For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. – 2 Cor. 7:8-10
Truth warriors are finding out lately that no longer is the faithful pronouncement or application of God’s word merely “legalistic” or “judgmental” in the estimation of the secular and even religious humanists. Oh no, now we find out that truth-bearers are personally responsible for the immoral behavior choices (“acting out”) of others because we are “shaming” them! Dare to produce the yardstick (moral absolute), and the instinctive flight from measurement is deemed in our culture to be directly due to the fact that this standard has been brought to bear at all.
However, this concept isn’t totally foreign to some compassionate, Christ-centered evangelicals, either, especially those who have spent some time as a prodigal or backslider. The late Rev. Bob Steinkamp, for example, who founded Rejoice Marriage Ministries with his wife Charlyne, regularly urged spouses who are standing for the restoration of their covenant marriages, and for the repentance of the spouse of their youth from an adulterous union, addiction or other destructive behavior, to carefully avoid being the cause of their prodigal’s feelings of shame or guilt. The argument, with a certain amount justification, is that these feelings hinder and delay a prodigal’s repentance. Each and every day of hindered and resisted repentance is a day upon which that prodigal might further harden their own heart, and could eternally run out of time to repent. Who wants to be an accomplice in such a tragic ending for someone they love and are one-flesh with?
Beyond that, people whom “standerinfamilycourt” truly admires frequently look down on “slut-shaming”, as when during last year’s U.S. presidential primary campaign, a lurid photo of our nation’s first centerfold First Lady was produced by its far-from-first adulterous Chief Executive to demonstrate how much more “attractive” his wife is than his opponent’s covenant wife. People who responded in perfectly reasonable expressed disgust were then accused of that allegedly-thoughtless infraction of “slut-shaming”.
At the other extreme, there is a Facebook page called “Home Wreckers Exposed (She’s a Ho)” where aggrieved wives can publicly expose by name and photo their spouse-poaching nemesis who has used the nation’s immoral family courts and the culture’s growing acceptance of cohabitation to destroy a covenant home. On a related note, there was a post recently going around on a closed support page for covenant marriage standers that showed such a wife dragging her husband’s much-younger naked girlfriend through the street by the hair after catching her in the act. (One naturally wonders, similar to the story in John, chapter 8 where the male adulterer was at that moment).
SIFC Disclaimer: this kind of shaming is never purposeful! Jesus called it, “not leaving room for God’s wrath.”
Somewhere in the middle of all this is the notion of vicarious or indirect shaming, such as SIFC’s beloved son-in-law recently rebuked (since he has an aunt who is in a longstanding lesbian relationship, and consequently he resents the idea of marriage adhering to an absolute biblical standard). It seems that many of the posts on our own Facebook page (Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional) can be seen as the public “shaming” of practicing homosexuals, as well as of legalized adulterers. His allegation is that such posts turn people like his aunt off to “Christianity” altogether, because the real Jesus “didn’t throw stones”. We would suggest in the alternative that the universal requirement to put Christ first and remove idols from our lives is what actually turns most people off to following Christ, regardless of their sexual orientation.
It could reasonably be argued that any effort to resist full cooperation with a unilateral divorce petition could lead to the “public shaming” of one’s petitioning spouse, since in most cases doing so leads to a public trial that will expose the person’s deeds as a matter of public record. Hence, some situations which our immoral “family laws” put an innocent target of such a petition in will involve some very real and painful moral trade-offs.
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.
So, is there a biblical imperative against causing or allowing one’s wayward spouse to experience shame which is so strong that it compels a true Christ-follower to sign under oath their concurrence with the typical slate of lies in such a “dissolution” petition, some of which directly deny the power of God to redeem their holy matrimony union? How does one balance the seemingly competing biblical imperatives not to resist an evil person with the warning in Rev. 21:8 that ALL liars will be thrown into the lake of fire?
Furthermore, if we follow the biblical instructions from Jesus in Matthew 18 for bringing church discipline on someone who is sinning against their family,
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
…it also results in public shame (and sometimes social media shame), does it not? Matt Chandler and his Village Church suffered backlash in 2015, finding this out the hard way when there was blowback from an attempt to discipline a church worker for having her 3-year marriage civilly annulled because her husband struggled with same-sex attraction.
Matt Walsh was recently “up to here” with the shame-blame game himself, in his own recent blog (but scout’s honor, this blog was started way back in August, long before Matt’s was ).
As only Mr. Walsh can so eloquently put it:
“And for those who shame all of this shaming there’s shame shaming, which often leads to shame shaming shaming and even shame shaming shaming shaming, which gives rise to the shaming of shame shamers who shame those who shame shamers for shame shaming shaming. We’re all just ashamed all the time, it seems, but not so ashamed that we won’t post heroic pictures of ourselves doing whatever it is we claim we’re persecuted for doing. And, although society supposedly “shames” this activity, we’re sure to get 100 thousand likes and 50 thousand shares and 10 thousand laudatory comments. “
“Contrary to what these shame fighters say, many of our societal problems are born from a cataclysmic lack of shame. We have become something like the spoiled brat who throws a tantrum because her parents got her the wrong color Ferrari for her sweet sixteen. It’s not as though this indignity is the last straw in a long series of incidents where the poor, neglected child wasn’t given exactly what she wanted. Rather, this is the first time in her life that she didn’t get exactly what she wanted.”
Is there an outright biblical prohibition on “shaming” another? Is there proverbial wisdom against it? Is there a proverbial description of negative consequences from publicly drawing attention to the immorality of another, or from engaging in indirect communications that allude to that immorality? What definition of “shaming” actually triggers negative consequences for the “shamer” according to biblical wisdom?
SIFC has found that an effective biblical word study on shame and shaming requires quite an investment of time. According to www.biblegateway.com, there are 262 Hebrew or Greek references to shame or shaming between the Old and New Testaments, and literally dozens of different Hebrew and Greek words from which the word “shame” was translated, with differing shades of meaning, especially in Hebrew.
A sampling, which is far from exhaustive:
A primitive root; properly, to pale, i.e. By implication to be ashamed; also (by implication) to be disappointed or delayed — (be, make, bring to, cause, put to, with, a-)shamed(-d), be (put to) confounded(-fusion), become dry, delay, be long.
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_937.htm buz (laughingstock)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_8103.htm shimtsah (derision)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_6172.htm ervah (nakedness, indecency)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_4045.htm migereth (rebuke)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_3971.htm mum (blemished)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/2781.htm cherpah (reproach)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_3639.htm kelimmah (dishonor; reproach)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/955.htm bushah (related to bosh)
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7036.htm qalon (ignominy, dishonor)
…As in, Proverbs 9:7, “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.”
http://biblehub.com/greek/818.htm atimazó (dishonor)
http://biblehub.com/greek/819.htm atimia (dishonor)
http://biblehub.com/greek/2617.htm kataischuno (confound, put down)
http://biblehub.com/greek/150.htm aischros (base / disgraceful)
http://biblehub.com/greek/5195.htm hubrizó ( using unfair tactics to inflict undeserved harm)
http://biblehub.com/greek/1788.htm entrepó (put into a state of turning or recoiling)
http://biblehub.com/greek/1791.htm entropé (confusion / shame)
1788 entrépō (from 1722 /en, “in” and trépō, “to turn”) – properly in (a state of) turning, i.e. to turn one’s attention to in a riveted (“locked-in”) way. This term is also used of recoiling (turning away) in shame, at times of a “wholesome shame which leads a man to consideration of his condition” (Berry).
When we get to the Greek, we can start to see that shame can also have a positive purpose (entrepó), and indeed, Paul reminds us in Romans 12:20 that it is entirely possible (and desirable) to cause someone to feel shame even as a by-product of actual kind acts, especially when done in response to malicious acts done to us by the same individuals…
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
“Standerinfamilycourt” likens the culturally-popular rhetoric around “shaming” to the popular claims that Christians are not to “judge”. Logically, a judgment must be made before one makes a determination to “shame”, so the connection is obvious. Carefully examined, however, the scripture says that Christians are not to judge in an unrighteous manner while being guilty of the same or similar infraction of God’s law. That is, they must be able to withstand being measured by the same yardstick they would apply to another (Luke 6:37-38).
Furthermore, it is impossible to accuse someone of judging unless the accuser is also judging the accusee. But, if one instead complains about the end product of applying that judgment (or any similar form of rebuke or criticism), i.e. “shaming”, this self-righteous difficulty is effectively bypassed in the (non-discerning) eyes of most people. After all, those who object to Melania having been accurately described as an adulterous trollop can’t very well say to anybody else, “you have no right to make a moral judgment against someone posing nude and her ‘husband’ publicly boasting about it”.
A clear distinction certainly must be made between “shame” that is an unavoidable by-product of some action that carried a larger, selfless purpose, and actual shaming that is carried out vindictively or manipulatively as an end in itself. Guilt remains unproductive if the Holy Spirit does not transform that feeling into conviction, and shame remains unproductive unless that emotion matures into godly sorrow. This is more likely to occur with incidental, rather than targeted rebuke.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
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