Shame, Shame, Shame!

Posted on November 21, 2011 by


I’ve been thinking about “shaming language”. It’s largely frowned upon on the Internet. Imply even slightly, that embracing a certain set of behaviors is wrong and you’re quickly shot down for engaging in “shaming language.” There’s even a chart with codes identifying and categorizing the tactics of feminists who use shaming language. It’s a great list by the way. I kind of like it because it deals with shaming someone’s feelings rather than their behavior. There’s one thing that is largely missing however when this subject of shame comes up: What if the behavior in question is actually shameful? Are there no circumstances in which people need to be made to feel ashamed of their behavior?

No one wants to make anyone feel bad about anything, even when they should feel bad. “Don’t judge!” We hear it all the time. It’s a ridiculous statement on its face because no matter how hard you try not to judge (and believe me, I try hard) you’re still a human being with thoughts and opinions and no matter how carefree your personality, you will judge others’ behavior.

The thing that really grates on my nerves is Christians who feel compelled to claim that the Bible doesn’t condemn any kind of behavior or attitude. That the minute you say something is wrong, or even that it isn’t an ideal choice, you’re putting yourself in the place of God. One of the most insidious of shaming tactics, which is hardly ever condemned, is the attempt to shame those who have and live according to Christian, Biblical standards.

There are such things as virtues and vices and we are better off if we strive for the former and resist the latter. As Christians, we are called to encourage one another to do good works, and correct each other when we are going astray. Turning a blind eye lest we be accused of being judgmental isn’t an option for us. At the risk of coming off like a judgmental, holier-than-thou tradcon shrew, I am going to list the things I think we should be ashamed of.  Actually, the list is from the Bible so it really isn’t my list, but it’s a good starting point.

1. Idolatry

2. Blaspheming the name of our Savior

3. Disrespecting parents

4. Murder

5. Theft

6. Adultery

7. Lying on your neighbor

8. Lusting after what your neighbor owns including but not limited to his wife and/or his wealth

9. Ingratitude

10. Prideful arrogance

11. Sexual depravity and promiscuity

12. Greed

13. Envy

14. Strife promotion

15. Deceitfulness

16. Gossip

17. Dishonesty

18. Lovelessness

19. Lack of Mercy

20. Infidelity in all its forms, including divorce

That’s the short list taken primarily from Exodus 20 and Romans 1. And no, I don’t personally get an A+ for fulfilling (or rather not fulfilling) everything on the list. But I recognize that when I come up short, it’s something to be ashamed of. And when I’m called out on it as I sometimes am, I acknowledge that rather than calling out, “Don’t you judge me!”

If any and all behaviors are acceptable, where does that leave us? And what are we traditional patriarchal types fighting for here?

Posted in: Religion