Human Sexuality Statement

A CALL TO AFFIRMATION, CONFESSION, AND
COVENANT REGARDING HUMAN SEXUALITY

(New York Mennonite Conference; September 1997)

A Call to Affirmation
    We affirm that sexuality is a good and beautiful gift of God, a gift of identity, and a way of being in the world as male and female. Genesis 1:26-31
    We affirm that we can feel positive about our bodies and our sexuality because we are created in God's image and know our Creator. Genesis 2:25
    We affirm that sexual drives are part of our lives, but that the satisfaction of those drives is not the chief good in life. 1 Corinthians 6:13
    We affirm the goodness of singleness, marriage, and family in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 Proverbs 18:22 Genesis 2:18
    We affirm that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life, and that sexual relations outside this bond are sinful. Mark 10:7-9 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 1 Corinthians 6:9

A Call to Confession
    We confess that our sexual attitudes and practices too often fall short of the biblical standards. No one can boast of perfection in this area. Matthew 5:27-28 Colossians 3:5
    We confess that sexist attitudes are among us where one gender is given more value than the other, damaging the self-esteem of people, hindering their full contribution to personal and broader relationships, allowing domestic violence, and limiting our ability to accept and affirm who we are in Christ. Acts 2:17-18 Galatians 3:26-28 Ephesians 5:21- 30
    We repent of attitudes toward the body, God's temple, which keep us from speaking appropriately and honestly about our bodies, including our sexual nature. Genesis 1:27 Song of Songs 1 Corinthians 6:19- 20
    We repent of our self-righteous attitudes and our slowness to forgive sexual and moral failure. We confess our need of God's wisdom and grace when differences of Biblical interpretation arise regarding questions of morality and sexual values. 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 (re: 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) Luke 17:3-4 Philippians 1:9- 11
    We confess our fear and repent of our absence of love and our lack of empathy toward those with a different sexual orientation. We also confess our tendency to focus on homosexuality to the neglect of more common sexual sins among us.

A Call to Covenant
    We covenant with each other to study the Bible together and expand our insight into the biblical teachings relating to sexuality. We understand the Bible to teach that sexual relations are reserved for a man and a woman united in a marriage covenant. It is our understanding that this teaching does not allow premarital, extramarital, and same-gender sexual activity. We understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant, emotional or sexual, is sin. We understand the Bible to condemn same-sex intercourse wherever it is mentioned.
    We covenant with each other to mutually bear the burden of remaining in loving dialogue with each other in the body of Christ, recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God's grace and that the Holy Spirit may lead us to further truth and repentance. We promise compassion and prayer for each other that distrustful, broken, and sinful relationships may experience God's healing.
    We covenant with each other to take part in the ongoing search for discernment and for openness to each other. As a part of the nurture of individuals and congregations we will promote congregational study of the complex issues of sexuality, through Bible study and other resource materials.
    Finally, we covenant that as we discern God's will for our lives and our fellowship, we will seek to obey it through God's grace and strength. Our prayer is that we will allow the Holy Spirit to work within us as we relate with understanding to persons with varied needs and concerns in our church.

This document was adopted by the NYMC Delegate Assembly on September 27, 1997.

Delegates on March 9, 1996 called for NYMC to take the Mennonite Church statement on human sexuality (adopted July 8, 1987 at Purdue) and attempt to strengthen it. This document is that attempt.  Below is the copy showing additions/deletions.


VERSION SHOWING ADDITIONS/DELETIONS

KEY:
    Sections in brown italics - added to Purdue '87 statement by NYMC
    Sections in [brackets and gray] - deletions to Purdue '87 statement (a few were moved to another part of statement)

A CALL TO AFFIRMATION, CONFESSION, AND
COVENANT REGARDING HUMAN SEXUALITY

(New York Mennonite Conference; September 1997)

A Call to Affirmation
    We affirm that sexuality is a good and beautiful gift of God, a gift of identity, and a way of being in the world as male and female. Genesis 1:26- 31
    We affirm that we can feel positive about our bodies and our sexuality because we are created in God's image and know our Creator. Genesis 2:25
    We affirm that sexual drives are [a real] part of our lives, but that the satisfaction of those drives is not the chief good in life. 1 Corinthians 6:13
    We affirm [both] the goodness of singleness, [and the goodness of] marriage, and family in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 Proverbs 18:22 Genesis 2:18
    We affirm that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life, and that sexual relations outside this bond are sinful. Mark 10:7-9 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 1 Corinthians 6:9

A Call to Confession
    We confess that our sexual attitudes and practices too often fall [far] short of the biblical standards. No one can boast of perfection in this area. Matthew 5:27-28 Colossians 3:5
    We confess that [sexism lingers] sexist attitudes are among us where one gender is given more value than the other, damaging the self-esteem of [women and] people, hindering their full contribution to personal and broader relationships [and to the church], allowing domestic violence, and [denying men a true understanding of themselves] limiting our ability to accept and affirm who we are in Christ. Acts 2:17-18 Galatians 3:26-28 Ephesians 5:21- 30
    We repent of [our wrong view of the body] attitudes toward the body, God's temple, which keep us from speaking [openly] appropriately and honestly about our bodies, including our sexual nature. Genesis 1:27 Song of Songs 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    We repent of our [judgmental] self-righteous attitudes and our slowness to forgive [each other when we fail or when our sexual values differ from those of other Christians] sexual and moral failure. We confess our need of God's wisdom and grace when differences of Biblical interpretation arise regarding questions of morality and sexual values. 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 (re: 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) Luke 17:3- 4 Philippians 1:9-11
    We confess our fear and repent of our absence of love and our lack of empathy toward those with a different sexual orientation [and of our lack of understanding for their struggle to find a place in society and in the church]. We also confess our tendency to focus on homosexuality to the neglect of more common sexual sins among us.

A Call to Covenant
    We covenant with each other to study the Bible together and expand our insight into the biblical teachings relating to sexuality. We understand the Bible to teach that [genital intercourse is] sexual relations are reserved for a man and a woman united in a marriage covenant [and that violation even within the relationship, i.e., wife battering, is a sin]. It is our understanding that this teaching [also precludes] does not allow premarital, extramarital, and [homosexual] same-gender [genital] sexual activity. We [further] understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant, emotional or sexual, is sin. We understand the Bible to condemn same-sex intercourse wherever it is mentioned.
    We covenant with each other to mutually bear the burden of remaining in loving dialogue with each other in the body of Christ, recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God's grace and that the Holy Spirit may lead us to further truth and repentance. We promise compassion and prayer for each other that distrustful, broken, and sinful relationships may experience God's healing.
    We covenant with each other to take part in the ongoing search for discernment and for openness to each other. As a part of the nurture of individuals and congregations we will promote congregational study of the complex issues of sexuality, through Bible study and [the use of] other resource materials [such as "Human Sexuality in the Christian Life"].
    Finally, we covenant that as we discern God's will for our lives and our fellowship, we will seek to obey it, through God's grace and strength. Our prayer is that we will allow the Holy Spirit [may continue] to work within us as we relate with understanding to persons with varied needs and concerns in our church.