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But the same guidelines require only seven years of penance for premeditated murder. Yet our sacred text is filled with stories about sexuality.

Occasionally, when people are trying to ban books from public classrooms, someone reminds school officials how much sex is in the Bible: foreplay, adulterous affairs, polygamy, sexy descriptions of lovers’ bodies, heterosexual and homosexual rapes, sexual frolicking and concern about sacred temple sex in the surrounding culture.

mennonite rules on dating-59

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As three major mainline Protestant denominations prepareto tackle the issue of gays and lesbians in church life at conventionsthis summer, one of the country's smallest and more evangelicalreligious bodies--the Mennonites--also finds itself confrontinginternal dissension over the issue as a historic merger looms next year. The combined church would bethe largest Mennonite body in the country, with 120,000 members in 1,100churches.

Mennonite branches, the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, plan to unite as the Mennonite Church USA next summer in Nashville, Tenn.

I begin here because Christians have only recently emerged from a somewhat anti-sexual period in church history in which the words “sex” and “sin” have been so closely united in Christian thinking that many of the faithful regard them as synonymous.

This sex-negativity has deep roots, origins that begin with several early church scholars who saw humans as divided beings consisting of a spiritual part that was good (the mind or soul) and a physical part (the body) that was bad.

But, the awkward unholy alliance of Mennonite and millennial values is not a Christian ideal.