I have seen, over the past few months, a number of well-meaning people asserting that one of the things Jesus came to accomplish was to free people from shame. From what I gathering, the claim is if people are released from the shackles of shame they will be free to become the people they will to be. Like many well-meaning assertions, it sounds great at first blush. But then reality begins to creep in.
In this instance of this assertion, the faults appear once you realize the person who has the least shame in the country may be President Trump. This is the same man who, when asked to restore immigration protections to people from countries like Haiti or El Savador asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
That is what having no shame looks like, and it’s ugly. Frankly, I think our society could do with a lot more shame.
Right now shame is what I feel for this country. I don’t say I feel anger, bitterness, or fury because those are emotions which says Donald Trump’s bigoted and heartless words are only his problem. They are not. He is the president, for better or worse 1 his is the face which represents the country to the world. And so I feel shame, because Donald Trump is the president and that is my problem. A problem about which I have to do something. It’s really a problem about which every American ought to do something – calling their representatives, paying attention to what the government is doing, and demanding at least a pretend integrity from those who represent us 2. The shame the majority of Americans feel for the country right now should be imposed upon those who have the power to mitigate the damage this man is doing to the nation. And if our representatives refuse to listen then they should continue to be shamed, right up until the ballot box falls on their heads.
See, what people often mean by wanting to freed from shame is, “No one is allowed to make me feel bad.” The problem is sometimes we should feel bad about the things we have both done and left undone. Processing that sense of shame can be a healthy endeavor which leads us into growth. A person who has no shame is incapable of true introspection, and loses the ability to mature beyond a state of adolescence. We should demand more from ourselves, from our communities, and absolutely from our president.
In my years as a pastor I have welcomed a man who survived the Rwandan genocide, worked alongside Haitian believers who are a vibrant part of our ABCNJ family, and lived in friendship with immigrants from a country Donald Trump would likely consider a “shithole.” These people are some of the best I have ever had the honor of meeting, much less befriending. I would take any one of them over a million of Donald Trump and his ilk. They show me the face of Jesus, and I am ashamed our President looks at them and sees only the refuse of excrement.