Porn-Free Church

Porn-Free Church Ebook Cover

Internet pornography is one of the biggest issues facing churches today. Find out how pastors have addressed this issue and built a culture of accountability in their churches.

19 thoughts on “Guilt vs. Shame: Why Definitions Matter

  1. A very helpful post, Luke. For some time I have been dissatisfied with the popular definitions of guilt and shame in the recovery community. Thanks for pointing to a sound, biblical understanding of these useful terms.

    • Thanks, Mark. I think it is so important to be accurate about this, especially because guilt and shame are experiences that are so close to the heart of the cross. If we preach that Jesus took our shame and guilt, we need to know exactly what it is that he took. This is vital.

  2. Thank you! Recently, I was discussing the idea of shame and guilt with a fellow Christian. The other person felt that guilt and shame were biblically the same thing and that both were negative because of Christ’s redeeming grace. Your blog gives another helpful perspective.
    Please keep writing…blessings!

    • Thanks, Rose. Yes, it is clear from the Bible that shame and guilt are meant to be vehicles to move us toward grace. Persistent guilt and shame, despite belief in the gospel and repentance, is not healthy, but guilt and shame in an of themselves are necessary in a world full of sin.

      It is like the pain we feel when we touch a hot stove: The pain itself is a signal to move your hand, and is therefore a good thing. But the pain is also, in a sense, not the ideal. We weren’t meant to live in a world of pain and sin. We are destined for a world without pain. But in the meantime, pain is a necessary defense mechanism against hurting ourselves more.

  3. Good definitions. Also we must recognized the context in which the definitions are being used especially when working with believers who are survivors of sexual abuse. Although many have what I term a ” false guilt” the shame from how others view them and their perception is very real and often played out in congregations as survivors are unconsciously relegated to a status of second class Christian because of the abuse. Just sharing my experience and the reality of what often can take place. Treated and abandoned like criminals and reaping the effects although not really guilty and have nothing to be ashamed.
    Thank you.

    • Right. Just as there is shame vs. guilt, there is also healthy shame vs. false shame. It is right to feel shameful about an offense committed, because it pushes us toward reconciliation. It is not good to feel shame about an evil done to you as if you are the criminal.

  4. I am not a religious person. In fact I only made that decision in prison when all the people around me were turning to God. But I am very spiritual and I also think that you have hit the nail on the head in this article. I hope more people see this and heed this before they have stepped over the line too much to be even bothered about guilt and shame. I am telling my story so that people do take notice.

  5. Luke please expand the following thoughts: “We weren’t meant to live in a world of pain and sin. We are destined to a world without pain.” The question I want to ask: If this is the case, why is it that our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died on this our earth, and that He has spoken, “My Kingdom is not of this world”. Please expand the meaning of chasm: “Between the rich man and the beggar there is a chasm, one cannot cross.”

    • Good questions, Jennifer.

      1. When I say we weren’t meant to live in a world of pain and sin, I am referring to our original design. We were created in a garden without the stain of sin, pain, death, or shame.

      2. When I say that we are destined to live in a world without pain, I am referring to the new world Jesus is going to recreate when he returns (Revelation 21-22). When Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” He is using the word “world” in the sense of “the world system” with all its sinful values. The word “world” (Greek kosmos) is used many different ways in the Bible, similar to how English words can have different definitions based on the context. Jesus’ kingdom is not built on the values of this world as we know it, but when He returns to renew the earth and resurrect the dead, this world will be fully transformed into His kingdom.

      3. I’m not sure what the chasm in Jesus’ parable has to do with this topic, but I’ll answer as best I can. The chasm is a gulf between those who go to place of rest at Abraham’s side and those who go to Hades. There is debate among theologians about the location of this place of rest.

  6. Yes. All yes’s!!. There is good guilt. Bad guilt. In my listening of myself & others there is good guilt and bad guilt.I could have done better., I chose not to. (Good guilt) No prior knowledge of choice, yet a bad thing happened. (Powerless bad guilt..i could not have stopped it)
    Shame is the same. Good shame and bad shame. Examples: Feeling ashamed in the eyes of Jesus is (bad shame)…..for he bestows mercy constantly God does not make junk”. Good shame……similar to guilt. I cheated on me. I went and done wrong on me, where I knew better!!

  7. I just finished the book, Daring Greatly, and the author makes the distinction , shame= I am a bad person, and guilt = I did a bad thing. If you believe in original sin, then both are true. If not, why would we need a crucified Christ?

  8. Wow you nailed it! It is the very truth of these things that move us to repentance and into a full relationship with God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *