The 2016 Spiritual Growth study invites us to explore the complexity of the biblical text and our varied understandings of it in light of human sexuality. We will also examine the influence of theologians and church leaders throughout thousands of years of Judeo-Christian history. Finally, we will consider the influence of family systems, heritage, and changing gender roles, along with the impact of race, class, age, ethnicity, and orientation and how each of us was reared and instructed in our Christian faith.
Talking about Sexuality and the Church
Whether you agree or disagree with the official stances of The United Methodist Church, it is important to be conversant about them. It is important to be aware of your own beliefs, feelings, biases, and understandings because this self-awareness leads to conversation and understanding. Sexuality is not an easy topic for most of us. Many Christians have confusing and complicated notions of human sexuality, the Bible, our personal beliefs, and what the church should and should not teach and require.
It is Good
The good news, says Ellen Brubaker, is that human sexuality "is part of who we are as human beings, created by God and called good." Sexuality, at its best, is a divine gift meant to enhance and strengthen relationships and draw us closer to our partner, she explains. And there are many citations in the Bible that point to the good gift of sexuality, explicitly and implicitly, beginning with the creation stories in Genesis.
Finding a Loving Response
The world is watching and waiting for a relevant, compelling, loving, challenging, and cogent word from the Body of Christ. Our silence or simplistic "thou shalt nots" are no longer adequate for the people in our care—for those who claim church membership and those who need and seek spiritual community.
We are sexual beings. God made us that way. Sexuality can be celebrated and it can be exploited; it can draw us closer to the one we love, or it can divide whole communities of faith. Yet, we are called to be the Beloved Community of healing, wholeness, reconciliation, and love. How we help one another make sense of the beauty and complexity of sexuality is the purpose of this study. Open your minds and hearts, and let's wrestle together.
Videos Referenced in the Leaders' Guide
Girls Talk TV - Human Trafficking Part 1
Sex is a Decision
Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
Sex in the Bible: Part 5
From the Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church
Listening, Learning and Leading