In June 2018, the RCA General Synod commended the “Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality” for consideration by the Commission on Theology (COT) and the wider RCA. In response, a diverse group of people from the LGBTQ community, parents, pastors, educators and others shared their thoughts with Room for All and the COT, offering alternative perspectives on a faithful ethic for living as sexual and gendered people of God. Room for All is grateful for the opportunity to share those responses in “Outsights” over the next several weeks.
A Parent’s Response
Lisa Giordano Bontemps – New Jersey
Three years ago, when my teenage son came out to me as bisexual, my first feeling was one of gratitude that he felt safe sharing this information with his father and myself, because he knew it would not change a thing about how much we love him and accept him just as he is. You see, despite the RCA’S failure to take an open and affirming stance on LGBTQ inclusion in every aspect of our denominational and church life, we believe that if the gospel is good news for some, it is good news for all – without exceptions and without stigma and shame. The current reality, however, that would threaten to deny my son the opportunity to marry in our Reformed church if he loved and wanted to commit to another man, breaks our hearts.
This is the church where our son was baptized, confirmed, made a profession of faith, served, taught Sunday school for the younger children in our church, participated in mission trips, and has been beloved in our local church since infancy. Consider carefully the message we communicate to our youth about their sexuality, if we expect them to deny themselves the opportunity that those of us who are hetero-normative take for granted, to live a life blessed by covenantal relationship and love. This message tells them that their God-given identity is somehow sinful or even evil.
My particular church is blessed to have a pastor who has always had an open, affirming and inclusive belief system. But my heart aches for the likely hundreds or even thousands of youth in our denomination who, instead of being able to feel loved and affirmed just as they were created by God, will instead hide their sexual identity; or disconnect from church life; or continue to participate in church life but with overwhelming shame and grief; or leave their homes because they are not accepted; or worse, succumb to the horrible tragedy of taking their own lives, as so often happens to LGBTQ youth who are not accepted by their churches and families.
I love the church, and I love the RCA. But if we are committed to always be reformed and reforming and take seriously our mission to be “Transformed and Transforming,” then perhaps we need to start where the pain and divide is the deepest and consider that no theological difference, short of denying the life, death and resurrection of Christ, is worth breaking unity and tearing apart our denomination. We can agree to disagree but we cannot survive as a denomination in the long run if we cannot make room for all.