One major tool today that shapes the lives of people in the society is religion.
Religion is a specific system of worship or belief built around God or gods. There are several religions in the world, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, traditional beliefs, Buddhism, and Agnosticism.
- Hinduism is a dominant religion practiced in India.
- Buddhism is largely practiced in India, China and other Asian countries
- Judaism is a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews. Christianity developed out of Judaism, and Islam was heavily influenced by it.
- Agnosticism is the belief that any ultimate reality such as God is unknown and probably unknowable.
In Nigeria, the dominant religions are Christianity, Islam and Traditional:
A Christian believes in Jesus Christ and in the Bible as a sacred scripture. Christians worship in churches. There are different denominations in Christianity, but most of them can be grouped as Catholic, Protestant or Pentecostal.
There are lots of different churches, and they all have different ideas about society and sexuality based on their interpretations of the Bible. For that reason, it’s hard to predict what someone thinks or feels based purely on his/her religion.
A Moslem believes in the total submission to the will of Allah according to Islam. The Holy Quran is the sacred book of Muslims. Muslims worship in mosques.
Someone who follows traditional religions believes in cultural and tribal worshiping of gods. Many people continue to hold their traditional beliefs along with Christianity or Islam. Most traditional worship takes place in shrines.
Have you noticed the way religion shapes social interactions in the society?
Yes, it tells people how to live their lives.
Apart from shaping behaviors such as good neighborliness and love for one another, religion also teaches people what is right and wrong.
It also encourages its followers to be law abiding and show respect for one another.
Another key area religion dabbles into is sexuality.
Many issues in sexuality have become important issues for religions.
Issues on sexuality that people discuss a lot about are: • Contraception • Abortion • Masturbation • Homosexuality • Gender
Let’s look a little bit more at each of those issues.
Contraception refers to any method used to prevent pregnancy. Some religions, like Islam and some types of Christianity, allow some forms of contraception, while some don’t allow any. The decision on whether to use contraception or not is best left to to the individual to decide.
Abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy before birth. Abortion is currently illegal in Nigeria unless it is done to save the life of the mother. While most religions in Nigeria oppose abortion, many people also believe that it should be legal so women can make their own choices.
Masturbation is when someone touches themselves to cause sexual pleasure. There are a lot of strong religious taboos against masturbation, but most people consider masturbation to be a harmless way of exploring oneself and one’s sexuality.
Homosexuality is when a person has romantic relationships with people of the same sex. Most religions condemn homosexuality. Homosexuality is a controversial subject in Nigeria today, with most people struggling to decide whether to condemn it because of religion, or accept it because people have rights as individuals.
Religion tends to teach us lots of things about men’s and women’s roles in our society. Some religion teaches that men and women are equal, while some don’t. Many religions won’t ordain women as priests, and some require that men and women worship separately. Also, most religion frowns against pre-marital sex amongst young people.
While some religions are absolutely against some of these practices, some are neither for nor against while others are in support.
It is important to remember that the rules of a church only apply to its’ members, not to all of society. That’s why we think it’s important to have what we call religious freedom.
Religious Freedom means that each religion has the freedom to practice and believe what it wants. But it can’t expect every person to believe and practice the same way.
Even the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes the freedom of its citizens to practice the religions of their choice.
Why is there so much emphasis on religious freedom?
To protect the right of every individual to practice the religion of their choice, or not to have a religion at all. Religious freedom means that individuals should not be discriminated against or condemned on account of or lack of religious beliefs.
That idea is especially important when it comes to the way religions think about sexuality. Your body and your sexuality are your own, and it’s important to make your own decisions and choices.
Your religion can help you make those choices, and you can always turn to your spiritual leader for help.
Ultimately, your religion, or your decision not to follow a religion, is yours in the same way that your thoughts and dreams are. Nearly every faith will tell you that they are right and everyone else is wrong, though, so it can get confusing.
Religion is another area where I have to make up my own mind.
Does religion affect your life in any way?
Yes, my whole life is essentially guided by my belief, not only my life but other peoples’ lives too.
Well, I hope we’ve been able to help clear up some confusion today. I’ll see you tomorrow.
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