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Synod 1973 established the Christian Reformed Church’s official position on homosexuality. A distinction between homosexuality as an orientation and homosexualism as explicit and overt homosexual practice is central to this position. The summary statement on the CRC’s website explains:

“Homosexuality is a condition in which a person is sexually oriented toward persons of the same sex, and for which the person may bear only a minimal responsibility. Persons of same-sex attraction may not be denied community acceptance solely because of their sexual orientation and should be wholeheartedly received by the church and given loving support and encouragement. Same-sex oriented Christians, like all Christians, are called to discipleship, holy obedience, and the use of their gifts in the cause of the kingdom. Opportunities to serve within the offices and the life of the congregation should be afforded to same-sex oriented Christians as well as to heterosexual Christians.

“Homosexualism (that is, explicit homosexual practice), however, is incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. The church affirms that it must exercise the same compassion for same-sex oriented persons in their sins as it exercises for all other sinners. The church should do everything in its power to help persons with same-sex orientation and give them support toward healing and wholeness.”

This means that the church must not discriminate against anyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. We must not prevent CRC members who are LGBTQ+ from holding church office (e.g., pastor, elder, or deacon) simply because of their sexual orientation. However, God calls all of us to discipleship and holy living. Those who hold church office “must be above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:1-13).

Recently, starting in 2016 and also as part of a more comprehensive 2022 report, the CRC has looked at pastoral care towards LGBTQ+ people in relation to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Its theological position has not changed. Synod 2022 (upheld by Synod 2023) clarified that a proper understanding of “unchastity” in Q&A 108 of the Heidelberg Catechism includes homosexual sex.

Synod's declaration of this as a confessional teaching means CRC members and officebearers must necessarily comply with this understanding or potentially face church disciplinary measures.

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