Self-love:” Love your neighbor as yourself”, Mark 12:31
There is a constant struggle as one tries to build a bridge between faith and sexuality. Experience shows that, in our societies, faith is used as a key element that establishes people’s outlook on sexuality. However, it is important to question whether we do not miss something that can easily help us connect faith to sexuality and avoid ignoring the complexity and importance of human sexuality. Love is proposed here as the missing element that can help us use our faith to build a better approach and reaction toward human sexuality. Indeed, love cannot be confined to one reality rather its universality fills the universe. That is how it becomes the foundation of the bridge between faith and sexuality independently of one’s sexual orientation. However, people found in minority groups such as LGBTQ+ do not always enjoy the favours of seeing faith meeting love in order to embrace human sexuality.
Generally, the structures or customs of societies put LGBTQ+ at the margins of the society. This affects the outlook (self esteem) that LGBTQ+ people have on themselves. As a consequence, there is a sense of guilt that dehumanises their nature or makes them hate themselves. Because of the lack of opportunities to affirm one’s identity, there can be challenges in the development of one’s true-self as an individual. In a globalised world sometimes we find answers, help and support in various ways. For example, Sex Education, a television serie available on Netflix, has become very popular for its capacity in tackling issues that look like tabou in some societies. In fact, in a very clear and delicate way, Sex Education explores human realities such divorce, sexuality, homosexuality etc. Surprisingly, it also highlighted what faith should bring to our life despite our sexual orientation. Faith should bring peace, strength, positive energy and love. In the first place, an individual is to experience these fruits of faith in order to easily and smoothly make them beneficial to others.
In the episode 7 of the first season, Eric (a character played by Ncuti Gatwa), a second generation immigrant from Africa who identifies himself as gay, is having a hard time with his best friend Otis. He feels so lonely and very down. He is bullied and beaten because of his sexuality and the way he dresses. The day of a school Dance, Eric goes to church with his family. Through the preaching on God’s love at church, he gets himself together, feels again his worth and decides to dress up for the school dance. His make up and the dress that he puts on testifies to the fact that he feels proud and happy about his identity.
Eric gets out of his room and, very determined, tells his family that he is going for the party. The father decides to drive him. While he reaches at the party his father asks him if he is sure of walking in that party dressed like that. His fear was to see his son being humiliated or bullied. Eric replies that he is very sure. In the party, he forgives his friend who hurt him and appears fearless in front of his bullies.
Immigration and sens of community
Life doesn’t offer us the same chances or the same opportunity, some communities cherish freedom more than others. Whatever the situation one is facing, what is important is to never lose the sense of the Godly tenderness in us. Despite what the world says of us, we have to look at ourselves with deeper eyes. We have to be able to see the beauty in us and never doubt God’s love in our lives. There is no faith when we cannot find love where we seek peace. The aforementioned television series also introduces various challenges of African immigrants in western countries and the braveness of various young people who embrace their identity and their sexuality. As Eric’s father explains while dropping him at the school dance, parents are tough because of the fear of seeing their children hurt or discriminated against. This fear comes as a consequence of the experience of being an immigrant and the struggle to fit in their adoptive society. On another note, Sex Education displays the existence of a true community that accept diversity and welcomes people as individuals by accepting their freedom of being their true-self. This series displays this kind of community in a scene that shows how the African christian community gladly welcomes Eric with love and joy. It is important to acknowledge that, for various people who decide to come out, they face challenges because they lack a strong vibrant community that prays together. In other words, in the period that follows an individual’s coming out, there is the possibility of facing loneliness as the community fails to be welcoming and supportive. This is the experience of many African LGBTQ+ immigrants as their coming out is often followed by backlash from their community and strong discrimintion. This hostile environment can be considered as the expression of the lack of sensibility and fraternity.
A message to parents
Taking the example of Eric, the love and support he receives from his family in the series is a strong message to parents and those who fail to use their faith in order to build the spirit of accepting God’s love in their children’s lives which is always present independently of their sexual orientation. The lessons that come from the story of Eric are mainly enveloped in the idea that we can be more human if we learned to be more sensitive to building communities where love always wins. If we will put true love at the center of our relations and activities, our families and communities would be peaceful places where each individual’s dignity is constantly protected and affirmed. Love can make our faith a door to our happiness and the wellbeing of the other rather than an instrument that creates divisions, discriminations, and violence among people.