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  • Uniting Sexuality

    and Faith

    Final Report of the

    Assembly Task Group on Sexuality

    For presentation to the Eighth Assembly of the

    Uniting Church in AustraliaJuly 1997

    April 1997Uniting Church Press

    Melbourne

  • Published by

    THE JOINT BOARD OF CHRISTIANEDUCATION65 Oxford Street, Collingwood3066, Australia

    UNITING SEXUALITYAND FAITH

    The Assembly of the UnitingChurch in Australia 1997

    This publication is copyright. Otherthan for the purposes and subjectto the conditions prescribed underthe Copyright Act, no part of itmay in any form or by any means(electronic, mechanical,microcopying, photocopying,recording or otherwise) bereproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem or transmitted without priorwritten permission from thepublisher.

    Scripture quotations are from theNew Revised Standard Version ofthe Bible, copyrighted 1989 by theDivision of Christian Education ofthe National Council of theChurches of Christ in the UnitedStates of America, and are used bypermission. All rights reserved.

    ISBN: 1 86407 196 6

    First printed 1997.

    Design by KelvinPrinted by Gill Miller PressJB97/3843

  • Members of the Assembly Sexuality Task Group:Alistair J. Macrae (Chairperson), Stuart A. Reid (Secretary), Paul C. Blacker, Nancy C.Bomford, Frances Ford, Barbara Horne, Elizabeth H. Nolan, Robert Stringer, Warren R.Talbot, Margaret Turnbull, Ruth Wardlaw, Joan Howie-Wright.

    Past Members of the Assembly Sexuality Task Group:Bronwyn Pike, John Brown, Chris Budden, Neville Burrows, Rose Cedena, Kil BockHong, Karen Roberts, Neil Williams.

    AcknowledgementsAs a Task Group, we greatly appreciated the time and effort that Church membersgave to providing extended responses to our Interim Report 1996. They have been ofgreat assistance in the preparation of this final report.

    3

  • Table of ContentsIntroduction... Living as the Task Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 7.

    BBaacckkggrroouunnddTThhee JJoouurrnneeyy ooff tthhee CChhuurrcchh

    Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 9.

    Chapter 1... Living as the Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 11.GGooddss GGoooodd CCrreeaattiioonnSSeexxuuaall BBeeiinnggssIInn tthhee IImmaaggee ooff GGooddCCoovveennaanntt wwiitthh GGooddSSiinnAA MMiixxeedd LLeeggaaccyy ooff TTeeaacchhiinnggTThhee RReeiiggnn ooff GGooddBBaappttiissmmaall IIddeennttiittyyCChhuurrcchh CCoommmmuunniittyyCChhaannggiinngg PPaatttteerrnnss iinn SSoocciieettyy

    Chapter 2... Living with the Biblical Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 17.TTrraaddiittiioonnaall SSoouurrcceess ooff tthhee FFaaiitthhPPrriimmaaccyy ooff SSccrriippttuurreeFFaaiitthhffuull IInntteerrpprreettaattiioonnJJeessuuss CChhrriisstt,, tthhee LLiivviinngg WWoorrddSSccrriippttuurree iinn iittss HHiissttoorriiccaall CCoonntteexxttSSoommee GGuuiiddeelliinneess ffoorr RReeaaddiinngg SSccrriippttuurree

    Chapter 3... Living in Gods Image and Grace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 24.EEtthhiiccssHHuummaann SSeexxuuaalliittyySSeexxuuaalliittyy aanndd SSppiirriittuuaalliittyySSeexxuuaall EEtthhiiccssAA CChhrriissttiiaann SSeexxuuaall EEtthhiiccss ooff CChhaarraacctteerr

    More than rules...Character produces behaviour...Behaviours build character...

    Chapter 4... Living as friends: seeking right relationships . . . . . . . . . .Page 28.AA MMooddeell ooff FFrriieennddsshhiippAAnn IInncclluussiivvee FFrriieennddsshhiippTThhee HHeeaarrtt ooff tthhee MMaatttteerr:: LLoovveeCCaalllleedd iinnttoo aa nneeww HHuummaanniittyyLLiivviinngg aass FFrriieennddss ooff GGoodd aanndd OOnnee AAnnootthheerrEElleemmeennttss ooff RRiigghhtt RReellaattiioonnsshhiipp iinn FFrriieennddsshhiipp

    HonestyTrustFaithfulnessEquality and MutualityVulnerabilityFreedom and ResponsibilitySetting Limits and Self ControlGiving and Receiving Affection and PleasureCommunicationDiscovering Intimacy

    SSeexxuuaalliittyy aass PPaarrtt ooff RReellaattiioonnsshhiippss Sexual Passion and Setting BoundariesWaiting with Patience

    RReeppeennttaannccee,, FFoorrggiivveenneessss aanndd RReeccoonncciilliiaattiioonn

    5

  • 6

    SSiinn,, AAbbuussee,, EExxcclluussiioonn aanndd BBrrookkeennnneessssRole of Power in RelationshipsImpact of Child Sexual AbuseSexual Exploitation of ChildrenRole of the Church

    RRiigghhtt RReellaattiioonnsshhiippss aass aann EExxpprreessssiioonn ooff CCoommmmuunniittyy

    Chapter 5... Living alone, living together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 35.CChhiillddrreenn,, PPaarreennttss aanndd tthhee CChhuurrcchh CCoommmmuunniittyyAAddoolleesscceennccee

    How can the Church community help adolescents?SSiinnggllee AAdduullttssCCeelliibbaaccyyCChhaassttiittyySSeeeekkiinngg aa PPaarrttnneerrsshhiippEEnnggaaggiinngg iinn SSeexxuuaall AAccttiivviittyyPPeeooppllee LLiivviinngg TTooggeetthheerrPPeeooppllee wwiitthh DDiissaabbiilliittiieessHHoommoosseexxuuaalliittyy

    What does it Mean to be a Homosexual Person?Attitudes to HomosexualityRelationships and Sexual ActivityThe Bible and HomosexualityParticular TextsThe Wider Theological and Scriptural ContextViolence Against Homosexual People

    BBiisseexxuuaall PPeeoopplleeTTrraannssggeennddeerr PPeeoopplleeMMaarrrriiaaggeeDDiivvoorrccee aanndd RReemmaarrrriiaaggee

    Divorce as a Breakdown of MarriageThe Bible and DivorceThe Remarriage Experience

    CChhaannggeedd CCiirrccuummssttaanncceess aanndd SSeexxuuaall EExxpprreessssiioonnMasturbation

    SSuummmmaarryy ooff tthhee TTaasskk GGrroouuppss FFrraammeewwoorrkk ffoorr CCoonnssiiddeerriinngg TThheessee IIssssuueess

    Chapter 6... Living as Gods people . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 51.CChhaarraacctteerriissttiiccss ooff tthhee CChhrriissttiiaann CCoommmmuunniittyyGGiiffttss aanndd GGrraacceess ooff MMiinniissttrryySSttaannddaarrddss ooff BBeehhaavviioouurrCChhuurrcchh LLeeaaddeerrsshhiipp aanndd SSeexxuuaalliittyy

    HomosexualityCCeelliibbaaccyy iinn SSiinngglleenneessss aanndd FFaaiitthhffuullnneessss iinn MMaarrrriiaaggee

    The Way Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 55.RecognitionReconciliationPrayerBible StudyPastoral careOrdained and Specified Ministries in the ChurchEcumenical RelationshipsEducationRelationship EnrichmentMoving on Together

    Appendix I... Terms of Reference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 59.

    Appendix II... Standing Committee Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 60.

    Appendix III... Church Reports on Sexuality and Human Relationships .Page 62.

    Appendix IV... Bibliography - Books and Articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 66.

    Recommendations to the Eighth Assembly July 1997 . . . . . . . .Page 70.

  • 1. Terms of Reference, cf.Appendix I

    2. Sexuality: Exploring theIssues, Assembly Sexuality TaskGroup, Uniting Church Press,Melbourne, 1996.

    3. Year of Listening Report inSexuality: Exploring the Issues,Chapter 14.

    4. Interim Report on Sexuality,Assembly Sexuality Task Group,Uniting Church Press,Melbourne, 1996.

    5. Summary of the Responses tothe Interim Report on Sexuality,Assembly Standing Committee,April, 1997.

    IntroductionLiving as the Task Group

    Background0.1. Responding to widespread concern within the Uniting Church on issues relating to

    sexuality, the Sixth Assembly (1991) established the Sexuality Task Group. Its briefwas to research these issues and bring a report to the Assembly in 1997. The aim ofthe report was to help the Uniting Church to:

    respond to changing patterns of human relationships and sexual activity in oursociety, with a view to promoting healing and wholeness in humanrelationships.1

    0.2. In undertaking this, the Task Group ordered its life around worship, Eucharist, Biblestudy and prayer. It grew in its commitment to be a community of Gods people,struggling together to grown as we learned to respect and trust one another acrossour different theologies and life experiences. It has been a demanding yet valuablejourney, and one which we hope the whole Uniting Church will be willing toundertake in Gods Spirit. We recognise that it is still an unfinished journey.

    0.3. The Task Group attempted, to fulfil its charter by working on a number of levels.Following the Terms of Reference we made some analysis of the changes occuring insociety and considered frameworks for discussing the issues from the perspective ofthe Gospel. We studied the diverse witness of Scripture and noted the variety ofways Scripture is interpreted within the Christian community. We also looked at howwe make ethical decisions.

    0.4. In order to make some of these discoveries available to the Uniting Church, wecommissioned a series of Occasional Papers reflecting something of the breadth ofapproaches within our Church.2

    0.5. As described in the Year of Listening Report,3 members of the Task Group devotedmuch time to holding hearings and discussions throughout the church, in which allmembers were invited to participate. Consultations continued across the UnitingChurch following the release of the Interim Report in May19964 with the aim ofstimulating further discussion and indicating some possible directions for theChurch. Regrettably, despite attempts to engage the Uniting Aboriginal andIslander Christian Congress and ethnic congregations in dialogue, the Task Groupwas largely unsuccessful.

    0.6. Further, we consulted other churches around the world who have already engagedin similar discussions on human sexuali