Reply All, September 2020

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Walking with LGBTQ+ People

As I began reading Laurie Krieg’s reflection in the June Banner (“How to Walk Well Among LGBTQ+ People”), I hoped that it would contribute to healing in the church. Many CRCNA members are taking steps to seek forgiveness for past exclusion, to understand more clearly what it means to live a life of holy obedience, and to celebrate the diversity of all who bear God’s image, including all the nuances of sexual and gender identity. The preliminary report to Synod 2019 from a “Committee to Articulate a Foundation-Laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality,” in my reading, helps the church move forward by rejecting simplistic proof-texting in order to understand more fully the order and the variety we find in the world that God created.   Ms. Krieg’s call to extend a warm welcome and a listening ear is commendable, but in the end she endorses hospitality as a gentler mode of condemnation. Christians should welcome and love their gay and transgender neighbors, she urges—and then inform them that the Bible teaches that men and women cannot flourish in same-sex relationships. If out of sympathy we give our approval to such relationships, she adds, we “encourage sin.” The pain endured by so many LGBTQ+ Christians, to which Ms. Krieg returns again and again, is real indeed. But where she attributes it to inner turmoil and self-doubt, I see far more pain inflicted by the hostility of fellow Christians. Rather than moving us forward in the difficult task of discerning how Scripture can guide us in patient and thoughtful dialogue about sexuality and gender, in publishing Ms. Krieg’s reflection, The Banner has taken a step backward.

David Hoekema // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Laurie Kreig indicates that she can usually pinpoint the reason people change their theology to one of affirming same-sex relationships: because they “met a real LGBTQ+ person experiencing real suffering.” Not mentioned are the many more whose perspective has changed because they have family members or friends who quietly live singly or in grateful and committed same-sex relationships, healthy and happy. The pain they and their loved ones experience comes primarily from rejection by a church that defines acceptable committed relationships narrowly, not recognizing the complex way we are fearfully and wonderfully made, also in sexual orientation. As a result, the only “safe” way for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ to remain in their congregations or the Christian Reformed Church is to hide their orientation (as so many have) or to leave the CRC (as so many others have). But this kind of safety prevents the more honest work of challenging our theology with open study and discussion among those on both sides of the issue. The CRC has changed perspectives on many things over the years, imperfectly to be sure, on issues of slavery, divorce, women in leadership, gender diversity, and most currently, racial issues of white supremacy. Change in each of these areas has resulted from long, slow, and difficult struggle and continuing effort as we see more of God’s amazing reach of grace and hospitality that continues to widen the circle of those who “belong.”

Emily R. Brink // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Technology Friend

In response to Mr. Heetderks’ article in “Big Questions” (April 2020), I will share my story regarding “new technology” in my life. The unwanted gift was given to me on Nov. 7, 2019. Little did my family or I know what a valuable gift this would be in the year 2020 when a pandemic arrived! I thank God now for my new friend—my computer—and for the valuable tool it is in connecting and sharing his word with those I know are being traumatically affected at this time. I offer this in Christ’s name.

Bette Kamerman // Scarborough, Ont.

Calvinists Are We

Self-isolating because of the COVID-19 virus, I have been catching up on some reading, including old Banners. Reading the article “Youth Unlimited: ‘100 Years of Belonging to God’” (Sept. 2019), I was wondering why it was not mentioned that before 1993, it was called Young Calvinists and had its own song: “Calvinists Are We!”

Ann Bezemer // Orillia, Ont.

Easter Saturday

I read “Saturday of the Harrowed Hearts” by Debra Rienstra (April 2020). I am disturbed that we should believe in the Harrowed Works of our Lord Jesus on Saturday after his crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus told the criminal who wanted to remember him in his reign: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I trust Luke 23:43 that Jesus was in Paradise. Also Jesus said “It is finished” as he breathed his last. Why add to Scriptures? All we need is the Bible.

Eveline Franje // Oskaloosa, Iowa

Suicidal Thoughts

In his response to a Big Question (May 2020), Adam Barkman describes the reasoning behind suicide as “purely selfish.” It is high time we remove this word from the vernacular surrounding suicide. The reasoning behind suicide is often severe and lasting depression, hopelessness, and desperation. If one would not call these things selfish, then one should not use that word to describe suicide. As someone who has been touched by suicide and has also struggled with thoughts of it, I deeply resent the word “selfish” residing in the realm of my struggles. Compassion is the answer.

Holly J. Wielsma // Spencer, Mass.

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