Sometimes Shame Guilt and Hurt Feelings Over Sexual Sins Is a Good Thing
If I see one more “Christian” writer blogging or podcasting about how Christians need to abandon virginity- until- marriage (a.k.a. sexual purity or celibacy) teachings and standards, which are biblical, I may puke.
It has become quite de rigueur in some Christian circles to bash virginity and celibacy these days.
Oddly, Christian emergents, such as Rachel Held Evans, post-Evangelical or ex-Christian writers, and some spiritual abuse bloggers, who usually try to be hyper-sensitive to people’s feelings, who will twist themselves into pretzels to defend homosexuals or homosexuality, will hypocritically often give no thought to trampling on the feelings of adult, Christian hetero virgins.
I would imagine that adult, Christian homosexual virgins might be offended by some of this same rhetoric aimed against celibacy sexual purity, and virginity as well; there are some Christians who have S.S.A., same sex attraction [homosexual leanings], but who have chosen to stay celibate.
How do you suppose the rants against sexual purity teachings and the whole-scale acceptance of homosexual behavior by fellow Christians makes them feel? I guess their feelings do not matter because they don’t neatly fit into the little politically correct box of the Christian homosexual agenda pushers?
I have a lot of respect for Christian homosexuals/SSA who are abstaining from sexual activity, who are celibate, due to allegiance to biblical teachings about sex. (And they do exist. I periodically come across an interview with Christian homosexual/SSA celibates on Christian podcast shows or in blogs.)
Some emergents and theologically/doctrinally liberal Christians go so far as to defend fornication (both homo and hetero varieties) and to advocate it, never mind bashing virginity and celibacy, such as:
(Link): Emergent Christian Guy Says Christians Need to “Celebrate Pre Marital Sex” (Fornication)
I recall reading a small article several years ago in a secular paper about secular culture. The author (and I’ve no idea what her religious views were), said part of the problem with American (secular) culture is that we have lost our sense of shame. I agree with this assessment.
The author said one reason we see so much trash and vulgarity in the media, why we see pop singers dancing around half naked on music shows, is that people have lost their sense of shame – and that is not always a good thing.
I portend the same thing has happened in Christian culture the last five or more years, especially when it comes to sex related sin.
Some Christians have been arguing on their blogs, books, magazine articles, in pod casts, and on radio shows, that Christians should cease from upholding biblical teachings on celibacy and virginity because such teachings (and the standards themselves) make people who have engaged in pre-marital sex (aka fornication) feel ashamed, guilty, bad, or flawed.
As a 40 something, hetero virgin -I chose to remain a virgin until marriage- I find this most puzzling.
I have managed to do what most Christians assume is the impossible: stayed a virgin into my 40s; obviously, I prove a person can live without sex.
No, I do not have a low libido; no I am not fat and ugly; yes I have been engaged to a man; yes, I have been flirted with and hit on by men (I am not ugly and fat).
I’m having a hard time seeing why Biblical teachings on sexual ethics should be tossed aside or ignored, merely because some have not lived up to those ethics, or that some who fornicated feel shameful or guilty when they hear such ethics taught.
I can just imagine if people who claim to be Christ followers used that criteria in other areas of life and sin:
- “Hi, my name is John Doe. I enjoy being a serial killer! I love strangling women to death. Every time I hear a Christian preacher mention that murder of humans is a sin, it makes me feel so guilty and ashamed. I think we should all just accept that some people like to murder, they cannot help it, and well, you Christians should drop that teaching to accomodate me and my feelings. I was born with these urges to kill. I have a need to kill. Respect my inclination to murder, and don’t judge me or make me feel ashamed for it.”
If your guilt or shame over murdering another person – or stealing, or having sex before marriage- compels you to cease such behavior, then I think that is a plus, not a minus.
God, if He exists, says in the Bible that He gave humanity consciences, so that when and if you do something wrong, yes, you will feel guilty and ashamed over it.
(Disclaimer: I am not saying someone who commits a sin and repents should feel guilt indefinitely. I’m not talking about “false guilt,” and that carried over a lifetime. These days, I see the opposite: people, including Christians, sadly, who try to hide away from feelings of guilt, shame, and condemnation at all costs.)
Instead of telling homo and hetero singles to go right ahead and feed their sexual desires, why not encourage them to hold on and remain virgins or celibate?
The Bible talks about Christians encouraging other Christians to hold on, hang in there, and complete the race.
The Bible does not tell Christians to tell other Christians, “When the going gets tough, just give up, and give in. Stop the race, go sit on the sideline. Being a virgin is so hard, so cave in, stop fighting it! Everyone else is having sex, so join them.”
However, many emergent Christians are basically carrying the banner for this “Just cave in and do it, then don’t feel guilty or shamed for it!” approach, which seems to be nothing more than the Least Common Denominator Approach, the Low Expectations Approach, or the Quitter Approach, rather than the the Over-comer, or Winner, or I Know You Can Do It approach.
Here is an editorial on the topic of shame:
by Trace Embry
There is a common belief among the politically correct “intelligentsia” that shame is not something our kids–or anyone else for that matter–ought to experience.
Even many Christians have bought into this idea.
Scripture; however, seems to make a different case. God has made us, and our kids, with the capacity for many emotions– shame being just one of them.
Confusion about this subject comes when someone attempts to force someone else to feel shame for something that God did not call shameful–like when a young child spills his milk or fails to control his bladder.
Even then, there comes a time and age when even these acts become inappropriate–perhaps even shameful– particularly if done with reckless frequency and without legitimate excuse, i.e., such as a physical or mental condition.
To remind an unrepentant child that he ought to be ashamed of himself for committing some blatant act of foolishness, abuse or other sinful activity can often be just good parenting. Or in the case of two adults, just being a good friend.
Proverbs 27: 6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted; but, an enemy multiplies kisses.” Besides, aren’t there things that we should be ashamed of? The Bible doesn’t have much positive to say about a generation that does not even know how to blush.
Shame is often a component of true conviction which is fundamental to repentance. Shame is a legitimate emotion when God’s standards are violated. We need not be ashamed of who we are, but rather for what we do.
Confusion can also come in when we are made to be ashamed of who we are. Knowing that we are created by God in the image of God should remind us that we should never be ashamed of who we are. As the saying goes, “God does not make junk!” What God has created; however, can create junk–junk that we should be ashamed of creating. And sometimes it takes someone else to remind us that we should feel ashamed for creating it.
When Nathan the prophet told King David, “You are the man.” I doubt he expected David to feel like a winner in that moment. David’s emotions were completely appropriate for that moment.
Shame is actually a good emotion; for, like pain, it is an alarm that tells us something is not right.
And, like pain, it is also a motivator to start heading in the right direction. Feeling no shame is how our society has arrived at its current moral condition.
Pop psychology–not Scripture–is where this notion of shame being a naughty word came from. Views on psychology are continually changing, while God’s Word remains trustworthy through the ages. So, remember that anyone who shames you into believing that shame is a shame is a sham.
Related posts this blog:
(Link): The Christian and Non Christian Phenomenon of Virgin Shaming and Celibate Shaming
Related post, off site: