The Common Grace Gift of Shame and its Absence in the LGBTQ+ Community

Here is one thing you will never hear someone say, "I love feeling ashamed." Shame is a terrible experience. Every person has felt it. No person enjoys it. Shame is like emotional torture. Yet, shame is a common grace gift of God. It restrains sin in ways most things cannot. Indeed, shame is such a powerful sin hindering force that it can keep even the non-christian from committing certain sins.  

It's June, which means we are in the heart of pride month. If you were to boil pride month down to one key observation, what would it be? It would be that those who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community lack shame. And this lack of shame is not a good thing. Not at all. The LGBTQ+ community should be among the most ashamed people in the world.

Shame is a product of sin. When I sin, I should feel shame. And not only should I feel shame, but my feeling shame lets me know that my conscience is not seared and that I have a healthy understanding of right and wrong. So when a group of people proudly – and unashamedly – flaunt some of the most appalling and grievous sins in front of the public eye, something is terribly wrong. And something is not just wrong with the LGBTQ+ community; something is wrong with the broader community. Something is wrong with the culture and nation. 

Shame is not a feeling you can flip on and off. Satan and society try to condition shame. Satan is actively working to disconnect the stigma from sin – to make sin no longer shameful. Some have wrongly argued that Satan is working to make you feel ashamed for your sin. They argue that there is no shame for those who are in Christ Jesus; thus, shame cannot be from God. This logic is somewhat misleading. Christians are set free from eternal shame, yet, temporal shame is still a reality. A Christian is eternally guiltless in Christ, but he may still be temporarily guilty under the law. If you are a Christian, you will not have to face God's divine justice, but He who loves you will still discipline you. God may discipline you with shame. True shame is a common grace tool of God. That is not to say that Satan does not deceive someone into feeling misplaced shame for doing good. He is actively doing that as well. So, Satan is doing two things; he is removing true shame from evil things and putting counterfeit shame on good things. 

Satan performs this sleight of hand by conditioning societies over time. Shame is all about the people around you. Indeed, one of the most common recurring nightmares is the nightmare of shame. It's the type of nightmare that brings you back to middle school, and this time, you're at school in only your underwear. But showing up to school in your underwear is only shameful if people "shame" you for being in your underwear. It is shameful when the majority of people notice you negatively. If no one thought two things about your lack of pants and your day at school was no different than being fully clothed, well then, that is a recipe for quenching shame. You might even think, "I kinda like just wearing underwear; no one cares anyway." Now imagine you begin to get compliments and cheers of encouragement from your classmates. They say, "You are so brave and confident to wear your underwear to school." Now we have the perfect storm; your middle school society has sunk shame. 

This semi-innocent underwear analogy does not do justice to the consequences of the real-world issue. God displays the sobering consequences of a shameless society in Genesis 19. Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities that had no shame for homosexual wickedness. Why? Because everyone in the city, minus Lot, was complicit in homosexual behavior. You will be hard-pressed to feel shame when you sin if you know that everyone around you is committing the very same sin. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah publicly flaunted their homosexual wickedness. They had no issue groping at the door of Lot's house for all to see. Indeed, the text says that every man in the city was at the door for the same thing – to have homosexual sex with Lot's angelic guests. And what was the punishment? Sulfur from heaven; God's divine wrath. 

At this point, we can establish that killing shame requires affirmation from those around the sinner. Notice Romans 1:26-32: 

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

In the progression of Romans 1, God is removing his sin-restraining common grace from wicked humanity. The verses above are the final culmination of people unrestrained by God. They are a homosexual people, shameless in their homosexuality, debased in mind, and doing all sorts of evil. Finally, they are a people who give approval to those who practice the very same things they do. When God removes His common grace, shamelessness is the product. Romans 1:26-32 is an exact description of the LGBTQ+ community.

The odd thing about the LGBTQ+ community is that it is a vast minority in the broader community. Most people are hetersexual and cisgenered. Thus, it is not quite like Sodom and Gomorrah in that everyone in the city was a homosexual. Oddly then, not everyone who approves of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is a participant in the lifestyle. So what is going on? 

The problem today is that social media creates virtual societies of liked mind sinners who provide this necessary shame-killing affirmation. Again, the normal non-sociopathic person will feel shame when they think they are the only one who does x, y, or z sin or something contrary to social norms in their various social groups. The issue with social media is that now no sinner ever has to feel like the odd one out. However, the issue is a bit more ominous than virtual societies providing affirmation for sin. 

Satan knows that shame is a powerful tool to keep people bridled. Shame will always exist with sin. As I said above, Satan is transferring shame. In his trickery, he has made shaming the LGBTQ+ community more shameful than being complicit in the sins of the LGBTQ+ community. Satan is no moron. What is more powerful than shame? Greater shame! Let's make hating sin more shameful than doing sin. Let's make Christian morals more shameful than worldly morals. Let's make good evil and evil good. 

So many Christians have caved under the pressure of shame. Fifty years ago, a homosexual man kept his homosexuality a secret for fear of shame. Today, so-called Christians keep their beliefs secret for fear of shame. But again, true shame – common grace shame – is only paired with true sin. To be ashamed of the Gospel is sin. To be ashamed of biblical morality is to be of the world. One day God will finally and perfectly shame the proud and exalt those shamed by the world. To be ashamed of the Gospel now is to one day be shamed by God for eternity in hell. 

How do we bring shame back to the LGBTQ+ lifestyle? Hear me very clearly. I am not advocating that we do what the LGBTQ+ community does when they shame Christians. We do not yell as they yell. We shall not be unrestrained and filled with bitterness as they are. We do not moan, groan, and let our tongues spit a million curse words. No. We preach Christ and Him crucified with complete patience. We preach the unadulterated Gospel. No message is more shameful to the unrepentant than the Gospel. The Gospel tells the shameless sinner that he is under God's divine wrath and headed for hell. The Gospel tells the shameless sinner that what he does is evil. The Gospel explains the cost of his sin. The Gospel shames the proud. But, the Gospel provides the way of escape. The Gospel explains how to be free of shame. Repent and believe in Christ! For Christ became sin in your place, and there is nothing more shameful than sin. That is always the answer to eradicating shame. Repent! Stop sinning. Trust in Christ. Obey God's Word. Be holy as He is holy. God's Word is the standard by which we judge true shame from Satan's counterfeit. The Christian who has repented of his sin and lives by faith in Christ – the Christian who God is sanctifying – he is the one who can genuinely feel unashamed.