Presented by the Commission on Christian Action, adopted by the delegates to the 111th Covenant Annual Meeting.
God is the Creator of human beings (Genesis 1:26-31; Genesis 2:4b-25). The creation of human beings includes our sexuality, the genders of male and female, the companionship of male and female in an intimate marriage relationship, and the gift of procreation. By God’s own statement for all of creation, sexuality is good. Sexuality in marriage is celebrated in the Song of Solomon. Chaste singleness is blessed by the life of Jesus Himself, who models loving relationships. The Apostle Paul affirms both marriage and the single life as callings and gifts from the Lord (1 Corinthians 7).
We human beings misuse God’s creation of sexuality and distort its role in our lives. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:24-27, Scripture succinctly declares this sin and God’s judgment on it.1 Throughout the Scriptures we see how sin in sexual relationships damages relationship with God and others. We live in a society characterized by imperfect and sinful sexual relationships of many kinds.
Jesus Christ in his perfect life, death and resurrection provides human beings with the gift of new life in him. By his grace we are given the possibility of renewal in every area of life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus and his apostles taught faithfulness in marriage and abstinence in singleness (e.g., Matthew 5:27-30; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Ephesians 5:21-32) as part of the structure of the new life in Christ. Even as we acknowledge our sin, we are called to grow into the fullness of the new life in every aspect (Romans 6:1-4), including our sexuality.
God created people male and female, and provided for the marriage relationship in which two may become one. A publicly declared, legally binding marriage between one woman and one man is the one appropriate place for sexual intercourse. Heterosexual marriage, faithfulness within marriage, abstinence outside of marriage—these constitute the Christian standard. When we fall short, we are invited to repent, receive the forgiveness of God, and amend our lives.2
We recognize that God’s gift of sexuality is like a deep and swiftly moving river, beautiful, mysterious, and powerful. The boundaries of Scripture must be built into our lives in order for this immense power to be a source of blessing rather than destruction. Therefore, we call upon pastors, church members, and Christian families to forsake silence about sexuality and to declare God’s truth about the beauty and potential of sexuality and to warn and counsel with compassion when it is misused. In the local church, we encourage ministries to address these needs:
- to teach children, teens, and adults the biblical basis for the Christian standard of sexuality.
- to prepare people for marriage and enrich marriages.
- to affirm the gift of singleness and welcome singles into the full life of the congregation.
- to oppose the proliferation of pornography and prostitution.
- to care for persons involved in sexual sins such as adultery, homosexual behavior and promiscuity, compassionately recognizing the potential of these sins to take the form of addiction.
- to teach the dangers and harm of spousal abuse, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, seeking to prevent these sins in Christian homes and lives.
- to compassionately care for the victims of sexual sins of all kinds.
God has shown his love to us in the gracious gift of life, including sexuality. He has further displayed his love for us by redeeming our lives through the gift of his Son, who daily and richly forgives the sins of all who trust in him. As we receive God’s loving gifts, we must respond to him with loving obedience and to each other with tender compassion in every area of life.
1. The Constitution of the Evangelical Covenant Church affirms: The Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testament, as the Word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct.
2. Human Sexuality, working draft. A possible social statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with accompanying documents, October 1994, p. 39.