Memorial 61

CONSTITUTION: Amendment regarding marriage and divorce

Whereas, Paragraph 265.6 (added in 2012) appears to somewhat contradict the previous paragraph 265.5 in the following way: 265.5 lists several sexual behaviors that are stated to be "the only biblical grounds for considering divorce" and yet 265.6 adds some other abusive behaviors and then states that these "may justify separation or divorce";

Whereas, Both paragraphs 265.5 and 265.6 deal with a similar topic, a unified statement would harmonize our principles for holy living within the family by rendering our position in one consistent and seamless paragraph;

Whereas, Respecting the decisions of our body in the past, the proposed paragraph does not seek to add anything "new" beyond that which is stated in our Articles of Religion (esp. see 222) and by seeking to preserve the language of the current paragraphs, changing and ordering language only where it seems to improve upon that to which we have already agreed;

Whereas, It is more edifying and helpful to the understanding of the reader if a statement first seeks to deliver the positive principles of our position on the subject of marriage and family and then explains the cautions and prohibitions, which we derive from those positive principles;

Whereas, Out of a practical concern to give guidance to the pastor, who so often counsels and ministers to families in difficulty, a statement is called for that expresses a modesty of language and creates room for pastoral discernment and the leading of the Holy Spirit in matter of marriage and divorce, while at the same time encouraging him or her to stand confidently on principle;

Whereas, The word "justify" in 265.6 unnecessarily and perhaps unintentionally implies an unqualified goodness to "separation or divorce" that is not quite harmonious with Scripture's toleration of divorce without condoning it; and

Whereas, We, The Wesleyan Church, seek to root our commitments in Scripture, a statement that utilizes, retains, and relies on the language of Scripture provides a more richly textured image of what a good and holy marriage looks like rather than focusing mostly on what a good marriage is not;

Resolved, That paragraph 265 be amended by striking 265.5 and 265.6 in their entirety and substituting them with the following paragraph in bold:

(5) To follow the teachings of the Scriptures regarding marriage and divorce. We further affirm that heterosexual monogamy is God's plan for marriage, and we regard sexual sin of the spouse such as adultery, homosexual behavior, bestiality or incest, as the only biblical grounds for considering divorce, and then only when appropriate counseling has failed to restore the relationship.

(6) To preserve the sanctity of the home by honoring Christ in every phase of family life and by demonstrating Christlike love (always avoiding violence, including physical, psychological, emotional, or sexual abuse toward one's spouse or family members, as well as sexual infidelity or desertion, any of which warrant church discipline for the offender and may justify separation or divorce if true repentance and appropriate counseling cannot bring about reconciliation, and by living peacefully with one another, thereby building up one's spouse and family members through word and deed, and encouraging the nurture and education of the children in the Christian faith so as to bring them early to the saving knowledge of Christ.

(5) To embody God's love in and through all of one's family relationships, including marriage, according to the teachings of Scripture. Marriage is a unique sign of Christ's union with his Bride, the Church. Therefore, within marriage, each spouse is to look after the interests of the other in mutual submission out of reverence for Christ. Family members must always avoid abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, psychological and emotional), sexual infidelity, and desertion. Any of these warrant church or pastoral support for the safety and protection of the vulnerable, church discipline for the offender, and might be grounds for separation or divorce. Marriages are to demonstrate forgiveness and reconciliation. However, if within the context of godly counsel, true repentance is not present, divorce may be a Christian's option of last resort. We affirm that marriage between one man and one woman is God's design. Out of that design comes God's ideal context for the nurture and discipleship of children in the Christian faith so as to bring them early to the saving knowledge of Christ. Furthermore, sexual relationships outside of marriage or between persons of the same sex are sinful and spiritually destructive."

Genesis 2:18-24; Exodus 20:14; Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 5:27-32; Mark 10:2-12; 1 Corinthians 5:12-6:6; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; Philippians 2:3-5.

WESTERN NEW YORK DISTRICT CONFERENCE

Robin W. George, Secretary

Committee on Memorials

Not Recommended

General Conference

____ Adopted ____ Not Adopted

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