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Religion: Being Gay and Practicing Abstinence

by Martin Maassen in Lifestyle & Fashion , 20 April 2014

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
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The Bible Belt is an umbrella term for those areas in The Netherlands where orthodox-Christians, or the pietistic reformed (also called “refo’s”), represent a significant part of the population. Like a ribbon, the Bible Belt extends from the Zeeland islands via the central rivers and the Veluwe to places such as Staphorst, Rijssen, and Urk. Refo’s belong to reformed denominations such as the Gereformeerde Gemeente, the Hersteld Hervormde Kerk and the Gereformeerde Bond in de Hervormde Kerk.

The struggle with the theme homosexuality in The Netherlands is the biggest within these denominations. There are many books, brochures and conferences dedicated to it. Sweating and laboring, these church brothers in suits continue to arrive at the same point of view: it is OK to be a homosexual, but you cannot act homosexual. Just for this reason it can be called extraordinary that a book was published from a reformed “hands-on” expert.

Herman van Wijngaarden is a staff member of the reformed Calvinist Youth League HGJB (Hervormd-gereformeerde Jeugdbond) and homosexual, although that last detail is misleading. Until recently, people like Herman van Wijngaarden were called “homophile” in reformed circles. Because you can be homosexual, but you cannot do. Van Wijngaarden wrote a “helping hand for young people who know – or are about to find out – that they are homosexual.” He wrote his book “through the eyes of God,” who apparently is unrelenting: “homosexuality is not what God originally intended with sexuality at the creation.” For: “Everything that is written in the Bible concerning homosexuality is negative and disapproving,” and Van Wijngaarden wrote his book with these assumptions in mind.

You are gay and you want to follow Jesus. What to do? Van Wijngaarden gives useful tips:

1. “Accept that you are a homosexual. [...] Whatever the reason is that you became a homosexual has come to be outside God’s fatherly hand. He knows that you are a homosexual, and He has a plan for it. You will only discover that plan if you face your homosexually with awareness and with a positive attitude. God knows what to do!”

2. “Take it into the light.” If you don’t do so, it will “get the opportunity to follow its own paths. And those are often your dark paths, without any control over their course.” Van Wijngaarden is referring to pornography and casual sex.

3. “Make conscious choices.” [...] “The best thing you can do is to enjoy the sin to some extent.” Van Wijngaarden is quick to explain that this is not his opinion. It is about “not perceiving yourself as a victim of these emotions. [...] Trust God and the fact that he allowed this to happen in your life: ‘OK, so I am gay... and I want to deal with it the way You desire me to.’”

When it comes to that, Van Wijngaarden makes clear choices. It starts with the definition issue. Is a homosexual in refo-circles a “homophile” or a “homosexual”? The latter would suggest sexual relations, and God does not allow those. Yet, Van Wijngaarden chooses the term homosexual. Surprisingly, he is of the opinion that the difference between doing and being is not tenable. “Someone who is not in a homosexual relationship is ‘doing’ something with being gay. It is too much a part of who you are.” Van Wijngaarden continues to stress that homosexual sex is taboo: “If you enter into a homosexual relationship, you are outside of the salvation of God.” For him, it is about looking at your homosexuality “through the eyes of God.” “Homosexuality is not what God originally intended with sexuality at the creation. It is a consequence of the Fall of man,” and in this light homosexuality is like a handicap: “when you are born with a handicap it is not your fault.”

Van Wijngaarden explains his views with quotes from the Bible from the Old Testament, such as those on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). And in the New Testament, Paul the apostle adds a little extra. David and Jonathan do not diminish this. Even though David tells Jonathan that “Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:26), Van Wijngaarden is sure that this was not sexual.

They were “soul mates,” and that is allowed, according to Van Wijngaarden. He was criticized in refo-circles on that last position. Van Wijngaarden can see homosexuals living together, although he has some doubts. Even when homosexuals “do not share the bedroom,” you leave the fox to watch the geese. The flesh is weak. No fatherly incantation by Van Wijngaarden can prevent this, such as: “Even though you are very intimate with each other, the friendship is celibate. You do not have sex, because this form of intimacy has been reserved by God for marital relationships between a man and a woman.” A community would be a more “beneficial cohabitation,” as temptation would be less prevalent there.

Homosexuality and the Reformed, it remains an impossible combination.


* “In cooperation with congregations, the HGJB wants to help children, teenagers and young people to live with and for God. The HGJB believes that the Word of God is for everyone and is reliable in any situation” (information from the HGJB website).

“Oké, ik ben dus homo” [OK, So I’m Gay] by Herman van Wijngaarden is published by Jes!, an imprint of publishing firm Boekencentrum. Those who want to delve deeper into the subject of the church and homosexuality can read “Adam en Evert” by Ruard Ganzevoort et al. Also see the article in the December 2010 issue of Gay News.



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