Website Supports Traditional Marriage, Rejects Synodical Report on Same-Sex Marriage

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Returning Church, an informal group of pastors and other church leaders who take what they view as an orthodox view of marriage, has published a website in support of traditional marriage in response to the report from the Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance Re: Same-Sex Marriage. Synod 2016, the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church, will receive and discuss the committee’s report in June.

CRCNA Biblical Marriage went online in February of this year. Rev. Chad Steenwyk of Holland, Mich., is one of the steering committee members for that website. “We wanted to provide information . . . on contemporary sources that were consistent with our ’73 report,” he said, referring to the study committee report adopted in 1973 as the CRC’s position on homosexuality. The 1973 report states that homosexuality is not sinful but homosexual activity is. “We hope to provide CRC congregations, church leaders, classes, and future synodical delegates with information that will help them to promote and defend biblical marriage both in the CRCNA and in the broader society. We believe that God is clear in his Word that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”

A document on the website entitled “Biblical Reflections on the Synodical Report,” written by three CRC pastors, raises several issues with the synodical report going to synod. Among them are a charge that the report “hardly cites or quotes Scripture.” The authors argue that the report is “blind to evil powers, satanic deception, and the spirit of the age.”

“The world is exerting much pressure to approve of same-sex sexual activity,” they wrote. “There has been a well-organized effort in society and in the church to orchestrate public approval of same-sex intimacy. Yet the committee condemns phrases such as ‘gay agenda’ and offers no pastoral guidance for discerning the sexual revolution as a manifestation of the wicked power of the world.”

The authors of the critique charge that the “throughout the report, the bottom line seems to be avoidance of hurting anyone’s feelings.”

The website includes more than 20 overtures (requests) and communications to Synod 2016, most rejecting the synodical committee’s report. Some of the overtures call for an addition to the supplement of Article 69 of the Church Order (the rules by which all CRCs agree to abide). The proposed addition would state that same-sex marriage ceremonies, civil or religious, are in conflict with the Word of God, and ministers who do not uphold that would be subject to church discipline.

The Returning Church has been around for nearly 10 years, now functioning primarily as a Facebook group that includes some 400 men and women from Christian Reformed churches across the U.S. and Canada.

See also:

Pastoral Guidance for Churches Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

Pastors Call for Redirection of CRC

About the Author

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

See comments (12)


Timeless Truths

Dare to be a Daniel/Phillip P. Bliss

"Standing by a purpose true,                                                                                                                       Heeding God's command,                                                                                                                           Honor them, the faithful few!                                                                                                                     All hail to Daniel's band!                                                                                                                              

Refrain:                                                                                                                                                 Dare to be a Daniel,                                                                                                                                  Dare to stand alone!                                                                                                                                  Dare to have a purpose firm!                                                                                                                      Dare to make it known.

Many mighty men are lost,                                                                                                                         Daring not to stand,                                                                                                                                 Who for God had been a host                                                                                                                       By joining Daniel's band.                

Many giants, great and tall,                                                                                                                         Stalking through the land,                                                                                                                           Headlong to the earth would fall,                                                                                                                 If met by Daniel's band.

Hold the Gospel banner high!                                                                                                                       On to vict'ry grand!                                                                                                                                   Satan and his hosts defy,                                                                                                                           And shout for Daniel's band."                   




By trying to make Synod 73 'biblical', this group wants to continue the myth that being gay is a treatable mental disease. In their declaration they lump gay people in with pedophiles and rapists, which pretty much shows where these guys are coming from. 

Your point would be well taken, Don Baxter5, except that the 1973 report doesn't say what you implicitly claim.  Indeed, the 1973 report says substantially the opposite of what you claim.

Actually Kevin, I think the Returning Church does not stand alone in this.  Truth be told, I think their perspective aligns with a significant super-majority of CRC membership, even if a polling of members in specific locations, like GR and Toronto might suggest otherwise.

Also, I think those supporting throwing the 1973 decision away are far louder than those who continue to agree with it.

You are correct.  While Synod 73 states that all gay people are mentally sick, that their lives are generally miserable and associatied with alcholism and mental illness, personal disintigration, demoralization and depression, - that five times over they are obliged to seek all manner of psychiatric 'therapy' to become 'healthy' straight people, - that their parents should also seek therapy to restore health to their marrage - and more factually incorrect garbage along this line, it does not lump gay people in with pedophiles and rapists.  To clarify, - it's the Returning Church website, - which endorses all the garbage about the lives of gay people in Synod 73 to the point that they provide links to the most notorious ex-gay groups on the continent, - they are the ones who lump gay people in with pedophiles and rapists in their declaration. 

The medical profession changed its stance on gay people six months after Synod 73 was written, and for the past forty years leaders in the CRC continue to pretend that gay people are sick and need to be 'ministered' to as if they were sick. Synod 73 declares that any gay person who does NOT see himself or herself as mentally sick, is a Radical Gay Activist, - which is how most gay people who live normal lives have been treated, and shunned by the church.  

OK Don.  You have the right I suppose to claim any document or  person says what you say it/he/she says.  I won't engage with your further exercise of that right.

Thanks for putting this up, Gayla. However, the choice of words is interesting: “who take what they view as an orthodox view of marriage,...” It kinda makes it sound like a view of marriage with over 2,000 years of church preaching, teaching & practice behind it is something this small group just discovered and decided to promote. This is, after all, the (current) position of our denomination. It’s not that strange that there might be a group of pastors affirming it.



It is interesting to read your comment about the survey results in the study committee’s report.   Numerous surveys by independent organizations consistently show that a majority of Christians support same sex marriage.  Evangelicals are the exception.  I suppose the question is whether attitudes in the CRC are more aligned with mainline Christians or with Evangelicals. 

According to the Pew Research Center, the following percentages of various Christian groups believe LGBT couples should be accepted:

Catholics                             70%

Mainline Protestants            66%

Orthodox Christians             62%

CRC (according to CSR)        59% ?

Evangelical Protestants        36%

Mormans                            36%

Jehovah’s Witness               16%

What is so surprising about the CRC study committee survey results?  They simply show that CRC members are normal.

Doug.  Thanks for granting me the right to lie.  I'd rather stick to the truth, and frankly I think you should to.  It takes very little effort to show that within Synod 73, homosexuality is described as a mental illness, and that gay people are urged thoughout the report to seek 'healing' of their disorder. It's also very easy to show that the 'medical' information within the report was considered to be vital in order for the conclusions of scripture to be valid and for the ministry for gay people to be positive and effective.  Promoting the lies in the report today is hardly biblical. So I would ask anyone interested to check these facts for themselves and decide who is lying.  All you have to do is read the report and make a few easy fact-checks on the net.

Fact check 1, The medical profession added homosexuality to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-1) in 1952. By definition alone, anyone who said they were gay, was considered by the medical proffession to have a mental illness.  Check it out.

The synodical committee began it's work in 1970, when the medical profession still considered all gay people to have a mental illness.  Point 4, page 622, the committee declares that the report's "obligation to recognize scientific truth when interpreting scripture", which shows, if you read the report that the 'conclusion' of medical science plays a big role throughout the report, not only in the investigation of scripture, but in the pastoral response.

Fact check 2, Irving Bieber was the leading expert when Synod 73 was written.  In1962 he produced the largest study of gay people, - over two hundred subjects involved.  Every single one of these people were prediagnosed as being mentally ill, one third of them were schizophrenics.  One hundred mentally sick straight people were compared to one hundred mentally  sick gay people. This was the only large scale study at the time and was considered authoritative. All the 'medical' information about gay people in Synod 73 was based on a study of people recruited in a mental hospital. This supposedly is 'honest' and relevant today. Please check it out.

Synod 73 was presented in June 1973.

In December 1973, six months later, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Bieber's study was discredited when personality tests of gay people in the public world were found to be identical to the tests of straight people in terms of psychopathology.

And we are forty years later with groups like Returning Church regarding Synod 73 as 'biblical truth', when the document is so polluted with factual lies about the psyches of gay people that its conclusions are complete nonsense.


Please read Synod 73 through.  Here are a few statements that are no longer true, along with 'ministry' that is completely misguided.

P. 609, the committee was asked "that proposals for setting up counseling and rehabilitative services for homosexuals".

       -that the church "ought to develop a genuinely Christian and rehabilitative attitude towards their members"

p. 611,Radical Activists groups "are urging homosexuals to take pride in themselves and to deny that their condition is an illness or abnormality"  (Today this included the entire medical profession).

Radical Gay Activists  "decry society's attempt to 'change' him by punishment or treatment".

613, "Studies of homosexuals repeatedly show abnormalities in the parent child relationship".

614, "the help that can be given to a homosexual by which he may be redirected to a heterosexual orientation".

614, "It is encouraging to learn that more recently psychiatrists are reporting more success in their therapy of homosexuals. (Fact Check, every medical association in the country now condemns this practice, check it out)

614, The "plight of the homosexual"    "caught in the dilemma of a disordered sex relationsip between his own body and his person" ...   filled with guilt, shame and self-hatred, personal distintigration"  "more likely to be an alchoholic or mentally ill".

   that it is a "disorder" along with impotence, firgidity and hypersexuality>

619 a medical comparison of homosexuality to kleptomania.

623, "we have learned from the sciences that homosexuality often is a condition which is rooted deeply in biological and psychological aberrations that create a disorder ... "

624, that from "the general conclusion of modern research, homosexuality is a disordered condition and a handicap comparable to other abnormal physical and psychological condition".

625, "Homosexuals who are in their disordered condition .."

626, "It follows from the recognition that sexual inversion is a disordered sex orientation that the Christian homosexual ought to seek in what ways are open to him the healing of his disorder"

"the homosexual must make use of .. the therapy available to him from scientific sources."

"the first responsibility for the homosexual is to exhaust the possibloilty of sexual reorientation through all available means."

630, the single paragraph devoted to the morality of gay couples begins by casting doubt if such a relationship could take place or be maintained.

"the handicap of the sexual invert can no more justify his violation the moral order than those with other psychological handicaps are justified in committing immoral acts"

632 "homosexuals, especially in their earlier years should be enouraged to seek such help as may effect their sexual reorientation and the church should do everything in its power to help the homosexual overcome his disorder".

None of this garbage is accurate or useful today aside from in the hands of people who still WANT to consider gay people to be sick and send them off for 'healing'.  If anyone thinks this is 'biblical', that's fine.

Please tell me again, Doug, that I have just been making all this up. If you'd like me to go through the rest of Returning Church's list of 'resources' and pick up all the threads that gay people are still medically sick and in need of 'therapy' for their 'healing', I can do that.




Oh good!  More divisiveness!  The devil must be giggling. There was an article in last month's (?) Banner about operating as a church which will actually exist in the future.  If the CRC, or any other denomination for that matter, allows issues such as this, or women in office, or actual creation days, or adult vs. infant baptism, etcetera, then there will not be any church.  Was this the intention over 2000 years ago?  I don't think so, or rather, I don't believe so.  How will "every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" if the church continues to dwell/argue/divide over issues rather than focussing on God's grace, the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation, and the showing how we are to "love one another as Christ loves us"?  Just a thought.


Homosexuality is not a mental disease.  I don't know who came up with that.  It is a sin.  An act that homosexuals want everybody to accept so they don't feel so bad.  They would not even call it a sin.  The bible is clear that it is.  The way I see it is simple.  We all have various degrees of sin.  The difference between one group over the other is that one acknowledges what is sin, seeks forgiveness and correction. It is the ongoing work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit IN us. To correct our wrong doing, we try to stay away from it with His help.  We don't call what we like good just because that is how we feel.  What is good is good and what is bad is bad, period.  Our feelings about something doesn't change that fact.  Most homosexuals, on the other hand, don't acknowledge the sin and don't wish to be corrected. Sad.  We can talk until we are blue in the face, but cannot change the mind of another.  We must pray that the conviction of the Holy Spirit will go to work.  We all have work to do in our own lives where we fall short.  Help us all, Lord. 

Thanks for your concern with the Church's unity, Barbara. Actually, I believe we are debating the actual intention of God for the church 2000 years ago. I understand how this can simply seem like a petty issue without a focus on grace. But, here's another thought: does grace involve any repentance? You might consider that a simple question, but it requires us to go to the Bible to get our answer. And, that is exactly what is in question right now – the Word of God telling us that Christ has to be crucified for us, and that grace takes a certain shape. More and more in our denomination we are seeing one group of people saying that Christ did not have to die to redeem my desires and behavior and another group of people is saying that, based on what we read in the Bible, that Christ did have to die for just that. This is not about the color of stationery we use at HQ - this really is about our Lord and his work and what the Spirit reveals about those things.