God was safe. God is safe. God never changes. God is for us, not against us. Shame does not come from God. Shame is produced by our sin. Guilt says, “I’ve made a mistake.” Shame says, “I am a mistake.”
Author Dr. Brene Brown put it this way:
Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior.Brene Brown
In Genesis 3:10, Adam hid from God because he was naked and afraid. The very One that Adam should have felt safe with was God; but the opposite happened. He felt shame and he hid. When sin entered the equation, it was Adam’s projection of his sin that caused him to see God as unsafe. We’re not punished for our sin, but by our sin. Adam and Eve were the ones who changed, not God. Our ability to see ourselves, God, and others for who they really are becomes distorted because of sin and shame.
Christ did not come to save us from God, but to show us God’s heart to help us. This is what makes the incarnation so amazing. In his book, A More Christlike God, Brad Jersak wrote,
Christ's incarnation enabled God to enter the fullness of our affliction firsthand. Beyond the compassion and empathy of a concerned Father, God incarnate actually experience poverty, displacement, and refugee status. Then later, mockery, humiliation, abuse, torture, and violent murder.
We see that God not only cares from a distance, but cares enough to enter into our broken condition and be like us. To absorb sin and death, and offer redemption for all mankind. Jersak continues,
Over his whole life, from the womb to the tomb, the Word became flesh in order to endure the depths and breadths of our entire human condition and Jesus' lifelong struggle climaxed on the cross.
I think it’s beautiful that God has such a high view of humanity that He became one of us in order to help us right here, right now.
Christ entered the scene to reveal to us the character of God. Negative sexual history can be one of our greatest sources of shame; whether it’s from abuse, an affair, betrayal, or addiction. Let’s take a look at three accounts in the New Testament when Jesus reached out to help sexually broken people.
In Luke 7:36, a woman—known as a sinner and who many believe was a prostitute—wept at Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. It was a very intimate setting. She obviously knew Jesus before the dinner and she was overwhelmed with gratitude for what He did for her. She did not run away from God, she ran toward God. She believed God’s heart was for her and that He wanted to help and heal her. Jesus’ words to her were, “Your faith has saved you.” It’s interesting that she followed Jesus and found healing in the home of a Pharisee. Among the unsafe, she pursued a God who was safe.
The story of the woman caught in adultery is found is John 8; or, how I like to put it, the man who missed his healing. It was a man and woman caught in the act of adultery. She wasn’t caught masturbating and brought in for committing adultery in her heart. That’s not the story here. Somehow, the man got away. It’s too bad, too. He could have encountered God and been healed as well. Her accusers said, “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” I love how Jesus talked about the one who has not sinned should throw the first stone. Then, He reinforced what He said by asking the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?...Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
In John 4, Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well. He went against racial division, gender separation, and religious barrier to heal this woman’s shame. She had five husbands, and the implication was that the one she was with right now was not her husband. Whether she was a sex addict, a relationship addict, or hurt by others’ addiction, she was clearly a broken person. Her life was so transformed by her encounter with Jesus that she told her entire community about Him. “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!” He told her about the negative things in her life, but she didn’t receive it as a negative. For her, she wasn’t threatened out of her sin, she was graced into a new life. The better way. She saw that this God really was for her and had come to help her. It’s not in scripture, but church history records that the Samaritan woman was called Saint Photina. She became one of the greatest evangelists to the Samaritan people and ended up dying a martyr’s death.
John 3:17 says,
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:17
Unfortunately, religious institutions, or what some would call the church, haven’t always been a safe place for people who have experienced sexual brokenness; a place to find healing for their behavior and their shame. I’m so grateful for organizations like Pure Desire who offer tools and resources, not only heal our brokenness, but to find freedom from shame. In my opinion, they are taking us back to the message that God so clearly proclaimed through Christ: that God is for us, not against us. He has come to help us and to bring healing to our lives.
Join me at the Pure Desire Men’s Conference where you will discover that as we find healing from our brokenness, we can also find healing from our shame.
Rodney is an Executive Pastor at Lake City Community Church in Coeur D'Alene, ID. He has a BA in Biblical Studies from Bethany Bible College. Rodney loves being a part of fellowship that sees every person as valuable. He is passionate about people understanding that they matter.