First of all, a word of appreciation to the members of the
Task Force who have generated this draft. Having been a part
of the development of the last sexuality documents, I do understand
the time and energy entailed. Much insight is available in this
draft and certainly the final social statement should stand in
significant continuity with it.
 I focus in this review on the scriptural witness, especially
the Old Testament. My comments about the draft basically
divide at line 580 (p. 20). Generally, the material from that
point on is less open to criticism than the first 19 pages. I
concentrate on those first sections, though if my comments are
considered helpful, they will have some impact on the nature of the
presentation of the last half of the document.
 Generally, the document contains remarkably few references
to the Old Testament (I count five brief contexts) and not all that
many New Testament texts; references to the Lutheran Confessions
and Luther may be more common. I understand that this document
does not purport to be a biblical study of sexuality, but the Bible
speaks to issues of sexuality in significant ways and, given
Scripture's authority in our tradition, its texts are deserving of
a more prominent place in the study. The creation texts in Genesis
1-2, for example, which are certainly crucial for any such study,
are mentioned only in passing.
 The biblical references that do exist are not accompanied by
any serious study of them and, in addition, remarkably minimal
reference is given to scholarly (and other) biblical studies in the
footnotes. Readers are thus given no place to turn with
respect to, say, scriptural studies regarding sexuality or a
theology of creation.
 The first reference to an Old Testament text does not occur
until p. 12, but then Gen. 1:26 is quickly passed over with a "yet"
that suggests that it is no longer a directly applicable text.
 Again and again in reading, I thought: why no biblical
reference here? Some examples:
--Lines 215-16, 255-56, where human actions are to correspond to
God's actions, could benefit from references to such texts as Deut.
--Or, one thinks of the many texts that could be cited with
respect to the paragraphs in lines 263-78 on the proper place of
the law. Certainly one can speak of biblical sexual ethics,
not just "Lutheran sexual ethics."
--At other times (say, lines 238-250), there is a New Testament
reference, but a paradigmatic scriptural reference on this topic of
"rescue" is the exodus. Such a citation could make the claim
of line 247 more comprehensive: God's "rescuing mercy" not
only "frees us from sin," but also from the effects of the sins of
other people-a major issue in matters of
--Again, the claim in lines 325-26 (and elsewhere, e.g.,
104-105) that "the transformation of the whole creation" is
"revealed to us in God's resurrection of the
crucified Christ" ignores a number of Old Testament texts that
reveal such divine promises (e.g., Isa
65:17-25). The draft does speak of a "biblical vision" in line
329, but the context suggests that it is really a New Testament
vision that is in mind (see also "Scripture" in lines 350-52).
Several general references to the Bible could be more closely
specified (e.g., line 84 - "the Bible makes clear"). A number of
explicit or implicit references to the Bible are left without
mooring in the text itself.
--Or, in the section on marriage (pp. 33-36) it is striking,
again, that only New Testament texts are cited (lines 1005-06),
though the New Testament texts themselves are grounded in Old
Testament texts, e.g., Mark 10:7-9.
-- Only one Old Testament text is cited in the entirety of pp.
20-46, and only a few New Testament texts.
Creation and "Christian Sexuality?"
 Upon completing a first reading, I was reminded of the old
bulletin (and institute) named Christian Economics and the
conversations it generated about whether there was such an
animal. I sense that, despite the title of the draft, "Human
Sexuality," there is an effort here to carve out a position
regarding what could be called Christian Sexuality. Though I
did not see that phrase used in the document, I wonder whether the
nature of some of the material lends itself to such an
understanding. Is this the intent? Is this a discussion
 The outline of the entire statement, for example, suggests
this direction for reflection. Specifically Christian themes
introduce and dominate the first two sections, especially
incarnation and justification, and a formal consideration of God's
creative activity is delayed until Chapter Three. And then,
only about five pages are devoted formally to a focus on creational
issues (pp. 15-20), with few scriptural references. The
relationship of creation to the two opening sections of the draft
is left to the edges of the discussion.
 Line 89 (p. 4) does make an important claim: "sexuality is
integral to what it means to be human." But this solid
creation statement stands somewhat isolated in a context where
incarnation and justification considerations about sexuality
abound. Generally, the document speaks more of "Christians,"
and less commonly of human beings. Of course, sexuality is
something we have in common with all other human beings, but this
needs to be recognized regularly in the text. Sexuality is not
a uniquely Christian gift (and Christians, faithful Christians, are
notorious for not handling it very well, while many non-Christians
 Specific examples of this direction of thought include the
---In lines 9-11, "Christians respond to these commands," could
be interpreted to mean that only Christians can fulfill the love
commands. This is reinforced by lines 13-15, which suggest
that these are only New Testament commands (see also fn. 5, where
the only references to love of neighbor are from the New
Testament). This narrow sense of loving the "neighbor" is also
evident in lines 187-190, where it sounds like "only" Christians
can have a "concern for the neighbor"! Lines 280-285 also
suggest that "lives committed to loving our neighbor" is a uniquely
"Christian vocation." In such a context of "Christianness," one is
even given to wonder about lines 315-316: how is one to
interpret "the source" (=the only source?).
--In line 103 (p. 5) the document contains a reference to
"creation," but this stands at odds with the claims in footnote six
regarding incarnation and justification as the theological
grounding and framework (see below). Indeed, from many an Old
Testament text, God's people know that their "bodies are valued by
God" and this is the case before there is an Incarnation. A
similar direction of thought occurs in lines 210-212. Here it
is acknowledged that a gracious God "grants life to the whole
creation," indeed "provides sexuality." Genesis 1-2 would be
an important text to cite regarding both of these claims-they are
creationally grounded-and as such these texts are
a witness to a pre-fall move on God's part regarding
sexuality. The draft seems to admit as much by
the paragraph at lines 358-361, when it does cite Gen. 1:27.
Here creation in the image of God is understood to be given
to all people, and "grounds" (note the
language!) the "dignity and basic equality of all
people." Does that not include sexuality?
--A specific reference to the lengthy fn. 6 is in order (and its
need to justify raises suspicions). This is an unfortunate
rationale statement, not least because of the depreciation of
creation that is characteristic of it (echoing the draft as a
whole). It is not only a "surprise" but
wrongheaded, in my opinion, given the scriptural testimony to
sexuality. How can it be claimed that "Christians
cannot ground their understanding of sexuality in
nature or creation itself" when the Bible itself does just that
(admitted it seems in lines 358-361)? Genesis 1-2 is a
creation text that is descriptive of a pre-fall situation and
speaks in a straightforward way about sexuality as integral to
God's good creation. Some folks do misuse these creation chapters
in their talk about fixed "orders of creation," but there is ample
room in the text itself to contest such a claim (e.g.,"be fruitful
and multiply"). Just because this text is sometimes misused
does not mean that it can no longer be properly used.
Moreover, the document gives the impression that the only
alternative to its own approach is this "conservative" one; it is
the only specified "other theological category" in fn. 6. The
document should include the development of a thoroughgoing
creational approach as a significant alternative (which can be just
as "dynamic and provisional" as this one is!) and developed
sufficiently so that readers can see what such an alternative
entails. Note: The "orders of preservation" talk is
not "better," not least because it does not take
seriously the Old Testament witness to ongoing
creation that is more than preservation. (See the
"Continuing Creation" section in Fretheim, God and World,
pp. 7-9, and "Creation and Law," pp. 133-156).
 Many non-Christians practice love for the neighbor in
remarkably generous ways, often out-shining the practice of
Christians; that reality should be recognized. Moreover, the
practice of sexuality by non-Christians in responsible and loving
ways is comparably common and should be drawn into this
--One wonders if the lack of careful consideration of creational
issues makes for claims such as line 57 and the phrase "sexual-and
therefore relational-beings." That is certainly a mistaken way of
putting the matter for it suggests that human beings are relational
because they are sexual. The creation accounts in Genesis, and
many other texts, claim that we are most fundamentally relational
beings, one dimension of which is sexuality.
---Or, it may adversely affect the wording of lines
118-124. It is stunning to read the narrowness of the
"Therefore" in line 120-21 in the context of incarnation, not least
because of a neglect of the bodily form of God evident in the Old
Testament (theophany). The Old Testament gives ample
divine witness that "history and creation are
neither lost nor hateful to God"; such a truth does not become
evident for the first time in Jesus, however central that word is
(e.g., Ps 8:5; Isa 35; 43:4 and often). The "Therefore" was in
place long before Jesus.
---This is also a critique one could bring to bear against lines
401-407, where it seems to be said that God's will for creation
regarding such matters as sexuality is only revealed in Jesus
Christ. At the same time, line 417 recognizes that "Scripture
cannot be used in isolation," though it is not entirely clear what
the other sources are. At the same time, lines 424-429 clearly
and commendably recognize that appropriate and helpful knowledge
regarding sexuality is available from the creation. Why then
the seeming hesitation to draw on specifically Old
Testament resources regarding creation?
---Lines 196-197. I think I understand the point of the
statement, "salvation is not dependent upon human action," but it
can be misunderstood. For example, Exod 15:2 speaks of "salvation"
at the Red Sea with God as subject, but the larger story includes
the statement from God in 3:10 that "Moses will
bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." God's saving
work seems to be dependent in some sense on what Moses does (see
also the people's response in Exod 14:31). Why not acknowledge
that God uses human agents in God's saving work and the work of
those agents has a genuine impact on whether the saving work of God
is furthered in one context or another?
--Or, Lines 59-60 and 150-151 could use some
qualification. For all the law's wisdom, it does not always
"protect from harm," both from the perspective of legislators and
from those who flaunt the law.
Section III and Beyond
 The first paragraph of "Sexuality as part of God's Creative
Activity" (p. 15), while welcome, does not follow through very well
on the occasional earlier statement about creational
grounding. Sexuality is a good gift and that much is
appreciated. But the scriptures are quickly left behind in the
basic argument of what follows, with only one biblical allusion at
lines 521-526. That the Song of Songs is referenced only here
(one clause) in the entire document is another illustration of the
neglect of biblical resources, not least Old Testament
resources. Not to have available at least a preliminary
analysis of such biblical materials regarding sexuality from a
creational perspective is a disappointment.
 It is not very clear to this reader how the material in
this section (III) is related to the next sections (IV-V); the
latter contain much creational reflection as well; one could even
say they are dominated by creational considerations. Yet, this
reality is not so recognized by section (and other) headings and is
infrequently grounded in scriptural texts. Indeed, one may ask
whether the diminishment of creation reflections in the first part
of the paper results in a non-recognition of the extent to which
this last section is actually and significantly dependent upon
creational insights. The emphasis upon interhuman trust, for
example, is "grounded" clearly in the family, which is an order of
creation (lines 630-631, 640).
 Finally, it is striking how frequently creational
reflections are present in this section compared to matters of
"incarnation and justification," though that is not specifically
acknowledged. I believe that the only reference to
"incarnation and justification" within the entirety of pp. 20-46
comes at lines 1419-20 (where only Lutheran emphases and traditions
are cited, not scripture). It may be asked: What effect does
this development in the document have on the prior
argument? It could be argued that the prior argument is faulty
inasmuch as it is not brought to bear on this last and major
section in any significant way.
 Again, thanks to the Task Force for this thoughtful and
© September 2008
Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE)
Volume 8, Issue 9