Human Sexuality Archives

A place to come together and discuss human sexuality and faith.

Groundhog Day: The Church Edition

I recently resumed pastoral ministry in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) after 10 years with the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC). During those years, the matter of human sexuality dominated the denominational agenda. The engagement was serious, intense and divisive, with each side endlessly quoting their chosen Bible texts. When I attended my first Classis…

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A scalpel, a word, a schism

One night, in the midst of the CRC’s Synod, I awoke with a word in my head. Vivisection. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this early morning revelation. Some folks dream lucidly, others sweat through nightmares. Me? Apparently I receive ten-dollar words. It might be just the peculiarity of my own gray matter…

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Feeling our way forward

From grief to relief; from shock to anxiety; from weariness to embarrassment and many points in between. For this editorial, I asked members of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), “Now that the Human Sexuality Report has passed, with a good majority, how does it feel?” While the theological and biblical reflection has been intense, this…

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Dialogue within the ‘bond of peace’

Four (and a Half) Dialogues onHomosexuality and the BibleDonald ZeylWipe & Stock, 2022. Since Synod 2016 the Christian Reformed Church has been studying, discussing and agonizing over same-sex relationships. That year, Synod created a committee which produced what is now called the Human Sexuality Report (HSR). Among other issues, the HSR recommended that homosexual activity…

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Coren’s conversion

“My core beliefs haven’t changed,” Michael Coren says. But “I can’t imagine who I was spiritually eight years ago.” The landscape of personal faith can change over time. Scandal, abuse, disillusionment and burnout are just a few of the deconstruction triggers prompting Christians to re-examine what we believe and why. It’s a process that usually…

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Cracking the Code

This article isn’t ultimately about conversations inside the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) right now, but that’s where we’ll start. Weighing in on the recent decision of the Synod of the CRC to elevate the condemnation of “homosexual sex” to confessional status, Rod Dreher focused on the consequences for Calvin University in a recent article for…

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‘Blood on our hands’

When CRC Synod delegate Dominic Palacios said “I believe our theology around this issue has caused there to be blood on our hands, and there will continue to be blood on our hands because of it,” he lost the right to speak again for ‘violating the rules of decorum.’ CC reached out to both the…

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Seeking ‘clarity’ on Sexual sin

“There are two deeply divergent interpretations of Scripture in this denomination,” Paul VanderKlay said on June 14, addressing 188 delegates of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). To most CRC members, the degree of that difference is painfully clear, and it was only accentuated at this year’s annual meeting. Synod 2022 made three key decisions concerning…

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Affirming or Confessional: Aren’t there other options?

As pundits and pew quarterbacks are struggling to find descriptions for what transpired at the Christian Reformed Church’s Synod 2022, I’m at a bit of a loss. Most descriptions are two-sided, fitting our bifurcated partisan day and age. When it comes to human sexuality, almost everyone seems to be either affirming or confessional. But I…

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I chose the CRC despite the Human Sexuality Report

After a few years away from the denomination, our family decided to “return to the fold” of the Christian Reforemd Church (CRC) in Fall of 2021, and began attending Inglewood CRC here in Edmonton. Once we joined, we were sent a list of all sorts of important and useful documents, from a directory to doctrinal…

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I was lucky Conroy was in his office, or in total exasperation I would have spilled it all to the secretary – that’s how angry I was. “He’s not coming back in,” I told the principal. “I’ve had it with the kid. He’s a jerk, and he’s pushed me over the line. He’s out of…

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Did anyone ask the hard questions?

On May 6, the Hesed Project CRC published an open letter by Dr. Mary Stewart VanLeeuwen that gives new information about her role as promotor fidei, or “Devil’s Advocate,” on the Synodical Committee to Articulate a Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality for the Christian Reformed Church of North American (CRCNA). The committee’s report (commonly…

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The HSR’s misuse of a theological tool

The summer I was fifteen I worked for a farmer, who I’ll call ‘Jed’. Jed had a dairy herd, a lot of land and a lot of machinery. He also had a favorite tool in the pocket of his jeans, his Peterson Vice Grip. Also known as a locking plier, Jed’s vice grip could cut…

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Freedom of Religion and the Rule of Law

In February 14’s issue I wrote about how some politicians define “freedom” as the ability personally to do what you want (like disobeying masks and vaccine mandates) while also being able to restrict what other people do (like teaching about race in school). Since that column appeared, many new rights-restrictive bills have appeared in US…

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Reforming as we go

What is the hurry on the Human Sexuality Report? It took 300 years of conversation for the church to reach consensus on the Trinity. To this day, the church discusses whether God chooses you, or whether you choose God. It is such a central question, yet there is no human answer, the Bible holds both…

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Visions of a more loving church

“Serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:13) I am drawn to the gospel in part because it is filled with movement, action and activity of all sorts – all aimed at transformation. It promises the healing of wounds, the restoration of relationships and the birth of unquenchable hope in the face of despair. It offers…

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We can’t forget about the Great Commission

It’s been three years since Synod last met in-person. Since Synod 2019, a tremendous amount of change to ministry has occurred while we as Christian Reformed Church (CRC) members and leaders all waited for the day when we could have Synod together again. Such change has left the CRCNA in a state that eerily echoes…

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A boy’s lot and luck

As we rattle and rush across the icy surface of Lake Simcoe, I look out the porthole window of the Bombardier R12, watching the snowy world blow by. It’s like being transported in a school bus, really – the same dull roar and smell of exhaust and uncomfortable seats – except with dual tracks and…

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The consequences of conversion therapy

Pray Away, a documentary recently released on Netflix, opens with Jeffrey McCall, a large and gentle man who drives through the rain to a strip mall where he stands under the portico and offers to pray for passersby while wielding a poster board with the words “TRANS 2 CHRIST” emblazoned across it in sticker letters….

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Faithful friends are good medicine

My wife sometimes compliments me as a husband. “I’m strictly average,” I remind her. I don’t want expectations to rise. Marriages today are emotionally overloaded. We want someone who will be a lover, spouse, soulmate and friend – someone who “completes us,” as Hollywood suggests. This is much more than the biblical “suitable partner.” High…

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Engaging the Global Polylogue

When it comes to matters of sexual ethics, no one can quickly iron out the deep differences in the church today. So why should Christian Courier publish an article on same-sex marriage from distant Uganda? Well, I figure if we are truly part of a catholic church, we ought to hear the voices of our…

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A Ugandan perspective

Sytsma: As difficult as it is to discuss homosexuality today, I appreciate how Christians with different perspectives all emphasize the importance of listening. Most importantly we listen to those who experience same-sex attraction themselves. But I am sensing a new desire among North American churches to listen to Christians around the world. Emmanuel, please tell…

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Hearing from the ‘moderates’

“I can’t get two people alone in a room together, let alone worry about what they’re going to be doing with each other.” This tongue-in-cheek remark kicked off an online conversation between five Christian Reformed (CRC) pastors from across the U.S. and Canada this summer, all feeling stuck between revisionist and traditional voices in the…

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Can We Stay Together?

I was recently involved in discussions among evangelical church leaders as to whether our churches could continue to work together. The focus was same-sex marriage, which seemed to us a convenient peg on which to hang broader questions of sexuality. The jury has not yet returned a verdict. When I say these leaders were “evangelical,”…

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Rainbow coloured bench by flowers.

Historic moment

The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) is changing its theology and practice to be inclusive of same-sex marriage and to permit lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people to be ordained as ministers and ruling elders. These changes to church law were discussed and voted on during the June 6-9, 2021 General Assembly…

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The United Church and sexuality

It was a hot August night in 1988 when the crucial vote passed. The reactions were intense – and wildly different. Sally Boyle, watching from the gallery, shed tears of relief and happiness. Graham Scott literally tore his shirt, overcome by a sense of deep spiritual darkness. The United Church of Canada, Canada’s largest Protestant…

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Seeking graceful hospitality

Preston Sprinkle is a New Testament scholar, author and speaker, and in Embodied he combines story, science and scripture to explore the intersection of sexuality, gender and faith. With a comfortable cadence, Sprinkle explores the complex relationship between the theology and science of gender with a particular focus on transgender identities. Both the conservative and…

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Five major concerns

Before the Christian Reformed Church’s (CRC) annual June Synod for 2021 was cancelled in late February, there were at least 58 formal responses to the Human Sexuality Report (HSR) on classical agendas (not including 15 responses specific to Neland Ave CRC). Generally, 12 were for “fully adopting” the HSR, 15 asked for “more time,” and…

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Theology and sexuality

The report submitted by the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) synodical committee mandated to articulate a “Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality” is generating robust and critical discussion. In context of this, particularly in relation to the LGBTQ community, I have heard two faults against the church. One, that the church consistently appears to be out…

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Two girls in a car.

‘Don’t leave your faith behind’

CC: You describe yourselves as “two white, American, millennial, gay and bi Christian women.” Yet your first Car Chats video is about vegetarian tacos, your favourite Harry Potter characters, music, pet peeves, personal quirks. Why did you begin your channel like that?Joey: I really wanted to bring it down to the most basic human level….

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Reformed gifts for today

Public discourse in North America is especially turbulent. I often want to call “time out.” The responses to Jim Joosse’s recent article on human rights pushed me to dive in with this call for our reflection. The topic of human sexuality is only the most recent “issue” in a long list of important questions. It…

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A plea for unity in the Church during COVID

The first Liberation began in Utrecht. It was August 1944, after the Synod of Reformed Churches in the Netherlands kicked Klaas Schilder out of the denomination. It was a disagreement over common grace. This decision triggered one of the largest Dutch church splits since the Reformation. Over the next two years, 80,000 people followed Schilder…

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The Church & Human Rights

Perhaps it is not a surprise that the mere installation, at Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, of a deacon who is in a same-sex marriage has stirred a controversy in the CRC. However, as a lawyer and member of the CRC, it concerns me that my faith community routinely lags…

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The Kingdom According to a Queer Poet

There are times when I wish Christ was in the room with me, in the flesh. Days I wish I could have him at my side in situations where I don’t know how to respond but I know he would; I wish I could whisper my own questions in his ear, hear his answer straight…

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Fighting and Finger-Pointing

In the 21st century, our world is plagued with all kinds of fighting. Between unrest in the Middle East, international disagreement on action for climate change and racial injustice in countries all over the world, many young people are looking for a place where they can be safe – a place they can feel at…

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Having grown up in church, I’ve lost count of how often I’ve heard the announcement for the latest iteration of that series on sex or marriage or something like it. It’s always for married people, but in the name of inclusivity, one segment will be awkwardly reserved “for the singles.”

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Redefining Marriage

The highest court of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) affirmed “two parallel definitions of marriage” at its June meeting, opening the door to potential changes to the denomination’s doctrines and practices.

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Love Before Law

Human sexuality, the issue is tearing up churches and our society. As I write this, I plan to participate in a discussion of a report on this topic at the Christian Reformed Synod in June. This report has excellent stories that reflect the concerns and issues in real personal terms

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Love is Love

“Love is love” seems like a perfectly circular argument in that it starts with itself and ends with itself and goes nowhere in between

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If I knew you were comin’ . . .

You may have heard of Melissa Klein, a Christian; she’s the owner of Sweet Cakes bakery in Oregon. After refusing to make a cake for Rachel Bowman-Cryer’s wedding to another woman, Klein was sued. The subsequent court case has caused quite the stir of emotion within secular and Christian communities. It has also triggered a…

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