Synodical Committee on Pastoral Guidance Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Visits Ontario

An evening session with the Committee for Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage drew more than 140 people from churches in Hamilton, Ontario, and showed that Christian Reformed church members hold a variety of views on how to carry out appropriate ministry involving people in same-sex relationships.

Held as part of the fall meeting of Classis Hamilton (a regional group of churches), the event was one of six Canadian stops on a listening tour as part of the committee’s mandate from Synod 2013 (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC). The committee also plans to visit seven U.S. classes.

The committee is not reexamining the church’s position on homosexuality. Its mandate is to give pastoral guidance to churches, pastors, leaders, and church members on doing ministry in a cultural setting where same-sex marriage is legal. The CRC’s position, established in 1973 and reaffirmed in 2002, is that homosexual orientation is not a sin but that homosexual practice is.

Committee member Wendy Gritter, along with Peter Noteboom, facilitated the session. Gritter noted that their mandate from synod was to follow a shepherding model, listening to the churches and reporting back to synod as it does its work.

The evening included individual reflection, prayer, and small group discussion. Responses from those in attendance showed that while everyone wants to show love and hospitality to those who are living in a same-sex relationship, there isn’t as much agreement about how that should look, especially when it comes to church membership and participation.

Many attendees said that as they navigate questions that arise in response to same-sex marriage, they need more resources and education on the biblical teachings and the church’s stance. Others want help to balance cultural tensions with church convictions and tensions between created reality and scriptural reality.

One person asked the denomination to reexamine the report from 1973. This was met with applause as attendees expressed the view that the language contained in the report is outdated and offensive. One woman shared a personal experience of how she found the church’s treatment of those who are gay and lesbian to be harmful. She stressed the importance of following Jesus’ example of love rather than seeing them as projects to be fixed. Others stated that individuals who practice homosexuality should not be welcome in the church.

A survey conducted by the committee early this year drew 5,000 responses that reflect the diverse perspectives held in the denomination. In discussion about the implication of that for the church, some suggested looking at other denominational structures that allow for a more inclusive and broader idea of belonging to the body of Christ. Others stated that the church should place God above all in this discussion, not personal needs or the pressures of society.  

Reflecting on the evening, some expressed their fear of division in the denomination because of differing views. They worry that scriptural study will not necessarily unify these differences. Others said that it is in recognizing all brokenness that the church can move away from judgement to a space of hospitality.

“Our hope as followers of Jesus is that our faith will have transformational power on the people who enter our circles. But we must be careful not to equate belongingness with specific kinds of behavior,” commented Shawn Groen, a member of First CRC in Hamilton. “If we can begin to separate belongingness and behaving, we will be more comfortable journeying and suffering with people wrestling with deep questions about love and acceptance.”

The challenges that face the committee and the church were evident in the discussion. Yet as Gritter pointed out, although there will be pain in the process, there is also the possibility of growth.

In addition to listening sessions at classis meetings over the next year, the committee is also attending Christian Reformed campus ministry and chaplains' conferences. The committee will be giving an interim report at Synod 2015 and hopes to hold a listening session there as well. The final report is scheduled for presentation at Synod 2016.


Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members

About the Author

Krista Dam-Vandekuyt is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classis Hamilton.

See comments (19)


Marriage is between one man and one woman. No one who takes biblical, Reformed theology seriously would think otherwise. The problem is a lot of our denomination is no longer Reformed and eager to cave to secular political pressures.

How to love sinners?  Jesus always showed great love and mercy for sinners of all kinds.  Prostitutes, tax collectors, cheaters, liars, the thief on the cross.   And reading scripture, it seems they repented.  When they didn't repent, as in the case of Annanias and Sapphira, or in the case of I Cor. 5 the adulterer, then forgiveness was reserved or withheld. 

The crc position that homosexual orientation is not a sin, might be like saying that lust is not a sin, or that coveting is not a sin, that hatred is not a sin.  We often have a natural inclination to jealousy and greed and lust.   If the action is a sin, then the desire to do the action seems also to be undesireable.  We all need forgiveness and change, not rationalization, and not excuses. 

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. (Proverbs 28:4)

Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! (Psalm 119:29-31)

The Christian Reformed Church should accept everone.  What is never is talked about is what anyone joining the CRC should accept.  The Bible is clear that homosexual behavior is not acceptable and anyone joining the CRC must accept that. They should not express any thoughts that this behavior is acceptable and should be trying to refrain from its practice. Members should never express any thought that the behavior is acceptable also. If someone from ISIS wanted to join we would not allow them to lead us in prayers to Allah. To accept the behavior is to reject God and the ten commandants.

Does anyone see the connection between the comments above and the first article in The Banner this week on how the CRC has declined almost 75,000 people in 15 years? It's obvious that none of you have had a child or a loved one who is gay. Who have never had someone you love who was so bullied by the church and the Christian school that he attempted to take his own life. Who had a gay loved one who loved the church so much--was baptized there, made profession of faith there, wanted to go into ministry--and then told that they were outside God's grace, this covenant child of God! How dare anyone say I--or anyone else--"is no longer Reformed" because we believe in loving the sinner and hating our own sin?

Thanks be to God that our child has found a loving church home in the Reformed faith where he is affirmed and where his talents are used to God's glory. Jesus said, "A good tree can only bear good fruit. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit." The only good fruit I see coming from all of this is from those who have loved gay people as God loves them. I have seen no good fruit coming from the CRC's position of bullying and right-fighting and Bible beat-down. It follows then, that the axe is at the root of the CRC "trunk" ready to strike.

Is the goal  of the CRC to increase numbers or to praise God.  What is more important, your pain or the child's salvation.  To be a Christian involves repentence.  If you are telling others about this behavior and acting as if it is not a sin you're hurting the Church. Which of the Commandants is it permisable to turn our backs too and say go ahead.  Will God not judge that church.  We are judged not on being sympathetic but by the law.

"It's obvious that none of you have had a child or a loved one who is gay. Who have never had someone you love who was so bullied by the church and the Christian school that he attempted to take his own life. Who had a gay loved one who loved the church so much--was baptized there, made profession of faith there, wanted to go into ministry--and then told that they were outside God's grace, this covenant child of God!"

Can you explain how this is obvious to you? Do you personally know all the people who has posted on this thread to make such a sweeping statement? The issue of homosexuality is an issue that cuts both ways and to make such sweeping statements does nothing to further the conversation. I do find it ironic that the people in the LGBT camp are so quick to call people in the church unloving and bigots, to call them names, when they disagree with the LGBT position. I wonder who is really is the unloving party here? 


I wonder how much of the much of the committee is actually following the mandate to " give guidance and clarification on how members, clergy, and churches can apply the biblical teachings reflected in the Acts of Synod 1973 Report 42"? From this article it sounds like they committee is causing more confusion than bringing any sort of clarity on the issue. 

As a pastor, I am so grateful for the work being done by the Committee for Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage. Keep up the good work!

We do not suffer from a lack of scriptural examples of how to love. We suffer from a lack of contemporary language that allows us to express the Gospel of “repent and believe” while still remaining free of judgment (a ‘tolerant’ culture’s mortal sin). The problem as I see it is that this language we want cannot exist. Our examples of Jesus’ dealings with sinful people are saturated with a holy love which calls people to express faith, love and repentance in a particular way (often in a way that suggests God will change us, because we’re not ok the way we are). We can say, “God loves you, but repentance is what God will work in you for his glory,” and we lose this culture at “but.” 

I personally know more than 100 people who have left the crc.  Some recently, some a long time ago.  None of them left because gays were being persecuted.  Many of them left because it seemed that in addition to other issues, homosex was being tolerated.  Without an acknowledgement of sin, there is no need for repentance, and no need for grace.  Without a need for grace, there is no need for Christ, nor for the church.  I don't think the church should be bullied into denying sin. 

Thou shall not commit adultery- Jesus said, whoever looks with lust at another person has already committed adultery in their heart. (Matthew 5:28)

If we believe there's no law, then there's no morality.

But, the law is permanent (The 10 Commandments). It will be the standard God uses on Judgement day.

"For as many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law" (Romans 2:12)


"If the God you believe in hates all the same people you do, then you know you've created God in your own image." 
Anne Lamott

If I hate all the same sins God hates I know that I am on the right path.

So if you don't hate anyone because you think God doesn't hate anyone, have you created God in your own image?  

Does God love those whom he punishes?  

Did God love all those He destroyed in the flood?  

Did God love Sodom and Gomorrah?  

Did God love the people of Israel?

I suggest we should not judge God, and that we should  not judge those who try to keep his commandments.

George I think you are on the wrong path.  If Jesus is the way and the truth, and Paul tells us in 1Cor 13 that the life in Christ is lived in Love, then I think identifying with what you hate won't take you very far in the way of truth.  Let me paraphrase Matthew 5: 43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate [the gay] your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies [love everyone] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the straight and the gay,  and sends rain on those who understand they are under grace and those who have not yet understood that.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even gays do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect, perfect in love."  And 1 John 2:9-11 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his [straight or gay] brother and sister is still in the darkness.  Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him and he can only see what he hates."  And lets not say I love the sinner but not the sin, because sexual identity goes to very core of who we are, they can't be separated, and to think you can is just another way to hate.  If you don't believe me ask some of your gay friends and church members. 

I received an email that said I should not hate the sin. But Rev 2 vs 6 in the NIV says 6"But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. " You must separate the person from the sin if the LGBT gets an exemption then we are all free to sin. Welcome the sinner but teach them to repent.

"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. (Psalm119:1)

"One person asked the denomination to reexamine the report from 1973. This was met with applause as attendees expressed the view that the language contained in the report is outdated and offensive. "      

This road show the CRC is putting on will do very little but attract the above situations.