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.