Like every other gay person in the CRC, I am mindful of my church’s understanding of homosexuality.

I am a Christian. I was born and raised in the Christian Reformed Church and educated in its schools from kindergarten through college. I am also gay. These two characteristics define my life more than anything else: more than my education, career, marital status, or the number of children I may have.

As a gay Christian, I am an oxymoron to many.

I do not easilyembrace myself as a gay man. I’ve only come to do that after many years of wrestling with the Scriptures, with God, with myself. I sought counsel from pastors and Christian therapists, tried ex-gay ministries and every reparative therapy program I could find. I begged God to change me and in despair attempted suicide. I studied every angle of the questions “How do I become ‘not gay’?” and “What must I do to be straight?” In my study of Scripture, I wrestled with the passages interpreted to condemn homosexual behavior, with creation order, the nature of sin, and the process of sanctification. And I prayed. My sexual orientation did not change.

Like every other gay person in the CRC, I am mindful of my church’s understanding of homosexuality. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a cliché implying that I am sin personified. Tony Campolo has observed that Jesus says the opposite: “Love the sinner and hate your own sin. And after you get rid of the sin in your own life, then you can begin talking about the sin in your brother or sister’s life.”

Meanwhile, where have all the gay sons and daughters of your church gone? Many—I dare say most—have left your churches and your hometowns. Their church home became unsafe when they—like me—learned the pastor’s response to people like us.

It may surprise you that there is a deep spiritual longing within my gay friends, a longing and a struggle to reconcile “Jesus loves me, this I know” with an attribute that many in the church consider an abomination. My friends grew up loving God—that has not changed. But as a result of being rejected, many have given up on the church, and, tragically, on God.

The culture has changed. Same-sex marriage is legal in Canada and in some states. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay youth to participate. Celebrities, athletes, and business leaders are “coming out.”

The church seems unprepared to respond to these situations legally and with moral authority. How do congregations pick up the pieces of shattered families after the failure of mixed-orientation marriages of gay people who enter into a heterosexual marriage, believing that it would make them acceptable to God and the church? How do they welcome gay couples who attend services or who wish to be married in the church?

My understanding of the Scriptures has changed dramatically over the years. If “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, I was going insane seeking “freedom” from being gay. Jesus confronted me with the words “I have come to give life and life abundant” (John 10:10). These words trumped “abomination theology.”

Coming out has not been easy—for me or for my family. But it has brought life.

Isn’t it time for the church to welcome back its gay sons and daughters, along with their spouses and children? Isn’t it time to encourage everyone to know the love of God for each and every one of his children?

Related links:
The Christian Reformed Church’s Position on Homosexuality (crcna.org)
Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members (2002) (crcna.org)
Synod 2013 Appointment of Study Committee on Ministry to Those Who Are Gay (thebanner.org)

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"I have heard there is a man among you who is sleeping with his father's wife.  And you are proud of it........   I Corinthians 5. 

The word 'abomination' is not a theological word, it's a biblical word most often, but by no means exclusively, used to describe certain types of sinful conduct. All sin is an abomination. No sin is ever sanctioned by scripture or theology. Do we sanction spouse abuse, clergy abuse, child abuse, debaucery, greed, avarice, murder??? Of course not! It puzzles me that we seem to want to abandon one catagory of sinful conduct and sanction their particular behavior as harmless. It isn't. It is not gracious to call something right and good when it is manifestly not either. Acceptance of any sin is not gracious or kind. By all means love the sinner...Jesus died for all sinners, but to deny the sinfulness of sin is to mock Jesus' crucifixion. To call sin something else doesn't help sinners. It doesn't glorify God, nor does it advance His kingdom. Now, could the local church be more kind? Certainly. Could the local church be more open and honest with the whole topic of sinfulness? Certainly. Do we turn a blind eye to alcohol abuse? Yes. Do we tolerate unscruppulous business practices? Yes. Do we tolerate bullies on our Christian School playgrounds? Yes. However, making a virture out of vice doesn't change anything. In fact it makes things worse for the whole body of Christ. We can do better than this. 

Dear Brother in Christ, Thank you for writing this piece and for speaking out of love for God and his church, as you so clearly do. You express many things I have heard from other gay Christians. Thank you for sharing this reality that you didn't choose and have struggled faithfully to understand. I pray God will bless and guide you, and use your testimony to give courage to others who may be in the desperate place you once were.

Gay Christians are not asking the church to reject the Bible but to read it more conservatively. On closer inspection we see that the type of homosexual behavior practiced by the Hebrew people -- and the homosexual prostitution condemned by Paul -- are very much *unlike* the love and commitment expressed in same-sex marriage. The Bible's prohibition should not be striped of its biblical context and applied to wholly different situations. To do so violates the integrity of God's word as given. For more info: http://www.rca.org/page.aspx?pid=6570

 

There is a group called All One Body and we are working so congregations in the Christian Reformed Church will be gracious places where all persons are welcome, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, and where all can give and receive the support needed to be God's loving servants in the world. Come visit our website at a1bcrc.org or check us out on Facebook at All One Body.  There are many individuals in the CRC who find our pain and experience in the church unacceptable and are working to change hearts and minds.

 

 

 

 

Sorry Steve, I don't see where you are coming from. Romans 1:18-31 discusses action. This is not a war against a same sex couple, but rather a battle against the evil in this world that perverts the male-female created intimacy.  Just because feelings are involved in an action does not justify it.  If I were to, hypothetically, murder someone because I thought they were oppressing or abusing someone I loved, that does not justify my action.  My feelings do not trump the inerrant Word of God.  The RCA article you reference is filled with opinions and propositions, but there is nothing behind it.  Where is the exegesis?  Where is the author coming from? 

Those are the same questions I had to ask myself when reading this article.  Where is the author coming from?  What exegesis is he doing?  Does he appeal to the Word of God? How?  The author of this article only quotes John 10 during the image of the Good Shepherd.  That passage is not about opening the call more and more, but rather it shows the exclusivity of Christ as savior.  He is the sheepgate. He is the one who calls.  By bending to our great enemies (the world, the devil, and ourselves) we lose the call of the great shepherd and are listing to the great lier. 

I see this author is not interested in appealing to Scripture, nor does he see it a necessity to fight against the sin of homosexuality, but has instead appealed to his own feelings, culture, and appears to have given up the fight.  I am a single man. I would love to have a family, but that is not my calling right now.  I must restrain and fight my own selfish desires, dispite the calls from the culture, the world, my sinful nature, and my non-christian friends.  I urge this brother and all others that struggle with this sin, and any others, run to the great physician and take his cure.  Like with many forms of medicine there may be a bitter taste and great pain, but it is nothing compared to the joy that Christ gives to all of those who are his.(Philippians 3)  We must fight the good fight, we must run the race.  Otherwise, we are above all men, the most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:13-17)

Thank you for courageously sharing your story, an experience shared by many more than we will ever realize - often silent sufferers who have been deeply hurt and misunderstood by their churches. Though they may feel abandoned by their church, I hope they never feel abandoned by God, and will encounter pastors and Christ followers and faith communities who are compassionately extending the love and grace that every single one of us so desperately needs. 

This is a conversation that will continue for years to come, whether we like it or not.  It is a conversation that must be had, though.  If we don't have the conversation, it shows an inability to interact with society and will continue to drive people away from the Church (and not just the CRC!). Simply referring back to the statement that we made in the 70s is not a response and Synod's constant referral to that document is a cop-out. 

For those who are interested in having that conversation, this is a great resource: Matthew Vines' God and the Gay Christian.  It's a very strong hermeneutic of Scripture that provides a responsible interpretation of the letter of Scripture with an eye on the implications for non-heterosexual relationships.  

Dear Banner:  I am fully conscious that you would like to present contemporary issues and to give voice to the voiceless, but you also run the great risk of providing a platform for anyone to legitimize and propagate their own agenda. You can also provide a platform for someone to use the tool of guilt manipulation on the reader. It seems that all of these are happening in this current article.

     Not long ago I came across these passages in Leviticus

Lev 18:30 So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.”
Lev 20:23 And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.

Yet, the above article would advocate that the homosexual "customs" of the culture around him are benign, and likely acceptable. At this point I could be accused of being a non-compassionate Bible banger, and to avoid that charge I would like to point the readers to some very good critical thinking by the formerly overt lesbian professor Rosaria Butterfield.

This is what she writes as she addresses the issues of Christianity and homosexuality:

1. The Freudian position. This position states same-sex attraction is a morally neutral and fixed part of the personal makeup and identity of some, that some are “gay Christians” and others are not. It’s true that temptation isn’t sin (though what you do with it may be); but that doesn’t give us biblical license to create an identity out of a temptation pattern. To do so is a recipe for disaster. This position comes directly from Sigmund Freud, who effectually replaced the soul with sexual identity as the singular defining characteristic of humanity. God wants our whole identities, not partitioned ones.

2. The revisionist heresy. This position declares that the Bible’s witness against homosexuality, replete throughout the Old and New Testaments, results from misreadings, mistranslations, and misapplications, and that Scripture doesn’t prohibit monogamous homosexual sexual relations, thereby embracing antinomianism and affirming gay marriage.

3. The reparative therapy heresy. This position contends a primary goal of Christianity is to resolve homosexuality through heterosexuality, thus failing to see that repentance and victory over sin are God’s gifts and failing to remember that sons and daughters of the King can be full members of Christ’s body and still struggle with sexual temptation. This heresy is a modern version of the prosperity gospel. Name it. Claim it. Pray the gay away.

Indeed, if you only read modern (post 19th-century) texts, it would rightly seem these are three viable options, not heresies. But I beg to differ.

Worldview matters. And if we don’t reach back before the 19th century, back to the Bible itself, the Westminster divines, and the Puritans, we will limp along, defeated. Yes, the Holy Spirit gives you a heart of flesh and the mind to understand and love the Lord and his Word. But without good reading practices even this redeemed heart grows flabby, weak, shaky, and ill. You cannot lose your salvation, but you can lose everything else.

Enter John Owen. Thomas Watson. Richard Baxter. Thomas Brooks. Jeremiah Burroughs. William Gurnall. The Puritans. They didn’t live in a world more pure than ours, but they helped create one that valued biblical literacy. Owen’s work on indwelling sin is the most liberating balm to someone who feels owned by sexual sin. You are what (and how) you read. J. C. Ryle said it takes the whole Bible to make a whole Christian. Why does sin lurk in the minds of believers as a law, demanding to be obeyed? How do we have victory if sin’s tentacles go so deep, if Satan knows our names and addresses? We stand on the ordinary means of grace: Scripture reading, prayer, worship, and the sacraments. We embrace the covenant of church membership for real accountability and community, knowing that left to our own devices we’ll either be led astray or become a danger to those we love most. We read our Bibles daily and in great chunks. We surround ourselves with a great cloud of witnesses who don’t fall prey to the same worldview snares we and our post-19th century cohorts do.

Check out her very inspiring lecture and discussion at this link:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2014/02/14/rosaria-butterfield-after-wheaton-three-unbiblical-positions-on-christianity-and-homosexuality/

Blessings.

Salaam

 

   
   

 

 

 

I am sorry that the CRC has judged gays so harshly due to the church's misunderstanding of scripture. I pray that leaders, like Dr. James Brownson in the RCA, will rise up in the CRC who will have the courage to stand up for a new, accurate, gospel-consistent hermenuetic that directs the church to full inclusion of LGBT Christians with their God-loving partners. Anything less is an abomination and a spear into the heart of our LGBT brothers and sisters. God forgive us for not emulating the wideness of His mercy that includes us sinful heterosexuals as His children through Christ's loving sacrifice.

Ah, the familiar claim that the reason the CRCNA is shrinking is that we continue to insist homosexual behavior is sinful behavior rises up once more.

It may be why this individual left the denomination, and to the extent that "love the sinner, hate the sin" is a cliche too often not so much lived out as merely recited, he has valid points. Too often we get caught up in the politicization of this issue and politics is not a venue where compassion often shows itself.

Nevertheless, homosexual behavior is sinful behavior, Tony Campolo, Matthew Vines, and other misguided "leaders" in the North American church notwithstanding.  The fact that one cannot see the harm in it, or that it seems unfair, or that one doesn't feel sinful doing it do not in the least change the truth.

The CRCNA has lost something like 65,000 members, net, since 1992 - slightly more than 20% from its peak membership of around 315,000 in the US and Canada.  A little more than half of them left for the URC (United Reformed Church) when the CRCNA decided women could serve as pastors and elders in addition to deacons.  I really don't think the other 30,000 left because they're gay.

In any event, while a church cannot ignore membership trends, neither can it be guided by them.  The church exists to be faithful to the God who called us into being and that God is revealed to us primarily in the Bible, the 66 books containing the Old and New Testaments.  There is no rational way to read that Bible and conclude that homosexual behavior is not sin.  All the attempts to do so which I have seen twist the Bible wildly out of context, argue from wishful thinking, ignore key statements, or are in fact making sociological and historical arguments rather than biblical ones - and tendentious sociological and historical arguments at that. I haven't read Vines' book, but I have read Boswell's (Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality) and Rogers' (Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality).  I highly doubt Vines has anything to say that they don't try.

It would be easier to just go with the societal flow - far easier - and I sometimes wish I could.  To surrender faithfulness to God in order to get with the times is a perpetual temptation, particularly for Protestants.  We must resist that temptation, even if we can't see the harm in succumbing, or it seems unfair, or it doesn't feel all that sinful to give in.

I applaud the bravery it took to share this story. This is the kind of story that makes me actually pick up the Banner, something I used to never do, despite seeing them in every building I went into as a student at Calvin. The Banner is a perfect place for discussions of relevant topics like this. It's important to have our views challenged and to understand the views of others.

Dear writer, first of all, thank you for your brave and honest comments on this crucial and ever more timely subject for the church.  As an elder in the CRC, I wanted to address your concerns as if you might be a member of my church - some of whom have this very same issue in their lives. 

I want you to know that I, along with all who will read this comment and article, are very much in the same boat as yourself.  Many of us, including myself have sought counsel from a pastor, counselors and therapists on dealing with our sinful desires, only in the end to realize that they continue to plague us.  'How do I shake this sinful behavior in my life?' is what we could likely all say.  We too have read the scriptures, wrestled with God in prayer, begging him to take away our desires, but for some reason we still languish under some of them.  Please know that everyone you see in church has experienced or will experience much the same struggle as you do - albeit with a different area of their lives.  You are hardly alone.  And because of that fact, I hope you take the next brave step, and share your struggle with your local church leadership, and possibly even with your congregation.  Hopefully they will see your struggle as akin to their own.

I want to apologize to you that your church, and the CRC in general, has somehow elevated your struggle over mine.  That was wrong, and our sinful behavior in that light has caused great sorrow to you and others who struggle with homosexuality.  The Bible tells us that every sin separates us from God, and most sins have different consequenses in this world.  God calls us to rage against them all, and seek his holiness.  And we believe that in doing that very thing, we please God.  And of course we do not do this in our own strength, but God supplies this daily, even though it's often hard to see.

So please know that you and those along side you, are welcome back to our churches.  You are welcome back to stand alongside the rest of us who struggle daily with our desires, and hopefully are persuing holiness also on a daily basis.  But I would give you this warning:  if a personal struggle that you cannot overcome becomes something less than sin - if this inner turmoil that you seem to have struggled with from birth becomes the way you are or the way God made you - then I would also be in the right to claim the same thing about my struggles with sin.  Then, maybe none of us would need a Savior.   If you and I need a Savior - maybe it's precisely because of the way we are.

The world wants desperately to be right. They will do nearly anything in their power to legitimize their behaviors.  We are not of the world, and we know that only through Christ's blood and selfless sacrifice are we anything close to legitimate or right.  So please don't look to the world for your ideas about your issue - look to Christ's sacrifice and join the rest of us in your pew as sinners saved by grace and working out our salvation with God's powerful help.

I find it concerning that we are changing our interpretation of the Bible to suit our lifestyles. Why are people identifiying themselves as 'gay Christians'? Shouldn't it be Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction? Why is the word gay put first? Do we identify people who struggle with adultery as 'adulterous Christians'? or what about 'alchoholic Christians'? 
Are we gay first? shouldn't we be identified as Christian first? Just wondering.

 

The church should be a place where we share our stories of How God’s grace and mercy have transformed our lives. But our stories should mirror the narrative of the story that God is writing. They are part of God's story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. When we tell our stories of pain, we recognize that Jesus knows the pain of injustice, being judged wrongly, and being cast outside the camp. We know that Jesus doesn’t waste our struggles, but his purpose is to transform us and make us holy in the midst of our struggles. The narrative of every gospel-driven story is that God doesn’t want us comfortable, which is why His word speaks so strongly against sin, saying that acting on same sex attraction is a sin, much like acting on opposite sex attraction outside of marriage is also sin. But In Christ we find life when our story is within the narrative of His story of redemption, when through the Spirit our sin is repented of, fought against, and turned away from. We all have a challenging burden to bear in a fallen world, and the church should bear that burden with us, helping us see that what might be lost for us on earth is not lost in heaven because of the cross. Perhaps our theology of struggle, pain, and waiting for heaven needs more gospel than we give it. Maybe in emphasizing the “already” we have forgotten about the “not yet.”

 

 We cannot normalize the effects of the fall, we cannot say that a tendency toward any sin is “the way it is supposed to be”, because then we do not need a redeemer to save us from our sins and struggles being “not the way it is supposed to be.” Deliverance from temptations and struggles does not always happen fully here on earth, but God’s word speaks truth – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1Co 10:13 NIV)

 

As someone else who is gay and was largely raised in the CRC, I want to give another perspective on this issue.  Not all CRC ministers or members are alienating gay and lesbian Christians.

Many leaders in the CRC have a nuanced view and understanding between 'being' gay or lesbian and 'acting' on sexual orientation. While I disagree with the CRC's theological stand that condemns same-gender sexual activity (particularly when in a committed, monogamous relationship), I appreciate that the CRC accepts and understands that sexuality is an embedded and natural part of being human and that sexual orientation is not something that changes.
I have also experienced moments of grace in the CRC. My parents struggle to understand my sexual orientation and how to respond to my relationship with my partner. The ministry of three different CRC ministers (two of them being in our extended family, one being their minister) have helped them to reconcile their role as Christian parents with having a gay son. Also, the minister at their church is open to discussing the issue and has held information sessions on how to understand sexuality and how Christians should respond. My parents have grown closer to other parents in the CRC with gay children and appreciated the support of these new friends.
I am still hoping for more progress in the CRC. As my partner and I plan to marry this summer, I doubt we will end up attending a CRC church in the city we will move to in the fall. However, many CRC members have supported me and encouraged me as I came out, fell in love, and in my relationship with my fiancé. I appreciate and pray for members in the CRC who carefully and compassionately consider the issue of homosexuality - both those who are affirming of same-sex relationships and those who are more conservative but still express compassion and an interest to understand better the issue.

As a lifelong member of the CRC and a proud mother of a gay son, it breaks my heart whenever I hear of the devastating pain and injustice that our beautiful LGBT brothers and sisters have had to endure. And I am so sorry for this. Everyone has an opinion but maybe we should be thinking less and loving more because it doesn't really matter what we think. The fact is that people are dying. Loving, sensitive, and compassionate people are dying from suicide because they are just so tired of rejection, judgment, and ridicule.  

Our precious son, Andrew, doesn't live with us anymore. He lives in heaven. Despite our fierce love and acceptance for all that he was and who God created him to be, he still did not feel worthy of God's love. Mental illness also played a huge role in his life, none-the-less, he still very much struggled with many religious beliefs surrounding homosexuality. His suffering is now over, and ours has begun. 

I am proud to say that my pastor has been taking great strides to create positive change for the LGBT brothers and sisters of our community. As well, my family and I have launched a foundation in honour of Andrew, which aims to create positive change for the LGBT community and those affected by mental illness and suicide by raising awareness and initiating conversations around these incredibly important topics. If you’re interested in learning more about our foundation, please visit www.ajmemorial.ca

Please everyone, just as Christ loves us, let's love one another and leave the rest up to our ultimate Judge. 

This article is built on a faulty premise "Where Have They All Gone?". Perhaps the more theologically liberal mainline churches that have accepted redefinition of marriage can answer this as well? Every article I have read shows that they have typically lost more members and suffer from an older demographic than those that have held to traditional Christian teaching.

False dichtomies are the enemy of finding a solution, and this conversation always features a few that I believe need correcting. The main one I see in this dialog is that people either support a change in the CRCNA's position on homosexuality or they don't want to talk about it and fearfully stifle the conversation. I choose neither of these extremes. I see the validity of a discussion about engaging homosexuals with the love of Christ, but also stand firmly on the grounds of God's holy Word (which I believe instructs them to turn from all their sin). For a beautiful illustration of Jesus achieving this delicate balance, see his conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

False statements about what scripture has to say are also an enemy of finding a solution.  Jesus never said that same sex attraction is sin. 

John Slagter says that false statements  about scripture are an enemy of solutions.  Which is true.  Then he says that Jesus never said that same sex attraction is sin.  Also true.   But the implication that same sex attraction is not the result of sin is false.   Although he didn't address homosex himself, at least not as recorded in the gospels, it is clear that the apostle Paul did address this issue, as did the old Testament in Leviticus and elsewhere.  Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  So it is false to imply that scripture does not speak against homosex.   Moral failures in the past did not become moral success in the future after Christ.  Jesus also did not say that homosex was not sin.  Scripture is clear that it is sin, wrong, and not to be practiced, regardless of whatever temptations or inclinations we may have.  This fact cannot be changed by clever twisting of words and attempted re-interpretations. 

But there is grace and forgiveness for all, none excepted, when repentance leads to being born again in newness of life with Christ as Saviour and Lord. 

Thanks for your article. It must have been difficult to write. According to Jesus' words, we are to hate our own life (Luke 14:26). When I read this it means for those who are glutton-Christians, angry Christians, murderder Christians, gay Christians, (insert own struggle here Christians) our identity is not in the first word, but the second. We are to put to death our old self. I have heard a gay Christian argue: but you don't know what it is like to struggle with your feelings and sexuality every day. Indeed. Sure I do. My struggle won't be the same as yours, but if we are honest, every single one of us struggles at the core of who we are to conform not to the image of the world, nor to what we'd like Christ to be, but instead we struggle to conform to the true image of Christ. It really does mean we die to self and take up our new identity. May our Lord give you grace in your on-going conversations with believers. Shalom

Two corrections to Mr. Zylstra's comment: First, Paul did not address the issue of committed, monogamous same sex relations as they exist in today's world.  Rather, he addressed specific forms of idolatry that have no relevance to the current discussion.  Second, Jesus may indeed have addressed homosexuality in Matthew 19:

Jesus said, 9 Now what I say to you is that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery!”

10 They said to him, “If that is how things are between husband and wife, it would be better not to marry!” 11 He said to them, “Not everyone grasps this teaching, only those for whom it is meant. 12 For there are different reasons why men do not marry — some because they were born without the desire, some because they have been castrated, and some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever can grasp this, let him do so.”

John S.  you should say not "two corrections", but "two objections".   I do not see that Paul addressed specific forms of idolatry in regard to homosex.  Instead, homosex was a result and a punishment resulting from their worship of the "creature" rather than the creator.  Romans 1 is very clear, as are several other passages that indicate that homosex relations are immoral, and for those who hold and defend them, just as those who hold and defend adultery, fornicationl, idolatry, murder, will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.  Paul did not distinguish between committed and non-committed relationships because it did not make a difference.  He simply mentions that homosex is  degrading passions.   In the case of I Cor. 5, it seems that a man was having a more or less committed relationship with his father's wife.   It seems it was not a one time mistake but an ongoing relationship which the church was perversely proud of.  Paul told them not to be arrogant, but to repent and remove the offender.   It seems possible that the offender repented and later was readmitted to the fellowship.  II Cor 2: 5-11. 

Dear Writer,

I am an Elder at a Church in IL.  What broke my heart was your intro paragraph even well before you wrote about your homosexuality.  You wrote  "These two characteristics define my life more than anything else: more than my education, career, marital status, or the number of children I may have."  That breaks my heart that you define your life by characteristics and not looking to define your idenity in Christ.  The life style you have choosen is a sin in scripture but there is so much more hope in Christ then in a lifestyle and pray that you will see that hope.  Our Church has helped many in the life style put their faith in Jesus and though they will struggle with "feelings" they now have hope that Jesus is the answer and not a "feeling" from this world.  Praying for you and I pray for those that define their life by work, family, school...etc.  That is also a sin.  Lets all start turning to Jesus and making our faith our identy and turn away from the sins and lies this culture is trying to shape us by. 

Dear Mr. Zylstra:

   Your citation of a scripture without any embellishment, side-stepping, excusing it for the needs of the man and re-intepretation under the rubric of a cultural lens, is most refreshing.

  As I read many of the following comments, the emotional appeals to a unique situation of a person in order to negotiate away the scriptures with the subtle insinuation "Has God said", reminds me of two definitions of sin that I came across. It seems that the exceeding sinfulness of sin which was known personally by Paul, and thus his comment in Corinthians is all washed away today under the rubric of "my special situation" "my needs" "my identity" etc.  The tidal wave of ego-centricity in our culture, and now washing up to the shores of our churches will not be washed away by catering to "special situations" which is the very 'curved-inward' dynamic that Luther talks about.

Martin Luther
"It is not only a lack of a certain quality in the will, nor even only a lack of light in the mind or of power in the memory, but particularly it is a total lack of uprightness... it is a propensity
toward evil.  It is a nausea toward the good, a loathing of light and wisdom... a pursuit of evil." "Our nature is so deeply curved in on itself...that it fails to realize that it curvedly and viciously seeks
all things for its own sake."

      David Powlison---sin is:
"...madness and evil intentions in our hearts, absence of any fear of God, slavery to various passions... core insanity of the human heart... a darkened mind, drunkenness, animal-like instinct and compulsion, madness, slavery, ignorance, stupor....The unconscious and semiconscious nature of much sin simply testifies to the fact that we are steeped in it. Sinners think, want, and act sinlike by nature, nurture, and practice."

Oh how we need the Living Saviour, able to save "to the uttermost" or as the former slave trader John Newton said, "“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”.....I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

There needs to be open dialogue about every issue that affects the members and the direction of the CRC and it's policies, especially this issue. Issues like this can be discussed at many levels - church council, synod, committee meetings, on the street, online forums, or in the home. The viewpoint of the article is in opposition to the CRC's very clear stance which has been discussed/confirmed at 3 different synods. So is it appropriate to publish it in the Banner, considering that open dialogue is something we should encourage? I would ask it this way - would you find it appropriate for a preacher to give this message from the pulpit?

When I first read this article a few days ago, I was ready to jump into the discussion but decided to percolate my thoughts for a few days first. Now after seeing the discussion and after all the postulating, preaching and pontification, I am weary. So tired of all the drivel, all the justification for one's point of view, the covert fear and hatred - where is the grace? Some of the comments remind me of the justification the Dutch sea captains used when they transported stolen people to become slaves in the Americas. Slave owners would recite scripture passages as an excuse to their owning slaves. Segregation in schools, washrooms, drinking fountains - all "Bible based". In Russia today, you can see a repeat of the works of Klansman but the victims being the gay person. They feel justified as did the Klansmen. You could pull out scripture verses to rationalize your fear of women in council or of a woman preaching. If the KJV didn't support your argument strong enough, go to the NIV or the Living Translation. Jesus said; "Love God with all your heart and Love one another" - no caveat, no appendage as to who was to be excluded. I am a sinner too and cannot judge where each sin sits on the "sin scale". Enough is enough - welcome back my brother (and sister). I will walk the road with you and hold your hand as we walk together home. Grace has brought us safe thus far and Grace will lead us home.

No one critical of the author or his/her article has yet addressed the following question he/she has posed: "How do congregations pick up the pieces of shattered families after the failure of mixed-orientation marriages of gay people who enter into a heterosexual marriage, believing that it would make them acceptable to God and the church?" The answer is, of course, that they generally don't. Oh, some might blame a particular individual for not trying hard enough, but for the most part, this problem is not addressed because it would mean confronting the difficult truth that sexual orientation can be wished away or changed. It would mean abandoning the presumptuous and fatuous insistence that if a person's faith is sufficiently strong, God will help him/her change their sexual orientation.  The expectation or belief that sexual orientation can and must be changed is abusive, not only of the individual who is expected to prove they have changed their orientation by marrying someone of another orientation, but also of the spouse and children and extended families who become caught in the resulting web of lies, hurt and recrimination.  As for those who like to think they take a more sophisticated, nuanced approach, do you think an LGBT person hears love when you say that maybe you can accept that their sexual orientation cannot be changed but insist nevertheless that they must not even think about ever having the opportunity to enter into a commited relationship with another individual because of who they are? Hetereosexual people do not face the same prohibition. A prohibition against adultery, that is, a prohibtion against breaking the bonds of trust in a commited relationship, is not the same as a prohibition against ever entering into a commited relationship.  At the end of the day, the "nuanced approach" still treats sexual orientation as an automatic disqualification.  Could it be that same sex/gender orientation is not a disorder but an integral and intentional part of God's creation.  If so, and I for one think so, what then is the sin?  

To the author: I understand and appreciate that for your own sake you had to leave your CRC denomination. While there are individuals in it who question traditional positions and seek to change them, their voices are still too often drowned out by loud condemnation of the fearful (I had to read the comment section here a number of times in order to appreciate the many comments which were in the former rather than latter category).  No one should have to resort to abuse of self you felt you were driven to prove that you are among those loved by God; no one should have their dignity robbed in this way by, of all people, those professing to follow Jesus.  There are Christian denominations who welcome all people, including LGBT people and their families. No LGBT individual should be at loss to find a home in a safe spiritual community. 

I don't hate homosexuals, but I do hate the sin they partake in.  Homosexuals sin, but so do I and so does everyone else, the difference is homosexuals believe they have a right to sin, in fact they don't even consider what they are doing is sinful.  I'm not the one calling their act sinful, God does that, for example in 1 Timothy 1:9-11.  I do believe homosexuals can be Christians, but they need to look at their homosexual activity as a sin.  We also need to be loving and understanding, realizing that their sin isn't greater than our sin and they need to believe that they are sinful, but not anymore than the rest of us.

Alyce asks this question:  "Could it be that same sex/gender orientation is not a disorder but an integral and intentional part of God's creation. If so, and I for one think so, what then is the sin?"    I don't know on which scripture you would base this question.   Or is this question a result of our society worshipping the creature rather than the creator (Romans 1), so that Alyce doesn't even understand the significance of asking the question?  

To make a comparison, perhaps adultery is also an integral and intentional part of God's creation?  Perhaps murder is also an integral and intentional part of God's creation?   Alcholism, is also an integral and intentional part of creation?   why not?  How do we know?   If scripture is our guide, then it is clear.    

Janet talks about love, which is great.  The command to love is clear and obvious in many parts of scripture.   What is not so clear sometimes is what it means to love.   How can the epistles say so many times that adulterers and murderers and liars will not inherit the kingdom of heaven?   Is that loving?   How can Jesus say that the weeds will be separated from the wheat and thrown into the fire?  Is that loving?   Yes, we know it is loving, because the warning is loving.   It is loving to bring water to a thirsty man, and it is loving to throw a lifesaver float to a drowning man;  if the thirsty man in the desert refuses to drink, or if the drowning man in the sea refuses to grasp the float, does that make the action of the saviour less loving? 

Surely, those who are truly born again Christians would not allow themselves to be influenced by 'today's culture'.

Romans 12

King James Version (KJV)

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This video consisting of two parts is truly relevant to this issue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-6t6RMX-PA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zziYkzuFHhY

 

Also why should we be impressed by the Supreme Court?  They also decided that it's OK to murder innocent defenseless little babies.

 

 

Joy, everyone is influenced by the culture which surrounds us, including you and I.   Many people in the CRC and in Banner forums in particular take positions which appear to be influenced more by American evangelical right culture than the reformed intellectual inheritance of the CRC.  Even Jesus seems not to have entirely escaped the culture of his place and day, as seems evident from his unpleasant remarks to a Canaanite woman. And yes, I think Christians are called upon to examine cultural values in light of what Jesus taught in word and deed.  That said, I think is highly inappropriate to question rhetorically whether folks in this forum who arrive at positions different from yours or from traditionally held CRC positions as a result of these examinations are authentically Christian. Many of those who commented in support of the author of the article and his/her views have made it clear that they did so inspired by the teachings of Jesus.

Alyce, I would agree that the CRCNA has an "intellectual inheritance", but I highly doubt our famous theologians e.g. Berkhof, Van Til, Vos  would not have thought of themselves as conservative evangelicals. It is only in recent decades that some in the CRC have attempted to move us closer to mainline traditions. You and I may disagree as to whether this is good or bad, but I'd be hard pressed to find anything in our tradition along the lines of what is being presented in the Banner in recent years.

 Alyce made an excellent comment when she wrote  "And yes, I think Christians are called upon to examine cultural values in light of what Jesus taught in word and deed."  I would only add that we should examine cultural values in light of all of scripture , since all scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16)

Yes, Scripture should be placed above culture, not culture above Scripture as seems to be in vogue in recent decades.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

It is even more inappropriate to be advocating anything contrary to Scripture as certain commentors have done.

Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In these verses, Jesus does not say that just a few misguided souls have a false hope of heaven. He says MANY. He is talking to people who think that they are Christians. Nowadays there are a lot of people who say that they are Christians who will not enter heaven. These are people who think that they are going to make it into glory based on their lip service. But when they stand before the King and Judge, they will be rejected. When Jesus says "Depart" you cannot appeal and try to get a second chance, you have got to go. Included here? All those who choose to "worship" God according to their own beliefs and not God's word.  Continued: http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/evidence.htm

I've seen no disagreement from any commenter about whether the CRC's position should be based on scripture.  There is, however, strong disagreement about how to interpret and apply specific texts.  Given what scripture says about hospitality and love, I don't understand how those who argue so strongly against inclusion of LGBT members can remain so confident and comfortable.  The sin of Sodom was inhospitality.  This sin has grave consequences.  

Amen, John Slagter.

For those who lament changes in interpretation of scripture and see change as caving in to secular culture remember these changes that b rougfht freedom to black slaves, Jews, premaritally pregnant females, all divorced Christians, female behavior within the church:

 

If you were black, how would you feel if the Bible was used to first enslave, then oppress, and finally segregate you? It was! I Peter 2:18, Eph. 6:5-6, I Tim. 6:1, Col. 3:22. About 160 years ago.

If you were a Jew, how would you feel if the Bible was used to torture and murder you? It was! Matt. 27:25, I Thess. 2:14-16, John 8:44, Rev. 2:9 & 3:9. About 75 years ago.

If you were pre-maritally pregnant, how would you feel if the Bible was used to compel you to publically confess your sin before the church? It was! II Cor. 12:21. About 60 years ago.

If you were divorced and remarried, how would you feel if the Bible was used to judge, marginalize, and shun you? It was! Matt. 19:9, Matt. 5:31-32, Rom. 7:2-3, I Cor. 7:10-11.  About 40 years ago.

If you were a woman, how would you feel if the Bible was used to keep you from styling your hair or wearing jewelry, or from speaking, voting, or holding office in the church? It was and is! I Cor. 14:34-35, I Tim. 2:9-12. About 20 years ago.

If you were a homosexual Christian, how would you feel if the Bible was used to condemn you for any physical intimacy in a committed, loving relationship? It is! Rom.1:26, etc. Now!

The church has understood passages differently (thankfully!) over the years and now it is past time that the CRC rexamine the seven passages that have been judgmentally misapplied to Christians who are LGBT. 

oops.  I Realized in my first post that I misspoke:  I said: "confronting the difficult truth that sexual orientation can be wished away or changed. I meant to say "confronting the difficult truth that sexual orientationcannot be wished away or changed."  My apologies to readers who may have been confused reading my post, especially LGBT individuals.  I take it from some of the subsequent comments that a number some folks did get the message (judging from their evident consternation).

John Slagter, saying that there is disagreement about interpretation of certain texts, is like saying there is disagreement about the borders of the USA.  Some disagreements are different than others.  Scripture is pretty clear, as in Romans 1.  I am curious as to what part of scriptue enlightened you that the sin of Sodom was inhospitability?   It seems that the men of sodom really did want to meet Lot's visitors and "love" them.  It also seems that Lot was quite hospitable to the men of Sodom by offering them the free gift of his daughters.  However, I agree that Sodom was inhospitable.  But their sin was there wickedness, disobeying the laws of God to be pure and not of degraded passions.  God demanded that Israel be inhospitable to the inhabitants of the land, and drive them out of Canaan.  This more real and evident inhospitability was not so condemned as the wickedness of Sodom.  To say that Sodom's sin was merely inhospitability is stretching the truth mightily.  But maybe you can demonstrate your position on this with actual scripture. 

Alyce, I would suggest that your statement about homosex activity not being possible to be changed is actually not true.  While perhaps not many have changed, there are instances of people having renounced and changed.  Change has also happened sometimes the other way, where a man who has married and produced children with a woman, later thinks he is homosexual, and then changes his activities accordingly.  Yet he was capable of heterosex activity, but he decided that a different preference was preferable.  There are prisoners who when deprived of women begin to act out homosexually, yet when leaving prison resume heterosex behaviour.  Sex can be a beautiful thing, but it is sadly naive to think that it cannot be perverted and degraded.   Sex is often an addiction, and once learned and associated with certain practices, is often hard to change.  But with God all things are possible, just as for the rich man who had a hard time giving up his wealth.  Romans 1 and other passages of scripture, which you accept, are quite clear. 

Hi John Z:

Ezekiel 16:49-50

New International Version (NIV)

49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant,overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

The point I was trying to make is that the CRC’s current position carries a degree of risk.  Earlier in this comment section, a mother shared that the CRC’s position may have contributed to her son’s death.  Subsequent commenters seem to ignore her pain but her story is important.  People are suffering.  Some are dying.  Some leave the fellowship of the church and never return. These are serious consequences.  What if the CRC’s position is wrong?   What if there is no real scripture basis for excluding LGBT members from full fellowship?   If so, Synod’s refusal to re-examine its position could easily be a “detestable act”.

My concern isn't only that such an article should not be published in our magazine but that The Banner seems to be increasingly seeking out people to write such articles.  

Thank you for sharing!  I understand coming out is not an easy task!  You are who God has made you to be.  You are created in His image.  Know that you are loved.  

Ian:  arrogant_(proud, ignoring God and his laws);  Overfed and unconcerned (excess of food, and prosperous ease - worshipping the creature instead of creator); did not help the poor and needy (selfish, uncaring, did not love their neighbor);  haughty and did detestable things (abominable things - abnominations, things different from above, and too detestable to mention).  Ezekiel 16:49-50.......Jude 1:7  Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.  Sexual immorality and unnatural lust.  Abominable and detestable things in addition to the lack of love for poor and needy, pride, arrogance and haughtiness. Not just inhospitability.  The text is pretty clear. 

..

 

That book isnt available until April!

The Bible believing church is once again being accused, to stand trial for a number of charges leveled against it by those who oppose it. The Bible says the verdict is already in.  "All liars will have their part in the lake of fire." (Rev 21:8) "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord." (Prov 12:22) According to the Bible "thieves, murders, and slanderers" among others listed, will not inherit the kingdom of God. "Anyone who steals must steal no longer..." (Eph 4:28). "All who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law." (Rom. 12:24)

If the church has an alternative message and allows people to remain in their sin by infolding them into the flock in such a way without encouragement to repent, or not to lovingly warn and try to help people escape the declared wrath and judgments of God, then the church will be a guilty of "depraved indifference." (meaning its as low as it can get and we couldn't care less) A dereliction of duty before almighty God. 

Does the church fear the judgment of man or God?

It is not the place of the church to accept what the world accepts. The bible is clear on how God feels about homosexuality as well as any other pre-marital sex. God does not recognize a state law allowing two men or two women or any other "marriage" that is outside His definition. By this reasoning there are only two ways a homosexual can be welcome in the church or the Kingdom, either by forcing theirself to endure a heterosexual marriage, or abstinence. Neither of these solutions are popular in this age of instant gratification, but it beats plucking out your eye if it causes you to sin.

Most of the 5% of the population that is gay does not consider themselves "Christians", of the few who do, there are many churches "bending over backwards" to welcome and not offend ANYONE. Non-hetero relationships at a minimum fall under pre-marital sex and are essentially "living in sin". This leaves a Gay Christian with 2 options: celebacy or forcing themselves into a heterosexual marriage.

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