Most Mennonites believe that some persons have a different sexual orientation, although not all agree whether sexual orientation is a choice. The expectation is that a person who has a different orientation should remain celibate. The official statement of the church is that we understand the Bible to teach that genital intercourse is reserved for a husband and wife in marriage. It is our understanding that this teaching rules out premarital, extramarital, and homosexual genital activity.
The church is not unanimous in its response to this issue. Some congregations are open and supportive of those with a different sexual orientation; some are supportive of homosexuals as persons but ask for celibacy; and some feel the Bible teaches strict interpretations of teachings about homosexuality. It remains a topic of high-profile debate, and God’s guidance continues to be sought by those on both sides of the issue.
Excerpts from the “Statement on Human Sexuality” that was adopted by the Mennonite Church General Assembly in 1987 say:
We affirm that sexuality is a good and beautiful gift of God, a gift of identity, and a way of being in the world as male and female.
We confess our fear and repent of our absence of love towards those with a different sexual orientation and of our lack of understanding for their struggle to find a place in society and in the church.
We covenant with each other to study the Bible together and expand our insight into the biblical teachings related to sexuality. We understand the Bible to teach that genital intercourse is reserved for a man and woman united in marriage. It is our understanding that this teaching precludes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual genital activity. We further understand the Bible to teach the sanctity of the marriage covenant and that any violation of this covenant is sin.