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Secret Shame

It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

Ephesians 5:12

We don’t like to talk about shame. It’s not only an unpopular topic, but we like to think of ourselves as beyond shame. Above shame. Shame was something used in our parents or grandparents’ generation. It’s old fashioned. Something that you find in the antique shop of ideas.

Today, just like Cole Porter’s song, Anything Goes[1], there’s no shame. To say that something is wrong, or out of bounds is declared to be narrowminded, offensive, restrictive. Who do we think we are to stop someone from doing something? Anything? You’re not inclusive. You’re being intolerant and small-minded to restrict anything. You’re a bigot and prejudice to put boundaries on anyone.

But in God’s viewpoint, somethings are shameful. They’re not like him in the least. They’re not in alignment with who he is. That’s what makes these things shameful, disgraceful, improper. He is holy and anything that is not like him is more than just improper, it’s wrong and filthy.

Now, this isn’t me coming up with what’s right and wrong. It’s not what makes me uncomfortable. It’s not me trying to push my ideas on anyone else. This comes from our loving creator and savior. The one who made us in his image says that there is a healthy and flourishing way to live.

His plan is for our good. And good always, always, always means that there’s bad. If there’s good, then things in opposition to that good are evil. And in case you were wondering, evil is to be avoided at all costs.

If there’s nothing good, then anyone can do anything they want. Nothing is virtuous. Nothing is brave. There’s no beauty. There’s no love. There’s no hope.

If there’s no God, then there’s no good or bad either. If we’re just an accident, and there is no eternal heavenly Father, then we’re all just going to die and evaporate into nothingness. In the end, we just disintegrate

In The Lion King, Elton John’s song The Circle of Life[2] is saying this same thing. There’s no difference between “Eat or be eaten” or “Live and let live.” There’s no difference between “Fall by the wayside” or “Soar to the stars.” And why? Because the sun “Keeps great and small on the endless round.” We live. We die. That’s it. There’s no meaning to life. There’s no eternity.

But because there’s a God, he has the right to decide what’s right and wrong. It doesn’t matter how badly I want to drive my car into the ocean, the designers and manufacturers say that would be a mistake. A violation of how it was made. What it was made for. And so it is with God saying that these things are shameful.

These shameful things are not just something that was done sometime in the past. No, these shameful things are being done right now. Over there. Behind closed doors. Behind closed curtains.

Did you notice that the key word is behind? If something is behind, then something’s been put in front of it. Something to block it from view. They hide behind something because they know deep down in their hearts that there really are things that are right and wrong.

And these secret things are so horrible, that even talking about them is shameful. Why? Because in order to talk about them, you first must think about them. It’s not like playing a video where the computer, screen, and speakers really don’t have any idea about what’s going on. But not us. We have to bring the images and words into our conscious minds before we can get the sound out of our mouths.

But it gets worse. When we speak about these deeds of darkness, the images and thoughts don’t just go away. Oh no, they ignite more and more thoughts. These images, taking us down a path. And before you know it, we’ve been sucked down into a mental moral mess. And getting them out is so much more difficult than getting in.

That’s why we are to be actively capturing and taking each and every thought to Christ[3]. We aren’t to be passive about what goes into our heads through our eyes and ears. We’re also to be actively sifting what thoughts we dredge up and keep chewing over in our minds.

So, how do you take your thoughts to Christ? When one of those shameful things pops up in your head, do what I do. I talk out loud to that thought. I say, “No. That’s something that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for. His once-and-for-all sacrifice gave me full forgiveness, making me Gods clean son.”

That short conversation converts shame into worship. I use it to drive me to God’s throne, thanking him for what he did, what he’s doing, what he’s going to do. And the enemy doesn’t like worship, so he leaves, and so does the shame. Yes, it may come back, but God’s grace is always at the ready. He’s taken your secret shame on himself so we can be free.

Noodling Questions

  • How has shame changed the direction of your life?

  • Why do we want to mention these things?

  • How has secrecy crept into the way we think and act?

[1] [2] [3] 2 Corinthians 10:5b

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