Troubled by proposed change

I value the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board’s awareness that we shouldn’t try to change a church statement at a virtual assembly (“Delegate Assembly goes virtual; decision on guidelines is postponed,” Feb. 12). It also buys time for those troubled by the proposed change to our official stance on same-sex marriage. I know most of us in MC USA view the biblical question as settled: The Bible’s prohibitions don’t apply to loving, committed partnerships. But not all of us. We see Jesus and the early church consistently tightening the law’s prohibitions on various forms of sexual immorality. In Romans 1:26-27 Paul includes same-sex sexual intimacy similar to what we see today — female-female relations, male-male relations of mutual desire (“passion for one another”) — in a long catalog of sins. In another list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul includes a term formed of the words for males and coitus; the term is so rare that Paul may have coined it, and it had no chance to have developed a meaning other than male-male sexual intimacy. 

Yes, a strong theme in Scripture is that of welcome and hospitality. But if all same-sex relationships are in view in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6, then the church will not bless same-sex marriages or credential the pastoral gifts of people in such marriages: We welcome the marginalized but not in a way that blesses what Scripture calls sin. For us who see this as the biblical message and love the Mennonite church and want our practice to align with the overall message of Scripture, it’s not easy to discern how we should best respond if our denomination retires our 20-year-old guidelines on pastors not blessing same-sex marriages.

Harold Miller, Broadway, Va.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!