Cheering for Incest?!? Some Healthy Shame Would Do Us Good

19 Dec

at Catholic Online

Just when I start to think I can’t be shocked anymore, I find myself stunned to a whole new level. You may think what I’m about to say is unduly harsh or uncharitable, and damaging to poor weary souls who are trying to find their way, but I truly hope not. I hope you are outraged. That would be encouraging. But if you think I’m being harsh, I really don’t care.

You see, our culture is on fire, and it ain’t the holy kind. Our culture has gone three kinds of backwards and sideways and alarm bells need to be sounded loudly.

We can reach a lot of people with a tender touch, and mercy should always rule. But I’d like to make a case that once in a while, some folks just need to have their heads smacked. Okay, a lot of folks.

Like the parents and school administrators of Rosemount High School in Minneapolis, who recently had a group demonstration of incest at a school pep rally and thought it was really funny. Yep, these people blindfolded the captains of their sports teams, had them brought into the gymnasium in front of the whole school where they were greeted by a surprise kiss from a special someone — who turned out to be their own opposite-sex parent. (They were supposed to try to figure out who was kissing them.) Fathers were french-kissing their daughters. Mothers were making out with their sons. In front of a cheering crowd. And the school thought this was great fun. (There’s even a video of the whole disgusting spectacle, if you can stomach it. I couldn’t.)

There’s no polite or kind way to confront this kind of staggering turpitude. There’s only one way to ask the question and it’s like this: What the hell is wrong with these people?!

I just can’t process what goes on in the mind of a principal who plans this whole humiliating and perverse exercise and thinks it’s okay. I definitely can’t begin to comprehend what kind of parent would agree to do this to their son or daughter. How embarrassing, disgusting, and abusive!

Yet this is what our culture is churning out these days. You can’t pray at graduation anymore, but you can play tonsil-hockey with your parents at a pep rally and it’s all good. You can’t say Merry Christmas or sing “Silent Night”, but your mother can make out with you on the gym floor in front of hundreds of screaming teenagers and teachers and everyone just laughs.

You can’t oppose same-sex “marriage”, and now it looks like you can’t even object to incest. YUCK! Where is the natural, instinctual sense of revulsion at this kind of garbage? Do people truly not have any innate sense of right and wrong anymore? Why is nothing unthinkable anymore?

You know what I think we need a big, healthy dose of? Shame! Yes — bring back shame! Bring back a healthy, appropriate, moral sense of shame.

Those parents should be ashamed of themselves for what they did to their teenagers. If Daddy had done that at home with his 16 year-old daughter he’d be in jail, and rightly so. That principal should be ashamed of himself. Moreover, he should be immediately fired and criminally charged. The other students, parents and teachers present at that pep rally should be ashamed of themselves if they were cheering and applauding the violation of their friends’ dignity.

We need to start being ashamed of our bad behavior again. We need to stop coddling ourselves and our kids in a bubble of fragile self-esteem and feel mortified when we screw up royally or behave like uncivilized animals.

We’ve had so many years of Jerry Springer and voyeuristic reality television that glorifies people behaving as crass and odious as possible that the instinct to shun such people and condemn their terrible actions has been stifled to the point of extinction in us.

Appropriate shame serves a healthy purpose. It corrects our course when we’ve gone off the moral path. It sends a clear signal to our hearts that we have done something beneath our own dignity or the dignity of others. It speaks to the deepest part of our souls that we have offended the All-Good God who created us.

This is where real repentance begins. The Christian concept of shame is good because it knows that an appropriate and useful shame is the beginning of a new beginning.

Hear me clearly now: I said an appropriate shame. And I know full well that shame is one of Satan’s favorite tools with which to bludgeon us into despair and a sense of worthlessness. But that is not appropriate shame.

To start with shame over our bad behavior is one thing; to stay there forever is quite another. Those who believe the Church is a strict, disapproving mother wagging her finger in rebuke and condemnation have failed to see the manger or the Cross. They are stuck in useless shame, which only comes from the enemy of our souls.

The point is not that we’ve done nothing to be ashamed of, but that Christ has borne our humiliation and our sin so that we can step out of shame into mercy, freedom, and new life.

A healthy shame is meant to be a springboard into redemption. When our hearts are heavy with regret for what we’ve done, it is a sure indicator that we have made that much more room for holiness and love. It is proof that our undignified actions have not got us trapped. We have recognized what we did wrong, which means we can still discern what is right.

However, Lucifer is a first-rate liar and twister of the truth, so he can crush us with useless, hopeless shame with one hand, and deaden our minds and hearts to any sense of appropriate shame with the other hand. He wants us to either be paralyzed in a false worthlessness or rotting in a false immunity.

Jesus never once said that our sin wasn’t shameful. He never made excuses for us or poo-pooed our incivility. He certainly never applauded or celebrated our iniquity. He simply came and dealt with it once and for all. And then He said, “I love you. I forgive you. Now stop it, and follow Me.”

The astonishing part is that He keeps saying that over and over, day in and day out, with endless patience and love. “I love you. I forgive you. Now stop it, and follow Me.”

We spit on His mercy if we start thinking we don’t need to be ashamed of our sin anymore. It should break our hearts with sorrow to admit the terrible things we’ve done. Broken hearts do not easily become hardened with pride. A heart still aching from wrongs committed will take greater care not to sin again.

We also spit on His mercy if we wallow in useless shame. Our sin is not greater than His mercy. Our dung is not more potent than His blood. I repeat: healthy shame is the beginning of a new beginning.

That is how shame serves us well. That is how we keep shame in its place, and live freely in His mercy and abiding love for us.

But that is what we have lost as a culture. We now revel in our vulgarity and cheer for those who debase themselves. We reward people for their abhorrent behavior. We laugh when parents violate the dignity of their own children. Most people today are even afraid to use the kind of “harsh” language I’ve just used here: abhorrent, vulgar, crass, disgusting, and yes, shameful. (gasp – how judgmental!) It’s no surprise we’ve lost our sense of shame when we can’t even bring ourselves to call things what they are.

Something is very, very wrong with us. It’s time to get alarmed. Before we can avail ourselves of the unfathomable, inexhaustible mercy of God, we first need to have our heads smacked.


Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “Cheering for Incest?!? Some Healthy Shame Would Do Us Good

  1. Virginia Merry

    December 20, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    I agree that shame can be a good thing. I am Catholic, and a little shame and guilt never really hurt me. My devout mother reminded me, however, to keep my spoken or written words true and to exercise caution when I’d attempt to play God’s helper in evaluating others. She often reminded me of the biblical passage that asks us to take the wooden beam out of our eyes before we claim to judge. My Catholic mother told me to seek the truth and avoid sensationalizing for my ego.

    When I see the high school pep rally in Rosemount (BTW: it’s a St. Paul suburb, not Minneapolis), I felt weird. I thought: what in the world were those parents doing? What impulse led them to such dramatization in front of 2000 people? But surely, this couldn’t be incest, because incest and sexual abuse is hidden, and victims are often silenced. (I think you and I both know which Catholics should feel shame on this topic) But, I don’t blame you for that Catholic abuse. So, why do you blame the principal, who evidently is taking the entire fall for this? Do you really think he knew those few parents were going to kiss their students on the lips and thought, “Sure, why not? Give it a go?” Really? Come on. You can’t be that ignorant.

    I don’t read coverage where someone had the courage to ask the principal that. I only read about him being the captain who goes down with the ship regardless of what his shipmates have done, taking the fall.

    Yes, administrators are responsible for their school and the safety of its students. I’m sure he feels so much regret that wasn’t paranoid enough. Are Catholics paranoid enough? Did the bishops double and triple check their priests decisions? Again, I don’t blame you for that.

    I also didn’t see any “french kissing” like you claim to have had. Where was that? I also didn’t see what the crowd, including students and faculty did that followed this uncomfortable experience. Did you? Ah, but you know what your limited humanity can see and what your readers crave, and you’re confident that shame is the answer. Damn that public school and its community.

    Again, I agree with you that shame does prompt many of us to redemption that leads us to grace. Yet, the sensationalizing you do tells me you should be ashamed of yourself. Really? Do you feel grace-filled insinuating that the Rosemount community and Lucifer are tight, BFF? Take the wooden beam out of your eye. I like your toughness but cringe at your omissions. You’ve got to be smarter than that.

    • catholicmoxie

      December 20, 2011 at 9:09 PM

      Virginia Merry,
      I blame the principal because he planned and approved of this disgraceful event!! Yes, Virginia Merry, he knew all about it, knew exactly what the parents planned to do, and he gave his consent! This did not happen behind his back or without his knowledge. This was school-sponsored sexual corruption! Why is it the public schools can’t be criticized for their blatant corruption of our children without people pointing the finger at the Church again? You’ll not find me ever excusing or justifying or downplaying the evil of the sex-abuse scandals that have rocked my Church. It is horrifying and disgusting; the ultimate betrayal. It sickens me. What happened in this high school also sickens me. It was incestuous, plain and simple, and every bit as evil.

      If you think I am writing about this out of some backwards need for drama and sensationalism, think again. Keep your projections to yourself. Obviously there were not enough people in that community with a head on their shoulders or the good moral sense God gave a goose, because they sat there and applauded this abuse of their children. And apparently, this isn’t even the first year they’ve done this! This was a repeat performance — which makes it even more appalling. The kids at that school deserve much better than to have their purity so abused by their own parents; their trust so violated by the people with authority over them; people who are obligated to know better. This wasn’t a funny prank. It was perverse, and there’s only enough outrage about it when it ceases to happen. That principal should be fired, along with every teacher who went along with it. The parents needs serious counseling, if not criminal charges brought against them.

      Spare me your veiled sarcasm and insinuations.

      • Virginia Merry

        January 6, 2012 at 9:51 PM

        Why should you be “spared”? Why should you feel the freedom to ‘project’ and say your readers should keep their “projections” to themselves? Excuse me? Really?

        Why do you think you’ve got some divine insight that says, without question, the principal “planned” and knew “exactly” what a few people would stupidly do? Holy cow, woman! Are you sure? Did someone from this MN community give you a tip? Otherwise, write responsibly, especially when you claim to represent grace and humility. When I watched the principal’s response, it looked like he just took full responsibility without throwing others under the bus, oddly so. I’m guessing he took the heat for others impulsive mistakes. How is it you judge so fully, so righteously without getting the full facts? Did you interview him? If so, say so.

        If you can even do this, imagine if someone took a quick video of you during your worst moment, say yelling at your kids, and said you were definitely and absolutely a verbally, abusive parent. Wouldn’t you hope people would question the media, just a tad? Wouldn’t you hope for clarity? Now, you’re probably thinking, Virginia, it’s not the same; don’t compare yelling to ‘incest and sexual corruption.” Lady, I’m just saying your excessive superlative-use make you come off more like a tabloid writer than one that writes for a humble, Christian audience. Be tough, but be honest.

        Again, I agree with you that shame is often a good thing. I just can’t understand why a pious person like you can’t feel some. And, finally — again, if you avoid insinuation, chances are your readers will too.

      • catholicmoxie

        January 11, 2012 at 1:49 PM

        Virginia Merry,

        Again, the principal was not surprised or caught unaware by this incestuous abuse of his students. HE KNEW ABOUT IT. Knew it was going to happen, and was wholly supportive of it. This wasn’t the first time they’d done this! It seems this was a repeat performance, so the principal, the teachers, the administrators have NO EXCUSE. They weren’t unknowingly caught on tape during a stressful, every-day human moment. They all thought this was great fun!

        The principal’s response was along the lines of “Gee, we’re sorry if anyone was offended.” Not, “I’m sorry for having abused and violated the students of this school, for humiliating them and every observer in the auditorium. What happened here was inexcusable and immoral, and the parents involved will be meeting with myself and the police.” Then the school board should have followed that up with some firings. That would have been taking responsibility. That might have been a step toward restoring some measure of trust in the adults running that school.

        This was not a collection of impulsive mistakes, but a well-planned event. But, really, it doesn’t matter because the point is it was grossly immoral, and abusive to those kids. It was intolerably inexcusable, and I can’t believe so many people are willing to make excuses. If THIS doesn’t cause us to feel shame, then we are hopelessly lost.

        Every kid in that auditorium that night was violated, whether they know it or not. Their sexual purity and privacy was violated, and their innocence further stolen from them. THAT’s the point, and it was done under the authority and permission of the adults in charge. SHAME on all of them and the parents.


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