Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guilt (God) v. Shame (Satan)

from an attempted agnostic perspective

What is guilt? Furthermore, what is shame? What does God have to do with anything?
These questions are difficult, and the answers are based on belief, rather than on fact. Science is a very fickle thing. It changes radically and abruptly. We might cling onto an incorrect idea for centuries before science, which proved it in the first place, proves it wrong. Science is a great way to look at the dead things in the world. But faith is a great way to look at the living things in the world—how to interact with each other, with nature, and with God. Faith can change, too—inside ourselves—as we grow closer to the Truth. Science and faith both point towards truth and none of us can truly hope to get there. Faith is how we learn inside ourselves, whereas science is how we learn of things outside ourselves. Since guilt, shame and God are all inside us, let’s stick with that for this one blog post. I should furthermore point out that this post refers to my current understanding of the world, and is open to discussion. I will be declaring, as if fact, the things inside of myself.
There is a law inside all of us. God placed it there. Many call it “the light of Christ,” or more secularly, a “conscience.” It has nothing to do with the laws of the government. Right and wrong is different for everyone. The laws inside us change, are fluid, and are most apparent when we are close to Truth. Since all of us have the ability to choose, we can go against these laws. You might call that sinning. You might think that you’re only going against yourself, but remember: God put the laws there. You’re also going against him when you break your rules. Whether you’re aware of this connection or not, it doesn’t feel great when you break the rules—which brings us to the happy dialogue of guilt and shame.
Shame is one that everybody will recognize as I start talking about it. It often gets called guilt on accident. Shame makes you feel like you are a bad person. Shame is going to tell you that you’re not worth it. Shame will tell you to give up, or to change your rules because you’re not good enough. Shame comes from Satan. Shame makes us miserable. Shame, frankly, is not proactive, it is not positive, and it just sucks. It is gray ooze that can drown us.
Guilt, which I guess I should call “true guilt,” is a much more benign feeling. Guilt is actually quite simple. Guilt tells us that we shouldn’t have done what we just did. Guilt means we’re sorry for what we did. Guilt means we don’t want to do it again. Guilt is proactive. Guilt can make us want to make things right, to correct our wrongs—to change ourselves for the better. Guilt leads to action. Guilt is remorse.
It is this same remorse that will lead us back to God. Whether or not we acknowledge God, it feels bad when we make mistakes. He is there for us. Guilt will lead us to God, who will comfort us and help us through what we’re going through. He can help us correct our mistakes and stop making mistakes. This is repentance. When we come out on the other side, we emerge stronger and better than before. It is a refiner’s fire. We go through a burning and cooling process that makes us stronger. On the other side, we feel better and wiser than when we made the original mistake.
And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

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