What is the purpose of shame? In the world I grew up shame was the guiding force that would keep us ‘in order’. Shame was the thing I felt when I did something wrong. It was something to avoid. I memorized verses that taught me to avoid shaming God.
Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. Proverbs 13:18
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Proverbs 29:15
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. I Corinthians 14:35
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Ephesians 5:12
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:1
When I began to feel shame after the abuse it was not difficult to believe that I had done something wrong. The words I heard from the adults confirmed the lies I told myself.
The root of shame comes from a false doctrine that infiltrated the church. I’m not sure the source of this particular little gem, but I have my suspicions. There were several founding leaders in our movement. (Although we didn’t want to acknowledge they were founders of anything). I’ve started to finally read some of the testimonies from the early years. I read words of married men who don’t care very much for women. At all.
Let’s go back to the beginning. The Adam and Eve story. We do not believe the sin story to be literal but allegorical. So, there is no apple, tree or talking snake. It was a conversation between Adam, Eve and their “lower nature” aka the snake or the dreaded flesh. But before that they were innocent. And this is what innocence looked like: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:25” So they both ate of the ‘fruit’ and their eyes were open, they knew they were naked and ashamed and they hid.
That’s the ‘proof’ used to show that the sin was sex. Because they hid their natural bodies. Some man (Because women didn’t have any say in what we believed) with sexual hang-ups and shame decided that they were not ashamed, because they had not tainted their relationship with sex. That became a doctrine.
Note: I’m not here to discuss or disclose the theological practices of this particular movement. For one, there is no “set” doctrine. Even amongst themselves they argue about what is and is not truth. I just know the particular teachings of the region I grew up in and how I interpreted them.
Eve deceived Adam. He sinned and took what she offered. Story after story in the Bible is used to prove that women only want to deceive men and lead them astray. Delilah. Jezebel. Potiphar. The strange woman. The adulteress. These poor men were led astray by beautiful women, who caused them to die. It was not stated, but implied, that we WERE Eve’s daughters, destined to be like our mother … if not for the wisdom and teaching of the men of God.
Ironically, we were doing the VERY thing that Adam and Eve did in the garden! We were trying to hide from WHO we were. They were (and still are) obsessed with killing the flesh. The flesh is ANYTHING that is human. The emotions. The desires. The pleasures. All sin that MUST be overcome so that we can be perfect. They do not want to be human — they want to be angels.
To be TRULY human and TRULY alive is to be VERY NAKED.
It’s not about our physical bodies. Paul told us that quite plainly. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? I Corinthians 6:19” Our bodies ARE NOT who we are. They are the vessel that houses who we are and the Spirit. Because we are created in the likeness and image of God, who is a spirit (John 4:24), I believe WE are spirit beings also. That’s the thing in us that hides from God. That’s the thing he’s interested in. That’s the deep inside of us that calls to the deep of who God is (Psalms 42:7). It’s why I absolutely believe when my body dies, as it will, my spirit will return to my Father, Abba.
Everything in the Bible about women was viewed through the lens of this doctrine. My training in life was not about what I was, but what I shouldn’t be. This is the foundation of who I believed I was created to be. A woman. The deceiver. The one who would lead men to their death.
I can only sit here and shake my head.