Okay, I needed a comedic break from the narrative that is the “news.” So, I watched the “fun” version on cable when Comedian Jimmy Failla summarized in a most serious tone, “We’re living in the death of shame.” Or in the words of Bishop Robert Fastiggi,
“Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin.”
The metaphor that someone is “coming out” used to imply a degree of secrecy or privacy associated with one’s activity or life-style. Perhaps, in someway, we all had a closet experience, that secret side of our desires that we would never mention in public. Who wasn’t used to living two different lives, one real and covered up and the other what society expected of us! Dad used to say, “When in Rome live as the Romans do.” “Dance to the tune being played” even clumsily or even if you’d rather sit this one out.
The stress of living in two different worlds, one culturally acceptable and the other who you really are, has become, most understandably, a chain of a tyrannizing hypocrisy. That metaphorical “closet” now (as I see Mr. Failla’s interjection) has been dismantled social brick by brick, shame by shame, until in the name of a social honesty modern life has been transformed into a civilization that no longer identifies with “sin.” And no sin means to need of a Savior… sadly.
Not everything one does in private or secret is sinful… Please! But, what we are saying is that, no one can live their entire life as the free exercise of their passions, if it isn’t natural, if it does not put on display their real self. There is no bigger lie than trying to convince yourself that some culture you find yourself in must know better than you what is in your best interest, to pretend to love what you detest, to publicly smile through private tears.
But “shame” is still a real thing, a really word, in our Bible. Actually, there is more than one word because there is more than one kind of shame. Shame can be the fear of being discovered, the fear of being disapproved by the social circle we move in. As Jeremiah 2:26 reminds us, “disgraced when … caught….”
But there is a Biblical word for shame meaning a reverence for the good as good. When this good is not honored in one’s actions, the sense of shame, like a faithful conscience, sounds the alarm. This has nothing to do with reputation. It has to do with honor—and to God that means “reverence.”
“…serve God acceptably with reverence” Hebrews 12:28
Scholarship tells us, “We may say that [a godly reverence] restrains a good man from an unworthy act, while [being found out] would sometimes restrain a bad one.” Shame is a friend if it can forewarn, but we live now in social change that prefers to disconnect altogether from any moral code God might be said to have inspired. Thinking this way, it seems best to destroy shame in social change (make it not against any moral law by getting rid of all talk of God). I leave it to honest faith to recognize the danger here.
There is a third term in our Bible which includes self-introspection. You, who know God because you walk with Him, should always see if the Spirit within, in whom you confide, would tell you that what you about to do or say, or where you are about to go, is out of character with the new you. Be advised!
Paul said it best:
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:2