Sunday, September 12, 2010

Have You No Shame?

Genuine shame: is associated with genuine dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation (ashamed: to shame). Remember that word? It was used at a time when people took responsibility for their actions. It was when people blushed. You were ashamed of your actions if it harmed or embarrassed others, and not just because you "got caught". It would shame my family's good name if I cursed in public. My mother actually washed my mouth with brown soap because I called my sister a bum. I bubbled for a week. I wouldn't dream of shouting at my mother in public or at home. Nor would my son diss me or his dad.
There's something called, self's not that I never do anything wrong, I just know there are boundaries not to cross.  I'm aware of an inner voice telling me not to do such and such, you know, the conscience.  My dad liked to say, "You have two things to fear in life....the Man in heaven...and me." And the fear he referred to wasn't the fear that he would hit me, no, it was the word fear as in the Bible. Fear...the respect for God.  I was taught and believed that God was watching. I had to answer for my on earth to my dad...and someday in Abba.
These days, what we ought to be ashamed of, we boast about. The following was part of a conversation among a group of 50- Somethings, "My son has been living with his girlfriend for 5 years...finally...they're getting married. Their baby, who is 2, will look sooooooo cute walking them down the aisle." What's wrong with this picture? Lots. Let's not tell dear son that his behavior is wrong & affects others, nope, that might alienate him...he might get upset. Listen people...I'm not my kid's friend...I'm his parent. So, I parent and tell him when he's out of line or not in line with God. I actually say, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." Phooey on his psyche. If throughout the years, a parent has shown love, support and encouragement...than your child knows how to take a reprimand. God approves of discipline, done in a Godly fashion. BTW...I'm not talking about the type of shame that a child feels when neglected or abused...but shame due to bad behavior when an adult ought to know better.
At what point did a parent become afraid of their kid's reaction to, "You can't wear a skirt up to your navel to Mass" or a tee-shirt that says, "Life Sucks" to Grandma's house. How about, " Sorry, young lady, church is no place to wear a blouse that shows cleavage." Where's the fear...the respect...for the Lord? When did it become admirable for a politician to stand before the press, announce his infidelity and people hearing it comment, "I give him a lot of credit to come out and tell the truth"? Tell the truth?...hey've been lying for how long to your've now humiliated her and your family, disappointed the citizens who trusted you, but it's honorable that you told the truth? Before or after you got caught? Shame, shame, shame. You shouldn't have cheated to begin with!
Eve covers herself and lowers her head in shame
in Rodin's sculpture "Eve after the Fall".
There are 145 references to shame on the online New International Bible concordance. The Bible practically begins and ends with references to this word. The first is seen in  the book of Genesis 2:25, "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame." So sin entered the scene and the sense of shame disappeared.  The second is found in the book of Revelation 21:27, where it speaks of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." It seems that God has a lot to say about shame and shameful behavior.
Contrary to the belief in psychotherapy that shame does damage to our self esteem and we should be purged of this inner-critic...I think a healthy dose of  feeling shame is a good thing. We ought to feel shame if we lie, slander some one's good name, drive drunk or while texting, use God's holy name in vain, or cheat. Yes, that "inner-critic" is the Holy Spirit convicting us, reminding us that we are not in keeping with God's laws. Shame is the sickness of one's soul...that dreaded, pit-dropping feeling that we've done something wrong. Our spirit should  feel injured.
Looking at the definition of shame in the first sentence of this post gives us the way in which we avoid feeling honorable, do little to disgrace ourselves so there is no need for condemnation. Let's be accountable for our own actions. If we bring shame upon ourselves, it's not the duty of a teacher, pastor, or even our own parents to remove the is our problem to take care of our problems. We must ask God for the grace to do remove the spiritual blindfolds from our eyes through prayer, fasting, meditating on Scripture, penance and attending Mass. We should ask the Holy Spirit to fine-tune our senses so we stop! before we shame ourselves. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning "to cover".  If we should feel shame to the degree that we need to cover our eyes in embarrassment or guilt, then for certain we are in need of God's help. We are one step closer to humbling ourselves, to admitting that we need healing, forgiveness and most of all His guidance. God's love is infinite and there is no shame in admitting we are sinners in need of His mercy,  no shame at all.
**Don't Get Me Started Series


  1. Paramedicgirl: As in raving maniac rant;)? Then,I guess the series title is fitting,"Don't Get Me Started". Hope you'll tune in again. Someone reading it just might need a paramedic or I might.