Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything header image 2

Dutch-Reformed Homosexuality

January 14th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 13 Comments

A good friend of mine shared some of his ponderings with me last year, giving me permission to share his thoughts here. At the moment, one of the big internal struggles in the Dutch-Reformed church, like too many churches around the world, is wrestling with their policies on how to “balance” homosexuality, discrimination, and compassion. Coming from a conservative background, they still have some limitations on what is allowed within the church, and what is not.

I’m not sure what these limitations are exactly, but maybe someone can share more details in the comments. Are homosexuals welcome in the congregation? (They may feel inclined to hide in the closet?) Can they get married in the church? (Probably not.) I believe they are not allowed in leadership, right? What about celibate homosexuals?…

Here is another dangerous combination: a religion or church with celibate clergy, operating in the context of a homophobic culture. That scenario encourages homosexuals to become members of the clergy. No one will then wonder why they are single. All the wrong reasons for choosing a path through life, in my opinion.

I often wonder if the same thing does not happen at Shofar, which has a relatively significant number of “supposedly ex-gay” members in the congregation. In homophobic culture, Shofar would be a nice place to play-pretend that you are straight, as couples are discouraged from kissing, or being physical, until wedding day. That is when the icky brown stuff meets the spinning thingy, and I start calling “foul!”, or “evil!” even. But I digress… let us get back to the Dutch-Reformed church and its future.

In a previous post, I provided some of the South African context with regards to apartheid and the Dutch-Reformed church. Being wedded to the state (mixed marriage…), the church condoned apartheid for quite some time. And the congregation loved their church and its supposed “purity”. However, at some point, the church started standing up against the wrongs of the regime, and the congregation started complaining. (Sure, not everyone, but I’m generalising here, bear with me.) Ironically, they wanted their church to stay out of politics… Nevertheless, the church persevered, continued playing its part to help overthrow the evil, and apartheid was overthrown. Now hit the fast forward button, and return to the present. Go listen to that very same congregation bitch and moan about the evil the Dutch-Reformed church committed, by supporting apartheid in the first place… (generalising again, apologies.)

Some currents in the church leadership believes it is only a matter of time until the church sheds its homophobia, while other currents insist that the moment the church does this, it might as well self-destruct. The church should stay pure, they say, and keep them moffies out. The church should apparently not fold under the “pressures of the time”. And so they bitch and moan about moral decay.

Now this is all good and well, as opinions will always differ. What I’m more interested in, is the future. Let us imagine a future where humanity as a whole decided to embrace compassion as the ultimate ground truth. Homosexuality is accepted in all corners of life, on the grounds that it is completely natural (genetic and/or environmental in the pre-birth sense). The Dutch-Reformed church has also turned around and embraced the homosexual community, on the grounds that Paul taught us to not go against our own nature. (Just humour me, whether you like the idea or not.) The big question is, how do the formerly homophobic members of the congregation behave? Those same ones that spent all their time bitching and moaning about how the church should not allow homosexuals to do whatever… God save their souls if they turn into the post-apartheid members bitching and moaning about how the church was so evil to condone homophobia in the first place…

The Dutch-Reformed church and the majority of its members are all too aware of the skeleton in the closet. This does make them fearful for the future, and prefer to not push the boundaries of their comfort zone. Either way, I believe the church and its congregation will eventually have to stop its own homosexual affair with itself, step out of their closet of safety, and start focusing on making a positive contribution in the rest of the world again.

Fear not change, for the more things change, the more they stay the same…

Categories: NG Kerk
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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Homoseksualiteit « // Aug 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    […] […]

  • 2 Chris // Sep 5, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Excellent piece. I once “interviewed” an ex-gay at Shofar, who at the time was happily married already and his wife was expecting their first child.

    I was FURIOUS with him. lol. He also recalled how he once witnessed somebodies leg grow back on some obscure beach in South Africa.

    Shofar is a bad place to be. Such judgemental people disguised in “moral” cloaks.

    There website looks like that of a bank (high tech) and to my dismay they are now preaching in many cities and towns… scary

  • 3 Oliver // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Good stuff!

  • 4 Rjmare // Jul 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

    It is so ironically that the above article or letter about homosexuality mentioned a lot of apartheid and the church than the actual theme. It is also so ironically that people wants to change the standing of God and His Word according what man wants. Everyone who then differs from this new explaining of the Bible is outdated with the so-called new vission of the meaning of the Bible.The Bible teach us that God was, is and will be with us till the end of time and stays the same. Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed because of the sins they have done. But now you will probably say that it is in the old testament! Even the new testament mentions that God made man and wife meant for each other and that they can be productive. Two people of the same sex??? Its abnormal and against God’s vission for mankind. Even animals do not behave like this. Homosexuals as people are wecome in churches to come and listen to the Word of God. What we realy have to do is to study the Word of God and listens what He says about something and to stick to it. We have to be interested in God’s opinion and not our opinion!!

  • 5 Hugo // Jul 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Roelf!

    I reread this post. Ugh, it really wasn’t well written. 😉 Maybe I should write a new one instead.

    It is so ironically that the above article or letter about homosexuality mentioned a lot of apartheid and the church than the actual theme.

    I’m sorry, I don’t recognise irony here – you’re welcome to explain it to me if you like? In any case, the post does talk about apartheid as it is trying to draw parallels. It doesn’t do it very well though.

    Anyway, moving on: one argument that really doesn’t hold much water is suggesting that “homosexuality is unnatural” with reference to other animals. There is a lot of documented homosexual behaviour in nature – a quick overview can be found via the wikipedia article: Homosexual behaviour in animals. Of course nature also provides plenty of examples of rape, sex with juveniles, necrophilia (sex with a corpse), prositution, etc. ( – I only read about necrophilia recently, in the Adelie penguins, in the Guardian article: ‘Sexual depravity’ of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal.

    When the “it is unnatural” argument falls apart, you could instead argue “it isn’t divine” – i.e. there is a divine order/plan in which male should only mate with female, and suggest animals don’t follow the divine ideal, but that humans should try. Would you argue along these lines? This requires citing some source that is considered divine, such as the Bible. You do indeed get people arguing what precisely was meant by certain Hebrew words that sometimes get translated to “homosexual” – and some scholars seriously suggest that this translation does not quite capture the original meaning. “Homosexual” is a modern (English) word. If you would like to discuss this some more, let me know. I certainly won’t dismiss it with “that’s Old Testament”, though I might point out some of the other interesting things written in the same text. 😉 (I’m no literalist, I don’t condone following the text in as plain/literal a way as possible – I would rather encourage following the spirit of the text, the bigger picture, by using the intellect we’ve been gifted with to help inform our morality and code of ethics. On this approach I expect we disagree.)

    Other than this, I’m curious about your opinions regarding what a homosexual person should do. I assume you would prefer, by which I mean what you believe to be the divine will suggests that, such people should rather stay celibate? Do you think there is some manner in which they could “become straight”?

    Hope to hear from you,

  • 6 Andre Ellis // Sep 7, 2012 at 4:49 am

    Hi there,

    Im a South African white male born end apartheid era, a Christian, a member of the NG kerk “church”, an Afrikaner or Boer and so just happen to b a moffie or gay aswell.
    The reason why I read this artickel and not a lot of comments, sorry.. Is that I would love to have my wedding one day with my whole family present in the NG church, and searched if this would b possible, sadly honestly I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    The church are very sat in their ways, but do alter practices when human outcry demands it, I.e Apartheid, happens more later than sooner though.
    Don’t know if the reason for this is the percentage of elderly and tradition fast members of the congregation and elders and such, so it’s difficult to change a narrow minded persons point of view, when most of it is staring blindly into tradition?

    Change is inevitable, as the world go round.
    Just remember the God who taught love and respect and man as whole, and show me the God whos going to condemn his own creation and throw them out of his house, Love is Love!


    A proud Gay member of the NG Church

  • 7 Roelf // Sep 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    what i dont understand is that the average so-called christian mentions only that God is love and nothing about His righteousness. It is not for man to dictate or alter the Bible who is in fact Jesus in print. Nobody is born a homo. It is actually a joice that is made and now God must or take the blame or the meaning of the Bible must be changed to suite man. Who made man? God and God alone and he knows everyones heart, not vice verse!

  • 8 Hugo // Sep 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Roelf wrote:

    Nobody is born a homo. It is actually a joice that is made

    Do you have a citation for that? As far as the science is concerned, and all the gay people that I know can confirm it, it is not a choice. It is hard to have further discussions about the topic when we are not agreeing on the fundamental facts of the matter.

  • 9 LeRuox Els // Mar 2, 2014 at 2:17 am

    I am a Christian believing in the central message of the Bible (Love to the Creator who taught us his love by the example of His Son). However I do not believe in the literal use of the Bible. People who do that are to my mind modern day pharisees and not honest as they choose to select certain scriptural commands without trying to keep in mind the context in which it was written. Also selecting certain passages and ignoring other ‘uncomfortable’ passages. In the process the central message of the gospel -love – is lost – exactly like the pharisees who was strongly condemned by Jesus. I also believe that the prescientific time when the Bible was written, just did not know about the nature of homosexual orientation – just like convulsions and psychosis were attributed to demon possession as epilepsy and schizophrenia was not known about.
    As a Christian Psychiatrist for more than 30 years I am fully convinced that a person’s sexual orientation is not a choice but a normal variation. Just the lengthy struggle most gay people go through to accept themselves, the futile efforts to ‘change’, the deep frustration to experience rejection – in them-self, in the family, in the church (mostly leading to loss of church if not faith) is enough proof for me. The details of what I touched on can lead to fascinating discussion. My plea is : Let us try to understand as far as possible but always accept and embrace with the love of Jesus these people who do not have an easy life.

  • 10 Roelf Mare // Mar 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Why do you read your Bible? If you only believe in part thereof why bother? Plse remember that the Holy Ghost inspired the writers of the Bible! The whole Bible is Jesus in print and if you don’t believe in the whole Bible you obviously don’t believe in Jesus. Don’t call yourself a Christian then. People like yourself are those you referred to as modern pharisees. Using scripture and the ouylay thereof to benefit yourself and your viewpoint.

  • 11 Hugo // Mar 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Roelf, can you tell me more about what you think the Pharisees were or what Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees were? I’m curious…

    I’ve been meaning to write a post about some of that, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  • 12 Bill Courson // Jan 3, 2016 at 5:05 am

    This is a surprise amongst surprises: I never thought that I’d see the day when South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church, the institution long described as “Afrikanerdom on its knees” and the premier supplier of theological justifications for the policy of Apartheid, would take such a bold stand in advancing the human rights, dignity and equality of LGBT people.

    This is nothing short of a miraculous change of heart, a real “road to Damascus” conversion, and it gives one great hope for other segments of Christendom that have yet to experience such an epiphany.

    To put it in my probably none-too-good Afrikaans: “‘N wonderlike seen van en vir ons Suid-Afrikaanse broers: God is aantoonbaar draai bladsye, en die Heilige Gees sal eenvoudig nie ontken word!”

  • 13 Hugo // Jan 5, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    I see Bill Courson also posted this comment here:

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