Unlike guilt that is used for manipulation and control, shame humiliates, isolates, and paralyzes the recipient. Shaming diminishes. Where guilt is about obsessing over my actions and consequences, shame is about my being a bad person.
Christian faith could inoculate us from swallowing the shame-bait. Although a healthy baptismal theology can be a defense against internalizing the toxin, there is still much in our Christian culture that accentuates the sinfulness of humanity not as choice or "bent to sinning," but as bad to the core. Included in this are those of any ilk who make absolute claims of truth and where disagreeing with them is the same as rejecting the Holy Trinity.
Whereas the shame- based leader can use name-calling and hang-dogging all too frequently in private, this may also be done in public depending on who else is present. People with toxic behaviors that border on illegality have learned to survive by hiding them from the right people.
Listening to the accuser makes it almost impossible to hear the Advocate, the Paraclete, at the same time! God's stated description of you is "VERY GOOD." On the wings of those words, we are healed!
Good bye, evil monkey.
Friday, September 4, 2009
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