The Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng Mogoeng, is obsessed with sex. This I see is the sentiment of many people on Twitter following his speech entitled “Law and Religion”. Based on the facts available to me, I think they have it wrong.
I have read Chief Justice Mogoeng’s speech and this is what he has to say on the subject of sex:
“If love is allowed to be foundational to the laws we enact and their enforcement is effective, then peace, stability and prosperity would be the inevitable long term outcome. If a way could be found to elevate the role of love and the sensible discouragement of divorce, through legal mechanisms, marital and family sanctity, and stability would be enhanced. A legal framework that frowns upon adultery, fornication, separation and divorce, subject to appropriate modification, would, idealistic as this may appear to be, help us curb the murders that flow from adultery, help us reduce the number of broken families and the consequential lost and bitter generation that seems to be on the rise, which in turn cause untold harm to society.”
The entire subject is covered in 121 words. His entire speech is 4,060 words.
Would someone now please help me to understand how it is possible to conclude from this that the Chief Justice is obsessed with sex?
In the closing words of his speech Chief Justice Mogoeng said:
“We owe it to ourselves and posterity to speak and work against the cruelty that have been perpetrated over the centuries, in the name of religion. Many people have endured persecution for their beliefs by those who hold different beliefs and others have been forced to join other religions. Truly the ‘hallmark of an open and democratic society is its capacity to accommodate and manage differences of intensely-held world views and life styles in a reasonable and fair manner.’”
The reactions to Chief Justice Mogoeng’s speech bears testimony to the fact that the cruelty of persecuting those with different opinions and beliefs remains a reality. We are a long way from being an open democratic society with a “capacity to accommodate and manage differences of intensely-held world views and life styles in a reasonable and fair manner”.
The difference in modern society is that the cruelty is not only being perpetrated by religions and the religious. Today it is often precisely those who reject religion who are the ones who cruelly persecute anyone who is unwilling to convert or accept secular beliefs.
Ryan Peter’s has written brilliantly about this in “Are Today’s Secularists Really Secular?” It is a must read!
In closing, I would strongly suggest that those tweeting their righteous indignation about the speech of the Chief Justice actually take the time to read his speech. It is available here - Law and Religion. Alternatively there is the piece by Stephen Grootes, "Let's Just All Calm Down To A Panic", that provides a summary and a well reasoned opinion about the Chief Justices' speech.