Sexuality: Some Common Convictions

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Marriage is a lifelong covenant of faithfulness between a man and a woman. In marriage, two persons become "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-9; Eph. 5:31), a personal and sexual union that embodies God’s loving purpose to create and enrich life. By the gift of marriage God "founded human community in a joy that begins now and is brought to perfection in the life to come." [5]
Marriage provides a structure of security and stability within which spouses may fully enjoy and risk sexual expression. The binding legal contract of marriage reinforces its "staying power" when it is threatened by sin. Within marriage, spouses can learn to exercise mutual, faithful love.
Christians yearn for marriages that are loving and life-giving. In the intimacy of marriage, spouses can learn to share feelings and fears, to listen deeply, and to respect the differences of the other. Being loved and accepted by God helps them to love and accept one another. Rather than one dominating the other, each spouse seeks to empower and encourage the other.
All marriages fall short of intentions. Some marriages are not safe spaces, but places where spouses or children are abused. Intimacy and sexual pleasure often are absent. A marriage grows and changes over time through experiences of humor and playfulness, brokenness and healing, failure and accomplishment, forgiveness and renewal.
In the growth, changes, and disappointments of a marriage, the counsel and support of the Church is important. Premarital instruction can help a couple to prepare for the covenant they are entering. During the first few years of a marriage, the guidance and support of the Christian community can help a couple to adjust and set healthy patterns for their relationship. Those more recently married can learn much from those whose marriages have grown and been tested through the years. Throughout a marriage, the ministry of the Church should assist the couple to discern and address their shortcomings, and to seek forgiveness, reconciliation, and new life.
The purpose of marriage goes beyond the intimacy and companionship it provides the couple. The wider community is symbolically present when a couple publicly exchanges vows. Witnesses pledge to support the marriage, and those exchanging vows are reminded that their marriage will affect the wider community. They are to extend themselves for the sake of others…
The ending of a marriage
Regrettably, some marriages end in divorce. Divorce is tragic, a consequence of human sinfulness. It is a serious breach in the community God intends for marriage (Mk. 10:9). In some situations, however, divorce may be the better option. Continuing some marriages may be destructive and abusive to those involved. In such cases, those involved should examine their responsibilities for the breakdown of the marriage. Confession and God’s forgiveness bring healing and new life to persons who divorce.
The church is called to proclaim God’s intention for the permanence of marriage and to minister compassionately to those who suffer as a result of divorce. The church should be a community of care and hope for those who divorce, rather than blaming, ostracizing, or being indifferent to their needs. The Gospel promises healing through the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church’s ministry of Word and Sacraments.
Remarriage can be an opportunity to use wisdom gained from the past to create a new relationship of loving commitment and joy. Those considering remarriage should seek counsel from pastors and other professionals that enables them to assess their previous marriage and prepare for the unique challenges facing a new marriage and family.
Some Misuses of Sexuality
Sin violates what God intends for sexuality. It harms and demeans persons and relationships. This church opposes…

In adultery, one abandons the sacred commitment made to a spouse and becomes sexually intimate with another person. Adultery is sinful because it breaks the trust between two people, disrupts their bond of marriage, and violates the partner. When it is secretive, it also can involve deceitfulness, lying, and hypocrisy. Only repentance, honest work, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the power of the Holy Spirit can heal such wounds…”

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