In Memoriam: Robin Vandermolen

Just over five years ago I received a note on Messenger from a certain Robin Vandermolen. I had no idea who this person could be, but, looking at his name, assumed he was a Dutchman. However, the message was in English and it clearly was no fellow-countryman who wrote it. The writer stated that he was sitting in front of his home in Hawai and was for the second time reading a book that I had written and that was published a few months earlier. It is entitled: FACING DOUBT–A BOOK FOR ADVENTIST BELIEVERS ‘ON THE MARGINS.’ He had concluded that he would like to talk to the author and had somehow found a way to contact me. He indicated that a few weeks hence he would be in one of his other homes, in Eze on the French Riviera, not far from Lyon. He extended an invitation to me and my wife to stay with him for a week or longer. Just get a cheap ticket to Lyon, he wrote, and he would take care of all other expenses.

It was tempting. One does not often get an invitation for a vacation at the Riviera, in a nice villa, overlooking the Mediterranean. But we wondered: who was this Robin VanderMolen? Would it be wise to accept his invitation? Could there be some snag somewhere? I did some Googling and a bit of additional research. When I saw his name as a regular supporter of Spectrum, I decided to enquire with some Spectrum-people I happened to know. They assured me: Robin is OK. He enjoys having company. Some of them told us they had at some time or another been his guest and they encouraged us to simply accept his hospitality and book a flight to Lyon. And so we did.

It became a very unique week. It was tiring, for our hosts had a long list of things he wanted us to do—visits to a number of exquisite museums and several cultural events. He told us we should have come for two weeks rather than just one week; that would have made our program much more relaxed! But, in addition to receiving the touristic treatment, there was a lot of talking. About my book, in particular about the topic of ‘doubt” and about what to do when you feel that you are ‘on the margins” of the Adventist Church.

Before we had made final arrangements for our trip to Lyon, Robin had written us that he was gay and was living together with his partner Stephen. That might have bothered us perhaps some fifteen or twenty years ago, but gradually our views regarding sexual orientation had undergone significant changes. So, we indicated that this was not an issue for us. Neither did the fact that Stephen was at that point in time in a rather advanced state of Alzheimer.

During our week together Robin told us his life story. We talked at length about the issue of homosexuality, in particular about the lack of acceptance of gay people in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and how he had personally experienced this. He told us he would often worship on Sunday in a church where gay people were much more welcome.

Of course, I am aware of the biblical arguments of many of my fellow Adventist believers (and many other Christians) that seem to condemn homosexuality—or at the very least the practice of it. I use the word seem on purpose, since a close look at the so-called “clobber-texts” tells us that the texts about homosexuality do not exactly say what many have assumed and have made them say. At any rate, hearing Robin’s story and seeing his loving care for his Alzheimer-partner was most impressive. It reinforced my conclusion that, whatever theological questions perhaps remain, I can only admire the kind of commitment that I saw in action in Eze.

Since our visit in Eze, we met Robin once more in person, when he and Stephen and Aafje and I happened to be in Southern California at the same time and we could meet for an extended breakfast in Pasadena. He kept telling us that we should come to see him in Hawaii. He would be happy to take care of the tickets. Well, that did not happen!

Less than two weeks ago Robin sent me a birthday card and also a message through Messenger that Stephen’s situation had deteriorated to the extent that admission to a specialized care home was now inevitable. And less than a week ago we received a short but touching e-mail message. Robin’s own state of health had suddenly worsened dramatically, and he had checked himself in into a hospice. He asked us to pray for him, and to ask the Lord that his end might be swift and painless. A few days later the news reached us that God had fulfilled that last wish.

I will remember Robin for the unique person that he was—-with his faith and with his doubts, and with the personal struggles he went through. We got to know him as a warm human being, practicing love and hospitality. I am deeply sorry that the door of his church was not always wide enough to make him feel truly welcome. But I am sure that the door of the kingdom will swing wide open for Robin!

2 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Robin Vandermolen

  1. henry firus

    Thank you for sharing your Adventism, please do a blog on the “clobber-texts” , and then expound to us your understanding of their meaning, pointing out why the plain meaning is deceptive.
    Your assertion that they do not mean what they plainly state, unless supported by reasoning, is empty talk.

    1. Reinder Post author

      I will send you the text of a small brochure that I wrote about the issue of alternative sexual attractions.
      Reinder Bruinsma

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