One of the cool things we can learn from the Scriptures, especially the New Testament is why shaming doesn’t work. There’s actually many different words translated as “shame” in the NT but they are used in different contexts:
G150 — αἰσχρός — aischros — ahee-skhros’ (and derivatives G149, 151, 152) — From the same as G153; shameful, that is, base (specifically venal): – filthy.
Luke 14:9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.
1 Cor 11:66 For if a woman does not cover [a]her head, let her also [b]have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to [c]have her hair cut off or [d]her head shaved, let her cover [e]her head.
1 Cor 14:35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is [a]improper for a woman to speak in church.
Titus 1:11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
Heb 12:2 2 [a]fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [b]author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Aischros is the typical word that is used for shame, and generally denotes things going against natural truths or order.
- Jesus uses it in terms of the disgrace at having to move to a lower position at the table
- Paul uses it in terms of women with short hair or speaking in church is shameful
- Paul also uses it in instruction to Titus about those who cause strife in families for shameful/sordid gain
- The writer of Hebrews uses it to describe the shame of Jesus being nailed on the cross, and how He despised it by willingly going to it in order to save us.
G818 — ἀτιμάζω — atimazō — at-im-ad’-zo (also, G819, 820) — From G820; to render infamous, that is, (by implication) contemn or maltreat: – despise, dishonour, suffer shame, entreat shamefully.
Luke 20:11 And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed.
John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
Acts 5:41 So they went on their way from the presence of the [a]Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
James 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and [a]personally drag you into [b]court?
Atimazo is also used as shame but it is used in the context of dishonoring someone from a rightful position.
We can see this in Luke 20 where Jesus is talking about the Lord lending a vineyard to the caretakers and how they despised and dishonored all of those who came in His name. Likewise, we see this in terms of being shamed for the gospel — unrightful shame and dishonor for spreading the good news. We see the dishonor of Jesus being called a demon, and in James where he talks about favortism and the poor.
G1788 — ἐντρέπω — entrepō — en-trep’-o — From G1722 and the base of G5157; to invert, that is, (figuratively and reflexively) in a good sense, to respect; or in a bad one, to confound: – regard, (give) reverence, shame.
Luke 18:3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘[a]Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will [b]give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will [c]wear me out.’”
Luke 20:13 The [d]owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’
1 Corinthians 4:14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
Titus 2:8 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Entrepo I have talked about before. It describes the interesting case of where the correct response is inversion.
The judge who does not fear God nor respect man gives into the widow because of her persistence. The Lord of the vineyard even though the laborers have been treating his servants shamefully believes that they will respect his son. Paul knows that his rebuke to the Corinthians seems like he wants to shame them, but he disabuses that notion. Paul in his letter to Titus tells his to encourage Chrisitans to act beyond reproach so that those who persecute them with he ashamed of their bad behavior because the Christians have done nothing wrong.
G3856 — παραδειγματίζω — paradeigmatizō — par-ad-igue-mat-id’-zo — From G3844 and G1165; to show alongside (the public), that is, expose to infamy: – make a public example, put to an open shame.
Matthew 1:19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned [a]to send her away secretly.
Hebrews 6:6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, [a]since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
Paradeigmatizo is used solely for public shaming.
The context in which these are used is only in these two verses. That means Joseph a righteous man didn’t want to publically shame his betrothed even in her perceived sexual sin prior to marriage. Also, those that are apostate publically shame Christ and seemingly if you take into the rest of the context of Hebrews 6 may not be able to return to repentance in Christ.
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).
Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
1 Corinthians 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman [c]whose head is shaved.
1 Peter 3:16 [a]and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
Kataischuno is typically used in the Scriptures to discuss shaming down from a haughty or higher place or from a rightful position. It’s very similar to aischros in the fact that it discusses similar circumstances in 1 Corinthians 11, but is slightly different because the dishonoring is done by the person or thing in question:
- Hope does not disappoint
- Good uses the foolish things to shame the wise
- A man who has a covering disgraces himself, whereas a woman without a covering disgraces herself
- Those who persecute you bring shame on themselves
What does this all mean in my previous post on “shame doesn’t work”
These are all of the different types of shame.
- Aischros — shameful, filthy, venial
- Atimazo — to ‘accuse’ someone of a disgraceful or dishonorable thing.
- Entropo — inverted shame/respect or in other words a “trap” situation
- Paradeigmatizo — shame publically
- Kataischuno — shame down specifically from a haughty place or from a rightful position.
The specific type of shame we discussed in the previous article is: shame coming from outside sources directed upon individuals in order to reform their behavior (which often leads to guilt tripping).
The only real word for shame that could be used in this context is paradeigmatizo which is public shaming, but we see that righteous men do not do that and the only other time that this used in Scripture is when apostates publically denounce and thus shame Christ.
Sunshine makes a good point in her godly sorrow versus shame post that this does not excuse us for tolerating bad or sinful behavior. We should indeed call it out. This is not shame though; it is simply shedding light where there once was darkness. Now, the person in question could respond defensively out of “shame” that they did something wrong though this is not a reason to continue shaming them to change their behavior.
The type of calling out should be done in the context of Matthew 18 where we go to the person in question alone, then with two or more witnesses, then the church, etc. Basically, the sins of the one do not need to be made public and should be confronted privately, unless they hold a public office in particular where they have extensive responsibility over the church. For example, Paul teaches Timothy in 1 Timothy 5 that elders who are caught in sin must be reproved in front of the Church as a warning.
When taken in this context, there are many reasons why shaming doesn’t work to change behavior. As we discussed, pointing out sinful behavior is not shaming but making them aware of the gravity of their sin. Then it is up to them if they want to repent or not. Specifically, shaming tends to put pressure and ultimately coerce someone into “doing the right thing” which is not actually doing the right thing.
For example, if you make a child say sorry for doing something wrong do they actual mean it if their attitude, body language, and facial expressions says otherwise? No. They don’t think they have done anything wrong, and they are simply going through the motions. Likewise, shaming someone into repentance doesn’t work; it has to be a free will choice of their own to the admission that they were guilty of doing wrong and want to turn in the opposite direction.This is why when I confront sin I simply try to point out where the behavior does not match the Scriptures and the potential consequences from it. I do not try to get them to change; they must make that decision on their own. I may inform them of the consequences if there is gravity of the sin that may need to be taken to the Church, but I don’t otherwise attempt to guilt trip them into behaving better because that doesn’t turn a sinners heart. It’s the kindness of God that turns people to repentance, and if there’s anything I can do to help them understand the love and kindness of God in that moment I will do it.This is different because we are bringing sinful behavior to Christians or at least those who claim to be Christians and following Christ because they should have the Holy Spirit in them to convict them of behavior and bring them to repentance again when confronted. I take a different approach when evangelizing which I covered SCOTUS and the love of Jesus Christ Part 1 and Part 2.