Corry van der Ende

I was born in Holland in 1948, the eighth child of nine. I have five brothers and three sisters. Ours was a traditional Dutch family with dad working to earn a living and my mother busy in the home caring for the children. Each lunch and dinner was preceded by prayer and finished with a bible passage and more prayer. On Sunday we went to church in the morning followed by an elaborate dinner and an afternoon of visiting family or friends. Then it was church again in the evenings. It was understood by all of us that organized sports activities were forbidden on Sundays. We were taught to say our bedtime prayers kneeling at our bedside.

By the time I was to start Grade 2 the Dutch immigrant population in the area had built a multipurpose building which would house the elementary school during the week and church on Sundays. I attended the Christian Reformed elementary school from grade 2 through 7 and then switched to the local public school from grade 8 through 12 because it was located across the street from our home so we no longer had to take the bus to school as in elementary school. Thereafter it was the local secular university for my Bachelors degree followed by a doctorate in Saskatchewan. I attended catechism classes in the evening once I turned 16 and did profession of faith in our Christian Reformed Church.

As an adolescent I was attracted to male classmates and later in my late teens and throughout my twenties there were several boyfriends. I fell in love and received marriage proposals but remained “single” waiting for “the right one to come along.” The years passed as I built my career and business. I was happy and contented. I became a self-made professional woman. However as I entered my fifties I began to realize I did not want to get “old” alone. I prayed for a partner.

It was at the age of 55 on October 6th at 11:30 in the morning sitting in a small row boat out on a lake in B.C that God answered my prayer. The battery to the electric motor for my boat had been on the charger all night and was fully loaded. We had a female visitor from Holland with us at the cabin and I suggested the best way to experience the beauty of B.C.’s nature was in a small boat on the lake. Ninety minutes into our boat ride the motor stopped. It would be a long row back to the cabin As I assumed rowing position facing the bow, I asked our visitor who was sitting behind me if she could row a boat. “No” she stated. It was then when the emotion that I had always felt only for certain men hit me like a thunderbolt. I expressed my confusion and was immediately embraced. It felt like “the right one” as my mother had told me. There was no question about it; this is who I wanted to marry.

But I was afraid as to how my family would react and my clients. What about the church? Was the bible really against this? As any scientist would do, I started to research the literature and discovered numerous books written by respected Christian authors who presented an alternative interpretation of the most commonly quoted bible verses on the topic of same sex attraction. Perhaps it is the Christian Reformed church that is misinterpreting the verses as they did with slavery, racism, women in office, etc. I moved to Holland where same sex relationships were accepted and not frowned upon. In 2003 we were married by the government official and an ordained minister in the Herformde kerk in the town in which we were living. The pastor officiating was my 80-year-old uncle. He started his sermon by recognizing “the elephant in the room” stating that there were those present who approved, those who didn’t and those who were unsure. The theme of his sermon was love being the strongest emotion expressed in the bible in general and by Christ.

One year later we returned to B.C. Within the first week of my return, I met with the pastor of my church to inform him of my marriage and to ask if we would be welcome as a couple in the church. He stated that he estimated 50% of the congregation would be supportive but the official position of the church was not supportive of same sex unions. It was only then that I started to probe synod rulings on the issue. I was appalled by what I read. Shortly thereafter my spouse and I attended a weekend retreat put on by Generous Space. Again, we were shocked by the pain that the Christian Reformed Church had afflicted on LGBTQ members and their families who dared to be supportive. I was ready to quit the church but encouraged to stay by one of its pastors with the assurance not all Christian Reformed churches were judgemental.

Being of the generation I am and having the family background I do, I can understand the difficulty those of my generation have understanding same sex attraction, bisexuals, trans individuals and so on. I was there myself at one stage in my life. It is human nature to be frightened of the unknown and when our peers support our fears we feel justified being judgemental and even condemning. Add to this condemnation the support of synod, we feel justified in how we feel. It brings to mind historical events of the past such as racism, slavery, the holocaust, modern day ethnic cleansing and the death penalty for gays in 13 countries today. Imagine if it’s your son or daughter. I don’t believe this was ever biblically justifiable.