Body and Soul, Sexuality and Marriage; Part 3
by Andrew Sciba
Read the whole series here.
When the sexuality of a person is introduced into a situation in which the possibility of abuse or misuse occurs, the soul’s automatic protection of itself becomes active. This protection is called shame. There are various definitions or usages of the word shame. However, in the present context, that of accessing the sexuality of oneself or that of another, shame can be said to be a good thing, as it safeguards the dignity and integrity of our souls and the souls of others.
Shame functions within the soul to protect the self in two ways; from being lusted after by others and from lusting after others. Though there may be exceptions, the former generally applies more heavily to women and the latter to men. An example of the first aspect of shame occurs immediately after the fall when Adam and Eve each realized they were naked, thus compelling the two to adorn themselves with fig leaves.[i] This verse does not reveal an education of the nakedness of man, but the mutual realization that a common sinfulness brings with it the possibility of being lusted after by the other person. As for the day-to-day experience of shame, the dialogue that goes on with the mirror about whether or not a certain piece of clothing is to low or short or tight is prima facie an argument against shame. It is in this allowance of the possibility of being used by another that shame acts through negative emotions, especially that of uncomfortability, in order to protect the integrity of the person.
The second aspect of shame prevents the soul from using another person as a means to the end of a disordered sexual desire. This second aspect of shame is so divorced from modern society, a single example of it that would be universally understood is difficult to produce. Suffice it to say, the natural inclination for a person to shield the body an abuse victim is an act of shame in this respect. A more common instance of shame acting to protect the soul is that of a person who is unexpectedly presented with immodesty (whether on television or a billboard or other such example) and simply looks away to prevent the possibility of lust. It is also shame that prompts a person to not expose themselves to these possibilities in the first place.
Shamelessness is the systematic deconstruction of shame’s functionality and is not a thing unto itself, but exists in opposition to shame just as darkness is the absence of light and chill is the absence of heat. In relation to the first aspect of shame, shamelessness requires a person to ignore the natural impulses toward modesty and willingly expose themselves to the possibility of being lusted after by another. During the first introduction of shamelessness, a person will feel uncomfortable wearing a piece of immodest clothing; however, this behavior weakens shame and during subsequent wearings of the same piece of clothing, the person will be less uncomfortable, thus allowing them to feel the original level of uncomfortability with a more immodest piece of clothing in the future.
With regard to the effect that shamelessness has on the second aspect of shame – using another as a means to the end of disordered sexual desire – the process is quite similar. Repeatedly resisting shame’s impulse to protect the soul by avoiding the occasion of lusting after another person will not only inhibit the impulse itself, but could actually lead the person to believe that they are not lusting at all. It is so pervasive in secular society that it has caused the occurrence of an inversion of morality in which natural, sexual shame is regarded in a manner similar to baby teeth; a sign of immaturity that will inevitably be removed.
[i] Genesis 3:7