Shame doesn’t work Part 1

Over at Sunshine’s blog there’s a discussion about father’s day and all of the different things at church that it entails. This post builds somewhat off of that disussion.

Shaming is one of those things that just doesn’t work. This is evidenced in the wider culture. I’ve shared my faith with quite a few people, and they have shared their stories with me. Most of the time, they grew up in a Christian household but they they said they felt guilty all of the time. They were taught that so many things were sins and that they would be punished for not doing what was right. When they did something wrong they were shamed, shamed, and shamed some more by their parents. Needless to say, it has left many of these former Christians feeling guilty and shamed for much of their adult lives. It has also turned them away from the Church.

Shaming, much like nagging, fails because it piles on unnecessary guilt. In the vast majority of cases unless the person is a psychopath or a narcissist piling on guilt only serves to further hinder developmental growth in Christ. Christians who want to grow in Christ KNOW when they do something that is wrong, and they know they should repent and do it. However the constant shame bombs implicitly tell them:

  • you are not worthy,
  • you can’t do good enough,
  • you will never be better,
  • you will always fail.

You may say no it doesn’t. But that is false. When you’re shamed a lot you start believing these lies because the shame is ubiquitous. It’s there all around you and there is nothing combating those lies.

Believe it or not this the mindset that both children and adults pick up from being shamed over and over for their wrong doing. Ultimately, it leaves them either broken shells of themselves because it gets ingrained in their identity, or it turns them off to the Church and what is righteous because they develop an incorrect view of the grace and mercy of Christ through the poor examples in others.

I’ve referenced feminist shaming tactics before, so I’ll reference them again.

Anytime you see statements containing the phrasing “real Christian men” or qualifier words like that it’s basically shaming tactics or in reality nagging. Such women who use them are setting themselves up to be in the place to judge others around them. Now, such a judgment may be true — if it conforms to Christ — however, the way it is performed does not display the fruits of the Spirit in kindness.

This is the same reason why nagging fails. It’s not the nagging is bad in the sense that a woman sees that a man may be having difficulty with a particular responsibility. It is that the wife is assuming an authority position by her words and speaking down to him. In effect, she is mothering him. Mothering him is not the way to build men. Likewise, shaming isn’t either.

Instead, the way the Scripture tells those under authority is to undergird through encouragement, enthusiasm, and helpfulness. 1 Peter 3 teaches that Christian wives win their husbands who do not obey the word without a word through their chaste and respectful behavior. Likewise, in the place of authority, Jesus gets down on the disciples level to explain and serve them to help them to grow. Jesus states that the gentiles lord authority over them, but it should not be so among you.

The Church, women, and many men including pastors fail to recognize that shame or more specifically nagging men to be “better” men does not work because it fails on a Scriptural level. Instead, a better path would be pushing how it can help men to be better husbands and fathers instead of always preaching them down from the pulpit or in casual conversation.

Here are the questions that those in leadership in the Church, men, and women should be asking themselves rather than shaming men:

  • How can Christian women effectively encourage and build up the Christian men in their lives to assist them into stepping into their God-given roles?
  • How can the Church support men to be better husbands and fathers?
  • How can I effectively mentor or help my brothers in Christ along this journey?

Telling them what they need to be doing is shaming, and shaming doesn’t work. Shaming never points anyone toward the abundant life in Christ. Did Christ shame those who were caught in sin? No, he forgave them and sent them on the right direction. If you know the right direction then undergird and help rather than shame.

The vast majority of Christian men WANT to be better husbands. They WANT to be better fathers. They want you to help them. But then Christians go around shaming men to man up and take responsibility based on some nebulous concept of failure to be Christ-like. It honestly makes zero sense to me.

Your intentions may be good, but if you’re attemping to shame men to be better men you have missed the point of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In part 2 I’ll take a look at shame from a Scriptural perspective.

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35 Responses to Shame doesn’t work Part 1

  1. Pedat Ebediyah says:

    Word, Deep Strength!

    “The vast majority of Christian men WANT to be better husbands. They WANT to be better fathers. They want you to help them. But then Christians go around shaming men to man up and take responsibility based on some nebulous concept of failure to be Christ-like. It honestly makes zero sense to me.”

    It doesn’t merely make zero sense to you, it makes zero sense, period!

    These women, Christian or otherwise really need to step the hell off with that!

     

    We’re men who own our stuff and who are pressing for the Mark, and have given ZERO indication that we are NOT, even when we, in our OWN space, inveigh against the forces (even if those forces are women, Christian or otherwise) that attempt to beset and derail our efforts and sully our convictions.   They don’t tell us how to think, to feel, or what method we employ as we process our way through this life, whether in joy – or travail.

    I think that these “sisters” need to learn to practice some form of Martial Arts….one of which would be the Martial Art of Staying In Your Lane and letting the brothers work it out among ourselves. If they’re not trying to shame help us along the way then they need to beat it.

  2. feeriker says:

    How can the Church support men to be better husbands and fathers?

    Unfortunately, many churches do this by publically shaming and nagging (as my own church did yesterday with an “altar call” specifically aimed at husbands and fathers. It pains me to say that a huge number of them abased themselves in front of their families by responding to it).

    I certainly want to believe that there is no malice on church leadership’s part in doing such things, that they have simply been “brainwashed” by ubiquitous cultural forces. Yet this, to me, makes it such acts all the more inexcusable. If a man (or anyone of either sex) cannot seek refuge from the toxic fumes of the worldly culture within the church, then the church has no raison d’etre. To adopt an attitude of arrogance and condescension in seeking (ostensibly) to “shepherd” the husband/father toward the Godly path is too obviously the way of the world to be completely unintentional. This, in turn, prompts the legitimate question whether the desire to shepherd is really legitimate and sincere, as opposed to the real goal of AMOGing and/or reinforcing the prevailing Modernist narrative that has infected all churches, co-opting many of them outright.

  3. ChildofRa says:

    I never understood why Christian tell other christians especially men to be more christ like, that is just an impossible standard to live up too.

  4. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    The shame tactic is understandable simply because the leaders of the church do not know how to instruct and encourage men to live masculine upright lives as the loving head of their homes. They preacher will follow the path of least resistance in the absences of strong conviction and simply ape back to the familiar teachings he was taught and heard. Most church leaders have acquiesced to their protective instincts and have become white knight defenders of women no matter how unworthy the woman. They have chosen sides in the battle of the sexes and have chosen to defend femininity by attaching masculinity thereby becoming allies of feminism.

  5. Dragonfly says:

    This is why I was so against all the slut-shaming that was going on in the manosphere (and from SSM’s blog)… the ideology behind shaming someone is not biblical.

  6. donalgraeme says:

    DS, I’m curious about your take on shame in 1 Cor 1.

  7. @ Donal

    Working on the post. Brief overview… there’s 4-5+ words used for “shame” each generally with a different context. 1 Cor 1:27 is one of those:

    G2617 — καταισχύνω — kataischunō — kat-ahee-skhoo’-no

    From G2596 and G153; to shame down, that is, disgrace or (by implication) put to the blush: – confound, dishonour, (be a-, make a-) shame (-d).

    In the context of the passage, basically it’s about pride leading to the fall and the two choices that leads to: humility or hypocrisy. In other words, a right conscience should lead to humility.

    The context is inward reflection of the brethren in their relationship with God versus that of the world and not of the brethren shaming each other.

  8. Looking Glass says:

    Rebuke, Correction and Consequence. The problem with doing what is actually expected of us, as Christians, is that it takes involvement and removal of people from your life.

  9. Elspeth says:

    I’ve thought some about our exchange at Sunshine’s, DS. It took a minute for the thoughts to gel but I know now why the tendency to ask men to repent en masse repeatedly bothers me so much.

    It’s because women are routinely offered a new and clean slate, present company included, regardless of the long term fallout that came as a result the choices made.

    “New creation, sins thrown into the sea of forgetfulness, precious Daughter of The King, lift your head and walk in the newness of life! Don’t let anyone chain you to your past.”

    I agree with the sentiment so far as it goes, but men are almost never allowed that same freedom to move forward. Which brings me to something you said about mature Christians having the good sense to know not to own sins that are not their own.

    You have a point, but you underestimate the power of suggestion, the power inherent in reminding a man that if he hadn’t worked 70 hours a week when junior was little, maybe they would’ve been closer. Maybe mother wouldn’t have left, maybe Susie would have been a better judge of masculine character, etc. These things can be used as a way to re-open old wounds to keep fathers “humble”.

    I still say that the Father’s Day beat down is relatively rare, but the shaming tactic as a method of ministry is alive and well. Mothers however, are almost never treated to these “humility” sessions. Even when we deserve it.

  10. @ Elspeth

    You have a point, but you underestimate the power of suggestion, the power inherent in reminding a man that if he hadn’t worked 70 hours a week when junior was little, maybe they would’ve been closer. Maybe mother wouldn’t have left, maybe Susie would have been a better judge of masculine character, etc. These things can be used as a way to re-open old wounds to keep fathers “humble”.

    I still say that the Father’s Day beat down is relatively rare, but the shaming tactic as a method of ministry is alive and well. Mothers however, are almost never treated to these “humility” sessions. Even when we deserve it.

    Yep, when you put it like that I can see how that is vastly underestimated, even some from my end.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to discuss as there is more weight with more responsibility. However, it should not be discussed from the pulpit in mixed company. It’s best done 1 on 1 from mentors to the mentored.

    That and women are hardly ever reminded of their marital duties as well: helpmeet, submission, and respect. Men are often reminded of their so-called lack of responsibility in church.

  11. feeriker says:

    I’ve thought some about our exchange at Sunshine’s, DS. It took a minute for the thoughts to gel but I know now why the tendency to ask men to repent en masse repeatedly bothers me so much.

    It’s because women are routinely offered a new and clean slate, present company included, regardless of the long term fallout that came as a result the choices made.

    I still say that the Father’s Day beat down is relatively rare, but the shaming tactic as a method of ministry is alive and well. Mothers however, are almost never treated to these “humility” sessions. Even when we deserve it.

    Exactly. Just flip the sexes on this (e.g., “altar calls” for wives/mothers on Mother’s Day) and see what kind of reaction you’d get, both from the pulpit and from the women in the congregation.

  12. donalgraeme says:

    @ DS

    Thanks. I thought that there might be more than one word for shame in Greek.

    Looking forward to the post.

  13. Dragonfly says:

    For feminists to shame men using their shaming tactics, they do it in the way slut shaming was done in the manosphere… they try to dehumanize or subhumanize men, so that they can not feel guilt or shame themselves when viewing them as detestable. Women do this with the typical nice guy… they treat him with disdain and subhumanize him (or barely recognize him), and then feminists are so angry (rageful?) when these nice guys complain about being friend-zoned and attack them for desiring to have a relationship with a woman (wanting to be sexually involved with her eventuall…. something that is normal but not allowed for these subhuman nice guys).

    Sluts are subhuman (this is the ideology of the manosphere). They “deserve” what they get because they are the “jezebels” of society and not worthy of compassion or any kind of humane treatment. I remember seeing comments calling for them to be abused and used up until death… because they “deserve” this. Because sluts aren’t worthy of grace. Because they somehow aren’t human.

    The men (and some women) who loved to slut-shame them are no different from the feminists who love to shame men for being men. It’s sad but it’s the reality of people’s sinful nature … to want to take God’s vengeance and wrath into their own hands and be motivated by hate.

  14. Dragonfly says:

    In other words… Christians who shame sluts (just like how feminists view nice men) are psychologically motivated by hate. They see them as subhuman & feel justified to villify them and treat them like filth because they’re sluts. It’s the same thing as genocide or racism… motivated by hate towards a group of some kind of people, where they feel self-righteous or rational in behaving that way.

  15. @ Dragonfly

    I think some [newer or non-mature] Christians don’t know better.

    But for those who do know better I think it stems more from bitterness than anything else. If you really care and have compassion for others you speak kindly to them to help them see the Light.

  16. Dragonfly says:

    True… “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders (because they’re watching), making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6

  17. jack says:

    The difference is that being a “nice guy” is not contrary to Biblical morality.
    Being a slut is.

    In no way should the two be compared. A “nice guy” is rejected by women because they would rather fornicate with those yummy bad boys.

    A slut is rejected because she has squandered her youth and innocence on bad men.

    The rejection of good guys and the decision to slut it up are both made by – wait for it – WOMEN!!

    Lolzolzoloz!!!

    NRFS ™

  18. Dragonfly says:

    It’s not about “rejection.”

  19. jack says:

    At one time, being a slightly boring nice guy was considered to mean one was good husband material.

    At no time was being a slut considered a sign of good wife material.

    Nice try, though.

  20. Jack, that lolzlolzlolz thing really needs to be retired.

    At any rate, CoR, as the old saying goes, Misery Loves Company. Christ’s words about lust and anger (odd how most preachers don’t mention the latter as nearly as often as the former, huh?) in the Sermon on the Mount were about the need for universal grace and the need for His audience to step off their moral high-horses. But people like Joshua Harris and Bill Gothard propagated His words there literally, I believe, in an attempt to make others as miserable and repressed as they were. Same thing with the Judaizing “dogs” that Paul called out in Galatians.

  21. jack says:

    Lozlz is a salute to one of the best manosphere minds ever.

    Dragonfly attempted to correlate the so called sub humanizing of boring nice guys to the sub humanizing of sluts.

    The fallacy of such a comparison should be obvious to anyone except one who desperately wishes to excuse certain behaviors or to make them equivalent to other behaviors that are certainly not sins.

    Besides: women judging men for being to nice = flaw in the woman .
    Women being sluts = flaw in the woman.
    Men not wanting a slut for a wife = wise decision.

    Hey, I date girls with an unchaste past on occasion and even buy dinner, but commitment is out of the question. Think of it as LJBFing only in reverse. By the way, one of the biggest reasons sluts make bad wife material is that most of them cannot bring themselves to truly repent of their former actions and accept the damage they chose to do.

    I don’t sub humanize sluts. I just don’t commit to them, since they have proven themselves to be too risky a proposition.

  22. Dragonfly says:

    “At no time was being a slut considered a sign of good wife material.”

    It’s not about marriage or what makes a good wife material.

  23. Pedat Ebediyah says:

    @Dragonfly..

    “It’s not about marriage or what makes a good wife material.”

    I agree. It’s really about Repentance and their subsequent fruits.

    If a woman hasn’t vehemently rejected and denounced her “slutty” past and demonstrates, in word and deed that she’s truly cleansed of such, then I find her less than trustworthy on all counts.

    And a woman who cuts the unrepentant slack in this area is also untrustworthy on all counts.

    By the grace of Father Yahweh I’m not dead, in jail, institutionalized, homeless, or cast out by my friends and loved ones, and so I’m grateful for His mercies; and I’ll be damned if I’ll wink at all of the bad seed I laid, the broken hearts and bones I inflicted, and the general lawlessness in my heart.

    Like Sunshine posted on her page about “Shame”…I have understood it intrinsically and extrinsically.

    I don’t shame people. I have NO problems telling my business, so that people who hear my testimony can know the power of repentance and restoration. And I have NO problem telling people that their path is leading nowhere.

    A friend of mine told her niece..”you’re a pretty girl, but if you continue to gain weight, the type of man that YOU desire, isn’t going to desire you. No quality dude really digs fat girls”.

    Did she shame her? What if she substituted “gain weight” for “sleep around” and said, “no quality dude really digs sluts”.

    The truth shall set you free..

  24. shame does work
    more and more men are feminising themselves to show genuine servant leadership
    http://dadlifeblog.com/2013/04/10/thoughts-on-faith/

    he even knows how to be the perfect man, apparently making his wife help with the kids like most christian women expect their husbands to do so even after working hard
    is a sign of selfishness…

    Christian men Want to be feminised
    they Want to be wimps
    they Want to pretend that servant leadership = Titus 2:5

    PASTORS WIN cause if men call them out, they get called a selfish misogynist
    and their wives love churches that shame

  25. Dragonfly says:

    Pedat – I haven’t read Sunshine’s post on shame… I remember when she was heavily into slut-shaming 2013-early 2014, I was banned from her site for arguing that it was wrong. Many Christian men (and some women) argued with me that they were right to slut shame. This was before SSM herself went through something somewhat traumatic (being brutally shamed herself by people who hated her).

    Maybe she has a different approach to shame now that she has been the recipient of so much of it.

  26. Dragonfly says:

    But you were right that telling people what they are doing wrong is good, but it has to be done in the right manner, with the right attitude, and with the right motivation behind it. The people slut-shaming that I saw doing it were doing it in a completely unbiblical, very unrepentant/prideful, disdainful manner. They took sadistic pleasure in slut-shaming, meanwhile calling themselves Christian men and women.

  27. @ Jonathan Akash Charles

    Well, you’re right shame works to the ends on which it is used: to manipulate men into approaching their marriage in the wrong way.

    Shame doesn’t work to help men become the leader of their families. But that is assuming most pastors are being honest which is not always the case.

  28. Pedat Ebediyah says:

    Hey Dragonfly…I’m talking about Sunshine Thiry’s recent post about shame…not SSM.

  29. @ Pedat Ebediyah

    SSM is Sunshine.

  30. Pedat Ebediyah says:

    There is Sunshine Mary and then there is Sunshine Thiry…

  31. @ Pedat Ebediyah

    They are the same person. SSM was a pseudonym.

  32. Pedat Ebediyah says:

    @DS,

    Whaaaat??? Well knock me over with a feather, brah… I had no idea. LOL.

    The tone and content of the Sunshine Thiry Blog is light years different from the SSM Blog. I see plants and flowers and dogs and cats and very lightweight commentary about stuff and I swear it is someone else. Duh.

  33. well
    according to them , feminising one self is being a real man, as Christ reversed roles by washing feet…

    this is why Chandler etc tell men that providing for your family is not good enough
    when a man comes home he has to do at least 50 percent of homemaknig and childcare

    even if he is a doctor and has worked 36 hours nonstop
    or works shifts

    or had a long hard day ,providing for his family…

    historically most christians would have called such men who feel guilty for having a wonderful wife who ensures they rest
    wimps…

  34. I mean
    it is almost like asking your wife to do anything for you is seen as sin and selfishness by these supposed christians
    by their definitions no man in the bible was a real man…

  35. Pingback: The FYI on the male sexuality | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

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