Any definition of homophobia that views it as revulsion towards homosexuality is functionally correct. When that definition says that homosexuality is a perversion of heterosexuality, then that definition becomes legally contentious.
It is problematic because it says that heterosexuality is “right” while homosexuality is “wrong.” Every attempt to argue that homosexuality is “wrong” has been easy to begin but difficult to sustain.
For that reason, I propose a definition of homophobia that uses misogyny as its starting point.
Misogyny goes unnoticed in a hetero-patriarchal society but sparks out as disgust against gay couples because in each of those couples, someone has “surrendered” the prerogatives and the stigmas associated with his prescribed gender role.
That a person can decide autonomously which of society’s rules about gender do and do not apply to him, says that those rules are plastic and optional. The stability of the social structures that have been built on those rules is called into question by the existence of LGBTI persons. The fact that those structures may have been oppressive to female persons (and in some ways, male persons) is never enough to call their stability into question in the first place, it seems; rather, that some people choose not to be chained or controlled is what calls the social structures’ stability into question.
The measure of a society’s refusal to accept LGBTI people’s “autonomy” is the measure of its intolerance.
Here in South Africa, the considerable levels of that intolerance stand in hostile contrast with the Bill of Rights. Worse than that, intolerance creates an atmosphere that makes it nigh-impossible to resolve the many issues that originate from misogyny. This is because misogynists are shielded from self-inspection by the hegemonic hetero-normality we live in.
I submit that the State is not at choice about aggressively investigating the prevalence and effects of situations such as these, if it is to avoid a charge of double-speak concerning its regard for human rights.
Seen in the above light, homophobia is not a demand for the preservation of what is “good” in heterosexual relationships; it is a demand that everything that is inhumane about them be quarantined to the heterosexual configuration, lest those malicious elements be exposed against the backdrop of “unusual” sexual relationships.
It is ultimately homosexuality that forces society to confront what it doesn’t wish to see regarding its (mis)understanding of gender, sex, power and personhood; indeed, without the continuum of sexual orientations, the misunderstandings would not be marked out as often as they are because there would be no “unusual” relationships to unsettle society in its self-appointed role as complacent arbiter of gender roles.
Homophobia is the demand that hetero-normality be thrown over everything that is wrong with society’s stance regarding gender, misogyny, person-hood and sexuality. Camouflaged, those misogynistic attitudes fade into the backdrop of “normal” sexual relationships and never have to prick anyone’s conscience again. Thusly does the culture that victimizes women and children absolve itself of any duty to confront its misogyny. Where it is the unquestioned norm, hetero-normality enables misogyny.
For every assertion I have made, and will make, I need only gather sufficient evidence and credible witnesses to eventually make it stand in Court. The question is, is Court the best place to engage the State on my worries?
We shall revisit that question again. At any rate, homophobia is the demand that the hetero-normative camouflage stay active and stay up so that misogynistic attitudes may continue to do their work unquestioned. Or as some people have so colourfully put it to men, “Homophobia is the fear that a man will treat you the way that you treat women.”
Society’s greater tolerance of male-on-female domestic violence, a tolerance that exceeds its tolerance for homosexuality, proves that this definition of homophobia is correct. I am willing to revise or improve my definition of homophobia should a better one be proposed.
By being the self-referencing, unquestioned moral norm, hetero-normality causes society to develop a blind spot to its flaws, which flaws it sees most brazenly in the homosexuality that it often judges and condemns through the voices of homophobic persons.
I thusly argue that hetero-normality has to be identified, wherever it is found, and called by name and interrogated; I will also argue that the State has as much an obligation to this as it does to fight crime. Indeed, this may be one of the deepest, most neglected ways of crime-fighting the State could have used. Rather than a single act or response to any particular incident, this is something that can be infused into its overarching policy as it tries to transform the environment we all live in to more reflect the spirit of the Bill Of Rights. International precedent exists: the United States of America has struggled valiantly to realize the dignity of varying people.
By what approach can South Africa be jump-started into doing the same? Despite the great strides made legally for same-sex marriage, the South African State is almost 20 years late in fulfilling its obligation to interrogate homophobia (provided that the definition of homophobia given above is correct.) Indeed, for the State to do anything less than a full-scale investigation and intervention of and in homophobia, would constitute the highest form of negligence on its part – as negligent, if not as obvious, as the government’s denialism regarding the connection between HIV and AIDS just a few years ago.
Religion is no excuse for homophobia
One of the biggest obstacles towards the realization of the Bill Of Rights is the religion-based teaching that women are supposed to be subordinate to men, and that homosexuality is wrong. But this hetero-patriarchy can be dissolved by the very religious teachings that gave it to us. Indeed, it must be.
The law is not getting broken on every single Sunday but it is being undermined by commission by omission during sermons. Every time someone preaches using a shallow, hetero-patriarchal interpretation of the bible to milk congregants for all their moneys’ worth, he gets paid to corrode the State’s work in terms of realizing people’s common dignity. When religious leaders implicitly or explicitly preach a worldview that keeps congregants not only vulnerable to exploitation, but indifferent to the suffering and marginalization of others, to the inequalities around them, and in some cases, eager to inflict violence upon the marginalized, then surely the State has to put its tax money where its mouth is regarding the common dignity of its citizens. The preachers cannot be allowed to tickle their ears, approve prejudices, normalize the status quo, stimulate fears or incite hatred without the State pre-empting this by implementing more detailed policy regarding such religious situations. The State can no longer continue responding to consequences only after the worst happens.
For too long, the State has allowed the misunderstood teachings of religions and cultures to dictate to, and limit, the implementation of the ideals enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Anyone dropped in the
middle of South Africa without being told where he is would surely think one were lying if one told him about the nature of our Constitution and the progressiveness of our Bill of Rights.
A friend of mine realized that I was planning to compel the State to seek out and challenge misogynistic and homophobic preaching on theological and religious terms, even if by the hand of third parties. I respect that each religion claims to be following the instructions and teachings of a sacred text. I wouldn’t want anyone to abandon convictions and conscience. However, no one has the right to spread a hateful message “just because,” even if the hateful message is implicit and spread more by what its preachers leaves unsaid than what they do positively say. Justice demands that if I believe that the varying texts of the varying beliefs have been misread, then the adherents of those religions have no legal choice but to subject themselves and their texts to an inquiry. I have read the bible and below are my findings about the logic of its particular homophobia.
Into The Text
Genesis tells of the Garden of Eden, wherein there is “Adam and Eve,” male and female “in the image of God.” Their sexual union is how they out-picture the divine harmony in whose image they are. “God” tells them that they can eat of all the trees in Eden, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But a talking serpent tells Eve that if they eat that fruit they’ll be wise like God. Eve then believes that God is a tyrant who forbids empowerment on pain of death; she revolts against the image of God that she and the serpent have co-created in her mind’s eye. She and Adam eat the fruit. Their eyes are “opened,” and they realize that they are naked; so they sew fig leaves together for covering. God later confronts them about why they are hidden and how they knew that they were naked.
Notice how “awareness” and “unawareness” are palpable psychological forces in the story, working the way they do in dreams where nakedness is symbolic and subliminal. We shall now interpret the symbolism using the rest of the biblical discourse in order to understand and contextualize biblical homophobia.
Adam and Eve are ashamed of their nakedness because their rebellion has changed the meaning of their sexuality. At first, their sexuality is the out-picturing of “God” – that is, divine harmony. But after they eat the fruit, their nakedness becomes an out-picturing of the God they’d imagined God to be when they believed the serpent, that is, the image of God they were been rebelling against; they now out-picture the tyrannical Godhead that Eve saw it fit to overthrow. They have adopted and acted according to that distorted picture of Deity that the Serpent’s accusation had created in their imaginations. This in turn has tainted the sex by which they out-picture their most basic belief about God. They’ve became “as God” as they wished; they’ve permanently become the tyrannical image of God they momentarily believed in when they saw it necessary to overthrow that God.
It appears from the rest of the biblical discourse that one’s most visceral belief about ultimate reality is also one’s driving belief about sex and power, and colours how one wields and enacts sexual power; that is part of what it means to be “in the image and likeness of ‘God’.”
What Adam and Eve believed about “God” (their ultimate reality) when they overthrew him, now colours their sexual relationship with the suspicion they were acting from when they believed the character lie about “God” – whose character they out-picture during the sexual union.
Their distorted understanding of “God” informed (and deformed) their sexual union, making it something to be ashamed of because it was exploitative and deceptive, in accordance with the serpent’s accusation. They now need to cover their bodies. A caricature of harmony is a dysfunctional relationship, and that dysfunction, which they out-pictured, is what they became aware of when they realized that they were naked:
If Eve imagined that God was a tyrant, then the image of God-in-her head, which she would now out-picture with Adam, could only be complete if there were a person that this new out-picturing of the Godhead could degrade and objectify – and she was that person. The narration is implying that she’s brought it on herself and has no one around to help her clean up the mess except God, who has promised to do it in the future through her “seed” [Gen 3:15].
Because it was her voice that was heeded – “The woman whom you gave me”; “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife” – Eve would never be allowed to tell the story in her own words. Seen but never heard, she would seek Adam’s love but keep meeting degradation and his contempt for her perceived weakness, as well as blame for the temptation she had brought into the picture. “Your desire shall be for the man, but he shall rule over you,” was how God summarized her share of the consequences for what had happened. This meant that being a woman, anything associated with femininity, would be despised. It would mean relational defeat; desiring the person that robs her of her person-hood and despises her, yet is only able to resolve that tension by having sex with her. Sex becomes an expression of many twisted feelings that he must express as power but never in a way that makes him vulnerable. The meaning of sex changed in Eden.
Eve’s only bargaining power was as The Seductress – and unable to tell the story in her own words, she is later brought back as the scriptural archetypes of Lilith, Bathsheba, Delilah and every other seductress in The Book; today, she is the silent woman on the sports’ car ad saying, “Buy me, drive me, own me, and you’ll feel like a real man” – all of which she says without saying a word.
Adam’s fundamental belief that God was tyrannical coloured his sexuality with the need to dominate (whereas before while it was in the authentic image of God it was coloured with the desire to love). A tyrannical master may have more than one slave, but no slave may have more than one master; the urge to multiply women without allowing them to multiply husbands enters the picture and masculinity begins defining itself as femininity’s opposite, that is, men desiring women and conquering them.
These archetypes of Adam and Eve, as well as their story reappear in the rest of the biblical narrative disguised as empires and colonies, rulers and subjects, masters and slaves, events and participants, coups and revolts, covenants and betrayals, religious liturgies and idolatry.
However the story is reconfigured, it is the basic explanation of everything else that is said in the scriptures.
Understood from the story of Adam and Eve, it can be seen why masculinity would shun any variations, any “shade of gay,” any and all permutations or mixes between the two sexes. Masculinity would be seen as something to be preserved at the expense of femininity.
So it stands to theology and to reason that whatever homophobic idea we hear in the bible presupposes “Adam’s” inability to face his twisted feelings regarding Eve and femininity, as well as the homosexual permutations thereof – for if being attracted to men is problematic enough for women, then homosexual attraction will be especially scandalous if found in a man. “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!” said King Saul to Jonathan. “Do you think I don’t know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own confusion, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?” We don’t know whether this Jonathan was gay or not, but this alignment of biblical symbols and ideas is rather striking for it shows that we have unearthed a thought pattern held by people in that time and place, regarding gender, sexuality and personhood.
It also stands to theology, reason and the Bill of Rights that whatever homophobic idea we hear in the bible neatly lines up with the way the meaning of sex was altered in Eden and can be resolved by a contextual reading and understanding of the scriptures. The biblical “Law of God” presupposes the misogyny of the men to whom it speaks. But it also presupposes their inability and refusal to face up to that issue. Again, the psychological forces of awareness and unawareness are palpable in the biblical discourse, and the script dances shrewdly with them. The bible speaks of “light” and “dark,”
knowing and not knowing, confession and denial, self-awareness and hypocrisy; today, we call those psychic forces conscious and subconscious. “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of knowing of good and evil –?” God asks Adam when Adam sees it necessary to fix up the way he looks. But it’s exactly the same question “God” could ask of anyone who has an affinity for preserving masculinity from femininity or obeying the “Law of God” that presupposes the misogyny of human beings: why the anxiety? When the “Law of God” is delivered thousands of years after Adam on Mount Sinai, we discover that “God” is still speaking to “Adam” found in the deepest subconscious of man. “Adam” is still hiding from “God” and covering up his “nakedness” through the misogyny with which he approaches his relationship with “Eve.” Through delivering the Law that he brings, “God” isn’t endorsing the misogyny: he is quarantining and containing, putting checks and balances on it so that it may be managed. The Law manages the misogyny, for example, by telling men what they are to do when a woman has been raped: the rapist must recompense the woman’s father and then marry her. The Law provides a system whereby misogynistic actions reach a prescribed end.
The injunction against homosexuality is an algebraic outworking of those checks and measures. “You will not lie with a man as with a woman; it is abomination” is contingent on the culture and mindset that sprung up from the Edenic story. To enforce this Law on biblical grounds requires that the whole Law with all 613 rules be kept in its entirety, which is consistent with the clauses placed around the Law – that it is kept or broken as a unit.
Ask any theologian whether I’m just making this up. The point, as the New Testament states over 11 times, is that the “Law of God” with its homophobia was not meant to last forever, only until the mess that happened in Eden is dealt with and Adam faces what he’s become. Apostle Paul wrote 27 letters explaining how the mess had been sorted and people could, for Christ’s sake, throw off “the chains of slavery” (which is how Paul described the “Law of God”.)
This is not something I made up to win theological arguments with anti-gay pastors (which when pushed to it, I do); it’s simply how the bible is. The stickiness of calling whole denominations’ interpretation of the bible “wrong” does not stop me from doing so, for if it did, then progress would be impossible.
The bible describes the “Law of God” as a hostile supervisor given to guard us because of the cruelty we exerted on one another as human beings – or in Saint Paul’s words, “So why serve the Law? It was added because of transgressions.” The “Law of God” presupposes the misogyny and dysfunctional natures of those to whom it speaks.
The religious part of homophobia can be dealt with, exhaustively. By neatly, truthfully contextualizing everything that religious scriptures say, this hypothesis can expand to engulf any question thrown at it.
Religion-based homophobia is not an eternal given never to be questioned; it has a cause and it can, it must, be cured.
Many people say that the bible states that homosexuality is a sin. This betrays a poor understanding of the calculus behind scripture. Biblically speaking, the problem with “sin” is not lying, nor is it stealing, nor homosexuality, nor masturbation, nor adultery. It is the “image of God” held in the person’s psyche and how that image, that fundamental belief about ultimate reality, colours the relationship with “the other.” The “Law of God” presupposes dysfunction in that relationship and is given to manage that dysfunction until the cure is found.
In his death, Jesus of Nazareth voluntarily represented the dysfunction in its entirety – he was the scapegoat by which people could rid themselves of their sins whether real or perceived. More and more mainstream Christian writers understand that his teachings were a clarification of what the “Law of God” had been given to do, and that ultimately, it would be “fulfilled” or finished in him and his death.
Biblically speaking, and this is contrary to what contemporary religion teaches, Jesus didn’t die because people had lied, or stolen; the “sin” that Jesus died for was distorted image of God in “Adam’s” soul and all the permutations thereof; by dying to it and rising from the dead as a New Person, he could transform what had been deformed – but to expand on this would require an analysis of the Gospel of John and Letter to the Romans far too extensive for this discourse. Suffice it to say that the bible is a story of two men: the “first Adam” and the “second Adam.” What it says about homosexuality is a tangential effect of the story between those two men. It does not
speak to anyone beyond those two men.
Like hetero-normality, the “Law of God” throws normality over what is abnormal in heterosexuality – it takes the Adamic urge to “rule over” women and spins it into a patriarchal code that makes it look normal. The Law, being the Emperor’s New Clothes, both reveals the problem of what men became in Eden by putting it out in the open, but it also conceals the problem by convincing everyone that it’s normal. And no one can tell that the Law is throwing normality over the abnormal because everyone is too busy trying to figure out how to keep the Law instead of why they’re keeping it. The devil is not always in the details.
Jesus incurred the murderous ire of the Law-keepers by being the kid who tells the Emperor that he’s naked – that their Law-keeping is a hypocritical act. But he was merely repeating the words of the Old Testament prophets: conformance to the Law was not the point of the Law – the Law was God’s indignant judgment and imprisonment of what “Adam” had become.
Paul wrote, “By the keeping of the Law shall no flesh be justified in [God’s] sight, for by Law is
knowledge of sin.” By the Law-keeper’s obsession with the Law do we know that the dysfunction is there. An intrinsic knowledge of the Law betrays the Adamic dysfunction. “By Law is knowledge of sin” – the Law inevitably catches out those conforming to it, and that’s why no one can be justified by keeping the Law. One can’t be justified by the rule that presupposes one’s evil – one is actually condemned upfront. Biblically speaking, homophobic people are condemned by their homophobia.
Romans 1 is always referred to as decisive proof that the bible is against homosexuality. But within a few reads, we realize that it’s satire. It has all the literary marks of rhetoric. So no part of it can be taken at face value because it was written to mock people’s stereotypes about “the other.” Context is key. Everything else that the bible says about homosexuality presupposes, amongst other things, the exorbitant, ludicrous misogyny of the people to whom it speaks.
But in another place, the bible says, “There is no longer male and female” and in another, it states that “There is nothing evil in itself” [Gal 3:28 and Rom 14:14 – though Rom 14:14 is, admittedly, in the context of dietary laws.]
How does this hypothesis explain other biblical indictments of homosexuality?
The men of Sodom refuse to rape virgin Lot’s daughters and call for his male guests instead; they’ve figured, why rape mere women when there are men in the picture? The power behind their intentions was the misogynistic belief that men were superior to women and that the penetration of men would be more degrading than that of women.
When someone won’t rape a woman because she’s already a common target for it whose only selling point is that she’s a virgin – as were the silent daughters of Lot offered to the violent mob as decoys – then surely something is wrong with that society, and it can’t just be that some people’s sons today are born gay. The story is most authentically interpreted as a comment on hetero-patriarchy, not homosexuality.
The only way we can dissolve the twin evils of homophobia and misogyny is if we storm the daunting profundity of biblical symbolism so that we may interrogate religion-based homophobia. I have yet to find compelling evidence that the hetero-patriarchy of the bible did not presume misogyny (whether real or intended) thus giving us a stronger case for the contextuality of the hetero-normality found in scriptures.
Anthropologists have found that in many cases, the hetero-normality reported around the world by Christian missionaries was retroactively written into history by those missionaries and is not a hard-wired aspect of the human being. Having to explain to their homelands that they had found varying combinations of sexual identities (which varying combinations their rulers snuffed out in their homelands) was too daunting a scandal for them to deal with, so they “baptized” history with a more palatable sexual uniformity. We thus imagine, and have preached to us, the notion that the building block of all societies is the nuclear family, and that gender norms are uniform around the world.
The tragedy is that many people, not knowing better, allow themselves to be thusly boxed during their upbringing and socialization. The studies of many gender and sexuality scholars have
documented the effects of hetero-normalization on society and it is not looking good at all. Yes, people have acclimatized to hetero-normality then again, just as many have also acclimatized to
other unhealthy habits and postures.
Those missionaries cultivated hetero-normality into their Christian outposts because they thought it was in accordance with their scriptures – a perceptual error, as I have argued – just as they thought slavery, the subjugation of women and the inferiority of some races was in accordance with their scriptures.
If we find this particular thing to be error on their part, the enormity of fixing it should not deter us from doing so. Contrary to the hetero-normative assumptions of today’s patriarchs, not all indigenous cultures and traditions have always been hetero-normative, nor did they instantly resonate with the hetero-normative teachings of the missionaries.
That they were patriarchal does not mean that they were hetero-normative. Ancient Rome and Greece stand as a testimony to the fact that though ancient cultures were patriarchal, they also accommodated varying sexual orientations quite comfortably. It was easier for missionaries to re-write African cultures’ sexual heritage than it was to re-write that of ancient Greece and Rome. The contemporary collapsing of hetero-normality with patriarchy into hetero-patriarchy is a rather recent phenomenon; more than that, it is an aberration of history, the result of horrendous misunderstandings. A real return to “African values” would mean a return to inclusiveness, accommodation and tolerance.
The claims made today that “homosexuality is not African” betray an intense misunderstanding of colonialism’s effects against African countries, as well as the hostility of the colonized against those
within its ranks who failed to live up to the canon of gender imposed by the colonialist; turning against one’s own like this is a symptom of Stockholm Syndrome. When the patriarchs were stripped of their power and left helpless, they couldn’t resist adopting their oppressor’s measure and (mis)understanding of masculine power. Oppressed, these patriarchs did not have the psychological room to step back and evaluate this alien worldview that was becoming their measure of what was acceptable and what wasn’t. The supreme irony is that these values that were imported by colonialism are no longer a part of the cultures that imported them, yet have been so closely incorporated into ours that many people think they are native to us.
Unmasking hetero-normality is an inalienable step to addressing the sexual effects of colonialism. It is a step towards healing their negative effects on sexual relations today, as well as celebrating their positive effects (for both must be understood and embraced if we are to heal).
The contextuality of the scriptures from which they read and got instruction, is not only descriptive of what happened then: now that we are aware of that contextuality, it is strongly prescriptive of what we must do now. And what we must do now is detangle hetero-normality, hetero-patriarchy and hetero-supremacy from the cultural discourse at all its levels. No monarch, no religious leader and no cultural spokesperson can, by sheer fiat and complaints of discomfort with the interrogation of people’s sexual orientation, overrule that this work must be done.
The Church a case study
Judging by the homophobia prevalent in South Africa, the dissonance of some churches’ double-speak, that “they love the sinner but hate the sin,” clearly comes from an overestimated view of the tolerance and diplomacy with which their parishioners receive their message. It has become quite clear to me that the business of churching people ceases to be a private matter when that churching contributes to the aforementioned atmosphere of intolerance.
For the State to leave the sensitization of churches up to a handful of theology professors, constitutes neglect.
Servants of State have often neglected to practice the separation of church and State. They, surely, can now neglect it long enough to intervene on behalf of the Bill of Rights.
Throughout their histories, religions have had to come to grips with the contextuality of the scriptures with which they dealt. Even if it cannot be exhaustively argued that prohibitions against same-sex relationships were contextual within those religious doctrines (an argument I’d like to take up), for the State to patiently stand by for the church to realize this contextuality at its own pace, is like fiddling while Rome burns. The interim has seen the rape, murder and mutilation of many LGBTI persons – not to mention the many ills that come from misogyny.
I am not looking to enrich myself, bankrupt anybody, make anyone violate his conscience or abandon the religion he believes himself to be called to practice. I simply seek to use the vehicle of State resources to plant a necessary doubt on some issues. Religious leaders have to surrender the power that comes with preaching potentially harmful doctrines with the certainty that they do, by admitting that they are not 100% certain on those issues. The hero-worship and admiration that come with absolute certainty must give way to the spirit of the Bill Of Rights, of whose source and end they are certain. The congregants, who hitherto have failed to live with the ambivalence of “hating the sin and not the sinner” will have to see the ambivalence of their leaders for what it is – a doubt needed in order for human rights to get a foot in the door and be fully known and practiced.
South Africans understand contextuality and would not be daunted by a contextualized exegesis of, say, 1 Corinthians 6:9 (normally referred to as an anti-gay passage) precisely because the Head of State and his spokesperson have sensitized South Africans to the concept of contextuality. I am therefore ready to invoke in religious debates the same kind of argument that the Presidential Spokesperson has invoked in political debates. Indeed, seeing as the Constitution is Law in South Africa, I believe that it is most urgent that the contextuality of religious teachings be measured and stressed as often as the contextuality of the President’s words is stressed by his Spokesperson. If the contextuality of those religious teachings is not sought out and stressed, then it appears that any religion, of any origin (including an epiphany I can have right now and formalize into a religion tomorrow) overrules the Constitution because, being taught to people a potential 52 times a year, it is presented to them more as “the way things are” than the Constitution is. It appears, then, that South Africa has a law – until a State-recognized religion says otherwise. Up until now, the State has done precious little to mitigate the cultural effects of those religious teachings in those cases that they erode the people’s familiarity with the Constitution, and innocent by-standers are often the victims. The State often intervenes after the fact by investigating reported hate-crimes. How can the State be compelled to take more decisive, more final preventative measures? It must be. People out there believe that raping a virgin will cure AIDS just as raping a lesbian will “correct” her sexual orientation. Where do these myths come from, and why is the government not addressing them?
If that argument should fail to convince either in religious or political debates, then the status of the State’s relationship with the Bill of Rights not only stands on shaky grounds but actually on no grounds at all because it protects people’s rights to practice religions that are incontestably founded on misogyny and other anti-Constitutional ideas (if we do not admit that those religious teachings may be contextual). If we fail to seek the context, or even the potential contextuality of, misogynistic and homophobic religious teachings, then the Constitution would hold within itself absurdities and contradictions by virtue of allowing people to practice the religions of their choices.
For a religious organization to establish a teaching that contradicts the Constitution, without allowing the State to interrogate the religious consistency or origin of that teaching (through third
parties, if need be) that religious organization would have groundlessly established a mini-state within and against the State, disguising this rebellion as religious observance. Yes, the Constitution allows people to gather and associate and speak freely, but when the teachings done within those gatherings incite physical or social violence against others, the State is obligated to investigate and intervene. If a religious organization can establish that its prohibition on same-sex relations is based on an eternal principle, then in all honesty, intervention with that group’s existence would be unconscionable. The State, through the Judiciary, would have to resolve that matter. Until then, the argument is necessary if not necessarily resolvable.
Each religious establishment that preaches against same-sex orientation, whether implicitly or explicitly, may have to insert a caveat stating that the teaching is being reviewed and at any rate is
against the aim of the Bill of Rights. Moreover, religious teachers may have to be required legally to insert this caveat in oral teaching as well. These measures are still much softer than those taken in other countries, countries that intervened in their pedagogic and religious institutions much more vigorously to remove hetero-normality from their daily cultures and atmospheres.
There are discussions for which “contextuality” is not an appropriate stand-alone argument. It is up to the side that initiated discussion (in this case, my side) to meet each objection in a manner appropriate to the question should it be said that contextuality is not a sufficient explanation for a particular religious teaching.
We can lower our rape, gay-bashing and other crime statistics. But we must be willing to take decisive, vigorous action. Outlined above are my thoughts. Please advise as is within your capacity and conscience, if you can, whoever you are reading this – thank you