Since we are from the month October which is also pride month, I saw it fit to discuss the marginalisation of the LGBTQI community in institutions such as religion. “Common ground” can be defined as “the idea of cultural relativism does not intend to stop people from pursuing the universal, rather, it is a way of thinking that motivates people to reach a common ground from where different cultures can be seen equally within the perspective” (Matsuoka, 2007, p. 62). Matsuoka uses this term to make us understand how it is important to be respectful and understanding of our differences without projection to achieve peaceful relationships within our communities.
The LGBTQI community often, if not always, have to fight for their right to exist in institutions that preach love like the church, and even their families. However, this is not always the case for many of these individuals. The Catholic Church is often criticized for its archaic patriarchal nature to the evolving world, as it is not cognizant of the oppressive and marginalising aspect of women and gender relations in its own institution (Roces, 2007). Many of the LGBTQI individuals often feel that religious institutions lack inclusivity, and more often than not drive divisiveness within communities. It is important for religious institutions to reaffirm the love of God for those who feel left out.
As someone who was raised under Christian principles, I have expressed how perplexing Christians like to interpret the bible. I like to illustrate this interpretation by referring to important teachings in the Bible, that we are created in God’s image (Sol 2:23), that God is love (1 John 4) and finally referring to one of the Ten Commandments in the bible: “You shall love thy neighbour as you love thyself” (Mark 12:31). To further understand the stance of the devout Christian, I always ask if denying the LGBT community the right to express the image God has created suggests that they deny that the LGBT community is created in God’s image. Furthermore, I ask if they really love themselves if they cannot love and accept their neighbour. Additionally, with the preaching that God is love, does condemning the LGBT community indicate that God is selective of who He loves? These are questions I have hardly had a substantive answer to.
I would like to assume that the “Godly way” of living is knowing and reaffirming that God is love, that we are created in His image and that for us to further express how much love God has given us, we must translate it to our neighbours in spite of what we deem more sinful than the other. A common ground that I would like to see within religious institutions is one that does not pick and choose who or what is more palatable for ‘human consumption’ but rather, how does a man and man loving each other personally affect me, how does it make sense to be more loving or forgiving to a murderer or a rapist than it is for people who do not choose who they love. In essence, it is important that we create a society that does not project what they think the bible means, but simply acknowledge that, God is love and whomever he has created, was created in His image and therefore is worthy of respect and love.
Karabo O. Masia