For full reports and exact statements of the denomination's position on a particular issue, the reader should look to the references provided.
Homosexuality is a condition of disordered sexuality that reflects the brokenness of our sinful world. Persons of same-sex attraction should not be denied community acceptance solely because of their sexual orientation and should be wholeheartedly received by the church and given loving support and encouragement. Christian homosexuals, like all Christians, are called to discipleship, holy obedience, and the use of their gifts in the cause of the kingdom. Opportunities to serve within the offices and the life of the congregation should be afforded to them as to heterosexual Christians.
Homosexualism (that is, explicit homosexual practice), however, is incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. The church affirms that it must exercise the same compassion for homosexuals in their sins as it exercises for all other sinners. The church should do everything in its power to help persons with homosexual orientation and give them support toward healing and wholeness. A synodical report titled Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members is available at www.crcna.org/SynodResources.
Homosexuality: a condition of personal identity in which a person is sexually oriented toward persons of the same sex.
Homosexual: a person who has erotic attractions for members of the same sex and who may or may not actually engage in homosexualism.
Homosexualism: explicit and overt homosexual practice.
Since 1973 the matter of homosexuality has come up repeatedly at synod through overtures from the churches and in ecumenical relations with other denominations. Synod has consistently sustained the 1973 position in spite of pressure from within and outside the denomination. Synod 1999 reviewed the report of its Committee to Give Direction about and for Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members. The report was sent to the churches for responses. Synod 2002 received a final form of the report and adopted it with some alterations.
In 2013 synod received two overtures requesting guidance on applying the CRC’s position in light of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada (since 2005) and in many U.S. states, and synod responded by appointing a study committee to report to Synod 2016. (In the meantime the United States legalized same-sex marriage nationwide on June 26, 2015.) The Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance re Same-sex Marriage submitted a majority report and a minority report to Synod 2016, and synod decided to receive the reports as information and to recommend the pastoral guidance of the minority report in keeping with earlier synodical decisions. Synod 2016 further decided “to place a reference to the pastoral guidance of the minority report as a new Supplement to Church Order Article 69-c,” and to “appoint a new study committee to articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality that pays particular attention to biblical conceptions of gender and sexuality” (Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 917-19). The new committee is scheduled to present a written summary of their work by February 1, 2019, and a final report to Synod 2021 (Acts 2016, p. 927).
In deciding not to approve a counseling agency for the CRC’s list of causes recommended for offerings, Synod 2016 reiterated a significant caution regarding therapies such as conversion/reparative therapy, as noted in the majority report of the Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance re Same-sex Marriage, because such therapies have been found to be ineffective and, in some forms, to cause psychological and spiritual harm (see Agenda 2016, p. 403; Acts 2016, pp. 929-30).
References to Agendas and Acts of Synod
Acts of Synod 1970, pp. 120-21, 540
Acts of Synod 1971, pp. 16, 541
Acts of Synod 1972, pp. 17, 396
Acts of Synod 1973, pp. 50-53, 609-33
Acts of Synod 1974, pp. 78-79, 633-34
Acts of Synod 1977, pp. 16, 680
Acts of Synod 1981, p. 66
Acts of Synod 1983, pp. 147-48, 150, 153, 480-82, 497, 502-3, 575, 677-80
Agenda for Synod 1992, p. 157
Acts of Synod 1992, pp. 566-67, 617
Agenda for Synod 1993, pp. 206-7, 279-80
Acts of Synod 1993, pp. 367-68, 411-13, 420-21, 504-5, 544
Agenda for Synod 1994, pp. 271-76, 278-79
Acts of Synod 1994, pp. 447-50, 459-60, 522, 524
Agenda for Synod 1995, pp. 221-22, 233-37, 528-29
Acts of Synod 1995, pp. 597-98, 614-15, 701
Agenda for Synod 1996, pp. 283-91, 309-10
Acts of Synod 1996, pp. 382-83, 394, 404-5, 572-74, 582
Agenda for Synod 1997, pp. 31, 230-31
Acts of Synod 1997, pp. 554-57, 622-23
Agenda for Synod 1999, pp. 237-79
Acts of Synod 1999, pp. 601-3
Agenda for Synod 2002, pp. 313-51
Acts of Synod 2002, pp. 483-84
Agenda for Synod 2013, pp. 418-20
Acts of Synod 2013, pp. 640-41
Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 361-443
Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 914-21, 926-27, 929-30