The Mennonite Confession of Faith and homosexuality

Ted Grimsrud—May 9, 2012

What kind of directives do Mennonites get from their main denominational doctrinal statement concerning homosexuality? A recent news article reports that several churches in the Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA will bring a resolution to their annual conference assembly that assumes clear directives. The resolution will require the conference to name the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (CofF) as stating the official position of the conference. If the resolution passes, the Conference will then expect that “those who cannot do so according to their conscience resign their positions of leadership and influence in the Western District Conference.”

Chances are that the resolution will not pass. However, I doubt that few if any people considering this resolution will question assumptions being made about the content of the CofF that underlie the resolution.

The context of the resolution makes it clear that its central concern is with the issue of homosexuality. The resolution, reflecting a common assumption throughout MC USA, clearly understands the CofF to provide a clear basis for a negative view of intimate same-sex relationships (the specific issue that triggered this resolution was a conference pastor officiating at a same-sex wedding). This assumption that the CofF provides clear opposition to same-sex marriage is problematic, to say the least (as is, of course, the notion that the CofF should be used as a basis for drawing clear in-or-out lines based on beliefs).

It’s not surprising that people would assume that the CofF provides a clear basis for rejecting an inclusive stance concerning homosexuality given that official denominational statements cite it as doing so. However, a careful reading of the CofF itself actually repudiates such an assumption. Continue reading “The Mennonite Confession of Faith and homosexuality”