The Motivation to Love: Overcoming Spiritual Violence and Sacramental Shame in Christian Churches
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The Motivation to Love is a collaborative, qualitative study of spiritual violence in Roman Catholic and evangelical Protestant churches’ relationships with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Spiritual violence uses religious means to violate a person in her relationship with God. Sacramental shame, which uses shaming practices to try to draw people “closer” to God, is one particularly pervasive kind of spiritual violence directed at LGBT Christians. Our project investigates how the self is harmed by the spiritual violence of sacramental shame and how people—situated differently in relation to this institutional religious harm—acquire the motivation to cultivate such virtues as compassion, hope, and Christian love that can serve as counterforces to this form of violence. We use qualitative sociological methods to collect data about peoples’ experiences of sacramental shame and finding the motivation to love in the face of spiritual violence. By coupling conventional sociological methods of analysis with moral and analytical philosophical frameworks, we will develop an empirically grounded, nuanced account of the character damage this mode of violence can inflict and possibilities for recovery, while simultaneously supporting a moral argument for why this mode of violence is unjust. Among other things, we predict that having a relationship with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person will provide motivation to rethink conventional church characterizations of sexual difference. We also expect that self-conscious identification as LGBT helps individuals who have been shamed by the church to heal and thrive, regardless of their theological views of same-sex sexual practices.
- Moral Self Archive