REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA
The Reformed Church in America dates from 1628 when members of the Reformed
Church in the Netherlands arrived in the US as the first Dutch settlers. They are a
mainline denomination. They reported 559,000 members and active communicants in 1986.
Their highest authority is the General Synod which meets every June. The denomination has
studied sexual orientation for over 2 decades:
||1978: The Theological Commission to General Synod studied the status of
homosexuality as mentioned in the Bible. They issued their report titled "Homosexuality:
A Biblical and Theological Appraisal". They concluded that "the
Scripture's repeated endorsement of heterosexuality as the Creator's express intent is far
more significant for our understanding than the few negative pronouncements concerning
homosexuality...Heterosexuality is not only normal; it is normative. Homosexual acts are
contrary to the will of God for human sexuality. God's gracious intent for human sexual
fulfillment is the permanent bond of heterosexual love. This redemptive word must be
spoken, with sensitivity, caring, and clarity to any person who would make a perverted
sexual choice, and to society as a whole." On a positive note, they concluded
that "The denial of human and civil rights to homosexuals is inconsistent with the
biblical witness and Reformed theology." |
||1978: One year later, they studied how the denomination should care for and
support gays and lesbians. They concluded: "The church should acknowledge its sins
against the homosexual....[It] should make a genuine effort to understand the
homosexual...The pastor can help both homosexual and Christian community to see that this
problem is not unique, but is of the same order as other problems with a strong compulsive
||1990: The General Synod passed a resolution stating that "the practicing
homosexual lifestyle is contrary to Scripture." They urged "love and
sensitivity towards such persons as fellow human beings." |
||1994: The General Synod asked their Commission on Theology to prepare a "study
guide for use in RCA congregations, which will assist Christians in reading and
understanding the 1978 and 1979 statements of General Synod on the church and
homosexuality." It was to provide a "process of reflection for RCA
congregations who are seeking to increase their sensitivity and awareness of the ways in
which persons of homosexual orientation have wrongly suffered in our churches and in our
||1995: The Theology Commission outlined the "guiding parameters"
for the study guide requested in 1994. Their assumptions are:
||Homosexual behavior is not God's intended expression of sexuality.
||Homosexuality is no more nor less serious than other forms of human sinfulness.
||There are varied and complex causes of homosexual orientation and behavior; hence,
simplistic analyses and solutions should be questioned.
||Any expectation for persons of homosexual orientation to experience wholeness should be
shaped by both the hope and the realism of the Christian life.
||Homosexual persons should be accorded their full measure of human and civil rights.
||1998-JUN: Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, RCA general
secretary, stated, in reference to equal rights for gays and
lesbians: "No issue today has as much potential to spawn
divisiveness, mistrust, gossip, suspicion and conflict in the church
as this one. No issue has more capacity to confuse our focus, drain
our energy, injure our fellowship and divert our mission than this
one. No current issue can so easily demoralize our meetings, paralyze
our process, fuel our anxiety and cripple our confidence as this one."
He proposed a moratorium of debate on the issue at the RCA's General
Synods through to the year 2000.|
John Burdick, "RCA wants end to debate on gays: General
secretary says issue is divisive and should not be discussed until
2000," at: http://www.thehollandsentinel.net/stories/
Copyright © 1999 to 2001 incl., by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson