A quick glance at Mennonite periodicals evidences a wide range of perspectives regarding sexual and/or gender identity. Today Mennonites and other Christians across North America are wrestling with how to respond most faithfully to their siblings in the church who do not identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender.
Mennonite communities use a variety of principles in biblical interpretation, and therefore sometimes respond in diverse ways to theological and ethical questions.
This statement in no way assumes final understandings of sexual and/or gender identities. Instead, it is meant to give direction to relational attitudes and actions in the Goshen College community. The intent of this statement is to help in creating relationships marked by compassion, justice, shalom, and love. Such relationships produce an environment that is life-giving and health-sustaining.
Justice is defined elsewhere in this packet as the absence of violence, the expression of fairness, respect, love, grace, and forgiveness in human relationships, and the nonjudgmental acceptance of differences. In relation to people who identify as LGBTQIA+, we seek to realize this definition of justice.
Jesus, in the Gospels, is a model for just and compassionate responses to persons often marginalized in our society and in our churches. Especially significant is Jesus’ ability to relate to those who are marginalized in society. Jesus never condemned persons ostracized by the system (John 4). Instead, he listened with patience to those with theological insight (John 3), and he loved with compassion and sought to understand (John 8).
Pastoral relationships with people identifying as LGBTQIA+ must be consistent with Jesus’ example. Compassion, love, and acceptance must take priority. Non-acceptance and critical or judgmental attitudes are inappropriate and do not belong in a community concerned about justice and faithfulness.
Mutuality in acceptance, understanding, and response is essential in order to establish a community where peace and justice are the norm in all human relationships.
Updated Spring 2016