SHAME: The Most Destructive Force to the Human Soul

SHAME: THE most destructive force to the Human Soul.

I inquired in my Contemporary Moral Issues class what the students believe to be the number one moral issue of the day.  I did not anticipate their answer.  The eleven students responded unanimously, “sex before marriage”.  I was expecting to hear homosexuality, abortion, gun control, or immigration to be the issue they believed to be most influential on their world. 

The class explored and examined the idea of sex before marriage and slowly arrived at the definition, benefits, and consequences of the issue.  As to definition, the students concluded that sex before marriage is just a small portion of the larger category of illicit sex.  The students quickly realized that homosexuality, transgenderism, polymorphous perversity, adultery, pornography, and sex before marriage exist under a larger umbrella of illicit sexuality.  They agreed to amend their original response of sex before marriage to one larger category; Sexual Immorality.

The students then proceeded to examine the benefits and consequences of Sexual Immorality to the culture at large.  After a time of discussion, the students concluded that there are only a few benefits from sexual immorality.  They listed three, pleasure, stronger relationships, and stress relief.

When they turned to the consequences the list grew quickly including, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, addictions, broken relationships as long term physical harm. Then they identified numerous emotional issues caused by illicit sexual behavior including, anger, mistrust, depression, long term memories, depression, and helplessness.  One more emotional issue emerged from the discussion that places illicit sexuality under the umbrella that covers everything: SHAME.

Shame is the most destructive force to the human soul.  And the examples and consequences under the umbrella of shame seem endless.  Substance abuse and addictions, workaholism, divorce, abuse of all kinds, (I personally believe sexual abuse to be the number one destroyer of the soul), illicit sexuality,  failure, and there are many more.  In each of these categories is the emotion that Adam and Eve felt the moment they were exposed.  Shame.  They hid themselves because they realized they were naked.  Exposure to the eyes of another immediately produces the deep sense inadequacy.  “I am a failure, I am worthless, I will never be loved, I let someone down, I will never amount to anything, I am a loser, I deserve nothing, I am unattractive, I can’t parent, I can’t measure up” and the examples go on and on.

Shame is not limited to illicit sexuality.  It is the consequence of rebellion against God.  The curse in every human to strive to be something we were never meant to be, our own god.  Every time man fails to pursue his design there is an indwelling understanding of shame.  This isn’t a religious concept or idea.  Inside everyone is the voice that knows that we can’t not know what is wrong and when we fail and are exposed to others and ultimately God, we succumb to the rivers of shame that slowly drown out our value.

Individually I believe every person alive deals with some aspect of shame regularly in their lives.  The lie that I have no value, no worth, and no hope because of it drives us all to pursue relief.  Whether the shame is of our own choosing, or as the result of being harmed by others, there is the constant struggle to find worth.  In the end surrender is the only remedy.  Surrender to the truth that I must let go and allow a greater force to carry the load of shame for me.

My students are right and I am in agreement with them.  Sexual Immorality is the number one contemporary moral issue.  Sex is God’s ultimate design and gift to all humanity to know and feel a measure of the Glory of God. Every time it is expressed outside of God’s design it is marked with shame and when it is exposed to others the shame is overwhelming.  The culture as a whole has chosen to believe and behave in rebellion to God’s design and the corporate shame is surfacing in alarming ways.

There is only one remedy.  Surrendering to the truth.  We are not in charge or our lives.  We have great value in the eyes of our creator.  Our Lord desires us to put our hand in his and let him walk with us.  Shame will not go away in this life.  There is no escaping it.  There is relief, there is joy, their is hope and there is a promise that one day I will know and feel, and believe that I am His beloved.  I look forward to that day.  Hold onto Hope.

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About Bill Harbeck

Founder and Director of Holding on to Hope Ministries. A non-profit work that helps survivors of childhood sexual abuse unveil their past and begin the healing process. Author of the book Shattered; One Man's Journey from Childhood Sexual Abuse
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