15
May
09

Life without shame

I started writing this blog entry back in August 2008, and for some reason I felt like I was reminded of it as I was listening to Delirious?’ powerful song Our God Reigns in the car this morning. So here it is….

For some reason that I can’t explain the issue of abortions and the shame that comes with having an abortion has been on my mind the last few weeks. I have been searching the internet and have found many different articles related to my search on “abortions + shame”. I found some different articles from women furiously arguing that they have experienced NO SHAME AT ALL in connection with their abortions. Obviously those articles had different comments from women yelling: “yeah sister, I agree, I feel the same way” and others who thought it more appropriate to condemn the woman who wrote the article. 

I also searched information about post-abortion-syndrome which is debated by various people. Some say it’s something pro-life people have made up to shame people. Others argue that post-abortion-traumas exist the same way post-war-syndromes and post-traffic-accidents-traumas obviously do. 

I felt a sadness looking at many of these pages, and I still do. To me it’s a given that having a living human being, albeit a very little one, removed from your body will obviously be a huge trauma to your body, soul and spirit and will continue to affect you the rest of your life unless you experience forgiveness and have the wound of shame and regret healed. 

I know that there are many people in the world who are far removed from a Biblical understanding of the value of human life. I have lived the last 2,5 years in Ukraine where there are more abortions than births each year. It’s a tragedy. 

 

Real freedom brings no shame

Freedom people call it. Freedom to choose. Freedom to choose over your own body. Just the other day I heard American Presidential candidate Barack Obama (who is now the President of the United States) live on TV (August 16, 2008 in a debate with Senator John McCain hosted by Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church, California) state that he was pro-choice, because as he put it: “I came to that conclusion not because I am pro-abortion, but because ultimately I don’t think women make these decisions casually. They struggle with these decisions profoundly“. Hmmm…that seems like a stating the obvious statement from Obama. Obviously the vast majority of women who have abortions think about it a long time before they make their decision to go for it. That, however, doesn’t make it right. The problem is, obviously, that the women’s choices affect other people. We’re not talking about a fat suction or other kinds of plastic surgery here. Those choices only affect yourself. The choice to have an abortion is unique, because by making the choice to have an abortion, you make a choice on somebody else’s behalf, the baby inside of you, to not be able to live. 

I feel terribly sorry for the women who have ended up where they have what they label an unwanted baby inside of them. But the choice to kill the baby is simply not their choice to make. There are many people wanting to adopt children. There are many families who would love to shower love on a baby even with severe handicaps. There are many other options than abortions, but the tragedy is that many pregnant women are not told about these options by the social authorities in our so-called civilized countries. A lot of women are told that having an abortion is their only choice.

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The truth is that real freedom is without hangovers. Real freedom is without shame. Real freedom brings life to myself and to other people around me. Real freedom is only to be found in a life without shame and regrets. 

I know some people will read this and think it’s arrogant of me to seem to postulate that I know better than women who claim they experience no shame in connection with abortions they’ve had. Some people also claim that it really is super-fun, freeing and exciting to go from girl to girl or guy to guy, and live la vida loca. It’s not the truth though. Some people realize this, and regret their actions. Some people never realize it because they manage to have so much noise around them at all times that they never get a chance to listen to their lives. People tell each other that doing whatever they feel like is the road to happiness, and many walk that road. It doesn’t make it true, however, no matter how many people repeat the lie. There are still hangovers, regrets, and shame down the path of self-fulfillment and self-realization.

 

Universal truths and blind spots

These are universal truths. Killing will always bring guilt. Promiscuity will always bring guilt. Homosexuality lived out brings guilt. Drunkenness will always bring guilt. Lying, cheating, stealing bring guilt. You may not be consciously aware of it at this stage in your life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. All this brings guilt because it’s against God’s will. C. S. Lewis talked about how all people have a certain level of understanding of what’s right and wrong just because they are created beings, created in the image of God. They may reject God, but the universal law of morality, as Lewis talked about, is still in them, and that’s why people who don’t even know God or agree that his commandments are relevant to them still feel guilt when they break his commandments. Read more about Lewis’ teachings here.

And here it’s important to stress the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says: you did something wrong!, shame says: there is something wrong with you! Many people face guilt and don’t know what to do with it and never see that Jesus came to set them free from guilt. Instead they are bogged down by it in the style of Will Smith’s character in the movie Seven Pounds. Satan uses peoples’ unconfessed and toxic guilt and turns it into an attack on the person’s very identity. That is how shame develops. Satan has managed to convince you that there is something wrong with you, and that there is no hope for you. You are defect and beyond repair. But of course Satan is cunning and tells you that at least you could try harder….if only you try harder maybe you would feel better about yourself….or if you give up completely, shut down your heart and pretend you don’t have shame issues, then maybe they’ll go away….But as always Satan never lives up to what he promises! 

“How arrogant can you be….how dare you say that about other people….?!”. The truth is that we all have blind spots. There is really nothing strange about the fact that it’s often easier for me to see how other peoples’ lives are going and where their choices are taking them. It’s normal that it’s easier for me to see others’ blind spots than my own. I have many blind spots. I need people to show them to me. And first and foremost I need God to touch my shoulder, turn me around and show me what my choices in life mean to me and to other people that I affect. 

Worldwide there are approximately 40 million abortions each year. We live in countries where shame is abundant. The shame that comes with abortions, with sexual assaults, with promiscuity, incest, murder, rape, pornography, greed, selfishness, etc. There are whole cultures based on shame. Just look at a country like Japan where very few people who go to jail end up back in jail. Why? Because their families and friends completely desert them and won’t have anything to do with the criminal. The criminal is shamed by everybody and most people will do whatever it takes to not end up in prison a second time. 

 

Becoming conscious of your shame

Shame is, according to my dictionary, “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior” and “a loss of respect and esteem“. Shame attacks the essence of who I am. Shame tells me that there is something wrong with me. Shame is what you feel when you are outside of God’s best will for your life, and you don’t have right relationship with him. It dates back to the very first people, Adam and Eve, who ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, became aware of the fact that they were naked and decided to cover themselves and hide from God (Genesis 3). Satan told them that there was something intrinsically wrong with them, and they bought into the lie and they fell under the curse of shame. 

The key word is “consciousness”. Many people don’t understand why they feel like crap (pardon my French!), because they are not conscious of the wrong doings they have done. They know they feel shame and pain, but they don’t know why. The first step to healing is therefore a very painful one: becoming conscious! Owning up to what I’ve done. Calling things by their right name instead of minimizing what I’ve done or calling it something that makes me feel more comfortable.

This is also the stage where we stop making excuses: “everybody else does it“, “I didn’t do it on purpose“, “He/she/society/my family/God/circumstances/chance/fate/whatever made me do it“. We use these excuses to dull the pain we feel. But the problem is that they don’t work. It’s also time to step away from the voice of self-pity that so many of us are familiar with: “how could anyone let this happen to me?“, “how could God let this happen to me?“, “I am the victim here!” These may be feelings you have, and they may feel justified, but they don’t bring life. 

 

The shame healer

Time heals all wounds” many people say. It’s a lie. Time has never and will never heal a single wound. Time can only help you not focus so frequently on the wrong that has happened to you or the wrong you’ve done. But an unhealed wound is filled with bacteria, and will at some point break out and cause you pain again, and again, and again. That’s the way life is. And again: it doesn’t really matter whether you believe in God or not, this is a universal principle. 

There is only one who can take away shame. And it’s not me. And it’s not you. Many try to get rid of shame along the barren path of self-analysis and self-improvement. They stroll along this well-worn path and don’t even notice all the corpses next to the path. Self-improvement will never remove shame. I can’t take shame away from myself, and I can’t take shame away from anybody else. 

Jesus took my shame away when he died on the cross. And since I died with him (Galatians 2:20), my shame is also gone. Satan wants to hold me captured, and he tries to convince me that I’m not clean and perfect and white, but filthy, someone to be ashamed of and unworthy. 

There is hope for all of us no matter what we’ve done. There is forgiveness, hope and a life without shame. When you’re in Christ the truth is that all shame, guilt and condemnation is gone for you (Romans 8:1)! I’m experiencing more and more of it, and I’m loving it. But there is no life without shame of some kind outside of Jesus Christ. People may say it exists. And they may try to believe that diligently. But that doesn’t make it true. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). And either he is all truth and life or he isn’t any at all. Don’t get sucked in by post-modern, relativistic nonsense saying that we all have some part of the truth. Test that idea of truth and examine if there is any life in it. There isn’t.

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I know many people who have seen this truth in their own life. They have experienced Jesus take away the shame of having had abortions, having committed adultery, having engaged in homosexual relationships. It can become a reality for anybody who chooses to come to Jesus with all their shame and regrets. Jesus is here for anybody who freely chooses to come to him and accept that it doesn’t work for me to fix myself. 

I dream of more churches becoming aware of the shame-filled world we live in. I hope that more churches and more church groups will realize that we need to help people address their shame. We need to help them through the process of coming to healing and life in Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that there already are many different groups of Christians doing wonderful work with women contemplating abortions. There are also many Christians involved in helping women walk through the trauma and experience healing after they have chosen to have an abortion. But as a worldwide church we need a greater awareness of the reality of our world. We need to see shame for what it is – the hardest and most life devastating feelings you can have! And we need to point friends, family members and other people we encounter to the only one who can help them get rid of their shame. 

Blessings, Torben – who still doesn’t have any idea why he has gotten himself into the mine field of talking about abortions, shame, etc…….

40 million babies lost to God’s great orphanage. It’s a modern day genocide. And a modern day disgrace. If this is a human right, then why aren’t we free. The only freedom we have is in a man nailed to a tree” (Delirious?, Our God Reigns)

Our God Reigns:

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2 Responses to “Life without shame”


  1. May 15, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Without his resurrection i am not able to overcome sin. Living


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