Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN), and homosexuality
Leo Koffeman, a leader of the 720,000 member Reformed Churches in the Netherlands,
and two other Dutch church leaders described the changing beliefs and practices concerning
gays and lesbians in their denominations. The occasion was a "Padare"
(gathering) in Zimbabwe which was held during the 8th assembly of the World Council of
Churches in 1998-DEC-10.
The RCN extended full participation to gays and lesbians in church life in 1986.
Koffeman explained: "As they [homosexuals] have come into our church, the actual
meeting [with] people changes almost everyone's mind, and it becomes harder to continue
opposition to `the issue'." Karel Blei from the Netherlands Reformed
Church agreed: "Homosexuality is not so dominant an issue now as it once
was. It is not a theological issue any longer, but it rises to the surface as a human
rights issue or a discrimination issue, so then it must, of course, be addressed."
The Netherlands Reform Church is the largest Reform denomination in the Netherlands
with 2 million members.Another RCN leader, Lodiwijk Palm said: "The courage to
come out is easier in a society where there is openness. It is easier for us than
for those in other societies perhaps." Liedeke in `t Veld, a representative of
the 50,000-member Armenian Church commented: "It was a big step forward for many,
and meant withdrawal for others, but 12 years later all parishes are very happy, and there
is no discrimination."
"The Issue" is not considered of major importance at this time. Koffeman
mentioned: "Many opponents [of homosexual rights] have learned to live with the
pluralism of the church." 2
We have noted a common thread among many denominations which successfully handle
"the issue." As long as a denomination is able to focus on homosexuality as an
issue, there is little progress extending equal rights and privileges to all of their
members. It is only when individual heterosexual members meet and interact with gays and
lesbians that "the issue" fades and opinions change. It is difficult to avoid
the human rights and spiritual aspects of the problem, when one is dealing with individual
- Jerry Van Marter, Ecumenical News International, "Dutch Christians Explain How
churches Gave Full Acceptance to Gays," quoted in PCAUSA News list on
- The term "pluralism" is ambiguous.
Here, it appears to be used to refer to the diversity of religious beliefs. Other times, it refers
to the belief that all religions are true.
Copyright © 1999 & 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2003-JAN-21
Author: B.A. Robinson