A committee tasked to write a “theology of human sexuality” asked Synod 2019 for feedback on its interim report Monday morning. Synod is the annual gathering of the Christian Reformed Church.
The 34-page interim report gives a biblical overview to sexuality, emphasizing that sexuality is a good thing and that churches should be discussing it openly. It also laments the brokenness that surrounds sexuality in our culture and in our churches.
“Our primary purpose is to hear from you,” said Jeff Weima, co-chair of the study committee, as he presented the report. “We will pay careful attention to what you say.” The 10-member committee is tasked to complete its report by Synod 2021. (The committee has also set up an email address for individual feedback. Send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org)
“This is not a moment to deal with a controversial topic but rather a moment to confess our collective sin,” said study committee reporter Matthew Tuininga. “What is God calling us to do to walk in the path of the gospel.”
“We have a living tradition of a deep love of scripture coupled with a willingness to engage with the issues of our time,” said Mary-Lee Bouma, also a member of the committee.
Weima defended the committee against previous complaints that it is biased, “composed of those who adhere to the CRC's official position (on homosexuality).” He pointed out that the committee includes Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, who acts as promoter fidei (or devil's advocate). She has been “active, vocal, and extremely helpful,” he said.
After the committee's opening remarks, delegates spent an hour discussing the sexuality report in small groups. Each group recorded their answers to five questions, which included “What concerns do you have about the interim report?” and “What advice would you give to the committee as we work to complete the full report?”
“It was good to have an opportunity to discuss this issue,” said Katie Haan, young adult representative. “Although we had different viewpoints (among the young adult representatives), we are still united in Christ and a desire to show God's love to people.”
“(Issues concerning sexuality) are so prevalent nowadays, we have to deal with (them),” said Duane Walhof, Classis Heartland. His discussion group “very much liked the tone of the report and the depth of the scriptural basis it included” but asked the committee to “be careful that we don't focus solely on mercy.”
Bryan Hoffman, Classis Northcentral Iowa, said his group was “concerned about the boots on the ground. We want the theology, but how do we apply it? What does it look like in our lives?”
In its appendix, the interim report included the “Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality,” which synod encouraged Christian Reformed churches to reflect on and study. An Ontario church asked Synod 2019 to officially commend the catechism to CRC churches, but synod declined to do so.
Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.