How A Culture Of Shame Puts Us In Bondage And How We Can Find Freedom From Shame

After disclosing the fact that I was sexually abused as a child, I have received a variety of responses – many of them encouraging and a few that were clearly representative of a culture of shame that I grew up in.

One such comment came from a well-meaning individual, who was worried about my (or my family’s) reputation in the Slavic community. The advice was such that I shouldn’t have identified myself as a victim, but perhaps should have written about my story from a third person perspective, i.e. “This girl that I know had this happen to her.”

What would people think?

Ah… This is the key question that often drives us to hide from others…

This question is laced with fear and shame of what would happen if anyone would find out something private about us – anything that we associate with public disapproval and subsequent personal shame.

Shame is what makes one feel “unworthy” and “undeserving.” Some of us have known shame since childhood when we were called “stupid” for not being able to solve a math problem or “lazy” for not having a clean room.

Thus, we do our best at hiding the “shameful” fact, whether it’s a sin like pornography, addiction, or a deeply inflicted painful wound like childhood sexual abuse.

Shame makes us hide things.

Shame makes us “sweep things under the rug.”

Shame damages our relationship with God and with others.

Shame puts us in bondage…

shame
Jesus “himself partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Hebrews 2:14-15

What would people think?

Does anyone care anymore about what God thinks?

It was ultimately shame that kept me from disclosing the sexual abuse to my parents in the first place, allowing the abuse to continue for at least two years.

Shame led to self-contempt, self-hatred, and to suicidal thoughts during my teenage years. Shame was a powerful motivator to keep the painful wound hidden from others for many years, keeping me from the inner healing I so desperately needed and desired.

A culture of shame played a big role in my initial reaction to sexual abuse and further impacted how I dealt with it as an adult. For years I was ashamed of my body and struggled with fully enjoying physical intimacy with my husband.

The enemy uses our culture of shame to keep Christians in bondage to sin and to continue his evil deeds, yes, even within the body of Christ.

Does anyone get bothered that he or she may be an accomplice to the devil by partaking in this culture of shame?

The culture of shame is so incredibly insidious, that many do not even recognize its effects on themselves and others around them.

How many of you can relate to being afraid of asking someone for support in prayer, whether the person in need of prayer is you or someone you love?

A culture of shame teaches us that some sins are more shameful than others – lust, pornography, drugs, alcohol, etc. It drives us to hide those “shameful” sins while other, more “acceptable” sins – gossip, cheating the IRS, lying – are hardly noticed at all.

In shame, we selectively hide sins like drug and alcohol addictions. For instance, many Slavic Christian parents would not want anyone in the church to know that their son is addicted to prescription pain meds or that their daughter has an alcohol problem.

And rightly so, for we are all caught in this vicious cycle, knowing that others – the gossipers – will talk and judge, instead of standing up in prayer with us in the spiritual battles we face every day.

A culture of shame makes us look down upon divorced, single mothers.

The same culture of shame keeps a battered woman from seeking help and from leaving a husband who daily degrades her worth, whether physically or emotionally.

A culture of shame drives us to look with disgust upon a young woman who becomes pregnant out of wedlock.

A culture of shame is what makes the church leaders deal with sin unbiblically, as they cover up those sins that they consider damaging to the church’s reputation.

A culture of shame drives us to shame our Christian brothers and sisters who deal with depression and anxiety. We throw phrases such as, “If you really knew Jesus you wouldn’t be depressed or anxious.”

A culture of shame makes a young girl throw up after every meal or eat one celery stick a day, all because she is ashamed of her body and afraid of being called “fat.”

The same culture of shame makes a young mother tightly wrap her breasts shortly after the birth of her baby, because she is afraid of gaining weight while breastfeeding. Let us also not forget the breastfeeding moms who shame those who feed their babies with formula.

A culture of shame makes stay-at-home moms look down upon moms who work.

Parents who homeschool their kids have a way of shaming parents who send their kids to public schools and vice versa.

Moms who choose not to vaccinate their kids beat down and shame moms who choose to vaccinate and the other way around.

It is, in part, a culture of shame that drives us to put on our best face, best clothes, purchase the best cars, live in the best homes, send our children to the best schools, all because the alternative is being ashamed of our lack of status in a society that demands so-called perfection and shames those who aren’t able to achieve it.

In a culture of shame, we shame those Christians who choose not to vote for either Hillary or Trump, or we shame those who do cast a vote.

To drive this point further, our culture of shame allows the enemy to freely continue working under the radar. His main purpose is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), and he does this by using you and me both to shame our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To sum it up, we tear each other down instead of building up. We shame others because that makes us feel better about ourselves…

Have you become one of the enemy’s accomplices by partaking in the culture of shame?

Take heart, however, for there is freedom from the bondage of shame. I have learned to scorn the shame the same way Jesus scorned shame while he was nailed to the cross. Being free from shame has been the most liberating feeling in the world!

freedom

We must learn to not care about what other people think of us but about what God thinks of us.

Crucifixion was one of the most shameful death sentences designed by Rome. Death on a cross was humiliating in every sense of the word. Jesus embraced the cross for our sake, but he did not embrace its shame. “He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). HERE is a link to “10 Ways the Cross Atones for Shame” by Mark Baker.

Finally, I absolutely love what Juanita Ryan writes in “Let Go of Shame.”

“We tend to do the opposite of what Jesus did when faced with suffering. Jesus accepted suffering and rejected shame. We tend to reject the suffering—we deny it, run from it, tune it out—but we tend to embrace the shame as if it were the truth. Shame, however, is a lie. None of us is ever “less than.” None of us are unlovable, beyond repair, or worthless. We are loved and cherished by a redeeming, healing, saving God. And none of us is in the wrong for longing for love and connection. This longing, although it may be painful at times, is a gift from God. It is a gift that keeps us moving toward relationship with God and with each other.”

It is certainly difficult to find freedom from the bondage of shame in a culture of shame. However, the culture of shame stops with us individually.

I start, you start, and with God’s help we shall overcome if we abide in Christ!

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3 thoughts on “How A Culture Of Shame Puts Us In Bondage And How We Can Find Freedom From Shame

  1. Thank you for sharing, I always appreciate that you write and express yourself even with all the push back from others at times. This was an eyeopening article, and very real.
    Thanks again, God bless you and your family!

  2. I don’t always agree with you 100% but always appreciate that you deal in a direct and honest manner with difficult subjects. This time I can say thank you for your personal transparency and writing a very, very good article exposing one of the great tools of the enemy. It seems clear that you have been healed of the trauma you went through, and now are in a place to bring healing to others.

    1. Thank you, brother. We don’t have to agree on everything. As long as we abide in Christ, we can encourage each other and pray for each other despite our differences in opinions. Praying God’s blessings on your ministry!

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