Petition 80449

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Human Sexuality (80449-C2-¶161.G)

Delete existing ¶161 G) and substitute the following; and amend other relevant paragraphs to make them consistent with this one:
¶161 G) Human Sexuality. For more than a generation (that is, since the 1972 Book of  Discipline), United Methodists, along with other Christians, have struggled to find principles for applying traditional teachings to contemporary understandings of human sexuality.  
    We recognize that sexuality is part of the larger human mystery, to be received and acknowledged in grateful responsibility. We reject all sexual expressions that damage or destroy the humanity God has given us. We deplore all forms of the commercialization and exploitation of sexual relations, with their consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children by adults and encourage efforts to hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible. We call for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for children thus abused. We believe that the Church family should support all families in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth, and adults.
We know that all of God’s children are of sacred worth, and yet we have been, and remain, divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality. We have disagreed about Scriptural teachings: some have contended that the specific injunctions of Leviticus and St. Paul have authority over even the more general love commands of Jesus, while others have contended that the complexity of human sexuality, as we see it today, was never envisioned in previous millennia, and therefore could not have been addressed specifically in the Bible. We also realize that our traditions are both hallowed by our present lives and also historically conditioned by the age in which we live, and they are often reinforced by our unexamined psychological and cultural dispositions. We have not had enough experience as a community following Jesus Christ to discern whether life-long committed same-sex relationships can be surrounded and infused by the same grace and blessing God tries to impart to traditional marriages. We have tried to reason together about all of this, and we have prayed together, but the Holy Spirit has not yet brought peace to our community of faith. The fire in our disagreements points to a deeper human mystery than we knew. We believe that the Spirit has brought our collective conscience to acknowledge this mystery more honestly, and to make our claims with greater humility before God and our neighbors. We therefore ask the Church, United Methodist and others, and the world, to refrain from judgment regarding homosexual persons and practices until the Spirit leads us to new insight. In the meantime, let us seek to welcome, know, forgive, and love one another as Christ has accepted us, that God may be glorified through everything in our lives.