When was the last time you heard that question?
For me, I think it was when I was a very small kid… and I had wandered out into the living room without a stitch… and there were guests in the house. Actually, I don’t remember any specific incident, but that scenario sounds about right.
I might have heard a version of the question more recently (“Have they no shame??”) spoken in judgment upon some people were were “immodestly” dressed.
Either way, I think it was from my mom or some respected older woman in my extended family.
Are We Supposed to Feel Shame?
The underlying assumption to that question is this… we’re supposed to feel shame about our bodies. But is that true? Does the Bible teach us that?
More recently, I hear people attempt to walk this line: they’ll say that we’re not supposed to be ashamed of our bodies, but at the same time, it is shameful to be seen naked by anyone other than our own spouse… or doctor… or some other guardian/care-giver (see When is Nudity OK for a Christian?).
Let me restate that… we are told that our bodies are not shameful, unless they are seen unclothed by others. Does that really make any sense?
No, it doesn’t make sense. But that’s the dichotomy of belief vs. practice that we have been taught within traditional Christian contexts (churches & homes). Your body is not really shameful, but you should act as if it is. Don’t question that, just do it.
Is Nudity Really Shameful?
But is it really shameful to be seen naked? Am I—are we all—supposed to feel shame if our bodies are exposed to the sight of others? If so, we should see that taught in the Bible.
And, in all fairness, many claim that the idea IS in the Bible. They note the numerous times that shame and nakedness are found in the same passages, and they conclude that the shame is the result of the nakedness. They quote these verses that seem to support their pre-determined conclusion and they feel no need to dig any deeper into the text to discern whether it is being correctly interpreted or not. This is called “proof-texting” and it insulates us from having to do any real, honest study, or to allow our preconceptions to be challenged.
Within the posts on this blog, I have already addressed most of the passages that are generally put forward as proof that nakedness is shameful. I’m not going to do it again in this post. However, let me summarize them this way:
Wherever there is shame and nudity in the same passage, there is always shameful behavior described in the text as well. Nakedness is never described as shameful all by itself. Furthermore, nakedness does appear in the Scriptures without shame being associated with it… and in every such case, there is never any shameful behavior occurring.
In other words, the source of shame is always sin… it is never nudity by itself! A truly honest evaluation of the Scriptures will show this to be true.
Have You No shame?
It turns out that this actually is a significant question to ask… not to ensure that you do have shame, but to affirm that—in Christ—you do NOT!
When I read the Bible, I see that Jesus dealt with everything in my life for which I could or should feel shame. My sin has been taken away (1 Peter 2:24). My guilt has been atoned for (1 John 2:2). I now stand before God in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Himself (2 Cor. 5:21). What’s more, I read that my body bears the Divine image(Genesis 1:26-27); it is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and I have been called to glorify God specifically with my body (1 Corinthians 6:20).
So, do I have shame? No, I do not! To answer any other way would be an insult to my Savior.
How about you? What is your answer?
Typically, the question is used to proudly condemn others. Instead, it should be used to humbly proclaim the fullness of our Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ! Praise God! We have no shame!!!
Think long and hard before you profess to have shame as if it were a virtue. Shame is not godly by any stretch of the imagination.
Shame of any kind has no place in the life of those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
— Matthew Neal