Netherlands: Party Leader Under Fire for Pro-Marriage Stance

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 10, 2019   

Kees van der Staaij, head of a conservative Protestant party, signs Dutch version of statement opposing same-sex 'marriage'

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (ChurchMilitant.com) - A politician in the Netherlands is being criticized for opposing the LGBT agenda.

Earlier this month, a coalition of Dutch Protestant leaders put out their own version of the Nashville Statement — an American document that was published in August 2017. The Nashville Statement defends the biblical view that homosexual activity is a sin and that authentic marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

Similar to the American version, the Dutch Nashville Statement was released with the names of dozens of Protestant pastors supporting it. But the name of Cornelis Gerrit "Kees" van der Staaij, a politician, can also be found in the list of signatories. Van der Staaij is a leader in the Reformed Political Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij or SGP) and a member of the Netherlands House of Representatives.

SGP is a Protestant, hardline Calvinist party, as the term "reformed" alludes to. Considered very conservative and traditional-minded, the party is a small one, with only three seats out of 150 in the House of Representatives and two seats out of 75 in the Senate.

The pro-marriage statement was met with outrage from Dutch pro-LGBT activists — as was Van der Staaij's decision to sign the document. Opera singer Francis van Broekhuizen, who is recognized by Pride Amsterdam as an "ambassador" for the LGBT community, commented, "That whole pamphlet is a call for discrimination against LGBTQ people."

"I really feel hurt and very sad," she continued. "We're going back in time. As an ambassador for Pride, I want to send a signal here."


The criticism was to be expected, as the Netherlands is widely considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world.

The Netherlands is one of the most secularized countries in Europe. In 2018, a survey of people age 16 to 29 found that only 19 percent of young people in the Netherlands identify as Christian.

Van der Staaij responded to the widespread criticism in a statement, "The Nashville declaration reflects the classic Christian ideas on relationships and sexuality, on a current and much-discussed theme. These ideas are shared across borders of churches and countries."

There has been discussion of whether the Dutch Nashville Statement violates the Netherlands' constitution, which prohibits "discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds."

Van der Staaij alluded to the postscript added on in the Dutch version of the text, which notes that "principled positions do not infrequently result in abuse of power towards those who have a homosexual orientation" and called for proper "pastoral care" to those with same-sex attraction.

The postscript points out that all people are sinners and experience temptation, but all people are also called to accept God's grace and embrace "self-denial."

"I find the comprehensive afterword in the Dutch version particularly valuable," Van der Staaij said. "It rightly emphasizes the great responsibility for careful handling of people who have probing questions about their sexual orientation and gender. These notions are an essential addition to the declaration for me."

The Nashville declaration reflects the classic Christian ideas on relationships and sexuality. ... These ideas are shared across borders of churches and countries.

When the original Nashville Statement was released in the United States, there was similar controversy, with pro-LGBT activists condemning the document and many Protestants defending it.

But among U.S. Catholics, the controversies over the Nashville Statement were more complex than in the secular world. While appreciating the fact that the signers were opposing the LGBT agenda, many traditional-minded Catholics noted that the document did not uphold traditional Christian teaching against contraception and divorce — thus weakening its argument against homosexuality.

On the other hand, pro-gay Jesuit celebrity priest Fr. James Martin unleashed a flurry of statements on social media in which he spoke out against the Nashville Statement.

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