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Relationships 101: What does the United Methodist Church say about sex?

A commentator over at the Huffington Post suggests that single clergy should not be required to be celibate; the United Methodist Church disagrees. Furthermore the church goes on to say, "Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage" (The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church - 2008, ¶ 161F).

As "God's good gift to all persons," sexuality is accepted within the United Methodist Church. Indeed, one of this Sunday's lectionary passages (Song of Solomon 2:8-13) is about the joy two lovers have for each other. Nevertheless, as a sacred gift, it is something for which each person must use wisely.

Too often in society, sex and sexuality is used for commercialization and exploitation. The church stands against this: "All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence."

The church continues, "We reject all sexual expressions that damage the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order" (¶ 161H).

This is why the church stands in favor of marriage as the place for sexual relations. According to the vows of marriage, there is no exploitation, abuse or promiscuity. The sexual relationship is contained between the partners. Even so, all are welcome to the church. "We affirm that God's grace is available to all" (¶ 161F). While standing up for these values, Jesus, too, welcomed those in extra-marital relationships (John 4:7-30).

For more info: 
Sex, Ordianation, and Covenants - another bloggers response to the Huffington Post
Good Marriage - A study from FaithLink: Connecting Faith and Life
FaithLink on Facebook - Discuss "Good Marriage" here.

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