I’m going to try to work through the idea of different cultures. I saw a post where an actor said something on Twitter years ago. Someone found it and posted it, and he was fired from a successful show because of something he said years ago.
There is no grace in that. He was shamed.
The prevalent culture at the time the Bible was written was an honor/shame culture. What is that?
“Honor is a public claim to worth or value and a public acknowledgment of that claim. Positive shame is a concern for maintaining and protecting one’s worth, value, reputation. Negative shame is the loss of one’s honor. Refusing to be concerned about one’s honor is to be shameless.
Honor and shame are thus external controls on human behavior that depend upon the opinions of others. These controls stand in contrast to guilt, which is an internal control quite independent of the opinions of others.
In cultures where honor and shame are the dominant controls, secrecy, deception, and lying are strategies for defending one’s reputation by seeking to influence the opinions of others. Challenge and riposte are strategies for attempting to increase honor with the risk of losing some as well.” John J. Pilch
Why does it matter? It affected your ability to do business or even live if you were shamed. It can be hard to comprehend since we live in a mostly dignity culture.
That is where your rights are codified, and you can use the authorities to defend them. You can receive aid despite what you’ve done. Your humanity is always in view.
Now with social media, we have something called cancel culture that I am just now learning about.
Dictionary.com defines it as “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.”
It sure looks like a form of honor/shame to me. An example is if you say something people disagree with (and if you have any integrity, you will), you are banned and lose your platform. People will disagree with each other; we’re different.
I see people and businesses protecting themselves from it when they publically virtue-signal support for an idea or group to gain honor and protect their reputation.
Please show me what you’ve done for them when the world wasn’t watching. Jesus said you would know people by their fruit (actions).
You can see honor/shame in small towns or neighborhoods where people are close. Families rise and fall based on what family members do. Their actions don’t take place in a vacuum.
Sidebar…maybe that’s what honoring your parents means…don’t bring shame to the family. Theologically, don’t bring shame to God with your actions. By the way, that wasn’t in the first draft of the post.
Jesus grew up in an honor/shame culture in a town with a poor reputation. Even one of his disciples, before he met Jesus, asked his friend, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
He interacted with society rejects like the Samaritan woman. That “diminishes” his honor. When religious leaders publicly questioned him, it wasn’t to understand; it was to gain honor at the expense of Jesus by defeating Jesus.
They lost and were shamed instead.
Jesus was shameless. The only honor he was concerned about was God the Father’s. He died on a cross, naked and on display for everyone to see—the ultimate shaming.
The Jewish and Hellenistic cultures tripped over the fact that the disciples followed and died for a “shamed leader.” He is clearly wrong since he’s dead.
Jesus was vindicated when he rose again.
How to wrap this up?
With social media, we’re living in an honor/shame culture again. Just imagine if there was Twitter or Facebook in the 1st Century.
Jesus would probably be seen as “woke.”
He would also get “canceled.”
Jesus doesn’t fit in anyone’s mold. They didn’t know what to do with him then, or now, for that matter.