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    Spring 1999 -- Special MC/GC Assembly Issue [Newsletter Banner]

The Cause of Disunity

Whether we realize it or not, this change in attitude toward the Bible is at the heart of
the current debate over homosexuality.

The Heart of the Matter
A Matter of Faith
The Cause of Disunity
Cracks in the Foundation
EAF Update
Those who view the scriptures as mainly a record of human endeavors interpret the Bible in light of the prevailing culture. They assume that first century believers lacked our twentieth century insight into human behavior. Thus they conclude that apparent prohibitions to homosexuality must be interpreted in light of two thousand years of societal evolution. On the other hand, those who view the scriptures as infallible revelation believe that God has spoken clearly on this matter. Reading the culture through the lens of scripture, they (we) conclude that same-sex genital activity perverts the purposes of God for human sexuality and is always, in every instance, wrong.

Since the mid-80s, both the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church have addressed the issue of homosexuality clearly and forthrightly in several official position papers. (The GC at Saskatoon in 1986; the MC at Purdue in 1987; both groups in adopting the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective at Wichita in 1995.) These statements declare the practice of same-sex genital activity sinful and inappropriate for Christians. Still the debate continues. Why is that?

It is because some within the denominations, including many of their leaders, writers, and scholars, have determined not to accede to this overwhelming body of corporate wisdom. Instead, by taking advantage of the spirit of good will in the official statements which allows for "continued dialogue," they perpetuate debate on a matter which the delegate bodies, by their approval of the statements, had intended to resolve. This is the source of division and disunity within the MC and GC which has taken the merger process hostage. It is both inaccurate and unfair to portray this situation as merely the problem of a few uptight conservatives who refuse to accept people different from themselves.

A Difference in "Core Values"

The current debate over homosexuality in the MC and GC is a waste of time, energy and resources that ought to be channeled into more productive areas of kingdom work. By allowing the issue to stymie the merger process, the denominational leadership has failed its constituency. This issue should have been resolved long ago. If same-sex genital activity is sin, as the official statements declare, then the debate should end. If, however, the corporate mind has changed on that matter, then the official statements should be amended to reflect that fact, and the proposed membership guidelines should be adopted. In that case, however, many are likely to conclude that the new Mennonite Church has succumbed to the influence of the prevailing culture to the degree that the one is virtually indistinguishable from the other.

[Don't build on the fault line!] Management experts tell us that successful corporations are built on a foundation of core values shared by everyone who works for the company, from the boardroom to the stock room. The reason the issue of homosexuality threatens the merger process is that it reveals a fundamental difference in core values among us. Forming a denomination out of persons so much at odds over this question is like erecting a building on the San Andreas fault. Beneath the surface the constant tremors undermine the integrity of the building's foundation. Eventually it becomes uninhabitable, and sooner or later it will fall.

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