06 Jul GS 2019 art 93
GS 2019 Article 93 – Appeal of J. & M. DeBoer re: RSW 2017 Art. 5 (remarriage after divorce)
- 1.1 Appeal to GS 2019 from br. and sr. J. and M. DeBoer re: RSW 2017 Art. 5 (18.104.22.168)
- 2.1 The appellants are of the conviction that any remarriage after divorce erodes what the Bible and the Form for the Solemnization of Marriage teaches about the permanence of marriage. They are of the opinion that their Consistory should not condone such marriages by asking God for his blessing in a public worship service. They request General Synod to decide that:
- 2.1.1 The solemnization of remarriage after divorce should not be performed in a public worship service;
- 2.1.2 Asking for a blessing over remarriages after divorce should not find a place in public prayers. They reason this should not be done to avoid burdening the conscience of and putting a stumbling block in the way of members “who hold to the biblical view of marriage as always has been confirmed by the Churches.”
- 2.2 The appellants requested RSW 2017 to:
- 2.2.1 declare the decision of Classis Pacific West (CPW) as unsubstantiated and therefore void [4.1]; and
- 2.2.2 point out to the Consistory of Langley CanRC (Langley) that in the case of a remarriage Article 63 CO applies and that solemnization of second marriages can be done privately and that praying over these marriages can be limited to this private ceremony [4.2].
- 2.3 In answering the appeal of br. and sr. DeBoer, RSW 2017:
- 2.3.1 Judged that Classis sufficiently interacted with the grounds the appeal is based on by referring to the exegesis done by the Langley Consistory (CPW Apr 2017 Art. 7 Obs. 2.4 & 2.5, Cons. 3.1).
- 2.3.2 Agreed with Langley when it said: “Brother, we do not judge you for coming to a different conclusion. Others in this church, in the Canadian Reformed Churches and in the church universal have come to the same conclusion as you. We respect this position and those who hold it.”
- 2.3.3 Stated that CO Art. 63 “does not allow for a consistory to condone marriages contrary to Scripture, regardless of whether they are solemnized in a worship service or a private ceremony. The consistory is to ensure that marriages take place ‘only in the Lord’ (1Cor. 7:39). Therefore, CO Art. 63 does not speak to the issue of congregational prayer for weddings. Further, it is in the freedom of the consistory to determine whether – and, if so, how – to pray for individual marriages in the worship services, so as to promote harmony and unity in the church (cf. Romans 14 and 15). This is also the position of the Langley CanRC consistory, for it said: ‘We will continue to pray for God’s blessing for marriages that conform to God’s will as laid out in His Word.’ (letter dd. March 22, 2016).”
- 3.1 It is not clear from the submission to General Synod that the appellants have been wronged by the decision of RSW 2017. In their appeal, the appellants repeat many of the grounds they raised with and which were answered by their Consistory, Classis, and Regional Synod West.
- 3.2 The concern raised by br. and sr. DeBoer that the Langley Consistory’s interpretation of the “exception clause” caters to the attempts of the church to be relevant in our present culture is incorrect. The position taken by Langley, as explained in its letter of Feb 20, 2016, is consistent with what has been defended by faithful churches of Christ ever since the time of the Reformation. Langley’s response is similar to that of John Calvin, Martin Bucer and the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith, to name a few. Therefore, it was not wrong for RSW 2017 to agree with the conclusions of CPW Apr 2017.
- 3.3 General Synod considers the conclusions of RSW 2017, as quoted above in Observation 2.3.3, to be a sufficient answer to the appellants’ second request. Although the appellants express their disagreement with the conclusions of the Consistory and the responses of the broader assemblies, they do not prove that they have been wronged by these decisions.
- 3.4 Although the appellants are to be commended for their desire to uphold what the Bible teaches regarding these matters, it is clear that the appellants and the Consistory (supported by CPW Apr 2017 and RSW 2017) have come to different conclusions in their interpretation of the Biblical texts on divorce and remarriage. In this matter we can leave room for exegetical freedom and agree to disagree as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 to deny the appeal of br. and sr. DeBoer re: RSW 2017 Art. 5
with the following brothers abstaining: Janssen, Moes, Poppe, Slaa, VanSpronsen, Wielenga.