While garnering the attention of professionals across disciplines, from medicine to public health to psychology, and frequently covered as a topic of public concern in the news media, the elevated occurrence of suicide attempts among LGBTQ persons has received little attention within the literature of theology and religious studies. This book fills that lacuna by addressing the role that religious, spiritual, and theological narratives play in shaping the souls of queer folk. Taking a narrative approach to qualitative interview material from LGBTQ individuals who survived their suicide attempts, Cody J. Sanders argues that theological narratives can operate violently upon the souls of LGBTQ people in ways that make life precarious and, at time, seem unlivable. The book critically addresses the violence of theological narratives upon queer souls, filling a crucial void in scholarship concerning the role of religion—specifically Christianity—in LGBTQ suicide. Ultimately, the author draws upon the interview material to move readers toward constructive methods of contributing to the resistance and resilience of queer souls in relation to soul violence, asking how we can intervene with practices of care in order to cultivate livability of life for queer people.
The strength of Christianity, LGBTQ Suicide, and the Souls of Queer Folk is its ability to carry readers beyond mere theory. Mental health practitioners, medical professionals, congregations, and any who might by vocation or social setting be with LGBTQ persons in or on their way to crisis should consider this volume necessary reading. * Review and Expositor * LGBTQ youth continue to face a higher risk of suicide than their heterosexual and/or cisgender peers.... Sanders' book takes on this troubling reality and critically investigates the role of religion - specifically Christianity - in LGBTQ suicide. Writing as a Christian pastoral theologian in the context of the US, Sanders aims to fill a gap within current theological and religious studies in understanding this disturbing phenomenon. His work utilizes a narrative approach as an interdisciplinary method to analyze the experiences of nine
LGBTQ survivors of suicide from different Christian denominations.... I locate Sanders' book as part of the ongoing and urgent work that still needs to be done to disrupt the complicity of churches in perpetuating toxic theologies that degrade LGBTQ lives. Yet, this work is also the demanding task of all beyond ecclesial
spaces committed to serve the human flourishing of LGBTQ persons. Through Sanders' commitment to theology as public discourse, one hears his invitation to intentionally cultivate "public, shared spaces for collaborative theological engagement" through what Arthur Frank calls a "dialogue of imaginations" in storytelling (p. 130).
This invitation to dialogue must move forward to engage religious and spiritual traditions beyond Christianity, as well as non-faith-based settings. This invitation must be seriously taken up by all who work with LGBTQ youth, with whom we share our common life and for the common good that is theologically constituted by the religious and spiritual narratives told. * Journal of LGBT Youth * Sanders (a Baptist minister associated with both Harvard and MIT) makes a substantial contribution to conversations around LGBTQ people and pastoral care. This book grows out of a research study he completed in which he interviewed nine LGBTQ individuals "for whom life at one time or another came to seem unlivable" (p. 6). Sanders writes that many of his participants "voiced a desire to help churches to become safer, more life-giving places for LGBTQ people" (p. 29). The book focuses on bringing the narratives of these nine participants "into conversation with the literature of philosophy, theology, psychology, and varied other disciplines." Sanders covers a lot of terrain in helping his communities understand why LGBTQ people consider or attempt suicide. A necessary resource for scholars of religion, divinity students, and students of social work, this book will help those working in pastoral or social contexts better support and affirm the lives of LGBTQ people. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, and professionals. * Choice * Sanders' research expertly uncovers a narrative and theological account of suicide as a social phenomenon and bodily manifestation of "soul violence." Sanders also corrects social scientific and psychological literature by highlighting competing theological narratives and their intensifying and constituting functions. Part of the "Emerging Perspectives in Pastoral Theology and Care" series through Lexington Books, Christianity, LGBTQ Suicide, and the Souls of Queer Folkoffers major contributions to the ways we engage narratives, care for suicide survivors, and imagine practices of resistance and resilience. For the queer person seeking agency, for the caregiver and faith community seeking interventions, for the theologian and psychologist seeking new queer metaphors, this work brilliantly offers a multiplicity of lessons, insights, and practices. * Theology & Sexuality * Cody J. Sanders offers a close look at the role of Christian narratives in the lives of nine LGBTQ people who have attempted suicide and survived. . . . Sanders encourages churches to acknowledge publicly the soul violence that has been done to queer people, as well as to cultivate the capacity for the religious resistance and theological imagination that can help support the livability of life for queer souls. * The Christian Century * Listening carefully and closely to the complex stories told by and about queer folks, Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders speaks truthfully about matters of life and death for LGBTQ individuals. Caregivers, communities of faith, and individuals are invited to join queer folk as they resist violence to soul and body, and seek substantive ways to construct a flourishing life. Rev. Dr. Sanders' theological analysis is provocative and welcome as he points toward concrete practices and interventions for walking alongside Christian queer folks. -- Joretta Marshall, Brite Divinity School I highly and enthusiastically recommend Christianity, LGBTQ Suicide, and the Souls of Queer Folk. Author Cody Sanders delivers on their promise to offer "guidance in reforming our religious practices in ways that promote the livability of life for LGBTQ people." For pastoral caregivers-and anyone else, in fact-who is concerned about the souls and lives of queer folk, this book is an indispensable resource. -- Bernard Schlager, Pacific School of Religion