Same Sex Marriage: Is It Homophobia If My Religion Does Not Permit Me to Support?

Marriage seems to be one of the most lucrative “business ventures” in Nigeria right now. It is ubiquitous; all across our country, in every region, every social class, every ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people are getting married in droves. Everyone I know is either getting married or planning to get married. Okay, not everyone but you get the picture. One cannot hang out and enjoy a glass of beer or watch footie anymore without friends/family reminding you of your age and the need to include marriage in your to-do-list.

The emergence of social media, especially Instagram, has made weddings a competition. A Nigerian wedding is incomplete nowadays if it does not appear on Bella Naija and/or similar sites. Everyone is trying to out do each other in decoration, organisation, pre/post wedding shoots, costumes, couple entrance etc.

For some, especially the female folk, marriage is something they aspire to and holds the key to the pursuit of happiness. Many are of the belief that married people are better than single people and that a healthy marriage has a huge effect on physical/mental health, longevity and prosperity.

Before one goes further, let’s define marriage. Why? Well because marriage, in all honesty, is complex and hard to define. It encompasses all aspects of life; conjugal relations, friendship/companionship, love, procreation, mutual responsibility and/or solidifying family alliance (special thanks to Game of Thrones).

Traditionally, marriage is between a man and woman for any or all of the aforementioned reasons. Generally, it is believed that marriage gives one a greater sense of responsibility, life and purpose.

However, our society is at a turning point. The monopoly of traditional marriage has been questioned resulting in calls from different works of life for everyone to embrace marriage equality i.e. marriage between individuals of the same sex.

People are more vocal nowadays and throw their weights behind same-sex marriage; whether it contradicts religious doctrines or not. Recently, marriage equality won the day in Ireland and is soon to be legal following approval of a referendum to constitutionalise the recognition of marriage irrespective of the couple’s sex.

Despite the large Catholic community in Ireland, 78% voted in favour of same-sex marriage hence becoming the 22nd country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Other countries include: Netherlands (the first country to do so in 2000), Belgium (2003), US (some states in 2003), Spain (2003), Canada (2005), South Africa (the first African country to do so in 2006), Norway, Sweden (both 2009), Mexico (some parts in 2009), Argentina (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), New Zealand, France, Iceland, UK, Brazil, Uruguay (all 2013), Luxembourg (2014), Slovenia (the first Slavic and central European country to do so in 2015) and Finland (2015 but will not take effect till 2017).

Unsurprisingly, despite the marriage madness in our country, Nigeria doesn’t appear on the list. Nigeria and its citizenry still uphold the sanctity of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Civilised individuals believe traditional marriage is obsolete and based on religious and moral tenets – which cannot be proven.

This is what piques me the most about same-sex marriage advocates. They are quick to tag people who do not share the same view as homophobic, unexposed and even ‘haters’. According to Matthew J Franck who wrote in First Things, “In the contemporary debate on the future of marriage, there appears to be, amid many uncertainties, one sure thing. Those who publicly defend traditional marriage can be haters, bigots or irrational theocrats and perhaps all of these at once.”

My question is, how is it homophobic for anyone to reason and express his views based on religious and moral grounds? What happened to one’s right to freedom of religion? It is our constitutional obligation to respect others’ freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of thought/conscience as well.

I am not for/against same sex marriage; I respect everyone’s decisions but you can’t and won’t force certain things down the throats of people and expect them to smile and say thank you. A number of religions do not support same-sex marriage but if your religion or non-religion supports it. That’s fine!

However, I don’t support people who clamour for religious rules to bend to satisfy their desires and ambitions. If you are a same-sex advocate and your religion abhors marriage equality, it is nobody’s fault. Human beings, whether religious or non-religious, base their lives on beliefs and use reason to distinguish between right and wrong.

From a Christian perspective, “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.” Proverbs 18: 22 also says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and obtains favour from the Lord.” Before you frown at my Bible citations because of your belief or view about the Bible, the truth is that we all tend to make sense of things on the basis of limited evidence available (beliefs).

The Igbos believe marriage is a public institution hence the saying “otu onye anaghi alu nwanyi.” Truly, the only certainty in this unending debate about marriage equality, is that marriage is the business of the society and its success or failure has a huge impact on the society. For me, based on my beliefs I say live and let live. Don’t expect religion(s) or anyone to bend a knee to your beliefs.

What do you think about marriage equality?

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Arturo Zinga

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  • Avatar
    Kirran

    Nobody says you don’t have the freedom of speech to say you don’t think same-sex couples should get the same rights and recognition as different-sex couples. But it is nevertheless fair to call it homophobic to say that, regardless of the basis of that stance. You seem to be conflating two things.

    May 31, 2017
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        Kirran Lochhead Strang

        Well this is what it means if somebody opposes same-sex marriage. I am not saying you do, or making any kind of personal address or accusation. Just a general comment on the issue you’re talking about 🙂

        June 2, 2017
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            Kirran Lochhead Strang

            Well it quite clearly entails that. To say that a different-sex couple can be married but a same-sex cannot is to delegitimise the latter relationship, and refuse to give it the same recognition. How not?

            June 2, 2017
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    Toby

    I think i was just nodding along reading the words of the homophobe who wanted to preach he was not a homophobe until this particular sentence triggered me “Nigeria and its citizenry still uphold the sanctity of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”
    We still do???
    I do not want to rant, but damn boo!!
    Please if you are going quack and swim like one, at least have decency to realize what it is you are; which is a homophobic Duck!!!

    P.S. that duck was autocorrected.

    May 31, 2017
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    Nneka

    This is a case of A=B and B=C but you’re now saying A=/=C. Like saying: I don’t think blacks should be allowed to live. Not my fault, my religion abhors them. Yeah you’re still racist. Homophobia is about attitude and feelings. Motivation is immaterial. Chest your prejudice and stop being ambivalent. Igbo people say- I ga-eri awo, rie nke mara abuba O ga-abu, akpoo gi ori-awo, imara ihe kpatara ya. So to answer your question: Yes, it’s still homophobia.

    May 31, 2017
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        Nneka

        A cat and a Lion are both of the Cat family. Not the same size, not the same ferocity but still…Crocs and lizards too.

        June 4, 2017
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            Not linked in any way? Both inspire prejudice in the meekest of people to alarming degrees, like no other…’isms'(for want of a better term) and you can’t see any similarity and you’re wondering why I’m questioning rationality. At it’s core, race and sexuality are so similar. You are shaa, allowed to believe what you want

            June 4, 2017
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    Jade

    I am fully in support of live and let live but i completely get what the author is trying to say. If i don’t like something, then i don’t like it. It really is nobody’s business why i don’t. Now disliking something (homosexuality) cannot be termed homophobia, it is when hateful things are done to them (killing, maiming, job loss etc) based on their sexuality that it becomes homophobia. The way you’re allowed to be gay, I am also allowed to dislike homosexuality.

    In essence the author is saying, you don’t want to be judged for being gay so don’t judge me for not liking your lifestyle. If you are allowed your preferences, i must be allowed mine as well

    May 31, 2017
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      But I think that’s where the issue comes in. This statement in particular “don’t judge me for not liking your lifestyle” is something I always pause at. I think people have already defined homophobia above ( the feelings/attitude towards homosexuality and not necessarily always violence towards homosexuals) but I think a lot of us still ignore the word phobia. Just like a lot of us still have a difficult time understanding that it isn’t a “lifestyle”. LOL no one choses to be gay, and it is therefore not a lifestyle. You are just gay, the same way that you are just heterosexual. You wouldn’t refer to your heterosexuality as a “lifestyle” since it isn’t something you actually/actively chose.

      June 1, 2017
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        Jade

        Okay it is not a lifestyle but I personally still don’t like it, I will not refuse to shake your hand or sit at a table with you but i still don’t like it and that’s my prerogative. A gay man is also allowed not to like that i’m heterosexual. Basically we are allowed to like or dislike anything, you cannot force anyone to do otherwise or pretend to like something they find distasteful. A man can say i don’t like fat girls, a woman can say i don’t like fair guys; it’s their preference.

        June 2, 2017
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          See, you reserve the right to be whatever you want to be but disliking this lifestyle(for want of a better word) and saying you’re not homophobic is like a man choosing to sleep exclusively with men and saying he is not gay/homosexual. So Author, yes you are homophobic, now I’m not saying you’ll stone them and I’m not saying you won’t (I don’t know you). I’m just saying, there is a word for people who dislike the lifestyle, mannerisms, people, their rights, their lives and all things gay to whatever degree and it’s homophobia.

          June 4, 2017
      • Avatar

        Good thing you said range. I don’t have to define the word for you. It’s also interesting that you chose Wikipedia because I too have Wikipedia and in a form quite like most religious people read their Bibles, you have selectively highlighted the parts you want. I know you saw the part about religious beliefs. What you feel is the same with so many other Christians. The difference is in your self control, perhaps it doesn’t inspire the same violent-burn-them-at-the-stake hatred that is common but you’re in the range. I’ve heard millenials hate labels. You may not like the word but it’s the only one we’ve got.

        June 4, 2017
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            Nneka

            No, that word is some sort of an etymological fallacy. Xenophobia is one of those, decimation is another. They don’t mean what the original ones mean and dividing the word and insisting that homophobia is literally what it spells is another form of that obtuseness I was talking about. Stop dissembling! It’s beneath you(I think, again, I don’t know you).

            June 4, 2017
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    empress Cyn

    I have a very simple question… If same sex marriages was legal will it stop heterosexuals from getting married??
    I’m guessing it’s really simple…
    *silence*

    will it??

    It won’t right??
    using religion as a way to bar someone from their basic right or wants is like a misogist using the Bible to make women into second class citizens ..

    Christians seem to think marriage was an invention they created lol
    Marriage was a pagan tradition before it was made Christian… like almost every thing that’s Christian… so I really don’t see why Christians get so territorial on the word “marriage” …ask them the origin of the word and they’d be silenced.
    Everything will always evolve… marriage evolved plenty and will continue to do so…
    There was a time “marital rape” was legal before someone had the brains enough to change it..
    But I guess there’s always going to be someone opposing a good thing…
    I can really imagine a guy opposing that stand
    “As a husband, I am disgruntled by this new law that will not allow me to have marital affairs with my wife… what goes on in our bed room is no-one’s business….i paid for her fucking brideprice… I deserve to enjoy my money’s worth.
    I would like to convince all u men to vote against this ploy of the devil ….I Am a human being, I have rights!!!… and have the right to do what ever to my wife!!”
    U cant be an LGBT ally and not be happy by whatever progress they make in the world. .
    If heterosexuals can get married and divorced for as many times as they wish… y’all… marriage isn’t that sacred
    Posted from TNC Mobile

    May 31, 2017
  • Avatar
    Wemimo Ogunmoyela

    Thank you so much @Jade . I assume that your statement ends all debate here. “The way one person is allowed to be gay is the way another should be allowed to dislike homosexuality”.
    “If you don’t want to be judged for being gay don’t judge those who dislike your lifestyle”

    May 31, 2017
  • Avatar
    Morris

    I think it’s only a matter of time before same-sex marriage becomes legal in 98% of the world, even Nigeria. The only countries that won’t ‘allow’ it, i believe, are the extremist countries.

    May 31, 2017
    • Avatar

      and….you don’t consider Nigeria one?

      June 1, 2017
      • Avatar
        Morris

        It just fall into ‘my’ category (in the context of my comment sha), considering that Nigerians are allowed their religions.

        June 1, 2017
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      Tami Okoro Dedeh

      Even if same-sex marriage is made legal back in Nigeria, no gay will ever feel safe because Nigerians are too stuck in their ways. That is why Igbos still practice that bloody osu-caste system (For the record, I can confirm it doesn’t affect me, but what if it did? Sad).

      June 1, 2017
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    Osasu Elaiho

    As I read this, I am both saddened and mystified by some of the comments. Apparently, it is fashionable to not be a Christian or rather it is fashionable to be a free thinker. Here’s the funny thing though, by bashing the author either subtly or overtly, you are proving his very point.

    He (or she) stated very clearly that our way of thinking is based on our beliefs. It is how we make sense of things. The Bible is the source of a Christian’s moral compass and it is been ridiculed by some and now one questions the origin of marriage and that suddenly it isn’t that sacred? To the author of said statement, I say that: “to you it may not be, but to every Christians marriage is sacred.”

    To refer to the article directly, Jesus while being questioned by the Priests about taxes said this: “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar and give unto God what belongs to God”. In order words, if a thing is a law in your Country whether or not you agree with it, you have to abide by it. To go contrary to it would be to invite the wrath of the legal system on said person.

    Now in light of that, Christianity and Islam are against same sex marriages and no amount of liberalism or open-mindedness will change that. It is set in stone. This however does not mean one should hate a person for choosing to practice it. It is their life and they have a right to it. Not being for it while still having a “live and let live situation” does not make one homophobic. As @jade has stated, it is when you begin to actively discriminate against said persons that one is termed a homophobic individual.

    If this is not your belief system, practice your own words and do not attack the author for his beliefs. If he (or she) were gay and one was not in support, it is the same way there would be bashing. Attacking him (or her) for such a belief is the same as being a “homophobe”, just in a different situation/scenario.

    May 31, 2017
    • Avatar
      Atoba

      This couldn’t have been better said. Thumbs up!

      June 1, 2017
      • Avatar
        Osasu Elaiho

        Thank you

        June 1, 2017
      • Avatar
        Osasu Elaiho

        Thank you. Your article is divisive and polarising yet absolutely beautiful and insightful.

        June 2, 2017
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    Chi chee

    @poster, am not sorry to say that you are a homophobe! Homosexuality is NOT a choice, it is as intrinsic to a person as race is, replace all you’ve said about gays with race i.e to say; ‘I have nothing against black people, but I just don’t think they should be treated as equals with whites’ and you’ll see how obnoxious & homophobic your views are; it’s rather unfortunate that the bulk of Nigerians can’t reason beyond their noses. If you don’t want to be criticized for disliking gays/gay marriage, then you have no right to dislike whites who dislike blacks and who believe that blacks ought not to have equal rights.
    Your dislike for gays does not give you any rights to use YOUR religion as a basis for discrimination; your religion should be personal to you & kept out of the public space.
    As an earlier commenter noted; marriage is changing swiftly and will keep on doing so and oh am gay & Nigerian- proudly so! You can read more about the authentic experiences of contemporary gay Nigerians on kitodiaries.com

    June 1, 2017
      • Avatar

        I really don’t want to be insulting but I also don’t understand how you find it difficult to draw similarities b/w the two. They are drawing similarities b/w race and homosexuality for a valid reason. What you do when you say that you don’t agree with someone’s existence (which is essentially what you’re saying since it isn’t like they got to choose their sexual preference) is dehumanize them. Which is what white people did/do to blacks. If you replace homosexual with “gay”, you should see how it makes sense. Black people never chose to be black, and surely didn’t choose for white supremacists to hate them. However white people didn’t think POC to be deserving of basic human rights, the same way that you apparently don’t think homosexuals do. So it appears that as much as White people hate being called racists (more than actually being racist lol), you also don’t appreciate being called homophobic. Even though by definition, this post kinda points you in that direction.

        June 5, 2017
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      Fori Joseph

      The supposition that homosexuals are born that way IS NOT FACT, it is an opinion, one voiced by many scientists sure, but other scientists say different e.g
      http://anonhq.com/new-u-s-study-says-gay-people-not-born-way-sexual-orientation-not-fixed/ . That said, wether or not it is choice is immaterial, as humans we are allowed to have choices.

      June 3, 2017
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    Tami Okoro Dedeh

    Honestly, what my fellow human being decides to shove up their own arse in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of my own business. That is all.

    June 1, 2017
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    Larz

    A baker was sued for refusing to bake cake for a gay couples wedding

    So far there has been chatter and media (trad and social) backlash on refusal of religious officials to marry gay couple. It is only a matter of time before that becomes the law.

    Where does it all end. At what point does giving some people freedom takes away the freedom of others?

    June 1, 2017
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      Tami Okoro Dedeh

      I remember the baker story very well. That man needs to look at his profession closely before judging others because there’s no job gayer than baking. Ever had cream doughnuts at Sweet Sensation? (Does that restaurant still exist?) Someone had to bake it before it was served, and anybody who makes a living out of pumping cream into buns is in no position to tell me that being gay is wrong…

      June 8, 2017
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        Larz

        He never said he wouldn’t make cakes that gay people can eat. He said he wouldn’t a design a gay wedding cake. Isn’t that similar to a religious person refusing to bake a penis shaped cake (or something as X-rated) for a hen do.

        June 8, 2017
  • Avatar
    Asake

    Hello Zinga
    I read through your post and your thought process seems to be a little…. I really couldn’t get a grasp of your message.
    You started my detailing how people are harassed for being single… then how women think getting married is the ultimate.. followed by the drama of the wedding ceremony … you summed it up by adding the same sex marriage ish… Quite a mouthful if you ask me
    Live and let live though? i don’t think that’s applicable in the Nigerian society…

    June 1, 2017
  • Avatar
    Fori Joseph

    This depends on wether or not you look at marriage as a secular or religious institution. If you see it as a reilgious thing, then you can judge it by religious doctrines. This argument is moot however, because Nigeria like most countries operates a secular constitution. Therefore you cannot judge this issue with a religious lense.
    Instead, it should be judged on the grounds of what is best for individuals and the country as a whole.

    (Marriage aside, the criminalisation of same sex acts is a violation of human rights, as what to people choose to do privately with each other is no ones business)

    So you need to ask, does it serve the country as a whole to encourage same sex relationships? One could say no, since it is in the interest of the state to encourage traditional relationships that will in turn produce children to secure the future of the state.

    Next you need to ask if this is a good enough reason to stop two people from expressing their love for each other.

    The argument of the state needing to sustain it’s population will not hold water in Nigeria today, rapid population growth is a problem.

    My stand therefore is, despite my Christian beliefs that homosexuality is a sin, people are free to sin. And I do not have the right to police other people’s decisions. So by all means same sex marriages should be legalised.

    June 3, 2017
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      Jade

      Isn’t this what the author said as well?

      June 7, 2017
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    Seyi

    @jade @osasu thank you. What the author is simply saying is that because I don’t like same sex marriage it doesn’t automatically make me homophobic. I don’t like fat people, like in an amorous way, does that make me ‘fatophobic’ or whatever it’s called? I don’t think so, it’s just my preferences.
    What I was taught in my psychology class about phobias isn’t just a dislike of something. It’s much deeper than that

    June 7, 2017
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    Tiffany

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean your speech has to be accepted. So if someone calls you homophobic, they’re completely right to do so

    November 17, 2017
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    Sarah

    It is still homophobia but your homophobia is based on your religion. You don’t have to to anything you don’t want to do but other people’s sexuality and right to sexual freedom is their decision and should not be for you to debate. No one is telling you as a heterosexual male who you should and should have sexual relations with so face your own.

    November 17, 2017
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