I am not a theological problem to be solved

[Content Note:  Disappearing LGBT Humanity, Religious Supremacy.]

Earlier this week, I posted a few thoughts about a paper by Nigel Chapman about same-sex sexual relationships and evangelical Christianity.  Since then, Mr. Chapman and I have had a chance to discuss things.  (Our conversation starts at comment #5.)  I eventually summarized my central point thus:

The
insistence by heterosexual Christians that they must first answer
whether LGBT lives and relationships are moral before they engage in
acts of love toward and relationship with LGBT people is an aggressive
act of power against and privileging heterosexual Christians over LGBT
Christians. As long as heterosexual Christians insist on reserving that
power and privilege for themselves, they are actively causing harm
toward LGBT people. I call this sin and would ask that all evangelical
Christians who believe that harming LGBT people and exercising power
over them to be sinful to call all who engage in this particular act of
aggression and pride to repentance.

To me, Mr. Chapman’s paper feeds into the evangelical desire to privilege their sense of entitlement to be the moral arbiters of LGBT people’s lives over their duty to be good and loving neighbors to LGBT people.  After all, rather than saying — as I have called him to do — “Hey, the morality of what LGBT people do is not your primary concern.  The morality of how you treat them is,” he’s saying, “Okay, we can worry about how you treat LGBT people after we figure out whether what they do is moral.”

I also want to draw attention to is Mr. Chapman’s own description of his paper:

So my paper isn’t advocacy, and is only indirectly concerned with listening, rather, it’s theological problem-solving…

This is the other problem with playing into the idea that Christians need to answer the “morality question” about LGBT relationships first:  It’s a line of thinking that dehumanizes LGBT people and our lives into a theological problem to be solved.  Not humans first and foremost to be loved and related to.  An “issue” to talk about and work out.

The sad thing is, I get a clear sense that Mr. Chapman ultimately wants to help LGBT people, make things better for us, and make evangelical Christianity more welcoming of us.  But he’s so deeply entrenched in the systems of privilege and power that are still part and parcel of his religious subculture that he’s unable or unwilling to see that his methods of trying to help actually play into those systems and allow them to continue to other and marginalize the people he wants to help.  You cannot help LGBT people and still treat us as a theological problem to solve or even allow others to continue treating us as such.

I hope that Mr. Chapman comes to realize this some day.

One thought on “I am not a theological problem to be solved”

  1. Was the paper addressed to evangelicals, or a wider audience? Not in any way arguing that personal morality should matter in the treatment of others – IT SHOULD NOT. We DON’T get to decide who is worthy or respect, acceptance, love and support. Neighbor is EVERYONE, regardless of ___________ (whatever). But what little I’ve managed to read this morning, it does seem, as you said, that he is trying to help. If someone insists on using that screen, he is debunking it, attacking one of the bulwarks in the hopes that once unguarded, their brain might engage.

    Power and privilege is such a tough thing to see beyond. I’ve only just started catching that clue, and it’s harder to see and overcome when you’ve been convinced by those around you that it doesn’t exist and YOU are the persecuted.

    Which – IF one has to be addressed before the other – would you say is more important, when trying to help evangelicals see the errors? Is it more important for them to see that they are indeed the persecutors, the power mad, and resolve that, or is it more important to show them the that entire theological basis they stand on is imaginary?

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