Just a few thoughts here after hearing and reading much about how we, as a culture, have taken this idea of “shaming” and elevated the moral stakes tied to it.
In many cases it appears that “shaming” occurs around acts that, in the past, had likely been described as immoral. For example, to protest abortion is actually an act of shaming those who have had an abortion. Instead, people should shout their abortion! Be proud of it! Post about it on Twitter! Don’t feel guilty! Ignore those pangs of conscience!
So the deal is that if someone is protesting abortion they are making a moral statement. They are saying that abortion is morally wrong and thus when something is morally wrong our moral compass should alert us to this fact and make us feel shame and conviction.
But we don’t like being told that something that is legal or culturally acceptable is morally wrong. We have to do our best to shut down that moral compass and to stigmatize anyone who might want to resuscitate it. What better way to do that than to say that those who protest abortion are “shaming” those who are pro-choice or who have had abortions? Because, after all, abortion is legal and it allows people to live on their own terms instead of being tethered to an unwanted or disabled baby. So instead of feeling convicted about abortion it should be celebrated. Really, it is that moral compass that should be shamed and pounded into submission until it dutifully points in the direction the culture deems is north.
Christians should have a much different perspective on this. Conviction of sin is not a bad thing from a Christian perspective because it is conviction that leads to repentance. So it should give us pause when we regularly hear that feeling guilty for something morally wrong or protesting something that is morally wrong is shaming. It’s not. Especially when it is directed towards an industry that preys on the poor and on minorities. Christians and Christian ministries exist not to shame women but to help them. Not to point an angry finger in their face when they come crying to a counselor about the guilt they feel over an abortion but rather to embrace that woman and tell her a story of grace and forgiveness and acceptance. Christianity offers the opposite of shame. Christianity offers honor to those who felt dishonored.