Talking about Sexuality
This month the Presbytery will be talking about sexuality, as it prepares to vote on an amendment to the Book of Order (see inside article). The debate is likely to follow familiar lines. People who believe we should to keep the constitution the way it is will point out that in the Bible homosexuality is condemned whenever it’s mentioned. Others will argue that many things condemned in scripture we now accept as “clean” (and vice-versa), recognizing that the timeless Word of God can’t be identified with the words of the Bible, even as we depend on those words to hear God speaking. Some people will point to centuries of tradition; others will point to centuries of reform. People will speak from personal experience on all sides. But however the Presbyteries vote, we’ll be left with the question: How does Christ call us to live out our sexuality? What is faithful Christian teaching in this time and place?
It’s the question that underlies our debate on ordination standards, but it’s one we have trouble addressing directly. There are many reasons for that, but one is obvious: nearly everyone feels vulnerable when it comes to sexuality. Sexuality is a source of joy, pleasure and intimacy, but it can also be a source of harm. It may bring up feelings of anger, hurt, envy, shame --- yikes! No wonder we don’t want to talk about it.
But it’s important that we do, because sexuality is a gift from God that we’re called to receive with gratitude and joy. It’s another aspect of the “stewardship of creation”: just as we seek to be good stewards of the natural world around us, of our money, buildings and health, we’re called to be good stewards of our sexuality. To use it in a way that cherishes the image of God in all people and that never stoops to violence or coercion. To use it in a way that builds up the other, rather than tearing down. To use it in a way that reflects the grace, justice and love of our Lord “made flesh.”
We may differ on the details - and the big stuff. Discussion of sexuality is bound to bring up conflict. But as followers of Jesus Christ we needn’t be afraid. In Christ there is the wisdom and courage we need to discern God’s path, and forgiveness when we go astray. In Christ we see the advent of God, when love and justice will reign and all people will know sexuality as a “valley of love and delight.”
Grace and Peace,