The Commission on Theology also gets a whack at it
General Synod voted on Monday, June 11, to commend an instructional, question-and-answer document on marriage and sexuality to all RCA churches and classes. Known as the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality, the document consists of 19 questions and answers and is written in a conversational format similar to the Heidelberg Catechism.
Responding to overtures from two classes and a regional synod about commending or adopting the document, the Advisory Committee on Overtures and New Business made a recommendation to “commend the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality for reflection, study, and response by the Commission on Theology and RCA churches and classes as a means of deepening our understanding of the biblical teaching on human sexuality and finding a pathway forward toward unity in mission and ministry.”
Several amendments were debated that would have restricted distribution until the Commission on Theology could study and respond to the document, but in the end none were approved and synod voted 134-90 to approve the original recommendation.
“I found the catechism to be delightfully positive about human sexuality,” said General Synod Council delegate David Landegent. “It’s good for whole church to take a look at it.”
“The heart of this catechism for me is it’s a pastoral solution,” said minister delegate Ryan Cogswell.
In his amendment to refer the document first to the Commission on Theology for report back later, minister delegate Jordan White said it’s “hasty and unhelpful to recommend the catechism without study by the Commission on Theology.”
“We have commissions in place to advise the General Synod,” said minister delegate Rick DeBruyne. “To commend something to the church without having done things decently and in order and allowing our Commission on Theology to digest before sending it out to churches seems to be not a good move.”
The Great Lakes Catechism includes biblical footnotes to questions such as: Is human sexuality a good thing or not? Since marriage and family are good, is it necessary to be married? But why do many people in my church expect young adults to get married and raise a family? How then should we view the single, celibate life? Should we view the duties and obligations of marriage and family as a hindrance to the truly spiritual life?