Adventist Pastor Alicia Johnston Comes Out as Bi, Announces Resignation

Instead of preaching a sermon today at the Foothills Community Church of Seventh-day Adventists in the Arizona Conference, Pastor Alicia Johnston released a video discussing her resignation after coming out as bisexual. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Courage to do the right thing. One may dispute her reasoning but no one can deny her stance. Relationship with God is personal not institutional.


Good for her!


Thank you, Alicia Johnston, for your willingness to speak so convincingly about the reality of God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom where “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Obviously, more of us were born with heterosexual interests; others with homosexual, bisexual interests, even asexual; a total lack thereof.
Dr. Kerby Oberg at Loma Linda University has shared some research, which is germane to what many have known and are truthful about; one is born with sexual, preferential interests. Oberg is generating an audio PowerPoint that will present an overview of some of his recent findings.
I look forward to the day when we, members of God’s Kingdom, have no interest in negatively castigating another simply because sexual orientation differs.


This is yet another reason why the church needs to recognize that LGBTQ​ individuals are part of the work of God and that ordination should take place without​ regard to gender or sexual orientation​. I realize that the goal of ordination without regard to gender is to create a more expansive category (they wisely avoided the binary term “ordination of both men and women” and used “ordination without regard to gender”).

As Pastor Chris Oberg said in her sermon, we need to recognize all the kinds of people that God made.

Ordination of all, without regard to gender, is essential. Some call this courage, but her resignation was necessary for her to be the person that she is. She had no choice, but hopefully we can welcome her back to ministry soon when we approve ordination without regard to gender and gender identity.

(On another note, too many people are in ignorance about bisexuality because they think of it in terms of what is portrayed in pornography where an attractive lesbian couple suddenly becomes interested in a man. It is not quite like that in real life. It’s not some kind of polyamourous relationship. That is a different thing. It should be welcomed but it is distinctly different.)

Also, people often describe their sexual attraction in terms of sadness and obligation. But there is joy in sex! Those of us in “alternative lifestyles” don’t have sex because we want to procreate through it we have sex because we like it. There’s quite possibly nothing that is so satisfying. So stop hiding the joy of sex behind stained glass piety. Sex is fun! There’s no shame in saying it!

That’s why God invented it! If you enjoy sex with a person of your own gender or both and want one or multiple partners, don’t suppress​ your feelings or try to come up with a scientific rationale for how you are. Even if it is only a choice you made, that’s okay. It’s okay. Celebrate who you are! Life is too short not to enjoy the full banquet!

Whether Alicia was born that way, or experienced something that made her take a second look and think, “Hey, this is fun!” it doesn’t matter. Don’t make her feel bad because of what she enjoys thinking about. Again, enjoy! Celebrate! Mazeltoff!


Alicia, I am sure God is also proud of your work, both at the podium and now, in the pews. I know that God loves the LGBT members of the community just as much as any of the rest of us straight members. And Alicia, you, by your ministerial calling, have demonstrated that the Holy Spirit is at work in the LGBT community just like those that are straight.

Acts 15 should be where we draw our understanding from in the future. We should stop insisting that understandings that come from cultures thousands of years old, are always relevant today. If James, one of the most conservative Apostles of Jesus, could come to an understanding that “if the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of an individual who we consider biblically unacceptable, then who are we to judge”. I have read numbers of testimonies from members of the LGBT community in which the Holy Spirit is working in a mighty way. Maybe it is time that my fellow straight Adventists start to apply the concept that James did 2000 years ago. This time it isn’t about circumcision but it is about your genetically acquired sexuality. Funny thing is, that in some cases, it involves the same organs of the body. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that last sentence)


THE CHURCH I WANT TO BELONG TO - I prefer a church that values people more than procedures, principles more than policy, acceptance more rejection, affirmation more than disapproval, integrity more than dishonesty, authenticity more than falseness, forgiveness more than censure, servant leadership more than hierarchical dominance, and gender equality more than male headship.


It is inspiring to see that Alicia Johnston has the courage to follow her convictions.

I have to confess that the dilemma of the bisexual is something I don’t really understand. Afterall, if a bi person can have a meaningful relationship with someone of either gender, why not simply marry someone of the opposite gender? However I accept that although I don’t understand the dilemma, it is nonetheless very real - why would Ms Johnston relinquish her position and calling as an Adventist pastor, if there were easy answers?

I wish the very best in life for Ms Johnston, and pray that her experience will not only inspire others, but also again highlight the inadequate and often damaging response by church administration to this type of situation.


Hi Robin,

I have listen to the video, but in defence of Peter, I saw no biblical evidence of why she has changed her theology as Alicia stated.

The bible and Mrs White are very clear on these matters.

I think Alicia was brave and I commend her for coming out knowing what it will cost her in friendships, finances etc.,
but Adventism will not be deprived of her ministry as she is at odds/opposite with Adventism.

Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.

2 Tim 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. What is marriage in God’s sight - what the bible says, a man & woman.

What Alicia story tells me is that we are living in the last days and we all need the Holy Spirit as it guides us into all truth. The Holy Spirit cannot guide you or Alicia into one truth and myself to believe the complete opposite. We need to study the bible carefully under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and not a false spirit’s guidance.

As the bible says: Matt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

We all need God’s grace and love in our hearts, but sin is still sin. If I fail to repent I will not get to heaven, regardless of what sin it may be, likewise with Alicia and others, all need to repent and turn from their sinful ways.

Let us pray that we will not be a stumbling block to others, but that Christ’s light may shine through us and draw us all closer to him.


Hi Robert - I think your dilemma about bisexuals and why they don’t simply choose to marry someone of the opposite-gender and avoid a lot of this is a very common question. Honestly, it’s one I had for quite a long time too. I feel like I am still learning. Even within the LGBT community, the B and the T folks often aren’t well understood or heard (and gender identity–the T–and sexual orientation, the L, G, and B are too often conflated when they are totally different). I learned a lot more just having the opportunity to talk to Pastor Alicia Jonhnston in-depth these past several weeks. I’m probably going to say this differently and incompletely as I am not bisexual, but here’s what I’ve learned. I hope it’s helpful.

First, if any of us could choose who to fall in love with, life would be easier. Just look at Romeo and Juliet and many of the great love stories. Who we fall in love with often makes things complicated with our families or theirs.

Second, what Alicia says in the video about why this plan (just marry a man) wasn’t working makes sense. That was her first idea of how to proceed also. She realized that you can’t shut down half of your soul like that. You can’t try to open yourself up to love in one area and shut it down/ignore the possibilities in another area, particularly if it’s because you and your community teach that you are having to shut down half of your sexuality because it’s immoral and wrong. That ends up being a really fraught proposition from a psychological health standpoint. It wasn’t working well for her mental health

Third, and this is something I hadn’t thought of until she talked about it in this coming out video, if a bisexual person just marries someone of the opposite gender and “passes” as heterosexual and therefore doesn’t risk job loss, family rejection, societal discrimination, etc., it really is assuming heterosexual privilege while pretending not to also be a part of the more oppressed minority group. This became a strong moral conviction for her. She was letting people assume she was straight, and this made her feel like a liar and like she was letting down the gender and sexual minorities in her life by not telling everyone that she was one of them too. Even if she used that position of privilege to promote equality and inclusivity, it still felt wrong and dishonest to her. This might not be a perfect analogy, but I’m thinking it would be like hiding one’s Jewish ancestry and “passing” as white. Even if you used that privilege to preach against anti-Semitism, it would still seem dishonest to yourself and to the people in your life—especially the Jewish people in your life. True, you can use your “passing” as a less oppressed ethnicity to do good, and yet it is still easier to not be known/seen as Jewish. It would feel like misrepresentation.

Finally, as she studied extensively and came to the conclusion that God is not against same-sex relationships, she knew that if she just married a man (or tried to) just to make it less complicated that would feel like taking the easy way out. If God can bless same-sex relationships, she wanted to be open to that in her life and help others see that joy too. She has found great joy in accepting her queer identity (and queer is definitely not a bad word for her or many in her age group)—it’s clear accepting this has brought her peace. I think she’s a great model for non-heterosexual youth in the church who don’t usually see an example of someone like themselves finding so much joy and peace, particularly while still having such a clear call to ministry and preaching the Gospel.

Oh—and I learned that bisexuals have worse mental health outcomes than gays or lesbians. It probably is because people assume they are straight if they are with someone of the opposite-gender, or they assume they are gay/lesbian if they are with someone of the same gender, so it’s easy to not ever feel seen or fully known, which is something we humans definitely need to feel loved and that we belong.

Does that help at all?



I see that my thoughtful response to this story has disappeared!

While I welcome Alicia’s exercise of freedom, I believe the trajectory of Scriptures invites me to see deficiencies in her reasoning, much like Tom above!! My rejection of that reasoning is not to be seen as a personal rejection of any individual, least of all Alicia!

Firstly, the original creation order contains the mandate that humanity have the potential to be “fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Sexuality, marriage and procreation are in this way bound together. Maleness and femaleness are complementary for a purpose. As 1 Peter reminds us husbands and wives together have received from the Lord Himself “the grace of life.” Note that the Scriptures do not anticipate that all persons will be in marriage relationships, particularly in a fallen world. And it tenderly embraces the problem of barrenness as a fact of life.

Secondly, the fall of humanity has caused sexuality, marriage and procreation to be broken and less than whole. Though it may be helpful for many reasons to sort through the origins of the full spectrum of personal sexuality - whether nature or nurture - it is really academic in the final outcome! For the gospel of Christ invites us all to a life of self-denial in a thousand different aspects of our lives. We all struggle! But all may overcome in Christ! I. with my limited number of temptations in the sexual arena of my life are no greater, in the eyes of God, than people whose lives are troubled with a greater range of temptations in this area. (Yes! I am happily married).

Several years ago I authored a book review of Dale Kuehne’s volume Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationship beyond an Age of Individualism. It was published on this website. Kuehne is a ordained Protestant professor of politics and ethics in a Catholic College. The books seeks to ignite a renewed articulation about sexual morality and to promote a fresh dialogue about sexuality within our culture. Kuehne in his book rejects both the tWorld, where traditional morality reigns, and the iWorld, the post-Enlightenment world of individualism where the perceived immediate needs of the individual are paramount. Instead, he promotes the idea that we step into the rWorld, the larger web of healthy and nourishing social relationships that provides the context for a biblical understanding of individual sexuality. It is full of compassion and understanding.

This blog is well-positioned to promote discussion of this brave new rWorld, but it has rarely done so!

Further, I reject Sam Matthews call to approve both ordination without regard to gender and gender identity.Here’s why!

First, the present Adventist ordination paradigm is broken. It is used to cover a multitude of sins. In the Western world it has long invited the twin sins of clericalism and institutionalization. You will notice that in my almost constant comments on the ordination issues I repeatedly seek to plainly reject any thought that Adventists have a clergy in their midst. Also, for a number of years now, I have sought to speak of Adventists as a group of people, and not as a church or an institution. I rarely use the word ‘church’ in connection to Adventists. In other places Adventists have seen the development of ecclesiastical chiefdoms. Such a development was commented on by the East Central Africa Division BRI Committee Report to TOSC in 2013.But I am so encouraged by much thinking on this matter by Adventists in Europe. I have seen very little of this kind of thinking coming from America. Perhaps American Adventists are too deeply embedded in the ‘institution of Adventism.’

I mean to say it politely and sensitively, but the addition of women as ordained clerics and so functionaries in an authoritarian institution will do little more than add lipstick to a pug-faced institution.

Adventists need to redesign the whole appointment for leadership paradigm to promote the development of servant leadership and of an engaged and spiritually gifted discipleship. Let the leaders in the widest spheres of our global communion, both academics and organizational leaders, commit the whole of the global communion to a common biblical and theological approach to the appointment of leaders among us. (The TOSC process made a worthy beginning in articulating the beginnings of a common approach to this issue). Then let the few simple but comprehensive principles governing appointment of leaders, both salaried and voluntary, be submitted to the regional entities of the church. These entities would then be tasked to design and implement rites of appointment to specific responsibilities. The credentials that such persons carry could easily be endorsed by the global communion. The focus of such a paradigm would be on the call and invitation of every member to be totally involved in becoming a disciple of Christ and in making disciples, and thus not on the creation of a global clergy class. All are called to service and ministry, not just our leaders.

Second, the emphasis of our quest for the full participation of both genders, moves beyond the mere equality of both genders in church leadership. Eclipsing all this is the fact that God has called all, and gifted all for service in conducting the mission of God in our world, and in continuing the mission and ministry Jesus began and the Holy Spirit empowers.Especially in these last days our Lord is calling all to report for duty. God calls each individual to specific responsibilities which will change with time. The people of God have a responsibility to discern the will of God for individuals and to add their voice to the call of God.

Third, together with a growing number of individuals, many much wiser than I, I find the ‘gender identity’ paradigm more than a little inadequate as an aid in understanding the nature of human sexuality. My Lord has called me to a higher, more inclusive identity as His child. My new identity in Him far eclipses any identity I may have in the old world that is so broken.

Let it be said plainly that the coupling together of the concept of the ‘ordination’ of women with the inclusive ‘ordination’ of all comers regardless of their ‘gender identity’ is extremely unhelpful, especially at this delicate stage of the ongoing ordination saga among Adventists. It will only confirm the thinking of thousands of Adventist nay-sayers who believe that the ordination of women is indeed the beginning of a descent down a slippery slope.



Recently I have been reading through the early Church Fathers. In the “Epistle of Polycarp (60-155 AD) to the Philippians” there are very pointed comments about this issue. Polycarp is believed to have been a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus (125-202 AD) was his disciple, and tells us that “Polycarp was instructed by the apostles, and was brought into contact with many who had seen Christ”

Within the Greek-Roman world the early church took a firm stand on how to “preserve purity and keeping themselves in as with a bridle, from every kind of evil.” In Chapter 4 on “Exhortations to Virtue” he teaches that the “the beginning of all evils if the love of money.” I seldom if ever hear this publicly taught and wonder how popular this subject would be?

In Chapter 5 of Kirsopp Lake (1912) translation you can read for yourself Polycarp’s comments on what he regarded as blameless moral conduct.


I have known pastor Johnston for many years. She is a woman of integrity. I do not understand LGBT however I have listened to several sources and I no longer believe that this choice in lifestyle is a sin. In the original languages of Greek and Hebrew, the discussion in the scriptures has to do with rape, pediophilla and incest.
Let’s open our hearts, and remember the words of Christ our Lord:
“Judge not, that he be not judged. Forwith what judgement you judge, yes shall be judged; and with what measure he mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but considered not the beam that is in thy own eye.” Matthew 7: 1-3.


But, to be equally pragmatic, a person shouldn’t have to either hide their sexual orientation or resign because of it. How many married men and women couples have to explain they’re heterosexual? How many (originally) single people have to explain why they’re single, as if it’s anyone’s business? I am way more than what my sex says or shows and I’d think that other people are, too!


Mark 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Only Jesus stands out as Good among those who have lived upon this Earth. The rest are fallen from the perfect creatures He initially designed. Our bodies, minds, tendencies, and desires are far degraded from the original. Yet in John Jesus says:

Joh 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Joh 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Can we do what He asks on our own? Can we sin no more by our selves? The answer is simply, no. We would and do fail over and over again. It would be similar to a 1yr old trying to win a game of checkers against a 40yr old by his/her own wisdom and experience, it would be near impossible. Our natures and desires tend toward the pressures and proddings of the enemy of our Savior and our soul. The wisdom and control differentiation between the enemy and us dwarfs(dwarf is not even sufficient to describe it) the 1 & 40yr old example. Satan has been molding our weaknesses and desires, from a time before our births with our parents, grandparents, and before. It is only by the power of God that we can overcome the deceptive desires of the heart. By God’s grace and power alone might we become overcomers in this struggle against our own desires.

I to, want to acknowledge Alicia Johnston for her courage and honesty in stepping down from a position in the Adventust church because her belief’s no longer align with it.

God has given us the freedom of will. We are free to choose to align with His teachings or not. He says:

Pro 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

When He asks us to do something, it is out of love for Him that we do it. Many times out of love for another we must sacrifice our own desires. Jesus sacrificed everything unto blood for us. Just from a worldly perspective, Jesus sacrificed experiencing a relationship he ordained from creation, children, a chosen career, and many other things that we would consider our right to choose for our lives. Each of us must make a choice on a moment by moment basis to surrender to the Lord or surrender to our desires. It is not easy, that is why the bible calls this a battle and a race. It is tiring physically and mentally, but we cannot give up. Each individual is responsible for the consequences of their choices. The love of God’s people and the prayers of the saints must be with those who are making eternal choices and for strength to hold on and continue in the struggle. God forbid we fail to pray and see a brother or sister give in and give up in the struggle. May God give each of us His strength to make the choices that end with us seeing Him face to face. My prayers are with all God’s children upon whom His tearful eye and longing heart desires for them to reach out to him for strength to continue in the struggle by his strength, mercy, and grace.


I have to admit, sometimes a part of me wishes… would love to be able to say things like, “Ok… no problem with your sexuality. People are more important”. But…GOD made us male and female and then marriage and then, procreation. GOD “invented” marriage and HE states that it is ONLY between a man and woman. As HIS created beings, we cannot change the rules. Either the BIBLE is our standard or it is not. ALL of the BIBLE is our standard. We cannot call ourself a follower of Christ If any part of it we cannot agree with or do NOT wish to follow and believe it is fine to do. We are to follow Christ. If you love HIM, HE states for us to keep HIS commandments. I think we know what to do when our desires and wants conflict with Christ’s commands. Discussing these issues with my daughter, we both agree that what should happen when anyone’s desires and wants conflict with clear commands from the Lord, they should not expect the church to change their stance on a “thus sayeth the Lord”. Instead, as with all sins, confess, repent, and turn back to the Lord. In the meantime, they may have to resign from their positions. If they refuse to confess and repent, then they must resign from their positions in the church. If they will not resign, then the church has no choice but to take them out of their positions. We MUST do what the LORD requires.


While I do not agree with these lifestyles, I commend her for her honesty. I continue to pray for all of God’s children. Jesus is coming soon and then all our questions will be answered.God bless you all.


I’m likely stepping into a pile I should avoid, BUT…
…I find myself to continue to marvel at all this energy being expended on whether or not this ‘lifestyle’, ‘choice’, ‘nature’, et. al., is a sin and where it lies on this implied hierarchy of sins (since “abomination” seems to qualify this issue as a biggy); which overall flies in the face of Paul teaching that all sins are equalized in Romans 1. So to dictate that having any sin would block a person into the Kingdom leaves a kingdom population of 3.
I haven’t reconciled where this topic lies theologically, but after seeing Daneen’s (and Stephen’s) film, it came to me that it isn’t a priority to sort it out. While the film’s Q&A session was underway, it struck me in the simplest of terms. WWJD.
The spirit of Jesus that I receive, both biblically and spiritually, would in no way reject a person on the basis of whatever sin they committed. He may walk them into self-discovery and invite them to sin no more. An invitation for them to seek him and experience his spirit.
If this is indeed a sin, I really would like to trust him to address that with an individual rather than me dictating if they are in sin or not - as if that would bring about change if this is an act of willfulness (sin). Shouldn’t I be able to trust God to handle that?!?!
So wouldn’t my energy be better spent on seeking to be open with my sin struggles, opening my life where others like-spirited can help me see my blind spots and share our journies into repentance to claim the redemptive gift that we have waiting for us?
That is the spirit of God that I see Pastor Johnston has expressed in her video. I would love to hang out and study with her. She likely would help me get my geeking for Greek back on as well.


Why is she trying to discourage others from joining the ministry? God calls people to different areas of work according to the talents that they have. I think it is selfish and inappropriate to discourage others because it was not a fit for her. One person’s opinion may not be God’s opinion.

What amazing courage! I wish I could claim her as my granddaughter. She could have resigned and become a minister in another denomination with her story just being a rumor in the SDA Church. (It seems obvious to me that pastoring is her calling.) Instead she shared her journey and decisions. I’m certain there are SDA LGBTQ young people whose course in life has been and/or will be changed by Ms. Johnston’s courage. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water - or jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, Alicia Johnston’s story holds out another option.

Perhaps the SDA Church will never come around to seeing all relationships except heterosexual ones as abominations. But individuals within the church can still learn the real meaning of the texts, and scholars like Ms. Johnston will hopefully be there for the marginalized. My inability to express clearly what my reaction to this coming out story is might become fodder for those who would toss Bible texts in my direction. That’s OK. Bible texts can be used to prove we should all commit suicide, and I know THAT is ludicrous. (“Judas hanged himself.” “Go and do likewise.”) So quoting the Bible or EGW would be a loss - a waste of energy - if spent on me.

I left the SDA Church in 1981 when I came to terms with being a non-heterosexual person. As an SDA church school teacher, I knew how to study … so very carefully studied the SDA beliefs, and the beliefs of other Protestant churches. Then the Catholic and Hindu and Buddhist, etc. I didn’t know Greek or any other language except English. But my library card gave me access to many books in English on world religions. It became apparent to me that most “religions” think they are the only right one. I finally concluded people have simply always shaped a god to fit their own needs, and that there is no God. I had no choice but to leave the church my parents, grandparents, and great grandparent had belonged to. I had to leave the culture that understood “guarding the edges of the Sabbath” and “haystacks” and junior camp and academy. Everything I’d known for nearly 40 years had to be let go of in order to be honest. Had there been an internet video with an SDA pastor saying: You are not an abomination - how different might my life have been.

Had “Coming Out Ministries” existed, I probably would have found nothing to relate to … I wasn’t promiscuous, never had been, and none of the gay people I’d met were. Ah - but a couple years later I found SDA Kinship, Intl. Most of the members believed in God, so I wasn’t theologically in tune with them, but they understood the edges of the Sabbath and academies and all of that. I didn’t have to float down the Potomac River on a ship with complete strangers.

In my dream for the future - Alicia Johnston will still be ministering to LGBTQ SDAs - and they might even get to keep God.