A new and helpful catechetical resource on human sexuality
I am so grateful for the publication of The New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality (2022, 31 pages), penned by Christopher Gordon and vetted by many Reformed and Presbyterian pastors and theologians. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy and am thrilled that this will soon be available as a resource for English-speaking Christians. The language used in this new catechism – a teaching resource in a Question and Answer format – will be familiar to anyone who cherishes the Heidelberg Catechism because the author has taken pains to use familiar phrases and motifs from the Heidelberg in this new work. (See the two samples I have included at the end of this article.) The extensive biblical notations are very helpful, demonstrating a solid grounding in the truths of God’s Word. And, from what I can tell, the answers to the questions presented are thoroughly and unapologetically Biblical, straightforward, and clearly communicated.
In my work with ARPA Canada, I have travelled the country over the past year and a half, presenting to hundreds of church leaders on the issue of conversion therapy and the religious battle of our day between the gnostic and pagan humanist’s view of human sexuality and identity (the dominant view of our culture and government today) on the one hand and the Christian and biblical view of sexuality and identity on the other hand. I have been asked many times whether it was time for a new, additional catechism or confessional document to address the contentious religious questions of our day. To those who ask these questions, I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a resource that fits the bill.
My unsolicited advice is that every church should purchase and distribute copies of this catechism to every family who sits in their pews and, more importantly, take the time to teach through it. The men and women, teenagers, boys and girls in our pews are being daily catechized by the dominant institutions of our society to accept wholly or in part the pagan or gnostic view of human sexuality and identity. It is a destructive theology. Our historic confessions do not grapple with this religious debate in sufficient measure (and understandably so – the challenges of our day were not theologically pressing or controversial at the time of the Reformation). We can benefit from new resources that equip us to know and understand what God teaches about who we are and how we should live, and why His way is good, true, and beautiful.
Some Reformed Christians might be uneasy with the idea of a single person writing a catechism like this, preferring instead a document vetted by a larger group of churches (a federation or denomination). But to that, I point out that two of the three confessional documents of Reformed Churches were written by only one or two men (the Belgic Confession by Guido de Brès, and the Heidelberg Catechism by Zacharias Ursinus, with the help of Caspar Olevianus). While broader assemblies and synods deliberated over making these catechisms or confessional statements theological standards, these broader assemblies did not commission the original drafts. So, in the case of this new resource, we have a theologically astute pastor drafting a much-needed resource for the church to clarify a theological assault on Christian teaching, helped and advised along the way by a large group of theologians. The end product will be a blessing to any church that picks it up. Whether this catechism should rise to the level of a confessional standard is another matter.
If I can be picky, my only concern with the document is its name. I find it unfortunate that it includes the word “new” in it. I believe this catechism can and will be an enduring resource, and I hope that 50 and 100 and 500 years from now, Christians will turn to this catechism or other ones like it as an old, but accurate and true and lovely, Catechism on Human Sexuality. Nevertheless, this should not make you hesitate to pick up your copy as soon as you can. Here’s a link where you can read Rosaria Butterfield’s foreword to the New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality, and this is a link to where the book can be purchased.
Here’s a sample:
1. Q. Why is it comforting that we have a new identity in Jesus Christ?
A. I am being remade into the image of Christ, to have a true identity—1 in body and soul, throughout the whole course of my life, to enjoy God and glorify him forever.2 He redeemed my life with the precious blood of his Son,3 and has delivered me from the lie of Satan in the Garden.4 He also watches over me in such a way that he might free me from all sexual impurity as the temple of his indwelling;5 in fact, all things must work together to remake me into the image of his Son.6 Because I have this new identity,7 Christ, by his Holy Spirit, also assures me of God’s steadfast love,8 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to enjoy true freedom as a new creation.9
1 Gen. 1:26-27; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10
2 Ps. 146; 1 Cor. 10:31
3 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2
4 Gen. 3:4-5; John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11
5 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:15-20
6 Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18
7 2 Cor. 5:17
8 Ps. 103:8-10; John 16:25-27
9 John 8:32; Gal. 5:13
34. Q. What is involved in genuine repentance of all sexual sin?
A. Two things: The dying-away of the old self, by hating all forms of sexual immorality and fleeing from it;1 And the rising-to-life of the new self, by finding great joy in leading a sexually pure life and, if married, by properly loving our spouses.2
1 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10; 1 Cor. 6:15-20
2 Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa. 57:15; Rom. 6:1-11; Eph. 5:22-33
André Schutten is the Director of Law and Public Policy for ARPA Canada