Is it okay to use "shame" to correct a person?

For example, I’ll shame the guy who talks loud because it’s wrong, so I’ll mock his actions imitatively. Is that okay or even ethical for a Christian?

‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ - so I can’t imagine you would appreciate being ‘corrected’ this way. A kind correction also reveals that you’re a Christian, at least implicitly, in this age when malice and mockery rule.

I wouldn’t really consider that a “shame technique”. That is more like a passive aggressive way of expressing to the guy that his loud talking is annoying you. It’s not the height of maturity and it would certainly be better if you just respectfully asked him to quiet down first. Shaming him would involve taking photos or video and showing them to others in order to humiliate him or doing something to intentionally embarrass him in front of his friends. Scripture tells us that if someone is causing us a problem, the correct response is to speak to them in private and if they won’t listen, to seek help from the Church. Assuming the person in question is a stranger or not a member of your Church, I think it can be said that the next reasonable step would be to seek whatever authority is appropriate in the situation. (In your example, a security person or librarian.)

I think sometimes you can say, you know, your parents told you not to that and now your paying those consequences. Yes you might bring hurt them, but I see it as telling them, ok yes you messed up but you can get it right now.

What you describe is not how the catholic church teaches believers to behave. Neither of those tactics are loving, kind, or mature and are in fact signs of an abuser. It is not okay or ethical to shame others by degrading them, much less to degrade people based on what you find unacceptable.

Note that the natural consequence of recognizing your sins is that a person feels internally ashamed. This is different than degrading a person until they feel shame or in the hopes that they feel shame for something arbitrary like ‘speaking loudly’

No. It is not ok; it isn’t even good manners. What is wrong with just asking the person, politely to speak a little more quietly? Talking loud is not wrong anyway; if you are disturbed by it, find a more mature way to deal with your problem.

Quit bluntly it sounds like stupid, immature behavior to do as such. Surely you already know this?


There are two kinds of shame. Stigmatizing shame is that we or embarrassing circumstances inflict on people. It like all shaming has the power to change behavior but often has damaging side effects. Like a father who makes his son who has been caught stealing wear a sign that says “I’m a thief” and marches him through the mall. The boy may never steal again but the father-son relationship has been damaged perhaps for ever and the ongoing shame caused may later manifest itself in depression, substance abuse and self loathing.

The other shame is that what comes naturally to us when facing our own negative or offending behavior. It is an inherent affect that we all have to some extent. An effect is a physical response to an outside stimulus like something that shocks or surprises us. We jump and our heart rate goes up. We don’t have to think about it, it just occurs because that’s how we are wired. There are many affects. Like when we wrinkle our nose when we smell something bad. We don’t have to think about it, it just happens. What we do immediately after is up to us but that initial reaction or affect just happens and we have little control over it.

Shame happens! But it’s what happens after that really makes the difference between stigmatizing shame and what we call re-integrating shame. Shame causes us to feel singled out from our community of care and as social beings we don’t like that and will try to belong again. If a person experiencing shame is given the chance to do something to repair the harm their behavior has caused, the damage to their self-image or self worth can be repaired and they can be "re-integrated into their community of care. If not it is often stigmatizing with lasting negative results. Like the man who steals as a youth and wears the label of a thief and untrustworthy for the rest of his life in the community.

So if we confront someone with their negative behavior we must do it in a way that offers them a chance to make reparation and change their ways, and not just label them as bad. Christ knew this and although He paid the price for our sins He still instituted the sacrament of reconciliation so that in addition to giving us absolution we have the chance to do something about or own negative behavior or sin.

So what you are talking about is inflicting stigmatizing shame on the loud talker trying to make him feel bad about himself so he will change his behavior. It may work but he may hate you or feel like a outcast.

If you were to take him aside as a friend and talk to him about how talking loud takes away from the gravity of what he is saying and that he doesn’t need to be loud as you know he is an intelligent guy. If you do this as a friend and out of genuine concern the results would be to help him, and make you more of a reflection of Christ.

Remember what we say about others says more about ourselves than it does about them (Escriva)

I think Nathan handled this issue well, such that David shamed himself: 2 Samuel 12.

Excellent point. We are taught to act as Jesus would have acted in our daily lives. While He did bring attention to the sins of others; anything I have read in scripture does not reflect him using degradation to do so.

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