What role does shame play in our faith?
The past few days we’ve talked about the different approaches to confession in Christianity and we’ve done so because, I think, confession and shame are so closely related to each other. Then we’ve asked, what can Catholics and Protestants learn from each other in this area?
What do Protestants do well when it comes to confession?
Again, from what I’ve heard, confession in the Catholic church can feel compulsory, involuntary. Less like a free choice and more like something a higher-up forces you to do. That, in and of itself, can be shame inducing. There’s something nice about knowing we have the freedom to speak up on our own timeline. The drawback is – that may never happen. We may live in hiding and then live in shame because of our hiding simply because we don’t go to the effort to create the opportunity to confess in a way that is safe. Or perhaps we simply haven’t developed that particular habit.
In other words, it’s important not to be shamed in confession or to confess simply as a response to shame. However, it’s also important not give our shame the power to silence us and keep us hidden.
How great would it be for confession to be value-neutral? In other words, what if there was a way to confess without feeling any shame attached to that act? What if confession was simply an important ritual, but not one that triggered us into more isolation?
Is that possible? What would that look like?