No LGBT Advisors for Synod

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Synod 2016 advised Christian Reformed churches and classes (regional groups of churches) to invite, as much as possible, the presence and involvement of same-sex attracted members when dealing with matters that affect the lives and discipleship of same-sex attracted members within the church. However, it declined to establish a panel of LGBT advisors to synod. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.

The request had come from Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan, which said, “It is a matter of justice that when the lives and faith journeys of some of us in the church are under discussion, that discussion must include the participants of those of us whose journey it is.” Charles Kooger, from that classis, said, “It’s about hearing the voices. We need to know our neighbor’s journey.”

Several delegates said that sexuality and sexual identities have moral dimensions that other categories of advisers to synod (women, ethnic minorities) do not. 

Synod heard from several women, who hadn’t had a voice as delegates to synod until being allowed by Synod 2007. Margherita Bierling, Classis Chatham, said, “Let’s invite them to table.”

Paul Verhoef, Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan, pointed out that every statement, review, and assessment since 1973 has lamented how little progress has been made toward this goal, while yet hoping that change is just around the corner. “We invite them to classes and congregations, but not synod.”

Delegates were not convinced.

 

Synod 2016 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 10-17. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.

About the Author

George Vink is retired after 50 years as a Christian Reformed pastor. One of his sons is an accident investigator for the Calgary (Alta.) Police Service, and his two brothers are retired from that position. He and his wife, Shirley, are members of Covenant CRC in Cutlerville, Mich.

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Comments

“It’s about hearing the voices. We need to know our neighbor’s journey.”

I may get persecuted for stating what I am about to state, but I am willing to take the risk.  I have a friend who "came out".  For me, it didn't matter.  He's still the same person; still has the same convictions and struggles and passions, still has the same apperance, still has the same heart, definitely without question was created in the image of God.  We have had many talks about this "issue", me striving to clarify to him that it just doesn't matter what his sexual preference is, and him striving to clarify to me that it does matter that people know, myself included.  He couldn't really make one clear point about why it matters.  I think that he gets why I find that it's not important.

There's a posting on Facebook about what the Christian response should be:  

"Confused about the proper Christian response to social issues?  Here's a handy reference list: Male - love them.  Female - love them.  Unsure - love them. Gay - love them.  Straight - love them.  Unsure - love them.  Addict - love them.  Sober - love them.  Believer - love them.  Unbeliever - love them.  Unsure - love them." found at imperfect pastor.com  

What a better way to be the body of Christ than to just love each other.  Since when do we get to stand in judgement and allow or disallow people to worship or serve with and within the church?  Who's church is it anyway?  

I am sure that these issues which we get up in in our limited human intelligence saddens our God.  It certainly is divisive.  

I read an article in a recent Banner about the church behaving as if there is a future church.  The CRC keeps this up and there won't be a CRC in a few years' time.  It will transmogrify into something which, although it will try to be Christ-centered, will not. Jesus was the purest example of how we should treat and accept others.  For some reason, the church doesn't appear to think that Jesus' example does not apply to them.

Follow Jesus.  That's the end of the story.  As we follow Him, truly, we will be able to love one another regardless of whatever hangups we might have in our human minds.

And on "allowing" LGBT to have a voice at Synod:  My bet is that there have been many LGBT people at Synod in recent years who have not let others know what their "leaning" is. Does that mean that decisions made in this venue don't count? I don't think so.  

 

 

correction:  For some reason, the church doesn't appear to think that Jesus' example does not apply to them.  should read For some reason, the church doesn't appear to think that Jesus' example applies to them.

Hi Barbara,

Thank your for your contribution.  I don't suspect that you need to fear persecution for interacting here in this manner, so long as you don't interpret any disagreement as persection. 

 

Allow me to begin my response as you began, with the story of a friend.  I too had a friend "come out" to me.  He was a co-worker and his secret was not so much a secret to me.  He was also a professing Christian.  I knew fairly early on after meeting him that he was same-sex attracted.  It didn't bother me particularly.  It certainly did not affect how I interacted with him.  As a friend, I would sometimes go to his place after work for a beer or two or to enjoy the company of his adopted greyhound dogs.  I wasn't afraid of him, and I interacted with him in the same way that I would with any other co-worker/friend.  I always figured that if we worked together long enough, the time would come when we talked together about deeper matters.  And that time came as he chose it.  It didn't really change anything, at least not from my perspective.  I didn't hate him, but rather I loved him enough as a fellow image-bearer and a brother in Christ to be honest with him concerning God's revealed will.  I didn't beat him over the head.  Rather, we prayed together.  He would later move away and I have since lost contact with him.  I still pray for him sometimes. 

Here is where you and I will be in complete agreement: Our Christian response to all is to be one of love.  I Cor. 13 reminds of that it matters not how much wisdom and truth we possess if we have not love. 

 

Here is where I would challenge you: Let us not flatten out biblical love so that it resembles little more that an emotional state of approval and let us not flatten out Jesus into a one-dimensional purveyor of that flattened out love.  Biblical love is so much more than outward approval, and it is absolutely not at odds with exhortation and discipline.  The Jesus of the Scripture is more than the meek rabbi.  He is also the conquering King of Revelation, the just judge.  Let us not mistake Jesus as one who failed to call sinners to repentance.  And who is chief among those sinners?  The apostle Paul said it was himself, but I suspect it is me.  Can you wrestle with the idea of the Jesus who called his most vocal disciple Satan?  How about the Jesus who cast harsh judgement on men as "white-washed tombs"? 

In Mark 10 Jesus is asked by a man what he has to do to be saved.  Since Jesus knows his heart and his desire for self-justification (deeply rooted in all of our hearts), Jesus first lays out the commandments.  Confident in his own righteousness, the man professes his faithfulness to the law.  Notice what the text then says in verse 21.  It says that Jesus looked upon him and loved him.  With this love in mind, what did Jesus do?  Jesus called on him to surrender everything, including that which he held most dear, knowing that the man would not.  Can this really be love, then, to place such a heavy burden on this man, which Jesus immediately reveals to his disciples to be extremently difficult? Are we prepared to say that Jesus hated this man? This complete surrender is the calling of each of us, no more or less the same-sex attracted person than anyone else. Are we prepared to struggle together as we all fall down and seek to build eachother back up and bear eachother's burdens?

I submit to you that following Jesus and being Christlike is so much deeper and actually so much more difficult than the simple and bland tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion that the world around us preaches.  Let us strive together for the type of Christian love that is life-giving.

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