|The community provides the potential for nurturing human beings into the
fullness of their humanity. We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and
evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential
in individuals. Primary for us is the gospel understanding that all persons are important
-- because they are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ and
not because they have merited significance. We therefore support social climates in which
human communities are maintained and strengthened for the sake of all persons and their
A) The Family -- We believe the family to be the basic human community
through which persons are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect,
and fidelity. We understand the family as encompassing a wider range of options than that
of the two-generational unit of parents and children (the nuclear family), including the
extended family, families with adopted children, single parents, stepfamilies, and couples
without children. We affirm shared responsibility for parenting by men and women and
encourage social, economic, and religious efforts to maintain and strengthen relationships
within families in order that every member may be assisted toward complete personhood.
B) Other Christian Communities -- We further recognize the movement to
find new patterns of Christian nurturing communities such as Koinonia Farms, certain
monastic and other religious orders, and some types of corporate Church life. We urge the
Church to seek ways of understanding the needs and concerns of such Christian groups and
to find ways of ministering to them and through them.
C) Marriage -- We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is
expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man
and a woman. We believe that God's blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there
are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for
women than for men in marriage. Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be
conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our Churches. [See Judicial
Council Decision 694]
D) Divorce -- When a married couple is estranged beyond reconciliation, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, divorce is a regrettable alternative in the midst of brokenness. It is recommended that methods of mediation be used to minimize the adversarial nature and fault-finding that are often part of our current judicial processes.
Although divorce publicly declares that a marriage no longer exists, other covenantal
relationships resulting from the marriage remain, such as the nurture and support of
children and extended family ties. We urge respectful negotiations in deciding the custody
of minor children and support the consideration of either or both parents for this
responsibility in that custody not be reduced to financial support, control, or
manipulation and retaliation. The welfare of each child is the most important
Divorce does not preclude a new marriage. We encourage an intentional commitment of the
Church and society to minister compassionately to those in the process of divorce, as well
as members of divorced and remarried families, in a community of faith where God's grace
is shared by all.
E) Single Persons -- We affirm the integrity of single persons, and we
reject all social practices that discriminate or social attitudes that are prejudicial
against persons because they are single.
F) Women and Men -- We affirm with Scripture the common humanity of
male and female, both having equal worth in the eyes of God. We reject the erroneous
notion that one gender is superior to another, that one gender must strive against
another, and that members of one gender may receive love, power and esteem only at the
expense of another. We especially reject the idea that God made individuals as incomplete
fragments, made whole only in union with another. We call upon women and men alike to
share power and control, to learn to give freely and to receive freely, to be complete and
to respect the wholeness of others. We seek for every individual opportunities and freedom
to love and be loved, to seek and receive justice, and to practice ethical
self-determination. We understand our gender diversity to be a gift from God, intended to
add to the rich variety of human experience and perspective; and we guard against
attitudes and traditions that would use this good gift to leave members of one sex more
vulnerable in relationships than members of another.
G) Human Sexuality -- We recognize that sexuality is God's good gift
to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged
and affirmed by themselves, the Church, and society. We call all persons to the
disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship
of this gift. We also recognize our limited understanding of this complex gift and
encourage the medical, theological, and social science disciplines to combine in a
determined effort to understand human sexuality more completely. We call the Church to
take the leadership role in bringing together these disciplines to address this most
complex issue. Further, within the context of our understanding of this gift of God, we
recognize that God challenges us to find responsible, committed, and loving forms of
Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are only clearly affirmed in the marriage bond. Sex may become exploitative within as well as outside marriage. We reject all sexual expressions that damage or destroy the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression which enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order.
We deplore all forms of the commercialization and exploitation of sex, with their
consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. We call for strict enforcement
of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children by adults. We call for the
establishment of adequate protective services, guidance, and counseling opportunities for
children thus abused. We insist that all persons, regardless of age, gender, marital
status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured.
We recognize the continuing need for full, positive, and factual sex education
opportunities for children, youth, and adults. The Church offers a unique opportunity to
give quality guidance and education in this area.
Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth.
All persons need the ministry and guidance of the Church in their struggles for human
fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables
reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. Although we do not condone
the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian
teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all. We commit ourselves to be in
ministry for and with all persons. [See Judicial Council Decision 702]
H) Family Violence and Abuse -- We recognize that family violence and
abuse in all its forms -- verbal, psychological, physical, sexual -- is detrimental to the
covenant of the human community. We encourage the Church to provide a safe environment,
counsel, and support for the victim. While we deplore the actions of the abuser, we affirm
that person to be in need of God's redeeming love.
I) Sexual Harassment -- We believe human sexuality is God's good gift.
One abuse of this good gift is sexual harassment. We define sexual harassment as any
unwanted sexual advance or demand, either verbal or physical, that is reasonably perceived
by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating or coercive. Sexual harassment must be
understood as an exploitation of a power relationship rather than as an exclusively sexual
issue. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the creation of a hostile or
abusive working environment resulting from discrimination on the basis of gender.
Contrary to the nurturing community, sexual harassment creates improper, coercive, and
abusive conditions wherever it occurs in society. Sexual harassment undermines the social
goal of equal opportunity and the climate of mutual respect between men and women.
Unwanted sexual attention is wrong and discriminatory. Sexual harassment interferes with
the moral mission of the Church.
J) Abortion -- The beginning of life and the ending of life are the
God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of
control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and
even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life
makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness
of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an
unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic
conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the
legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an
acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender
selection. We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of
conditions that may warrant abortion. We commit our Church to continue to provide
nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis
pregnancy, and to those who give birth. Governmental laws and regulations do not provide
all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision
concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by
the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.
K) Adoption -- Children are a gift from God to be welcomed and
received. We recognize that some circumstances of birth make the rearing of a child
difficult. We affirm and support the birth parent(s) whose choice it is to allow the child
to be adopted. We recognize the agony, strength, and courage of the birth parent(s) who
choose(s) in hope, love, and prayer to offer the child for adoption. In addition, we
affirm the receiving parent(s) desiring an adopted child. When circumstances warrant
adoption, we support the use of proper legal procedures. We commend the birth parent(s),
the receiving parent(s), and the child to the care of the Church, that grief might be
shared, joy might be celebrated, and the child might be nurtured in a community of
L) Death with Dignity -- We applaud medical science for efforts to prevent disease and illness and for advances in treatment that extend the meaningful life of human beings. At the same time, in the varying stages of death and life that advances in medical science have occasioned, we recognize the agonizing personal and moral decisions faced by the dying, their physicians, their families, and their friends. Therefore, we assert the right of every person to die in dignity, with loving personal care and without efforts to prolong terminal illnesses merely because the technology is available to do so.
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