Many were watching this year’s synod meetings in Grand Rapids, MI for an indication whether the Christian Reformed Church will move in the direction of many main line denominations and bless ecclesiastical gay marriage. The answer from synod 2016 was a resounding, “No.”
Here’s the back story. A majority and minority report were presented to Synod 2016 after a three-year study committee gave its findings. An enormous amount of work went into the report including a denominational survey of membership to discover current beliefs. The survey was completed by 700 CRC ministers, 587 CRC students, and 363 CRC members. Here are a few survey snippet findings.
Gay Christians should: Ministers Survey Sample CRC Church Members CRC Students
Seek a permanent nonsexual relationship
with someone of the same sex 17% 8% 11%
Marry an opposite sex partner if possible 13% 8% 11%
Be permitted to live in a monogamous
same-sex partnership As a concession to
fallenness if they have tried other options 20% 8% 9%
Be free to follow their own conscience
before God with regard To a marriage/a
committed partnership 24% 32% 41%
Celebrate the sexual identity God has
given them 16% 17% 34%
Please note that CRC students are more inclined to bless gay union. Also note the differences between clergy and CRC membership. The survey suggests that if CRC students remain with the denomination and someday make rulings in church, classes, and synods that we will shift in our view on these issues.
Synod ruled the following:
First, synod adopted the minority report which gave care guidelines that fall within our current Biblical position on homosexuality.
Second, synod commissioned a new five-year study committee to study human sexuality and homosexuality. All members of the committee must fall within the current CRC standards regarding marriage, sexuality, and homosexuality. These standards include: Biblical marriage is between one man and one woman. Sex is for marriage and marriage is for life. The orientation of homosexuality is a result of the fall. It is not sin, but is part of the brokenness of a sin infested world. However, gay sexual expression is sin. The committee will be a broad cross section composed of pastors, seminary profs, men, women, ethnically diverse, and including LGBT representation. I repeat, “All must subscribe to the CRC positions on sexuality, marriage, and homosexuality.
Third, synod also ruled against LGBT representatives at synod.
The bottom line is that the majority report attempted to open the door for clergy participation in gay unions. Synod slammed that shut. However, compassionate care to the homosexual community should be evident from all Christians.
Compassionate Care for the LGBT Community
Which brings me to my concluding comment on homosexuality and the CRC. In the midst of synod came the horrific killings of 49 individuals in a gay night club in Orlando, FL. After some hours of absorbing the sadness and horror of this event, I tweeted to my limited, but solidly Christian followers, “I express my sympathies to the LGBT community in the loss of many friends. I care and am very sad and shook over this tremendous evil.” It seemed an ideal time to unite with the gay community in sympathy and sadness. I thought my tweet would be well liked and retweeted by most. Nope! No likes, and no retweets. So two days later, I hit it again. “Christians, please join me in expressing sympathy to the LGBT community and their families in this painful loss. We ought to agree on this.” I received 1 retweet and 3 likes. I believe I’m beginning to understand the repulsion of the gay community toward many Christians. Folks, I am a Biblical Reformed conservative opposed to gay ecclesiastical union. But my heart bleeds, as it ought to, for those killed, wounded, and connected to the pain of the Orlando shootings. Can we please agree as a conservative, biblical Christian community on this? Jesus weeps, and so ought we!!! WE can be opposed to gay sexual union, but still be compassionate to those in the LGBT community. And when they see our compassion in the midst of their pain, maybe—just maybe—they’ll begin to hear our message of hope and healing through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.