“(25) Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” {Genesis 2:25 NLT}
“(7) At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” {Genesis 3:7 NLT}
What is shame. The word itself means a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. The key word in this definition is one of humiliation which is to have a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity.
It is here that we move from being embarrassed about something we did; to being embarrassed about who we are. It is fine to feel embarrassed by something we did that was sinful or foolish. This can be a part of healthy guilt.
But once we become embarrassed about who God has made us this becomes abusive to our souls
When the man and woman were first created and secure in being made in God’s image then being who they were, open, honest, and vulnerable did not cause them shame. It was safe and secure in that relationship of accepting love.
But once they had rebelled against the divine love and were not seeing themselves or the other person as made in God’s image, they no longer valued themselves or the other person in such a way that they accepted themselves or their spouse for who they were.
Now people can attempt to humiliate, shame or mortify us. There can be a planned effort by someone to make us feel embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated. This is abusive when someone does this to us or we do it to someone else.
The Messiah Jesus tells us that:
“(22) “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing worthless person,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool, You Idiot, You are Stupid’ shall be guilty [enough to go] into the fiery hell.” {Matthew 5:22 NASB with some added expansion from Greek}
Being angry at someone because you think you are better and brighter than they are, superior in every way, and looking down at them as an inferior and disgusting, is an attitude of murder towards the other person according to Messiah Jesus.
When this self-righteous anger spills out in words that aim at degrading, humiliating, and embarrassing, not speaking to them as sacred people who are made in God’s image then we have violated the law of love in significant manner.
When our “inner critic” or conscience turns on ourselves and we insult ourselves, call ourselves names, and degrade our own value, we are guilty of a lack of healthy self-love which is the foundation for us loving others. We are murdering our own souls by such negative “self-talk”.
It is not good to emotionally or verbally abusive to ourselves. We can confess our sins but should not apologize for who we have been made by God to be.
“(9) With our words we bless [our] Lord and Father, and with our words we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; (10) from the same mouth come [both] blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” {James 3:9-10 NASB}
“(11) Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge [of it.] (12) There is [only] one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” {James 4:11-12 NASB}
The Apostle James says that when we curse a human being made in God’s image we curse God. This would also include cursing ourselves.
In our past people may have abused us sexually, physically, emotionally, religiously, and verbally for the purpose to make us embarrassed being who we were made by God to be. We began to accept this shame and began to pour shame upon ourselves as well.
How do we become free of shame? By accepting that we have been created in God’s image, and if Christians been “reborned” in the image of Christ Jesus. God has given us HIS full acceptance and love. So now we can with, or heads held high, enter boldly before HIM in times of need without any shame.
“(14) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15) For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin. (16) Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” {Hebrews 4:14-16 NASB}