Shame: God’s Favorite Tool

Oh, it’s not?

Then, why do we keep living (and acting) like it is?

I started attending church as a little golden haired cherubim. My perfect ringlets bouncing with each step into the stone encased architecture. My little hands folded on my lap while I sat on the worn, wooden pew. My eyes clenched shut during each prayer. And I was an angel each year in the Christmas program (even though I always wanted to be Mary).

I participated in sword drills in Sunday School. Sat through every awkward dating/sex talk in youth group. Attended a small, conservative Bible College and then later on a larger, more liberal college where I studied Greek and all things Bible. I feel like I’ve seen a lot. The good and the….not so good.

I’m not here to start finger pointing at my fellow Christian family members because that’s no more Christ-like than the topic I want to discuss. My heart has been softened recently in regards to the Church and I don’t wish to speak ill of it. With all conviction of heart though, I feel like something needs to be said in regards to shame.

Negativity, name calling, shaming (call it what you will) should NEVER be used to spur people on to growth.

I get it, some people are big on “calling out sin”. I call it like I see it. You see the flaw in that kind of thinking is that God speaks things that aren’t as if they were. (Rom. 4:17) You may see a sinner, but He sees a saint. Before you get up in arms, let me reassure you, I am not ok with sin. I just think the finger pointing, “calling out” business is the wrong way to deal with it.

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Let me give you a for instance here to drive the point home on a practical level. It’s real easy to pick on girls who dress “inappropriately”. Sure, no one needs to see cavernous cleavage or butt cheek curvature, but telling those girls they look like whores isn’t going to solve the problem. The more you speak something over a person, the more they are going to act like it, think like it and believe themselves to be it. There’s a deeper issue there than her need to expose her body for attention (or even just her preferred fashion choices). There’s a girl who should be built up and called up higher in love. A girl who should be told she’s treasured and worthy of love. A girl who should be told that she’s loved whether she looks like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or looks like Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. It’s a worth issue. Bottom line, Jesus loves her booty out and all.

It’s not like I haven’t been the biggest culprit when it comes to this, friends. Let me assure you. I’ve done my fair share of shaming. I’d just rather be a woman who calls worth out of a person instead of clothing them with shame. I want to empower the sinner (ugh, even saying that sounds so religious) with words of freedom. I want to bring a refreshing word to a thirsty soul.

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8 thoughts on “Shame: God’s Favorite Tool

    • I hear you, Phil. I have so much to say about this, but I keep coming back to Grace. If we could only grasp the grace He has extended to us– we’d be much more lavish with giving it away as well. We make God out to be this big school yard bully, pushing us up against the wall and demanding our lunch money. We’re doing His character an injustice.

  1. I remember reading or starting a bible study called “Shame, The Thief of Intimacy”. I never got to finish it since the book got lost but I will always remember one thing it said. Their is true shame and false shame. True shame is a tool of God that brings conviction of sin. But once the sin is confessed etc. there is no more shame. Shame after that is false shame and not from God. God uses shame to convict of our sin, but once conviction has come there is no more need for shame. The important thing is NONE of us can cause shame that God uses. Only the Holy Spirit working in a persons life can bring about change of action in any kind of behavior. Sometimes the words “Shame on you” come out of my mouth with my children and I quickly try to catch that phrase to not come out of my mouth. It had been spoken over me so much as a child it is or had been part of my own vocabulary. We need to let the holy Spirit work in the hearts of people . We need to love them wherever they are at , at the moment. One of my prayers in my heart is Lord Help me to love and minister at whatever level or where anyone is coming from.

    • I was talking to a friend last night about this, Yvonne. Here’s a little more of my perspective. Love transforms. When people have an encounter with love and grace, despite their stupidity (sin) that is move moving and convicting than anything else. I’ve been struggling with this a lot in regards to the Youth Group. I’ve got to love these kids through their mistakes, through their rebellion. In the end, it will be love that wins them over. Not my pointing finger. Not my dirty looks. In the end, its only the Holy Spirit that brings about change in their hearts anyway. Ya know?

  2. Great topic and I am thankful for your openness. I agree that shame as an evangelistic tool is probably not a worth while choice, especially if the people you are trying to spread the love of God to are those with whom you have everyday contact with, like co-workers or family. Giving an occasional word of “conviction” may be appropriate at times but never to infuse a feeling of shame. Shame is negative, accusatory… And thus can be attributed to the accuser of the brethren, and not God. I find that conviction is a Holy Spirit thing that is only recognized as such when it rises up from within a person’s heart and not when it is foisted upon them with righteous indignation from the outside. We are called to love people of every shape, size, appearance, cultural and social background. Actions speak louder than words and that includes non-verbals that convey shame and repulsion as well… We are called to shine God’s love by our actions and when necessary our words. Conviction is God’s work.

    • You brought up a good point– shame comes in non-verbal forms as well, which are just as bad. This is where I struggle a lot. My face is highly readable, to my own detriment. You’ve got some great points here. Thanks for the comment!

  3. “The more you speak something over a person, the more they are going to act like it, think like it and believe themselves to be it.”

    Hmm, dang. Heard this idea before in many forms, but it’s hitting home right now for some reason. I somewhat recently called someone out about some bologna that I felt they were doing to me, but more lately I’ve been wondering if instead of communicating my needs I was just shaming them. Something to pray on anyway.

    “It’s real easy to pick on girls who dress ‘inappropriately’. Sure, no one needs to see cavernous cleavage or butt cheek curvature, but telling those girls they look like whores isn’t going to solve the problem.”

    “I’d just rather be a woman who calls worth out of a person instead of clothing them with shame.”

    I see what you did there.

    • I think there’s this beautifully disgusting fine line between giving some loving correction and shaming a person. I just don’t want to tread it. I want to be as far away from it as possible. Some Christians LOVE to correct others. I don’t know it makes them feel good about themselves maybe. Like maybe they actually KNOW something. But in the end, what’s the profit of knowing something if you now don’t have the relationship with the person to just be able to love them.

      I’ll leave the correcting for someone else. Someone more qualified. Like the Holy Spirit.

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