Friday, February 12, 2010

Guilt And Shame


Tigers do not just have stripy fur. They have stripy skin. If you were to shave a tiger bald, it would still have stripes.

Not that I recommend trying to shave a tiger.

Guilt is a sense of remorse over something one has done wrong. Guilt can be a positive thing. Guilt can lead a person to make amends for the wrong done and to seek ways to avoid future wrongdoing. Guilt can lead to repentance.

Shame is a sense of remorse over something one is. I cannot think of any situation in which shame is positive, useful or helpful. Shame, unless it is overcome, leads to despair.

Lutherans, by the way, are pretty good at shame. We have inherited from Martin Luther a deeply pessimistic view of human nature. Luther taught that we are sinners through-and-through, unable to do any good apart from God. Luther also taught that God has provided the cure for our sinfulness in the cross of Jesus Christ. So, while we are good at shame, we also proclaim that God removes our shame. We need not despair.

Sexuality lies close to the core of our being. Our sexual orientation is a state of being. We may repent of sexual acts, but we cannot repent of sexual nature. Too often persons of homosexual orientation have been made to feel shame for what they are. If the statistics are to be believed, homosexuality is a significant risk factor for adolescent suicide. Shame leads to despair.

The best research and science tell us that our sexual orientation is innate in us. So-called “reparative therapies” which attempt to change homosexual orientation do not work and can be harmful. “Reparative therapy” is like trying to shave the stripes off of a tiger.

Christians, it is time that we stopped inflicting shame on persons of homosexual orientation.

Just for fun, can you find "the hidden tiger" in the illustration that accompanies this post? I found the picture, and you can find the answer, at this website.

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