Do not equate behavior (what you do) with personal value (who you are). No one lives who has not done things they wish they could take back. Is there anyone who cannot think of a few episodes in their past they are ashamed of? Shame is a painful emotion that follows an awareness of inadequacy or guilt. For example, not studying for an exam often leads to shame when the grades are posted. Or, the pain a person feels after lying about their friend in order to garner attention at the expense of their friend is known as shame.
Dictionary.com says it is the “exposure of unworthy or indecent conduct or circumstances”. This presumes there are accepted standards of morality and justice from which to fall short of. Are there? Are all laws subjective or only some? Which ones? Is it okay for individuals to set their own standard?
Shame is a built in warning that something is wrong. You can disconnect the various warning lights in your automobile such as gas, tire air pressure, engine oil and engine temperature, but it does not mean there is not a problem. It only means you chose to ignore it and do not wish to be reminded of the probable bad result which looms.
John Wesley similarly described a person’s spiritual condition. They may walk, sleep, dress, eat and visit yet suffer from a deep sleep. “His [soul] discern[s] neither spiritual good nor evil…He has no conception…of the happiness which they only find whose life is hid with Christ in God…. Because he is blind, he is also secure.”
There are two responses to shame. Ignore it and feel secure by equating behavior to identity is the first. It is difficult to find many willing to defend the actions of kleptomaniac’s and pyromaniac’s because that is who they are. It is not difficult, however, to find a plethora of supporters for the practitioner’s of many sexual behaviors once considered shameful. Their behavior is not distinct from their personal identity in their eyes. They hear “hate the sin, but the love the sinner” as “if you hate what I do, you hate me because what I do is who I am”.
The second is to admit there is a problem and seek a solution. The problem began when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The consequence was more than their ejection from the Garden of Eden. Their ability not to sin was lost. This does not mean God ceased loving humanity. Quite the contrary is seen in the lengths he undertakes to preserve humanity through the work of Noah in the great flood, Moses delivering the Hebrews from slavery to the Promised Land, and the sending of his only begotten son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for all our wrong doings past, present, and future.
The second option values every life just as God does. So much, in fact, its practitioner’s are not content to stay imperfect, but seek God’s help to heal their spiritual, and eventual moral, disease.
In the end, the latter brings a far better result. Is it better to ignore the sound of home fire alarms, allow the smoke to overcome, and die securely in your bed as the house burns up or awaken to the disaster at hand? O sleeper, awake!