LGBTI Suicide And Institutionalized Evangelical Christian Culture

Why does a crystallization of a politicized formulation of religion lead to increased risks of suicide for LGBTI people?
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

An institution comes as a formalized system of rules, of structure, guiding and hierarchically ordering the people contained within it. Christian mythology orients itself on the teachings, life, and personhood of Christ.

Insofar as these become functionally instituted and realized, modern political religion can be seen with the formulation of Evangelical Christianity. A recent development with precedence in the history of the Christian religion and in the history of religion.

Something of a political tool in order to bring out policy and reform in the favor of the religious who identify as Christian and against others who identify as another religion or who may identify as non-religious.

Where I live, there’s Trinity Western University in which the individuals who adhere to political Christianity have become truly institutionalized. They have both a “Community Covenant” and a “Statement of Faith.”

It’s a strange notion to try to have an academic institution, where an “academic” institution should remain bound to the open boundaries of the free inquiry mandate of academic or intellectual life while having a constrained account as to what implies an academically free life.

If we take some of the ideas of freedom vis-à-vis academic free inquiry of ideas, then even the notion of a restriction of free inquiry becomes an assault on the very foundations of an academic tradition spanning centuries.

Yet, at the same time, we come to the fact of the Evangelical Christian tradition imposing ideological constraints on that which can be thought and the manner in which those thoughts may be expressed within the context of community.

In this manner, any religious institution cannot embody the most important facet of higher learning emergent in the formulation of a fully critical mind rather than a constrained critical mind; constrained by the fact of religious dogma, this dogma restricted to the formulation of critical thought with the end result of the favorable consideration of the dogmas of the Christian religion, so as to denude the possibility of a truly critical mind.

This is the infection of faith in academic life and it remains a stain since its continued entrenchment in the hallowed halls of academe. It comes to community life too, this poison. LGBTI members of the community, who I have known, and will not claim status as one or not, personally, have been exclusively demonized in the theology of the institutions.

They have come from families in which the Christian religion is a tool of oppression, hate, and transcendent self-loathing for these individuals. Nothing is wrong with them; everything is wrong with the theology towards these individuals.

An imperious and petulant formulation of the theology as a political and social tool to crush dissent with minorities as a prime target, including the LGBTI community. Individuals who are bullied, harassed, rejected from the community, and made inherently by their nature part of the result of a sin-ridden world, will more likely self-harm or kill themselves.

This is not due to the Devil, to demons, to spiritual forces as in a spiritual battle, and the like. This is, by and large, due to the manner in which religious ideology continues to influence popular discourse to the detriment of vulnerable members of our communities and families.

The Evangelical communities before us have, generally, done a terrible job and performed a terrible disservice to the LGBTI communities. These youth, undergraduates and the like, are more likely to self-harm and commit suicide due to these violent ideologies – aggression against the self.

So, I implore: Why is this the case? Why does this have to happen? What makes these communities so holy when they commit such sins in the sight of God Himself so as to create an environment so toxic to their youth as to make them want to harm themselves, even kill themselves?

What is justice in this injustice? What is compassion in this dispassion towards the least among you? Where is the sense of commitment to the care and concern and love for those who should be image-bearers of God Himself?

This Community Covenant and Statement of Faith make clear; your nature, as LGBTI peoples, goes against the values and standards of this community of Christ. Institutionalized Evangelical Christianity remains an integral terror on the hearts of the young and, in fact, a burden on our social and medical systems due to the mental health anguish delivered to their young, our country’s wider young.

It is despicable and should not only not even be on the books; it can be said to be anti-biblical, as the covenants set forth by their God should suffice, “No?” It would seem to stipulate that God requires help from the mortal and, thus, proclaiming some usurpation of the rights and powers of God, as if a human institution knows better than God Himself.

In this, it’s quite clear. It’s not only another covenant. It becomes a form of blasphemy in violation of the revelations and powers of God. Why the need to constrict the free choice of mortal beings, undergraduate students and graduate students, in so close a domain as the intimate, as love?

One would surmise the purposes as one of control in which the individuals who might stand up and speak out against these absurd practices would be shut down by the institution as a whole, whether by a snitch culture through other students or via a culture lead by faculty, staff, and administration, who adhere to the letter of the law of the Community Covenant and the Statement of Faith.

In short, it turns legitimate religious or spiritual sentiments, turns them on their heads, and then makes an enforceable formulation of virtue and vice, as in an authoritarian formulation of the Christian faith, and institutionalized Evangelical Christianity.

LGBTI students, as evidence from Egale and others shows, are at higher risk of self-harm and suicide due to social stigma, discrimination, prejudice, and the like. Institutions with these kinds of cultures set a standard of harm to their student bases and should stop.

People are harmed; young people die.

Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He is an Independent Journalist and Researcher. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. 

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