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.
The Jesus Vision
Rev. Kent Busman – New York
I’ve heard a great deal about the “Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality” and finally read it.
Now I’m trying to discern what all the fuss is about. By dressing up his answers in a catechism format, the writer has made his position look good and “churchy”— now we have a curriculum in which our youth can take a test, put down the “right” answer, and pass. But I don’t believe it’s going to be very helpful to young people or, for that matter, to the church.
As a Christian camp director, I’ve been working with adolescents and youth for over 35 years. The Catechism’s 19 questions don’t address the questions most of them have. It’s not helpful to shrug off “sexual desires” by saying to test them against what Scripture teaches. It’s not helpful, and perhaps a bit harmful, to ‘test all teaching about marriage and sexuality by Scripture.’ What does that mean to a 15 year old? Does it mean that he can take multiple wives and stone people? Does it mean that she should accept the interpretation that a woman can only complement a man?
What does this Catechism say to the youth group student in a boy’s body who knows that she is, and always has been, a girl? Or the high school girl who only feels sexually attracted to other girls? Can we really dismiss their questions (and insult their integrity) by suggesting that all their answers about sexuality and gender lie in “the biblical model?”
This curriculum attempts to use proof texts to justify its answers; it in no way opens up the Jesus vision of an ever expanding reign of God where “there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for all are one in Christ.” It will make some people feel good; it will perpetuate a continued “us over them” attitude among Christians. But I believe it will do nothing to address the confusion, embarrassment, or harmful attitudes towards sexuality and marriage that the church continues to foster.
Let me suggest three things that I have found helpful:
- Let’s put this discussion in our “response” to God. We can only properly discuss sexuality after we know that we are loved for who and what we are. Period. No “buts”.
- Let’s center the discussion on fidelity. Fidelity to the vision God has for the world and fidelity towards the one with whom I am married or in a relationship.
- As leaders, let’s open ourselves again to Scripture that is more complex and nuanced than simple answers can provide. Let’s not be so afraid of a God who might challenge us to accept each other as fully and deeply as God has loved us.