Love Should Do No Harm: When Belief Trumps Love In Christianity

Jamie Arpin-Ricci
4 min readMar 30, 2022
(Banner art by Jamie Arpin-Ricci)

This past week, a friend shared this quote on socials:

“A major problem in evangelicalism is that the question is never asked, ‘does this theology cause harm?’ but rather they ask, ‘is it true?’ Once an evangelical has determined a belief to be ‘true’, harm caused is irrelevant & can be blamed on moral shortcomings of the victim rather than blamed on the harmful theology itself.” @deconstruct_everything

“A major problem in evangelicalism is that the question is never asked, ‘does this theology cause harm?’ but rather they ask, ‘is it true?’ Once an evangelical has determined a belief to be ‘true’, harm caused is irrelevant & can be blamed on moral shortcomings of the victim rather than blamed on the harmful theology itself.” @deconstruct_everything

I shared it on my own socials and it was quickly liked and shared by many others, just as it had on my friend’s wall. It’s not hard to see why it resonates with so many. For many people who swim deeply in evangelical waters, the experience of having “right belief” used as a blunt instrument for “encouraging faithfulness” (aka “coercing obedience”) is all too familiar.

For those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ and have interactions within or tangential to evangelicalism, this is a very common experience. Regardless of how much harm the expression and application of anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs cause, some evangelicals refuse to “compromise”, often rationalizing the harm away, denying the harm completely or even that it is inflicted on LBGTQ+ by themselves.

And while some might acknowledge “mishandling the issues, those concerns are considered less than secondary to the doctrinal purity of their beliefs. “It’s true that the church has done a good job with LGBTQ+ folks but the solution can’t be being soft on sin!” they might quip.

There is a lot of unpacking that could be done around this tendency, from the reduction of belief to a set of articulated precepts to the centering of purity over love. And these are difficult tendencies to address. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard some version of this rebuttal, which twists love itself into their harmful words and actions:

“If our beliefs are…

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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Jamie Arpin-Ricci is a bisexual author & activist with more than 25 years experience living at the intersection of faith, sexuality, and justice.