Common Ground after the HSR
A place to come together and discuss human sexuality and faith.
We know that you, our CC readers, have lots to say about decisions made at the Christian Reformed Church’s Synod regarding the Human Sexuality Report. One year ago, our Editor pleaded for unity on this issue, and while denominational unity is beyond CC’s mission statement, our membership in the body of Christ remains.
Honesty and Understanding
CC is committed to preserving a space where Christians who disagree can listen well to each other. That’s why Peter Schuurman took the time to integrate 100 responses into his August editorial. That’s why we make room in every issue for your letters. And that’s why we’ve opened up this space for you to engage specifically on matters related to polarization around the HSR.
We hope it’s a place to be honest, outside of the usual echo chambers, and to build understanding. Naïve? Maybe! But we think it’s worth a try.
What do you think?
We invite you to leave a reply with your thoughts on one or more of these five questions.
- Why is human sexuality such a divisive topic in our churches?
- In what ways have we oversimplified the issue and made it unnecessarily polarizing?
- When you think about the perspectives that you disagree with, are there any parts of those views that actually do make sense to you?
- Is there an experience in your life that has made the topic of human sexuality important to you?
- What is the question that nobody is asking?
Below you’ll see comments from other readers. Please include the question number if you’re responding to a specific question or feel free to reply to existing comments.
Past CC articles
Over the last couple of years, many of our talented writers have shared their insights and research on this topic. We invite you to browse our human sexuality archive, if you’re looking for more food for thought before commenting.
A space for listening well
Sexuallity, like money, has been “off the table” for discussion for a long time.
Why is human sexuality such a divisive topic in our churches? For years and years, personal salvation, sex, and money have been taboo subjects in many Christian traditions. Now we don’t know how to talk about them.
Is there an experience in your life that has made the topic of human sexuality important to you? Having personal knowledge and relations and interactions with people who have experienced condemnation is the single most important activity one could take in understanding the various topics. It was for me. Difficult to call those living common law “fornicators” when they are your friends; difficult to call people “abominations” when you are praying with them to God through Christ.
The thing that feels particularly problematic, an oversimplification, I guess, is when we declare a certain group (all people in same sex relationships) as offside and thus not allowed to belong, without first knowing them as whole people, it is violent and against how Jesus operated in the gospels, I think. People are complicated and no one situation is simply a sin and thus requiring discipline of the person. We walk with whole persons and hold each other accountable, which is scary. Will we allow another sinner to help hold us accountable? Not without a long history of trust building together.
What is the question no one is asking? What does Jesus say about this ? In Mathew, Jesus speaks of “sexual immorality”. He does not elaborate. I determine with my Lord and Savior what I consider my sexual immorality. I do not determine this for any one else. A wise Canadian Leader once said that sex and politics do not mix. It is wise for polititians to remain out of the bedroom of others. Perhaps these are wise words for Christ followers also.
Why is human sexuality such a divisive topic in our churches? Because we don’t know how to talk about sex
In what ways have we oversimplified the issue and made it unnecessarily polarizing? Thinking it is all about sex
When you think about the perspectives that you disagree with, are there any parts of those views that actually do make sense to you? There are lots of things about the HSR we can agree on. Pornography, adultery, any kind of sexual abuse, polygamy, extra-marital sex, all outside of the Christian view of what God intended. And that applies whether you’re LGBTQ+ or in a heterosexual relationship.
Is there an experience in your life that has made the topic of human sexuality important to you? Seeing so many people I love and care about marginalized and ostracized because of who they love.
What is the question that nobody is asking? Why don’t we ever talk about homosexual love?
Astonished July 15, 2022
(a centering response to Synod 2022, to my family at Meadowvale)
And so a new door opens for us.
You do know
We haven’t fit in this room for quite some time anyway.
The furniture is all wrong.
I’ve been trying to fit myself
And my wondrously questioning theology
Into baby bear’s chair
and it’s been far too small for years.
Mama bear’s chair seems fitting for those sleeping
In the privilege of their power.
And papa bear’s chair? I don’t even recognize the tyrant god they place on the papa bear throne.
Unrecognizable any longer
And for that grace,
given by Creator,
I stand in astonished gratitude.
So they slammed the door in our faces. We are the “rot”.
Gasping and gut punched
For a moment I can’t breathe
For a moment I can no longer feel Spirit inflate my lungs—
But thank you–
For I can now no longer linger in the doorway
Outside the gilded door of the private club
On the “You’re not Welcome” mat laid for my daughter,
At the thresh-hold praying for renovations–
To change a home that’s no longer home.
Out I go
Not surprised, but still astonished—
Astonished at deafened ears and the lack of love
There’s a new line in the sand,
A line certainly not drawn by the finger of Jesus.
A manipulation of words, a sleight of hand,
A well-planned command
To silence Love.
Wherein clarification becomes amending
to the descent of power’s divisive interpretations,
A creed never intended and certainly not Christian.
Out I go to be astonished
By the embrace of eternal, non-limited, non-amended, unconditional
When you don’t fit, when you can’t sit, when your voice is omitted
And no space is permitted,
You sit at the crossroads.
Bayo Akomolafe defines crossroads as
Being at the liminal edges of all things.
Be luminous on the liminal edges!
Be a firefly.
Adult fireflies live barely two months
But they are the most efficient lights in the world
As 100% of their energy is emitted as light.
Imagine glowing like that,
Radiating Love’s light with 100% of your being!
Love lights our way
Here on the precipice of something new
but not quite there yet,
Be astonished at the view outside of the guarded garden
Because it’s not Eden many of us will walk away from this time.
Welcome to wilderness.
Oh, you thought perhaps we could plan re-wilding?
Follow a blueprint? A creed? The one safe trail guaranteed?
Circling narrowing ellipses? Stealing occasional glimpses of grace?
but you will find the embrace of welcome as we walk.
We do not walk alone.
There are so many of us out here with our shepherd Creator.
So Hold on hope
To what you know is true
When deceiver’s lies cover you
Hope is oft-times the most scarce commodity.
Buy that field with your last tender
And tenderly plant your seeds of hope and longing and belonging
into the rich Earth embracing your clay feet.
Love will win, and
We will be astonished.
What would you think about this Overture proposal?
Synod 2022 recommended to the churches the Human Sexuality Report (HSR), including its findings that homosexual sex is always and under all circumstances sexual immorality, unchastity and sin. But Synod did more than that, it went one step further, it also interpreted Heidelberg Q&A 108 such as to make the HSR’s interpretation of the Bible and creeds regarding homosexuality, binding on all members. A significant segment of the membership understands the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality differently from that of the HSR. What happens to them? What is the status of their membership? Are they welcome at the Lord’s Table? Are they to be disciplined? If their membership status is to be diminished, what shape will that take and be effective when?
Decisions were made at Synod 2022, the implications of which are not immediately obvious and understood. If those decisions are to stand, the practical implications need to be worked out going forward. The denomination and its membership need time to do that responsibly.
Classis ………… overtures Synod 2023 to not implement or make effective Article 65, (4) Acts of Synod 2022, regarding the interpretation of Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 108, before Synod 2027, or for a longer period if deemed necessary, and to report back at the first meeting of classis following Synod 2023.
• While the CRC has a long history of believing that the church should not bind the consciences of believers more than Scripture does, Synod 2022 in its decisions did not address the matter of binding consciences.
• The denomination, its classes and local councils need time to understand and work out the practical implications of binding the consciences of all its members on whether homosexual sex is always and under all circumstances sexual immorality, unchastity and sin.
• As it stands, Synod 2022 decisions may invoke church discipline against a significant segment of the membership, pursuant to Article 81 of the Church Order.
• It is not prudent to make major decisions affecting a significant segment of the membership before understanding the practical implications.
• Settling the practical implications before implementation will avoid unnecessary speculation, suspicions and mistrust.
On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, Synod’s vote in favor of the Conclusion to the Human Sexuality Report (“HSR”) was a vote for orthodoxy. It affirmed that amongst other licentious activities, those “born that way” (Synod ’73) who persist in committed, monogamous, loving, same-sex relationships, are “in danger of losing their salvation”. Has Synod 2022 has set the CRC on a dangerous path of judgementalism? I read the entire HSR which was mainly fair, compassionate and balanced. Ironically, the Conclusion seems not to represent the HSR Committee’s work. What really happened there?
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