Editor’s Note: Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University. Before going toYale he was Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College inGrand Rapids, Michigan, for thirty years.. He is well-known in Christian Reformed Church circles and is considered to be a a well-known Christian philosopher.
Nicholas Wolterstorff spoke publicly on homosexuality and same-sex marriage for the first time on Oct. 13 at Neland Avenue CRC.
The lecture was sponsored by All One Body, an LGBT+-affirming organization among members of the Christian Reformed Church.
Wolterstorff opened by acknowledging that he is not an authority on the matter, and as such, would present a narrative of his own journey to an affirming stance on same-sex marriage in the church.
It was through relatives, students and former students who were gay, as well as people in committed, same-sex relationships, that Wolterstorff was drawn to more closely consider the traditional views he’d grown up believing.
“I’ve listened to these people. To their agony. To their feelings of exclusion and oppression. To their longings. To their expressions of love. To their commitments. To their faith. So listening has changed me.”
He first established the commonplace view that sexuality is a continuum, and people may fall anywhere between homosexual and heterosexual in their sexual orientation. He cited the Classis Grand Rapids East study report on “Biblical and Theological Support Currently Offered by Christian Proponents of Same-Sex Marriage,” in which a non-heterosexual identity on the sexuality continuum is considered a creational variance, an aspect of one’s nature.
“Almost everybody agrees that no one is to be blamed for being on the homosexual end of that continuum,” he said. “For the homosexual person it matters a great deal — a very great deal — whether you say to him or her that their orientation is a disorder, a mark of the fallenness of creation, or whether you say that their location on that spectrum is a creational variance, like any other location on that spectrum.”
This stance veers away from the 1973 report of Synod on homosexuality, which defines same-sex orientation as a disorder.