Book Review: Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones


(Spectrumbot) #1

The new 71-page booklet from the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists titled Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones, provides the most compassionate response to LGBT+ Adventists ever published by the denomination, while still maintaining the church’s position.

The booklet is the Adventist edition of material prepared by Bill Henson, founder of Lead Them Home, along with Adventist contributors and the NAD Commission on Human Sexuality. The booklet identifies several groups that are the intended audience: Parents, Families, Friends, Pastors and Teachers. It identifies the posture — the way we communicate the Good News in our lives as making all the difference.

To love others is to live out God’s truth. When we fail to love, we misrepresent God (who is love) to those He desires to reach.”

The introduction shares eight important signposts along the pathway based on findings from the Adventist study produced in 2017 (VanderWall, Sedlacek, and Lane) and proposes that the Church shift our focus from causation to compassion. An extensive glossary of terms provides a basis for the material that follows.

While many may assume that the Church and its leaders expect them to reject or respond harshly to a person who “comes out” as LGBT+, it is stated that “to the contrary pastors, teachers and the NAD are calling members to walk lovingly and patiently with LGBT+ young people. A Q&A based on the Adventist study provides insights on both the negative and positive ways to deal with Adventist LGBT+ members.

The importance of expressing acceptance while maintaining one’s own beliefs is highlighted with statistics of the results of rejection by church and family. Instead, it is important to create a sustainable support system. Even loving parents may make common mistakes that can hinder the relationship with their child. These are listed with suggestions for more positive ways to respond showing the importance of the words used to communicate and suggestions for “navigating relational gaps.”

Common questions and appropriate responses are shared along with principals for a healthy faith and sexuality conversation. Probably the most surprising part of the booklet for me was the section regarding dealing with a loved one’s partner and the impact it can have long-term on family relationships. A very informative section on transgender and other identities will probably be very educational for most of those who read this booklet. Parents are encouraged to find trusted supporters who are committed to walk with them on this journey following the self-disclosure of a transgender child.

A couple of pages specifically speak to members of the LGBT+ community. The booklet provides 32 tips for relational effectiveness and four guidelines for Pastors and Teachers: Include, Listen, Protect, and Invest. The booklet concludes with the question: “Why Love and Accept?” and suggests five reasons:

Love expresses the truth about God; Love is commanded by Jesus; Love protects; Love makes us available and Love is patient and kind.”

It is my hope and prayer that new conversations will result from the study and implementation of these concepts in the Church.

Dave Ferguson is Director of Church Relations for Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International. Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International has been helping Adventist LGBT+ members, their parents, pastors and teachers navigate the journey of faith and acceptance for nearly forty years.

Photo courtesy of AdventSource.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8765

(Steve Mga) #2

Is this material APPROVED BY
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International organization???
If NOT, it may not be accurate information.


(Dee Roberts) #3

The author is who he is and is a trustworthily reviewer. The publication is an official publication of the NAD of SDAs.

I have not seen this publication yet, but based on what a close friend, who has seen the publication said, it is a very positive step.


(Pagophilus) #4

How much of the material is in line with the Bible and SOP?


(George Tichy) #5

I haven’t seen it either, but based on this review I believe it is a serious material, hopefully a breakthrough that has been needed for way too long.


(George Tichy) #6

The material appears to be about people, souls, and their emotional needs that the Church should be able to provide.


(Jeffrey Kent) #7

I’d be very impressed if the book met the approval of both the GC and SDA Kinship International. Someone please confirm.


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #8

Thank you David for this excellent review.

I do note that this is a NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION publication .

Our GC President seems compelled, every few months, to issue some diatribe against the Adventist LGBT community, so maybe this publication does not have the imprimatur of the GC.

My simple observation:

There is ZERO compassion, nor even basic comprehension, when any position requires that LGBT indiviiduals should lead lives of life long loneliness . The life long celibacy issue has little to do with sex—Catholic priests and nuns for centuries have voluntarily, as adults, made the choice to be celibate.

Those Catholic celibates make sure they are surrounded by supportive companions, in convents, monasteries, abbeys etc,

Most modern priests live in communal group homes.

Our Adventist LGBT celibates have no such close network of support.

Most would ageee that the vital component of any marriage, whether gay or straight, is not the sex, but the MUTUAL love, companionship, caring, trust, affirmation, affection, devotion that imbues any good union.

When church requirements insist on an absence of these nurturing elements on a life long basis, merely because a person is born with a certain set of chromosomes, then that is not a manifestation of true christian love.


(Tom Loop) #9

This book is good news, and I trust Dave Ferguson’s assessment of it. It’s a long time coming, but it’s a step in the right direction. Gay’s have been misunderstood and demonized for too long by churches. In years past we were told that orientation change therapy would make us straight. Just find the right woman, get married and your unwanted same sex attraction will just disappear. EGW says “we can overcome all inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil” so we were told our very core identity was evil and must be overcome. So we struggled in the closet, desparatly hoping we would wake up some morning “victorious” over our same sex attractions. But it never happened. There is nothing more debilitating than to be given the message that after all your struggles you just don’t have enough faith in the power of God.

This book comes a little too late for people like me. I am quite satisfied having left the church and found another more affirming denomination and church. Yes there is spiritual life after Adventism, and much more abundantly. I am not an apostate, the all too familiar label placed on those who have left the SDA church.

Hopefully this book will help younger generations of gay Adventist youth, from going through the type of shame and internal rejection that us older gays lived through. But there will always be a solid wall of naysayers in the church who will see this book as yet another example of yielding to popular culture. Many will refuse to read it, but will hold it up and condemn it as a warning against what is to come next if they yield any ground in their opposition to ordaining women. Gays have become their favorite whipping boys of the foes of WO. @Floyd @carrolgrady


(Tom Loop) #10

Boy isn’t that the truth! There is nothing more fearful than living with a secret knowing you are only one piece of information away from people who support you, suddenly abandoning you if you reveal you are gay. Never mind that you are same person after they know that you were 5 minutes before you told them. Oh you might have individuals who will “keep it under wraps” and feel sorry enough for you to be your friend, but just come out of the closet to the entire church, and suddenly your support system crumbles.

Been there, done that. To be basically benched after decades of faithfulness to my church, and viewed as “less than the least” by leaders who before had been eager for me to serve and donate time and money was crushing to say the least.

A church that believes that gays should remain celebate, must become the close family to them that they will not have, or all their talk about LOVE is nothing but a sounding gong. and cheap clichés like “love the sinner, but hate the sin” won’t work either. Rather than taken as words of compassion, gays see them as missiles closing in on a target.


(Sam Geli) #11

Today I learned that Thomas Wolfe one of my favorite authors, has died. After reading this excellent presentation of the book Guiding Families of LGBT+ I went back to his book, You Can’t go Home Again, to compare our SDA church/movement to the character George Weber in the book
“Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America – that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement. At any rate, that is how it seemed to young George Webber, who was never so assured of his purpose as when he was going somewhere on a train. And he never had the sense of home so much as when he felt that he was going there. It was only when he got there that his homelessness began.”

Perhaps our church did better in the treatment of others when we were a movement as opposed to a denomination of 15 million diverse people. Most of the comments to this fine article are expressing in some way a desire for denominational permission/official approval, in order to treat others fairly and decently the LGBT+ community. This self-validation of our respect for others and their differences from us can only come from our better and inner selves individually. Any attempt by a church organization to force any guidelines for the treatment of others as a substitute for individuality and self-determination will never succeed. George (SDA Church) you can’t go home again!


(Steve Mga) #12

In the Macon Telegraph for Sat, may 12 –
From Chicago – “United Methodist bishops want to let pastors, conferences
decide on LGBTQ+ clergy.” Apparently this will be put up for a vote later on soon.

here in Macon, GA on May 5, the First Baptist Church of Christ had its first gay wedding
since the congregation voted approval for this earlier in the year – and made front page
headlines in the newspaper.
One was the son of the former president of Mercer University whose family has been
very long time members there. It was attended by at least 500 persons, as there was
standing room only when the service began at 3PM that Sunday.
There were 3!! clapping sessions during the service by the attendees. the second one
the Pastor told everyone there would be opportunity to clap later. When they both kissed
at the end of the service, there was VERY!! long! loud! clapping.
It was quite a celebration for the Baptists.
Mothers of both men together recited scriptures as part of their Blessing on the two.


(George Tichy) #13

Great comment(s) Tom.

  1. It would take someone very disrespectful to call you an apostate. You know that unfortunately it can happen even here, right? But, after being called all “that” in the Lounge some time ago, I bet you are strong enough to take "it."
    1.a) You are a Christian, therefore the word apostate does not apply to you.

  2. The “moralists” will always be around. Likewise the hypocrites.

  3. Yes, you ae right, ignorance make people behave that way. Those people you described will certainly NOT read the book, but they will CERTAINLY criticize it. Don’t listen to ignorance, just march with the caravan in the middle of the night…


(Steve Mga) #14

HOW are we [the general church population of North America] going to be able to get copies of this publication to read for ourselves and to pass out to others???
Apparently this would ALSO be a good publication to pass out to many of our non-SDA
friends for their consideration.


(Dee Roberts) #15

There is a link in the first sentence of the article (blue highlighted text) click on it, it takes you to a page where the book can be ordered. I’ve not ordered from the site, but from all appearances is looks to be the place to go.


(Steve Mga) #16

Dee–
The actual book [limit 2 copies] is FREE.
Postal Service shipping is 10.84.
UPS is $15.
through Advent Source.

I wonder what kind of backlash will happen? Waiting to be able to read my copy. Would
be interesting to know WHO ALL the Consultants, the proof readers were before the
FINAL COPY went to press.
As we ALL learned at Gen. Conf 2015 – Words mean something. BUT the WAY something
is worded can end up having several messages to different people.
Causing CONFUSION and Division, even hostility.

I’m waiting to see if boy friends and girl friends can be brought to church. Will "married"
couples be allowed to be full members of all NA congregations?
Just HOW MUCH Limited Access will LG’s who are SDAs have when it come to participating
in the SDA Family of God society.
I guess I know too many GLs who are active Christians and love the Lord. But they would be
MOST UNWELCOME in an SDA House of God.


(George Tichy) #17

Dee, have you read the book, or at least started? What is your impression of it?


(Dee Roberts) #18

George, I haven’t seen it yet, I hope to get a copy soon. I found out about it from a close friend last week and his take was very positive. He wondered if I was a contributor… I was not, or at least not aware that I am directly. I have had conversations with many of the contributors to this work, I even know them well.


(David Johnson) #19

George, I can try to get you a copy if you can PM me … I’m reading it as a work assignment right now.
I agree that it is just ONE step, but at least a step in the right direction. Still, it is not yet an expression of “full grace” toward the LGBT community. I really fear it’s too little, too late. I just hope it starts to break down some of the unyielding walls, particularly in families. And yes, unfortunately some will raise this as a big red flag to say “see, this is exactly what’s next.” (Only because they cannot win WO on it’s merits, but think they can “win” this one.) What, for the sake of the Lord’s unity, do we genuinely fear about EQUALITY of ALL God’s people, regardless of origin, color, status, genetic makeup, or gender? WHY do we stir up fear? God is all about “fear not!” and compassion.


(George Tichy) #20

So nice of you David. I will appreciate it very much.
If you only need my email, it’s drtichy@gmail.com
Don’t tell it to other Spectrumites; they may ask for free treatment for LGTarian Disorder… :upside_down_face: :upside_down_face: LOL

I believe you asked for a PM to get the emails address, right?