Turning the CRC Into an Lgbtq+ Ally

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On Thursday evening, November 8, I attended an event at Sherman Street Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event was hosted by All One Body (A1B). A1B is an organized, highly-motivated group of CRC members, pastors, and office-bearers whose stated goal is to transform the CRC into a denomination that fully accepts and celebrates the values of the LGBTQ+ movement. A1B wants the CRC to normalize and celebrate homosexual activity, bisexual activity, and transgender identity in a fully-inclusive environment.

A Full Parking Lot

I had never been to Sherman Street CRC before. When I arrived at the church, night had fully arrived and even though it was only 7:45 in the evening, the parking lot was full. I drove around the building, but there were so many vehicles that many people had already invented parking spots where no legitimate space existed. This was a popular event! Just then, by luck or Providence (probably the latter) another vehicle pulled away, leaving an open parking spot in the first row. I took it.

The sanctuary of the church was packed with 200 or more people. As the event had already begun, I quietly took a seat about half-way up, on the left side of the sanctuary. As the evening went on, it became clear that everyone in attendance, save me and one other, were enthusiastic supporters of the agenda.

The main speaker for this event was Jim Lucas, a former CRC minister who currently works with the United Church of Christ (UCC), a denomination that already affirms the beliefs & ideas of the LGBTQ+ movement. After Jim Lucas spoke, 5 other people with connections to the CRC (a board member of A1B, a CRC pastor's wife, a CRC pastor who is not currently serving in a pastor’s role, a retired Christian school teacher, and a former CRC member who is now a UCC chaplain) were brought up on stage to join in a discussion that focused mainly on the best strategy for turning the CRC into a denomination that celebrates the values of the homosexual and transgender ideology.

What was that strategy?

The Inevitable Future, Personal Stories, and Hitting Close To Home

One of the speakers made an assertion that, I’m disappointed to say, I agree with. He stated that the current crop of young people in society at large and in the CRC in general, are completely on board with the idea that homosexual behavior is something to celebrate. He stated that it is merely a matter of time until the defenses of the CRC and other denominations like her crumble against the persistent battery of the LGBTQ+ movement. But where I am saddened by such a thought, the speaker was delighted. The problem for the speaker is that he, and most everyone who believes as he does, is not patient enough to wait for a new generation of leaders to rise up, friendly to the demands for inclusion, acceptance, and celebration. They want things to move much more quickly.

To this end, one of the board members of A1B gave the audience a piece of advice: Do not use Scripture to convince your fellow CRC members of the beauty of full inclusion. Instead, rely on personal stories. “Everyone has a story,” she said. “We can argue back and forth all day about Scripture, but we’re never going to win that way. Nobody can argue with your story.”

Another member of the panel shared the focal point of this “personal story” strategy. He said it is all about convincing people, through stories about real people who have embraced the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender lifestyle, that such people bear healthier fruit than those who are non-inclusive. Whereas the panel referred to “the old teachings of the church” as “toxic," A1B wants the CRC as a whole to accept the new teachings of full-inclusion, yielding good fruit.

The panel members made it clear that the relative health and goodness of the fruit is completely dependent on how a person feels about himself, herself, zheself (or whatever gender pronoun the person identifies with). When the church tells people that their preferred lifestyle is sinful and destructive, people will feel very bad about it. But if the church will affirm everyone’s lifestyle choice, those people will feel wonderful. That is good fruit!

According to the panel members, the power of personal stories is magnified immensely when the LGBTQ+ lifestyle hits close to home. A son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew, or child of a close friend who personally claims one of the letters in the LGBTQ+ movement is enough to break down even the strongest defenses. The people on stage at Sherman Street CRC were emphatic about the need to use real-life, personal examples to win people over.

And that brings us to the final strategy presented by A1B for bringing the CRC into the fold of full inclusion. The one that weaves together all the other chords, making one final, unbreakable strand.

The “Judicial” Strategy

The panel members recognized that the “legislative” approach of sending an overture to Synod was not likely to turn the CRC into an all-inclusive ally of the LGBTQ+ promoters. They also exhibited pessimism that the 2021 Synodical report on human sexuality will move the CRC closer to their desired outcome. Because of this, the panel revealed their preference for a strategy of using “judicial” rulings similar to the way the secular activists won their case at the United States Supreme Court with Obergefell.

A1B’s plan to transform the CRC will proceed as follows. They will identify a current CRC pastor who is sympathetic to their cause, who is willing to perform a homosexual “wedding” ceremony. Or taking another route, they will find a CRC congregation that is willing to elect an elder or deacon who is openly and proudly living in a homosexual partnership. Inevitably, this will cause a firestorm of protest in the CRC. Complaints will be filed. Debate will ensue. The Banner will publish articles both for and against. The great brouhaha will eventually make its way to Synod.

And the hope on the part of A1B is that Synodical delegates will embrace the path of least resistance and rule in favor of the pastor, or the church, or the office bearer. Synod might decide, as it has done with other controversial topics, that the LGBTQ+ question is a matter for each local church council to decide. Or, if the personal story of the individual involved is especially powerful, Synod may embrace empathy as the path toward inclusion. Perhaps a desire to prove the CRC’s relevancy credentials will convince Synod to “get with the times."

Whatever reasoning Synod uses, the panel members representing A1B were in agreement (and the audience was too) that the “judicial” plan presented their best path to victory. And I would say the mood in the room was cautiously optimistic that such a plan will eventually succeed in turning the CRC into the UCC.

Will it succeed? I suppose that is up to you…

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Participant

Thanks for the post Dan, and for attending.  It's always good to know, from first hand observation, strategies employed by movements that want to change institutions and culture.

Nothing you report is too surprising to me, but hearing a report from someone who was privy to the conversation is helpful.

Community Builder

Do not use Scripture to convince your fellow CRC members of the beauty of full inclusion.  That single piece of advise will either 'make' or 'break' the CRC.

If the CRC returns to, or sticks with, biblical preaching then the LGBTQ agenda will always be seen as perversion, sin, contrary to God's teaching. Love the sinner; hate the LGBTQ agenda

Once one uses 'story' or personal experiences or sappy moralism, the denomination stands for nothing and falls for everything.

Sam Allberry's Is God anti-gay?  should be must reading for every CRC member. Kevin DeYoung refers to this book as "the perfect book to hand to skeptics and wobbly believers." It's a concise 90-page booklet that pulls no punches.

The gospel doesn't define us by our temptations but by our righteousness.

Community Builder

With all due respect, Keith, I don't think that this quote is as devastating as it sounds at first. The reality of the matter is that it is absolutely true that using the scriptures to try to "convince" people of things is of dubious value at best--in my own experience, throughout church history, and in the bible itself.

In my own experience, and, I suspect in yours too, the number of times that people actually change their opinion because of what you or I might say that the Bible says is pretty limited. How many people do you know who were convinced that they should become a Christian because someone argued successfully that the scriptures were true? Isn't it more often the case that people see our relationship with Jesus, and as we share with them our love, our beliefs (in words and deeds), and the difference it has made in our lives, along with the working of the Spirit in their lives, and their own experiences that they develop a relationship with God? In short, I believe that the vast majority of people don't get argued into the Kingdom, but rather that the Spirit woos them into the Kingdom through experience and relationship.

But even aside from conversion, the truth is too that Christians have been arguing over what the Bible says (or doesn't say) for as long as the church has existed. Everything from whether the body and soul are two separate things (an issue Paul's epistles address), to whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or only the Father, to whether baptism should be performed on infants and new believers, or only new believers....the list goes on an on. And NO ONE has come with the "knock-out" biblical punch that convinces everyone else that their interpretation of the Bible is right, and everyone else is just heretical (or "unbiblical" if we want to be slightly nicer.

Even the Bible acknowledges that the scriptures can be misused. Goodness, Satan himself quotes scripture at Jesus, and it is up to Jesus to resist the false inferences that Satan brings up. Additionally, where did the different religious parties of Jesus' day come from if not from differing interpretations of scripture!

So, I hate to say it, but it is sometime true that scripture is not really that useful for "convincing" others of the rightness of our position (regardless of what that position may be).

2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

To discount Scripture and rely instead on the effectiveness of personal anecdotes betrays the weakness of A1B's position. The context of the speaker's statement was very telling. It wasn't personal experiences, flowing from the truth of Scripture. In fact, the very concept of Truth was completely lacking from A1B's philosophy. It was personal experiences. Period.

Community Builder

If that is true (and I believe you), then that is unfortunate indeed. I think it is true, sadly, that we will not be able to "convince" one another one way or another solely based on scripture. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 does not say that scripture will always be clear, black and white and easy to interpret.

That being said, the scripture is our authority and our starting place. If we leave that out, then what do we have left? Nothing but "experience", as changeable as the wind. Not good.

Community Builder

I wasn't there at this meeting, nor am I a supporter of A1B. I find it interesting and disturbing, however, that the language used in this post seems inflammatory and inaccurate, at least from what the A1B website states.

You say, "A1B wants the CRC to normalize and celebrate homosexual activity, bisexual activity, and transgender identity in a fully-inclusive environment.", but that is not what their website says. It says, "All One Body affirms and celebrates with all Christians who unite in committed, monogamous relationships patterned after Christ’s bond with his church."

There is a very significant difference between saying that they want to "normalize and celebrate homosexual activity" versus saying that they want to, for example, normalize and celebrate committed, monogamous relationships."

It would be like saying that the rest of the church has "normalized and celebrated" ALL heterosexual activity (including polygamy, rape, heterosexual incest, pornography, prostitution, etc.--as long as it's "heterosexual"). This is, of course ridiculous, but without being careful with your language you are (I hope unintentionally) using inaccurate and inflammatory language. If we have truly been given a ministry of reconciliation through Christ (2 Cor. 5:11-21), then using language like this is not helpful.

Participant

For what it's worth Dan Zylstra, while I suspect Dan W wouldn't argue with your nuance as to his post, it never crossed my mind that Dan W was suggesting A1B wanted "the CRC to normalize and celebrate" anything but "committed or monogamous" gay (etc) relationships.  I've certainly never had that impression of A1B.

Community Builder

Daniel Z, I was there. The speakers were not overly clear drawing the boundary lines around "monogamous" relationships. Yes, they did say celebrate same sex marriage, and so that was primarily the context that they were working in (and I think Dan W's article gives that general impression as well). But, they were not specific, no discussions of remaining pure, and saving sex for marriage or anything of the like. So, sure one could take what Dan wrote to a much broader scale than their official position. But Dan accurately portrays what was said there, with almost no qualifiers in that meeting.

Community Builder

That is unfortunate indeed. 

Monogamy and monogamous will be the linguistic engines moving forward. This is evidenced by my challenge to Chong's Banner article of a few weeks ago when I ask editor Chong as to whether homosexual relationships were covered under his definition of monogamy and he removed the article. This all comes down to Deconstruction and the CRC's failure to combat it.

Daniel Zylstra, you included the word "ALL" in your rebuttal. I did not include that word in my statement of A1B's goals for the CRC. That's a very critical difference.

My statement of the event is completely accurate, A1B's website (obviously designed for public consumption) notwithstanding.

Had you been at the event, you would have witnessed almost no emphasis by the A1B presenters on the concept of committed gay/lesbian monogamy (not that such a commitment magically transforms sin into righteousness...I'm not aware of any Scripture where God tells us that if we engage in sinful behavior with the same person all the time, it's OK, but sinful behavior with different people all the time is not OK...so I'm not really sure where you are going with that one).

A1B's main focus, occupying almost all of the time, was on transforming the CRC into a "fully-inclusive" denomination, along the lines of the UCC. And convincing their fellow CRC members to embrace personal anecdotes of feeling better about themselves if they convert to LGBTQ+ ideology. A1B's main focus was on the behavior itself, not the context in which the behavior occurs.

Had the presenters pounded home the message "commit, commit, commit", I would have reported as much. They did not. Although like I said earlier, sin in the context of "commitment" is still sin, is it not?

Community Builder

Okay. Fair enough. I still feel that you have been employing language that is inflammatory. Aside from the issue of committed, monogamous same sex relationships which is what the website says is what A1B supports (although I agree that that was no-doubt "designed for public consumption", and I fully believe you that they did not emphasize that at all during that meeting, which is, I believe important and unfortunate)

But aside from that you also talk about "the LGBTQ+ agenda" and "LGBTQ+ ideology" as if there was one huge monolithic cabal of people conspiring in a united way to twist the world to their own ends. Estimates say that 3-4% of the population of the US is same-sex attracted. That's about 13 million people. Have you talked to all of them? I have not. The people I have talked to have as many different views on this issue as do the heterosexual people that I've talked to. They are not united in one monolithic view any more than African Americans are, or "whites", or men, or women, or Muslims or Buddhists--in other words you, in my opinion, paint an unfair picture of a conspiracy that you don't actually know exists beyond the borders of A1B and lump LGBTQ+ people into that conspiracy pretty universally.

Additionally, I understand that your interpretation of scripture leads you to believe that same sex sexual relations of any kind are "sin". That's fine, of course. But I am uncomfortable with your underlying assumption that you have a corner on that truth. That you have the only legitimate interpretation of scripture on this issue and that anyone else who believes differently must be wrong and must be supporting sin.

The church's history is full of people doing the same thing only to find out that they were being arrogant and that they were not nearly as "right" as they thought they were.

Everything from the slave trade to six, twenty-four-hour creationism, to gravity, and the orbits of planets, to the singing of hymns, to women having their heads covered, to baptism for infants, vs. baptism for only believers--so many people have believed that they've had a corner on the "right" interpretation of scripture. Could you not provide room for the possibility that other God-fearing, Jesus serving people who believe in the authority of scripture might legitimately interpret scripture on this matter, as on so many others, differently?

"Do not  use Scripture..."  Hmmmm. Behind every sin and every sinner is a story.  Behind every righteousness is Christ and Scripture.  It makes me wonder about their view of the authority of Scripture.  Let's not abandon Scripture; let's wrestle with it and seek a greater understanding of what God has revealed to us through his Word.  Should I accept an abuser's behavior because they have a good story (was abused as a child, by someone else, etc.)?  I will show the love of Christ to them but I can't accept that behavior as normal or in line with Scripture.  I will stand on the side of Scripture.

I’d like to clarify that it is not All One Body’s position that story is more important than scripture, in fact they have taken great time and care to study scripture on this issue and have shared a document showing their position on this.

It is because well meaning, well educated, thoughtful, God fearing people on both sides of this issue respect scripture that they bring in story. Both sides are well capable of quoting scripture at each other but that seems to bring us to a standstill as neither side seems very convinced by the other’s interpretation. Personal stories like Jim’s are meaningful because they show the power of God working in a person as well as the hurt and damage even well meaning institutions can cause. Jim is as knowledgeable on CRC teachings and scripture as any other CRC pastor but he chooses to tell people his personal story and not simply quote the Bible as he explains in his talk here.

A1B has many public events, usually once a month or so, and many have open panels or time for questions as part of them. Past events have focused more on biblical reasoning and how they came to hold the positions they do.

Laura, I identify the impasse being where A1B "interprets" Scripture that is not vague. An abstract painting that has no objective definition is open to interpretation. A set of blueprints is not. If you creatively "interpret" blueprints, you end up with a building that is unsafe and collapses under its own weight.

Some passages of Scripture are open to interpretation...what do John's visions in the Book of Revelation mean, for example. On other things Scripture is intentionally and unambiguously clear. Marriage and sex being proper only in the context of male/female, for example. I understand this upsets many people, because it hits close to home. But God himself is the author of this blueprint, and it is not our place to argue with Him. It is our place to submit.

Of course, when Scripture doesn't say what we want it to, sinful human beings will turn to other things for justification, such as the affirmation of others and the comfort of meaningful personal stories. I don't doubt that many people who struggle with LGBTQ+ temptations have found personal "peace" and "freedom" by giving into those temptations and finding spaces that are generous enough to affirm their actions. The same thing happens with other sins that so easily beset us. Our call as believers is to encourage each other and hold each other accountable to Scripture, not help each other embrace sin.

Many well respected Pastors and Theologians would disagree with your chosen examples of what is clear and what is not. After hearing Pastor Jim speak about his education and how he prayerfully came to the conclusions he did, it seems disingenuous to say he was simply giving in to temptation.

 

Dr Wolterstorff is another who would disagree and I doubt many would say he is simply trying to justify his own actions. It is possible for people who hold the Bible in high regard to come to very different conclusions. Obviously, many books have been written in great detail about this - so I’ll just say I disagree but don’t think getting into debate about specific Bible verses in comment sections will change any minds either way.

Of course. I'm sure every Scripture verse on sex and marriage has been discussed at one time or another.

So, let's take a different angle. I said that A1B elevates personal stories above Scripture. You said that's not the case.

Would this be an accurate statement: A1B believes that Scripture alone is inadequate for informing the Church on marriage and sex, and for a full understanding of those topics the Church must rely on peoples' personal experiences and stories.

???

I’m not an A1B board member so I can’t speak for them on specific statements, but from what I know of them and have seen at events I would say that they take the Bible seriously, they don’t rely on feelings over good theology, but that personal story is always important (and much of the Bible IS personal story!). Especially in cases where people are suffering, it is vital to hear directly from those people.

When good and genuine hearted people differ on Bible interpretation we may never agree on what is ‘correct’ - but we can’t ignore what LGBTQ persons are telling us, especially when the church itself is the cause of so much hurt.

Is All One Body "interpreting" the Bible? Or are they ignoring the plain and simple meaning of Scripture?

Laura, if a universalist (someone who believes all religions lead to salvation) came to you with a story of being rejected and hurt by "legalistic" Christians, and offered an "interpretation" of the Bible to support their universalism, would you support a transformation of Church doctrine to remedy their hurt and recognize their story? Or would you remain faithful to the truth of Scripture?

Community Builder

One last thing, for now, I guess. Just a question:

Where does the Bible talk about committed, monogamous same sex relationships?

--Genesis 19 (Sodom & Gomorrah) is about rape and the breaking of hospitality law

--Leviticus 18 & 20 seems to be about temple prostitution and promiscuity, and is in the context of many other "laws" that Christians don't feel beholden to today.

--Rom. 1 seems to be about over-the-top lust (of all kinds), self-centeredness and greed.

--1 Cor. 6 seems to be in the context of people who claim that the "spirit" is separate from the "body" and so they can do whatever they want in body--including having sex with temple prostitutes, and engaging in promiscuity.

--1 Tim. 1 seems to again be about promiscuity and temple prostitution.

So what's left? Where does the bible address the idea of a committed, monogamous same-sex relationship?

Participant

Dan: I'm curious.  What do you do, e.g., with:

Leviticus 18:22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Leviticus 20:13 =If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
Romans 1:27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Certainly, Scripture's language about homosexual sex could be said to be very strong in the negative.  See above.  One would think that if that strength of characterization were to be overcome (e.g., like the prohibition against eating unclean animals), there would be some strength of language in the other direction.  But I am unaware of any, or even weak language in the other direction.

And the language of these passages seems to be quite clear in condemning all gay sex -- at least there is never an exception made.  If then one were to make a case for the goodness of gay sex IF there was monogamy and "commitment" (whatever that exactly means), wouldn't there be at least one passage suggesting that?  Even weakly?

Scripture has quite a number of references to the goodness of heterosexual sex in the context of marriage, even when it condemns heterosexual sex outside marriage.  Where's the parallel?  Even one instance of it?

It's not like homosexual relationships didn't exist in both OT or NT times.  Homosexual relationships weren't invented in the 20th or 21st centuries.  So if the world entertained homosexual relationships in OT and NT days -- presumably including committed ones, we have no reason to conclude otherwise -- why would biblical writers NEVER comment positively on monogamous, committed homosexual relationships? 

 

Community Builder

Good questions, Doug.

For Leviticus 18:22, I would deal with it by looking at the context. Verse 21 says "Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord." Verse 24 says "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled."

This seems to place these injunctions in the context of worshipping idols. It seems similar, to me, as what we read in Lev. 20:2-7, 22-23. 

Also, the word "abomination" (Hebrew word is 'toevah') is associated strongly with idolatrous practices in at least 38 other passages, according to James V. Brownson in "Bible, Gender, Sexuality", pg. 270: (Deut. 7: 25-36; 12: 31; 13: 14; 17: 4; 18: 9, 12; 20: 18; 23: 18; 27: 15; 32: 16; 1 Kings 14: 24; 2 Kings 16: 3; 21: 2, 11; 23: 13; 28: 3; 33: 2; 34: 33; 36: 8, 14; Ezra 9: 1, 11, 13; Jer. 2: 7; 7: 10; 16: 18; 32: 35; 44: 4; Ezek. 6: 9; 7: 20; 8: 9; 14: 6; 16: 2; 16: 36, 47; 18: 12; 44: 7; Mal. 2: 11).

From the context, both immediately surrounding Lev. 18:22, and the broader linguistic context, it seems to me that this verse is dealing with purity, especially in terms of refraining from idol worship and it's practices (like temple prostitution).

In addition, these laws seem to me to be in the context of Levitical purity laws more generally. That is the overall theme of Leviticus, in a way--helping the people of Israel to live holy lives as a part of their life in the context of the Constitution Theocracy that God was calling them to. We seem to happily embrace Paul with regards to the ceremonial and purity laws when he talks about how "all things are permissible" (1 Cor. 6:12), and how "nothing is unclean in itself" (Rom. 14:14), and with Peter, when his vision of the "unclean animals" leads him (and us) to believe that we can not only be saved by Jesus as gentiles, but that we can also eat pigs, if we want (Acts 10:28). We also seem to be agree with Paul when he confronts Peter about no longer eating with gentiles (Gal. 2:11-13), even though Peter was concerned about being ceremonially unclean. 

In short, it doesn't make sense to me really that we don't think that the following are literally and directly applicable to us:

- the laws regarding offerings (Lev. 1-7),

- the laws regarding Ordination and the priesthood (Lev. 8-10),

- the laws of cleanliness (Lev. 11-15),

- the laws concerning atonement and tabernacle worship (Lev. 16-17),

- the regulations concerning priests, offerings and feasts (Lev. 21:1-24:9),

- the punishments for blasphemy, murder, etc. (Lev. 24:10-23),

- the laws concerning the Sabbath year, Jubilee, Land Tenure, and slavery (Lev. 25),

- the blessings and curses for covenant obedience and disobedience (Lev. 26)

- and the regulations for offerings vowed to the Lord (Lev. 27)

In fact, it seems like the only chapters we think apply to us somewhat literally and directly are the laws found in chapters 18-20. And even there we are very selective. When's the last time you heard anyone preach that it was a "sin" to "have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period."? Or how would we deal with Lev. 19:20-22 regarding a man sleeping with a slave girl who is promised to another man.

My point is that not only the context of Leviticus, but also our understanding of what Christ has done and what it means for us who are gentiles with regards to levitical law, and our behaviour regarding vast swaths of Leviticus indicates that we recognize that, though there is wisdom in the laws found in Leviticus, and though it is helpful for our instruction, we are not beholden to it in the same way as ancient Israel was. It doesn't apply in the same way to us as it did to them. And if it does then we are going to be like the "Judaizers" that Paul talks about. It either all applies exactly the same way as it did for them, or it all doesn't.

Does that mean we can ignore Leviticus? No! By no means. Just like Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:12 "'Everything is permissible for me'--but not everything is beneficial."

To me all of this means that we can't just take isolated passages like Lev. 18:22 and apply them blindly and universally to life today in our context. Instead we need to honestly wrestle with scripture and with wisdom and discernment given to us through the Spirit, and through thorough theology, exegesis and hermeneutics to try to discern the true underlying principles and how they might apply to us today.

The truth is that I wrestle at least as much with people who seem to believe that "happiness" and "fulfillment" are the highest goals of this life, and that being sexually active is an inalienable part of that happiness and fulfillment. To me that also is contrary to scripture. Our highest goals are to love God, in loving & grateful response to how he loves us, to love ourselves and other humans in his name and to care for the creation that he has given us to steward. As far as I can see, "happiness" has very little to do with anything. I am not called to be "happy", I am called to something much higher than myself.

The truth is also that I WISH we could just talk it all through based solely on scripture and have a realistic chance of actually coming to agreement. But, though scripture is useful for all that 1 Tim. mentions, nowhere do we read that scripture will always be easy to interpret, or that we'll always agree on what it means. I believe that the issue of human sexuality and what the Bible says about it has some legitimately debatable aspects to it. Some things are clear to me, and some things, I believe, are not as cut and dried (one way or another) as some would have us believe.

Participant

Thanks for taking the time to respond Dan.  As you might expect, I've not been persuaded that gay sex is allowed by scripture, even if "monogamous and committed," but I appreciate the discussion none the less, and especially your commitment that the CRC come to its conclusions on these questions based on scripture as opposed to "personal story" (not that personal story should play zero role in our consideration of the questions).

Your "possible arguments" are similar to those I've read (in books included in A1B's list of recommendeds).  I tend to conclude as I have for two dominant reasons:

First, the scriptural references clearly condemn gay sex and provide reasons for the condemnation including the reasons given.  Your "possible arguments" dismissing the condemnation also favor the legitimizing of bestiality (the next verse in my reference).  Plus I note that the sex during menstruation verse does not characterize that as specifically "bad" for a specific reason, as the verses on gay sex and bestiality do. 

Second, I have found no (zero) affirming biblical references related to gay sex, despite the fact that gay sex is a very ancient phenomena, perhaps as ancient as heterosexual sex.

My greatest concern with A1B is their insistence that the CRC must change as they have.  Christ's church is not defined merely as the CRC.  A1B folk have lots of churches they could join, including some already of their persuasion on these questions.  It seems to me that an effort of this sort, from inside an institutional church, is unbiblically decisive and unproductive as to the task of the CRC as an institutional church.  A1B efforts smack of a political campaign and their tactics (which I think Dan W reports accurately having seen these tactics first hand myself) are similar to politic tactics.

I'm not saying that Christians should never "be political."  They should, but there is "a time and a place" for being political, but the A1B effort within the CRC is, respectfully, neither.

So what if it turns out the AB1 is right?  That, e.g., we someday find in the that scripture's translations have been seriously faulty on this question specifically.  Then I think, the CRC, and CRCers, will eventually be convinced.  But for now, it is mere story, the personal desire on the part of some, that scripture says other than it does, that drives this effort, and I think Dan W reports well on that.

 

 

Rev. Zylstra, It should be noted that the author you have cited for hermeneutical credibility is in fact open and affirming himself.  In the book you invoke, on page 252, James Brownson writes; "Can we imagine a world in which the divine pronouncement at the beginning of creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), might find a range of deeply satisfying resolutions, from heterosexual marriage, to celibate communities, to gay and lesbian committed unions?"  As an author and hermeneutician, his body of work exhibits biases of the "broadened hermeneutic" which has led so many in the CRC into the egalitarian fog.  The fog which now blinds as we near the homosexual cliff.

Rev. Zylstra, Here is the twice repeated injunction answering your question about heterosexual monogamy in Scripture.  Genesis 2:24 & Ephesians 5:31; Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

Aaron De Boer, and don't forget Jesus himself quoted Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:4-5 and Mark 10:6-7, two passages that haven't been dealt with here.  Jesus clearly limits marriage to a male and a female. 

Thank you, Daniel Zylstra, for so clearly exposing the inflammatory language used in this article. It seems the writer has quite an ax to grind. 

Don Baxter5, rather than focusing on your subjective measure of inflammatory, wouldn't it be better to try to figure out whether this account of A1B's goals is accurate?

If it is accurate, I would hope that CRC members who stand for the truth of Scripture would be inflamed with a desire to stop A1B's desire to transform the CRC.

Participant

Don: I'm not getting it.  What's the inflammatory language?

Dan W., thanks for writing this.  I did not pick up any inflammatory language coming from you in your original post.  In fact, I thought it was very well written for the very reason that it was not inflammatory but informative.  You clearly have concern about what you heard, as do I and many others (by the sounds of it).  I took this as an attempt to simply inform us as to what you heard at the A1B meeting so that others, especially those outside of the GR area, might know the  kinds of discussions that are taking place.  The only inflammatory language I can discern is not coming from Dan's own words, but rather from the comments he has relayed to us.  If Dan's report is accurate as to what was said at the meeting (i.e. that attenders were urged to not use scripture to make their case, but rather rely on personal stories), then we have good reason to share his concern.  As Christians, the entirety of all that we believe rests on the authority of God's Word, not just for salvation but for all of the Christian life.  Furthermore, the CRC is clear in it's stance on of the authority of Scripture.  "The authority of Scripture is to be believed and confessed as an article of faith and is to be consistently applied and practiced in the life and ministry of the church." (https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements/bible-authority).  

Stories are powerful.  We all relate to stories, because we all have a story.  Stories can indeed be useful, but they are only useful insofar as they are illustrative of and normed by what we learn in God’s Word.  Jesus knew the power of story, and he told many of them.  Jesus spoke in parables often, and their impact is felt today.

 

There is another story told us by God that is worth considering here.  It is the story of the rich ruler.  Interestingly, in Mark 10 we see this story placed immediately after Jesus has affirmed God’s created order and intention for marriage when he says in verses 6-8: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

In the story of the rich ruler, we see that Jesus knew the heart of the ruler, and Jesus hits the ruler where it hurts him the most, by telling him to give up that which he holds most dear.  And why did Jesus do this?  Verse 21 says “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him…”  Jesus loved him enough to skewer his sense of self-righteousness and to demand complete devotion from him.  His riches defined him, and he could not think of leaving them behind.  What do we hold onto that we are unwilling to give up for Christ?  What does it mean to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily?  What does it mean to find our righteousness and identity only in Christ? 

 

We do well to listen to each other’s stories, and to listen with a sympathetic/empathetic ear.  I read the (thus far revealed) story offered by Jim Lucas on his website.  When I read it I was cut to the heart.  I read of Jim’s “fear of being scorned and rejected”, of his feeling “ashamed and isolated.”  I read of Jim experiencing a “downward spiral of anxiety and depression.”  I read of Jim having “suicidal thoughts.”  Who among us is so cold-hearted as to be unaffected by this?  When I read these things, I yearn for Jim’s wholeness, for his peace, and for his comfort.  As I read, I longed to walk alongside Jim and bear his burdens with him. 

 

I also have listened to other stories.  I read the story of Rosaria Butterfield.  She too has a story.  I have read the story of Jackie Hill Perry.  She too has a story.  These are the stories of the Christian life.  They are repeated untold times throughout history by homosexual and heterosexual alike.  They are the stories of struggle and victory in Christ.  They are the same story as that of the Apostle Paul: the struggle against the flesh and everything that used to define us before life in Christ.  We need not fear stories, for we all live a story, and God tells us the most grand of stories.  It is a story filled with tragedy, yet always and only concluding in victory over sin, death, and the flesh.  Would that my story would be marked by the same victory through Christ despite struggle and sacrifice that is told by Paul, Rosaria, and Jackie.  That is what I long for to be Jim's story as well.  God alone is able to make it so.  And when my story reflects the same grief and anxiety reflected in Jim’s story, may the body of Christ be near to offer support, affirmation of God’s love, and the hope of the transformative power of the gospel.  

Community Builder

And while the discussion continues, I am thinking of a few gay men who I know who have read the scriptures and who have decided that to practice homosexuality is sin, that they need to live holy lives and that, for them, it means a life of celibacy. They are part of a support group that includes recovering alcoholics and those dealing with addiction to pornography.

 

While theologians debate context, exegete to their hearts content, and question what Jesus really meant, gay men and women simply pick up their Bibles, read what it says, and conclude that a homosexual lifestyle is not conducive to holy living.

Participant

You're probably referring to men like Sam Allberry or Wesley Hill.

But I too share that story. I'm 50 years old. Spent 17 years in ex-gay reparative therapy to no avail. I still believe that acting on my attractions would be sin. I life a life of singleness and celibacy. And am now preparing for ordained ministry.

Thank you Dan W, for sharing this post.

Dr. John Cooper, retired prof. from Calvin Seminary has written an excellent paper which I heartily recommend: "RESPONSE TO GRE COMMUNICATION RE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: A “Traditionalist” Contribution to Ongoing Discussion in the CRCNA, John Cooper, Calvin Theological Seminary, revised February 2017"

Debating Scriptural interpretation is no longer useful in the discussions around LGBTQ+ matters. As Cooper (and others) have convincingly stated, those holding an affirming position are using a different hermeneutic than those who maintain the traditional view. Because of this fact, we continue talking past each other.  I see it happening in the comments thread of this post.

Because of this I see that the best way forward is to respectfully disagree with each other, pray God's blessing and mercy on each other, and part company. A communion that wishes to have meaningful unity must share basic rules for interpreting the Bible, IMHO.

Why? Well, in this thread we've really only been talking about same-sex marriage--the "LG" part of LGBTQ+.  In the culture, the conversation has moved well beyond this issue. The culture is now dealing with issues surrounding the "BTQ+" part.  Increasingly it is becoming more and more mainstream to assert that biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual proclivity vary independently of each other. In Canada, where I live, through Bill C-16, this view has become law. It's already being taught in some public schools across the country to children as young as 5. 

Here's the real issue as I see it:  the very same hermeneutic that is used to affirm monogamous same-sex marriage can be used to support the conviction that biological sex and gender vary independently.  If you can remove the binary male-female basis from marriage, why not remove the creational male-female distinction altogether?    

In my opinion the same hermeneutic that says male-male, female-female marriage is Biblical, can also be used to argue that fluidity in biological sex, gender expression and gender identity is Biblical. 

Those holding an affirming view on SSM will inevitably find themselves pulled into a hermeneutical spiral that also affirms fluid, vibrant, and consensual/committed transgender and bisexual and queer and '+' sexual expression.

Community Builder

I hear what you're saying, Andrew. My problem is that I think that both sides of this discussion often engage in shoddy theology. I read through Dr. Cooper's paper, and while I agree with the criticisms he levels against the GRE report, I have to acknowledge that I have often heard/read papers on the other side of the ledger that are just as bad.

To me it still comes down to wrestling with the Biblical text using a truly reformed hermeneutic and not finding it to be quite as cut-and-dried as many of us have previously thought. I don't KNOW what I believe on this issue, because, while some arguments from both sides are illogical and anti-biblical, other arguments from both sides seem to me to be legitimate from a biblical standpoint.

As to your comments regarding where the discussion has gone and how easy it would be to argue that "fluidity in biological sex, gender expression and gender identity is Biblical"--I agree. It's very possible that the hermeneutics out there would lead that way. But I say two things to that:

1) That might be because the hermeneutics are flawed, just like Dr. Cooper says. If so, it is important that we struggle and strive to correct those errors. Karl Barth said (to paraphrase) that theology is the task of the church constantly examining herself in the light of the revelation of scripture. Healthy theological discussion is a significant part of the "iron sharpening iron" that we read about in the scriptures, IMHO.

2) Not that I want us to go there (I really don't know where I stand--I'm still thinking, and pondering and praying and reading and researching ant talking)--but what would happen if we said that "fluidity in biological sex, gender expression and gender identity is Biblical"? What would that do to the Gospel? Would it mean that Jesus is no longer Lord? Would it mean that Jesus is no longer the only way to salvation? Would it cancel out the witness of the gospel? What would happen to our faith if we came to believe that the Bible's teaching on sexuality is actually more nuanced and differs from what we've thought for a long time?

It feels to me like nothing would really happen that would be negative to the gospel. Jesus would still be Lord. He would still be the way, the truth and the life. Scriptures would still be valid.

It would be just like the debates on the other topics mentioned in this thread: six-twenty-four-hour-day creationism, baptism, hymns vs. psalms only, gravity, etc. None of those things killed the witness of the gospel, and this won't either, I don't think.

And last, but not least I wonder about your statement that "A communion that wishes to have meaningful unity must share basic rules for interpreting the Bible." I have two questions about that too:

1) Why? What does it matter? We have a great deal of diversity already in the way we interpret scripture within our denomination. We have people who believe that women should not serve in ecclesiastical office and we have those who think that this is perfectly fine. Obviously, they are interpreting scripture differently according to different rules. This seems to be working out okay in the long run (though clearly it has been a difficult thing, and continues to be a struggle--but who says that's bad?). So why would we need to all interpret the scripture the same way here?

2) Further, if we did agree that there need to be some "basic rules for interpreting the Bible" as you suggest, then where would you draw the line? How do you know that your rules are better than mine or someone else's? Does everyone have to interpret ALL of the scriptures exactly the same way? Even Paul seems to argue against that when he says that "one person will honor one day above the others, and another will honor all days the same--as long as they do so to the Lord [it's okay]" (badly paraphrased, but that the sense of it). In there he also asks us why we argue about debatable matters and encourages us to be generous to one another (Ro. 14). Why can't we be generous to one another here too? Hasn't the debate on this shown us that this may well be one of the "debatable matters" that Paul is indirectly alluding too? 

Participant

Daniel: I do appreciate your struggle, even if I guess I don't empathize with it (in terms of what scripture says).

But here are a couple of my thoughts about yours.

You seem to suggest that unless a "who is Jesus Christ?" question is invoked by a hermetical/theology difference, there may not be cause to an institutional church to prohibit, or perhapsdivide.   I specifically say "institutional" because the discussion is quite different if the question is about the organic ("holy catholic") church.

If what you suggest (as I understand it) is correct, then I'm not sure that the concept of "church discipline" (which is always an institutional church question, not an organic church question) isn't completely lost, at least as to the "life" (as opposed to "faith") issues.

Anyone can make an argument of biblical justification for: viewing pornography, stealing from someone else, polyamory, bestiality, drug abuse, greed, hatred, and many, many other real world, real life behaviors that an "orthodox" perspective would understand to be a "life" problem, just as, e.g., Paul saw and pointed out "life" problems as he dealt with the various churches.

If the CRC becomes the "all one body" that A1B wants, it would not only introduces a new doctrine, not to mention a new hermeneutic, it would also introduce new truths and new teachings to real world CRC congregations and their congregants (real people) about many real world, real life questions.  Questions like: what should we teach our children about what a family is?, what mothers are?, what fathers are?, the purposes of sex?, what constraints should we set for dating, for sexual behavior?, is marriage a prerequisite for "living together"?, and much more.

If A1B succeeds, why would not the next generation of A1Bers be one that wants to get rid of A1B's current "monogamous" and "committed" requirements for sexual relationships?  Surely, biblical arguments can be made to eliminate those requirements, not?  Certainly, people can tell stories of how they suffer because they long to love more than one spouse (etc etc). 

If we should be "All One Body," why in the world would Councils not tolerate any form of gender identification, bestiality, polyamory, family definition, and the list goes on.  For that matter, if "All One Body" is the goal, why should drunkenness not be be tolerated (wine makes glad the heart don't you know), or meth abuse, or laziness.  And if those things are tolerated, why should they not also be taught as "valid options."  We aim to be a "liberal society" after all -- don't we?

 

It doesn't work to use Paul to say matters of sexual immorality are "debatable matters" in which we should just agree to disagree when Paul specifically teaches the wickedness of sexual immorality, in full concurrence with the rest of scriptural witness.

The fact that Jesus is Lord is immutable, no matter the wickedness of man.  But the apostles still taught very clearly that a life marked by being given over to sin is not the life of one saved unto eternal life.  Yes, this matters.  Paul said those whose life is defined and marked by unrepentant sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  These are matters that bear on the gospel.  Is not the mortification of the old self part and parcel to the gospel of salvation?  Is new birth a birth unto the same practices of old?  Is sanctification a mark of those who have been declared righteous? 

Hermeneutics matters because if scripture is made to be putty in my hands based on my preferred approach, then I can (and will be inclined to) fashion the word in my image and to my liking.  There is no end to the self-justification that can occur when the scripture is allowed to be handled carelessly.  Will we ever have a perfect understanding or approach to scripture?  Clearly not.  But to act as if our approach to scripture does not matter is incoherent.  Muslims have a hermeneutic when they read scripture as well.  Does it matter that their hermeneutic differs from ours? It matters how we approach scripture because God's Word actually means something.

A1B already affirms what you fear will be inevitably affirmed.  They have and do talk about the BTQ+ regularly. 

Eric, I know A1B does, but the church more generally tends to focus on the marriage question.  My point is, if you accept same sex marriage, the same hermeneutic will lead you to accept BTQ+ identity and behaviour......  and I wonder if folks who lean in the "Generous Space" direction on this issue realize that the same approach to reading the Bible gets you there.

Take the approach to Scripture that the affirming side uses and you can argue:

- a family of, say 4 or 6 committed bisexual, poly amorous adults in a committed, covenant relationship is Biblically supported.

- that marriages need not be permanent. Gender expression is fluid, proclivities change, so can spouses.

- polyamory among consenting and committed followers of Christ is a Biblical alternative 

- sexual intimacy among consenting adults who are not married is acceptable.

- this list goes on..... 

People will say, "Andrew, stop using the "slippery slope" defense."  Well, I'd ask any on the affirming side to show me the verses that they think would prohibit these behaviours, and I'll provide a scripturally reasoned defense--sprinkled with a reliance on "current 'science', experience, and perceived beneficial outcomes" (language from Cooper paper)--that presents each behaviour as Biblically sanctioned. 

Andrew, I concur.

Participant

Thanks for the link to Dr. Cooper's paper.  Was excellent (as I expected it might be). :-)

Just reflecting on this quote: Perhaps a desire to prove the CRC’s relevancy credentials will convince Synod to “get with the times."

I wonder if our "credentials" are actually being revoked due to a loss of integrity (and maybe humility?) in church practices more than our official church position?  

The "hate the sin; love the sinner" mantra only resonates in so far as it is practiced.  Since 1973, has the CRC found ways to creatively come alongside people with same-sex attraction who want to live in meaningful community?  Or have these people been effectively exiled into solitary places?  Imagine as a heterosexual person hearing you not only couldn't have sex (which gets over-emphasized, even in the 1973 statement), but you weren't allowed to fall in love with the single, similarly-wired person you were attracted to or build a family with that person?  How great a loss is that?  What alternatives for meaningful, local community has the CRC sought to provide in these cases?  

In Matthew 23:4, Jesus speaks forcefully to some who had a high view of Scripture, but who "tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, while they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."

Have heterosexually-oriented members in the CRC born witness to the lonely road faced by people with same-sex attraction?  Have we come alongside them?  Have we entered into the binary-busting gray surrounding a person born intersex (both genders)?  I would suggest that we haven't, which, Scriptural interpretations aside, has been incongruous with the love-the-sinner language we've used.  At some point, then (is 40+ years long enough?), heteros who lead the church have lost the credibility ("credentials") to speak into these situations, not due to interpretation but due to a lack of congruity that has led us to look remarkably like those who tie heavy loads, but don't lift a finger to help.    

 

ps- I'm open to being wrong, if I'm missing something here.  I've spent my whole life in the CRC and haven't seen strong movements in CRCs to come alongside people struggling with atypical sexuality.  Has it happened (is it happening) and I'm just missing it?     

 

    

 

Participant

Adam: You may be correct that CRCers have not sufficiently come alongside those who are gay, or for that matter those who are hetero but single and not of their choosing.  

Or you may be incorrect.

It probably depends on which CRCers you are talking about -- because there are lots of them.

But isn't the question you raise a different one than the question at issue here, not to mention one about which there is near unanimity of answer among CRCers.  Ok, you think CRCers should more practice what they preach and they should.  It's likely that some do, some don't.

But again, that's a different question, isn't it?

There are many kinds of people that CRCers should come alongside of, aren't there, included those who have, by CRC standards gone astray from what Scripture provides for our lives -- in any numbers of wsys?

Isn't the question here whether the institutional CRC should bless the actual going astray?  And what the CRC should tell CRC parents to teach their children about a number of questions?

 

Hi Adam, I think you are probably both correct and incorrect.  No doubt there have been cases of ostracization and indifference, if not at times outright cruelty.  Where we as individuals and churches fail by turning our back on any struggling sinner, we ought rightly to repent and change.   I don't think, however, that you are in a position to judge generally that Christians have not come alongside other Christians struggling with sexual temptation in this area.  Just because you don't see a "movement", does not mean that this sort of discipleship and love is not happening day in and day out.  Discipleship, friendship, and love don't rely on "movements". 

It can also become very difficult to walk alongside someone when a section of the church and most of society continues to tell them that the discipleship and comfort we offer is in fact hate.  Once that message is believed and internalized, the only message that is put out is that the church fails to accept, when the church may have tried mightily.  The headlines often fail to honestly reflect truth.

There is no doubt that we can all make improvements in bearing each other's burdens, not just on this particular topic.  But I think you are not well-positioned to make the sort of charge that you seek to leverage from Scripture that the CRC simply ties heavy burdens and does not lift a finger to move them.  The burden that is there is first of all not tied or bound by the CRC, to the extent that the moral law in question is not a man-made law.  Jesus was speaking of the laundry list of man-made minutiae that the Pharisees had added to the moral and ceremonial law.  The burdens they tied were above and beyond what God had commanded.  The CRC seeks to do no such thing.   Also, in order to judge that no finger has been lifted to help those in need requires a much more omniscient knowledge of the many and varied people, congregations, pastors, and situations than I think you can claim to have.

For the past 5 years it has been my privilege to serve on the board of GIFT Grand Rapids, the non profit started by Jim Lucas. While GIFT is non denominational, I personally am CRC and by nature of being in Grand Rapids many of the people we serve are CRC or former CRC.

I am not sure who you would consider qualified to speak on this topic of whether the CRC is doing a good job walking with its LGBTQ members, but I do know that many people who come to us for help and support are telling the same story again and again, that they are not only not supported by their churches, they are told they must choose between their faith and their identity. If even a handful of CRC churches in West Michigan we’re doing an adequate job of walking with LGBTQ members we would have much less work to do (and God willing someday that will be the case!)

However, the only people that are truly able to answer that question are LGBTQ persons themselves, so I would encourage everyone who is not, to be open, listen, and listen some more to what they have to say about whether they feel safe in their CRC churches. 

I have spent the past few years listening especially to youth in our churches and Christian schools and while I am sure that there is some good one on one faith mentoring that happens, in general the best case scenario seems to be secretive tolerance. I am seeing many young people, LGBTQ and allies, with great hearts for Jesus and many spiritual gifts, leave the CRC for places that are willing to let them lead and serve as they are called.

Participant

Question:

Laura, you wrote: "However, the only people that are truly able to answer that question are LGBTQ persons themselves, so I would encourage everyone who is not, to be open, listen, and listen some more to what they have to say about whether they feel safe in their CRC churches."

I can speak for myself here. I am exclusively same-sex attracted. I spent 17 years in ex-gay reparative therapy begging God to make me straight. I went to Love in Action's live-in program even. None of it worked. I'm sure that part of my story is true for many LGBTQ+ people who grew up in the church.... that we begged God to change us.

But even as someone who could rightly consider myself part of the LGBTQ+ community, I still hold the conservative, traditional view of Scripture. I believe that homosexual practice is sin. Always. As such, I believe that God would call those of us who are same-sex attracted and claim the name of Christ to be celibate. My "story" is welcome and affirmed among conservative-minded folk in the CRC. I wonder, however, if my story is affirmed in A1B circles because theologically I disagree with them.

I have absolutely heard of your position (and of the co-existence of ‘side A’ and ‘side B’ positions). I have great respect for your view and you should definitely be upheld as an example of living out your faith.

I have never heard anyone say that this view is ‘wrong’, however I’d say the idea that everyone who is born LGBT is automatically called to lifelong celibacy is too much of a burden for many people. I don’t think anyone would say your own position should change - you are called to live out your faith - but that other LGBT people who have prayed and wrestled with their faith the same way you have and have not been called to celibacy or who have found love and wonderful, faith affirming same sex relationships should also be allowed to live out their lives the same way we allow for these differences in the straight community.

 

Participant

The terms "Side A" and "Side B" are sometimes known and sometimes unknown to people. So thanks for pointing them out. I am indeed Side B. I guess you could say that "on paper" the 1973 and 2002 reports of the CRC affirm Side B... although there are still people out there in the CRC who would still have all of us (Side A and B) in reparative therapy and tell us we still need to "pray the gay away."

There's where the hurt came in my own journey (even after coming to the CRC in 2008, unfortunately). My previous denomination -- very much not even accepting of Side B).

Participant

Laura: You say that celibacy is "too much a burden" for LGBT.  Two questions.

What about "B" (which I assume is bi-sexual)?  What burden is imposed on them by a church that would constrain it's members to marry in heterosexual monogamy or remain delegate? 

Second, what do you say to those, and some very much do, that monogamy is too much a constraint (burden) for them?  That God made them in such a way that they will only be "fulfilled" by, e.g., open marriage or some variety of polyamory?  Why, if you would, would you have the church deny these church members to deny themselves (they have prayed and wrestled too) of ways Of living that they have concluded is right for them?

There is often a misconception about bisexual people that they are equally attracted to male/female in a 50/50 split.  Often that is not the case, in fact the majority of bisexual people have a preference for one gender over the other.  Their preferences are no more of a choice than straight or gay people. 

If we assume there is no burden on bisexual people to limit themselves to heterosexual relationships we ignore how love works - that we fall in love with an individual person.  If a bisexual person is in love with a same sex partner, of course it would be a burden to tell them they can't be with that person because they can just find someone else of the opposite sex instead.

I hesitate to engage the monogamy question because this is so often brought up whenever LGBT issues are engaged - the slippery slope of 'anything goes' if we allow for LGBT people to be in same sex relationships (along with bestiality, etc. ). If we want to address the idea of polyamory, that is its own issue that has nothing to do with LGBT people.  But I will briefly point out just a few key differences in these topics:

There is an abundance of research that has been done with LGBT persons and how they have core identities at birth that has no equivalent with people in polyamorous relationships.  I don't know of young people struggling with polyamory and committing suicide at higher rates because they are 'denying themselves' the ability to be in a polyamorous relationship.  I don't hear stories of people saying they knew at age 5 or 8 or 10 that they were polyamorous.   If you have quality research showing there is suffering happening, suicide risk, etc then let's look at that and address it but I don't find it helpful as part of this discussion. If this is just meant as a slippery slope argument then I would point out that the same thing was said when we allowed for inter-racial marriage, so I guess we are already going down that slope.

I want to get away from the idea that LGBT people are living a 'lifestyle' or in a way that is 'right for them'.  We are not talking about allowing moral relativism.  When we talk about inclusion in the church it is simply to allow for LGBT people to be held to the same standards that we hold straight people, not taking away any and all standards.

 

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