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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 1990 (FGC)
Baltimore Yearly Meeting 1988 (FGC & FUM)
New England Yearly Meeting 1985 (FGC & FUM)
Mid-America Yearly Meeting 1988 (EFI)
Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region 1990 (EFI)
Northwest Yearly Meeting 1987 (EFI)
Pacific Yearly Meeting 1985 (unaffiliated)
North Pacific Yearly Meeting 1986 (unaffiliated)
New York Yearly Meeting (1998)

Acronym Key


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 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 Meetings.

Sex Education
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 these questions.
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 relationships.
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 understanding.

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 such decisions.
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 commitment.
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.


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 assessments.
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 relationships.


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 (1973)

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 individuals.
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.


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 that gift.
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.


Sexual Relationships
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 sense, immoral.
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 and care.
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, 115, 145-6.

Society's Responsibility
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 life.
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.


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 such activity.
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.


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.
. . . . .

C. Homosexuality

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.

D. Pornography

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).


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 church.
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)

Sexual Preference

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, loving relationships.
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 from it.
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.


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 to survival.
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 adults.
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 and joy.
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 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 in worship
unaffiliated = Meetings unaffiliated with any of the above, predominantly unprogrammed in worship

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