Robert Capon writes, “Shamelessness is the supreme virtue of the Incarnation.” I think Capon is right. To cave into the accusing voices of shame is to drain the Gospel of its power. In a word, God is shameless.
Recently, a friend told me the story of when he used the “f-word” in a religious gathering. (I would spell out the word for clarity but, ironically, most internet search engines have a higher morality than I do and would block it). He used the “f-word” to ease the shame of someone in the group who accidentally said, “damn,” and felt terrible for doing so. Can you see the picture? A guy of questionable moral fiber accidentally said, “damn” at a bible study and felt ashamed for doing so. My friend, who has sworn maybe twice in his whole life, saw that the man was ashamed and immediately threw out an awkwardly placed, ill-timed, and altogether forced “f-bomb” in hopes of covering the shame of the shamed one.
One of the earliest known depictions of Jesus, is the Alexamanos Graffito, dating from c.200 AD or earlier. It is an early parody of Christianity. It was discovered in 1857 in Rome and is now in the Palatine Antiquarian Museum. This wall carving is much like the graffiti we might find on a bathroom stall today. It shows a man with an ass’s head being crucified and a youth raising his hand, as if in prayer.