Public Shaming (aka Forced Confession) has no place in Christianity!
Healthy and unhealthy Church is inextricably linked to the form of a marriage relationship, or a parent/child relationship. It is no wonder God gave us power to become the ‘sons’ of God (John 1:12) or that we are considered the Bride of Christ. (Revelation 21:9) His relationship to us is nurturing, admonishing in patience and love, caring and just. God doesn’t ridicule or shame us for lacking wisdom, but rather gives to us most liberally when we are the most dense! (James 1:5)
Why then do some take the idea of ‘church discipline’ and decide to make it a public affair? Have you ever known a parent that shames a child in public for doing something stupid (childishly silly?) and you just think to yourself, ‘that poor kid…’? Let’s talk about it!
In this vein of thought I think, ‘Poor Christian!’.
I can remember multiple occasions in Church where brother or sister so and so was made to stand up before the whole congregation at the beginning or ending of a service and apologize for their ‘sin’. This was usually after or followed up by a somber service about sin, confession, etc. The sin was usually watching a movie, or kissing a girl, or maybe it was something serious – but whatever the transgression, I just can’t imagine Jesus making the adulterous stand out at the bazaar in Jerusalem and shout out her sins to the entire city – thinking that that would rehabilitate her! Where is the efficacy in that?
So what did the Lord do?
“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” – John 8:3-9, KJV
Our gracious Father gave us so many examples of how to treat one another, in good and bad times. No wonder the second most important commandment beside Love God – was Love your Neighbor, your fellow human beings, your brothers and sisters in Christ!
What makes any pastor feel that it is right to shame someone in public like that under the guise of brotherly love and rehabilitation? I say, like we do with our kids, take them to a private place, talk about the weakness, offer support, strength, prayer, advice, a shoulder to cry on, and most importantly, confidentiality!
Recently I spoke to a brother in Christ (not from my Church but a believer) who told me about a folly he had in times past, and how he had a men’s group he would confide in, who would stand around him and lift him up in prayer, be accountability partners, and more so, welcoming friends. This was so foreign to me I wanted to shout, Let me join the club will ya??
Here is the point to all of this…
I truly believe that offering support for a weak brother (or sister) without casting judgement is the best way to offer rehabilitation! As a matter of fact, Paul taught us this very concept when he said that at your brothers weak points is the exact moment when you need to pull them into close companionship!
“And receive him who is weak in the faith, but not to judgments of your thoughts.” – Romans 14:1, MKJV
Love one another as God loves you! God bless,