As I reflect on the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando a year ago, I’m reminded of how our world is so frequently, and so tragically, set up around “other-ing” — i.e., making certain characteristics and beliefs normative, against which everything else (“other”) is viewed as a problematic deviation subject to ridicule and in need of repair (whether it be related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, class, gender identity, etc. etc.). Certain ideas or beliefs are viewed as normative (e.g., cisgender heteronormativity), and if a person doesn’t conform to such norms, they’re frequently viewed as deviant and in need of change (and in our society, as we see far too frequently, this often portends toward violence against those who aren’t viewed by dominant groups as being normative). Yet what needs to change are the problematic conventions and beliefs (rooted in prevailing power structures) that lead us to believe there is a singular, normative way of being in the first place (there are in fact many ways of being, and it’s socially constructed power dynamics that privilege some ways of being over and above other ways of being). Take as an example the patriarchy of the day. When a man is shamed, it’s often through supposedly derisive comments that question his (socially constructed) “masculinity.” Bonnie Honig just had a great article in the Boston Review about this very thing as related to current attacks on James Comey, as launched by the right. Here, Comey is ridiculed by the terms of the socially-constructed patriarchy, in which the patriarchy tries to feminize him as (in their eyes) a means of derision. The rhetoric is rooted in the privileging of masculinity over femininity, yet each of these categories are socially-constructed and, as such, false. They are only used in the service of power. And they need to be exposed for what they are. (This is also why it’s not uncommon to hear “F*g” hurled as an insult, or N*****. These are derisive and insulting terms that privilege white male cisgender heteronormativity.)
One of the subversive kernels of Christianity (if you wish to read it this way) is the idea that God dies on the cross. Let that sink in for a minute. *God. Dies.* While there are all sorts of ways to interpret this, some scholars view it as a narrative that lays bare all of the ideologies that go to work in the service of the violence of other-ing, whether related to religion, sexuality, gender, race, or whatever. From this vantage point, all of the ways that people try to justify their socially-constructed prejudices (or ways that societies try to justify structural discrimination and inequality) are laid bare for what they are, with no Divine Mandate to back them up. *God. Dies.* As such, discrimination is just discrimination, with no Good Reason or Divine Mandate for it, whether related to the religious order or natural order or whatever. Here, a person should no longer get away with saying “It’s not me who is discriminating against you, it’s my religion and my God; I’m just following Divine Orders!” Instead, what is left are human beings without recourse to some sort of Divine Justification for socially-constructed ways of being that privilege some people at the expense of other people. All that is left are the relationships we share, and the communities we build. And the resurrection is experienced in and through people and communities who meet one another in difference and in love, where all of the various (intersectional) identities that make up who we are do not have to be met with hostility or derision, but with respect and love. At which point one site of resistance is found in standing in solidarity against socially-constructed ways of being that may seek Divine Cover or Good Reasons, but are in fact nothing more than prevailing humanly-constructed ideologies that have the capacity to hurt other people, not to mention the planet.