“These are dirt-spots . . . raging . . . foaming out of their own Shame.” – Jude
You know how it was with Moses and Joshua as they made their way through the wilderness on to the Promised Land. In the desert they met with one, ‘Discontent. He would have persuaded them to go back. (Imagine that! Back to Egypt, to the tyranny, the slavery and the hard task-masters!) At that time they were in the Valley of Humility, a valley, as Discontent put it, altogether without honor. Continue in that way, he argued, and you would disoblige and offend all your friends, as Pride, Arrogancy, Self-conceit and Worldly-glory. But you remember how these two great heroes of the faith informed Discontent that these “friends” had disowned them, and they, in turn, had rejected them. Besides, it was not true that this valley was so without honor, for before honor is humility. Humility is a first-form of Honor.
Faithful also, in his generation, went through this valley. There he met with Shame. He was much worse than Discontent, so much so, that Faithful at first thought him wrongly named. As first he thought Shameless a more deserving name. For Discontent could be denied with but somewhat more than a little argumentation, whereas nothing could deter bold-faced Shame. It is plain that Faithful had been thinking in terms of the good sense of the word, where shame is a natural and moral sense of honor standing in the way of doing something bad, and of the bad sense, where shame is the dishonor and disgrace which follows on having done it. But Shame was something worse. Christian had already met him while at the University of Eschropolis, especially while taking one of the required courses. The catalog listed the course as Arts and Ideas, in the School of Eschrology. It was described as a study on Pornology, the Culture of Obscenity, Science of Filth. Christian was always annoyed at this tenuous establishment-front, and more than once he aimed a barb at it on one of his papers in a marginal note to the effect that Colossians 2:8 labels such stuff nothing more than “dirty language.” ‘But no, bold-faced Shame could not be put off. He was constantly hammering it out, on and off campus, that “You must Seek Us. We have the most well-adjusted counsel for you and your children. Seek Us to be free of your hang-ups. Eschrology is the answer!” In more private meetings, Shame informed his followers that the Seek Us approach must be played up before the public. But, he added, even if they don’t Seek US, we will cram it (Eschrology) down their throats. Bold-faced Shame takes a brazen delight in doing the low, base, vile, filthy and obscene.
Shame, you see, has objection to religion itself, every and any kind of religion. It is a pitiful, cringing, groveling, sneaking business for a man to pay any mind to religion. A tender conscience is an unmanly thing. Conscience is nothing more than warping ingrown ideas socialized into you by parents, teachers and the church. Conscience can be, usually is, overly strict and overly severe. It is a throw-back to the Puritan Era. For a man ought to be free of his parents, his teachers and the church. Otherwise, a man is simply not free. This pinpoints exactly what is wrong with man in this socially and morally sick age. It is conscience in man which makes him sick. If man could get free of his feelings of guilt. Then he would be socially and morally healthy. Where one school taught, let an educated, enlightened conscience be your guide, Sigmund, of the school of Eschrology, taught freedom from conscience and freedom of expression. Your trouble, he would say, is that your life is cluttered with too many “thou shalts,” “shalt nots” and “musts.” You are not so much to blame for this as your father, your mother, your teachers, your pastor, your church. The reason you are disturbed is because of all they have told you. Keep maintaining those views they’ve planted in your mind, and you’re going to drag a nagging ball and chain around your neck for the rest of your life. To make such a precise watch over your words and ways will only tie yourself up in nots, make you miss the swaggering liberty brave spirits of the times accustom themselves to, and expose you to the ridicule of the times. Continue in your way of conscience, if you are persuaded to be fools, but then you venture the loss of all for nobody knows what!
Well, Faithful and Christian were quite aware of the spirit of the times, were not afraid of such a spirit, nor at all worried about becoming the butt of the ridicule of the times. In their day, the spirits of the times holding them up as objects of ridicule were the Jews, Mohammedans, Manicheans, Epicureans, Pelagians, Anabaptists and such heretics as Marcion, Praxeas, Sabellius. Samosatenus, Artius, Socinus and Arminius. (See Belgic Confession, IX, XII, XIII, XV, XVIII and Cannons of Dort II, R. IV). Since their day, the spirits of the times have been represented by such heretics as Descartes, Darwin, Hume, Kent, Kierkegaard, Marx, Barth, Saint-Simon and his modern crew of dupes. Ambitious men, not only in the state, but in the church, earn themselves promotion and large reward every day for their apostasies from our original Puritan and Reformed truth, and for their desertions from our original constitutional and republican form of government, for which, in those days, in this land, whether in war or not, they would have been adjudged guilty of and condemned for treason against state, church and Christ himself.
Shame, further, objected to the low condition of pilgrims. Few of the mighty or the rich or the wise were of their opinion. Not any of Shame’s school were. He also objected to their ignorance and lack of understanding in all natural science. In Western slang a pilgrim in a newly arrived person, a tenderfoot, or a recently imported beast of the cattle variety. This does not apply, of course, to true Pilgrims, not to men of Pilgrim stick as John Harvard and Jonathan Edwards. Also, according to Hurst’s Short History of the Church in the U.S., “To enjoy the free exercise of conscience was the Pilgrim’s one passion.”
Or Shame may come to you, as he certainly will not miss coming to your pastor, to tell you it is a shame to sit whining and mourning under two sermons a Sunday, then to come sighing and groaning home, when you can worship god (who is totally non-existent, anyway, in Shame’s estimation) blissfully in the sculptured landscape of the golf links. It is a shame to ask your neighbor forgiveness for petty faults, or to make restitution where you have taken from any. It is a shame to admit and confess sin and guilt. Dwelling on the very things you ought to forget only compounds and complicates your perplexities – incurably so. If Shame’s blab is true, then at best the worst Eschropolonians should be the healthiest and most normal people. But the opposite is true. They are the ones most found on the psychiatrist’s couch and in mental institutions. Sigmund does not go over so well any more, even in the eyes of the world. To continue to follow him (not explications, but) studied and planned complications is to expose oneself to the charge of ignorance and lack of understanding in modern psychology. For now it is recommended to place responsibility where it belongs, bear it like a man, and so confess guilt and wrong as the only way to be rid of the gnawing serpent in the breast. All this even the world sees to be the best and most healing procedure, and indeed, is good as far as it goes. Only guilt must be seen to be real, on account of sin, and sin must be called sin, confessed as such, then put away under the blood of Christ and the tender-mercies of God.
You see how, today, Shame (in the country of Javan, known as Aischron) has become so highly esteemed among men that he controls the UNO, the news media, the publication systems and fills the White House with offensive characters. But what is high esteemed among men is had in abomination with God. It may yet come in this modern day, but certainly not in the day of judgment, that we shall be condemned to death according to the bullying, blustering, menacing, threatening spirits of the world. But the judgment of God will be the very opposite. It will be according to the law of the Most High. He prefers the religion of Jehovah; He prefers a good conscience. In His judgment, they who make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest, and the poor of this world, rich in faith, who love the Lord, are richer than the greatest in the world who hate Him.
Shame is the one who is the expert in a sneaking business, for where he is driven out of one place, he immediately penetrates another. He daily infiltrates a sentry post, a Maginot-line, a DEW line, a heart-line where he is never opposed or exposed, much less, expelled. He continually whispers in the ears of good men the scandals that attend true religion. He will not be driven off with two shakes and a stiff kick. It takes far more to discourage him. He is worse than a dope-pusher who is himself “on the stuff.” He will dog you in the streets to put you to shame before all men. His audacity is unrelenting. His brazen attempts are always to make you ashamed of that which is good. His boast of the mighty and the wise holding his opinion is contemptible. For despite all his braggadocio, he promotes the fool, and no one else. “The wise shall inherit glory, but Shame shall be the promotion of fools” (Prov. 3:35). Call upon the Lord for Help to resist and withstand Shame, for only Valiant-for-truth shall trample him under foot.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 4 June/July 1971