Editor’s Note: In fulfilling our role as a public forum of diverse viewpoints, The Banner offers this unsolicited article as part of our denomination’s collective conversation on a pressing issue. Read the CRC’s official position on the topic at tinyurl.com/y7oyw8go.
The report on human sexuality expected at Synod 2021 and the resulting denomination-wide discussion will directly and profoundly affect a small number of our members: those with same-sex attractions.
Who are they? They are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandchildren. They are children of the covenant, born into our fellowship, raised and nurtured among us, heirs of the promise. How our discussion labels them and their relationships will affect their relationships to God and the community of the saints.
I have lived with people who are same-sex attracted my entire 76 years. My late brother was in a long-term, committed same-sex relationship. Similarly, my sister, now 82, has been together with her lesbian friend longer than most straight people are married. They truly love each other.
Among my first memories is my mother saying, “That boy should have been a girl!” about my younger brother, Jack. For my siblings, sexual identity was fixed as much as their blue eyes and blond hair.
My siblings were labeled sodomites and as such found no place in the Christian Reformed congregation of our youth. The pain inflicted on them is indescribable. As a denomination, we can continue such hurtful mislabeling or we can foster a more nuanced understanding.
Some changes in the church, such as women voting at church meetings, family planning, marriage after divorce, and children at the Lord’s Supper result from applying the Bible afresh to the unfolding of history. The church must always be open to the Spirit’s leading and reforming.
Change can happen when Christians observe and read general revelation in tandem with special revelation. It is useful to observe how people actually live rather than to assume. Many Christians who have walked closely with people who are same-sex attracted recognize a purity of love in many long-term, committed same-sex relationships in today’s society. We find it problematic to identify such committed relationships as sodomy with its connotation of violence, equal to the vile and godless of Romans 1.
It is my fervent plea that our denomination spend meaningful time engaging with people with same-sex attraction, including those who are celibate, even as we study the Bible. If we don’t seriously consider the lived experiences of Christians with same-sex attraction, I fear we will continue to mislabel and misunderstand the issue at hand, because we will not be speaking about the long-term, committed same-sex relationships that Christians with same-sex attraction are talking about today. To be meaningful, we must apply the Bible to the lived experience of our members, not to a theoretical abstraction.