We have a long history in the denomination of discussions and resolutions on matters of sexuality. You will note in the following documents a document entitled Marriage: A Statement Affirming a Christian View from 2003. You will also note, as part of this newsletter, a document that refers to Sexual Behaviour as it pertains to clergy. Upon reflection, some of the language in the 2003 version needed to be clarified, and this document was updated in 2011.
As a continuation of that history, there have been five discussions / public forums on pastoral care for those who are same-gender attracted and two focus discussion groups since 2007. These discussions, and a resolution at the Calgary, AB 2013 Assembly, will continue to develop and evolve as we seek to have mature discussions in this area and provide individuals and churches with resources in this area.
The CBWC has a clear position on marriage. It has had one since 2003. While there was a robust and in-the-main healthy discussion at Assembly on this topic, there was, for some, a lack of clarity of the CBWC position in this area. The Board has seen fit to form, frame, adopt, and pass a clear motion on same-gender marriages and clergy involvement in them. This resolution is built on our work and discussion in these matters that goes back 10 years. It was unfortunate that this motion was not available to us at Assembly.
In light of the fact that a more complete regulation concerning ministerial participation in same sex blessings and marriage has been tabled by the Assembly until they reconvene, the Board presents this clarification of our present position based on existing policies:
Motion: that we adopt the “CBWC Board Resolution on Same Sex Marriage” as policy within the Ministerial Policies, Procedures, and Protocol (MPPP). Tim Kerber / Michael Cantlon. CARRIED.
CBWC Board Resolution on Same Sex Marriage
A Preliminary Statement based on the 2003 “Marriage: A Statement Affirming a Christian View”
WHEREAS, we affirm the dignity and value of all persons as God’s beloved, and our responsibility to share in the loving, reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ and the life-changing transformation described in scripture; and,
Whereas, Assembly 2003 passed a policy in the MPPP entitled “Marriage: A Statement Affirming a Christian View”: and,
Whereas, Assembly 2003 (amended 2011) passed a policy in the MPPP entitled “Position on Sexual Behaviour”;
THEREFORE, to be consistent with the denominational policy on marriage, be it clarified that we call upon all CBWC ministers and their churches to make every effort to demonstrate Christian love to individuals who are same gender attracted; and
Therefore, be it clarified, that no credentialed clergy (CBWC pastors / chaplains / counselors) or licensed officiates shall solemnize, officiate, co-officiate, or affirm any marriage other than between one man and one woman.
A Statement Affirming a Christian View
We would define marriage as a (1) publicly recognized covenanting together for life, (2) between a woman and a man who live together in a relationship, (3) characterized by troth and (4) fidelity, and for the purpose of (5) lifelong companionship, mutual interdependence and responsibility for each other, and potential procreation. (6) It is symbolic of God’s relationship to his people and Jesus Christ’s relationship to his church.
The public recognition of marriage gives it an important social status. Marriage takes on a public purpose as the cornerstone of the family unity, which in turn is foundational to society. Public recognition implies not only social status, but also social responsibility.
Between a man and a woman
In marriage a man and a woman are united together and become one flesh. Male and female, together being made in the image of God, while different are yet complementary. It is the only union which has the possibility of procreation, the continuance of the species.
Characterized by Troth
Troth is a commitment to love and nurture an intimate and mutually supportive relationship characterized by mutual submissiveness and other-centered love.
The partners in a marriage relationship commit themselves to maintain the marriage for life. The marriage relationship is between a man and a woman which is exclusive in the emotional and physical intimacy it fosters. It should be characterized by fidelity.
Marriage is a type of covenant, that is, a publicly recognized pledge between a woman and a man to fulfill a lifelong commitment for the purposes of companionship and potentially, partnership in procreation.
Symbolic of Christ’s Relationship to the Church
Marriage is a uniting of dissimilar entities, is symbolic of spiritual unity, and forms an example of co-humanity. The Apostle Paul refers to it as a great mystery (Eph. 5.32) which symbolizes the relationship between Christ and the body of Christ, the Church.
It is also the prime relationship within which children are begotten and nurtured. It is the cornerstone of the family.
CANADIAN BAPTISTS OF WESTERN CANADA
Position on Sexual Behaviour
Approved by the Board of the Baptist Union, April 2003, Revised by the Assembly April 2011..
The position of the CBWC with regard to any sexual behaviour outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage is that it is not affirmed.
Clergy conduct is articulated in the document entitled Ministerial Policies, Procedures and Protocol of The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. It might also be noted for the record that participation in any activity that is described as sin by the Scriptures would not be affirmed.
The Ministerial Credentials Committee’s understanding would be accurately reflected in the text, published in 1998 by our then premier Baptist theologian, Dr. Stanley J. Grenz, Pioneer McDonald Professor of Theology and Ethics at Carey Theological College, titled: Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality, published by Westminster John Knox Press.
It is important to note that Assembly also wished to continue a discussion on how churches can be resourced in this area of discussion. The following motion was passed in that area:
Motion: Carol Mager/ Nora Walker. That we lift the following motion off the table for approval: That the Assembly request that the CBWC Board facilitate meaningful discussion in regards to same gender attracted individuals and church engagement and pastoral care. Further, that the CBWC Board seek ways as a denomination to provide resources for churches and individuals for this journey which is challenging for all. CARRIED with opposition.