The Resolution on Human Sexuality
(also known as the Saskatoon Statement on Sexuality
and Human Sexuality in the Human Life
) is the product of a study of sexuality commisioned by the General Conference Mennonite Church
and the Mennonite Church General Assembly, two prominent Mennonite
organizations (Mennonites, to those not in the knowing, are a group of simple-living Christian
s, similar in belief and origin to the Amish
). It is the product of four years of of study by a joint committee and contains three parts- Our Affirmation
, Our Confession
, and Our Covenant
- summing up the stance of the Mennonite Church on (duh!) human sexuality.
It is, IMHO, a great example of the open, frank, nonjudgemental manner in which the Mennonites, Amish, and other Plain People view their world. In the world of the English, Mennonites and similar groups are often horribly stereotyped as a drab, oppressive, butter-churning, buggy-riding people- people who are idiotically old-fashioned, people who are religious fundamentalists. To view any religious and cultural group that way is intolerance and ignorance to some extent, but I think in this case it's particularly uncalled for. For, in that amazing way of theirs, the Mennonites have combined a strict, literal adherence to the Bible with the exact opposite qualities of fundamentalism: they turn away from the taint of judgementalism, pride, and hypocrisy in their belief systems.
Impossible? Well, their stance here is certainly not perfect- I personally don't agree with their views on extramarital sex and homosexuality, but I have to admit that I admire the compassionate way they address these issues, and I think you'll be surprised, as I was, with just how cool the Mennonites are about human differences and sexuality. Read the resolution and decide for yourself, jah?
RESOLUTION ON HUMAN SEXUALITY
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. We affirm that we can feel positive about our bodies and our sexuality because we know our Creator. 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. We affirm both the goodness of singleness and the goodness of marriage and family in the Lord.
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. We confess that sexism lingers among us, damaging the self-esteem of women and hindering their full contribution to personal relationships and to the church, and denying men a true understanding of themselves. We repent our wrong view of the body which keeps us from speeking openly and honestly about our bodies, including our sexual nature. We repent of our judgemental attitudes and our slowness to forgive each other when we fail, a sign of lack of compassion. We confess our fear and repent our rejection of those of us with a different sexual orientation and of our lack of compassion for their struggle to find a place in society and in the church. We repent of our permissiveness which too often leads to premarital and extramarital sexual relationships. We repent of our failure to maintain healthy and growing marriages.
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 intercourse is reserved for a man and a woman united in marriage and that the violation of this teaching is a sin. It is our understanding that this teaching also precludes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sexual activity. We further understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant, including spouse abuse, is sin. 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 covenant 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 part of the nature of individuals and congregations we will promote congregational study of the complex issues of sexuality, through Bible study and the use of Human Sexuality in the Christian Life: A Working Document for Study and Dialogue. Finally, we covenant with God that as we discern his will for our lives and our fellowship, we will seek to obey it, through his grace and strength.