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.
An Open Letter to the Author & Supporters of the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage & Sexuality
Bev Miller, New York
I am a 67 year old gay Christian who has been a member of the RCA for 30 years. I could not have been more programmed to be heterosexual, but it turns out that God had a different plan for my life. In the typical Dutch fashion of avoiding discussion of “distasteful” things, I endured a life of silence from those around me regarding the reality that I was born gay and would live out that life. Fortunately, even though my parents were silent on the topic, they were incredibly loving, and they wanted me to be happy. I was also fortunate to have a personality that could overcome the rebukes from the pulpit and the flat-out hurtful and painful comments made in my presence. But the end result of this was that I lived a life of fear of rejection and outright lying to protect myself from harsh judgment. I was a master at manufacturing a life that would be acceptable in church circles. I knew all the right things to say.
My biggest concern with this Catechism is for our LGBTQ youth who may be struggling with their own sexuality and trying to find their way, and the hurt this causes. I think at this point people my age are simply beyond being hurt because we are numb about it and we have been through so much already. But we all know the alarming statistics of gay youth who commit suicide. And can we also consider the damage done by the phrase, “welcoming but not affirming”? It is an oxymoron and confusing and troubling to our LGBTQ youth. How is it possible to feel welcome if your biological makeup is not affirmed by the church that taught you were created in the image of God?
It is surely difficult for a young gay Christian to read that the RCA considers them “immoral.”
Now perhaps you will say, “No, the Bible says that they are immoral.” I would invite you to consider other interpretations of these passages; there are many biblical scholars just as sincere as you, who disagree. The life and words of Jesus tell me that he would not approve of this flippant disregard for others within the church. Which is, in summary, a terrible witness of Christ to the world, isn’t it?
I also have grave concerns about the implied suggestion in Q & A 18 that LGBTQ people should remain celibate. Walk a mile in our shoes and please realize that you are sending us off to a lonely life devoid of the joys of love and marriage and loaded with the danger of a gay man or woman falling into a heterosexual marriage that is statistically doomed to failure, often with children in the mix. Why are we promoting such a concept in a Catechism that our youth may soon be forced to study and embrace?
Next month I will celebrate 36 loving and happy years with my life partner and now wife. We married in 2014 and it was the happiest day of my life to be free from fear and to finally live openly and honestly. I continue to pray for open minds and hearts. And may the RCA members and leaders also have open eyes to see the good fruit that good LGBTQ trees are bearing.