Shame, how useful?

This entry on shaming the poor was interesting to me, because I have the NASB translation of Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians stuck in my head:

What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.

Interestingly, the ESV uses the word “humiliate,” rather than “shame.”  I don’t know which might be closer to the Greek original, but the interchangeability of the two words in English is rather revealing.

But I wonder how much usefulness is to be found in shame in the case of people who are actually responsible for the shame they bring on themselves (unlike children).  I won’t deny that it can deter undesirable behavior.  But it seems to me it is just as likely to deter the admission of wrong behavior, to motivate people to cover their behavior, and to even cause them to deceive themselves about it.

And that can only make the problem behavior even worse.

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