Huntsville First Church of the Nazarene
DOCTRINE & POLICY REGARDING MARRIAGE:
The Bible teaches that marriage was established and given by God at the time of creation. As He designed and instituted it, marriage is the life-long union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6). It is a relationship that is to be honored and kept pure (Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:22-33). As a man and woman promise life-long faithfulness to each other as husband and wife, God himself joins them as one. Marriage is not simply a contract between two consenting individuals, nor is it merely a creation of human society, culture, or tradition. God himself instituted marriage at the time of creation, and God himself joins a man and woman in marriage today. The biblical teaching on marriage emphasizes the blessings God intends to convey to those joined together in the marital relationship. Through marriage God provides partners well suited and complementary to one another. In marriage God provides a partner who will provide encouragement and support. Marriage is also God-ordained to procreate and to establish a stable environment in which children can be nurtured both physically and spiritually. Marriage is the one context God intended for the use of the blessing of sexual intimacy, where the sexual union of one man and woman is an expression of love and oneness rather than a sinful satisfaction of lust. Finally, since we live in a fallen world, in marriage God provides a restraint for selfishness and sin as each partner strives to live the pure life that God intends for his people (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). This is the Bible’s teaching about the origin, definition, and nature of marriage. For that reason it is also the doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene. We accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and practice. That marriage is the God-ordained union of one man and one woman is the clear teaching of the Bible, and therefore is the teaching and confession of this congregation.
The policy and practice of Huntsville first Church of the Nazarene is consistent with our denomination's teachings regarding marriage as found in Church of the Nazarene Manual 2013-2017, Paragraph 30.1. (In biblical teaching, marriage is the commitment of male and female to each other for life, reflecting Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church.) We therefore believe that marriage is the sacred, life-long union between a man and a woman. Therefore, our pastors will not officiate in any marriage ceremony or celebration and our church facilities will not be used for any activities, (marriage or otherwise), that are inconsistent with our beliefs.
The sin of homosexuality is about the behavior, it is not about the orientation or the desire or the temptation. We are all tempted in many ways-some of us to greed or pride or envy or self-righteousness. Jesus himself was tempted! And the temptation itself is not sin; sin comes only when a person yields to that temptation and engages in the sinful behavior or attitude (1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:13-15). The same is true of homosexuality. The temptation or desire, (or “orientation”), to find sexual fulfillment with members of the same sex is not sin any more than any other temptation is sin; homosexuality becomes sin only when that desire is acted on through homosexual lust or behavior. We certainly believe that people with a homosexual orientation can be healed of that orientation and become heterosexuals, yet we also believe that those who are not freed of the orientation can be obedient to Christ by abstaining from homosexual practices and living in sexual purity. As we seek to respond to the homosexual issue and, (more importantly), to homosexual individuals, we look to Jesus as our example. Just as He responded to the woman caught in the act of adultery with these words: “. . . then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11), so we call on Christ followers to respond to the homosexual community with both boundless compassion and a call to biblical standards of sexual morality. We do not, cannot, and will not endorse homosexual activity as a lifestyle; just as we cannot, do not, and will not endorse all other kinds of behaviors that displease God.
But we also do not, cannot, and will not endorse condemning, hate-filled, self-righteous attitudes toward those in the gay community. This type of attitude, all too common among evangelical Christians, serves only to drive people farther away from the God who loves them and the community where they can find Him. Jesus was known as a “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34), and so we invite you to reflect His heart to all persons who are far from God, including those in the gay community. We will not compromise biblical truth and we will not endorse homosexual activity, but we encourage our church to be the kind of community where a homosexual person can feel wanted, loved and valued and where they can be introduced to the love of Christ and nurtured in Him. We hold unashamedly to the biblical teaching against homosexual behavior, but we also are to provide generously the sort of teaching, support, ministry, counseling, and hospitality that can be used by God to bring His redemptive love to all. The Church is populated by sinners who have acknowledged their need of God and are being transformed and renewed by Him; we reach out and welcome anyone who is seeking that same transforming grace to be at work in their lives as well.
The above statements were formulated with assistance from an attorney, Nazarene, Lutheran, and Wesleyan resources along with personal discussion between myself, our staff, and church board.
WEDDING & BABY SHOWER POLICY:
As we look ahead we anticipate many wonderful beginnings in our church family. As women, we especially enjoy celebrating weddings and the birth of babies. In these days of growth and change in our culture and church family, we will continue to have many opportunities to celebrate life's joys. Through trial and error as well as some research into what other sizeable churches are doing we have concluded that a better response to showers would be to have them hosted by those closest to the honoree. Connection groups or family and friends would host the "all Church" showers. There is added warmth and effort that comes about naturally when those giving the shower have a connection to the individual. For that reason, we want to advise you that in the coming year that any showers for new brides or new moms be planned and hosted by those closest to the individual such as connection group members or family and friends. This means that when there is a wedding or birth announced, connection group members, family or friends would have the priviledge of scheduling and hosting a meaningful shower. This is a ministry opportunity that any of the women of our church family can be a part of, so consider this an invitation to all the women of Huntsville First Nazarene to join in the fun of celebrating new homes and babies.
So if someone in your connection group (small group, Sunday School class, Bible study or prayer group) is experiencing the joy of an upcoming wedding or birth you are encouraged to circle up with a few friends/small group members/family members to provide a shower to which the ladies of the church family can be invited. Please schedule your event through the church office if planning to have the event on-site (256-859-5111 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
*The church will continue to provide a location, cake & punch (for those who qualify)* for a shower hosted within the church facility that has been cleared by the church office.
*Showers for those who are pregnant outside of marriage are handled outside of the church building and publicity is communicated by individuals.