In the preamble to the theme of a New Year’s Eve sermon held in the FRC Kelmscott, Rev A Souman referred to Byron and Keira Hordyk who’d been in the news again recently. I say ‘again’ because a couple of years ago, when they sought to foster a child and were refused, they took legal action which already at that time caught the attention of the secular press.[i] They had been refused permission to foster a child because, said Rev Souman, “in a gentle and respectful way they had expressed that homosexuality is a sin and that sexuality is given by God for within marriage between husband and wife”. [ii] That’s the truth of which they witnessed, just as we are all called to witness of the truth of God’s Word.
The permission for the Hordyk couple to adopt a child was refused by Wanslea Family Services, an organisation which seeks to provide homes (foster carers) “to children who, for various reasons, cannot live safely with their birth family, resulting from abuse, neglect, parental illness or domestic violence”. According to its website these children have often “experienced trauma and need compassion, support, and stability to heal and move forward” until they can be reunited “with their birth family”. [iii] The Hordyks sought to provide such care and support on a temporary basis.
When Wanslea denied the Hordyks a foster child to care for on the grounds that the Hordyks did not approve of homosexuality, the latter took the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal. The Hordyk couple felt that, considering the provision of the WA Equal Opportunity Act, they had been discriminated against. The tribunal agreed and awarded them $6000 damages. That amount doesn’t get you far with legal costs these days, but the important thing is that the Hordyks sought to do what was right and stood up for, and witnessed of, the truth.
That witnessing of the truth was reflected in articles about this by the secular media. The ABC reported that the Hordyks had “told Wanslea Family Services that, in the event a foster child in their care was found to have kissed a child of the same sex at school, they would tell them they were loved but the behaviour was sinful and must be resisted”. [iv] We would concur.
Of course, the media wasn’t saying the Hordyks were right. Much media reflects a pro-LGBTQI stance, often shown subtly and sometimes even blatantly in the way articles are worded. Moreover, those secular media news reports that solicited readers’ comments predictably elicited scoffing at the view expressed by the Hordyks and by the Free Reformed Churches of which they are members.
Indeed, even many Christians hold a different view. For example, the ABC reported that:
“Academic and Anglican pastor Mark Durie told the tribunal that the Hordyks’ church, the Free Reformed Church at Baldivis, was on the ‘conservative end’. He gave examples, including that it does not admit women to leadership roles and all hymns sung in the church have to be approved at a national annual meeting, known as a ‘synod’.” [v]
Nevertheless, the Hordyks’ and FRCA’s belief with regards to homosexual relations being a sin, and their view that sexual relations belong within marriage (7th commandment), was conveyed by the media. In that way it was a witness to all readers of what God’s Word says about homosexuality as being sinful and of sexual relations as being designed to be limited to the relationship between husband and wife.
It appears that Wanslea argued that the views the Hordyks expressed were just the Hordyk couple’s own personal views. However, that this was not the case was shown by a 38-page document about the beliefs of the Free Reformed Churches compiled and submitted by Rev Wes Bredenhof. He clearly set out from Scripture and our confessions that the religious views about sexuality expressed by the Hordyks are views that are held and taught by the Free Reformed Churches. [vi]
As Rev Souman said in the preamble to the theme of his sermon, “it was not just their [the Hordyks’] personal belief – as this tribunal concludes – but this is the belief that is confessed in the Free Reformed Churches; this is the faith that is based on God’s Word, God’s commandments about the divine institution of marriage”. [vii]
Indeed, the ABC reported that “Dr Wesley Bredenhof explained to the tribunal that members of the FRCA hold to the historic Christian understanding of marriage, sexuality and gender”. The ABC added:
“This being that marriage is a life-long relationship between one man and one woman; all extra-marital sexuality is contrary to the Bible. Homosexual lusts and behaviours are contrary to the Bible and that there are two fixed genders or sexes, namely male and female.”
Another news agency quoted the Hordyk couple as saying:
“However, we are taught and do believe that all LGBTQ identities are wrong and sinful but there will be people who have to fight against this sin. We will therefore offer our help and try and do what we can to help this child, but if the child continues to be gay and goes on to date, etc., the placement will not work as this goes against our beliefs.” [viii]
This Scriptural position is generally not accepted in today’s deviant culture. Many mock such ‘puritanical’ views. Indeed, Swansea called it a dangerous view and for that reason rejected the Hordyks’ application.
However, we should never let the mockers stop us from speaking the truth. As Rev Souman said in the sermon, although many scoffed, the Word of the Lord about homosexuality and sexuality was made known to all those willing to read. Thereby “God used the attack of Satan on faithful church members and turned it into an opportunity to proclaim it to our nation”. Not only do we have reason to praise God because of this but, added the minister, it is a lesson for us not to be afraid to speak up but to trust in the Lord for, to quote Isaiah, “the LORD God is my strength and my song” (Isaiah 12:2). [ix]
We’re not all in a position to have what we say published widely, as the Hordyks did. Nevertheless, as Christians we know that we all have the calling to confess Christ, something we do not just do with words when we defend the truth but also, and perhaps especially, by our actions. In that way we witness of the truth of God’s Word. I’ve written about this before, saying that our witnessing to those around us leaves much to be desired. Mine does and, I have observed, I’m no orphan in this regard. Like I wrote:
“Too often we lack the boldness, the frankness and the conviction to dare to be ourselves as Christians. We realize that, as members of Christ’s church, we are different from the great majority of people around us. And, of course, we should be different: holy, dedicated to the Lord. What we should not be, however, is ashamed of being different, of being Christ confessors in all avenues of our lives. Our timidity, our reluctance to speak and act different to the world there where our holiness demands difference is a denial of Christ. Moreover, our restraint at such a time shows no real love towards our neighbour since, whilst it may arise out of a desire not to wish to offend him, does nothing for his eternal well-being.”
I added that:
“Perhaps part of the problem is that we are not sufficiently aware of the importance of the lives of each individual one of us. We know that we are Christ’s co-workers. But co-workers in what? We agree with Kuyper that there is not a square inch of this earth of which Christ does not say: “It is Mine”. And we know that therefore God’s commandments must be obeyed by everyone on earth. We have also learnt that we are not strangers on earth. That God has given the earth to us as our work terrain. Yet when we consider our small numbers and the host of unbelievers in amongst whom we have been placed and note that we are the ones who are different, that we are the odd ones out, we tend to smother the differences instead of sharpening them, to be quiet when we should speak out. In short, we do not sufficiently dare to witness that our lives are dedicated to the Lord.” [x]
May God help us to overcome our weaknesses herein and grant us the boldness to confess Him in our whole walk of life. For herein, also, we may show ourselves to be co-workers of Christ in promoting the truth over against the lie and, as Christ-confessors, show our love for and faith in our almighty, gracious and holy God. May He also continue to encourage and strengthen Byron and Keira Hordyk by His Word and Spirit, as He promised (and particularly if there’s an appeal), granting this Christian couple steadfastness of faith to continue to witness of the Truth – God’s holy Word.
[i] See e.g., Byron and Keira Hordyk: Couple who believe homosexuality is a sin take foster fight to court | news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site
[ii] Rev A Souman in a New Year’s Eve sermon in which he illustrated Ahaz’s refusal to trust in the LORD. I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song. – Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott (frckelmscott.org). For some context to Ahaz see also Immanuel – God with us – Defence of the Truth
[iv] Devout Christians awarded damages after their application to become foster parents was rejected – ABC News
[vi] Appendix 1 – Expert Report of Dr Wesley Bredenhof.pdf – Google Drive
[vii] Souman op cit
[viii] WA Christian couple Byron and Keira Hordyk win $6000 damages over gay foster child denial | Daily Mail Online
[x] Witnessing – Defence of the Truth