If Christian leaders factored “lived experience” into their theology, everything would change
If Christian leaders understood and were able to empathize with the lived experiences of marginalized humans, they would preach very differently.
They wouldn’t preach depravity to LBGTQ humans who are already living in a body clenched tight with chronic shame.
They wouldn’t preach “emotions can’t be trusted” to women who are already told by doctors, partners, and the media that their physical pain, autoimmunity, anxiety, and depression were “all in their head.”
They wouldn’t preach suffering as godly to black bodies who carry the trauma of four hundred years of suffering in their DNA.
They wouldn’t preach “empathy is a sin” to men who were taught that suppressing their feelings (except for violent aggression — and posturing aggression while their football teams damage their bodies for entertainment) was a sign of true masculinity.
They wouldn’t preach logic and reason as a way to understand truth to a civilization founded on disintegration of the heart, body, and spirit from the mind, and subsequent homogenization and commodification of all things good and beautiful.
They wouldn’t preach a god of absolute, unquestioned authority to humans who have grown up without a felt sense of agency or resources to access their value as a co-creator with God.
They wouldn’t preach punishment as justice if they knew that punishment never truly rehabilitates, and that pathologies we call sin start to resolve only in the Presence of an empathetic witness.
They wouldn’t preach “the church has a masculine feel” to a politicized world where a rapist, misogynist, lying abuser is exulted as the hope for the nation — a nation which desperately needs the voices and fearsome energy of femininity to come back into sanity and balance.
They wouldn’t preach that lived experience isn’t valid if they realized that discernment is holistic: it includes a person’s whole being, body, mind, and emotions — and interrelational — truth doesn’t emerge in a vacuum, and it can’t fit in a box — and must necessarily include dynamic, and relational modes to come anywhere near accuracy. Humans who lose their ability to feel emotions also lose their ability to make rational decisions.
They wouldn’t preach that lived experience isn’t valid if they knew the physical, emotional devastation that chronic invalidation has wreaked on their wives, their congregations, their friends in the closet, their marginalized community members they claim to love with the love of Christ.
Men wouldn’t tout that lived experience isn’t VITAL and necessary for discernment, and consequently (because obedience is physical, not cognitive) truth if they realized that own experiences in a male body have necessarily, to hold up this destructive lie, internalized a self-betrayal so encompassing that they aren’t even aware of the dis-integration within.
Christian men wouldn’t need to defend this lie with their theology, and their mental conception of their creator, if they had courage enough to put down their white-knuckle need for certainty in exchange for the terrifying leap of faith called in their own pulpits “surrender.”
As C.S. Lewis put it, “No one is told any story but their own.”