Living By The Law Produces Shame (Problem 4 of 8)

            Living by the Law inevitably brings about a shame based identity.  Our shame based identity is a direct result of the divine condemnation of God that we are under when we attempt to live under the Law.[1]  Continually striving underneath the Law for perfection is totally pointless because we cannot meet up to the standards of the Law in our thoughts, words and deeds.[2]  Therefore, a continuous focus of living by the Law, without the sweet Gospel of Grace (i.e. that Jesus lived up to the Law for us), actually produces a shame-based identity.  
            Furthermore, shame is often used to stir up emotions often tied to guilt.  Shame stirs up emotions and compels (aka shames) us to fix the guilt.  Systems and individuals that live by the Law either use shame or receive shame as a motive in attempting to fix guilt rather than allowing the Gospel of Grace to absolve guilt.  Jeff VanVonderen identifies a shame based system in the following ways[3]:

1)    Law/Shame Based Systems are Performance Driven
a.    In order to alleviate the pressure and emotions of shame, members are driven to perform so that they can overcome, correct and appease guilt.
b.    Since love and acceptance are something to be earned in a Law system, members have learned to be good performers.

2)    Law/Shame Based Systems Are Governed by the Can’t Talk Rule
a.    If worth and value in a shame based system are earned through performance then any lapse in performance cannot be talked about, it must be kept secret.  To admit one’s failure is to open up the door for more shame.

3)    Law/Shame Based Systems ‘Code’ When they Talk
a.    Because a shame based system is so focused on performance, members cannot talk about failure, struggles and conflicts.  This results in coding language which undercut integrity, assertiveness and spiritual growth[4].  Members use coded language to get what they need or let out what is inside and thus ultimately avoid shame.  This could also be seen as passive aggressiveness.

4)    Law/Shame Based Systems Are Preoccupied with Fault and Blame
a.    If a lapse in performance in a shame based system occurs and the member is unable to cover it up they will immediately project the blame away from themselves so they can avoid further shame.

5)    Law/Shame Based Systems Produce Defensiveness
a.    Members in a shame based system are basically in a defensive mode.  Shame hurts.  It cuts to the heart.  Therefore, members must become experts at self-defense techniques to protect themselves against shaming messages.

[1] Galatians 3:10
[2] Romans 3:10-12
[3] Jeff VanVonderen, Tired of Trying to Measure Up (Bethany House, 1989), 41-51.
[4] Ephesians 4:15