Is it inevitable that the Christian Reformed family of God in North America will split over the LGBTQ+ issue when it comes up at Synod 2021?
But for the grace of God … yes. However, the grace of God is enormously powerful. A church denomination that understands that all have sinned and that everyone’s sexuality is in need of cleansing but is also intent on family unity in spite of cultural and theological diversity has a chance of finding a way to remain united.
Focusing on unity rather than accepting schism as inevitable can make an enormous difference. No family, not even such a large family as the CRCNA, has to break up. If we bathe every conflict, every painful truth, every heartfelt passion in fervent communal and individual prayers, the Holy Spirit will lead us toward resolutions.
To stay together, we will have to make room for various theological interpretations of key passages in our Scriptures. Bible scholars Sylvia Keesmaat and her husband, Brian Walsh, have taken a historical approach to the Scriptures in their freshly minted book Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire/Demanding Justice. Justin Lee’s book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate also takes a fresh approach to the topic.
Seeking to decide who is “right” and who is “wrong” will not keep us together. How the truths revealed in God’s word will guide us to a united confession of faith is an enormous challenge. We can accept that challenge in humility, acknowledging that none of us can know the ways of God fully, all of us have our own lived experiences that inform our interpretation of the Scriptures, and all of us have our blind spots. Accepting our brokenness and differences as children of God—as well as the counsel of the Holy Spirit—creates the hope that Synod 2021 will result in a new creation: a family of God united in its need for a Savior and unwilling to be torn apart.