Human Sexuality and Sexual Behavior A Social Statement of the American Lutheran Church, a predecessor church body of the ELCA (1980): Defiling God’s Gift

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1. Human beings are capable not only of good but also of evil uses of their sexuality. People are ready to exploit this fact to their own power or profit. Major industries are built up around satisfying “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

2. Among forms of exploitive sexual behavior against which Christians should be ready to work are those which:

(a) exploit children and youth, men and women, as in pornography and prostitution;

(b) take advantage of persons who are ill, helpless, dependent, handicapped, or of little power;

(c) endanger, cause physical or emotional injury, or do long-term harm;

(d) use threat, force, or prestige to persuade an otherwise unwilling person to engage in sexual behavior;

(e) engage promiscuously in a public quest for new sexual partners;

(f) break promises and violate commitments which people have made in the responsible exercise of their free will;

(g) build trade and commerce based on satisfying prurient interest;

(h) violate standards of public decency;

(i) invade the privacy and self-respect of others;

(j) magnify sexuality and sexual behavior in print, on screen, and on the stage in ways irrelevant to the product or incidental to the dominant theme.

3. Particularly despicable is behavior which uses the threat or the reality of physical and mental harm. Persons thought to be homosexual are harassed, beaten, even killed. Pimps force the prostitutes beholden to them to remain loyal or to suffer the consequences, including physical harm and abuse, even death. Preschool and young school-age children are lured into serving ruthless adults who profit from the sexual cravings of the child pornography market. ALC members must act against these evils in their communities.

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