Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Monday, October 08, 2012

Shame

■Shame is a destructive emotion, particularly in the church, but also in our culture generally. It is time we started opening up these conversations and banishing shame, which only keeps people trapped in destructive patterns.



Shame is the uncomfortable or painful feeling due to recognition or consciousness of impropriety, dishonor, or other wrong in the opinion of the person experiencing the feeling. It is caused by awareness of the exposure of circumstances of unworthiness or of improper or indecent conduct. Shame is a product of conscience, our moral sense of right and wrong, this works chiefly as it affects one's own behaviour.   There are two pivotal values, currently lost to this present generation, those being shame and honour. Honour approaches the concepts of esteem, respect, high regard and 'of good reputation'. These traits are to be differentiated from pride, although a person may be proud to have honour in a community.
Shame by contrast approximates humiliation, loss of standing, losing 'face' and is strongly associated with our own sense of value and worth in community.

"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

Our sense of shame and/or honour should act as a powerful incentive for right action.
Jeremiah 6:15
"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?

No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush."

Conscience does make cowards of us all. The introductory quote claims shame is destructive, but in what context?  It can be argued that being cowardly is evident when we are not facing our shame, when pride or fear usurp guilt and shame. The removal of shame will not alleviate the burden of guilt people feel when either tweaked by conscience or confronted with the error of their behaviour by others, it will only placate their inner sense of sin, but will never fully assuage. Eliminating shame from our conversations is an attempt to redact a framework designed to esteem the importance of each individual in community. This system seeks to acknowledge character exemplifying Godly principles and as well to recognize behaviour and traits which are contrary to Godly principles.
People would rather live disenfranchised lives apart from any ethic which brings to light their shameful behaviour. In this manner what needs to be resolved need never be faced. The cowardly man has come to the forefront and any imbibed or natural inclination to seek forgiveness is no longer an expectation. He is justified by societies complacency and tolerance, and the inability of society to call to account inerrant and harmful behaviour. The destructive pattern is not the one of shame, it is the dissimilar behaviour that is causing the shame. I believe the patterns of behaviour which are most strongly questioned are further reinforced and entrenched by this attitude of tolerance and irresponsibility.

Shame does not force the person to do anything, but it does let them know that they were wrong and this should lead a person to act in different ways. A guilty conscience is extremely difficult to deal with, no matter what you do or how you try to block out what you have on your mind, your conscience is always there. Shame does not nor should not devalue the person, the honour and respect due a person should always remain intact in contrast to the shame felt when the guilt of sin is exposed.

As an operative principle, grace, God's ability to express love for a sinner, and subsequently our ability, if we so choose, to express that same unconditional love is the first and most important step in acknowledging the value of a person. It is also foremost in developing a sense of humbleness by recognizing that "But for the grace of God, there go I"

Shame is not weakness, it is recognition. It is a realization of  the state of man in light of all that is holy.
It is not God's fault, nor a flaw in His principles that result in people feeling shame. The fault and flaw have always resided in our hearts, but God has provided a means to deal with shame, forgiveness and with that the dismissal of guilt. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like that you finished with : God has provided a way to deal with shame...forgiveness: