The Motivation to Love

The Motivation to Love: Overcoming Spiritual Violence and Sacramental Shame in Christian Churches

Co-PI: Dawne Moon, Ph.D.

Social and Cultural Sciences, Marquette University


Co-PI: Theresa Tobin, Ph.D.

Philosophy, Marquette University


View a proposal of this project, presented at the SMV Project’s 2015 Interdisciplinary Moral Forum. Visit our YouTube channel for more.

In spiritual violence, the religious teachings, texts, symbols, and leaders that are supposed to foster loving relationship with God instead lead a person to experience God as unloving or abusive. Sacramental shame is one particularly pervasive kind of spiritual violence directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Christians, in which people constantly demand they display shame, believing that will bring them closer to God. This project investigates how the self is harmed by the spiritual violence of sacramental shame, as well as how perpetrators and victims can both overcome these institutional abuses and acquire the motivation to cultivate such virtues as compassion, humility, and Christian love that can serve as counterforces to this form of violence. In this collaborative sociological and philosophical study, we observe dialogue efforts as well as collect and analyze the narratives of people who have been subject to spiritual violence, as well as people who have committed these abuses and came to reevaluate their understanding of Christian virtues.

Products Associated with this Project