People knew how debilitating shame was, and they figured the Christian rhetoric of sin was the problem. Eliminate that, and then poof, get rid of this shame problem.
But I think it is much worse now, now in our inclusive tolerant post-brimstone world. Much more shame. And shaming.
Shame is bad for everyone. Not only does it lead to debilitating self-hatred, but it also leads to attempts at self-justification, which usually involve comparing oneself to others (apparently, shame is graded on a curve), condemning and shaming others (e.g. “at least I’m not HER”), and blame-shifting (“it wasn’t my fault, it was XYZ’s fault…”).
You can live your whole life this way, as a “decent” human being, constantly battling shame. It is like stuffing something dead into the closet, and you keep everything else clean and tidy, and spray lots of Febreeze bottles in the room. You only get a little deranged when visitors unintentionally stumble near the closet–then you get mean, but apologize later, with a plate of home made chocolate chip cookies.
The rhetoric of sin is the opposite. Sin looks it squarely in the face. Invokes an absolute standard, takes the blame, says it was wrong. Damnably wrong. Takes full responsibility. Then carries it to the face of God. Expurgates all of it onto the Divinity, the fundamental principle of the universe itself, Absolute Good.
Then is freed. Where all of one’s guilt and all of one’s worth rests with Him. You carry nothing yourself–there are no closed closets. It does not matter. You are not the standard of decent humanity, jealously guarded by tearing down others or blameshifting. Just let go of all of it. Because He is Good, and because He exists, all shall be made well.
Shame can only be blame-shifted. Sin can be washed away. That is the difference.