We don’t use the word “naughty” as much as we did. Santa checks naughty against the nice to decide the gifts we will receive. I would suggest another contrasting duo: shame and honor. Hosea proclaims, “The men of Israel finish up their drinking bouts and off they go to find some prostitutes. Their love for shame is greater than their love for honor.” (Hosea 4:18) Here is how the NASB says it: “Their liquor is gone; they play the harlot continually; Their rulers dearly love shame.” What does one do when the booze runs out? Remember the prostitutes in Hosea’s story are both literal temple prostitutes performing ritualistic sex and spiritual prostitution in the worship of an idol. These are shameful practices.
Imagine a bunch of guys sitting around the campfire downing cans of Bud Lite (maybe a bad choice for my story) with the occasional shot of whiskey. Suddenly someone reaches into the cooler to grab another one and all they get is a cold hand full of ice. The mood immediately changes. What are these good old boys going to do now? The liquor stores and bars are closed. Their wives have already locked and bolted the door. Sunday morning’s coming down. Someone in the crowd pipes up with a profound suggestion. “Let’s go get some girls!” In ancient Israel in Hosea’s day Baal’s house never closed. The guys could always stop off for a little “worship experience” on the way home. No shame in that! They could always tell their wives they had been at an all-night prayer meeting.
What causes most decent people shame is embraced as normal. Just good ole boys, never meaning no harm. Whatever happened to honor? As I write this, tomorrow will be Memorial Day. It is a day to honor those who paid the supreme price for our freedoms. I am nearly finished with The Last Lion, a biography of Winston Churchill focused on the war years. The horrors of World War II are almost unimaginable. The wholesale slaughter of millions of people is sickening. Brave men ran into battle, flew into artillery infested skies, or sailed through U-Boat waters only to be cut in two, blown out of the air, or sunk to the bottom of the sea. Civilian populations were shot, raped, gassed, and tortured. Evil was on the move. Evil was seeking to devour the earth and plunge civilization back into the Dark Ages. The enemy knew no shame. The Allies understood honor. War is a perfect environment to see the worst of shame and the best of honor. Not that I wish for another war, but I fear we are raising a generation that cannot appreciate the difference. For all the faults of the old Westerns, there was a clear contrast between shame and honor.
When a man impregnated a woman, it was usually considered the honorable thing to do to marry her and raise the child. When a person accidentally caused physical harm to another, it was considered the honorable thing to do to stay on the scene of the accident and pay restitution. When a smaller or weaker child was being picked on by a bully, the honorable thing to do was to defend the child. Today there is no shame in making babies out of wedlock, leaving the scene of an accident, or not getting involved. We are supposed to give honor to whom honor is due. Perhaps the way to curb shame is for all of us to give more honor to those who truly deserve it. Let’s start a trend. Eradicate shame by giving more honor.