The experiences of Christian homosexual university students en Africa
The text was taken from: Christianity and homosexuality : contradictory or complementary? a qualitative study of the experiences of Christian homosexual university students, authors S. Nkosi and F. Masson, South African Journal of Higher Education, Volume 31, Number 4, 2017, pp.73-74
Students studying at universities have many challenges to face, not only on an academic level but also in their own quest for identity and purpose in life. According to Sakin Ozen, Ercan, Irgil and Sigirli, (2010, 127) university youth may experience numerous psychological issues as they are often sensitive to intrapersonal, interpersonal and sociocultural differences and conflicts specially as students are generally at a stage in their lives when they are open to change.
(…) For Christian students who are not heteronormative, the journey of self-acceptance and of acceptance – or lack of acceptance ‒ from others within their faith may be a complicated process. This often tumultuous journey can have numerous adverse effects on students’ academic performance and requires further investigation in order to create understanding and awareness of the challenges that these students may face.
Traditionally, the religion of Christianity promotes heterosexuality and does not advocate for acceptance of homosexuality or bisexuality. The debate whether homosexuality is a sinful act in the eyes of the Lord has been continuing on for centuries ‒ a debate that does not appear to be drawing to any definitive conclusion in the near future.
The pairing of these two aspects has often led to conflict for homosexuals who practise Christianity (Rodriguez and Ouellette 2000, 333). While some may view the combining of these two aspects to be contradictory, many believe that homosexual Christians should neither abandon their Christian beliefs nor their sexual orientation.
The decision taken by these Christians, to continue practising both homosexuality and Christianity, has been accompanied by varied responses from the church and other Christians. These responses vary from hostile to sympathetic, discriminating to accepting, rejecting to welcoming. Amidst the negativity there are positive responses as well. However, it needs to be noted that negative responses from the church and other Christians are still very prevalent in South Africa, which has often adversely affected the Christians who do not subscribe to being heterosexual.
As this debate continues, homosexual Christians continue to try to figure out a balance or a way of merging these two very important aspects of their lives. Merging or finding a balance may be a very difficult and complicated process.
Specifically, for the homosexual individual, disclosing one’s identity to others, working through the prejudiced attitudes of others, and participating in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) related social activities, are essential aspects of identity integration for a homosexual (Rosario, Schrimshaw and Hunter 2011, 5).
As university students are often in the later adolescent stage of the life cycle (18‒24 years), challenges with identity and intimacy are developmentally appropriate (Newman and Newman 1999, 348). Furthermore, tensions between religious beliefs and sexual orientation could potentially impact on their studies and their ability to fulfil their academic potential, as well as their sense of wellbeing.
(…) As both sexuality and religion are rather sensitive topics, people often avoid talking about these issues.
Social identity theory
Social identity theory proposes that people need to know which groups they belong to (in- groups) and which groups they don’t belong to (out-groups) in order to understand more about themselves. (…) For students who are homosexual or bisexual and who identify with the Christian faith, this process of determining their social identity can be complicated as many sectors within the Christian community may only support heteronormative behaviour. Furthermore many cultures, particularly African cultures, do not condone homosexuality and/or bisexuality.