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Reference: Shame


1. In the first Biblical reference to this emotion (Ge 2:25; cf. Ge 3:7) 'shame' appears as 'the correlative of sin and guilt'; it is 'the overpowering feeling that inward harmony and satisfaction with oneself are disturbed' (Delitzsch, Com., in loc.). From the OT point of view the crowning shame is idolatry: 'As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they say to a stock, Thou art my father' (Jer 2:26; cf. Isa 41:11; 42:17). The all-inclusive promise to those who trust in God is 'none that wait on thee shall be ashamed' (Ps 25:3 RV; cf. Ps 119:8,30; Isa 45:16 f., Isa 49:23; 54:4 f., Jer 17:13; Joe 2:25 f., Ro 5:5; 9:33; 10:11). The absence of shame is always regarded as an aggravation of sinful conduct: Job (Job 19:3) reproaches his friends because they are 'not ashamed' of dealing hardly with him; the climax of Jeremiah's complaint (Jer 6:15) against those who had 'committed abomination' is that 'they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush' (cf. Jer 8:12; Zep 3:5,11). The culmination of shamelessness is seen in those 'whose glory is in their shame' (Php 3:19); but in this passage, as elsewhere (Isa 50:3; cf. Pr 10:5; 25:3), 'shame' is, by a natural transference of ideas, applied not to the inward feeling, but to its outward cause. The degradation of those 'whose god is their belly' is seen in their boasting of conduct which ought to have made them ashamed of their perversion of gospel liberty into sinful licence. The return of shame is a sign of true repentance: 'then shalt thou remember thy ways and be ashamed' (Eze 16:61, cf. Ezr 9:6).

2. The consciousness of shame varies with the conventional standards adopted in any society. For example, poverty (Pr 13:18), leprosy (Nu 12:14), widowhood (Isa 54:4) may be viewed as involving 'shame,' though there is no blame. In the sense of violation of propriety St. Paul applies the word to men who wear their hair long and to women who wear it short (1Co 11:6,14, cf. 1Co 6:5; 14:35); by an analogous adaptation of its meaning he describes God's ideal 'workman' as one 'that needeth not to be ashamed' (2Ti 2:15).

3. In the NT sin is pre-eminently the shameful thing (Ro 6:21; Php 3:19; Eph 5:12; Jude 1:13; 1Jo 2:28; cf. 1Jo 3:6). But the distinguishing characteristic of the early 'Christian use of the word is' the trans valuation of values.' 'Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,

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