It is important to note that Synod 2022 did not grant “confessional status” to the entire HSR report nor to the CRCNA's prior teaching on human sexuality, established in 1973. Instead, synod’s decision was quite specific: “That synod affirm that ‘unchastity’ in the Heidelberg Catechism Q. and A. 108 encompasses adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, polyamory, pornography and homosexual sex, all of which violate the Seventh Commandment. In so doing, synod declares this affirmation ‘an interpretation of [a] confession’ (Acts of Synod 1975, p. 603). Therefore, this interpretation has confessional status.”
Persons who are required to affirm the doctrine of the church, as contained in the creeds and Reformed confessions, are also required to affirm those interpretations of the confessions that synod adopts, including this statement. However, they are not required to affirm the entire HSR report as having “confessional status.” They should, of course, be reminded that synod did “recommend the HSR to the churches as providing a useful summary of biblical teaching regarding human sexuality.”
Persons who are required to affirm the doctrine of the church include officebearers (ministers, commissioned pastors, elders, and deacons) and confessing members of the church. The Church Order says that “all officebearers, on occasions stipulated by council, classical and synodical regulations, shall signify their agreement with the doctrine of the church by signing the Covenant for Officebearers” (Art. 5), and “baptized members shall be encouraged to make a public profession of faith with the use of a prescribed form in a public worship service. This public profession of faith includes a commitment to the creeds and confessions of the CRC. Before their profession of faith, they shall give an appropriate testimony of their faith, life, and doctrine to the elders” (Art.e 59-b).
The elders of each local congregation have authority to determine what constitutes “appropriate testimony of faith, life and doctrine.” To assist elders in situations where office bearers feel unable to indicate their affirmation of this statement, please see question 6. To assist elders in situations where confessing members are unable to indicate their affirmation of this statement, please see questions 22 and 23.