A Call to Affirmation, Confession, and Covenant Regarding Human Sexuality (Mennonite Church, 1987)
Call to Affirmation, Confession and Covenant Regarding Human Sexuality, A (Mennonite Church, 1987)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 of our wrong view of the body which keeps us from speaking openly and honestly about our bodies, including our sexual nature.
We repent of our judgmental attitudes and our slowness to forgive each other when we fail or when our sexual values differ from those of other Christians.
We confess our fear and repent of our absence of love 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.
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 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 premarital, extramarital, and homosexual genital activity. We further understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant 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 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 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 the Holy Spirit may continue to work within us as we relate with understanding to persons with varied needs and concerns in our church.
Adopted by Mennonite Church General Assembly, July 8, 1987.
Context of the Resolution
The resolution emerged from a study on sexuality requested by the General Conference Mennonite Church in 1980 and by the Mennonite Church General Assembly in 1981. A joint committee was established that worked on the study over four years. The process included reporting to the national conventions in 1983 and testing the study in the congregations. The final study was published in 1985 as Human sexuality in the human life. Although the study addressed all of sexuality, a major issue in both denominations was how to appropriately respond both to persons with a homosexual orientation as well as persons in homosexual relationships. In many delegate and congregational deliberations this issue overshadowed the rest of the study.
Following the publication of the study, the General Boards of both denominations brought similar, but not identical, resolutions to their delegate bodies in 1986 and 1987 respectively.
The study and the resolutions did not bring an end to debate within the denominations. The issue of the church's response to homosexual persons clouded the prospective merger of the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The resolution was also popularly known as the Purdue statement on sexuality.
There is an extensive bibliography in Human sexuality in the Christian life (Newton, Kan. : Faith and Life Press, 1985)
Proceedings, Ninth Mennonite Church General Assembly, July 7-12, 1987, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Lombard, Ill. : Mennonite Church General Assembly, 1987), 8, 21.
The full text of the Human sexuality study as well as additional documentation are available on a web site maintained by Dr. Loren Johns, Academic Dean at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.