This is the first instalment in the series by One Black Boy.
There is no doubt that religion plays a major role across the world. Religion shapes, moulds and points to a certain direction of what is expected of the individuals who subscribe and follow a certain belief system. There are over a thousand types of religious groups and doctrines all of which also play a major role in parliamentary law making and societal norms and values. Inasmuch as religion tends to address issues regarding morality, norms, values, ethics, spirituality and sexuality; religion also tends to explain what may or may not be there, “the idea of a God.”
While the primary nature of sexual desires, the forms of reacting towards these desires and the reaction that is considered normal has been an issue of long standing debate for centuries; religion has provided a standard answer towards issues regarding sexuality and sexual desires. Is human sexuality and desires socially constructed or embedded in some explained or unexplained biological context? For thousands of years, these have been questions from people who do not understand what sexuality is or who choose to be oblivious to the idea and the changes the world is constantly undergoing.
Sexuality on its own is a way a person sees him or herself as a sexual being in relation to sexual attitudes, characteristics and desires (not necessarily sex). Sexuality is influenced by age, gender, cultural background, history as relating to changes in time but never by religion. The idea of the term sexuality on its own is abhorrence to our churches, mosques and temples; the priests, imams and most of the religious leaders choose to be oblivious, acknowledging only the basic form of human interaction of male and female sexual relationship. They ignore what has been, what is and what will be and above all, ignore the changes going on in the world.
There are several types of religious groups in the world with several dogmas and doctrines in the view of sexuality and gender. They teach and enforce a way of life for their followers. The one thing common to most religious groups is the persistence to change, development with time and the denial of some basic human rights. Most people considered to have a perverted way of reacting to sexual desires and need to find it difficult accepting these dogmas and doctrines in light of the world today.
A LOOK AT GENDER NON-CONFORMITY AND SEX
Many people, old and young identify better with members of the opposite sex if gender is stereotyped. It is entirely stereotypical to set the mind to a certain way a particular gender should behave, talk, and walk and do things in the community. A change in what is considered as normal to a particular gender becomes gender non-conformity.
I believe that there is an extent to being any gender, there is an extent of masculinity and femininity, there are the extreme alpha males (same with females) who show zero emotions and act like they care less about anything. It doesn’t make one less of one’s gender. Gender shouldn’t be characterised based on some trivial characteristics, emotions, jobs and activities.
Often times when one does not conform to his/her gender roles, society and some religious groups perceive and judge these individuals even down to their sexual desires which are not always accurate.
RELIGION AND SEXUALITY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
In our world today, people who respond to different sexual desires, attraction or show some characteristic outside their gender class (persons which include homosexual and transgender people, better identified as the LGBTQ community) are often faced with several challenges at their jobs, family and even their religious groups. There are several countries where people who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ Community are thrown in jail, stoned to death, burnt or even buried alive. Their governments create polices that put the LGBTQ community in danger, ignoring the important matters of their country and its economy. They forget that these people are also human beings and deserve rights just like everyone else.
Religious groups have always been a tower of refuge for people persecuted due to one reason or another. People run to places of worship in search for a family away from their families; a family where one would be accepted and loved unconditionally. But what happens when these people feel a little twist in their sexual desires? What are these religious bodies doing about these disturbing laws?
Nigeria is one among the several religious nations of the world, where the majority of the law makers are either Christians or Muslims. Even though her government claims to have separated the state from religion, the influences of religious beliefs and dogmas are clearly seen in some of the laws and bills passed at the senate level.
Religion teaches love, tolerance and acceptance but it seems it is never ready to love, tolerate or accept the queer persons. They set up correctional methods, conversion therapies and generally classify these people as victims of the handiwork of the devil. Some people go on to lock up members in prisons, hoping to correct and/or remove the devil in them.
It’s been proven for centuries that correctional therapies and the likes do not change a person’s sexual desires, rather these therapies go as far to destroy one emotionally and otherwise. Religion and religious leaders have failed in their teachings of love, tolerance and acceptance.
The concluding part of this article will be published on Thursday. The article is a response to the Religion and Sexuality Symposium organised by Access to Heath Rights and Development Initiative.
One Black Boy is a young African writer and Blogger based in Lagos, Nigeria.