The state has the authority to establish the criteria for a civil marriage; the church has the authority to establish the criteria for a Christian or ecclesial marriage.

The report of the Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance Regarding Same-Sex Marriage is among the most pastorally sensitive, theologically sure-footed, and analytically acute Christian Reformed Church synodical reports ever written. The committee has thought for itself and thought deeply, mining the resources of Scripture and the Reformed tradition, at no point mimicking what others have said.

A Daunting Mandate

The mandate given to the committee by Synod 2013 was daunting. In 2005, same-sex marriage became the law of the land in Canada; in 2015 it became the law of the land in the United States. The task assigned the committee was to give pastoral guidance to the members and clergy of the CRC on how to deal with this new situation. The committee was instructed to frame the guidance it offered within the context of the synodical report of 1973 on homosexuality and the synodical report of 2002 on pastoral care to homosexual members.

The 1973 report declared that whereas homosexual orientation is not sinful, and persons of such orientation are to be welcomed within the church, sexual relations between persons of the same sex are sinful. The newly formed 2013 committee was not to discuss the pros and cons of those declarations. Taking them as a given, it was to offer guidance on how to “apply the biblical teachings reflected in the Acts of Synod of 1973” in light of the legality of same-sex marriage and also to provide guidance on “how to communicate these teachings in a truthful and gracious way within North America.”

Synod 2013 further instructed the committee to follow the “shepherding model” pioneered by the Faith Formation Committee, a synodical committee established in 2007. It was “to consult extensively with pastors in Canada and the United States, members of different ethnic minorities, and others who have a broad range of experience and expertise . . . to both inform and provide feedback regarding the work of the committee.” The committee carried out these instructions by convening dozens of listening sessions in Canada and the U.S. and by commissioning the Calvin College Center for Social Research to conduct surveys. Information gleaned from these surveys is included in the committee’s report.

Among the many striking things one learns from the surveys is that only 65 percent of CRC ministers, only 44 percent of CRC students, and only 41 percent of CRC members generally embrace the official CRC position that “gay Christians are called to lifelong celibacy” (Report, p. 52). There is a serious disconnect between the official position of the CRC on homosexual relations and the convictions of the majority of its members. It is my view that this situation makes it imperative that the denomination revisit the argumentation and conclusions of the 1973 report.

Establishing a Framework

The committee does an admirable job of establishing a framework for the pastoral guidance it offers. I judge that that framework, that way of thinking about the issues, is at least as important for members of the church as the detailed advice the committee offers; accordingly, I will devote most of my response to presenting that framework.

The committee emphasizes that marriage is both a civil and an ecclesial institution, and that these two are distinctly different. Civil marriage is a legal status conferred on a couple by a duly authorized civil official. Ecclesial or Christian marriage is a covenantal relationship sealed by a minister. Typically both members of the couple declare themselves as Christians. Two atheists can be joined together in a civil marriage; they cannot be joined together in an ecclesial or Christian marriage.

What makes things complicated and confusing is that we use the term “marriage” for both the civil and the ecclesial institution, and that, in North America, a minister when marrying a couple typically acts both as an ecclesiastical official and as a civil official; he or she performs both a “church wedding” and a civil marriage.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada and the U.S. means that the state in both of these countries has removed one of the conditions traditionally required for a civil marriage to be performed, namely, that members of the couple be of opposite gender. The committee emphasizes that this change in the criteria for a civil marriage does not imply that denominations have to change their criteria for performing an ecclesial marriage.

At this point many of us want to ask whether, from a Christian perspective, it was right for Canada and the U.S. to legalize same-sex civil marriage. Though it was not part of the committee’s mandate to address this question, and though it refrains from offering an answer, it does give some helpful suggestions for those who locate themselves within the Reformed tradition to think about the matter.

Think in terms of the Kuyperian concept of principled pluralism, the committee suggests. In our society there are distinct authority structures operating in different spheres of society, each possessing distinct God-given rights, tasks, and authority within its sphere. Church, state, and family are three such spheres. In the case before us, the state has the authority to establish the criteria for a civil marriage; the church has the authority to establish the criteria for a Christian or ecclesial marriage.

So how should those who are Reformed Christians think about whether or not it was right for the state in Canada and the U.S. to change the traditional criteria for civil marriage by legalizing same-sex marriage? The committee suggests that we think in terms of justice. Nobody today disputes that justice requires that the state marry two atheists. Does justice also require that the state marry persons of the same gender who want to be married? There will be differences of opinion among us as to how that question should be answered, but that’s how the issue should be framed.

Pastoral Advice

I have spent my time up to this point explaining the framework that the committee establishes for the pastoral advice it gives on how to deal with the many issues that the legalization of same-sex marriage raises for members of the CRC, and for members of a good many other denominations as well. What about attending a same-sex wedding? What about participating in a same-sex wedding? What about providing services for a same-sex wedding?

Those issues are important. But given the 1973 report on homosexuality, the most difficult issue posed to members of the CRC by the legalizing of same-sex marriage is this: what does a CRC congregation say to a same-sex couple who have been married in a civil ceremony and who want to participate in the life of the congregation?
The 1973 report requires that the church say to them that to be members in “good standing” they must be celibate. I personally doubt that there will be many same-sex couples who accept this condition. But if there are some who do, they are in good standing and are to be treated as anyone else in good standing.

What about those who do not accept the condition but still want to participate in the life of the congregation? The committee wisely resists propounding hard-and-fast rules at this point, or at any other; instead it offers pastorally sensitive advice on how to exercise the love of Christ in this complex and painful situation.

 

Those who want to know the committee’s advice on the sizable number of issues it considers can access the report in the Agenda for Synod 2016; it is also posted at crcna.org/sites/defautl/files/same-sex_marriage.pdf.

Those who want a summary of the committee’s advice can find it in the News story “Pastoral Guidance for Churches Regarding Same-Sex Marriage” by Gayla R. Postma.

About the Author

Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University, Fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University, and Senior Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia. Among his many publications is Lament for a Son (Eerdmans, 1987).

See comments (50)

Comments

Dr. Wolterstorff speaks of the committee "mining the resources of Scripture." But the 80-page document contains hardly a shred of Scripture. The committee speaks the language of the social scientist, the therapist, the politician, and the religious functionary, not the language of the biblical prophet or apostle. The report is blind to evil powers and utterly fails to provide pastoral guidance for spiritual warfare. It fails to mention the world, the flesh, and the devil, and does nothing to equip leaders and church members to struggle against powers that are hostile to God.

The world is exerting much pressure to approve of same-sex sexual activity. We are living in a time of sexual revolution against God’s will for sex and marriage. Indeed, there has been a well-organized effort in society and in the church to orchestrate public approval of same-sex intimacy. Yet the committee condemns phrases such as “gay agenda” (p. 42) and offers no pastoral guidance for discerning the sexual revolution as a manifestation of the wicked power of the world.

The flesh clashes with the Spirit. The report says nothing about the power of the flesh and offers no pastoral guidance for helping people in same-sex marriage to accurately identify and combat the desires of the flesh with the Spirit’s power.

The devil tempts individuals and infiltrates leadership. Not once in its many pages does the report mention Satan or demons. However, Scripture indicates that people who spread erroneous ideas about marriage may in fact be “devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

The report downplays, and implicitly denies, the dreadful seriousness of unrepentant sexual sin. The committee seeks soothing, inclusive words. It cautions against words such as “abomination” or “detestable,” even though such words are biblical. It says that phrases such as “God gave them over” and “will not inherit the kingdom of God” can do great harm (p. 40). But it never points out that refusal to use such phrases can also do great harm. Preachers must announce God’s judgment against sin and warn unrepentant sinners with urgency and tears. Unrepentant men who practice homosexuality are among those who “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Men who have sexual relations with men, and women who have sexual relations with women, are under God’s wrath, and their behavior is a symptom of God giving them over to their own wickedness (Romans 1:26-27). We must warn of “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:4, 7).

Thanks Nicholas for an insightful article on the homosexual issue and the synodical report soon to be submitted to Synod 2016 for approval.  Your article doesn’t help resolve the issue for many of our CRC members but it does add clarity to the issue.  But I doubt that the clarity is helpful.

The problem with the report, in not changing its basic stand from 1973 and 2002, is that it considers homosexual activity as sin whether performed within a legalized civil marriage or apart from marriage.  As far as the church (the CRC) is concerned a civil same sex marriage has nothing to do with a Christian marriage or ecclesiastical marriage.  It stands on the opposite side of the line or border and says as far as the church is concerned your marriage means nothing and your sexual activity is just as sinful whether from within a civil marriage or not.   And if you are gay we won’t marry you either.

The problem for the gay Christian married couple, is that they do not consider consenting sex as a sin, period.  It’s simply doing what comes naturally for two married homosexuals, in fact it is God honoring.  But the church cannot get past pointing their fingers and saying “sinner.”  The church can offer the most loving pastoral care to such gays, but they cannot get past calling such people sinners for this particular activity. It would be like calling two Christian married heterosexuals sinners for having sexual intercourse.  We wouldn’t do that to heterosexual couples but will do it to gay married couples.  The best pastoral care means nothing under such circumstances.  I doubt that this new report will be helpful at all to the issue of homosexuality in the church except to soothe the conscience of those who stand against homosexuals into thinking that they are doing something meaningful and helpful.  But it fails to get to the heart of the problem.

Roger, you hit the nail on the head. When you're dealing with a flawed report to start with, anything recommended in the future only builds on that broken foundation. 

We are honestly going to tell a married same-sex couple that in order to participate in the full life of the church they must be celibate within their marriage? That's so crazy as to be beyond comment.

 

In fact, the whole thing is ridiculous. Am I really going to go by a synodical report when deciding whether to attend my child's wedding? Are they serious? While committees fight over this and new reports are written, and ugly arguments take place on the floor of Synod this summer, the 60 percent of us who don't believe committed same-sex relationships are wrong will be walking out the door. Bless those who have the grit to stay and fight. Know that time is on your side and 25 years from now, it will be a moot point.

Of course, the CRC probably won't be viable by then. Sad, but by their own doing. 

I was so pleased to read Roger and Veronica's comments and want to say thank you to them for saying what needs to be said. Each of their last paragraphs need to be shouted from the roof tops. Rev. Feddes continues the path of the traditionalists of taking pride in their misinterpretion of Scripture and wanting the report to do it some more. Do not bother these folks with the devastating consequences of their condemning interpretation of Genesis, Romans and I Corinthians (among other passages) because they are convinced of their theological purity. God wants the centuries of discrimination against His gay and lesbian children to continue? You stand firm, Rev Feddes, and the resulting anger, fleeing the church, bitter conflict in families of gay children, loss of faith, depression, and suicide will continue. Bad fruit from the traditionalist tree of misinterpretaion.

I wonder about this sentence  "There is a serious disconnect between the official position of the CRC on homosexual relations and the convictions of the majority of its members. "

I reread the survey portion of the report and while there are a number of interesting findings I'm not sure that report supports this statement. 

I see the current position of the CRC as sort of a compromise position. There are some to the right who'd like a more aggressive culture war posture and some to the left who'd like to see a local option or full inclusion. I don't think either of those factions have widespread enough support to move a Synod to change its basic position. While many might see the current position is having difficulties it seems a position that the current majority can live with for now. Isn't that how church politics works? 

A look at the  list of overtures currently being assembled or worked http://crcnabiblicalmarriage.org/articles/ on suggests that many in the church, to the right and the left want to say more. Figuring out how and what more to say, however, won't be easy. 

I seriously doubt that the 1973 report is out of step with the CRC membership as a whole.  It certainly might be as to subsets of the CRC membership (e.g., GR, Toronto, maybe even folks who are inclined to respond to surveys), and maybe some even disagree that gays must commit to lifelong celebacy (concluding they could choose a heterosexual marriage, consider bisexualty for instance), but the parts of the CRC I have become acquainted with would essentially support by 1973 report by very wide percentages.

I think you are right Doug.  The majority of CRC members do fall in step with the basic premise of the 1973 report.  Of course that doesn’t make it right or wrong.  I don’t envision a mass exodus from the CRC right away.  But at the same time, there is considerable questioning in our churches in regard to this issue, like never before.  The discussion around homosexuality and even the doubting of our basic CRC position is fast on the rise.  The percentages are quickly changing so that if this report passes handily at synod this year, it won’t be long before a much greater percentage of CRC members will not sit comfortably with synod’s decision.  This year’s synodical decision will not be the final word and if not revisted in the near future will become a very divisive issue for our denomination.  Whatever happens, this issue is bound to divide our denomination, and closing our eyes and holding fast to the past will not stop the outfall.  The more our culture accepts the reality and legitimacy of accepting and appreciating homosexuals, the more the church will also start questioning its present position.

Christians (CRC Christians more than most) are questioning our culture’s motive for embracing the homosexual movement.  As Christians we tend to think that our culture is increasingly giving into its fallen nature.  Sin is on the rise.  How can the church let that sinful influence filter into our Christian perspective? 

Increasingly Western culture is dismissing the Christian perspective from being a strong influence on our culture.  Many issues make this painfully obvious (Biblical creation, women leadership and place in society, divorce, and now the homosexual issue, etc., etc.).  Our culture is increasingly looking at much of the Christian perspective as arbitrary.  For instance the role of women in the church and society.  My mother was a stay at home mom who cared for the house and children, as were 95 percent of the married mothers in our church.  And she always wore a hat to church as a sign of respect for the men of our church.  She could teach Sunday School to the children but could give leadership in the church. Dad was the breadwinner and authoritarian. And in the day of greater Christian influence this was also the perspective of our society in general.  But as the influence of Christianity is increasingly diminishing in Western society, people are increasingly asking, what is the point of keeping women in such a box?  Even if the Bible teaches that women are not to have authority over men, it’s a principle that simply does not make sense.  It’s an arbitrary and cultural rule that has nothing to do with morality and has no real benefit to our culture.  And now even the church (for the most part) is questioning the legitimacy of such a principle or law (male headship).  It’s things like this that causes our society to question, even dismiss, Christianity. 

And now our culture is increasingly questioning the perspective of the church on homosexuality.  Why should the homosexual be judged as inferior or sinful just because he/she is different from me or others or even the majority in our society.  Why should they deserve to be treated any differently than anyone else.  Is this racial prejudice all over again?  We all have our differences.  Isn’t our society such a place where we all deserve mutual respect and cooperation?  Sound reasoning and logic does not relegate certain people (homosexuals) to an inferior status.  Homosexuals do not have an agenda of hurting people or hurting our society.  Most want to be meaningful contributors to our culture, and many want to express their love for God and contribute meaningfully to the church without being classified as sinners because of their homosexuality.

And so our culture is increasingly questioning the arbitrary decision of the church to classify practicing homosexuals as sinners and unacceptable to God, when practicing heterosexuals (in contrast) are upheld as respectable and honoring to God.  The reasoning of our culture is not simply a caving in to sin as the church pronounces, but rather the result of honest reasoning and logic.  It’s our human ability to use reason and logic that sets us apart from the animal kingdom and makes us most like God.  And when using such a God given uniqueness, our society can easily come to the conclusion that the church has it wrong, once again.  Christians are giving into an archaic cultural perspective or are interpreting their own Scriptures from a cultural bias or are using a poor hermeneutic.  Apart from the Christian bias and stigma, people are able to come to wiser and more reasonable conclusions in regard to homosexuality.

And so Doug, at this point in time, the majority of our church members may still agree with the 1973 report and even the 2016 report, but that is fast changing.  Our culture is not simply sinful or ill informed.  They have come to a reasonable conclusion apart from Christianity’s influence with a desire to respect and honor all people.  And now many in our churches are seeing the wisdom that our culture is exercising in regard to the homosexual issue.  Many within the church, also using a God given logic, are being influenced by our society.  Similar to the women’s issue in the church, eventually our denomination will change it’s position on homosexuality, even as many have already.  Hopefully it won’t be too late.  Sorry for the length.

Thank you again, Roger, for your well reasoned and logical position on God's acceptance of homosexual intimacy. Culture is leading the church to the formation of a new ethic as it has done historically repeatedly on other social issues (e.g., slavery, role of women, interacial marriage, anti-semitism, divorce/remarriage). In the meantime, pain and suffering prevail.

 

I'm sorry but where did your statistics come from about our denomination being only 41 percent against changing the 1973 Synodical position on SSM? Are you implying that nearly 60 percent of our denomination is for it? I'm confused?  Also, your article makes a comparison between marriage in the church of SSM and the civil marriage of Atheists that makes no sense at all. It is in every sense an Apple and Orange’s comparison because our church beliefs are not obligated to summit to civil law. Read Art. 7 of the Belgic Confession clearly states that we, as a church of Jesus are not to allow “custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of times or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else. For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself." In other words as a Reformed church we are to be a light in the darkness of the world around us, not a mirror of it. I suggest that by endorsing SSM we are in fact becoming a mirror of the darkness around us.


 

The framework for Synod 73 clearly demands that the church set out the conclusions of medical science to establish who gay people are. The report then examines what Scripture has to say about this scientific 'phenomenon'.  When Synod 73 was written, the medical profession claimed that homosexuality was a serius mental illness. The only 'research', by Irving Bieber, was conducted exclusively on hospitalized mental patients. Therefore, the only thing that scripture examines are the sex lives of mental patients, and concludes that they can't have sex any more than other mental patients.  Read the report. It's all there. When gay people read this report today they know it's inaccurate, it's insulting, and it's dehumanizing. They also realize that most people in the church could care less. All aspects of pastoral care are directed at mental patients. Five times over they are obliged to seek psychiatric help to seek 'healing' to become straight. Even their parents are called upon to seek counselling to restore 'health' to their marriage. The church's ministry is supposed to be 'compassionate and rehabilitative', and they mean, medically.  The medical profession dropped homosexuality as a mental illness six months after Synod 73 was written, throwing the report's academic integrity completely out the window.  But here we are forty years later pretending the report is still accurate and valid and supportable. So if you want the gay kids in the church today to see themselves as mentally sick, believe that's how the medical profession sees them today, (which is ludicrous), and convince them that God wants them to experience their 'illness' like the portayal of Irving Bieber's mental patients in the report, then, yes, I guess Synod 73 is still a great report to endorce.

Is this truth below what the CRCNA once taught? Why is this up for debate, reconsideration, and seeking peoples opinions?

"Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart.

They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiouness (lacking legal or moral restraints; especially: disregarding sexual restraints, marked by disreguard for strict rules of correctness.-Merriam-Webster), greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ!

For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteouness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:17-24)

Thanks Kevin for the Scripture quotes.  It’s quite interesting this wholesale dismissal by the apostle Paul of Gentiles.  I’m taking it that your understanding of Paul, and your own conviction, is that all homosexuals fit into this condemnation, but not so for heterosexuals. 

I would imagine that there is just as much perversity among heterosexuals as among homosexuals.  And there is just as much purity among homosexuals who love the Lord as there is among heterosexuals who love the Lord.  Are you claiming that all heterosexuals are pure, even within the church?  Is being heterosexual one of the marks of being a Christian?  Your insightful has a flaw.

"Culture is leading the church to the formation of a new ethic."

 

I am afraid that I don't share your enthusiasim for a culture of depraved men leading the church in any way, let alone in developing a new ethic. The problems we see in the Church is the result of such un-Biblical thinking.

 

I would prefer the Church seek its ethic from Scripture and then lead the culture in determining its ethics.

If this decision is to be based upon popular opinion we will have to remove the bible from the pews and our sermons because it would be in contradiction with the decsions.

“I am afraid that I don't share your enthusiasim for a culture of depraved men leading the church in any way...” says Steve W.


Perhaps, Steve, you are not aware that all of humanity has been created in God’s image, that image being, especially, the ability to use reason and logic unlike the rest of creation, which makes us more like God than any other human trait. Thanks to human reason and logic, you have a car sitting in your driveway, are able to physically reach any point in the world in a day’s time, are able to talk to people on the opposite side of the world in less than a minute’s time, are the beneficiary of blood pressure medications plus a host of other medications, or know of people who have had brain cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, and numerous other cancers removed and treated.   Thanks to human reason and logic your house is filled with products that make your life more comfortable every day.  We could probably fill ten pages with other ways in which this “culture of depraved men” has benefitted, not only you personally, but all of humanity.

I suppose, Steve, you might appeal to the fall of humanity, which includes not only those outside the church but those within, as well.  From my vantage point, I don’t see Christians doing any more than other people to advance our society.  And as much as you may want it to be true, I don’t see the church filled with morally pure people either.

So when I see our culture, apart from Christian thought, come to the conclusion that homosexuals should be treated with love, respect, equality, and a desire for their betterment, like anyone else, I think our culture has come to such a conclusion by using the logic and reason that God has given them, the same logic by which you live so comfortably today.  Whereas many Christians and even denominations (the CRC) think it is better to treat such homosexuals with bias and prejudice and a lack of full acceptance.  So who is calling the kettle black?

Roger

Are we to allow all sinners the right to do what is right in their own eyes. Theives and murderers? Jesus's message was repent, without this there is no salvation. To not tell the homosexual this is to condemn them.

I don’t know if you are serious or not, George.  All people, Christian or not, know that theft and murder are wrong because they are hurtful to others.  Reason and logic dictate that those are bad choices.  So all sinners are not allowed to do what they want.  But reason and logic does not dictate that homosexuals are deserving of anything less than full acceptance and love.  And yet that is what the church is telling homosexuals, you are not deserving of being accepted as a full member of the church as long as you are a practicing homosexual.  Are you saying that by being a homosexual, such a person is hurting others?  And if so, the hurt you experience is only because of your own prejudice, and the hurt or harm you experience is self-inflicted.  God given morality is not based on arbitrary decisions, but based on the love, acceptance, and good we can do for others.

It is essential that we completely separate affection for others from homosexual behavior. We are to treat everyone with respect and not make judgement of them as persons.  However the bible makes it absolutely clear that homosexual behavior is not acceptable.  If you say this is acceptable you are saing that the bible is not the authority by which the church is governed.  You are telling the youth that it is acceptable to sin without repenting. We cannot compromise scripture for any reason. I will not attend any church that says this behavior is acceptable.

Is the CRCNA going to believe God's interpretation of man, or man's interpretation of God, by compromising truth with our opinions, rather then looking to the Scriptures alone?

"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man." (2 Peter 1:20,22)

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8) 

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Ephesians 5:11)

"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:17)

Once again, Kevin, I don’t know who you are referring to when you quote the apostle Peter as saying that Scripture is not a matter of one’s own interpretation.  It seems as though those who think God abandons homosexuals (Romans 1:28 NLT) and therefore the CRC should abandon them as well, are using a poor interpretation of Scripture themselves.  So are you talking about, yourself or others with your quotes?  Your quoting of Scripture often does not make sense.  Certainly the CRC basic position defies basic logic and reason.  I would think that Scripture should be reasonable and logical rather than arbitrary.  Otherwise how can the church expect to lead culture (as Steve W. suggests) unless its ethic is reasonable?  Isn’t that why our culture is increasingly dismissing Christianity?  What do we say to our culture in presenting a Christian ethic?  “Now, I know this doesn’t make any sense nor is it logical, but we think that homosexual behavior is perverse and sinful and therefor homosexuals should not be fully accepted and loved,  even as we do in the church.”  Is any reasonable culture going to be influenced by such a message?  The church shouldn’t be either.

Roger God does not abandon homosexuals, homosexual abandon God. How can the church lead culture if it uses culture as its authority?

George, maybe you didn't read Romans 1:28.  Maybe you don't believe it.  How can the church lead culture unless it is reasonable?  Who is going to believe an unreasonable teaching?

Roger,

If God says, "do not be deceived,... neither the sexually immoral nor those who practice homosexuality will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9), then hell is at stake! "But...the unbelieving, the vile, sexually immoral...their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfer. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

I hope that stirs up fear within your soul, but instead you seem to bring a world philosophy and look to the culture of this world to bring you comfort and to support your interpretation on homosexuality. Then it would seem we are not tracking spiritually in discerning the word of God. You keep saying that none of the Bible verses that are brought up make sense to you. Then I don't see how you will ever depart form homosexuality. The Bible says, "through the fear of the Lord men depart form evil." (Proverbs 16:6) "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10) It was this very fear of transgressing God's moral law and the consequences of eternal death and hell, because of sin in my own life that brought me to the foot of the cross for salvation.

I received this fear of the Lord because faithful people within the church taught me what God said. Not their own interpretation of it. This fear is on the verge of being sold out, to be influenced, debated, discredited and shut down in the CRCNA.  We are gathering people's opinions, and arming ourselves with the shifting sands of the vain deceptive philosophy and empty deceit of the god of this world. This is what Colossians 2:8 is warning us against. 

Because hell is at stake, the most loving thing the church can do is to warn every man. "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom." (Colossians 1:28)

If the CRCNA accepts the sin of homosexuality, and sweeps it under the rug to be culturally relevent, then we will be guilty of not loving our homosexual friends. Then we will have thrown God under the bus and be guilty of what's called "depraved indifference" causing the spiritual death of a person because we failed to warn them when it was our duty.

"Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood i will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:17-18)

"Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding." (Proverbs 23:23)

"Though it cost all you have, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

 

 

Roger my understanding of Rom 1:28 is that to abandon the knowledge of God is unreasonable.

Thanks George for your comment.  I think you are right - “to abandon the knowledge of God is unreasonable.”  You have to understand (which I’m sure you do) that there is a huge number of understandings when it comes to the Bible.  That’s why there are hundreds upon hundreds of different Christian denominations, and yet we call most of them Christian. So the bottom line is that there are Christians who interpret and understand the Bible in regard to a particular issue in many different ways.  Homosexuality certainly seems to be one of those issues.  Not all Christians interpret Scripture as you do.

You suggest that to abandon the knowledge of God is unreasonable.  Doesn’t that mean that such knowledge of the Bible should be reasonable?  I’m suggesting that homosexuality is not the sin you make it out to be, in fact if a person has a homosexual orientation (as our 1973 report suggested is not sin) then to live such a life within the bounds of marriage sexually is not sin either.  This is the understanding of many Christian denominations.  It’s the understanding that many have of Scripture when interpreted in a way that is consistent with the hermeneutic of their denomination and that they use.  To my understanding, the way in which you, George, seem to understand this issue is not reasonable or rational thinking.  Such a position against homosexuality is prejudicial, biased, and arbitrary.  And seeing as many Christians understand the relevant Scriptures differently than you, I choose an understanding of the issue that is logical, as well as Biblical.  So as I see it, along with many other Christians, I am not abandoning the knowledge of God.  I appreciate your concern and wish you well.

Roger from Matt 19

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” It is not logical to state that members of a same sex union are male and female. Notice it says that God has joined together. Scripture does not say this about same sex unions. It is not logical to say that what is leagal is not sin. It is not logical to state that opposite conclusions are both right.

Kevin, I wish I could say I appreciate your concern in your comments.  I wish you could hear yourself as others do.  One, you seem to be accusing me of being a homosexual.  You say, “I don't see how you will ever depart from homosexuality.”  I am not homosexual and have no family members who are.  I simply stand with homosexuals in a cause in which our denomination, with great prejudice, accuses them of sin and does not fully accept them like any other Christians in the Christian church.

Secondly, your perspective on Christianity amounts to no more than a serious superstition, in other words you sound very superstitious in presenting Christianity. Superstition by my computer’s definition is, 1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.  and 2. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion.  It sounds like it was superstition that brought you to faith when you say things like, “It was this very fear of transgressing God's moral law and the consequences of eternal death and hell, because of sin in my own life that brought me to the foot of the cross for salvation.”  You sound like an advocate of the primitive and ancient Near Eastern religions in which nations and people had to appease the gods with strict obedience or suffer the consequences of God’s wrath.  In fact that sounds a lot like Old Testament religion.  It was superstition that brought these people to fear the gods (who look down from above) who either punished or rewarded their behavior.  And here you stand in the middle of such a mind set.  Maybe you should reread your latest response, as well as many of your other ones. You sound like the CRC’s doomsday prophet.  Certainly such responses do not scare me into believing like you do.  I remember a modern doomsday prophet, years ago, in Grand Rapids who paraded in front of churches carrying a sign that read, “Fear God.”  It was the wrong message.  It was superstition.  Thanks for your concern, but no thanks.

Sure George, Matthew quotes Scripture that endorses what is normal, that a man and a woman will join together in a binding relationship.  But such a statement does not exclude other possibilities that are less than normal.  He is simply stating the obvious likelihood, that a man and woman will be drawn to each other in a bond of oneness.  This is not given as a command, that would eliminate other possibilities.  The obvious state of marriage between men and women does not eliminate or forbid other possibilities, as supported by the U.S. judicial code.

Roger,

Its not that the church does not accept homosexuals into their fellowship, which you claim to advocate for. But more of an issue that the homosexual cannot be warned and accept encouraged to get right with God. They are not to be told that their lifestyle and sexual appetites are sinful. Which runs contrary to Scripture.

What is also disheartning is that your advocacy, also runs contrary to Scrpiture and does damage to the body of Christ because your not warning and encouraging those who are decieved in this lifesyle to get right with God, when eternal life is at stake! Keeping a person going on in sin right up to judgment day,"because the church is not to say anything" is not loving. I mean how much do we have to hate a person by holding back the truth.

But advocacy for what God has already judged and condemned also has its price. The Bible says, "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (Romans 1:32)

"Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save his soul from death." (James 5:20)

" Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep youself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22)

You noted that my mentioning fear as motivation to come to Christ was "superstition". Without that fear I would have had no reason to turn to Christ. The apostle Paul said. "Sinse, then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope is also plain to your conscience." (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Jesus said, "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:5)

"Its a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31)

The Church cannot “get past” pointing their fingers? Have you read the Scriptures? It’s the Word that we can’t – and God forbid, should never – get past. It seems that the “heart of the problem” with much of this discussion is that we cannot agree which words of God we like and which words we do not. If that is the case, Roger, then God help us; homosexual behavior is the least of our worries.

Art - you do realize that the Church’s best advocate for change in any of these issues has been Scripture, right? The Church was wrong in any support of slavery because of Scripture, not societal ethics. Scripture does not condemn inter-racial marriage, and so it was Scripture the Church had to wrestle with – in the face of societal ethics. The same with anti-semitism and rules on divorce. It is no different now. The Church must hear what God has said on homosexuality. Otherwise, we will be no more Christlike than those who depend on society for their ethics.

Thank you, Rob. Our overture to synod not only says that this report is unbiblical but also (and maybe even more hurtful to some?), unconfessional. If the church can claim any (and all?) interpretations of Scripture as “Christian” then our confessions are meaningless to our denomination. In abandoning the context of what is written, we leave behind the heart of Christ and, eventually I'm afraid, the basis of our salvation.

Michael, as I listen to your response to Art, I realize that much of Christianity (the CRC included) is going through life and history with blinders on. The Christian church and you (as a leader) are trying to put a spin on history that would make the church the leader of good societal changes when in fact it has been the church that has led society into its darkest moments (decades, even centuries) of history.  The church has led society into the mud and dirty waters of depravity, while trying to claim that it was the Christian church which caused society to see the light.  Instead, it has been the church that has been hiding the candle under the bushel, even blowing the candle out. 

And once again, we are in such a dark period of history, in which the church would make an arbitrary decision that homosexuals are deviate sinners, based on the church’s own interpretation of the Bible.  Although it makes no moral sense to condemn homosexuals, much of the church will not let go of its grip around the necks of such people until they are left for dead alongside of the road of life.  Eventually, because of cultural influence, homosexuals will no longer be seen as the deviate sinners that the church (CRC) has painted them to be, and will rise up to be the meaningful and respected citizens that they actually are.  And, true to history, at that time of rising for homosexuals, Christians will claim credit for helping our culture to see how prejudice our culture has been, and will even use Scripture to show how there is Biblical warrant for a fair and respectful treatment of gays and that they should be recognized and accepted as fully respected citizens of our society and churches. 

Even now, as there are Christians fighting for the rights of homosexuals, this is the beginning of the movement by which the church will eventually claim the victory for setting homosexuals free from bias and prejudice.  But the fact is, it has been the church that has given birth to and promoted this bias over the centuries. 

And, Michael, you call this not being able to get past finger pointing and call the church’s condemnation of homosexual behavior as the least of our problems?  Such comments show a definite lack of leadership in the Christian church.

Roger,

I don't want to take away from Michael's response. But look forward to it! However, If i'm understanding you right. You bristle at the history of the church and those in it today, and believe that we are following in its path of injustice, corruptness, and ruthless carnage. It seems your mission is to set it straight using methods outside the church, right?

I agree with you that church history records some of the darkest periods in life. I submit to you that this deception and oppression of Christianity and people "not Christianity itself" became known as what Charles Spurgeon once said,"The masterpiece of satan and the queen of iniquity":- The Roman Catholic Church. Its rule, control and corruptness throughout history against Bible believing Christians and others has never been matched. all done in the name of Christ.--Therefore the reformation from the oppression of the pope and the catholic hierarchical system with its crusades, torture, and burning true believers at the stake had to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Today there is around 1.3 billion catholics that are still held captive under its influnce. The Roman Catholic Church (though not now toturing people, and stomping out true christanity through crusades) has taken a new marketing approach by trying to reunite and build bridges to those from the reformation and the muslim faith, calling them "seperated brethern". As if we are one. (to soften their languauge) and bring us back under their umbrella. And its working! The CRCNA is symathetically, entertaining dialogue with catholics and muslims in interfaith forums. The catholic church still parades as an angel of light, but it hasn't changed, only its tatics have changed. it is still a false church.

The Bible tells us that we are in a battle for the souls of men. " So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The true church militant is not fighting against the homosexual, but for them! For their soul! We love them and don't want them to go down a self destructive dangereous path. But they can't accept it. infact it seems harsh, like hatred to them. We cryout "Please don't go down that path. There is certian danger, and it could cost you your life!" Never has been a popular message! The Bible says," Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their evil deeds will be exposed." (John 3:20)

But, can we at least agree that sin has away of clouding vision, right? What we do know is that some do hear and understand. Some turn away from homosexuality. I have heard testimonies of this happening. Confirming what the Bible says about homsexuality "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

So there is hope! We can't give up! People do repent and come into the knowledge and light of the truth. Sin clouded my own vision. Faithful teachers, preachers and parents helped me understand. Clearing the fog away. I had to hear hard things. Cause I come from the school of hard knocks.

A good example of how sin clouds the vision is found in Proverbs 9:13-18.

"She is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out ot those who pass by, who go straight on their way. 'Let all who are simple come in here!' she says to those who lack judgment. 'Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave."

Proverbs 5:7-9 says. "Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strenght to others and your years to one who is cruel...at the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. you will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!... I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the mist of the whole assembly."

Roger, you seem to imply that you are looking to the world because the church is corrupt in your eyes. I think there needs to be a distinction between the false and true church. The CRCNA must make the Bible preeminent in all decisions so that it can be distinguishable from the false church.

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight." (1 Corinthians 3:19)

"God has exalted above all things his name and his word." ( Psalm 132:2)

 

Thanks for answering my comment for Art, Roger. Yes, Roger, we Christians are a terrible bunch. However, what I belive I said to Art was not that the Church was the best advocate for justice in the world, but that the Word was the best advocate the Church had for changing these evils – for breaking the power of societal ethics. Yep, we Christians are sinners. The Crusades? Evil. Slavery in the name of God? Ungodly. American ‘Christian’ Nationalism? Idolatry. Socially marginalizing some sinners vs. others? A travesty to the Spirit of Christ and his Gospel. Which is kinda the point – Whenever the Church has been led away from the Word to enjoy it’s own power it has betrayed the Gospel of Christ and has been called back to the Word by the Spirit. The Church’s only hope is not to cut loose the Gospel in hope of denying sin, but to live abundantly in the Gospel of forgiveness; not to abandon the Word for the latest social revolution, but to bow to the Word of God who regenerates our heart and mind and soul. If repentance and faith in the Gospel of Christ represents a lack of leadership to you, then you do not have a problem with the Church’s leaders – you have a problem with her husband. Please, Roger, be reconciled to God through Christ.

Kevin, here we go again.  I suppose on the one hand we should just let it go.  We are so far from agreeing with one another, there is little doubt that either of us will give in to the other.  Neither one of us are in agreement with our CRC denomination.  You obviously feel an estrangement from our denomination in its present fallen state (from your many comments), and I imagine are ready to place it in the category of untrue churches like the Catholic Church of the past and present.  To the extent that you disagree with your own denomination (on many issues), you, no doubt disagree with every other denomination that does not confess the Reformed confessions according to your own interpretation.  I’m guessing that you pretty much stand alone with a handful of other Christian Reformed dissidents.  So when you stand there and fault the church of the past as the false or untrue church, I imagine that there are few churches (certainly denominations) that you feel any affinity for.  In you mind, and by your confession, they are all false.  Is it any wonder that I cannot feel any sympathy for your comments?

I see that you have chosen the Christian Crusades as a glaring example of when the church of Christ led its members and society into the gutters of depravity.  But of course you disclaim that church as a false church and not the true church.  Kevin, that was the only church, other than the Eastern church, at that time.  It was the Catholic church that was the one universal church, and that held the banner of the cross and of Christ high as they slaughtered Muslim infidels.  And, of course, they were being true to the Scriptures as they understood them at that time.  They were merely following the example of God’s chosen people who were commanded by God in the Old Testament to go into the Promised Land and slaughter the Canaanite infidels, men, women, and children who were the inhabitants and possessors of that land.  Certainly the Christian church had Biblical precedent for the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of non-Christians.  As David confessed to God, “Your enemies, O God, are also mine.”, so also the Crusaders could not tolerate any sympathy for the Muslim infidels.  But now, long after the fact, even you recognize the perversion of the “holy (Roman) catholic church.” 

Kevin, that is your Christian heritage and history.  You claim oneness with Christ and his death.  I also imagine that you also recognize the history of God’s chosen Old Testament people as your history as well.  The slaughter of Canaanite infidels, as commanded by God, is also part of your Christian heritage and history, as is also the slaughter of thousands of non-Christians by the Christian crusaders.  But after the fact, when realizing how wrong these Christians were, Christians today disavow any relationship to those of the past.  And yet Catholics (the only church) back then along with Christians today confess and believe the same Apostles’ Creed that you confess week after week.  When you confess that Creed you are also confessing your oneness with others who also confess that creed across the world.  You can disavow yourself from whatever Christian group you wish, Kevin, whether Roman Catholics or Anabaptists (like Calvin did) but your disavowal does not separate such confessing Christians from the one church of Christ.  This history, with the ugly stains of the Christian Crusades, is part of your history and your denial does not remove your association.

The big problem though, is that the Christian Crusades is just one small instance of the church dragging itself through the muds of perversity, and also dragging culture along with itself while using the Scriptures to support and endorse their bias.  Today, the church is again in such a situation, whereby the church (CRC) is using Scripture, as did the church of the 12th to 16th centuries to justify their prejudice against Muslims.  But today the church’s prejudice is against homosexuals, while calling this prejudice an act of Christian love.  You can use and twist Scripture all you want to call this prejudice an act of love, but that would be like calling the murder of Muslims (in the Crusades) also an act of love.

You’re welcome Michael.  You are right, the church is a terrible bunch.  But isn’t that surprising to you?  The church is the body of Christ here on earth.  The church is to be the reflection of Christ here on earth.  If our society or culture wants to see Christ, certainly he should be seen in the church.  Where if not the church?  As Christ is the reflection and image of God, so also the church should be the reflector of Christ.  I know that sanctification is a process, but has the church even started in that process?  As I see it, the church has been no better than society as the moral agents of good, and this is true whether you look at individuals or the church as a whole.  The church has no better record of virtue than does society.  I think you as much as admitted that in this last comment by listing just some of its sins.  I believe that by using reason and logic, society has done as good a job as the church when it uses the Scriptures to bring about individual and societal virtue.  Maybe you could tell me a sin that the church and its individuals are not guilty of.  You would be naive if you really thought the church was so much better, if any better than our culture.  You might be able to show me when the church has promoted good, but the same can be said of our culture and society apart from Christian influence.  So how is the church the reflector of Christ and of virtue, as it should be?

It’s funny (strange) that you suggested that it was when the church has been led away from the Word that it fell subject to sin.  But as I see it, it has been as the church has used the Word that it also fell into sin.  As I pointed out to Kevin, it was by using the Scriptures that the Crusaders found the needed support to murder the Muslims of their day.  The Scriptures gave them all the justification they needed.  They were guided by the obvious (at least obvious to them) teaching of the Bible.  And the same has been true in every age, that the church and Christians use the Bible to support their erroneous and sinful ways.

It was by the church’s use of Scripture that the witch hunts in early American history were permitted to take place.

Jumping to today, it was by the use of the Scriptures, that the church advocated for the submission of women to men, not only in the church, but also in society.  Women should not be allowed roles of leadership, especially if that leadership was over men.  And of course, the church influenced culture to think the same for centuries, until society finally recognized the foolishness of such thinking.  But of course the church had already done its harm which still is having an impact on our society.  It’s also a controversy that the CRC church is still involved in today.

And of course, by using Scripture, the church convinced its members and society that women should remain with her husband, even in an abusive relationship. 

A battle still being engaged in by the church, is its insistence to our culture and to the fields of science that the world was created in six physical days less than six to eight thousand years ago. Of course this is based on a natural reading of the Scriptures and therefore insisted upon by the church that this is true.  Today even colleges, such as Calvin College, are not allowed to venture away from such views and are held at bay from doing much meaningful science.  It was by such teaching from the Bible that the church and Christianity has had a strangle hold on much of the world’s scientific endeavors through the centuries.

And now once again the church, by using the Scriptures, is imposing its prejudice on its members and society by demonstrating that homosexuals are perverse sinners by their homosexuality, even should they be married in a life long relationship of love.  And even though the Bible can be shown to support gays, the CRC and you refuse to recognize such arguments as valid and therefore continue inflict the church’s bias upon its members and on society.

In all of the church’s sinful decisions, eventually Christians have risen up to challenge the previous Biblical thinking of the church and has and is making a difference to change the church’s direction.  But nearly always such change has come first from the impulse of culture who by reasonable thinking can finally recognize the false teaching in the church.  It wasn’t the Scriptures that influenced the church to change as much as it was the logical reflections of society.  I would suggest that you be reconciled to God by repenting of your arbitrary and unjust prejudice against homosexuals.  My relationship with God is good.  Thanks.

Roger,  I want to thank you for your time, effort, willingness and patience for engaging people about the way gay people are being treated by the CRC. Most of the gay people I know have simply given up and left rather than engage with people who are so strongly set against us. For us there is simply no point.

Roger, Thanks for your comments. You’ve certainly done a lot of thinking about this. However, this seems to be something that you might want to take up with your pastor. You seem to be aware of what Scripture says about homosexual behavior, so I won’t go through it all again here. But, if you know Scripture on this issue, then you are also aware that regarding homosexual behavior as less than holy is neither arbitrary nor unjust. If you do not agree with Christ on this, then I will ask you again to consult your pastor.

Thanks for the suggestion Michael.  Don’t think that this hasn’t been taken up with my pastor and many other pastors, some of whom blog on this website.  What’s good for the goose is also good for the gander.  Maybe that’s good advice for you, to talk to your pastor.  Seriously.

The British Dictionary defines “arbitrary” as “founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc; capricious.”  The commands forbidding stealing, adultery, lying, murder, even coveting are not arbitrary because of the harm that such acts do to others.  Homosexual behavior (of itself) does no such harm.  Sure homosexual sexual behavior, like heterosexual sexual behavior when put in the wrong situation (like an adulterous situation) is harmful.  But homosexual sex is no more harmful than heterosexual sex.  And when such behavior (heterosexual or homosexual) is exercised within the bonds of a loving marital relationship, then both are God honoring.  So to forbid one and not the other is arbitrary. 

So the Christian prejudice against homosexuals that has been held for centuries is definitely unjust because of the unwarranted harm done against gay individuals, as well as the gay community.  Again, the British Dictionary defines unjust as, “not in accordance with accepted standards of fairness or justice; unfair.”  To treat homosexuals differently than heterosexuals is definitely unfair, therefore unjust.

To be image bearers of God is to be able reason like God, and to use logic like God, and to make sense of things as God is the author of sense, but unlike animals who act on instinct.  Sound reasoning tells most people today that such a position as our denomination holds (and you hold) on homosexuality defies sound reasoning.  In other words, it is arbitrary and therefore unjust.  One can either come to the conclusion that the church has come to the wrong conclusion in its interpretation of the Bible (certainly that is not impossible) or that God is an unreasonable and arbitrary God.  I and a growing number of Christians would rather opt for the former conclusion.  To accord with yours and Kevin’s perspective, one would have to think more like those of the animal kingdom, given primarily to instinct rather than reason or logic.

In the meantime our denomination continues to contribute to the prejudice and harm done against homosexuals by claiming that homosexual behavior is perverse and sinful and not acceptable to God and the church.  My concern as a Christian is in regard to the hurtful prejudice and damage that the church has inflicted unjustly against a segment of our society.  Deja vu!!  There goes the church once again.  Thanks for listening.

The LGBT community has been acussing all Christians for a long time  they claim their morals are highter than God's. God has not changed his laws and I will not change my God.

The LGBT and their backers have nothing to fear from me. I resent it when people think they are not accountable. In Rev chapter the Lord says

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.     Have them explain to Him.

George: "The LGBT and their backers have nothing to fear from me", - aside from reading your ugly, offensive, and untrue statements about them, in the comment section of their very own church magazine. No, nothing to fear, indeed.  Then you add, "I resent it when people think they are unaccountable".  You know what, George? Me too, me too.

Don Baxter

Ok so members of the LGBT are just like us. It is perfectly normal.  But I notice that if anyone is questioned about being LGBT the association is quickly denied.  Also if you mention frequent LGBT behavior your comments are quickly deleted.  But they are no different than us, right?  If LGBT members become youth leaders, what will they teach them?

Agree 90% with the comments about the use/meaning of words and about Biblical refereces to marriage and sexual acts. In the Bible and the 21st century it is all about power, control, politics, and money. Current "Christian" attitudes might have made sense 100 years ago when there were civil laws that baccked the religious laws. When is the last time a CRC member was excommunicated for sleeping with his girlfriend? 

Consider the LDS sins of polegamy that caused the US Army to threaten the invasion of Utah. Everything the Mormans practiced is now legal as long as one doesn't apply for more than one civil (govt) marriage license or claim two wives for income tax purposes. In the last century, every "sin" that occurred during Watergate has been legal since Homeland Security laws were enacted.

My pastor disagrees, buy the simple ssolution is to remove every reference to"marriage" in all legislation and replace that word with the appropriate form of "family contract" which should be then defined as "any combination of humans who choose to live together."

Sex . . . it is "moral" to scratch an itch on every part of one's body but one smallish area. On males, less than 5% of one's total skin area. Doesn't compute. Did God really say ". . . ?" <G>

 

I hope I can state my position more clearly.  No person is a homosexual, there is not a separate species. Every member of the church should be treated equally.  Homosexual behavior is clearly a sin as defined by scripture. Eveery sin is to be treated equally.  No one is exempt from the requirements of scripture. No sin can be treated differently because of who commits it.The laws of government or public opinion do not change the laws of God.

Thanks Bill, you have an interesting take on this topic of homosexuality.  I like it in principle.  Maybe we are, as Christians, making too much of the sexual thing.  By removing the word “marriage” and using your suggested term (family contract), it would seem to remove the prejudice that Christians have racked up against homosexuals.  But I think, deep down, Christians like their prejudice and judgmentalism.  It gives Christians something by which to say we are better than our culture.  It could seem that most Christians don’t have a lot of areas by which to take pride in their own virtue over against our culture.

But another reason that your idea might not fly, is that marriage is so much a part of the Biblical narrative, to remove it would be taking something from the Bible that has become foundational, something that even describes Christ’s relationship to the church.  You would never get the church to agree with such an idea.  Culture, maybe, the church, no.

But of course, since when in the Bible, does a piece of paper confirm an actual marriage.  I think it is the relationship of a permanent bond of sacrificial love that binds and defines marriage, a love that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians, even a Christlike love.  But one might ask, how is physical sex a necessary element of the marriage state?  How is physical sex part of Christ’s relationship to the church?  Where in the Bible do we find such support, especially of Christ’s relationship to his bride, the church?  I don’t think we do find such support.

And yet our denomination seems to have no problem with two men or two women living together in an “agape” state of love, even as all Christians are called to demonstrate for one another, even as Christ demonstrates for his church: as long as there is no physical sexual gratification.  You may be right Bill, that the church is making too much of the sexual gratification part, as though that is the defining feature of marriage.  It obviously isn’t.

If sexual gratification is only to take place within the bonds of marriage (and only between a man and woman), then does the church equally forbid masturbation or self sexual gratification, and prevent such people from being full confessing members of the church?  I haven’t seen such a ruling by our church.  Why not?  Of course with masturbation, one can think homosexual, heterosexual, or self sexual thoughts.  So why isn’t such behavior forbidden with written sanctions, as we do with homosexual sexual behavior?  Could it be that masturbation is so common to human sexuality that nearly everyone does it, and not to would be a concern for a person’s sexuality?  But of course a Christian would not admit to such a sin, would they?  Well then, let’s get it in writing like we do for homosexuals, if indeed sexual gratification is to only take place between a man and a woman in a state of marriage signified by a written document from the church and not the civil authorities.

Perhaps the church is making too much of a matter that carries so little weight.  As I’ve said before, it seems so arbitrary to hold sexual gratification against homosexuals as a sin but not against heterosexuals or individuals.  Again, Bill, you may be right, that too much is made of such a small part of our bodies and bodily functions.  Thanks for your response.

As Christians, we should be more concerned to be inclusive in our love for all kinds of people, even as Christ’s love was inclusive.  “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.”  But instead, the church’s prejudice and hypocrisy drives a wedge between many people and God’s love and acceptance.

It appears that there is a lot of confusion about this subject in the CRCNA.  Tonight I listened to a sermon on the letter to the church of Thyatira. I wish the CRC ministers would give us clear teaching of what scripture says. It has been avoided for too long.

George, the letter to Thyatira is about heterosexual adultery and eating food offered to idols.  How is that relevant to the current discussion about gay marriage?  I think the confusion may be yours.

The point of the letter is about allowing sin to be practiced openly. Also scripture never says adultry is a heterosexual sin.

Pages