Sexual Ethics Policy
Trevecca Nazarene University exists as an educational mission of the Church of the Nazarene. Therefore the Articles of Faith, Covenant of Christian Character, Covenant of Christian Conduct, and the Current Moral and Social Issues section of the Manual reflect the theological and moral convictions of the University.
As an educational mission of the Church of the Nazarene, we find our identity in Scripture as it is understood through Wesleyan-holiness theology. Therefore, all theological and moral convictions are determined through careful exegesis of Scripture in conversation with ecclesial tradition as it is understood and confirmed through reason and experience.
We affirm belief in a God whose creation is an act of love. Having experienced God as holy love, we understand the Trinity to be a unity of love among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This love forms a covenanted community.
The creation of the human is an expression of God’s self-emptying love. Our bodies are good. Our sensual capacity, the ability to experience pleasure, and our desires for one another are shaped by a loving God. As social beings, we reflect the image of God in our capacity and desire to relate to one another. This desire is fulfilled as we live in covenanted relationship with God, others, and ourselves.
Within our story, we recognize callings to live as a single person or as married persons. Singleness is to be lived in vibrant community, surrounded by friends, welcomed at tables, expressing a faithful witness, and fully human as Jesus is fully human.
We also recognize the call to marriage. As defined in Genesis, “a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh”. The marriage covenant, a reflection of the covenant between God and his people, is one of exclusive sexual fidelity, unselfish service, and social witness. A man and a woman publicly devote themselves to one another as a witness to the way God loves his people. Through sexual intimacy, the couple experiences the one-flesh union which is likened to the union of the Trinity, a mystery of grace.
Bearing the image of God is unique to humanity. Abiding in relationship and intimacy with our God allows us to reflect that image perfectly and clearly. However, possessing the freedom to choose, humans chose self over God. This selfishness is the essence of sin. The result of that selfish choice is broken relationship with God. In this estranged position, the image of God is warped and broken within us and in relation to others. The essence of sin is selfishness; the result of sin is separation; the effect of sin is brokenness.
Any evidence of brokenness in people is a result of the separation that exists between God and us. Romans 8:22 describes “the whole creation groaning as in the pains of childbirth.” It may show itself in compartmentalization wherein dimensions of living are kept from being integrated as God intended – affect, intellect, will, and physicality. It may also manifest itself when one dimension of life shows inconsistency or incongruity with the whole. This warped image in us represents disconnectedness among the various aspects of who we are – physical, intellectual, affective, social, psychological, and spiritual. Thus, we fall short of God’s vision of complete integration and wholeness in our lives. As broken beings, we experience fracturing on every level – hurtful family interactions, self-centered desires, traumatic abuse, sexual violence, rape, human trafficking, divorce, defective genes, distorted hormone levels, biological abnormalities, same-sex orientation, gender confusion, and disease.
God in love was not willing that any should remain estranged and eternally broken. Love compelled God to take initiative in reconciling people back into close relationship, ultimately through the way of Jesus Christ. In Christ, God is redeeming the world, thus allowing the image of God to be restored in us. As the image of God is restored on the way of salvation, brokenness is made whole and we are being healed.
God’s vision for the human family is a picture of complete integration and wholeness in reflecting the similarly integrated wholeness of God. Since that image is dis-integrated as a result of separation, we live under the effects of sin. In that condition, the human family is predisposed to choices that reinforce, defend, or justify ourselves.
Our brokenness has taken many forms, some due to our own choosing and some brought into our lives via a broken world.
- Pornography is desire gone awry. It is the objectification of a fellow human for selfish sexual gratification. Engaging in this habit destroys our capacity to love.
- Pre-marital coitus is the practice of one-flesh bonding with a person to whom we have no intent to be bound in covenanted love. This practice forms us as individuals who can love and leave rather than make covenant and remain.
- Extra-marital sexual relations is a violation of promises, a selfish act, a family-destroying choice, and an offense to the God who has loved us devotedly.
- A same sex attraction, bi-sexual, or transgender identity represents an incongruity among the component parts of how God has made us. That disjunctive existence is the effect of separation from God. It is so in no greater measure than any other effect that falls short of the wholeness God intends for us. People with a gender identity that is not the same as their physicality, whether by personal choice or as the result of physical or psychological factors, reflect the condition of a dis-integrated whole.
- Homosexuality is a same-sex orientation with differing origins. While the orientation is rarely a moral choice made by a person, we call members of our community to live as celibate single adults. Those with a physical attraction to same-sex persons as an expression of their own sexuality reflect the condition of the human family being out of sync as a result of our not reflecting the integrated wholeness of God.
Therefore, we believe that
- Sexual differentiation is constituted by the act of creation.1
- Sexual expression is intrinsically good.2
- Sexual intimacy is sanctioned between a man and woman only in the context of marriage.3
- Expressions of sexual intimacy that become ends unto themselves or arise from self-centeredness dehumanize the other and invert God’s intention for the expression of sexual intimacy.4
- Identifying as the opposite gender from what was established by birth, falls outside our theological understandings of creation and human sexuality. Gender orientation is a long process informed by personal values, cultural narratives, the teachings of the church, family and personal experience as well as other environmental factors. The process of gender orientation requires the church as a community of moral discourse and mutual accountability to assist individuals toward the discipleship of the body through honoring one’s gender at birth.5
- The Church and all Christians are called to be agents of justice and redemption.6
- Behavior rather than desire is the basis for judging morality.
- Intimacy requires consideration of moral responsibility to the other.
- The ideal for sexual intimacy is marriage between a man and a woman as a means of procreation and expressions of desire for so long as both live.
- Moral failure should be treated redemptively.
- Sexual immorality is a corporate concern.7
- Gender (male and female) is a matter of gift and not personal preference. We believe that gender is established at birth by one’s body and genes and not through personal preference or choice.
- Those who struggle with sexual orientation must be treated with respect, dignity, and justice.
- The mystery of human sexuality requires patience and discernment informed by scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.
Therefore, the University prohibits sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, the use and/or distribution of pornography, and/or the promotion of a sexual ethic contrary to the beliefs of the Church of the Nazarene. Students, faculty and staff are required to live in harmony with the doctrinal and lifestyle commitments of the University and the Church of the Nazarene relating to sexual activity and gender identity.
Affirmation of Human Dignity and Christian Love
While holding to these theological convictions, the University also affirms the dignity of all human beings. We separate the value of each person from the behavior in which one engages. We believe that, as Christians, we are called to treat all people, including those who practice sexual behavior in conflict with our understanding of Scripture, with compassion and to extend without reservation the gospel of repentance, forgiveness and the possibility of transformation through Jesus Christ to such persons. However, in keeping with our biblical beliefs surrounding the morality of such actions, the University cannot in good conscience support or encourage an individual to live in conflict with biblical principles. Moreover, an individual who violates campus standards for biblical living is subject to discipline, including termination or expulsion.
1 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1: 27
2 “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:28 “The Church of the Nazarene views human sexuality as one expression of the holiness and beauty that God the Creator intended for His creation.” Manual, 32.
3 “It is one of the ways by which the covenant between a husband and a wife is sealed and expressed.” Manual, 32.
4 Article V – Manual 5.2
5 Thus, the University would not allow, for example, a female student by birth to present herself as a male, to use the men’s restroom, locker rooms or living accommodations or to participate in male athletic programs or other gender-specific activities. Nor would a faculty or staff member be permitted to assume a gender identity apart from his/her birth gender.
6 “The mission of the Church in the world is to share in the redemptive and reconciling ministry of Christ in the power of the Spirit.” (Article XI, Manual).
7 1 Corinthians 6: 16-17.