Culture of shame


Recently I’ve been noticing shame as a topic on some of the blogs I read, perhaps because I’ve been feeling an abundance of shame myself. Two great examples come from the same blog, Vincible Ignorance.  The more recent post, titled Porn Shaming gives this:

Within purity culture, porn is to men what premarital sex is to women – it’s how we become “ruined.” It becomes yet another arbitrary standard that nearly no one meets and is used to shame and control people. I’ve seen too many very good boys and men, who are shamed into thinking they are dirty, perverted, terrible people because they view or have viewed pornography.

An earlier post titled Purity Culture gives this:

Ethics is more than sex. Sex should be weighted 1-6% of Christian moral teaching, but it’s the overriding issue. It’s why one can violate Catholic teaching on just wages, caring for the poor, or being hospitable to immigrants and it’s not the end of the world – but even so much as think the wrong thing about sex and you’re in a state of mortal sin. That’s too much power given to sex. I say, let’s stop letting sex have all of the power in moral discourse. It’s not that sex isn’t powerful – it can be spiritual, communicative, bonding – and, it can also be a biological release of endorphins, a stress reliever, or just pure physical pleasure. There are so many aspects to life, but only sex is framed as ruining one’s “pure” state by just one act. No Christian would say that one has lost their innocence once and for all with one lie, one miscommunication, or overeating. Let’s stick to an ethic of love, compassion, non-violence, consent, and health, and include sex in our application of that ethic.

Beautifully said. Readers, what are your thoughts on the church and shame?


  1. This post is right on the mark. I would only add that this focus on sex among the religious reveals a neatly rationalized prurience itself. What a clever way to allow the “clean, pure” folks to justify giving so much attention to sex under the guise of moral probity!


  2. Shame is one of the more powerful tools in the church’s toolbox in prescribing and enforcing the club rules. Although there should be some basic tenets of personal ethics exercised by members, the adherence to those things should be based on the elements of faith, grace, and appropriate accountability that is found in any healthy human connection. Instead of that, most of the time the church is simply and primarily concerned with behavior modification.

    All that being said, shame doesn’t work very well with me anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear it! Shame is definitely losing its power over me. That’s not to say that my thoughts and emotions and actions are no longer impacted by the experience of shame; however I’m now so much more aware of it, and can see it for what it is. And one hopes, reject it!

      Liked by 1 person

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