Response: May 2016 Issue

Responsively Yours: Becoming Whole Persons Through Jesus Christ

Responsively Yours: Becoming Whole Persons Through Jesus Christ
Harriett Jane Olson

Why would United Methodist Women undertake a study on the Bible and human sexuality at this time when there is so much conflict in the church and world about matters connected to sexuality? One response might be: When would such a study be more important? Our study is not to create or extend controversy but to help us to delve more deeply into the ways our thoughts and feelings on sexuality are shaped and to help us look at what the Bible says and how we understand it.

Our study starts with the Bible and outlines the development of thought and doctrine related to sexuality in the church. We will also ask ourselves what sexuality means to us. This will be challenging for many of us. Some of us don't have experience addressing sexuality in church at all, or if we do, we may have addressed only a particular issue or the behaviors of others.

As we undertake this study, we do so keeping our Purpose in mind. As members of United Methodist Women, we are becoming whole people through Jesus Christ. This means we bring our whole selves into the mix — our bodies, minds, souls, hearts. We need the theological space to reflect on God our creator's view of our sexuality, to think about what this means for how we see ourselves and others and then to talk about how we act in the world.

We choose this study because we have much to learn from our sisters. All of us have experiences, feelings and perspectives to offer, and all of us can learn from the perspectives, feelings and experiences of others. We desperately need to undertake this work in a theological framework, reminded of God's love, rather than the judgmental, exploitative and sensational context created by media, politics and entertainment.

As we initially discussed the importance of this study, I remembered some of the conversations with our young women of Limitless. They shared that they were in phases of their lives when matters related to sexuality and relationships can be confusing and challenging and that they would value trusted relationships with God-following women with whom they could talk.

They are not the only ones experiencing confusion and challenge as well as pain and joy. I know that United Methodist Women members have stood for and with one another through a variety of issues connected to sexuality, and I pray that this study will strengthen this ability.

As a member of United Methodist Women becoming a whole person through Jesus Christ, I hope this study helps me bring my whole self more fully into the practice of loving God. I hope it prepares me to express God's love as I work on matters related to sexuality, and I expect that our organization's commitment to the wholeness of all persons, particularly women and girls, will continue to be grounded in our theology and expressed through our mission and advocacy.

That's why United Methodist Women is studying The Bible and Human Sexuality at this time. I hope that you will be a part of it, expecting a blessing in your own life and prepared to be a blessing to someone else.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 5/3/2016 11:00:00 PM

May 2016 cover of response

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