From the integrative work, we found out that shame/guilt and acceptance/forgiveness are fundamentally different both in theory and reality. They are separate emotions: shame displays how we feel about ourselves whereas guilt is the acknowledgement of hurting someone through our actions.
Shame is a result of bad feeling about ourselves, making us feel disappointed and ashamed. It can create obedience and give authority to abusive personalities; whereas guilt transpires when we feel about our actions, which can cause us to make reparation. It can be used to effect positive behaviors or social change. We often confuse guilt and shame, but they are not interchangeable words. Guilt is declaration and realization of mistakes committed and the realization to make an amend. It is more like a prompting that rectification is needed and by doing so it can stimulate change.
Shame and guilt are not only psychological in nature but it is theological in nature as well. Guilt says, “I made a mistake,” shame says, “I am a mistake.” Guilt is an emotion alarming us with negative feeling. It is also a motivator in psychology. But in theology guilt is culpability. Once culpability is removed then you can have your self-esteem restored.
Guilt is also a stressor and controls your decision-making abilities in psychology. But a removal of guilt brings peace with God, God turning in favor with us which is reconciliation. Here the theological understanding of reconciliation helps you to have better decision making more solid. Shame is another negative emotion which is dysfunctional on personal level i.e. when we are alone we are not ashamed, but functional in society. And it significantly controls our social behavior. As a result, we hide or tell lies about our wrongdoings. In theology shame is an emotional product of interpreting our wrongdoing in the light of God’ s law.
Guilt and forgiveness are judicial, God redeem us and forgive us non-experiential. Harming someone else and realizing the harm one has done creates a feeling of guilt and regret that rob us of our internal peace, at least initially until the heart becomes completely hardened. So, that quite apart from the damage done to our relationship with the Lord as believers, failing to do what is right or actively giving in to what is wrong does have predictable and significant internal psychological consequences such as every human being has experienced. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (NIV) There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked. Isaiah 48:22 (cf. Isaiah 57:21)
By atoning for the sins of the world, Jesus made it possible for all the world to receive forgiveness for those sins. But the cross did not change the responsibility shared by all mankind to accept the sacrifice of Christ through faith.
While unconditionally available through the blood of Christ, forgiveness must be embraced in free will in order to be received. God stands ready to forgive the sins of anyone and everyone based upon the work of His own dear Son on the cross, but that gift of gifts has to be accepted (cf. Acts 2:38; 10:43). Christian understanding of forgiveness may differ from the ways others understand forgiveness. When forgiveness is used in Cristian counselling, they should be considered in the context of self-awareness, empathy, humility and insight.
Christian forgiveness is not a simple emotional relief; however, McMinn stated that our capacity to forgive one another depends on our capacity to understand both our need for forgiveness and God’s gracious gift of forgiveness. This type of healing brings a person into a deeper relationship with God and others. (McMinn, 1996, p.278). We help the client learn to forgive themselves, forgive others, and ask forgiveness from God. Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process. Christ accepted us with love, grace and forgiveness and that we are also called to extend this same sort of acceptance to one another and not merely so that our personal health will be better, but because doing so will bring glory to God.
Acceptance is never easy but we have been accepted and forgiven so much. That is just as Christ accepted us, we are to accept other people. Forgiveness is more than a clinical technique, it emerges from lifestyle, a way of being. If we have fostered compassion and empathy through life experience, spiritual disciplines and theological reflection we are more open to forgiving others even when the offense is great. To whatever extent counseling models and promotes empathy, is also opens the possibility of forgiveness.
Acceptance in theology is connected to the doctrine of adoption, God has adopted us into the beloved and in psychology that has to do with re-establishing the relation on a social level. Acceptance is a decision to let go of anger without in any way seeking to change one’s attitude toward the perpetrator. The victim simply decides to let matters pass and move on.
No forgiveness is granted. The victim does not decide to behave differently toward the offender (i.e., as would have occurred in the case of decisional forgiveness) but merely moves on and tries not to think about the offender at all. The victim does not replace negative unforgiving emotions with positive, other-oriented emotions (i.e., as would have occurred with emotional forgive-
ness). The victim simply let’s go of troublesome emotions.
In this integrated work, we also learned that psychology and theology are inseparable as both clearly addressed the issue in such a way that is not overlapping.
Both can be integrated to support one another. Psychology providing some interventions that can help the client in understanding how they change and what issues they are going through. Theology providing the knowledge about God, and Christian spirituality that will help in understanding that we are sojourners on earth and it’s our part to seek God and live life according to what He want us to be. Providing spiritual and emotional support as we work to conform our lives to the standards of truth that God has revealed.
Both theology and psychology are inseparable, Psychology cannot eliminate theology and so also theology cannot discard all the secular therapies and techniques. As all human being are separated from God, this separation is the reason that causes sin and disorders in our life. However, it calms our heart that we have a loving God who is gracious and provides a way out of our depraved state. Recognizing and remembering that the counselor and the client are not the healer but it is God who is the true healer, can be fruitful in counseling.