Who Is Being Divisive?
Written by Jason Ruis
We love to hike as a family. We wander down forest paths together, looking at God’s creation and chatting. Inevitably, one (or two) of our children will wander off the trail to explore something in the woods. We typically give them some independence and let them explore for a while, but eventually we expect them to rejoin the family on our walk through the woods. Sometimes they take longer than is acceptable, so we have to call them back. If they don’t respond to the first call, the second call is louder. If they don’t respond to the second call, the third call is even louder. Imagine if after the third call my children yelled back to me, “Stop telling us to come back. You’re being divisive. We plead with you to focus on the unity of our family by allowing us to separate ourselves from the family.”
I’m sure many of you either laughed or rolled your eyes when you read the made-up response from my children. That’s because it is ridiculous. No one looking at that scene would accuse the parents of being divisive. Actually, it’s impossible for the parents to be divisive. They never left the trail.
Let me explain further. The definition of divisive is “creating disunity or division” (Merriam-Webster). Notice the verb in that definition: creating. In order to be divisive, you have to create division—you have to separate from the rest of the group. Those who remain with the group are not being divisive. In fact, it’s impossible for them to be divisive by definition.
The Divisive Human Sexuality Report?
I continue to hear accusations leveled at the Human Sexuality Report regarding its divisiveness. One overture coming from Jubilee Fellowship says, “We are concerned that some of the teaching in the report will increase divisiveness within the church...” The Hesed Project worries that the Human Sexuality Report will cause “unnecessary polarization” in the Christian Reformed Church. Both groups plead with the Christian Reformed Church to focus on unity.
Despite these claims, it’s impossible for the Human Sexuality Report to be divisive.
Here’s why that’s the case. The Human Sexuality Report hasn’t left the trail. The Report states this explicitly: “To refuse to uphold Christian teaching on sexual immorality would signal that the Christian Reformed Church in North America is deviating not only from Scripture but from the shared confession of the historic and worldwide church” (148). The conclusions of this report stand with the rest of church history and the majority of the Christian church. Figuratively, this report stays on the trail. Therefore, it cannot be divisive.
Who Is Being Divisive?
We’re all aware of some division within the Christian Reformed Church. Where is this division coming from? Who is causing division? The answer is simple. Those who left the trail have caused division—those who separated themselves from the rest of church history and the majority of the Christian church. They are the ones being divisive.
As they wandered from the trail, we repeatedly tried to call them back. When they ignored our calls for unity and reunion with the family, our calls became louder and louder. Yet, they refused and chose division.
Even worse, they stepped away from the unified body, pointed back at us, and called us divisive. Basically, they have been saying, “Please focus on the unity of the church by allowing us to separate ourselves from the rest of the church.”
Warn Them Once, Then Twice
Thankfully, God has given guidance on how to live and act in divisive situations. He says, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them” (Titus 3:10, NIV). That’s pretty clear guidance.
As far as I’m concerned, we’re on step three of that process. We’ve warned them once. We’ve warned them twice. Now, as harsh as it may seem, we need to move to step three—have nothing to do with them.
We can do that by standing firm at this upcoming gathering of Synod. For the past fifty years, the Christian Reformed Church has affirmed and reaffirmed where we stand on human sexuality. Let us continue to do that at Synod 2022. Let us proclaim loudly, “We stand with the historic and global church. We are staying on the trail with the rest of our family. Anyone who refuses to join us on the trail has chosen division and has removed themself from our family.”
Jason Ruis was ordained in 2018 and has faithfully served as lead pastor to Faith Community Church in Beaverdam Wisconsin ever since.