Synod 2016, the general assembly of the CRC, decided not to add to its list of recommended causes Harvest USA, a Pennsylvania-based ministry focused on people with same-sex attraction. Classis Minnkota, a regional group of churches, had asked that it be added.
In giving its reasons not to add Harvest USA to the list of recommended causes, synod noted that in its official statements, the ministry seemed to have a theological position regarding same-sex attraction contrary to the position of the Christian Reformed Church. The official statement of Harvest USA says that same-sex orientation is in itself sinful. The CRC does not so understand it, distinguishing between orientation, which, unbidden, is not sinful, and sexual practice, which is.
It was also argued that Harvest USA uses a form of reparative therapy, a therapeutic approach that attempts to change the sexual orientation of a person. This approach has been largely discredited both in the broader psychological community and in the documents of the Christian Reformed Church.
Roger Sparks, Classis Minnkota, disputed whether Harvest USA is engaged in reparative therapy. He said that he had called the director of Harvest USA, and that the director assured him that they did not use reparative therapy. Sparks also said that the differences between the theological position on homosexuality used by Harvest USA and the position of the CRC are only apparent, and that in fact they agree.
Jonathan Assink, Classis Pacific Northwest, disagreed. He said that including Harvest USA on the list of recommended causes would not be perceived as welcoming to LGBT people. He added, “What is read on that page would be heard as hate speech by some people.”
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.