Petition 81381

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Human Sexuality (81381-C2-¶161.G)

Delete current ¶161.G and replace with the following:
  
We recognize that sexuality is God's good gift to all persons as attested in the Holy Scriptures. 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. Furthermore, we call the Church to take the leadership role in bringing together these disciplines to address this most complex issue within the context of our understanding this as a gift of God. We recognize that God calls and challenges us to find responsible, committed, and loving forms of expression which is pleasing in His sight, as is rightly expressed for humanity in Paragraph 161, section C on the topic of “Marriage” in the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Therefore, we acknowledge that all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married. However, sexual relations are clearly affirmed as being only holy when it is exercised within the marriage bond between a man and a woman and exercising abstinence in singleness as attested by the Holy Scriptures and nothing more or less.  
We reject all unholy sexual expressions since it damages or destroys the humanity to which God has given to us as birthright.  We affirm, as stated above, that only a holy sexual expression enhances the same humanity.  We recognize that any sexual relations or expressions of the same outside the holy bond of marriage is exploitative and may become exploitative within a holy bond of marriage. Thus, we believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior as attested by the Holy Scriptures. Such unacceptable Christian behavior is 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 and community. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children, youth, or adults by anyone and encourage efforts to hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible. We call for the establishment of adequate protective laws, services, guidance, and counseling opportunities for children, youth, and adults who are thus abused.  
We recognize the continuing need for full, positive, age-appropriate and factual sex education opportunities for children, young people, and adults. The Church offers a unique opportunity to give quality guidance and education in this area. We commend and uphold that all 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.  
Furthermore, we affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live as reconcilers and encouragers to form a Christian community according to Christ’s Teachings. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons. Thus, we implore all families and churches to reject the exercise and practice sexual relations outside the acceptable holy bonds of marriage and abstinence in singleness. However, let us not reject or condemn those who err to do as such, rather let us love, witness to, and teach all the acceptable holy sexual expression that enhances humanity as attested by the Holy Scriptures which will prepares one for the Way and the new life to come found in only Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  
Therefore, the United Methodist Church affirms that a holy expression of a sexual relationship is found only within the marriage bond made between one man and one woman and the exercise of abstinence in singleness. We do not condone the practice of any forms of sexual relations or expressions outside this holy bond of marriage and consider any exercise of such sexual relations as being incompatible with this Christian teaching as attested within the Holy Scriptures. Let us urge all members and those who seek to become a member of the United Methodist church to affirm our Christian practice and church doctrine, so to help bring one another to be reconciled to God in the saving relationship found in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior and brought into a right sexual human relationship which will glorify God on earth as in heaven.  

Rationale

The current statement on “human sexuality” found in paragraph 161, section G does not agree with the pervious statements found in the same paragraph in section C: “we affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant..and shared fidelity between a man and a woman;” or with section D: “God's plan is...