From time to time we have reported in these columns concerning the rapid deterioration and apostasy in doctrine and practice which is taking place in the church of our forefathers, the Gereformeerde Kerken van Nederland (the GKN). And while these reports, in so far as they convey information concerning synodical decisions, certainly help us to gain an understanding of what is taking place across the sea, sometimes it is perhaps a bit difficult to gain an impression of their actual impact and of the real extent of the apostasy. After all, decisions usually deal with theory. But what about actions? Thus it is, for example, with the decision of the Dutch churches concerning admission of homosexuals. That is a decision, a stand. Is it practiced in the church? And if so, to what does it lead, and what is its impact on the life of an actually existing congregation?
Here is a concrete example.
In recent weeks several Dutch papers (Refomatorisch Dagblad, Waarheid + Eenheid, Einhovens Dagblad, Trouw) as well as RES News Exchange have carried reports and comments about the baptism of twins of a Lesbian couple in the Gereformeerde Kerk at Rotterdam-Delfshaven. (If memory serves me correctly, this was the church of which the late Dr. Schilder was minister-emeritus prior to his being deposed by the Synod of the GKN in the 1940s.) Here, briefly, are the facts of this case:
1) More than two years ago twins were born to a woman living in a Lesbian “relationship” with another woman, both apparently members of the Rotterdam-Delfshaven church. The twins were conceived by artificial insemination.
2) The sacrament of baptism was applied for. Bear in mind that the Dutch churches have already officially admitted homophiles to church membership, and thus to the Lord’s table. Principally, of course, this means that they also have the right to the sacrament of baptism. However, who expects the impossible, namely, that children be born to homosexuals? But this happened—or rather, it happened to one member of this Lesbian pair, through the additional corruption of artificial insemination. This precipitated this new problem of baptism. By the way, all the news dispatches speak of these twins as belonging to this Lesbian couple (twee vriendinnen die in een lesbische relatie leven). This is, of course, physiologically impossible. Whether it is recognized in Dutch civil law or in Dutch church law, I do not know. One of the Dutch papers, however, makes mention of the fact that in the same church of Rotterdam-Delfshaven some two years ago the local preachers led a church service in which a homophile couple were confirmed in their “relationship” of living together.
3) The consistory of Rotterdam-Delfshaven, however, did not dare proceed with this baptism immediately (the original application was more than two years ago). Their objection was not to artificial insemination. The consistory hesitated because this was something new and because they were unacquainted with the baptism of children out of homophile relationships. They, therefore did not dare take a stand, knowing, too, that there was considerable unrest and objection from within the congregation. Hence, the consistory sought the advice of the Classis of Rotterdam. Meanwhile, the consistory asked the homophile “couple” involved for “understanding” with respect to the delay.
4) The classis did indeed delay—for almost two years. Strange to say, according to a spokesman for the classis, Mr. G. J. Smouter, what troubled the classis, however, was not the issue of homosexuality, but that of artificial insemination. Perhaps what really troubled the classis, however, was the problem of finding a way out of the situation and at the same time permitting the baptism. What was the way out? They came to the conclusion that this was a matter of personal responsibility before God, so that it was left to this “couple.” And they reasoned that although they might wish that this had not happened, and although they might express disapproval about the conception of children through artificial insemination, nevertheless they must not allow the children to be the sacrificial victims of the problem. And thus the Classis of Rotterdam neatly thought to decide the case without deciding the issue.
5) With their hand strengthened by this approval of classis, the Consistory of Rotterdam-Delfshaven announced that they would proceed with the baptism on Sunday, August 22.
Needless to say, there have been many critical voices raised against this in the Netherlands. It has been discussed and criticized in a broadcast of the evangelical broadcasting association, Evangelische Omroep; and it has been criticized in more than one church paper. According to one report which I read, there were some 650 concerned members in the congregation of Rotterdam-Delfshaven. The decision was said to militate against the feelings of the “average church member,” who wants a normal church-life and not “that progressive business.’ ” Yet a lady elder, a Mrs. Griffioen, was reported to have said that the consistory had not yet received any official protests, and that while there had been a request for an emergency congregational meeting, such a meeting could not be held until the end of August—after the date fixed for the baptism. Another spokesman was quoted as saying that this was simply a thing to which everyone would have to become accustomed.
But what a dreadful sacrilege!
Can you imagine our beautiful Baptism Form (if they still use it in the GKN) being read in such a situation? Can you imagine the solemn questions being asked of and answered by such a Lesbian couple? Can you imagine the language of the Prayer of Thanksgiving being uttered: “Almighty God and merciful Father, we thank and praise Thee, that Thou hast forgiven us, and our children, all our sins, through the blood of Thy beloved Son Jesus Christ, and received us through Thy Holy Spirit as members of Thine only begotten Son, and adopted us to be Thy children, and sealed and confirmed the same unto us by holy baptism, we beseech Thee, through the same Son of Thy love, that Thou wilt be pleased to govern these baptized children by Thy Holy Spirit, that they may be piously and religiously educated (in a Lesbian home which we, the church, approve, HCH), increase and grow up in the Lord Jesus Christ,” etc.?
The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah! Compounded by the sin of adultery!
A horrible abomination sanctioned by the sacrament of holy baptism!
And whose is the greater condemnation? Not the Lesbian couple’s, but that of the church which approves all this—in the name of being Reformed!