Five years ago a book was published in The Netherlands with the sensational title God and ass (God en ezel. Publisher: T. Wever, Francker. 1967 ). It was written by the medical professor of the Free University of Amsterdam, Dr. G. A. Lindeboom, and it contained a fervent protest against the published points of view of some Reformed (Gereformeerde) theologians concerning the writing of a Dutch author, G. K. van het Reeve who was characterized by Prof. Lindeboom as follows:

1. He shows off his homosexuality and he exhibits his homosexual experiences and desires with a certain kind of sensual enjoyment, if not pride;

2. He suffers from his alcoholism;

3. He experiences a certain kind of longing for God;

4. He is afraid to die;

5. He does not hide the fact that he wants to make as much money as possible by his writings (p. 10).

In a magazine, van het Reeve had published a letter in which he indulged in a phantasy: God had come to him in the form of an ass, and he had had intercourse with that ass.

Shocking fantasy defended – This very shocking fantasy caused some members of the Dutch Parliament to ask questions of the Minister of Justice: should not the law against public blasphemy be applied to van het Reeve: and indeed, the minister decided that this author should be prosecuted.

However, before the prosecution started its work, the Dutch “Christian” daily Trouw published an article in defense of van het Reeve; it was written by Dr. G. Th. Rothuizen, professor of Ethics at the Reformed Seminary of Kampen. In that article he told the surprised readers that, the philosopher Nietzsche, for instance, had written in a much more blasphemous way; and: were the works of Nietzsche ever forbidden in The Netherlands? Moreover, it was claimed that essentially it had been the intention of van het Reeve to write about God in an endearing (vertederend) way. “He did not add,” writes Prof. Lindeboom, “that it is a very remarkable kind of endearment, when he refers to a Sodomitic intercourse of a man with his ass-god” (p. 24).

Proressor Rothuizen was not the only Reformed defender of van het Reeve; also Professor Kuitert and Rev. Brussaard, Jr. took his side.

News media and Silence – It is not my intention to continue to write about this (now already historical) episode which was branded by Professor Lindeboom as a national infamy. As a matter of fact his very informative little book (which was also first-rate scientifically speaking), was not reprinted. The news media also in Holland, are very powerful; and after a short time this matter seemed to be completely forgotten, at any rate it was followed by a complete silence.

When I write: “also in Holland,” I refer to the fact that the media in general (press, radio, T.V.) often are one-sided and tendentious; by their silence the)’ bypass and kill an issue which is not to their taste. An instance of this attitude is to be found in the fact that the editorial Board of The Banner refused to publish my articles on “What is happening to our sister-churches?” (which afterward appeared in Torch and Trumpet). In these articles I gave the same information about the book of Professor Lindeboom which is to be found in the present article. The Board refused to publish them and warned me in the letter which they sent to me that I was in danger to be prosecuted by reason of libel. With great interest I have been waiting since for the first show of such a prosecution. With still greater interest I am still waiting for a letter from the editorial Board to make clear to me in a factual way the grounds for their warning.

Dutch report on homosexuality – But very recently something happened which brought that almost forgotten episode to my attention again.

The Synod of the Reformed (Gereformeerde) Churches in The Netherlands appointed a committee with the task to study the subject of homosexuality (homofilie) and the report of that committee has been published. Rev. Haverkamp wrote about it in an objective and detailed manner in De Wachter (Feb. 29, March 14, ‘72 ). He showed that the conclusion of this report is, that (within the context of certain conditions) homosexual relations in their totality should be accepted by the church. His own careful conclusion was: “The reader of this report is certainly impressed by the otherness of homosexuals (het anders-zijn van homifiele mensen). It is quite another matter how it was possible to draw the above-mentioned conclusions in the light of all the givens of Scripture. It is possible to appreciate the attempt to understand the difficulties of homosexuals, but in my opinion the authors of the report did not offer a convincing proof from Scripture for their conclusions.”

Scripture not decisive! – Now it is a very remarkable fact that one of the members of the committee appointed by the Dutch Synod was Professor Rothuizen of Kampen.

It is even more remarkable that in the part of the report written by him he agrees with his two fellow members who before him wrote about the givens of the Old and the New Testament: “The result, better the conclusion of their research is, that both the Old and the New Testaments disapprove of homosexual acts” ( p. 21 of the Report).

But now comes the most remarkable fact: the witness of Scripture is not at all decisive for Professor Rothuizen.

He first writes about a similar situation related to the problem whether women should be admitted to the special offices of the church; the Synod of the Reformed Churches answered that question in the affirmative, and there are female elders and ministers in those churches. On this question Professor Rothuizen writes: “There were those who have tried to sanction this decision with the necessary texts. More honest were those (in our opinion) who could not find such texts and therefore voted against this. The most honest wcre those who judged that one should leave the apostle out of this question and not drag him into these problematics.”

Professor Rothuizen, in other words, does not want a dishonest use of Scripture and that is to his credit; he recognized that the apostle Paul is not on his side.

“But,” and now I quote him again, “must this be our last word? Tn our opinion this is not the case. It is possible in our view, that the apostle did not know better” [Wij achten het mogelijk, dat de apostel niet beter wist].

A former generation – Above this article 1 wrote the word “degeneration.”

There has been a former generation of Reformed scholars and Reformed believers for whom the Word of God in Scripture was the decisive norm, the end of all contradiction. I would like to quote any one of them, the famous professor in Ethics, W. Geesink, who wrote: “We prefer to throw a veil over the sins of Sodom and Lesbos and the whole abyss of the unnatural; the atrocities of the immorality of the ancient world which Christianity forced back to a hidden corner of society, but which now in the time of the increasing dechristianizing of the European world, like unchained demons from the depth, show themselves again on the surface: ‘for it is a shame even to speak of the things they do in secret’ (Eph. 5:12)” (Van’s Heeren Ordinantien, LV, p. 230. 1908).

We now live in a time in which several Reformed scholars (thank God!) still dare to speak out, as Professor Lindeboom has done; but there are also others who dare to say: “Paul knew much, but we know more; Paul wrote a good message, but after all, that message was time-conditioned.”

These persons are often specialists in their fields, and we should pay due honor to their knowledge and due attention to the information they lavish upon us. But the question remains: what is the norm?

Do we approach Scripture with our modern psychological, anthropological, moral, horizontal, and corrupt opinions?

Or does the Bible approach us with its condemnation of all human presumptuousness? “Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” says the apostle (Rom. 1:22).

And did he lack the necessary knowledge, do the men of our time have a better insight in the construction of human nature than he had?

“Since, in the wisdom of God,” he says, “the world did not [and does not] know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (I Cor. 1:21).

Louis Praasma is pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.