Words Have Meaning: Shame

SHAME

 

THE SAD TRUTH: There was a time, covering most of recorded history in fact, wherein people had the moral, intellectual, and emotional wherewithal to understand that it was actually good to feel ashamed over that which is shameful. They had the capacity to understand that there is a positive aspect to shame, e.g., as a powerful motivator towards repentance, needed change, and positive growth. In our increasing “do as thou wilt… anything goes!” day and age, one that despises absolute truth in general, and biblical morality in particular, shame is seen as an evil to be avoided, perhaps more so than even a plague.
 
SCRIPTURAL PROOFTEXT: The above statement has nothing to do with legalism or sanctimoniousness. We have all done things, many things, for which we ought to feel ashamed. However, the goal should not be to excuse or justify such imprudent/sinful acts, but rather, to ever strive to repent of them. So many in our day want to condemn the shame (and/or the so-called shaming) whilst glorying in the shameful acts themselves. Sadly, this is the way of fools. How do we know? The Bible has this to say, amongst other things, about the matter:
 
Proverbs 3:35 “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”
Proverbs 13:18 “Poverty and shame [shall be to] him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”
Ephesians 5:11-13 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”
 
ACCURATE DEFINITION: What, precisely, are the various definiens for the word shame? Consider the definition provided by the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, which (as with the 1913 edition), provides an etymologically and lexically accurate prescriptive definition, rather than an inaccurate postmodern (progressive/woke/often hyper-emotional/newspeak) descriptive one.
 
NOUN
1. A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; or by of that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal. Shame is particularly excited by the disclosure of actions which, in the view of men, are mean and degrading. Hence it it is often or always manifested by a downcast look or by blushes, called confusion of face.
 
Hide, for shame,
Romans, your grandsires’ images,
That blush at their degenerate progeny. Dryden.
 
Shame prevails when reason is defeated. Rambler.
2. The cause or reason of shame; that which brings reproach, and degrades a person in the estimation of others. Thus an idol is called a shame.
 
Guides, who are the shame of religion. South.
 
3. Reproach; ignominy; derision; contempt.
 
Ye have born the shame of the heathen. Ezekiel 36:6.
 
4. The parts which modesty requires to be covered.
 
5. Dishonor; disgrace.
 
VERB TRANSITIVE
 
1. To make ashamed; to excite a consciousness of guilt or of doing something derogatory to reputation; to cause to blush.
 
Who shames a scribbler, breaks a cobweb through. Pope.
 
I write not these things to shame you. 1 Corinthians 4:14.
 
2. To disgrace.
 
And with foul cowardice his carcass shame. Spenser.
 
3. To mock at.
 
Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor. Psalms 14:6.
 
VERB INTRANSITIVE.
 
1. To be ashamed.
 
To its trunk authors give such a magnitude, as I shame to repeat. Raleigh.

CONCLUSION: The goal of this post isn’t to condemn or revile others; but to warn against the modern absurdity of avoiding both shame, and [the necessary admonitions and reproofs that this modern world is quick to call…] shaming, at all costs. The world may see wisdom in this, but God makes clear that there absolutely is none. Yet, the Bible also makes clear that an attitude of humility, prayerfulness, and vigilant watching is also in order (especially as it relates to dealing with individuals):

1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.”

To God be the glory.

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