Christianity is a religion of shame.
Agree or disagree?
Come on, be honest. No one has to know what you really think.
From the outside most people believe Christianity is an elaborate system of rules, rewards, and harsh punishments for keeping people in line.
Most Christians believe it too.
I sit over coffee with my oldest friend. She tells me how much she likes her new church because it has an un-churchy tone. She tells me that stuff we learned in church growing up present the biggest obstacles in her relationship with God.
A beautiful freshly graduated young woman is headed overseas to help pull one person at a time out of the tide of evil currently sweeping millions of people away. She tells me she knows God loves her, doesn’t hate her, but a lot of the time she feels she is “bad”. Most people I know would give anything to have their kids grow up to love God from a tender heart like hers. Why would she of all people feel shame?
I tell them that I escaped this particular struggle, but then I wonder if I’m lying. I use softer language to describe the same thing. My word is insecurity. I combat the feeling that I am not smart enough or pretty enough, I have not accomplished as much as I should have today, or for my whole life… Isn’t my insecurity caused by shame? Isn’t shame the form of condemnation we hold in our own shaky hands and point at our own vulnerable hearts?
Quotable: Shame is the form of condemnation we hold in shaky hands and point at our own vulnerable hearts.
We believe that we are sinful at our core. We believe that if we do the right thing, keep the rules, begin each day checking off the boxes on the list of things good Christians do, then we will be good Christians. If we do not do the right things and particularly if we struggle with sins on the unwritten list of really bad stuff, then we are bad.
Lies. All lies.
Who are you really?
Real Christianity is the opposite of condemnation and shame. Real Christianity says we are good at heart, not bad.
The garlic in my pantry has been sitting there too long, again. The thin skin around the individual cloves is dried out. If I cut away the dry parts, I find a tender clove of garlic underneath. It adds just the right flavor to everything I stir it into. We are like that, imperfect on the outside, but beautiful and good in the middle, and able to add spice to the world around us.
Romans 8:1 says “There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
My mindset is different than it used to be. It does not take me so long to recognize the nasty breath of the wolf in churchy sheepskin who fills my head with shame and insecurity. I shut him up more quickly than I once did. I long for the sweet voice of the Spirit of life and resurrection who makes me his temple.
Quotable: My mindset is different than it used to be. It does not take me so long to recognize the nasty breath of the wolf in churchy sheepskin who fills my head with shame and insecurity.
Why do so many of us go around talking and acting like the verse says, there is now constant condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?
I think it is because we don’t really understand how our faith is different from Buddhism or Islam, or Hinduism, or any other religion.
A new system of faith replaced the system of shaming or scaring people into line. The old system of rules and laws justly condemned people, but it could never set them free. The new system, “the law of the Spirit of life” sets us free from condemnation. Free from condemnation from God. Free from condemnation from judgmental people. We are free of the power of accusation from the evil one. We are set free even from condemnation from ourselves, shame.
Christianity is not a system for shaming people into line.
No longer defined by our failures, we are new people on the inside, new creations (I Corinthians 5:17), new selves (Romans 6:1-14), because the Spirit of God, the Spirit of life and resurrection lives in us. The stuff I want most is the same stuff God wants. The same is true of you.
I still flounder. I am still insecure. I am just learning to own my hang-ups with churchianity. But more on that later…