"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shame, Shame

The idea that the irresponsible use of sex should carry some moral condemnation has been kicked around here lately. But how? Shunning?

Well, that might have been OK for the Bad Olde Days, but who can deny that there are no illegitimate children, only parents? Surely we wouldn't visit the sins of the parents on an innocent child. That happens all by itself.

And the pro-life crowd, to its credit, has realized that shaming unmarried mothers will only engender the Gordian Knot solution of abortion.

By coincidence, or perhaps not, my colleague Jay Homnick mentioned abstinence counselling below. Songs are (unfortunately) better at conveying emotions than ideas, even in the lyrics, but I haven't forgotten a word of this since I first heard it, perhaps the greatest lyric of the entire Motown era:


You think that I don’t feel love
But what I feel for you is real love
In other’s eyes I see reflected
A hurt, scorned, rejected

Love child, never meant to be
Love child, born in poverty
Love child, never meant to be
Love child, take a look at me

I started my life in an old, cold run down tenement slum
My father left, he never even married mom
I shared the guilt my mama knew
So afraid that others knew I had no name

This love we’re contemplating
Is worth the pain of waiting
We’ll only end up hating
The child we may be creating

Love child, never meant to be
Love child, (scorned by) society
Love child, always second best
Love child, different from the rest

Mm, baby (hold on, hold on, just a little bit)
Mm, baby (hold on, hold on, just a little bit)

I started school, in a worn, torn, dress that somebody threw out
I knew the way it felt to always live in doubt
To be without the simple things
So afraid my friends would see the guilt in me

Don’t think that I don’t need you
Don’t think I don’t wanna please you
But no child of mine’ll be bearing
The name of shame I’ve been wearing

Love child, love child, never quite as good
Afraid, ashamed, misunderstood

But I’ll always love you
I’ll always love you
I’ll always love you
I’ll always love you...


(Pam Sawyer/R. Dean Taylor/Frank Wilson/Deke Richards)


Even without any of us taking it upon ourselves to cast shame, the sins of the fathers visit themselves on their children, not just for the lack of his strong right arm, but for lack of what he alone can teach them.

1 comment:

Matt Huisman said...

The tricky thing about moral condemnations is that you actually have to reference an agreed upon moral that has been violated. And the truth is that we’re not really capable of telling anyone that extra-marital sex is immoral anymore. We have developed the means to eliminate the physical harm - and why be upset with someone who has done no harm? What’s that? You say that some of us still slip up and make a mess? What a shame, but who can really blame someone for getting caught up in the moment and forgetting to take the necessary precautions – there but for the grace of God go I. Better make a note to redouble our appeals before the god of education, who is no doubt merciful and good, and able to save us from our current condition.

So where does this leave us as Christians? Should we be spitting fire and brimstone at those who scoff at their creator? Or do we simply need to recognize that the world has passed us (and God) by, and we’ve become irrelevant?

Neither. For while our compassion dictates that the church be useful to its fellow man as counselor, insurance policy and all-around handy man – it was never our central purpose.

General revelation is a good thing, and the world’s ever amassing competence and ability to overcome the obstacles that used to turn them to the divine will soon expose the hard reality of loneliness (or meaninglessness) that lurks behind every would-be panacea. Perhaps it is here where our efforts are best spent – where the real love of Jesus can best be understood.

We may be getting close to the time where ‘I told you so’ is no longer relevant as an introduction to the eternal – and that too is a good thing.