A collection of resources for conversations about sexuality is emerging from work of the faculty of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS).
Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, emphasizes that “listening to Scripture is our passion and joy at AMBS. Our faculty believes that being open to learn from the Scriptures is core to what it means to be a disciple. It’s absolutely critical that we continue to sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary did, to listen and to learn.
“In that spirit—that we all have a lot to learn,” Shenk continues, “AMBS faculty members are willing to share how Scripture has informed their faith and their thinking about sexuality.”
Available on the AMBS website, the materials already posted are varied. Several emphasize the critical importance of biblical study. For example, Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, associate dean for leadership education, calls church members and congregations to enter into regular engagement with Scripture in contexts where we listen to people who are different from us, led by well-prepared teachers. Loren Johns, professor of New Testament, provides an in-depth study of specific biblical texts about same-sex relationships.
Another resource in the collection calls us to pray for our enemies. Rachel Miller Jacobs, assistant professor of congregational formation, developed this, she writes, “because divisive and difficult issues tend to call forth our enemy-making default habits.”
All pieces in the collection are from faculty or are larger efforts that include contributions from faculty of AMBS. Some draw on work done earlier, such as an explanation of polity in Mennonite Church U.S.A. in two videos created by Janeen Bertsche Johnson, campus pastor. Additional documents coming in the future will provide worship resources on sexuality, explore theological discernment, and look at the role of social media in our discussions.
These resources for biblical and theological study reflect the goal of the AMBS faculty to serve the church, Rebecca Slough, AMBS dean, says. “AMBS professors see the issues of our social and cultural contexts through the eyes of faith and the lens of their academic studies. With patient and persistent love for God and the wisdom of God’s people, they seek to discern what God is doing in our world today.”
The introduction to these resources on the AMBS website lists several goals: to “re-learn the spiritual disciplines necessary to hear God’s gracious Spirit in Scripture and in each other,” to “prayerfully adopt a confessional posture in the midst of conflict,” to “be teachable.”
Shenk notes, “I long for us as a people to listen with heart, mind and body to Scripture. To be willing to listen rather than to claim that we know already and absolutely what the Bible says. And we want to invite others to listen with us. But it is a risk. The Word of God is alive and active. We may need to be willing to change. To be born again.”
The resources are available on the AMBS website at www.ambs.edu/sexualityconversation.
--Posted Oct. 28, 2014