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Be-Longing

I no longer belong because I aligned with the minority.

I cried out.
“I no longer belong.”
You heard my painful cry.
You walked by on the other side.
Afraid to be contaminated?
Concerned about what others might say?
Confident in your holiness.
You threw out those you judged unholy.
Now I sit with them in the ashes.

I had belonged.
All my life I belonged.
I belonged to the church, the schools. 
The community was my family’s family.
De Cock, Kuyper and Hendriksen are my family.
I had taught my and others’ children to belong.
I had called others to belong.
Now I no longer belong.
Because I aligned with the minority.

You challenge my integrity.
You call me to repent.
“Of what?” I ask.
You call me to be humble and submit.
But I see the hurt and the suffering.
You call me to be silent.
But I must lament.
You say you are a helping friend.
As if you were friends of Job.

You say you love, but
But you must change
But you are wrong
But we fight for the truth
But we are confessional
But you are not welcome.
These three things remain
Faith, hope and charity
But the greatest of these is clarity?

First, they came for the Americanizers.
But I was Dutch.
Then they came for the drunks and druggies.
But I was sober.
Then they came for those divorced.
But I was faithful.
Then they came for the gay and lesbian.
But I was straight.
Then you came for me.

Notes

Stanza 1: Background of Heidelberg Catechism Answer #1 and the parable of the good Samaritan. Our morality has replaced our theology and loving actions. We are more focussed on what we do and judging what others do than on what God has done and is doing. Holiness is set apart for religious service, not only moral purity.

Stanza 2: I was born into the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). I attended our schools (onze scholen voor onze kinderen) from elementary through two Masters. My Wolthuis ancestors came from Ulrum, where Rev. Hendrik de Cock started the Afscheiding, the separation from the Dutch State Hervormde Church, that is the root of the Christian Reformed Church. On one side my wife’s grandparents were married by the son of Abraham Kuyper. On the other, she is the granddaughter of Dr. William Hendriksen, the CRC’s most influential Biblical commentator. I have had about 40 former students become Christian pastors. I have helped lead mission churches and worked with educational mission groups overseas.

Stanza 3: During this process, I have been preaching and writing from the Book of Job. The challenges of Job’s friends sound all too familiar. I understand Job’s struggle and pain to retain his integrity and not just be silent. The “in the ashes” in stanza 1 also reflects Job.

Stanza 4: I hear often that the traditional position against any type of homosexuality still loves the homosexual. I do not hear this from homosexuals. The conservative position proclaims truth more than love and that we must be clear in our condemnation. At the heart of “confessional” is belonging and grace.

Stanza 5: This reflects the post-WW2 poem of Martin Niemoller reflecting his grief in not standing up to Nazi abuse earlier. Like the Accuser’s challenge in Job, we are selfish and only concerned when something affects us. This issue and how it is discussed affects all of us, the church, the culture, and the proclamation of the Gospel that because of Jesus Christ we belong. Be longing for this Gospel.

Background:

On September 17, 2022, the Christian Reformed Classis Central Plains passed by two-thirds majority an overture that all delegates to synod or the Council of Delegates (COD) from Classis Central Plains must affirm the CRCNA’s position on human sexuality.

After the Classis vote, I closed with a statement of grief, pain and sadness because I do not hold this decision on sexuality as a confessional position. My last words were, consciously reflecting Answer #1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, “I am being told ‘I no longer belong.’” Not one pastor responded in the meeting or at the lunch after the meeting. 

Author

  • Tom Wolthuis

    Dr. Thomas Wolthuis is a CRC pastor serving as the English pastor of the Chinese Church of Iowa City. He has been a campus minister, institute president, professor, pastor, and church planter. His Biblical Studies podcasts are at www.geneva-ui.org.

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6 Comments

  1. Your pain, grief and feelings of separation are being borne by many in the CRC-NA. After two years of Covid, this adds to our time of confusion and separation.

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