Is human sexuality a good thing or not? The General Synod of the Reformed Church in America recently voted to commend the answer to this question and others in an instructional, document on marriage and sexuality. Known as the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality and authored by Kuyper College’s Associate Professor of theological studies Dr. Branson Parler. Written in a conversational format similar to the Heidelberg Catechism, the document consists of 19 questions and answers.
The Great Lakes Catechism includes biblical footnotes to questions such as: What is the meaning of sexual union? Whom should we consider our family? Since marriage and family are good, is it necessary to be married? 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?
Parler was asked to write this catechism by the Executive Committee of the Regional Synod of the Great Lakes in the RCA in answer to the many questions surrounding marriage and sexuality in our culture. Parler said that most Christians don’t have a comprehensive view of what scripture has to say on these issues. “This catechism grows out of the need for the church to clearly define what we believe and practice.” The goal of the catechism is to provide biblical answers to common questions about marriage and singleness, sexual union, and same-sex sexual activity. “The point of a short catechism like this is to be an entry point into a wide variety of connected questions on these matters,” explained Parler.
In a recent news article on the RCA website, delegate minister Ryan Cogswell said, “The heart of this catechism for me is it’s a pastoral solution.” The Catechism can be a used by churches, leaders, and teachers as a framework for teaching the biblical, orthodox view of marriage and sexuality. General Synod Council delegate David Landegent added, “I found the catechism to be delightfully positive about human sexuality…It’s good for the whole church to take a look at it.” Parler hopes to develop additional study resources to accompany the catechism and that it will serve as a launching point for important conversations.
Dr. Branson Parler is Professor of Theological Studies at Kuyper College and an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. Parler is married to Sarah, and they have five children: Eliana, Ruby, Christian, Ephraim, and Marigold. Parler also serves as Director of Faith Formation at Fourth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and on the Executive Committee of the Synod of the Great Lakes in the Reformed Church in America.