Religious Leaders Challenge Dutch Reform Church as it Requires Celibacy of Gay and Lesbian People

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“Your decisions cut to the quick of our humanity as LGBTI people.”
MCC Interim Moderator, Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown


Senior leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches spoke out against the recent decision of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) to rescind its previous support for marriage equality and now says that non-celibate same-sex relationships do not “conform to Christian guidelines.” The decision was made at an “Extraordinary General Synod” held 7-10 November 2016.

“As the Senior Pastor at Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church in Cape Town, I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the LGBTI community and express my deep distress at the recent decision of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) to reject same-sex marriage and relationships. God’s love for humans is all-inclusive, and we appeal to the Synod of the DRC to review their decision,” said Rev. Beulah Durrheim. “I remember being so hopeful when just a year ago the DRC voted to recognize same-sex marriages. I pray that soon, we can again move beyond a selective reading of scripture that requires celibacy from some Christians. This is a burden that God does not require.”

The General Synod of the DRC now believes gay people can be Christian, can qualify for ordination, and perhaps be in a civil union, but must be celibate unless heterosexually married.

The General Synod…stressed that no one should be treated as inferior [but] reaffirms that marriage was instituted by God as a holy and lifelong union between one man and one woman and that any sexual acts outside such a solid formal marriage commitment do not conform to Christian guidelines. [We] acknowledged the reality that there are members who are in same sex civil unions that bear witness of love and commitment…. [We are] convinced that any person who partakes in the grace of God and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, regardless of sexual orientation, is a full member of the church, and as such a member has full access to all of the offices in the church without censure … [and we] decided that the same Christian ethical standards with regard to doctrine apply to the licensing and ordination of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. [Emphasis added]

“As the Global Moderator for Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), I have seen the devastation wrought by gay or lesbian Christians who marry heterosexually to conform to church rules rather than living as God created them. I join Rev. Durrheim to say that God’s love does not marginalize a portion of society based on sexual orientation. I encourage the DRC to respect the sexual orientation and gender identity of all persons and to affirm their full humanity by removing the requirement of celibacy,” said Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown, MCC Interim Moderator. “We recognize our sexuality as a gift from God to be celebrated.”

“At Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church (GHMCC), we celebrate diversity and offer a safe space where all are welcome, irrespective of gender identification, expression, or sexual orientation. We have marriage officers who will gladly perform Civil Unions for same-sex couples. At GHMCC you can serve God wholly and live out your calling fully without fear of judgment or discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex,” Rev. Durrheim said.

“Finally, I want to say to the members of the General Synod: Your decision cuts to the quick of our humanity as LGBTI people. Dear colleagues, LGBTI people are a minority throughout the world and our lives can be legislated into oblivion by both church and state,” said Rev. Brown.

“Yes it may be dissonant for some Christians to accept same-sex marriage and love, but it is a matter of life and death for us. Too often, our young people kill themselves when their churches, families, schools, and peers turn on them with slurs, rejection, and condemnation. You have made this decision because many members reject us and criticize you for your previous openness, but with this decision, you have abandoned some who will not make it.”

Good Hope MCC will have a Service of Lament in response to the DRC decision on 27 November at 6 p.m. DRC colleagues will be invited to speak at the service and share their thoughts and feelings on the topic.