Help Others Restore Integrity Headshot of Fr. Mike Schmitz
Help Others Restore Integrity 3 minute read

Breaking Free From Sham Honesty, With Fr. Mike Schmitz

Last Updated: March 20, 2023

Our podcast team interviewed Fr. Mike Schmidtz, best known as the host of the Bible in a Year podcast. Fr. Mike serves among college students and has a unique perspective on the challenges they face—and the pressing need they have for accountability.

Sham Honesty vs. Authenticity

Fr. Mike distinguishes what he calls “sham honesty” from true authenticity:

“There was a man named Dietrich von Hildebrand and he wrote a book called The Trojan Horse in the City of God. One of the chapters in that book is a chapter entitled “sham honesty” and, and he basically diagnosed this temptation that we have: to put our lives on display but not our selves.”

What’s the difference between displaying our “lives” and our “selves?” Fr. Mike explains, “I want to present myself in an edited fashion.” In other words, we pick and choose the parts of our lives that we display. This is sham honesty.

Sham honesty manifests in many ways in our culture, especially on the internet. Social media gives every one of us a platform to display our lives. But the version of our lives we display online cannot reveal our lives in full authenticity. It’s deeply selective.

The sham honesty of social media has worked its way into everyday life for many young people. Our culture deeply feels the pressure of being on display but lacking authentic relationships. As a priest who ministers on a college campus, Fr. Mike carries a special burden in his heart for young people facing the world of sham honesty.

Two Bad Solutions to Sham Honesty

Fr. Mike says there are two bad solutions to this “sham honesty.” On the one hand, there is shame—specifically, “toxic shame.” This pressure to put your life on display for everyone—and make it as attractive and appealing as possible—leaves us feeling ashamed. That’s because our authentic selves are out of sync with it. We’ve written a number of articles on the connection between porn and shame. Check them out here:

On the other hand, Fr. Mike points out the problem of shamelessness. Shamelessness is pretend authenticity:

“There’s really good things in this world, and if I’ve violated those good things, then I have a sense of shame.”

The solution to sham honesty isn’t to pretend that bad things are actually good. Toxic shame traps people in the lie that their authentic selves are bad, and therefore unlovable or unforgivable. Shamelessness takes the lie even further and says we should accept the bad things about ourselves and reject any attempt at correction. This results in an upside-down world with no distinction between good and evil.

The correct solution lies elsewhere.

The Real Solution: Finding True Friends

So if the answer isn’t toxic shame or shamelessness, what is it? Fr. Mike says it’s finding real, authentic friends. It’s finding people that you can open up to and be real with about the bad stuff in your life. Essentially, he’s talking about accountability.  

Accountability means having trustworthy friends who can share your life. But who are these people exactly, and where do you find them? Fr. Mike says:

“Whenever I I’m talking to young men and young women about their accountability partner [I ask] ‘Who is someone that you trust and that and who is in your life as well?’ So I want to set a clear bar, but also it’s kind of a low bar. They don’t have to be your absolute best friend. They don’t have to be someone that you see on a regular basis. [It just needs to be] a real relationship [with a] person whose opinion and perspective I trust.”

You don’t want to be accountable to someone who will betray you. You want someone who’s trustworthy and reliable. On the other hand, this person doesn’t have to be the perfect friend; they don’t have to be perfectly wise or perfectly like you. They just need to be there in your life.

Fr. Mike has devoted his life to ministry among college students. He knows the kinds of challenges they face and the difficulty of finding deep, authentic friendships at this stage of life. He has many words of wisdom for those holding others accountable as well. You can hear the full podcast and other great interviews here.

0 comments.

Leave a Reply

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

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

Editor's Picks

Image of Ashley Jameson.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Insights About Women and Pornography From Ashley Jameson

Ashley Jameson is the Associate Director of Women’s Groups for Pure Desire…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A woman on a podcast.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Dr. Lina Abujamra’s Thoughts on Sex and Shame

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric E.R. doctor. She’s now the founder of…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A youth pastor speaking to a group.

Help Others Restore Integrity

“The Youth Pastor Did What?!” Talking About Porn in Church

Growing up, I was fortunate to have pastors who were not afraid…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

7 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

6 minute read

Read Post

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

Image of Ashley Jameson.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Insights About Women and Pornography From Ashley Jameson

Ashley Jameson is the Associate Director of Women’s Groups for Pure Desire…

Ashley Jameson is the Associate Director of Women’s Groups for Pure Desire Ministries. Not only is she an expert in the field of sex addiction, but she has her own powerful story of overcoming addiction.…

3 minute read

0 comments

A woman on a podcast.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Dr. Lina Abujamra’s Thoughts on Sex and Shame

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric E.R. doctor. She’s now the founder of…

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric E.R. doctor. She’s now the founder of Living with Power Ministries. She’s a popular Bible teacher, podcaster, and conference speaker. She’s also the author of several books. She provides medical…

4 minute read

0 comments

A youth pastor speaking to a group.

Help Others Restore Integrity

“The Youth Pastor Did What?!” Talking About Porn in Church

Growing up, I was fortunate to have pastors who were not afraid…

Growing up, I was fortunate to have pastors who were not afraid to mention the word “porn” or address the issue of sexual integrity head-on. This led to a safe environment in which I was…

3 minute read

0 comments

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want to make sure you have the best resources available. Thankfully, it’s no longer difficult to find plenty of offline and online help. Still,…

7 minute read

0 comments

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church and president of Acts 29. They talked with Pastor Matt about his recent leave of absence from ministry, what…

4 minute read

0 comments

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making cookies, setting up our crèche scene, or hosting festive gatherings, our celebrating is a welcome time! But gift buying, family gatherings, and extra cooking…

6 minute read

0 comments