Readers write

August 17, 2011 | Viewpoints

Homosexuality: Not what God intended
Re: "Sexual inclusivity motion to be presented at national assembly,” May 30, page 15.

I realize that the matter of sexual inclusivity within the Mennonite church has likely “crossed the Rubicon,” and there will be no turning back.

The church community has constitutions, statements of faith and practice, and doctrinal statements that basically state that heterosexual practice within marriage is the only approved behaviour.

But slowly over the years, within colleges and universities, including the schools that are supported by the Mennonite community of faith, there has developed a steady, clear and determined drive by groups such as Harmony to achieve the following goal: that homosexual orientation and practice is honorable, blessed by God and equal to heterosexual orientation and practice.

Will they achieve this? Yes, I believe they will, at least on paper. Will this result in a major split in the Mennonite church community? Only time will tell.

Many Bible scholars have stated that Jesus is silent on the subject of homosexuality. I believe that the Bible is very clear about what is divinely approved sexual behaviour. Genesis 2:18-25 describes very clearly what God’s will is for sexual companionship for the human race. Jesus confirmed this again when he stated in Matthew 19: 1-11: “In the beginning God created them male and female.”

I believe there are too many teachers telling people what they want to hear on the subject of homosexuality. Sowing the seeds of approval of homosexuality through teaching will only produce a crop of hard hearts and lean souls.

In the Mennonite church today the importance of a person’s gifts in the area of leadership, music, finances or social skills are considered most important, while their sexual orientation is of minor importance. Homosexuality (practising or non practising) is low on the list of concerns that would disqualify a person for church membership and leadership.

And people who accept only heterosexuality often change their convictions on this topic when someone within their family or local church community comes out as homosexual. Then their convictions are put to the test. The struggle is profound.

In conclusion, I believe that, according to Scripture, homosexuality is not what God, the divine architect of creation, intended for his creation.

David Shantz, Montreal, Que.


Will the world see Christians walking the ‘narrow path’?
Re: “Others are watching closely” column by Willard Metzger, May 30, page 8.

Yes, the world is watching.

Will Christians follow the narrow path that Jesus talked of? Or will Christians flip-flop, be politically correct and save the environment while trying to build peace? What did Jesus mean in Matthew 10:34 when he said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”?

What is the truth? Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The truth shall set the prisoner free from prisons of hatred, anger, addictions and low self-esteem. Should we not be concerned about people’s souls and tell them where real inner peace can be found by preaching the life-giving hope and salvation found only in Jesus Christ? Read the books of John and Romans.

Agatha Rempel, Steinbach, Man.


Church needs to talk about sexuality
I accompanied the youth from Floradale Mennonite Church to the Mennonite Church U.S.A. assembly in Pittsburgh, Pa., and it was incredible in every way. The music, speakers, seminars, events and even the food were great and it all ran without a hitch. All except one thing: there were no seminars for the youth on the topic of sex and sexuality.

We told our youth that they needed to go to a minimum of three seminars. They were looking for seminars that interested them and were unable to find any that dealt with sexuality although sex seminars have been the most popular with youth for the past four or five conferences. The only seminars on sexuality were for youth leaders. I attended one led by Keith Graber Miller called “Creating a faithful sexual counterculture.”

Why are we not talking about sex and sexuality in our churches? God has made us as sexual beings and we should not hide it or make it out to be dirty. Sexuality involves so much more than just sexual intercourse; it deals with having skin, bodily functions, gender, puberty, pregnancy, relationships with family and friends, non-physical intimacy, etc.

After our youth pastor and I attended Graber Miller’s seminar, I asked the youth if they wanted a “sex talk” and they agreed because they have so many questions. They were very interested in what the church has to say on this topic. I found it disheartening when, after our short talk, one of the youth said, “We are taught sexual education in Grade 5. Why are we only hearing about this now in the church?”

No parent can keep topics of sexuality from their child because of the culture we live in. Sex runs rampant on TV, movies, the Internet and among youth peer groups, and these are terrible places to learn about sex and sexuality. Our culture has distorted our ideas of what sexuality is, so we need to educate kids in our homes and churches. If we start around the age of eight or 10, it will be easier to talk and there won’t be as much awkwardness.

Maybe some adults need to learn more about this topic, too. Perhaps we should teach a Christian perspective on the way the reproductive organs work, contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and relationships.

It is time for the church to be part of the process because children are hearing about sexuality from everywhere else. They can make better choices if they are shown that sexuality is combined with their emotions, body, mind, soul and spirit. It is important to open up conversation so kids, youth and young adults can ask questions as part of a dialogue that is comfortable and nurturing.

The best way to know what the Bible has to say is to start with I Corinthians 6:15-20: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! . . . Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. . . . You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.”

Jared Redekop, Floradale, Ont.


No need to lament a Conservative majority
Re: “Mennonites should lament the recent federal election results” letter, June 13, page 12.

Why should we lament? We have a government that wants to limit abortion to lifesaving of the mother. The present government also wants to outlaw euthanasia.For letter writer Vern Ratzlaff, it is very easy to give advice and to offer no alternatives or suggestions for remedies.

With the Liberals, we had the alternatives to bring in euthanasia with some controls and abortion with some controls.

The other option was the NDP, which wanted no controls for euthanasia and abortions were to be “on demand,” to be a free choice. Remove old people and kill the young so they don’t bring us work and trouble. Is that a good solution?

Ratzlaff and especially the NDP give us no alternatives, no choices. I submit those alternatives mentioned would be a deal-breaker for me.

Democracy under the present government gives the most people their best chance for fulfilment of their hopes and dreams.

Gerhard Janzen, Prince Albert, Sask.


Editor right to lament Conservative election victory
Re: “A political lament” editorial, May 16, page 2, and “Editorial topics violate magazine’s mission statement” letter by G. Heinrichs, June 27, page 9.

I wish to commend the editor of Canadian Mennonite for his lament, which I share, not only personally but because I believe it is consistent with the Anabaptist stream of theology on political issues. There is no violation of the magazine’s mission statement, as the letter writer claims.

He asserts that “nothing in this editorial shares the good news of Jesus.” On the contrary, Mennonites and others seeking to share the good news of Jesus witness to political leaders about social justice for the poor and marginalized, restorative justice, and reconciliation, rather than war.

The Conservative ideology reflects the opposite of what we believe strives for peace, justice and fairness. We rightly lament a political culture that uses the media to demonize and slander their opponents. We rightly lament the scapegoat of the poor and marginalized, and we cannot accept that increased Canadian militarism will solve international conflicts.

Heinrichs thanks God for Stephen Harper’s support for Israel despite the horrific human rights violations committed against the Palestinians. His views reflect Christian fundamentalism that believes that anything done by God‘s “chosen people” is legitimate because it must be God’s will.

I would urge Heinrichs to check out the Christian Peacemaker Teams’ website and simply read some of the on-the-ground reports of the suffering inflicted on ordinary Palestinians.

The Conservative government’s policy of unilateral support for Israel only reinforces a continuation of violence and hatred fostered by extremists on both sides. Unfortunately, if you have already decided that God condones and encourages current Israeli policies, then everything is set in stone because the Palestinians do not matter and the Harper government is right on track.

The writer ends with a predictable threat by those who unilaterally support anything that Israel does with, “Woe to those who did not support Israel.” In other words, if you do not agree with what is happening, you are damned. End of discussion, end of story.

Edgar Rogalski, Hamilton, Ont.


Church disapproval hurt divorcee the most
Re: “Who gets the church . . . when a couple divorces?”, June 13, page 4.

My experience as a Mennonite pastor going through divorce was a difficult one. Although at first there were members of the church community who offered much support and love to me, my overall experience of the church is tainted by the few very vocal people who made my life very, very difficult and those who did not stand up to them.

I have kept quiet on this issue for a long time because I don’t want to paint all the people in that congregation with the same brush. There are countless people who showed such overwhelming love and support to me as I went through my divorce as well as through the process of the congregational discerning what to do with a divorced person as youth pastor.

However, it was the voices of disapproval and judgment that were heard loudest and left the most pain. Not only those voices, but the lack of support at that time from the area church.

After growing up in the church, and having a passion for the church and what the church can be, it is because of my treatment by the church that I no longer attend services.

At a time when I was mourning and grieving the loss of my marriage and the brokenness of that covenant, my church community put me through a gruelling process of discernment that ended in me leaving a job that had been a dream come true.

There were things said to me, as well as behind my back, by those in lay leadership within the congregation that have left deep wounds.

I wish I could say that my overall experience was one of finding hope and healing within the church (as stated in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective and quoted in the article). But instead, I find that six years after my divorce, it is the wounds left by the church that are hardest to heal and not the ones left by my abusive ex-husband.


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