CHRISTIAN CHURCHES NEW ZEALAND
STATEMENT ON MARRIAGE AND SEXUALITY
Conference (October 2014) adopted the following statement, recommended by the National Leadership Team, to be the policy of the Christian Churches New Zealand, and affirmed that it is a policy statement having force until such time as a future Conference of the Christian Churches New Zealand (CCNZ) revises or replaces it.
Statement on Marriage and Sexuality
Holy Scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice, including marriage and sexuality. The interpretation of Holy Scripture is a matter on which dialogue occurs within the church, and to which the Tradition of the universal church of Jesus Christ and statements of church councils, and our own Conference contribute; this statement being such a contribution.
The church is the people of God in mission to the world, as taught by Scripture, witnessing to new life in Christ made possible through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection to life, and available to all people through repentance from sin and belief in Christ; in this mission the church desires that people experience the true grace of God and freedom in Christ which is the healing of our wounded humanity; this grace and freedom being available to all people, including people of all sexualities and whether or not they are single, married, widowed, divorced, remarried, or otherwise; and to this mission the Christian Churches of New Zealand is committed. This statement is intended to assist rather than inhibit this mission as described above.
The clear intention of Scripture is that marriage is a monogamous, lifelong, covenantal relationship between a man and a woman; it is a gift from God which provides a holy and blessed context for a husband and a wife to encourage each other’s love for God, to develop their love for each other, to enjoy sexual intercourse, and to begin and nurture family life; it is not equivalent to other forms of relationships described as ‘de facto marriage’ or ‘civil union’ even though these relationships may contain elements in common with marriage as defined here; and it is not a relationship into which two people of the same gender may enter.
The mission of Christ’s church includes the nurture, encouragement, and instruction of single people, married couples and families in the way of Jesus Christ; and the development of faith communities as true and loving expressions of the family of God in which Christian people of all ages and stages in life, including all sexualities, recognise themselves and each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
As an expression of the mission of the church and of CCNZ’s commitment to marriage as defined above, ministers and pastors in the CCNZ are encouraged to conduct marriage services; but because of our commitment to marriage no CCNZ minister, may participate in leading any service, ritual, ceremony, or blessing of a relationship which is similar to marriage such as a ‘civil union’, whether such relationship is between two people of opposite sexes or the same sex, and whether or not such relationship is legally recognised in Aotearoa New Zealand or any other country.
Singleness is an honourable way of life specifically endorsed by Jesus’ own example and by the Scriptures. The CCNZ acknowledges a continuing tension in the life of the church as it seeks to honour both marriage and singleness. (Singleness is here defined as not being in a sexual relationship with another person).
Honouring both marriage and singleness in today’s church involves facing sensitive pastoral questions concerning people who identify themselves as homosexual, are divorced, or divorced and remarried.
While acknowledging that a range of views concerning sexuality exists within God’s church at this time, the CCNZ itself maintains the view that Scripture endorses marriage between a man and a woman as the only acceptable domain for sexual relationships, and therefore does not endorse sexual relationships between people of the same gender.
Consistent with clause 8 above the CCNZ requires its ministers, to be either single (that is, not in a sexual relationship with another person) or married; and if married to be sexually faithful to their spouse.
The CCNZ recognises a specific challenge to its mission at this time when voices in the world and in the church are calling for a different assessment of the morality of same sex relationships than that given in this statement; it encourages ministers and congregations to work creatively and compassionately to welcome all people into our churches, especially in this context, people who identify themselves as homosexual.
The CCNZ expects that any ministers with permission to officiate, and office holders in the CCNZ will uphold the views of the CCNZ as expressed in this statement, both by their example of lifestyle and in their teaching and in any public statements they should make.
We move this for the following reasons:
As a consequence of the Marriage Reform Bill 2013 the NLT believe it is wise and important for CCNZ to clarify our tradition and heritage as a biblical referencing movement of churches, by stating a biblical position regarding marriage. And;
Given that The Marriage Act authorises but does not oblige any marriage celebrant to solemnise a marriage, and given that the Amendment Act states that no religious or organisational celebrant is obliged to solemnise a marriage that would contravene religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of a religious body or approved organisation. We the NLT believe it is important for our organisation (the religious body of CCNZ) to have a clear position regarding marriage.