thursday morning at the synod

June 7, 2007

It’s Thursday morning. The mayor debates is over, but most of the voting still need to happen. But it’s as if all the tension just disappeared over the evening. Jokes are plentiful. If you are still sitting with the idea that the synod are a bunch of people in black suits and white ties, simply fighting, then this synod would have changed your mind.

We just had a letter from the devil. Yes, really:-) The devil wrote us a letter. Well, actually it was one of the ministers, that gave us a humorous look at basically everything on this synod. From the gay debate, the question about the existence of a personal devil (according to the letter the devil decided to get out of the closet), to the food we are eating.

We have a new possibility on the gay issue on the table today. It comes close to the 2004 decision. It still only make provision for a marriage between one man and one woman. It still states that ministers that is gay should live a celibate life. But it also give congregations more freedom to handle these problems in a spirit of love. I’m not an expert on church law, but the way I interpret it, it seems like there will be room for a congregation to, in a specific situation, accept gay people, also gay people in permanent relationships, into there congregation, even onto church councils, and leadership roles. However, it will not be allowed that ministers live in gay relationships. Well, that’s how I interpret it. And actually, it does make sense. Since the church are in a specific way responsible for it’s ministers, but the congregation look after it’s congregants. Don’t know if this make any sense, but this is how I interpret is. Please, do differ from me, and look out for official interpretations coming from the new “Moderamen” (The committee responsible for taking responsibility for issues on a broader than regional level inbetween general synod). I’m comfortable with this though.

Voting for the new Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church has finished in one round. This is quite remarkable, since you need to have more than 50% of votes. Every round we only keep the amount of candidates necessary to have more than 50% of votes. But within one round, Prof Piet Strauss was appointed. Well, this wasn’t really a surprise, this is what was expected before the synod. Nelus Niemandt was appointed Assessor.

For those interested, this is the full text of the homosexuality decision. Visit the Dutch Reformed Church website after the synod, I’m sure you’ll find it there later on. It’s in Afrikaans:

Hierdie aanbevelings vervang alle aanbevelings vanaf 5.1 op bladsy 19 tot 5.13.2 op bladsy 21

Die AS besluit soos volg:
1. Die Bybel is ons uitgangspunt en in ons nadenke oor homoseksualiteit soek ons eerlik na maniere om die Bybelse waardes betekenisvol binne die konteks te interpreteer.
2. Ons aanvaar die liefde van Christus as die enigste geldige grondhouding waarop verhoudinge binne die geloofsgemeenskap gebaseer word. Alle mense is geskep na die beeld van God; die verlossing in Christus is vir alle mense en die Gees is uitgestort op alle gelowiges. Daarom aanvaar ons die menswaardigheid van alle mense.
3. Alle mense, ongeag hulle seksuele oriëntasie, is ingesluit in God se liefde en hulle word op grond van hulle doop en geloof as lidmate van die kerk van Chistus aanvaar. Onder lidmaatskap word verstaan toegang tot die sakramente, toegang tot die ampte en onderworpenheid aan die kerklike tug.
4. Die Algemene Sinode herbevestig die besluit van 2004 dat, volgens ons verstaan van die Bybel, slegs die verbintenis tussen een man en een vrou as ‘n huwelik beskou kan word.
5. Die Algemene Sinode bevestig ook die besluit van 2004 dat sowel heteroseksuele as homoseksuele promiskuïteit ten sterkste veroordeel word.
6. Die Algemene Sinode besluit ook dat, in die lig van ons tans het, homoseksuele verbintenisse en huwelike nie as ‘n alternatief vir die huwelik aanvaar kan word nie.
7. Die verlenging van predikantsbevoegdheid is ‘n funksie van die Algemene Sinode. Die sinode besluit dat die homoseksuele gelegitimeerdes wat ‘n selibaat lewenstyl beoefen tot die predikantsamp toegelaat word.
8. Die AS erken die diskresie van Kerkrade om die verskille oor homoseksualiteit in gemeentes in die gees van Christelike liefde te hanteer.

2 Responses to “thursday morning at the synod”

  1. Kowie Says:

    Hi Cobus.
    I think that you had a very interresting time at the synod – it is important to see and experience the politics (that should not be there) in a big church and see how it influence decitions and the direction of a church. It is however interesting that we love to say that the church must be sensitive to politics, but we never say that politics must be sensitive towards the church. Wonder why? Is it because the church is subservant to the politics? It actually boils down to the fact that jesus must be sensitive in His decitions about the vision of the president and the parlement.
    However – that is just a comment on the sideline. I want to comment on this weeks debate. I think that the NGK came to a good decition, but they should not have left open the door at congregational level. It is a fact that all people are creations of the living God – that include homosexuals, crimanals, hetrosexsuals with extramariatal relationships, etc. As Christians we must accept all of them – also in our church as long as they try to live according to the will of God. To be a homosexual is not a sin, but to be engaged in such a relationship is sin in my eyes. The same with a burglar – the fact that he has a tendancy to stel does not exclude him from the church or from being a minister – as long as he repent before God and ask His help to refrain from falling again. The fact that he/she does not steal anymore, does not mean that he doen’t have the urge to steal anymore – but must resist it in the name of and the help of Jesus.

  2. Hugo Says:

    In terms of my “theology”, the following scenario:

    (1) create a person with a particular sexuality (they have a particular sexuality by way of something out of their control)
    (2) forbid that person from living out their sexuality

    …does not look like a benevolent God. Thus from my perspective, the insistence that “God says living out your sexuality is a sin” is in a way blaspheming against benevolence. That’s my context, I’m in support of gay rights. (Interesting question: can heterosexual couples in South Africa have a civil union?)

    I’m not much into debating what’s right here (at most I’m up for explaining and exploring what different opinions are based on), and I just mentioned that to give context to my “heretical views”, and I’m not in the Dutch Reformed church so more conservative Dutch-Reformed people need to worry about me ;). People that believe “it’s a choice” can naturally come to a different conclusion (though there I believe they’re living in ignorance of the science).

    Context given, my feelings about the decision:

    “Well, that’s progress at least. Slow progress, but progress. Another step in the right direction.”

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