October 30, 2013

Thoughts on Human Sexuality

As you might recall, a few weeks ago I attended the Canadian MB Study Conference on Human Sexuality: Honouring God with our Bodies. And here is my promised report, though it will be more of a personal reflection built around four words. I encourage you to read the detailed reports directly on the study conference website.

Waiting. Flying to Edmonton from Abbotsford is a quick process, right? Well, do you remember the fog we had a few weeks ago? I do. It meant sitting in the Abbotsford airport for 4 hours trying to leave, and meant an extra bus ride from Vancouver on the return trip. Waiting can be frustrating for some, but we don’t control the weather. Honestly, I quite enjoyed the time to simply sit. I think there is a good reminder in there for all of us to slow down at times.

Listening. I was asked to be a member of the “Listening Committee” during the study conference. What does this mean? Well, early morning meetings, lunch meetings, and lots of writing. I had the privilege of serving as the scribe for this group. Our goal was to listen for what was being said (or not being said), not by the presenters, but in conversations in the foyer, at coffee times, informally. This became one of my highlights, because it required focused processing to arrive at clarity. If you’re interested, the listening committee’s report can be read here.

Connecting. Over the years, I have gotten to know more and more people from across Canada as we meet at denominational conferences. I always enjoy the conversations with my brothers and sisters from across our country. The irony of having a conversation with someone else from Abbotsford while in Edmonton is also not lost on me. For me, this is a good reminder that we are part of a much larger family of believers.

Having said that, the opportunity to spend time with my co-workers was also a treat. I learned a lot of German from Heins, Johannes, and Edgar. I also learned what kind of back-seat drivers they are. Why was I tasked with renting the vehicle?

Learning. Of course, the sessions and workshops provided ample opportunities to learn. I was impressed with the depth of biblical teaching. I appreciated the numerous personal testimonies. I felt affirmed in my understanding of what scripture teaches about human sexuality, and encouraged by the opportunity we have to offer hope through Jesus Christ. Yet, hearing about cultural trends and realities at times felt overwhelming. I learned a lot, but by no means do I have all the answers. I do know, however, that I want to continue to dialogue with others from our denomination, even when we don’t always agree on everything.

But, now what? It isn’t just good enough to attend a conference, come back with a pile of notes, and simply jump back into the routine. Or is it? Here are a few thoughts I would like to share by way of next steps. What am I missing? What am I including that isn’t necessary? Do you agree with my observations? I’d love to dialogue further.

1. I think that the church must be more willing to speak openly about issues of human sexuality. It is not good enough to simply say “Don’t do this.” I need to find ways of communicating the amazing nature of God’s plan and creation. Let’s stand firm on scripture.

2. I pray that we find safe ways as a congregation to walk with those who are struggling in the area of human sexuality. This may be a single person. This may be a married person. This may be a homosexual person. This may be a heterosexual person. It may be someone who has suffered abuse. The words grace and compassion come to my mind often.

3. How might we model healthy male-female relationships in the church? 

4. How will we address the issue of pornography and its impact on our culture?

5. When will we have a sermon series on the Song of Solomon?

Thanks for reading. Thanks for the opportunity to attend this study conference. As tiring as those three days were, they were also invigorating.

Pastor Leonard

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