CEP: The Backslide Continues

This is the second reply from a Church of the Nazarene.  Verdict: negative.

Thank you for your email and for the questions you have asked. A local congregation in the Church of the Nazarene will hold the same doctrinal beliefs as all other churches in the denomination. These beliefs are stated in the following section of our website:

http://nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/display.html

As far as I know, there have been no doctrinal statements regarding the issues you raise. The issue of whether to have/raise children within a marriage is a purely personal choice. Asexuality would not be an issue since it has no clear moral implications.

Well, that’s good.

The traditional doctrinal statements of protestant christianity have regarded premarital and extramarital sexuality and homosexuality.

I’m kinda surprised at the number of anti-gay churches who claim to be okay with us.  I’ll go over this again when I wrap up the round, but I remember there being at least one other.

Our Catholic brethren have dealt with celibacy, but mostly within their view of the priesthood and monastic life. The Church of the Nazarene has no similar doctrinal stand.

The following is from MANUAL 2013-2017, pages 56-57

32. The Church of the Nazarene views human sexuality as
one expression of the holiness and beauty that God the Creator
intended for His creation.

Um, this doesn’t necessarily say that sexuality is essential to humanity, but it sounds like it could lead to–

It is one of the ways by which the covenant between
a husband and a wife is sealed and expressed.

–that.

Christians are to understand that in marriage human
sexuality can and ought to be sanctified by God.

I don’t really know what that means, but okay.

Human sexuality achieves fulfillment only as a sign of comprehensive
love and loyalty. Christian husbands and wives should
view sexuality as a part of their much larger commitment to
one another and to Christ from whom the meaning of life is
drawn.

This is incredibly creepy.

The Christian home should serve as a setting for teaching
children the sacred character of human sexuality and for
showing them how its meaning is fulfilled in the context of
love, fidelity, and patience.

Part of this seems to be saying that sex ed should be taught at home, and part of this… I have no clue.

Our ministers and Christian educators should state clearly
the Christian understanding of human sexuality, urging
Christians to celebrate its rightful excellence, and rigorously
to guard against its betrayal and distortion.

What is going on here?  How do you celebrate sexuality’s “rightful excellence”?

Sexuality misses its purpose when treated as an end in
itself or when cheapened by using another person to satisfy
pornographic and perverted sexual interests. We view all
forms of sexual intimacy that occur outside the covenant of
heterosexual marriage as sinful distortions of the holiness
and beauty God intended for it.

Homosexuality is one means by which human sexuality
is perverted. We recognize the depth of the perversion that
leads to homosexual acts but affirm the biblical position that
such acts are sinful and subject to the wrath of God.

What the heck?

We believe the grace of God sufficient to overcome the practice of
homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

What does that even mean?

We deplore any action or statement that would seem to imply compatibility between
Christian morality and the practice of homosexuality.

We urge clear preaching and teaching concerning Bible standards
of sexual morality.

(Genesis 1:27; 19:1-25; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians
6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-10)

Regards,

[name & info redacted]

Well.  That appears to be mostly about attacking gay people, but despite the pastor’s original claim that “asexuality would not be an issue since it has no clear moral implications,” the passage he quoted states that “human sexuality” is how “the covenant between a husband and a wife is sealed and expressed”, indicating to me that he would not show support for nonsexual marriages.

None of that “we are all sexual beings” phrase this time, but there was a whole lot of uplifting the holiness of sexuality — which is nice, I guess, if you’re coming from the perspective that sexuality is too often shamed and treated as dirty and taboo, but I don’t see it leaving a whole lot of room for asexual people’s celibacy.  ‘Cause according to this passage, sex is holy, beautiful, excellent, a part of the will of God, a necessity and obligation in marriage, and a part of Christians’ commitment to Christ.  And while it doesn’t outright condemn its absence, it bears an eerie similarity to some sex-positive rhetoric — just swap out “consensual” for “heterosexual-married”.

And, as many have talked about before, the way most folks practice sex-positivity isn’t always kind to celibate and sex-averse aces.  See a good explanation of that here, in this post about sex-positivity & rape culture, where this particular passage explains the problem in making general statements like “sex is good”:

I’ve encountered, among other things, people constantly assuming sex is good and that having sex is just something you do in healthy relationships.  It’s like… this creates a situation where, obviously hating sex is a character flaw born of those terrible sex-negative tropes that society presses on you, and obviously only Bad People don’t consent to sex.

That’s rape culture.  This is what environments that assume sex is unambiguously a good thing do. And just saying “Oh okay let’s clarify that it’s consensual sex that’s good” doesn’t actually fix the problem.  It just creates a situation where obviously you must be consenting to sex, because if you aren’t you’re not having enough sex and then you’re sex-negative or whatever.

See, it only fixes a problem where you’re like “Well I don’t really want to do this right now”.  It does not do anything at all to help people who find sex painful.  It does nothing at all to help a person who doesn’t want sex but thinks they do because it’s been so heavily normativized that obviously the just have to have sex, and have to have it in this specific way, so all the “But make sure it’s consensual!” thing does is tells the person “Well maybe if you don’t want sex this time it’s okay, but remember you still must be having it some of the time!”

See, to actually fight rape culture you need to say “Sex is always optional.  You are never obligated to have sex.”  You must always be concerned with consent, and that means you must accept that the answer may very well always be no.

And if someone never wants sex, then to them, sex can’t really be a good thing, because it’s always unwanted.

If you’ve kept reading this far, read that last sentence again please.

And if someone never wants sex, then to them, sex can’t really be a good thing, because it’s always unwanted.

That’s one of the reasons I cringe at this manual passage.  That’s why I don’t trust this pastor’s response.

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