Shame is Self-Annihilation

Shame is the hatred of the self or at least the belief that the self deserves punishment. Not all shame is bad or inappropriate. In fact, shame can be healthy when one commits a bad act and seeks to atone for that act. In this circumstance shame informs the self that the self has committed a bad act. Shame becomes a problem when it expands beyond this role and dominates a person’s life and infiltrates every moment of existence. When shame expands beyond its useful role it becomes difficult to live a moral life according to Christian morality as defined by Jesus. Specifically, when asked in the Gospel of Matthew which is the greatest commandment Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (MT 22:36-40).

A person I recently interacted with who is a self-avowed white supremacist and Christian whom I believe to be shame driven expressed that because he does not love himself he is not required to love his (presumably non-white) neighbor. I found this to be a clever loop-hole but it ultimately fails for two major reasons.

First, to love God (the first and most important commandment which even my white supremacist acquaintance would acknowledge) he must also love God’s creation which is an extension and reflection of God. God’s creation includes one’s self and his neighbors. Certainly this love is not unconditional. In order to love something whole heartedly (as the greatest commandment requires) the love cannot come from a place of obligation. The heart must have the free will to choose to love or to not love. To love out of obligation is merely going through the motions, is not whole-hearted and lacks real value.

Second, in the absence of self-love, shame will expand beyond its useful role because in this environment shame does not serve to bring the self back from error but rather to annihilate and perpetually punish the self. With this type of shame naturally comes comparison to others, resentment of others and jealousy of others. In this environment it is impossible to love one’s neighbor or one’s self. I believe if one cannot love himself he cannot truly love God. Life becomes joyless and hateful to the self and the others with whom he interacts. Under these circumstances there is no room for the Holy Spirit to enter the heart. This is self-annihilation. According to Saint Paul the fruit of the Holy Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. (Gal 5:22-23). None of these fruits can ripen in an environment of shame and hatred for the self and one’s neighbor.

Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the Book of Genesis specifically states “they were both naked … and were not ashamed.” (Gen 2:25). But when they ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they became aware of their nakedness, became ashamed, covered themselves and hid from God. (Gen 3:7-10). It was shame that separated man from God since the very beginning. It is also shame that separates man from himself and his neighbor (extensions of God). This is why shame (the absence of self-love) is ultimately self-annihilating.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Shame is Self-Annihilation

  1. thordaddy

    This diatribe is why I call myself a white Supremacist as opposed to merely a “Christian.” The inability to embrace nuance is why a separation is truly inevitable. First, there is no mandate to “love thyself.” Secondly, even if one refuses to “love thyself,” such a stance DOES NOT necessarily equate to “hating thyself.” Thirdly, IF one obeys the Greatest Commandment to its fullest extent THEN he will have no love for thyself to spare. Of course, understanding that there is no command to “love thyself” then there is no contradiction or incoherency in regards to the First Commandment. There is, though, an incredible amount of evidence suggesting that the liberationist interpretation of “love thyself” is in fact the self-annihilating desire for radical sexual autonomy. There seems to be this looking through rose-tinted glasses when contemplating the practical effect of teaching individuals to “love thyself.” One makes the erroneous assumption that the belief is in response to an individual that “hates thyself.” I think the better assumption is to believe this teaching to “love thyself” is being perpetuated amongst those who ALREADY “love thyself” in the most efficient and gratifying manners. And now you soil the Christian Faith with your liberated interpretations and “shame” theory.

    • When Jesus says “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” (JN 15) do you assume that Jesus did not really love his disciples so therefore they are under no obligation to love each other?

      • thordaddy

        wS…

        Again, separate a universal commandment from a particular one. Are you one of the “disciples?” I am not.

        The Greatest Commandment speaks to everything “we” need to know on the subject of “love.”

  2. Do you have a loop hole for this one?

    But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:35).

    • thordaddy

      wS…

      Is not the real enemy thyself?

      • I have to hand it to you. You are consistent. Thanks BTW for being such a consistent reader as of late.

      • thordaddy

        wS…

        Aren’t we both seeking coherency in this time of radical autonomy?

      • Autonomy is not the problem. Obedience without autonomy is slavery. Love without autonomy is mere pretense. God wants us to love him with all are heart which is impossible without radical autonomy.

      • thordaddy

        wS…

        Radical autonomy is more than mere autonomy. Radical autonomy is a rejection of Perfection. Radical autonomy is the attempt to break the cause-effect/act-consequence relationship within the physical world. Radical autonomy is self-annihilating. Radical autonomy is Hell. Those who desire “it” will get “it” per a just God on Judgement Day. Think “conscious” oblivion? Think seeing, but “nothing” to see? Think hearing with “nothing” to hear? Tasting, smelling, feeling… Nothing. Think of the anti-world where “nothing” is all that “exists” as opposed to our world where “nothing” is nowhere to be found? That’s radical autonomy… Absolute freedom on a finite playing field. One is BOUND to smash head first into the limit he rejects after he just acknowledged it. That’s radical autonomy.

      • Interesting concept. (1) I don’t think the use of contraception in a marriage between 2 people in their 40s who already have 2 children is anything even approaching radical but I understand you see it differently. (2) I think the experience of toxic shame approaches the hell you depict only it occurs in the world where people, love and joy are there but the self denies them from the self out of misplaced loyalties.

  3. thordaddy

    I will definitely agree to the reformed idea that shame due an infidelity (spiritual, intellectual and physical) to the self is self-annihilating. So a raw spiritual, intellectual and physical disloyalty is shame-ridden to the point of desiring to self-annihilate.

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