Invisible Religions

Reviewing an academic study on identity, I am struck at how social and psychological effects are well documented. Queer Theory has done much to explore the nature of ‘identity’ and the scientific process has investigated the content of what it means to be ‘male’ or ‘female’, gender fluidity and how identity is as much a constructed option as it is an automatic choice for many.

However, there is no mention of the cultural context or the foundation of values which have provided the framework of studies into identity.

Islam, Christianity and Judaism all derive from explicitly homophobic texts. These three world religions have developed complex systems to control and contort human sexuality with various levels of physical and social violence instituted. Attitudes to one’s own sexuality and that of others cannot but be influenced by the wider social ramifications of not conforming. Even in societies where physical violence against gay, bi, lesbian and trans people is unlawful, these three religions promise eternal torture for not conforming.

The journal article I am reading makes no reference to the critical underlying religious content of a culture.

This is troubling as it indicates a blindness to religion. Religions avoid scrutiny, avoid social and personal impacts on people’s health for indoctrination and conformity, and avoid responsibility in bloody conflicts.

Christianity is intrinsic to colonialism, assimilation, law, gender relations, access to funding and tax exemption, elevated educational status, political power, shame and love in Australian society, yet there is very little criticism of how this phenomenon functions. There is no scrutiny.

Attempts to define ‘identity’ must involve the acknowledgement of the physical body, its changes over time and personal and social attitudes to both just as much as those attempts must define how religious homophobia skews personal and social attitudes and reactions to gender, sex, love and connection.

I recommend anyone who wishes to define ‘identity’ to spend time or, at least, engage in a culture where their values, attitudes and body are in the minority. It may help elucidate how they formulate their ideas.