Same-Sex Relationships and the CRC

Note: Readers are strongly encouraged to read the reports referenced here for fuller understanding. A summary of the CRC’s position can be found at

In 1970, after Canada decriminalized homosexuality, synod (the broadest governance body in the Christian Reformed Church) appointed a study committee to articulate the church’s position on same-sex attraction. The result, Report 42, was adopted in 1973.

Report 42 said that being same-sex attracted is not sinful, but that same-sex sexual intimacy is. That distinction was considered progressive in its time. In fact, there were CRC congregations and even other denominations asking the CRC to declare that being same-sex attracted was sinful.

Forty-seven years and at least four study committee reports later, the CRC’s stance has not changed. It remains consistent with the pastoral advice initially offered in 1973, namely that “homosexual practice must be condemned as incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in Holy Scripture.”

What many people do not know or have forgotten is that Synod 1973 also called members of the CRC to a very high standard of pastoral care for those who experience same-sex attraction, calling churches to encourage full participation from them in the same way that is expected of heterosexual people, including holding offices of elders, deacons, and pastors. Pastors were called to be informed about homosexuality and to call members and officebearers to the responsibility they bear toward same-sex-attracted persons in the church.

Woeful Pastoral Care

It turns out that the CRC fell well short of the mark on pastoral care. A committee that reported to Synod 1999 surveyed clergy and found that 74% said they knew the 1973 report well; 25% said they knew only about the distinction made in 1973 or else knew almost nothing about the report; and 65% percent said the pastoral care guidelines of 1973 were not effectively carried out in their congregations.

That committee also reported that while the church was quite silent, a community made up of persons who love the Lord deeply, many struggling with their sexual identity, had all been waiting for their church to keep something of its promises. Synod 1999 called the church to repentance, and three years later, that committee provided the church with a plethora of resources to improve pastoral care for persons who experience same-sex attraction.

Societal Landscape Changes

Since then, same-sex marriage was legalized across Canada in 2005 and in the U.S. in 2015.

In light of that, Synod 2013 appointed a Committee to Provide Pastoral Advice on the Issue of Gay Marriage to give guidance on how CRC members, clergy, and churches can apply the denomination’s position in the new legal landscape.

The committee came to Synod 2016 with two reports, both of which were provided to the churches. However, synod recommended the guidance of only the second report, which included “prohibiting the solemnization of same-sex marriages and [strong] cautions about involvement of officebearers in such ceremonies as well as distinctions between participation in the life of the church and participation in its leadership.”

Looking Ahead to 2021

Synod 2016 also appointed a new Committee to Articulate a Foundation-Laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality to provide “clear ethical guidance for what constitutes a holy and healthy Christian sexual life.” Part of its mandate is to outline how a Reformed hermeneutic “does or does not comport with readings of Scripture being employed to endorse what are, for the historic church, groundbreaking conclusions regarding human sexual behavior and identification.”

The committee’s report is expected to adhere to the CRC’s view on marriage and same-sex relationships as adopted in 1973. After an interim report in 2019, the committee’s final report will be sent to the churches in November 2020 to prepare for discussion at Synod 2021.

We asked six people for their thoughts about their biblical view of same-sex relationships and the CRC. Three of them are heterosexual and three are same-sex attracted. They are equally divided on wanting to see the CRC affirm same-sex marriage and wanting the CRC to reaffirm its traditional view of marriage. One person requested anonymity because of the ramifications feared if she were identified. The Banner has agreed to grant that anonymity, using *Sylvia as a pseudonym.

Here are their thoughts, in their own words.

Jen Vander Heide, 36, librarian

Jen Vander Heide and her wife, Sarah Jacobson, are members of Sherman Street CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.

I am a child of this denomination. I grew up in Holland, Mich., going to Christian school, attending services twice on Sunday, and discussing the sermon with my grandfather during coffee time. I was a fourth-generation Calvin University graduate, and, after finishing graduate work, I took a teaching position there.

Being gay was not something I grew up wanting to be; for the first half of my life it was a source of deep shame. I hid it from those around me because the CRC taught that if I revealed who I was, I would live a life of aloneness and brokenness.

When I finally came out in my late 20s, unable to carry the secret any longer, I went on a quest to try to understand what type of God would allow me to be gay. I was shattered and angry.

I searched the Scriptures. I found the verses in the Bible often used to talk about gay people. I listened to the debates ... none of the arguments satisfied my questions. I kept searching.

I will always remember when I found John 10:10. There Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” For me, this was the radical truth of the gospel. Jesus came to bring me life—a full life.

To me, the CRC’s theological stance that LGBT people are broken and incapable of righteous love does not bring life. Instead it brings death, either physical or emotional, to LGBT people in our denomination. This troubles me because our interpretation of the Bible and resulting theology should bear good fruit—it should bear life.

Jesus confirms this in Matthew 7 when he speaks of true and false prophets: “By their fruit you will recognize them” (v. 16). What fruit has been born from the CRC’s stance about LGBT people and their ability to love? Look at my life. Look at the lives of the LGBT people you know and their families. Look at those who have been forced to leave. Where is the good fruit of this theology? I see none.

What, then, is the path that bears good fruit? Perhaps recognizing that the New Testament is a radical story of inclusion that made even the first Christians uncomfortable. The first thing that God called the new church to do was to include the Gentiles. This was hard for Peter. In Acts 10, God instructed him: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (v. 15). Jesus was clear that he came for more people than the early Christians originally imagined. In John 10:16, Jesus tells us: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Let us more fully become one flock in love.

Sylvia*, 30s, married and living in Canada

I believe that God calls us to holiness in all areas of our lives, including sexuality, and that the creational design for sexual intercourse is between a man and a woman, bound together in marriage.

But I think the church has made numerous errors in the way it has approached questions of sexuality. We have often focused primarily on LGBTQ+ questions while avoiding other large cultural shifts on questions of love, sex, and marriage that have taken root in our pews.

One example of this type of largely unexamined but accepted shift is our perception of marriage. We have loudly affirmed, per 1973, that God has called same-sex-attracted Christians to celibacy and that this is a rich and full life. Meanwhile, we have exalted marriage far beyond what the New Testament does. For heterosexual Christians, marriage has become a status marker, a coming of age, and it’s been enrobed in nearly Disney-esque fairy tales. Our church programming and adult discipleship ministry assume adult members are married (and having children).

The contradictions should be obvious. By buying into marriage as the be-all, end-all, heterosexual Christians have failed to examine the ways sinful narratives and practices have come into our understandings of marriage and sex while emphasizing (overemphasizing) same-sex sexual sins. Heterosexual Christians must uphold for themselves the same standard of discipleship and obedience expected of LGBTQ+ Christians, name the ways we have sinned, repent, and ask for continued accountability for faithful discipleship.

There’s a persistent narrative around that goes like this: a person grows up in church, holds a traditional perspective, then meets gay friends for the first time. Eyes are opened, and the person becomes affirming (of same-sex relationships). To be sure, this happens. But narratives like this can also lead to the assumption that those of us who still hold a traditional perspective don’t know or aren’t in close relationship with gay or lesbian Christians. If we were, we’d obviously change our position. For me, that hasn’t been the case.

I’ve wrestled with these things in the living rooms of close friends (including close friends who are gay and friends who are on the opposite “side” of this) and shed tears over them. I’ve heard the deep hurt that has come from the way the church has spoken about these issues and the stances the church has taken. These experiences have added complexity to the narratives I’ve once held, have moved me deeply, and called me to repentance for the ways I’ve erred. But I’ve not changed my fundamental position. I have, however, gained rich, life-giving friendships.

I believe there are quieter, deeply biblically faithful, and pastorally sensitive voices that are getting drowned out by the tone and tenor of this conversation—not that this conversation is not rightly passionate; these are indeed deeply weighty things. But weightiness need not bring about shouting matches, incivility, hostility, and broken relationships. There has to be a better way.

Fred Heerema, 71, retired mediator

Fred Heerema and his partner, Lyle Clark, are members of First CRC in Toronto, Ont.

I believe the Bible sets out the norm for all intimate human relationships—faithfulness guiding self-giving love to maturity. This norm also applies to myself as a LGBT believer in a committed, same-sex relationship.

I think LGBT persons are often thought of by CRC believers as driven only by their sexual desires and needs when they would never consider their own heterosexually oriented sons and daughters in such a reduced way. It would help the CRC if it could truly hear the full life experiences of its LGBT members, including their joys, challenges, questions, longings, and the ways we experience enrichment through committed relationships. As a part of God’s good creation, I want my gift of sexuality affirmed and celebrated, not locked away. My healthy (and sexual) life has developed in a manner both parallel to and uniquely different from those of heterosexual people. Celibacy is not the way for me any more than it would be for a heterosexual person, unless I choose it or perceive it as a gift.

Much time and energy has been spent by the CRC on the isolated biblical texts that make some possible reference to homosexual activity. I believe such studies are unhelpful in the church’s desire to understand and include its LGBT members. I would urge the CRC to stop thinking that the Bible alone has “the answer” to every question it might have on these matters. I wish the CRC would place more emphasis on how God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves can lead to new, Spirit-led discernment of how the church can embrace the multiple types of diversity within our human community. I believe the CRC must also engage meaningfully with current scientific understandings and social attitudes lest its witness be compromised and its relevance questioned.

Given the self-limiting constraints the CRC has to date placed on study committees reporting to the church on matters involving its LGBT members, many LGBT members despair of belonging in the CRC with their full lives and have left the church in their past.

After so many decades involving repeated study committees, there are CRC congregations that just wish to move forward and to be more fully inclusive of their LGBT members regardless of their relationship status. I believe such congregations must be allowed to be fully welcoming without fear of censure or discipline by the larger church bodies. This “local option” has been an important means of accommodating conflicting views on various other contentious issues within the CRC and it should also be available in this case.

Joseph Bowman, 52, student at Calvin Theological Seminary

Joseph Bowman is a member of Alliston (Ont.) CRC.

I am a same-sex attracted man, committed to celibacy for life. I believe that homosexual practice is sin; I have always believed that. In fact, I have never physically acted on my attractions.

I spent 20 years of my life begging God to make me straight. I owned every book written in the 1980s or 1990s for Christians who wanted to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. I went to ex-gay support groups and Exodus conferences for years. I even went to a residential ex-gay live-in program for a time. These things were supposed to fix me. But when all was said and done, there was no change in my attractions.

In the summer of 2007, my counselor asked me, “Joseph, if your attractions never change, will you still follow Christ?” And my initial answer was no. Absolutely not. I wanted to be fixed. I wanted to be married with kids, like “normal” people. How could I possibly continue to trust in God if I’m never going to be healed of this?

My counselor said to me, “Joseph, the issue isn’t that you’re same-sex attracted. The issue is that you hate yourself because of it.” And he was right. Almost immediately, my self-hatred disappeared. I felt like an authentic person for the first time in my life. Yet my attractions remain to this day.

For years, I said no to God’s call to ministry in my life because I thought I was unfit for ministry until I was fixed. But I could no longer ignore God’s call in my life. I graduated from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto in 2010. I was licensed to exhort in Classis Toronto for six years, and I am now completing my studies at Calvin Theological Seminary, hoping to be declared a candidate for Minister of the Word by Synod 2021.

The CRC stands at a crossroads. It is time to make a choice. God’s word is clear. Marriage is for one man and one woman. No amount of proof-texting and (faulty) hermeneutics can make Scripture read that God blesses a marriage between two people of the same sex. People can tell their stories to pull on the heartstrings, but my story must submit to the truth of Scripture. For me, to live is Christ, and I must die to my sin nature.

Our denomination cannot allow both opinions to coexist. As a soon-to-be candidate for ministry, I personally could not serve in a denomination that does not take a clear, unequivocal stance that homosexual practice is sin. One side is biblically solid; the other is not. One side or the other must leave the denomination. That might sound harsh, but to those who are perishing, the gospel is the smell of death (2 Cor. 2:15-16).

Leonard Vander Zee, 75, retired pastor

Leonard Vander Zee and his wife, Jeanne, are members of Church of the Servant CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The CRC’s 1973 Synodical Report on Homosexuality appeared around the time I was just beginning as an ordained pastor. I saw the report as generally enlightened, especially its conclusion that homosexuality is an orientation rather than a perverse choice.

Increasingly, however, the lives and experiences of real people began to alter my views. I could no longer see them abstractly as “homosexuals,” but as whole, loving, gifted human beings, many of them committed Christians.

The 1973 Report’s distinction between choice and orientation is not found in the Bible. In Romans 1:18-27, Paul describes human rebellion against God. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness ... and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”

Then Paul gives an example. “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women. ...” Paul is condemning what historians say were typical homosexual relationships in his time that often involved exploitation, pederasty, and sexual slavery. Paul was not being a homophobic bigot, but condemning widespread, perverse practices among the empire’s elite.

But these are not the same people we are talking about today, as the very language of the text shows. We are talking about baptized CRC members, not “godless” people who “suppress the truth.” They do not “exchange natural sexual relations” but form relationships out of their sexual orientation, which is as natural to them as heterosexuality.

Still, the 1973 Report demands that they remain celibate. But on what basis? Though Paul advocated celibacy for all unmarried Christians, he still acknowledged that not all are so gifted. Therefore, he wrote, “It is better to be married than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:8-9). Since God ordained marriage as the covenant commitment in which sex belongs, the real issue here is same-sex marriage. Not all of our gay and lesbian members are able to or desire to live celibate lives.

Same-sex marriage is a relatively new, difficult, and complex issue for Christians. Unfortunately, Synod 2016 limited participation on the Committee to Articulate a Foundation Laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality to only those who agree with the 1973 report. Instead of sparking a real and open denominational discussion, the present committee can only defend our 50-year-old stance.

We need an honest, open, and thorough new look at the biblical evidence and the contemporary situation on this issue. That will demand a longer journey of study and mutual engagement in an atmosphere of love, trust, and forbearance. Choosing this path, the CRC could be a beacon of light for North American churches today.

William Koopmans, 61, pastor

William Koopmans and his wife, Louise, are members of Hope CRC in Brantford, Ont.

The Bible teaches that all people, and especially Christians, must seek to be pure, holy, and obedient in all realms of life, including their sexuality (Col. 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Thess. 4:3-5).

With regard to sexuality and marriage, the Bible indicates that God’s original intent, which remains normative for today, is to be a covenant relationship between a man and a woman (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:23-24; Mark 10:6-8; Eph. 5:25-33; 1 Tim. 3:2), and same-sex practice is inappropriate (Rom. 1:29; 1 Cor. 6:9).

While holding this view, it is important to develop an understanding of factors that might be part of the development and experience of sexual orientation and desire. Though it is easy as individuals to become myopic, the church collectively is looking at the many aspects of this issue—from Biblical interpretation to biological, epigenetic, sociological, psychological, and pastoral care dimensions.

Although through biblical conviction we ought not condone same-sex practice, we must nevertheless hear God’s call to show compassion and care for those who struggle because same-sex attraction is an issue, either for themselves or for a family member or friend. As God calls us all to obedience, difficult as that might be, he does not entitle us to substitute compassion for faithfulness to him. Contrary to a sentiment often implied, calling each other to obedience and accountability is not unloving per se—as Jesus demonstrated (John 8:11; 14:15) and Scripture emphasizes (Gal. 6:1-2; 1 John 5:2-3). In fact, mutually assisting each other in godly living is a genuine expression of love that is superior to the secular liberties advocated apart from God’s Word.

Differentiating between same-sex attraction and same-sex practice is very important. We also need to acknowledge the corporate, communal, and cultural dynamics that are part of this issue and take appropriate steps to promote responsible living in the framework of a Christian worldview. For example, it is now known that various chemicals can influence epigenetics. Children that are affected by such factors, perhaps even prior to birth, are not responsible for their condition. But what is being done to eliminate these negatively impacting chemicals? The products may be economically beneficial, but they should not be maintained if they lead to epigenetic compromise.

Sociological factors are also extremely influential. We are too complacent about the unbiblical curriculum that is being presented in many educational institutions in our society, and too often silent about the unbiblical lifestyles that are presented as normal, acceptable—and even desirable—in our present culture.

God calls us to reform in all areas of life. It is my hope and prayer that the CRC will adhere to a biblical position that does not permit same-sex practices while becoming better educated about the complexity of same-sex attraction and developing appropriate pastoral care and compassion for those who are dealing with such issues.


Discussion Questions

  1. How well do you know and understand the CRC’s current position on homosexuality? How clear were you of the 1973 distinction between same-sex attraction (or orientation) and same-sex sexual intimacy? Were you aware that persons with same-sex attraction can be an officebearer in the church?
  2. In reading the six viewpoints, where do you see commonalities and shared concerns among them?
  3. Why do you think our churches have fallen short of the pastoral care for people with same-sex attraction as recommended by the denomination?
  4. How would you spiritually walk alongside a fellow Christian who has same-sex attraction?

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

See comments (15)


Dear Jen, Sylvia*, Fred, Joseph, Leonard, and William - thanks for sharing your experiences and for sharing your sense of God's call on our lives as revealed in Scripture.  It is good for me to hear, listen, and be shaped by your voices that come from within our CRC community.  Thanks, Banner editorial team, for the work of helping us hear multiple perspectives as we discern our way as a denomination through this conversation.

I've also been working on a document containing "Same-Sex Marriage Resources and Church Order History for CRCNA" ( to assist our classis in some of our local conversations.  I offer it here also as it may help interested readers find other places where this conversation has been happening (i.e. Dr. Wolterstorff and Dr. Tuininga in conversation; Classis GRE report and Dr. Cooper response, etc, as well as a history of Church Order decisions related to Same-Sex Marriage).

My hope is that this document makes it easier to listen well to this longer conversation we've been having.  Like this article, I also aim to be as even-handed as possible (and you are welcome to help me with that, as I note in the document).

Thanks to each of those writing for their openness, and to the Banner for putting this together.  And thanks especially to our LGBT brothers and sisters who contributed. 

By even the most conservative estimate we have sinned against them a great deal - if it took Bowman so much work before he managed to not hate himself, how much more for straight Christians, and how much could we have spared him?  How much hatred can we spare the LGBT children growing up in our own congregations?

Well and good that the invocation of 'compassion' cannot replace confession of sin and repentance from it.  But Jen, Fred, and Joseph's willingness to teach the CRC in spite of very often unrepented sin against them is positively Christ-like.

I very much respect the contributors for their honesty and bravery in putting themselves out there, even if one is anonymous. (Ironically a non-affirming, which says something about the current realities in Canada [but also elsewhere], imho.)

My concern with this article, however, is directed at the editorial choices here.

I don't know whether this is an explicit goal of the Banner staff, but presenting the issues in this 50/50 way does, in itself, have the effect of pushing the narrative that there are two legitimate choices here.

However, when God speaks clearly on an issue, there are not two legitimate sides. There is only God's side. To speak affirmingly of LGBT as unrepentent office bearers is to speak in defiance against Jesus Christ.

(Not to mention 50/50 for/against is exteremly not representative of the current beliefs of individual denominational members (bi-)nation-wide. And 50/50 hetero/non-hetero is even less representative.)

Thank you to all who contributed to this article and also those who commented before me. This is a discussion worth having, in hopes that new understanding of each other and unity rather than division can be gained by it. I'd appreciate if all who comment here would join those who shared their viewpoints in the article in stating our age, occupation, where we are located.  I realized that just that small amount of information was helpful background for listening to them. Susan Langeland, 68, retired teacher, Grand Rapids MI

Susan - Thanks for your comment; I'll simply respond by honouring your request.  My name is Paul Verhoef.  I'm an ordained CRC Minister of the Word who serves on behalf of our Classis (Alberta South & Saskatchewan) as a chaplain at the University of Calgary.  I've been in that position for 16+ years.  That work is brought me and my family to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  I am currently 45.  Perhaps more notably, my Grandma (in Pella, Iowa, USA) just celebrated her 93rd birthday yesterday (the rest of my family-of-origin is in the USA)!  We had time for a brief chat - so good to hear her voice as I cannot travel to see her these days.

35 year old high school Bible Teacher from Sioux Center, Iowa that attends Faith CRC. 

Patrick Anthony - 41 year old minister from Escalon, California.

Do I believe that professing Christians have sinned against people struggling with same-sex attraction? Yes, of course. That is a profound evil unlike the kindness of our Lord. Jesus will not break the bruised reed or quench the faintly burning wick. We are to admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted and help the weak. We are not to mock and condemn anyone regardless of the particular cross that God has entrusted to them. But our loving someone is not defined by whether or not they feel loved and affirmed, but rather by a Scriptural balance of grace and truth. We must speak the truth - in love (Eph. 4:15).

Do I believe someone can experience same-sex attraction and have no conscious recollection of where that desire originated? Yes, of course. We are complicated. We are a mystery to ourselves.

I am never puzzled by the presence of sin in all of its manifestations. This is a fallen world. The experience of temptation is, I believe, one of the greast forms of suffering that we experience as people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

But I am completely perplexed by the approval of sin. Scripture is clear that same-sex desire and action are sin and that those who unrepentantly engage in such action will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Paul even says, "do not be decieved..." about this, yet, we are deciving ourselves and others.

That means we are actually hating people who experience same-sex desire by teaching them to believe (or at the very least implying that God is indifferent on the subject) that that particular sin does not need to be put to death. We are like the shepherds of Israel condemned by God in Ezekiel 34. We are teachers that James warned (James 3:1). Do we not consider that we will have to give an account to a holy God for how we have shepherded His people (Heb. 13:17)? Like the church in Corinth, we are arrogant! Ought we not rather mourn?! (1 Cor. 5:2). This article is a profound grief to me. I am sad beyond measure that we are baptizing sin and condemning people to hell and calling it a dialogue as if nothing was at stake. It would be better if a millstone were hung around our necks and we were drowned in the sea (Matt. 18:6).

Someone may read this and think me unloving. And if this was a forum of people who were not claiming to be Christians I would speak much more softly or not at all. But we are claiming to represent the church of Jesus Christ. The church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth and we are treating this issue as if God hasn't spoken clearly and as if eternal souls were not at stake.

My keyboard is filled with tears. 

Editing note:  When the phrase "a summary of the CRC's position.." is used at the head of the article, it sets up those whose positions are different as being contrary.  It would be more helpful, and more accurate to say "a summary of the CRC's pastoral advice on this given 47 years ago" instead.  Other than that, really helpful article.  Thank you for publishing it.  

Your language betrays your bigotry.  We are not "people who experience same-sex attraction," like it was vertigo or migraines or something similarly unfortunate.  We are PEOPLE.  GAY PEOPLE.  We were created that way. We are fine with that.  Just like straight people.  Would you use such condescending language with straight people?  Of course not.  I left the CRC decades ago because of such attitudes.  The CRC is "a group of straight people who experience bigotry, dressed up in religous rationalization." How does it sound when applied in reverse?  Fortunately, the world has changed since 1973, and gay people have a wide variety of worship communities to join that don't view them as second class humans, beset by illness.  We're fine there.  The CRC will continue to grow smaller and less important, and soon disappear, because nobody likes smug, institutionalized bigotry.  Except the bigots.  And they are dying out.

Thank you for posting a very interesting article, articulating a variety of views held by people from within our denomination. There sure is a divergence of viewpoints regarding same sex relationships. Reading the viewpoints of those contributing to the article, as well as the comments made so far, there seems to be an extreme polarization over this issue. It looks like the polarization we see on the political scene in which neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to dialogue or compromise. Such polarization doesn’t point to a good outcome for our church. The thing with political polarization, is that after the election, we have to accept the results from a fair vote and life goes on. With the church, not so. People will leave the church or start a new church group or denomination, both sides being diminished in strength. Of course, in this post Christian culture, the church is moving in this direction already. The LGBTQ issue is just another contributing factor. I’d like to think that time is on the side of compromise, but when it comes to the bottom line there doesn’t seem to be compromise or time left. Hoping for a good outcome.

In answering question #3, I would suggest that our pastoral care has fallen short in that it treats same sex attracted people as abnormal and in need of special care. I wouldn’t think “same sex attracted” members want to stand out from anyone else.

In answering question #4, my experience is to treat those who are homosexual as no different from anyone else. Those who are in a same sex relationship don’t want to be treated different from others.

Hi Paul, Gayla Postma here. I'm sorry you didn't like our choice of language. We are actually following "people first" language usage. A person is not defined by only one facet of their being. It is clunky at times but we are urged by advociates of many people-groups to refer to them as "people who...." because they are people first. I hope that helps.

James 2:8-10 If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, those who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Homosexual activity is a sin that is unacceptable as right and good. That is the big difference. We don’t call any other sin good. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We cannot save ourselves, thus we need Jesus Christ. We all have sin to deal with. We don’t celebrate it. We repent of it. We should recognize temptation to sin, like Joseph Bowman did, and not let it become a full-blown sin. I commend Joseph for his determination and persistent prayer asking God to take it away. I believe God allows things in our life to teach us; grow us in character; use it for His bigger plan that we sometimes cannot see.

What Leonard Vander Zee said worries me, “Increasingly, however, the lives and experiences of real people began to alter my views.”

That’s what I fear is happening in our church denomination in regards to the homosexual issue. Increasingly, we see article after article on this subject, whittling down our resolve to keep God’s Word valid in its entirety. If Synod 2021 should decide to side with culture and not God’s Word on this issue, many members will leave this denomination.

I am a 25 year old woman from Fremont, Michigan, now living in Grandville, Michigan.  I am a speech-language pathologist with both my Bachelor's (2017) and Master's (2018) degrees from Calvin College.  

In reading the article in the November 2020 Banner, 'Same-Sex Relationships and the CRC,' I was crushed.  In my time as a student at Calvin College, I watched the attitude towards non-heterosexual orientation and behavior move quickly from being more acceptable to talk about, to a cultural push for love and acceptance, and now even in just the few brief years since I have graduated to full-blown celebration of homosexual lifestyle, orientation, and behavior.  Please reference this article published by the Calvin Chimes: .

This same progression is beginning to be reflected in the Christian Reformed Church, coming to outspoken fruition in this month's issue of The Banner.  I, like others who have posted comments on this article, am deeply troubled that The Banner has chosen to represent both sides of this topic as an equally valid, correct, rhetorical discussion of a cultural issue. Certainly, this is a cultural issue in our secular world.  Absolutely, there is heavy political debate and civil rights movements regarding this topic.  But fundamentally, the church is called BY GOD (it is a command) to be set apart from the secular world.  There really should not be any question as to what is right or wrong in this matter, and I am daily puzzled as to how the church can be so polarized on the topic. 

What it really boils down to is, what is driving your perspective?  It seems that the two sides of the arguement are driven by either stauch adherance to the commands of God-breathed scripture, or by the influence of a progressive cultural movement towards civil rights, love, and acceptance despite what is written in scripture.  To illustrate this point, I quote from one of the pieces shared in the article by Fred Heerema, 'I would urge the CRC to stop thinking that the Bible alone has the answer.'  Really, what more must be said?  The Bible makes no mistake in condemning unrepetent sin. Those supporting this shift to celebrate, encourage, and condone this blatantly sinful behavior in the eyes of God have chosen to read the Bible, see what scripture says on the matter, and dismiss it because it is inconvenient to their own wordly desires and temptations.  

This brings to question, then, are those who are eloping with this school of thought victims of blind naiveté kidnapped by claims of 'love' being the golden answer, or is this an instance of willful ignorance, where one has read the Bible, heard what God has to say, and hardened one's heart towards God's commands? And how, then, are those who practice strict adherance to scriptural commands then called hateful bigots? 

Are we called to love all of God's children? Most certainly.  Does my heart go out to those who have been burdened with this load?  Most ardently.  But are we commanded by God to uphold his law as written and scripture even when it is socially unpopular? Most sacredly. 

It is intoxicating to ponder how loving our God is.  It is impossible for use to comprehend his forgiveness and his mercy.  And it is so much more lovely and comforting to hear these things on the radio, in your devotionals, and from the pulpit. But please do not forget that our God is also an angry and jealous God, and do not also forget the painful reality that eternal fiery damnation awaits those who harden their hearts towards God's word.  We don't talk about this enough because it doesn't give us that same 'feel-good' Sunday morning aftertaste, and I see the message from the pulpit slowly fading this aspect of the Christian message, although it is undeniably real. The Bible is consistent in its depiction of God's punishment responses to unrepetant sin, homosexual/sexual and otherwise with destruction of entire nations and cities in war and fire, and warnings of lakes of sulfur, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.  Those in the church celebrating homosexuality have been emboldened by the civil, sociological, and cultural waves of progressive lifestyles, viewpoints, morals, and values in the secular world but neglect to give scripture the primary placeholder in their hearts. 

I conclude by saying I see a deep divide in the CRC church that mirrors the divide in our great nation.  This particular issue, if not guided by the compass of scripture, will likely result in a physical division and split the church pending the results of Synod 2021.  My heart grieves for this church body and family which I have grown up in, and been part of many congregations previously of one heart and mind.  I fear for what the future holds, but take comfort in knowing no matter how compromised this church becomes by the secular world, we can always turn to the scripture for truth and guidance.  

Anna, Thank you for speaking out against this. You have a good head on your shoulders. I am so impressed with your faith and courage to write this being as young as you are. This world needs more like you. I read the Chimes article and the comments just now. I am angry with Calvin University for going down this path. 

Thank you to the brave people who were vulnerable enough to write on their experiences with the church while being LGBTQ+. We should be amplifying their voices as the discussion around the church and LGBT+ issues.

I was disheartened to read this article with voice being given to those who are not a part of the LGBTQ+ community. The voice of the heterosexual should not have been given equal opportunity to speak on issues that aren't about themselves. Giving both sides of the argument an equal voice deters readers from focusing on the perspective they may not agree with and instead find validation in the opposing view.  Those who are writing from their perspective of being LGBTQ+ and part of a Christian community are talking about their own experiences. This should show us how difficult it is to be someone who loves Jesus and is told who they are is sinful. The other perspectives given are, by the majority, only reiterating that LGBTQ+ people are sinful by being who they are and are not valid.

How can we educate others when we are not giving the voices of those who need to be heard a chance to speak without being undermind by the opposing side. We cannot learn about the complexities of being LGBTQ+ and being a part of the church if the narrative doesn't give the opportunity to do so. The LGBTQ+ community is a diverse group of individuals. Our identities are not just as LGBTQ+ people, but we are also church members, parents, friends, coworkers, etc. We are loved people of God and that should never be put into question. Our lives should not be belittled into an argument of whether or not we are valid. The conversation should be about how the church can show God's love to those who have been told God doesn't love them because of who they are. We cannot change how God has made us, but we can change the conversation that church is having so that we show love to all peoples regardless of gender, race, and sexual orientation