Sometimes that attitude of a church with regard to things pertaining to a Christian walk and with regard to discipline furnishes a clearer index of its spiritual level and life than does its attitude toward sound doctrine. It is not that the latter is no index, nor that the latter is not important. Nor is it true that the two are unrelated: there certainly is a reciprocal relationship between soundness in doctrine and uprightness of walk, even as there is such a relationship between apostasy in doctrine and a decline in sanctification of life. The two go hand in hand. But sometimes, I say, deterioration and deviation in the area of sanctification and discipline serve to indicate more clearly a church’s apostasy—perhaps simply for the reason that they are more graphic and more repulsive.
Of this I was reminded by a recent report in the RES News Exchange which was enough to make one vomit.
Those of us who have followed the Dutch scene will be aware of the key areas of doctrine in which the Gereformeerde Kerken (hereafter GKN) have departed in recent years. They have virtually rewritten the doctrine of Holy Scripture. They have excised from the Canons the doctrine of reprobation (and thus principally election, too). They have failed to discipline those who deny the whole Biblical scheme of creation, the fall, and redemption. They have failed to discipline a denier of the atonement. Time after time they have failed in their calling to maintain the Reformed faith.
But the report to which I now refer is enough to turn one’s stomach.
Here is the story.
(Amsterdam) The “Bill guaranteeing equal treatment” recently introduced by the Dutch government is meeting with strong but mixed reactions from churches and confessionally oriented groups. If it becomes law, the bill would forbid discriminatory treatment, particularly in the area of sexual preference and marital lifestyle. An exemption from the law would be allowed for activities which are based on a religious confession or life view, such as worship services and certain religious institutions. However, Christian organizations and institutions, such as service organizations, are not included among the exceptions and would have to comply.
Before I continue with the report, let me call attention to the language used here. It is euphemistic language, designed to call by nice, unoffensive names that which the Bible calls by its right names and designates assin. Sexual preference? A term like this suggests an option between a heterosexual or a homosexual life. And even the latter term, you know is rather bland with respect to the sin question. The Bible speaks of vile affections, of women changing the natural use into that which is against nature, of men burning in their lust toward one another, of working that which is unseemly, of men burning in their lust toward one another, of working that which is unseemly, of abusers of themselves with mankind. And marital lifestyle? The reference is neither to marriage nor to a “lifestyle.” The reference is to “shacking up (hokken)” or to unmarried couples living together as though they were married. The Bible calls this living in fornication! Let us beware that we do not allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by this “polite” language that has become so common in our day. It is designed to cover up the sinfulness of sin.
Now we continue with the report:
The Council of Protestant Christian Education has declared that school boards should have the right to exclude from employment homosexuals and unmarried people living together. The Association for Christian Schools (Unie “School en Evangelie”) issued a statement against any discrimination on the basis of sex, homosexuality, or extra-marital cohabitation, but the chairman of the Association, Dr. K. de Jong, took an opposing position. The Society of Christian Instruction (Christelijke Onderwijsbond) also rejected all forms of discrimination. It did recognize, however, that in extreme cases school boards may exclude homosexuals and cohabiting married (sic) people.
Can you imagine Christian schools that “do not discriminate” against those who walk in such sins and. that allow their children to be trained—supposedly in the fear of the Lord—by the words and the example of such persons? Evidently in some Christian school circles in the Netherlands it is more important not to “discriminate.”
The report goes on to describe briefly the reaction of some others:
The agitation which the bill has caused is not limited to the schools, but has spilled over into the churches. Deputies of the “Liberated” Reformed Churches in the Netherlands have criticized the bill because the proposed law would publicly brand the churches as communities within which the evil of discrimination must be allowed. The Central Office for Catholic Education is of the opinion that the law attacks the evil of societal discrimination too “absolutistically.”
Spokesmen for the Evangelical Alliance spoke out sharply against the proposed law. In reaction, the Protestant Foundation for Responsible Parenthood appealed to the Netherlands Reformed Church (NHK) [Hervormde Kerk, HCH] and the Reformed Churches (GKN) to declare themselves in favor of the antidiscrimination bill and thereby take a firm position against the Evangelical Alliance.
Although the RES News Exchange furnishes only a scant report of the various reactions, some of which sound extremely mild on this issue, it seems as though there are only a few voices raised in disagreement.
The report then goes into more detail concerning some of the reactions in the GKN:
The moderamen of the GKN asked the government to extend the time in which responses may be submitted. It also asked the Churches’ Commission for contact with the government to study the bill. Dr. A. de Kuiper, General Secretary of the NHK and the Rev. A. C. Hofland, President of the General Synod of the GKN, both made a personal statement that they oppose the exclusion of homosexuals from Christian education. Hofland emphasized that a distinction should be made between how a person is by nature and the ethical decision he (e.g., a homosexual) takes regarding what he is. It is wrong, said Hofland, to discriminate against someone because he is a homosexual but a school board needs the freedom to decide whether the ethical decision a homosexual makes fits into the position of the school.
About the reaction of Prof. Klaas Runia, who is considered a moderate in the GKN, the RES News Exchange reports:
. . .In Runia’s judgment, the motivation for the proposed law must be sought in the shifting viewpoint on sexual relations that has occurred in recent decades in the Netherlands; specifically: the right of unmarried couples to live together and the freedom to live in a homosexual relationship. Now that a large part of the population no longer agrees that such lifestyles should be condemned, the administration wishes to protect those who practice these lifestyles from discriminatory treatment. That the government clearly sensed a problem is indicated by the fact that churches and religiously- oriented organizations are exempt from the law in their hiring and membership policies. On the other hand, a Christian hospital would no longer be allowed to refuse employment to someone who is a partner in a so-called common-law marriage or who lives in a homosexual relationship.
Runia’s major difficulty with the proposed law is its failure to see that religious convictions and lifestyles based on them are inseparable. The mixed reactions the bill so far has received mirror this failure. Some opponents feel that the law does not go far enough and churches should not be exempt, for nondiscrimination is a universal human right. Others maintain that Christian organizations and the like should also be exempt. Runia states that in effect the bill discriminates against those who for conscience’ sake cannot accept as bona fide employees practicing homosexuals and unmarried couples living together. Though sympathetic to its intent, he contends that in its present form the law goes too far. He agrees with Professor I. A. Diepenhorst in an interview in Trouw that the majority may not impose its views on the minority.
It is evident that even Runia’s mild opposition to this bill can hardly be said to be based on principle, at least if this report is accurate. In the first place, he evidently confuses the matter of motivation and occasion, or reason. It can hardly be said that the “motivation” for a bill like this must “be sought in the shifting viewpoint on sexual relations. . . .” The latter might be the occasion. It must not be overlooked that the motivation involves a moral judgment with respect to the sins of homosexualism and fornication—whether in the sphere of church, education, or society at large. In the second place, while it may be true, as Runia suggests, that in effect the bill discriminates against those who for conscience’s sake cannot accept as employees practicing homosexuals and unmarried couples living together, the matter of discrimination, or so-called reverse discrimination, is surely not the fundamental issue. It is surely a mistake to look at all this in terms of its being a mere social issue of discrimination versus non-discrimination. In the third place, it can hardly be said that Runia is principally opposed to the law when it is reported that he is sympathetic to it, but contends that “in its present form the law goes too far.” In other words, curtail its extent a bit, and then it is all right to grant practicing homosexuals and practicing fornicators a legitimate place in society.
But Prof. Runia’s position is mild. Read the following report concerning action by supposedly Reformed men:
In contrast to Runia, the council of the Theological School in Kampen (where Runia teaches) [And I may add: where a host of theological giants in the Reformed Churches once taught. HCH] and the council of the Theological Faculty of the Free University in Amsterdam [Abraham Kuyper’s school! HCH] have protested the idea that Christian schools may use “the freedom of education to bar homosexuals and cohabiting unmarried couples from a place in Christian education.” Freedom of education is too precious a possession to be used for this kind of discrimination. Runia’s Kampen colleague, Dr. J. C. de Moor, has disassociated himself from this declaration of the school on the point of cohabiting unmarried couples and has resigned as Chairman of the Board. His point is that a person cannot choose to be a homosexual or a heterosexual but he can choose whether or not to cohabit.
Is it not amazing! And tragic!
Those who openly and blatantly and brazenly walk in moral filth and refuse to repent of this may not be discriminated against, not even in Christian schools and churches!
I ask: does not God Himself discriminate and exclude them from His kingdom? And does He not require of His church to use the keys of the kingdom of heaven and exclude them as long as they continue in such sins?
And what kind of view of the state and society underlies these views? It is one thing when a worldly government begins to promote non-discrimination of this kind. It is quite another thing when allegedly Reformed men not only support and promote the government’s position, but even complain that it does not go far enough. And all this is in the name of the view that any discrimination of any kind in society is wrong! They are more interested in the social gospel of non-discrimination than in the laws of God!
Meanwhile, if you had any doubts as to the low estate to which things have fallen in the GKN, I trust that these doubts have been dispelled by this thoroughly nauseating report of their attitudes on such a clear issue of morality.