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Interim Report on Human Sexuality is Discussed

June 17, 2019
A spectator listens as Synod 2019 discusses an interim report on human sexuality.

A spectator listens as Synod 2019 discusses an interim report on human sexuality.

Tracey DeWeerd

“We need each other physically in so many ways. We are not embodied spirits. We are made in God’s image,” said Rev. Mary-Lee Bouma, a member of the Christian Reformed Committee to Articulate a Foundation-Laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality, as the committee presented an interim report of their work to Synod 2019.  

“That’s what we are trying to stress here. We are physical and our bodies are good, but we are also really struggling in our bodies.” 

In response to multiple overtures that addressed issues related to human sexuality, Synod 2016 asked that a committee be created to explore a biblical conceptions of sexuality and gender, and to report back to Synod 2021. 

At the half-way mark of this committee’s work, it presented an interim report for Synod 2019 to consider and requested delegate input into their future work. The scope of the committee, they say, includes same sex attraction but also explores issues related to marriage, divorce, pornography, poly-amourous relationships, and gender fluidity.

“Sex is good. We need to talk about it all the time,” Bouma added. “Not that we need to talk about sex in every sermon, but right now we’ve got hardly any [sermons about it]. We need to talk about it.”

Other committee members include Rev. Charles Kim, Rev. Jose Rayas, Rev. Paula Seales, Dr. Matthew Tuininga, Dr. Mary Vanden Berg, Dr. Jim Vanderwoerd, Mr. Rick Van Manen, Dr. Jeff Weima, and Dr. Al Wolters.  

Because the Synod 2016 instructions required that committee members adhere to the CRCNA’s 1973 position on homosexuality, the committee makeup aslo includes a “promotor fidei” to provide an alternate perspective during the committee’s deliberations. Dr. Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen fills this role. 

“We are trying to explore the biblical story and history of what God is doing in redemption,” Dr. Matt Tuininga said about the committee’s work thus far. “That means that there is going to be development in the story. It is going to be dynamic. There will be tension in the story and we might just have to sit in that tension.”

One of these tensions includes revisiting the commonly-held idea that marriage and nuclear families are at the heart of the church.

“Jesus taught a radical new thing of being brothers and sisters to each other and him,” explained Bouma. “The church isn’t built on families. We all are the family. We need to talk that kind of language.”

She cited examples of making our churches welcoming spaces where singles, couples, children, and seniors can all find community and be family to each other. 

Tuininga added that as we explore this biblical foundation for human sexuality, we will be convicted that our churches are falling short. 

“This is a moment to confess our collective sin before God. To confess how much we’ve failed at sexuality and marriage and commit together to sitting down and figuring out what God is calling us to do,” he said.

After receiving this brief introduction, delegates were invited to talk in groups of eight about the interim report. They recorded their input and passed it along to the committee to inform their future work. 

While they were having this discussion, a group of spectators was also given a chance to provide input. A group of more than 30 men and women, some wearing rainbow t-shirts or pins, had gathered in the gallery to listen to this interim report. The group considers themselves advocates for inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Christian Reformed Church. 

During the table discussions, Paul DeVries, chair of the Council of Delegates, sat down with this group to record their thoughts. These, along with the comments from each synod table, will be passed along to the committee to inform their future work. 

“If you are here today, or if you know someone who wanted to be here, or if you are following along online, please do feel free to reach out to our committee,” said Bouma as the session wrapped up, explaining that the committee would love to update you about their work and receive your input.

“Our primary purpose is to hear from you,” added Jeff Weima, co-chair of the study committee “We will pay careful attention to what you say.” 

The full interim report from the committee can be found in the Agenda for Synod 2019.

For continuous coverage of Synod 2019 including the live webcast, news, video recordings, photos, liveblog, social media links, and more visit