MESSAGE TO THE INDIAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES
We, the participants of the Theological Roundtable on Churches’ Response to Human Sexuality jointly organized by NCCI, SCEPTRE, CISRS, and SCMI, who are engaged in different ministries in Church and Society as Bishops, Church Leaders, Theological Educators, Research Scholars, Professional Counselors, Lawyers, and Activists with different sexual orientations, after several brainstorming discussions and sessions on Biblical, Theological, Ministerial, Ecclesiastical and Legal perspectives, resolve to send the following message on Human Sexuality to all Christian communities in India in general, and to the NCCI member churches, regional councils, theological institutions, Christian organizations, and our ecumenical partners in particular.
We affirm that sexuality is a divine gift, and hence God intends us to celebrate this divine gift in committed, consensual, and monogamous relationships. It is in such celebrations of our sexuality that we grow into the fullness of our humanity, and experience God in a special way.
We believe that our negative attitudes towards sexuality and our body-denying spirituality stem from our distorted understanding of God’s purpose for us. The embodied God who embraced flesh in Jesus Christ is the ground for us to love our bodies and to celebrate life and sexuality without abuse and misuse. So God invites us to experience sexual fulfillment in our committed relationships of justice-love with the commitment to be vulnerable, compassionate, and responsible.
We recognize that there are people with different sexual orientations. The very faith affirmation that the whole human community is created in the image of God irrespective of our sexual orientations makes it imperative on us to reject systemic and personal attitudes of homophobia and discrimination against sexual minorities. We consider the Delhi High Court verdict to “decriminalize consensual sexual acts of adults in private” upholding the fundamental constitutional and human rights to privacy and the life of dignity and non-discrimination of all citizens as a positive step.
We believe that the Church as ‘Just and Inclusive Community’ is called to become a community without walls to reach out to people who are stigmatized and demonized, and be a listening community to understand their pains, desires, and hopes.
We envision Church as a sanctuary to the ostracized who thirst for understanding, friendship, love, compassion and solidarity, and to join in their struggles to live out their God given lives. So we appeal to the Christian communities to sojourn with sexual minorities and their families without prejudice and discrimination, to provide them ministries of love, compassionate care, and justice.
We request the National Council of Churches in India and its members to initiate an in-depth theological study on Human Sexuality for better discernment of God’s purpose for us. This involves a deeper engagement with Bible, traditions, and other disciplines such as social theories, psychology, and medical science. This process should be an inclusive one where people with different sexual orientations can learn from each other and contribute to this process without prejudice and fear.
We also request the Theological Fraternities in India to help this process through integrating issues related to Human Sexuality into the process of theological and ministerial formation.
We hope and pray that the embodied God will bless our endeavors to grow into the fullness of life, and to transform our faith communities into rainbow communities of the beloved and equals.
Theological Roundtable on Churches’ Response to Human Sexuality’
06th Dec. 2009