Thursday, April 7, 2011

Religion and Homosexuality III

A reader recently left a comment regarding an earlier post on religious attitudes toward homosexuality.  She pointed out that "choosing" to be homosexual doesn't make much sense given the level of animosity that homosexuals face in our society.  She makes a very valid point.

Many years ago I first heard this point made while watching an episode of the television show "60 Minutes".  I don't fully remember the storyline (I think it dealt with a case where a man was murdered for being gay), but I vividly remember the comment of one of the man's gay friends.  He said something like:  "Why would I choose to be this way?  Why would I choose to be hated and threatened?"

Although I never harbored the sort of homophobic prejudice that many people do, I was not, at that time, as accepting as I should have been.  The man's words, however, resonated with me.  I realized that he had spoken "Truth" with a capital "T".  His argument was virtually irrefutable.  No one would want to live like that.  If a person was truly able to choose, he would choose a life acceptable to the other members of society--one in which he wasn't hated, threatened and subject to discrimination.

In other words, a person would not only have to be less than completely heterosexual, he or she would have to be sufficiently compelled toward homosexual behavior that he or she was willing to risk extreme social disapproval--often risking even life or livelihood.  Homosexuality is not just a "bit of fun" in our society.

Homophobia ties in with several themes underlying religion.  It is part of the anal retentive complex inherent in religion, because it involves controlling one's private parts to please the authority figure.  It is part of religion's hostility toward pleasure.  Most important, however, it is part of religion's emphasis on conformity.

The maintenance of a herdlike mentality is important for religion--perhaps more important than anything else.  That requires strong disapproval of anyone who is different.  Homophobia is a symptom of religion's deep animosity toward individualism.  A tendency that should scare us all, because we are all unique individuals.

Previous related posts:

Religion and Homosexuality II
Religion and Homosexuality

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