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Jul
22

In Defense of Shame

In Defense of Shame Shame (and shaming) is something our culture seeks to avoid at all costs. It is deemed to be “unkind,” and therefore, “not nice,” and therefore something we should never experience, or hope for others to experience. Is that how God sees the subject? What is God’s view? Are we viewing this issue through the lenses of Scripture, or the lenses of secular culture? First of all, it might be helpful for us to define the term. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary says of the noun form: A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; or by that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal. Shame is particularly excited by the disclosure of actions which, in the view of men, are mean and degrading. Hence it is often or always manifested by a downcast look or by blushes, called confusion of face. And of the verb (as in “shaming” someone): To make ashamed; to excite a consciousness of guilt or of doing something derogatory to reputation; to cause to blush. The concept of disgrace is rooted in a universal moral law. There is an objective “right” and an objective “wrong.” There are truths that are true for all people, in all places, at all times. I believe the main reason people in our postmodern age chafe against the notion of shame, is that they also, even subconsciously, are fuzzy in their minds about the absolute nature of moral truth. Most people today, even Christians, essentially believe that all truth is relative, and that everyone has a different “truth,” or set of ethics that are right “for them.” God is, in His very nature and character, the standard that defines right and wrong. He IS truth. That which does not conform to His personhood is sinful. When we fall short of His righteous standard, our conscience alerts us that we are not living the way we should. (Ravi Zacharias has also spoken on this topic.) What does the Bible say about shame? Let’s examine some examples of God shaming the rebellious: “All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let...

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© Israel Wayne.