What is shame? Is it all bad? Should we protect our kids from shame, or is there a shame to which they should be exposed? Join AMBrewster as he shows Christians parents from God’s Word what the two types of shame are and how to identify them.
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Last time we took a while to consider a popular perspective on children and shame.
As many of you may have imagined, the article suggested that shame is never appropriate for children and should be avoided at all costs because it can be damaging to their psyches.
But is that a biblical perspective?
Last time I gave you some LifeWork. The English word “shame” shows up in the ESV Bible over 150 times. I asked you to use an app or the internet to search for the word “shame” and peruse the passages trying to gain an impression as to how God views it.
Even without reading all of the verses, if you scanned them in various books throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments, you should have been able to see that shame is not always a bad thing.
So, what is shame? What does God say it is?
Well, before we jump into that, I’d like to ask you to Rate, Review, and Recommend Truth.Love.Parent. You can do it on iTunes, Facebook, and whatever podcast directory you use.
However, if you leave an iTunes or Facebook review, we look forward to sharing them on the show. With your permission, we also like to share encouraging emails that are sent to TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com.
There are so many ways you can be a blessing to us and others looking for Bible-centered parenting advice; TeamTLP and I encourage you to seriously pray about how the Lord would use you.
Today I’d like to take a moment to thank Matt, Sonja, Josh, and Heatherly for making today’s episode possible. They have each done many wonderful things for us. They’re all Patrons of the show, and Matt and Sonja even invited me to do a TLP Meetup in their home in Dallas and speak at their children’s school.
It was an amazing experience, and I believe those face-to-face encounters are some of the most powerful ways to communicate God’s Truth.
I love this podcast and the opportunities it affords to share Truth in love to parents all over the world, but I also believe that having more physical meetups, conferences, and workshops will allow TLP to have an even larger influence in the lives of families.
Again, will you please prayerfully consider how the Lord would have you play a part in our ministry?
And if you’re past the praying part and want to learn more about how you can get involved, please click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode.
As we approach the end of our third full year of ministry, I pray the Lord would continue to direct us and use Truth.Love.Parent.’s podcast, resources, website, and counselors in the lives of more and more families. And I pray He would increase our opportunities to meet you, your churches, and your friends face-to-face.
To Him be the glory, and on Him be the focus!
Alright, let’s see what God has to say about shame.
If you’re new to the show, we have free episode notes and transcripts available for our studies, and you can find that link in the description. Those should help you work through this material and understand them better.
So, according to Merriam-Webster, the English word shame means:
“1 a: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
b: the susceptibility to such emotion
“2: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute
“3 a: something that brings censure or reproach also : something to be regretted
b: a cause of feeling shame”
In the Hebrew and Greek there are a number of words that can be translated “shame.” And in addition to our modern understanding of the word, these words communicate additional layers. Some of these layers involve confusion, making a show of something, scorn, blushing, being dried up and withered, dishonor, disgrace, disfigurement, and one even carries the idea of genitalia.
When you look at these various layers in the context of being ashamed, you get it. We all understand this word. It makes sense. We’ve all experienced it. There’s embarrassment, awkwardness, regret, guilt, and a cocktail of emotions that are uncomfortable and weighty.
And this is the feeling that some parents and experts don’t believe is healthy for a child to have to experience. And even though we don’t go so far as to say these feelings are dangerous, we likely all would love for our kids to be able to avoid feeling shame because it’s so incredibly uncomfortable.
So, our focus for today and the rest of this series is . . .
I hope you’re looking forward to this as much as I am!
So, our goal today is to figure out what this Good Shame and Bad Shame are and be able to distinguish between them.
We know what shame is, and most of us know it’s got to be bad, so let’s start by looking at shame that it’s not profitable to experience. We’re going to call this simply, “Bad Shame.”
1. The Nature of Bad Shame
Consider Psalm 25:1-3 and verse 20, “1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame . . . . Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”
Each of these words are the same Hebrew word. In fact, this word is the most common word translated “shame” in the Old Testament. It carries the idea of being or feeling worthless and can also be translated “confounded,” “confusion,” and even “dry.”
I share all of that to point out that the ancient understanding of shame is really identical to our understanding. It’s a universal experience, and we’re going to find out why soon.
For now, though, we hear David two times in this passage ask God to not allow him to be put to shame and make the proclamation that no one who waits for God will ever be put to shame.
In fact, this sentiment is repeated all throughout the Psalms. I won’t even begin to cite and quote the passages because there really are that many. Feel free to study it out yourself, it’s very encouraging.
But I do want to quote from the New Testament as well. In Romans 9:33 Paul quotes David when he says, “As it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.””
This type of shame is something that God doesn’t want people to experience. But what is it? What makes this shame bad?
Well, remember the definition of shame from Merriam-Webster: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety?
Well, in each of the biblical passages concerning Bad Shame, God tells us that people who trust in God, lean on Him, wait for Him, and believe in Him will not experience this shame.
And that makes perfect sense. Every human on the planet should trust God, submit to Him, and obey Him. There’s nothing about that lifestyle that should make anyone feel guilty.
So, Bad Shame is when we feel guilt, believe there’s a deficiency about us, or feel as if we’ve acted with impropriety when we’ve actually obeyed God’s commands.
We can say it this way, A. Bad Shame tries to make you feel bad about doing good.
This type of Bad Shaming happens all the time on social media. There are plenty of trolls out there who love to follow Christ-honoring personalities and slander them for their faith in and fealty to God.
Christian kids all over the world are being made to feel like garbage for their Christ-Honoring choices.
Even parents are persecuted and reviled by their zombie terrorist kids for being Ambassadors for God in their homes. Children like that want their parents to feel ashamed for parenting them the way they do.
“My friends parents don’t make them dress this way!”
“All the other kids at school are going to the concert!”
All of those comments — and a hundred million more — are designed to make you feel guilty about your parenting choices.
But if you are doing the right thing in the right way for the right reasons in the right power, then you have absolutely no reason to feel shame.
Now, we’re going to talk more in part four about how to help your kids get out from under the weight of Bad Shame.
For now, let’s be content with understanding that Bad Shame does exist. No one should be shamed for obeying God. No one should be made to feel bad for living a holy life.
That’s a shame that I would argue is inappropriate and dangerous. If I or my child believe the lie that obeying God is wrong, I’m going to be tempted to stop obeying God. There’s nothing more dangerous than that!
So, Bad Shame involves feeling bad about doing right, but there’s another form of Bad Shame.
B. Bad Shame also occurs when we’re made to feel bad because we didn’t do something bad.
This is obviously the flip-side of the same coin.
But there’s another version of Bad Shame.
C. Bad Shame tries to make me feel bad about not knowing something.
This includes not just not knowing something, but also includes not doing something I didn’t know I was supposed to do or doing something I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do.
All of these are versions of Bad Shame, and we’ll talk about this more in our 4th part of this study. For now we have to move on.
Thankfully, there’s also a good shame. There’s a shame that we should feel and that doesn’t bring destruction but is designed to create healing.
2. The Nature of Good Shame
I want us to pay careful attention to Ezra 9 verses 3 through 7. In this passage, the prophet Ezra has realized that the people of Israel have — as a nation — sinned against God by disobeying God’s commands not to marry people from the surrounding pagan nations.
Now, did every person in Israel do this? No. Did Ezra do this? No. But this is what Ezra said.
Ezra 9:3-7, “3 As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. 4 Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. 5 And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, 6 saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. 7 From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today.”
The first shame-word we see is in verse 6. That word translated “ashamed” is the same Hebrew word we saw in Psalms. Then we saw the word guilt; that was important. And then in verse 7 there’s another word for shame that carries the same ideas as the initial word but also communicates not only the feeling or condition of shame, but also the cause of the shame.
Now, even though this is an uncomfortable passage, even though Ezra experiences very hard emotions, here we see an example of Good Shame.
And what is the cause of this shame?
Well, if shame is a feeling of guilt due to impropriety, then it’s completely appropriate to feel this way if we have sinned against God.
Listen again to the foundation of this shame: “our iniquities have risen higher than our heads,” “for our iniquities” we have been punished. In fact, the final verse says that being given over to shame is part of the appropriate consequences for sin.
Consider Obadiah 1:10, “Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.”
The prophet of God, under the inspiration of God, is proclaiming the condemnation of God that shame will be part of the consequence for their sin.
There are so many great verses to use to support this point, but I just really wanted to quote Obadiah. Seriously, how many times do people cite Obadiah? :-)
Anyway, now I want us to consider I Corinthians 1:27-29, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
God didn’t merely give us Truth that would set us free, He also gave us Truth that — if rejected — would place us into bondage . . . specifically the bondage of sin and shame and separation from God.
Twice in this passage the Lord shows us that His ways shame the wise and the strong of this world.
Let me put it this way . . . this is Good Shame, and God wants your children to experience this shame if they refuse to believe His Truth.
I know that can sound harsh — “God wants your children to feel shame.” But it’s not.
Rejecting God’s will produces sin. Sin hurts all the time every time. God wants us to feel shame when we sin against Him so that the guilt produced will drive us back to Him and His Truth.
That’s the most loving thing God can do for us!
And we should do the same for others.
Recently we studied I Corinthians 15, so these next two verses should sound familiar to you.
I Corinthians 15:33-34, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”
We discussed the admonition in our earlier episodes, 248 and 249. But here I just want to focus on the fact that Paul wanted the Corinthians to experience shame because of their poor choices. Why would he want them to be ashamed? Well, he loved them and wanted God’s best for them.
And we’re going to talk about this in much more detail next time.
Now, two things complicate the world’s ability to understand shame.
But if the world refuses to acknowledge God, they will not understand His views concerning shame.
Since the world doesn’t accept God’s opinion on shame, and since some shame legitimately is bad, the world can only assume that all shame is bad.
But God has created us to experience Good Shame in order to achieve good things in our lives.
So, on our next episode we’re going to talk about how to use Good Shame in your parenting to achieve God’s good will in your children’s lives.
Pleas share this episode on Facebook or email it to a friend who will be encouraged by it because God is not the author of confusion. His Word is clear and sufficient for our parenting. All we have to do is study it.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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