The Origin of Shame

By: Steve Saindon

With all of my heart, I hate shame! As mentioned in my post "Jesus. . .Shame on You!" I am not against guilt. Healthy guilt is good....shame is always bad. We were created by our immense God (Gen. 1) for intimacy (Gen. 2). And shame destroys the most precious gift God gave us, our intimacy with Him. But what is the origin of shame? If we do not discover its source, we will fall into masking the symptoms of shame and never find the cure.

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. -Genesis 2:25

Let me quote from my book, BETTER THAN WINE...

The above verse is the last statement of the opening account of the entire Bible. These 12 words say so much more about the quality of life that the first humans enjoyed with God, and each other, than we could ever imagine. Can you imagine never feeling any shame about anything? What would it feel like to do an intense examination of everything about you, and all you find is pure and beautiful.... A spiritual supermodel inside and out. Your intimacy with God and everyone else would have no obstacles, and your joy would be inexpressible (1Pet. 1:8). You would love yourself with no arrogance, and that would set you free to deeply love others. Because you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, you would eagerly desire to reveal your entire self to others and they would do the same. Such was life in the garden of Eden. (1)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan, the great schemer and father of lies is the ultimate shame-maker (Eph. 6:11, Jn. 8:44). He despises God, Us, and the love that we share together. So this crafty enemy figured out how to attack our relationships and destroy our oneness. He hatched his evil plan by sowing in the hearts of the first humans, diminished thoughts about God. If he could craft some criticism within their souls towards God, they would be easy prey to do things their own way. Distorted pictures of our Creator falling upon gullible hearts gives way to criticism—which produces rebellion, and blossoms into shame. He still uses this plan each and every day on us (2 Cor. 11:1-4).

The origin of shame is entertaining anemic thoughts about God.

The origin of shame is entertaining anemic thoughts about God. A lesser view of God will tempt you to believe that he is not fit to be your Lord. Adam and Eve caved into that temptation and dethroned their Creator King. They thought they could do a better job running their own lives (Isa. 48:17-18, Jer. 10:23).

The most effective remedy for shame is learning to look at yourself the way God does. However, and this is very important, you will never have the proper view of yourself if you have an weak view of God.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leave together and made coverings for themselves. - Genesis 3:7
But the Lord God called to the man, "where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." -Genesis 3:9-10

As soon as Adam and Eve followed their critical thoughts of God into rebellion, shame flooded into every relationship that they had. The uncluttered intimacy that they shared with one another and God was all the sudden full of heavy baggage. What was easy, or even natural, was now fraught with much frustration. Their shame-free relationship with each other became full of shame, not because all the sudden they became physically ugly, but rather, IF YOU WOULD BE CRITICAL OF OUR HOLY GOD, THEN I KNOW YOU WILL BE CRITICAL OF ME! So insecurity replaced confidence and, like them, we all became afraid of intimacy. First with God, and then each other.

Pathetic pictures of God can be found everywhere. Crafting an accurate portrait of our creator will take an intentional pursuit. Ironically, the worst pictures of God find their genesis in man-made religions. We must continue to do our best to unveil what God is really like from the Scriptures, so that we can grow our way out of shame. Because insecurities create distance between us.....therefore God hates shame more than anyone.

-Steve Saindon

(1) BETTER THAN WINE, Steve Saindon, Illumination Publishers-copyright 2020

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