble opinion, that is the equivalent of uncovering someone’s nakedness.
Any type of confrontation with someone who is in error should always be done in a way that has an eye on repentance and restoration. Yes, sometimes it is necessary to bring something before the congregation at large “that the rest may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20), but let’s face it, that should always to be a last resort. I know that in the times God has dealt with me about things (and I presume it is true with most of us), He has always begun in a way that avoids public humiliation. So if God deals with us in such a merciful way, who are we to willingly pull the covers back on our brother and expose their nakedness for all to see? May those who claim to be disciples of Messiah never harbor such in their hearts. Rather let us be those who are willing to “restore in a spirit of gentleness” those who have been overtaken in a trespass (Galatians 6:1).
Blessings and Shalom,