Excerpts from Various Yearly Meetings'
Faith and Practice
This is the handout for a class at Woodbrooke (England), spring
term, 1993. It contains all references to sexuality found
in the 25 books of Faith and Practice of North American Yearly Meetings at that time. Some additional items since 1993 have been added. To correct, update, or add excerpts, please contact the webservant. Also, for a great search tool, check out the "online faith & practice" site at http://worship.quaker.org/qfp/default.asp.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting 1972 (FGC)
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting 1997 revisions (FGC)
Iowa Yearly Meeting 1974 (Conservative)
Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting 1978 (FGC)
Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting And Association
Baltimore Yearly Meeting 1988 (FGC & FUM)
New England Yearly Meeting 1985 (FGC & FUM)
Mid-America Yearly Meeting 1988 (EFI)
Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region
Northwest Yearly Meeting 1987 (EFI)
Pacific Yearly Meeting 1985 (unaffiliated)
North Pacific Yearly Meeting 1986 (unaffiliated)
New York Yearly Meeting (1998)
PHILADELPHIA YEARLY MEETING 1972 (FGC)
The sexual quality of life is a natural part of every human being;
it is good that it has become openly recognized as such. Its
basic demands and needs are felt in every life, and it is important
to understand all the aspects involved.
Friends have believed that casual or promiscuous sexual relations
are wrong. Friends know that such relations are widely practiced
today, often quite openly; but they have not changed their belief.
Self-discipline is an important factor of life and to take something
because it is there for the having does not give the taking any
validity. Practice of more effective methods of birth control
has partially eliminated one of the more obvious dangers, but
this is only one aspect of a complex, difficult relationship
which can involve individuals in a situation that may well end
in unhappiness or exploitation. Marriage itself can also result
in tragedy, but indulgence in sexual relationships without responsibility
presents graver and more subtle dangers.
Parents should show sufficient interest in sex education so that
their children will have adequate opportunity to learn about
their own sexuality. Of primary importance is the example of
parents united in a strong marriage of mutual love, affection,
considerateness and trust. We believe that sexual gratification
and joy are best achieved in a mature marriage relationship.
While longing for such lasting satisfaction in marriage, Friends
accept also the duty of sympathetic compassion toward those whose
sexual relations fall short of that ideal. Severe condemnation
can make a bad situation worse, while understanding compassion
can often find a way to win love and beauty from a situation
that seemed deplorable.
PHILADELPHIA YEARLY MEETING 1997 (FGC)
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has revised its Faith
and Practice since the 1993 collection. Here is their revision
on this topic.
Sex And Sexuality
In our personal lives, Friends seek to acknowledge and nurture
sexuality as a gift from God for celebrating human love with
joy and intimacy. In defining healthy sexuality, Friends are
led in part by our testimonies: that sexual relations be equal,
not exploitative; that sexual behavior be marked by integrity;
and that sex be an act of love, not of aggression. Sexuality
is once an integral and an intricate part of personality. Our
understanding our own sexuality is an essential aspect of our
journey toward wholeness. Learning to incorporate sexuality in
our lives responsibly, joyfully, and with integrity should be
a lifelong process beginning in childhood.
Friends are wary of a preset moral code to govern sexual activity.
The unity of the sacred and the secular implies that the sacramental
quality of a sexual relationship depends upon the Spirit as well
as the intentions of the persons concerned. Our faith can help
us to examine relationships honestly, with the strength to reconcile
the often conflicting demands of the body, heart, and spirit.
Even with its respect for individual leadings, I Quakerism does
not sanction license in sexual behavior. Precisely because our
sexuality is so powerful, seeking the divine will becomes all
important. The obedience thus called for is more personal, perhaps
more difficult than adherence to an external code. For many Friends,
"celibate in singleness, faithful in marriage" has
proven consonant with the divine will. Sexual activity, whether
or not it includes intercourse, is never without consequence.
Current global population trends and concern for the equitable
distribution of resources require us to ask what good stewardship
of the earth entails for our decisions about sex and childbearing.
Friends approve the concept of family planning and endorse efforts
to make pertinent education and services widely available. We
are in unity about the value of human life, but not about abortion.
We are urged to seek the guidance of the Spirit, to support one
another regarding how to end the situations contributing to abortion,
and to discern how to act as individuals, family members, and
A Quaker home demands an atmosphere where openness and honesty
prevail. It is within the intimate family circle that children
establish their identities as persons; an atmosphere which supports
their feelings of confidence encourages this development. Children
at a very early age develop a sense of their own gender identity
and are curious about gender differences. Within a loving and
secure family, young children are enabled to ask questions about
gender and sex, and parents acquire the confidence to answer
Sex education needs to begin early with the use of appropriate
terms that children understand. The level of understanding is
not uniform, and wise parents will judge each child's capacity
to absorb answers to questions. Simple, direct answers need be
no threat to a child's innocence, and parents do the child no
favors by surrounding the subject with fables and mystery. Undramatic
introduction of the basic physiological facts of human sexuality
is the best preparation for the more sophisticated education
needed during the years of puberty and adolescence.
Sex education for children who have come of age sexually should
be provided with sympathy and patience. Such education should
include clear, direct information regarding sexually transmitted
diseases and AIDS. Parents need to remember their own reactions
during this confusing and volatile age. Whatever the sexual mores
of the time may be, and whatever adolescent peers may do or say,
it is important for parents to help their children look past
peer pressure toward what contributes to loving, responsible
In this, as in all facets of education, adults need to remain
teachable. Sex education is not necessarily a one-way street.
Parents may learn from their children about societal problems
of which they have never been aware. Sensitive listening between
parents and children will go a long way in establishing mutual
IOWA YEARLY MEETING 1974 (Conservative)
Our sexuality shapes and colors our entire lives, regardless
of our marital status. It is basic to our emotions and to our
creative impulses. Decisions on how best to express our sexual
nature are made by each of us, under the influence of our backgrounds
and beliefs. The following guidelines are recommended in making
Deep respect for that of God in each person means that our relationships
should be free of exploitation. Fundamental to all good relationships
is honesty. Without honesty, the dangers of exploitation and
hurt become great.
The drive for physical intimacy is associated in human beings
with a need for closeness on other levels as well. The loneliness
we seek to overcome in our relationships cannot be banished with
sexual contacts without love and concern. Even the physical experience
is lessened when it is not accompanied by mutual caring and total
Unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease are still threats in
spite of modern medicine and should not be ignored.
We believe that consideration of these points will lead us to
uphold the ideal of premarital chastity. It is our belief that
in marriage, we can have the greatest opportunity to reach the
ultimate goal of a loving relationship.
OHIO VALLEY YEARLY MEETING 1978 (FGC)
Sexuality is a natural part of every human being. Basic demands
and needs are felt by each individual and it is important to
be aware that many aspects are involved in sexual relationships.
Deep respect for that of God in each person means that our relationships
should be free of exploitation. Respect for each other calls
for understanding of needs not our own without making judgmental
In personal relationships we are asked to consider honestly our
motives, to equate unselfishly our desires with what could become
another's despair, and to remember that mutual love, caring,
and commitment are necessary ingredients of fully satisfying
SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN YEARLY MEETING
AND ASSOCIATION 1990 (FGC)
The mystery of sex continues to be greater than our capacity
to comprehend it, no matter how much we learn about it.
We engage in it, in often too frantic efforts to enjoy
it but, more subtly, also to try to fathom its ever recurring
power over us. Surely this power and its mystery relate
to the mystery of God's relationship to us.
Mary Calderone, Human Sexuality and the Quaker Conscience
Friends regard life as a whole, to be lived in the Spirit.
At all stages of life, sexuality is an important part of that
whole; it is capable of tapping an individual's deepest feelings,
often yielding a sense of dimension transcending the individual.
Recognizing the power of sexual feelings, we as Friends seek
to know ourselves and to express our own sexuality in loving
ways, calling and answering to that of God in others. We recognize
that responsible sexuality varies, and we hold that that which
is of God is not to be condemned by the children of God. Accordingly,
Friends seek to deal with sexuality as an expression of the love
of God within human kind. We refrain from offering judgment upon
any given manifestation of sexuality unless it is harmful in
its personal or societal results.
Exploitation and manipulation of others for selfish ends have
no place in the lives of Friends, nor does casual disregard for
one's own feelings or those of others. When violence or abuse
erupts in sexual relationships, the wound may be deep and lasting.
Although we live in a society where sex is heavily exploited
in the marketplace and where many countenance infidelities and
casual encounters, we hold to the principle that sexuality is
not a commodity but a powerful force that can transform life
in ways we cannot predict. Realizing that both sadness and joy
may be attendant upon human sexuality, Friends stand ready to
provide comfort and support.
We encourage education about all aspects of sexuality at the
earliest appropriate ages. We encourage openness, honesty, and
mutual respect, which promote healthy personal growth and prevent
mistakes with long-term individual and social consequences.
Families, whatever their configuration, deserve the meeting's
love and care. Although Friends regard the creation of life as
sacred, we also feel that every child has a right to be wanted
and loved. As a yearly meeting, we have not reached full clarity
on the elective termination of pregnancy. Those facing this choice
may find help through trusted Friends or a clearness committee.
Further reflection and insight opened by the Spirit may lead
the way for growth and maturation for the meeting as well as
In the context of the Light, we are called to examine whether
all aspects of our lives bear consistent witness. Friends seek
to love and understand, not to condemn. We trust that each other's
sexuality will be expressed in loving and responsible ways.
BALTIMORE YEARLY MEETING 1988 (FGC &
The human reproductive process is one of life's great miracles.
Sexuality, much broader than the act of reproduction itself,
is a channel for perception, communication and enjoyment. Friends
are aware both of the joy of human sexuality in its proper context
and the need for its restraint outside this context, together
with its limitations and problems when treated casually rather
than as a precious gift of God to be used responsibly. We recognize
too that celibacy is a special gift, a calling and an act of
free will to be practiced joyfully by those who have received
Education in matters of sexuality is an area in which the home
should be the dominant influence. Children should be given factual
information to suit their growing understanding on sexuality,
family planning, and their responsibilities in this area.
NEW ENGLAND YEARLY MEETING 1985 (FGC
In a time of confusion, Friends need to declare such truths about
sexual relationships as they have discovered. At the moment,
these are variously perceived in our Yearly Meeting. Some members
feel comfortable with the recent emergence of intimate relationships
other than those defined in marriage. Some find this difficult
to accept. On one point, however, there is unity Friends
who have made genuine commitments, founded on mutual respect
and caring, which are truly a response to that of God in another
person, are to be tenderly regarded. As we hold one another in
the Light and continue to seek God's will together, we trust
that we shall achieve a more adequate understanding of the proper
place and purpose of sex and sexual relationships in our lives.
Sexuality is a Part of Life
Sexuality is part of life from the moment of our birth to
the end of our days. We know that two aspects of sex, pleasure
and procreation, have often been used without a sense of responsibility
for their consequences-present and future-for the individuals
involved, for others not directly involved, and for society.
Any irresponsible use of sex is likely to damage individuals
and society; therefore such irresponsibility is, in the deepest
Because of the work in which both of us have been involved over
the past fifteen years, we share the conviction of countless
others that sexuality is one of the two great human endowments,
comparable to the mind in importance, and that pleasure and joy
from the use of both these great human faculties is enhanced
by sound knowledge about them, combined with the conviction of
the infinite worth of each individual person.
We believe that a family is the best setting for learning how
to develop and use one's sexuality. We are convinced that caring
and trust are essential for the development of love within the
family, and that love is essential to the development of true
intimacy between all family members. Such intimacy within a family
is what human beings need, seek, and long for from their earliest
days to their last. But we recognize, too, that not all persons
are able or willing or, in some cases, do not choose
to develop this part of their lives.
We have spoken of trust. Trust has to be built on truth. If family
members keep the truth from one another, they cannot learn to
trust each other, no matter what their ages may be . . . . As
Quakers, our moral values depend on our belief in the infinite
worth of each human being and on our belief that as human beings
we are obliged to deal with others as we would like others to
deal with us trustingly, caringly, and responsibly.
We believe that responsible people can accept these positive
moral values no matter what their religious beliefs may be, or
even if they do not consider themselves to be religious at all.
These values relate to all of life, not just to sex and sexuality.
We believe that sexuality as a part of life has no morality special
to itself but that morality or immorality lies in the way each
of us uses sexuality in our life relationships.
Mary S. Calderone, M.D., and Eric W. Johnson:
The Family Book About Sexuality, 1981, pp. xvi-xvii.
Love is a Blend
Love is a blend of several elements-sexual attraction, companionship
SEXUAL ATTRACTION. Love is not merely platonic, not viewing from
afar, but a desire for physical proximity. This doesn't mean
that the proof of love is willingness to have premarital intercourse.
Rather, it means enjoying each other's presence, being quickened
by the sight and especially by the touch of the other, being
physically impelled toward each other. . .
COMPANIONSHIP. . . . This is the social element in love: the
enjoyment of doing things together, of togetherness quite apart
from sexuality. It is the basic element in friendship and is
simply intensified in love. . . . It is one of the redeeming
elements that make married love more than mere sexual desire.
. . .
CARE. . . . Both sex and companionship can be exploited selfishly.
But care is by definition altruistic. It involves concern for
the partner, interest in his welfare, and effort to meet his
needs. . . . One of the rewarding aspects of being in love is
knowing that somebody cares. . . . Being in love is rewarding
not only in receiving care but also in giving it. To meet the
partner's need is to be needed oneself. . . .
Robert 0. Blood, Jr.: Marriage, 1962, pp. 95-7,
It is right and proper that many boys and girls and young men
and women should fall in and out of love a number of times before
they marry-and this process will involve emotional heights and
depths. If these experiences are to be educative, they must involve
all the personality, but such a series of experiences will be,
generally, less disruptive if the final sexual commitment is
avoided. Society can and should offer educational relationships
by giving opportunities for the young to do things together.
While they have no resources but to sit entwined in the cinema,
watching huge photographs of impassioned love scenes, they will
learn no outlet for their feelings for each other save those
of passionate love-making. But an activity shared with other
couples may help a pair to look outward at life together rather
than inward at each other, and so save them from being deeply
committed physically before they are otherwise ready.
Towards a Quaker view of sex, an essay by a
group of Friends.
Alastair Heron, ed., 1964, p. 52.
Family Should Be Safeguarded
The central concept of sexual morality in Christian countries
is the integrity of the family. Most people-religious or otherwise-in
our own and other countries would agree that the family as a
social unit should be safeguarded and sexual practices that threaten
its stability vigorously discouraged. The Christian family is
a monogamous one, held together by an understanding love and
responsibility and by an acceptance of a faith and purpose in
Ibid., p. 8.
Temptation is a Testing
We must realize that it is not sinful to be tempted, nor
is it unique. All men are tempted all the time. The word temptation
means simply a test or trial, so that every temptation overcome
gives new strength. Before he could begin his public ministry,
Jesus had to go into the wilderness to suffer temptation. The
gospels suggest that the one was a necessary prelude to the other.
And George Fox went through a period after his conversion when
he experienced temptations so terrible that he cannot name them
in his journal. He reports that he cried to the Lord in great
agony, asking why he should be so tempted, seeing he had never
felt these urges before. And the Lord replied that he must know
all conditions in order to speak to all conditions. We are, then,
not saved by our untried and cloistered virtues but by our temptations,
if we will have the courage to acknowledge them for what they
are and the determination not to settle for less than the fullness
of our humanity. And, by the grace of God, we are able to learn
from our failings to speak to others' conditions out of the sorrow
of our own lives. God grant that we may be able to sustain each
other in overcoming temptation because we realize how much alike
we are in being tempted.
Paul A. Lacey: Temptation, a meditation on sexual morality,
1964, pp. 7-8.
(Pendle Hill Bulletin, no. 170).
Friends Are Being Tested
Friends are being tested as never before with opportunities to
know what it is to be a Friend. The unmarried young couple, and
perhaps even the unmarried older couple, the homosexual, whether
man or woman-we can reach out to that of God in them even though
they are different from us, confident that if our reaching be
true and loving, then that of God in them will respond in turn
to that of Him in us. There may always be a chasm between us,
one that might appear unbridgeable because it may never be possible
for us to be like each other, to understand each other's differences,
or even to establish a friendship. But ... love, that of God
within us that we also share, is the bridge that is eternally
there, across any chasm between human beings.
Mary S. Calderone: Human sexuality and the Quaker conscience,
1973, pp. 19-20.
MID-AMERICA YEARLY MEETING 1988 (EFI)
11. Homosexuality. Authoritatively, the Word of God
declares that homosexuality is not God's will for His children.
We are told in I Corinthians 6:9-10 that homosexuals shall not
inherit the kingdom of God.
The cause and downward progression of homosexuality is traced
in Romans 1:21-32. It begins with failing to worship God and
being unthankful and ends with encouraging others to participate
in evil. We believe we must stand against this evil and that
God's judgment will come against those who practice and encourage
We are assured in I Corinthians 6:11 that the homosexual can
be cleansed, set apart for the Lord's work, and made right in
the sight of God. Through the blood of Christ, many such have
been transformed and all such can be. Although we oppose homosexuality
as a violation of our God-given sexual nature, we wish to make
it known that we do not reject the homosexual as a person. We
believe they are redeemable people for whom Christ died.
EVANGELICAL FRIENDS CHURCH-EASTERN
REGION 1990 (EFI)
88. Friends believe that sex is a beautiful gift of God when
it joins a man and a woman together in selfgiving love. (Hebrews
13:4) We hold that this depth of relationship is appropriate
only in marriage and that sexual relations should be abstained
from outside the marriage bond. The basis for a good marriage
is not sexual alone, but true love is developed through communication,
mutual respect, deep friendship and a lifetime of selfgiving,
as the Apostle Paul admonished (Ephesians 5:22-29). Friends who
find severe difficulty in their marriage relationship are urged
to prayerfully seek counsel from a pastor or a Christian therapist
who can mediate those problems in order that the marriage be
restored to the state God desires.
. . . . .
117. Friends are firm in the conviction that the Scriptures
make abundantly clear the sinfulness of all homosexual and deviant
sexual acts (Romans 1; I Corinthians 6). We believe that homosexual
tendencies may be overcome by the grace of God. We also believe
that forgiveness for deviant acts may be obtained by sincere
repentance and faith in Christ.
118. Since pornographic materials promote and propagate a
lifestyle that includes activities which are condemned by God's
Word and tempt viewers to commit the sin of lust (Matthew 5:27-28:
Romans 13:14; II Peter 2:14, 18-19), Friends therefore are urged
to carefully avoid exposure to such materials.
Because of our responsibility as Christian citizens (Matthew
5:13; Proverbs 14:34) and in view of the evil, exploitative,
and destructive effects of pornography on individuals, families,
and our society, Friends are encouraged to prayerfully and boldly
oppose the production and distribution of pornographic materials
in their local communities, as well as at the state and national
levels (Ephesians 5:11).
NORTHWEST YEARLY MEETING 1987 (EFI)
In "Friends Faith" Section:
18. Christian Witness to Human Sexuality.
We hold that only marriage is conducive to godly fulfillment
in sexual relationships for the purposes of reproduction and
enrichment of life. We consider sexual intimacy outside marriage
as sinful because it distorts God's purposes for human sexuality.
We denounce, as contrary to the moral laws of God, acts of homosexuality,
sexual abuse, and any other form of sexual perversion (see "Human
Sexuality," pp. 100-101). The church, however, as a community
of forgiven persons, remains loving and sensitive to those we
consider in error. Because God's grace can deliver from sins
of any kind, we are called to forgive those who have repented
and to free them for participation in the church.
In "Testimonies" section:
Human Sexuality [added in 1982]. Friends believe
that the divine intent of marriage is to fulfill the emotional,
spiritual, and physical needs of humankind and that only within
the bonds of marriage divinely ordained can there be a beautiful
sexual relationship for the purposes of reproduction and life
enrichment. Adultery and fornication are sinful because they
distort the purposes of God for the right ordering of human sexuality.
Friends believe that the practice of sexual perversion in any
form is sinful and contrary to the God-ordained purposes in sexual
relationships. These perversions include sexual violence, homosexual
acts, transvestism, incest, and sex acts with animals. The sin
nature is capable of vile affections when humankind rejects the
moral laws of God.
Scriptures relating to these distorted and perverse forms of
sexuality include Genesis 19:1-13; Deuteronomy 22:5; Leviticus
18:20, 22, 23; Romans 1:24-28; 1 Corinthians 5:1, 2 and 6:9-20.
Neither in the Scriptures nor in church history have these practices
been regarded as consistent with righteous living.
Friends do not accept as members those involved in these perverse
practices; neither do they permit them to hold positions of responsibility
or leadership in the church. However, Friends believe that the
grace of God is adequate to cleanse and deliver from all sin
(I John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17), and they desire to be tender
and sensitive to all people, ready to express kindness, love,
and forgiveness. See also Jude 7, 8; Colossians 3:5-7; and Revelation
21:8, 27. When the erring one has been repentant, the past should
not be remembered. As Christ called and blessed those whom He
forgave, so must His followers. Friends must not hinder the forgiven
person from holding membership or having responsibility in the
Friends churches should exercise concern for their members on
matters of sexuality and should discipline offenders in Iove
and truth (see "Rules of Discipline:" p. 75).
PACIFIC YEARLY MEETING 1985 (unaffiliated)
Now more aware of the socially inflicted suffering of people
who love others of the same sex, we affirm the power and joy
of non-exploitive, loving relationships. As a Society and as
individuals we oppose arbitrary social, economic, or legal abridgement
of the right to share this love.
Pacific Yearly Meeting, 1972
In the time since Pacific Yearly Meeting was first jolted
on the floor of its annual session to some awareness of its blindness,
real or feigned, to the discrimination against gay and lesbian
people by an insistent demand for attention and action, we have
sought to demystify the myths about homosexuality, to examine
our own responses, emotional and intellectual, to our children
and friends whose sexual preference is for persons of the same
sex and to practice in our relationships with one another what
we believe and say about the joy and power of non-exploitive,
Through the courage and kindly persistence of gay friends, we
initiated a study on how to understand the needs and problems
of homosexuals in the Society, which resulted in a pamphlet published
in 1974. We have consulted with other Quaker groups as they were
moved to address the issue, and (against heavy opposition at
first), we undertook a new group meeting format at our Yearly
Meeting called "sharing groups." Such groups are open
only to those persons who are the subject of a particular group,
such as a women's sharing group, and a gay and lesbian's sharing
group. These groups provided an early supportive means for gays
and lesbians to meet only with each other to share with and support
each other. With some initial vigor to undo our own discrimination,
we sought out homosexuals for meeting responsibilities. We participated
in protests against and demonstrations for civil rights denied
gay and lesbian people.
In all this we came to understand something of what we had, in
fact, written at the start. We recognized that it is with the
quality of relationships, not with their outward appearances,
that we are rightly concerned. This insight has brought light
to our views of those who increasingly are in non-traditional
relationships, both gay and straight, and we are looking anew
and without judgment at, for example, committed relationships
outside of marriage and at the choice to be a single parent.
Some of the early fire of our new enlightenment is gone; we grow
complacent and perhaps satisfied that we saw an evil and cast
it out. Our gay Friends no longer pressure us to search for clarity
on our freedom from discrimination and the behavior which follows
Are we able to show the world we are faithful to our testimony
of equality? Have we acted to marry any of our gay and lesbian
members, welcomed their children, and involved them all in the
life of our blessed communities without judgment or discord?
In a world which hears vitriolic statements against homosexuals
made by state senators and persons who call themselves Christian,
which sees the chance passerby beaten to death on the street
on a suspicion that he is gay, we who proclaim a concern for
equality and our love for all would seem to be called to act.
In our Society the call may not find such gross expression, yet
it exists. None of us must impose on homosexuals in our meetings
subtle pressures to be dishonest about who they are so that we
may remain comfortable. Those gays and lesbians who have achieved
some accommodation and are given regard for their worth because
they have been around a long time no longer feel an urgency and
do not push us. We must insure that people only now discovering
their sexual identity not have to go through the same difficulty
as they did.
NORTH PACIFIC YEARLY MEETING 1986
Quakers like others, in recent years have experienced a growing
understanding and appreciation of human sexuality and its important
role in our lives. In the words of the British Friends who wrote
Towards a Quaker View of Sex:
Sexuality, looked at dispassionately, is neither good nor
evil it is a fact of nature and a force of immeasurable
power. But looking at it as Christians we have felt impelled
to state without reservation that it is a glorious gift of God.
Throughout the whole of living nature it makes possible an endless
and fascinating variety of creatures, a lavishness, a beauty
of form and colour surpassing all that could be imagined as necessary
Revised edition, 1964
In contrast to this recognition of vibrancy and beauty, there
are lingering misunderstandings and ignorance about sexuality,
especially in relation to our specifically sexual needs and urges.
This can be harmful to people of all ages. Fuller knowledge and
understanding are sorely needed. Sex education is therefore important
for everyone. Readily available information and open discussion
of human sexuality are to be encouraged for both children and
People experience their sexuality from the beginning of life
and need to learn what this means to them. Parents and the Meeting
can encourage children in their exploration of this meaning by
constructively supporting the child's natural interest in his
or her own sexuality and in that of others. Parents teach their
children primarily by the example of their lives together. Ideally
they demonstrate mutual love, affection, consideration, and trust
in a lasting relationship that includes sexual gratification
One aspect of sexuality which we are only beginning to understand
is sexual orientation. Even as we begin to recognize that both
heterosexual and homosexual orientations are a matter of fact,
we affirm that all persons are valuable in the sight of God.*
We are challenged to discipline our sexual behavior in the light
of our growing awareness of overall sexuality. This concept includes
keeping sexual behavior in the context of the total interpersonal
relationship, rather than treating sexual activity as an end
in and of itself. Casual, exploitative, or promiscuous sexual
behavior can produce emotional and physical suffering and harm.
In dealing with sexual matters, care and concern for others is
no less important than care and concern for oneself.
The mystery of sex continues to be greater than our capacity
to comprehend it, no matter how much we learn about it. We engage
in it, in often too frantic efforts to enjoy it but, more subtly,
also to try to fathom its ever recurring power over us. Surely
this power and its mystery relate to the mystery of God's relationship
to us. The mistake we have made throughout the ages has been
to load onto sex the incubus of success or failure of marriage,
to took upon sex as a resolution, an ending. In reality it offers
us, if we could only see it, a fresh beginning every time in
that relationship of which it is a part.
Mary S. Calderone, 1973
* Coming to this recognition and affirmation has been a growth
experience for Friends (see pp. 7-8).
Gay and Lesbian Friends (page 7)
Since its beginning, North Pacific Yearly Meeting has been
concerned with homosexuality. We had been clear that the civil
rights of homosexual people should be protected. Beyond that,
there was no unity and very little understanding of the subject.
During our 1982 annual session the host college where we met
(and to which we planned to return in 1983) placed a number of
behavioral restrictions upon us. The last one was that if gay
and lesbian Friends were to identify themselves and meet together,
they do so inconspicuously. A special meeting of Steering Committee
was called to deal with the hurt and anger that this and the
earlier restrictions generated. One Friend expressed dismay that
we even felt a need to discuss the matter. If we had been told
that black Friends, or our children could be included on campus
only if they remained inconspicuous, we would know without question
how to respond. A shock of realization of the truth to which
this Friend pointed swept through the meeting.
Out of that experience the Steering Committee wholeheartedly
affirmed that gay and lesbian Friends are an integral part of
our Yearly Meeting family. Henceforth the Yearly Meeting would
not participate in any situation that rejected or restricted
them. This leap of insight was a turning point in the maturation
of our Yearly Meeting. It opened the door to increasing our understanding
of homosexuality and fully accepting the people whose lives are
touched by it. Since then the gay and lesbian Friends of NPYM
have begun to relax in the security of this acceptance, and in
many caring ways have been sharing their experience with the
rest of us. We hope that in time, with their help, we will all
reach a clear understanding of this subject.
NEW YORK YEARLY MEETING (1998)
New York Yearly Meeting was in the process of revising
its Faith and Practice in 1993. They approved a Faith
and Practice in 1995 and in 1998 approved reprinting the
1995 edition with the section "Children in Our Families
and Meetings" rewritten. The following paragraph from that
section in the 1998 printing is the only mention of sexual relationships
in the book.
"As children and growing adolescents face the often destructive
pressure of culture and conflicting community values, particularly
in sexual practices, parents should guide young people to recognize
the importance of integrity by emphasizing the need for mutual
trust and mature understanding in achieving a long-lasting intimate
relationship. Parents will recognize that a truly committed sexual
relationship is likely to be beyond the power of a young adolescent,
and they will encourage abstinence."
NOTE: Letters in parentheses refer to the affiliation
of the North American Yearly Meetings
FGC = Friends General Conference Yearly Meetings, predominantly
unprogrammed in worship
FUM = Friends United Meeting Yearly Meetings, predominantly
programmed in worship
FGC & FUM = Yearly Meetings belonging to both of the
above, predominantly unprogrammed in worship, except New England
and New York, who also have programmed worship
EFI = Evangelical Friends International Yearly Meetings,
programmed in worship
Conservative = Conservative Yearly Meetings, unprogrammed
unaffiliated = Meetings unaffiliated with any of the above,
predominantly unprogrammed in worship