During its annual synod, The Christian Reformed Church voted to outline its opposition to homosexual sex. It chose to elevate the status of declaration of faith or confession. A 123-53 vote held at Calvin University, marked a process that began in 2016. This is when a previous synod determined that a study committee will provide a report on biblical theology regarding sexuality.
After debating for two days, the voters approved the list of what their denomination deems as sexual immorality. This included premarital sex, adultery, extra-marital sex, pornography, polyamory, and homosexual sex.
The report determined, “The church must warn its members that those who refuse to repent of these sins—as well as of idolatry, greed, and other such sins—will not inherit the kingdom of God. It must discipline those who refuse to repent of such sins for the sake of their souls.”
Debate Becomes Heated
However, the 190 delegates spent most of the duration debating homosexuality. Many warned that passing the Human Sexuality Report and elevating those teachings will cause LGBTQ individuals and younger generations who have different understandings of sexuality to feel isolated by the church.
“This motion harms LGBTQ people, harms the church’s witness, and naming this as confession will have disastrous consequences for people and institutions,” said one delegate who opposed the motion.
This vote has consequences for Calvin. Last December, one-third of the faculty signed a letter expressing their concerns about the Human Sexuality Report. Now, they anticipate some will leave. Faculty at this university are expected to sign documents stating they align their beliefs with historical Christian Reformed Church’s creeds plus confessions.
Calvin University is known for its stance for its supportive stance and pastoral approach to LGBTQ students . It permits a student group called the Sexuality and Gender Alliance to operate on campus. Also, in 2020, they didn’t challenge a student body president who was openly gay.
Church Is Not Tolerant to Deviations From Teaching
Yet, according to faculty, Calvin University isn’t as tolerant of deviations from church teaching. They chose not to renew one professor’s two-year appointment after they agreed to officiate a same-sex wedding. The wedding caused the university to remove itself from The Center for Social Research where it had a longtime relationship as one of the marriage partners worked there.
The denomination has its roots in the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. They traditionally teach sex is between one woman and one man in marriage. Yet, as times passed, it has given churches some latitude in ministering to LGBTQ individuals. The 1973 report on homosexuality made a distinction between homosexual orientation and activity.
They note that attraction to the same sex is not sinful and people don’t have a choice as to the person they experience an attraction to. Not, churches are affirming and open to LGBTQ individuals. Some have been ordained as deacons.
This year’s decision comes despite growing backlash to gay rights across our nation. In America, 43 conservative (theologically) congregations of the Reformed Church have split from the church over the inclusion of LGBTQ.