God is not into humiliating anyone. Punishments were not given to strip someone’s dignity, laws were not formed to shame a person. Punishments and laws are for teaching, building up, and discipline. Verses 1-3 read,
If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, 2 then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. 3 Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.
Very often today people feel punishment ought to include degradation, especially with social media being so widespread. I’ve seen photos of people having to wear the signs of their wrongdoing, so they wouldn’t repeat the sin, not because they were taught the reason but because humiliation would supposedly cause them to not to repeat the crime. Tearing them down that way causes bitterness and resentment, not love and discipline. God clearly does not want us to humiliate one another. The worst beating a man should receive was forty strikes of the whip. Later, to ensure that this law was not broken, people were whipped forty less one. But also lost was that each case was different, not every case deserved forty lashes. What was also lost was that the lashes were meant to be the entire punishment. The fact that dignity should not be stripped from the man was lost.
When Jesus was punished during and after His trial, they beat Him, derided Him, and put him to death (John 19). The law was broken in every step of His trial and crucifixion. He endured shame at every step of the crucifixion for us. Hebrews 12:2 reads,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Love does not humiliate, it is not arrogant or rude, it does not rejoice at wrong-doing. Yet even through all that hate, Jesus bore all our sins, He endured. In living out love, in walking in the Spirit, in becoming the image of Christ, we must exemplify love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a reads,
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
If we love one another we don’t humiliate each other. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We exemplify Christ, so others can see Him. Degrading people doesn’t let them see Jesus, it causes hate, and it kills the spirit. We do not break their hearts. The sinner (saved or not) must break his own heart.
Humiliation can come in many ways. Depriving someone of a need or a livelihood causes humiliation. Verse 4 reads,
You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.
Even a legacy should not be stolen from someone, dignity must be upheld even after death. Verses 5-10 read,
If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 And if the man does not wish to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband's brother refuses to perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ 9 then his brother's wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.’ 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’
Pulling off a sandal was a symbol of shame which eventually became a symbol for passing property to another person. In the case. Making sure a brother had a legacy was important so his name should continue on. The brother who chose not to give his brother an heir was shaming his brother. To take the shame away from the dead brother, the wife would have to shame the brother in public and make it equal. This ceremonial degradation allowed the brother not to marry the woman without bringing and dishonor to her or to the brother. When a person is forced to marry against his will, the future may hold abuse, hate, and other indignity.
Even in a fight, there are lines we just do not cross. Verses 11-12 read,
When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, 12 then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.
To do something like that, to hurt a man in such a horrible way was not only unfair, but the injury humiliates the man immediately and can cause permanent damage that will continue to humiliate him in the future.
In order not to disgrace others, we have to not disgrace ourselves; we have to be fair. Verses 13-16 read,
You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15 A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 16 For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God.
Having two different weights meant that you carried with you the ability to cheat others. You had a weight that looked heavier or lighter than it really was and so stole. Being a cheat beings dishonor to the people you deal with. Acting in fairness and honesty shows respect and brings honor.
It is up to God to get vengeance, it is up to Him to decide who is punished and who is not. If someone treats us unfairly, we do not have to worry about getting back, humiliating them, or anything else. God takes care of it. Our ability to refrain from shaming one another shows our faith in The Lord. Verses 17-19 read,
Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, 18 how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.
It is natural to want to heap shame on people who hurt us. It is supernatural to love our enemies, to pray for them, and bless them. It will never be the humiliation and condemnation of another that brings them to Jesus. It will be His love manifested in us that reveals the truth. Conviction and shame are very different. Conviction leads to repentance and life. Shame turns the focus onto the self and leads to death.