In a time when views of human sexuality are rapidly changing, the 188th General Assembly found it necessary and helpful to state clearly and compassionately to the Church about God’s design for human sexuality. The Unified Committee on Theology and Social Concerns has undertaken to provide a statement on Human Sexuality, and we wish to do so with love toward all as we attempt to imitate God’s love for us.
In keeping with the heart of the Confession of Faith our ultimate desire is that, through the gospel, all may come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives and receive His gift of eternal life (John 3:16)
The Introduction to the 1984 Confession states:
“The purpose of a confession of faith is two-fold:(1) to provide a means whereby those who have been saved, redeemed, and reconciled by God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit understand and affirm their faith; and (2) to bear witness to God’s saving activity in such a way that those who have not been saved, redeemed, and reconciled might believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and experience salvation.”
As those that have experienced God’s grace through salvation, redemption, and reconciliation, we affirm in faith that God’s words and actions are reflected in scripture and that our COF contains the essential doctrines taught in them. We affirm in faith that God inspired persons of the covenant community to write the scriptures. “In and through the scriptures God speaks about creation, sin, judgment, salvation, the church and the growth of believers. The scriptures are the infallible rule of faith and practice, the authoritative guide for Christian living.” (COF 1.05) We affirm in faith that the truths of scripture taught in our COF hold the greatest prospects for human happiness and well-being. We affirm in faith that the truths of scripture taught in our COF guide us as we strive and long for a time when God will make all things new.
The Divine Origin: Meaning and Purpose of Human Sexuality
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America affirms, unequivocally, the Bible’s definition that every person is made in the very image of God the Creator and therefore purposed for good and the glory of God (Genesis 1:26-28). We also affirm that in the likeness of God, God created male and female (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:7, 5:1-2; Job 33:4; Ps 8:3-8, 100:3; and Gal 3:27-28).
These truths are affirmed as essential doctrines within our Confession of Faith. 1.1l of the COF states:
“Among all forms of life, only human beings are created in God’s own image. In the sight of God, male and female are created equal and complementary. To reflect the divine image is to worship, love, and serve God.” It is in the creation of male and female that God gives humanity the gift of human sexuality.
In the truth of scripture, we discover God’s good purposes for our human sexuality and God’s will for how we are to express our human sexuality. However, as a result of the fall we have failed to show that reflection and purpose. As did our first parents, we have become inclined toward sin in all aspects of our being. (COF 2.03, 2.04) We have distorted that design and gone our own way. The Church sorrowfully confesses our manifold violations of God’s word and actions recorded in scripture.
Both before and after coming to faith in Christ we have been guilty of misusing our freedom and the gift of human sexuality (i.e. through fornication, infidelity, adultery, sexual lusts, exploitation or other egocentric behavior which fails to honor God or value the full humanity of others created in the image of God). In all the brokenness of our human sexuality, the church has often failed to recognize, understand, or show compassion to those wrestling with these realities. Specifically, the church has struggled to walk in a redemptive manner with those who experience same-sex attraction and/or question their created and gendered identity. As believers, we sometimes have self-righteously condemned others for their sexual sins while committing our own. We stand in need of God’s forgiveness and of God’s power to live holy lives (1 Corinthians 6:20)
We also believe that there is no place for any form of cruelty, hate or denigration of those who either disagree with these positions or hold to other positions. We unequivocally condemn all injustices, unkind confrontation, and/or physical violence perpetrated against anyone. The role of the Church is not to shame or shun anyone outside of the Rules of Discipline. (Matthew 7:4-5)
In conclusion, the UTSC believe Scriptures and the 1813, 1883, and 1984 Cumberland Presbyterian Church Confession of Faith have been essentially consistent on human sexuality from the beginning until now.
*“We acknowledge that within both Cumberland Presbyterian denominations there is a wide range of biblical understanding and interpretation. With that said, we should resolve – first and foremost – to love one another, and as an expression of that love to listen to each other, affirming the even greater common ground we enjoy and embrace as Cumberland Presbyterians. Our goal need not be one hundred percent agreement on biblical interpretation, but rather a mature awareness and consideration of the diversity of theological perspectives that a global and multi-ethnic denomination manifests.
It would be helpful to lay aside the labels intended to diminish the faithfulness and motives of our brothers and sisters in Christ – conservative and liberal, evangelical and traditional, right and left wing, along with the “isms” and “phobias” in currency today. If we agree that our calling is to serve God’s mission in the world, then a healthy dialog about strategies, ideologies, and emphases is more attainable, and genuine unity in Christ can grow.”
*Unified Committee on Theology and Social Concerns Study Paper: A Question of Hermeneutics, Adopted in 2017 by the 187th General Assembly (CPC) and the 145th General Assembly (CPCA)