A sure solution to the age-old problem of shame and guilt


[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]

Adam and Eve…How many times have you heard that phrase? We have never heard of Adam and another woman’s name or Eve was with another man. It is always Adam and Eve. In our day with people arguing against homosexuality they say God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. To hear Adam and Eve might bring a picture of harmony and peace between these two but we all know the story of how through their decision to eat of the forbidden fruit they brought shame and sin to the human race. Imagine what they had to live with after they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Imagine the constant fights they must have had after their departure. The fight started even in the garden when God was asking them about what happened. Both of them shifted the blame. Adam said: “The woman that you have given me… (Genesis 3:12). Eve then blames the serpent…

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“You brought us this shame. Now God does not want us. He wants nothing to do with us? If it was not for you we would still be living in peace in the garden with all that we were blessed with but no you had to go and eat of the fruit that God instructed us not to eat. What possessed you?” I can almost hear Adam screaming at his wife. “Well you were there with me. You are not exactly innocent in all of this. You are not perfect either. You also have your imperfections. You also have brought shame to our marriage!” Eve might have retaliated. 

Shame and guilt are two realities that we will be faced with at different times in our lifetime. You might have brought shame on your family through your decisions. Through your actions you might have allowed the enemy to come into your marriage.

God of second chances
What do you do? Most people like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden tend to blame others. Know that God is a God of forgiveness and He is a God of second chances. Eve you might be seen to have brought shame to human kind through your decision to eat of the forbidden fruit but know that at the end of your shame God still provides a robe to cover your shame. He will not leave you exposed. He will never leave you in your nakedness and shame but will provide a way of escape. God still had a plan of redemption.

David who is called the friend of God; he lustfully looked at another man’s wife and chose to have him killed. God brought judgement on him and chose not to have the child live. But God gave David a second chance even in the shame. He did not abandon David, nor did he forsake him.

There are many in our day and age that continue to bring shame on their families. It can be a sickness; debt; a crime; pregnancy outside of the marriage, a spouse who decides to follow a different sexual lifestyle. There are many reasons how a marriage can be rocked by scandal and shame. It started in the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. The first couple were enjoying their life and were at the centre of God’s will for their lives. Never would they have imagined a life anywhere else except the Garden of Eden. They enjoyed close fellowship with God.

In Genesis 3 vs 6 the Bible says “And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” There are many times where we find ourselves in a similar position that Eve found herself. Where we see an expensive clothing item; car; house; investment opportunity; career move; where a spouse is attracted to another person outside the marriage; we find ourselves in different situations being tempted to do what we know not to do. Just as Eve ate we find ourselves deciding to go for it… to buy the car; to buy the expensive clothing; to buy the expensive property against our better judgement. One of life’s lessons is you reap what you sow. Sooner or later the consequence of that decision rears its ugly head and the family has to deal with the fact mom and dad are HIV positive; another woman is carrying the husband’s child; a house or car is repossessed; you receive endless calls from creditors who want their money for clothes and expensive items that were bought to maintain the lifestyle

God is a God of restoration. God is a God of a second plan. He knew that you and I will mess up but still says He has good plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, (Jeremiah 29:11).

Know that God has you here for a reason.

The woman with the issue of blood and the woman who was found in adultery both brought shame not only to themselves but to their families as well. The woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:47 experienced shame and embarrassment for 12 years. She went from one doctor to the next without any relief from her sickness. She must have been a subject of ridicule from those who saw her embarrassing episodes. In 12 years with a constant streaming of she must have spoilt her robes again and again making her a subject of name calling.

Whole family suffers
A woman who was found in adultery…her shame was not only known by the priests who brought her to Jesus. After Jesus let her go one could almost imagine how her life was with people reminding her of her past and her deed…”there goes the adulterous woman” such a shame still even in our day. When one member of the family does something shameful unfortunately it is not only they who suffer the consequences. The whole family goes through that shame. The women’s families suffered their own episodes of being mocked and laughed at. In all of this Jesus had compassion and He has never changed.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of [the goal]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).

All of us have a past that we are not particularly proud of. We might have brought shame to our families but Romans 8:1 brings great comfort to believers who struggle with feelings of shame and regret: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s extend forgiveness and grace
There are two disciples who both felt shame and regret. Peter’s public denial of our Lord brought him much regret and shame. He chose to not have the enemy have the victory however and decided to be bold for God, eventually becoming one of the founding fathers of the faith. Judas Iscariot’s sin of betraying the Lord however overwhelmed him and he decided to kill himself. Shame and regret over one’s actions are found in many chapters of the Bible but we take comfort in the knowledge that our God is a God of forgiveness who when we repent with a heart that seeks to please the Father He is just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. May we extend such forgiveness and grace to others in their shame and moments of guilt!


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