C hu r ch Ac t ions 59 become one flesh in marriage, their union has a deep connection with God. He made man and woman for each other, each in his image and likeness, and yet each incomplete without the other. He intended their union – a relationship unlike any other – for the bearing and rearing of children. In a true marriage, husband and wife will have an attitude of welcome toward the conception and birth of new life, even if this seems unlikely or impossible in their individual case. Christ honors the mystery of marriage so highly that he demands a life of chastity. Sex is a gift from God, but if it is isolated from him and his will, it defiles the soul; apart from marriage, it is sin. The Bible clearly requires abstinence before marriage and outside of it. In fact, Jesus warns us that even a lustful glance is adultery of the heart. 79 Since marriage is the lifelong union between one man and one woman according to God’s creative will, and since God intended sexual love to be shared only between a husband and a wife, the church community can never recognize a homosexual relationship as a marriage, regardless of whether it is termed as such by law or society. We are called to represent God’s love toward every person, including those who experience same-sex ­attractions. We condemn no one. Yet Christ declares: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” 1 Cor 11:11–12; Gen 1:26–27 Gen 2:18–24 Gen 1:28; 9:1 Mark 9:37; Ps 127:3–5 Matt 5:27–32 Song 2:16; 1 Cor 7:3–7 Heb 13:4; 1 Thess 4:3–8 Prov 5:1–20 Matt 5:28 Matt 19:3–9 1 Cor 6:12–20 Rom 1:21–32; 1 Cor 6:9–11 John 3:16–17 John 8:3–11 Luke 9:23 nrsv