The following is the text of a petition, signable at the new website A Solemn Appeal.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We, the undersigned, address this letter to our fellow believers in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We humbly share our vision of God’s purposes of redemption.
For too long we have listened to the cries of hurt and despair from those in our churches who are lesbian and gay. We can no longer remain silent, but are compelled to speak the words of present truth we believe God has given us. It is not our desire to be divisive or stir up controversy; we see our role as redemptive and calling each of us to a higher level of compassion and understanding.
We are a people of faith, concerned about each one who responds to the call of God’s Spirit and seeks to follow its promptings. We tremble before God as we see the rejection and exclusion of our Adventist lesbian sisters and gay brothers by many of our churches, recalling the painful experiences of other minority groups in our denominational history. This exclusion falls far short of the love and inclusion our Savior demonstrated to all.
We believe that God is calling our church in North America to a thorough study of all the issues related to homosexuality, including current scientific research; better and more redemptive ways of reading, in the light of the Gospel’s “good news,” those few biblical texts that refer to same-sex behavior; and a sincere effort to walk in the shoes of those of our neighbors and our fellow Christians who live with a homosexual orientation.
We affirm that those who disagree with us have experienced the love of God and seek to take their faith seriously. However we, too, take our faith seriously and have experienced God’s love. We believe that our church needs to engage in dialog with our lesbian sisters and gay brothers; too often the gay and lesbian community has been excluded from discussions relating to homosexual orientation. Furthermore, we believe that as God’s Spirit enlightens us, we will be led to welcome in our congregations every person seeking God, and rejoice in the gifts each person brings to His service, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and racial or cultural origin.
We trust you, our Adventist family, to listen faithfully as we share our journey and our resulting convictions with you:
- Current scientific evidence supports our conviction that, just as with heterosexuals, a homosexual orientation is determined before birth and/or very soon after, by a complex mix of biological and environmental factors over which a person has no control. To describe people who find themselves attracted to the same sex as sinful, contradicts not only science but the scriptural principles of truth, justice and compassion taught and demonstrated by Jesus.
- While so-called “change” programs may be able to help a few homosexual individuals learn to repress their innate attractions to those of the same sex, we do not believe that a denial of reality is a healthy or honest way to live. There is no evidence that one’s sexual orientation can be changed, outside of a miracle, and thousands have prayed for this miracle over many years without ever receiving it. Therefore, we believe homosexuals should be accepted and loved in our congregations just as they are: sinners saved by grace, like all of us.
- Along with our Seventh-day Adventist family, we do take seriously the guidance God has given us through the Bible. However, we have carefully studied those biblical texts that are traditionally interpreted as forbidding same-sex activity, and join with those scholars who have found that they do not address homosexuality as we understand it today. We respect those who, in good faith, hold different conclusions, and we trust that they, in turn, will respect the integrity with which we have journeyed to reach our understanding.
- We believe that in the matter of sexual orientation, where there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding, our congregations and the gospel of Jesus Christ will be well served by refraining from judgment, while showing love and acceptance to everyone who desires to worship with us, allowing all to use their God-given talents to bring glory to God. Our spiritual community can then give God’s Holy Spirit free reign to change lives as He sees fit.
- We believe the same Jesus who said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” might say today in regard to this issue, “Marriage was made for humans, not humans for marriage.” We believe God wants homosexuals, as well as heterosexuals, to enjoy the many blessings of a monogamous, committed relationship – companionship, support of each other, a greater understanding of God’s love, and emotional and sexual intimacy – needs with which He created all of us.
We invite our Seventh-day Adventist family in local churches, schools, and the leaders of conferences, unions and the North American Division to join with us during this coming year in humble prayer, faithful study, and sacred conversation as we discern what the Spirit is saying to the churches about the widespread exclusion of that minority of persons who are attracted to others of the same sex.
As a starting point, we would like to suggest the use of Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives for small group study, as it has been designed with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Also, available at SDA Gay Perspectives. And Amazon.
Also helpful for small group discussions is the DVD, “Open Heart, Open Hand,” the story of three Adventist church leaders telling their stories as parents of gay sons and lesbian daughters, including interviews with Adventist parents of gay and lesbian people: Dr. Walt and Virginia Cason (physician/daughter of Elder H.M.S. Richards), Mrs. Carrol Grady (minister's wife) and Dr. George P. Babcock (educator).
A list of suggested reading for further study can be found at Someone To Talk To.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1490