Civil Disobedience against San Antonio?

An Adventist version of civil disobedience might now be the only way to challenge the convergence of three distinct groups who oppose the ordination of women. One group consists of those who are unconditionally opposed to it because they find it contrary to Scripture. A second group is made up of those who are conditionally opposed to it. They hold that, if its practice would not be so globally disruptive, they would have no objection. A third group is using opposition to the ordination of women as a wedge with which to split conservative and liberal Adventists to the advantage of the conservative ones. Some of these are now abandoning this issue because they believe that the LGBTQ controversies would be a more advantageous wedge. Any issue is fine for them so long as it successfully turns Adventists against each other.

Openly violating the decision which was made at the General Conference session at San Antonio in 2015 and respectfully accepting the punishment for doing so in hopes of eventually achieving positive change might now be the only honorable alternative. This interview of Martin Luther King, Jr. explains civil disobedience in greater detail. I recommend it.

WATCH Martin Luther King, Jr. on Civil Disobedience:

Dr. David Larson is Professor of Religion at Loma Linda University.

Image Credit: Video Still

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

So, no more pretense. Finally, an admission that the WO lobby defies the will of the body, as expressed at the GC session (in spite of claims to the contrary for the past 2 years), and will push their agenda, no matter what. They will try to get their own way, no matter how much collateral damage is done.

Of all the hills one might choose to die on, this is a strange one. It seems that too many church members have bought into the current culture, a culture which is antagonistic to true Christianity, and which has no understanding of what constitutes true equality.

This is a highly judgmental statement, and completely inaccurate. If a statement like this were posted by a conservative, and directed at those who routinely denigrate SDA beliefs, there would be immediate outrage by liberals. Conservatives are not interested in disunity; we’re interested in upholding truth, and doing everything “decently and in order.” What Mr. Larson is advocating will cause nothing but chaos.

I question the wisdom of keeping professors like Mr. Larson on the staff of an SDA institution. He sets a terrible example for his students.

The attempt to equate the demand for WO, with the struggle for equality by Blacks is to trivialize true civil rights, and is an insult to Blacks everywhere.

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It is EASY to Forget History.
“Civil Disobedience” in a Religious sense is 500 years old this month.
It began when one lone Catholic Monk with a Doctorate Degree [after studying Romans], posted a series of debate questions on a church door in Latin. [It wasn’t for the common people to read]
He had his “Trial” before Charles V where he quietly said, NO.
Later the Princes were called before Charles V, they quietly said, NO.

SO, what is WRONG with the Union Leaders coming before President Wilson and quietly saying, NO!

Roger spent a winter living in a large hollow tree to escape evil religious leaders before receiving Rhode Island and its capitol, Providence [one of God’s names, and also a gift].

EDIT-- REMEMBER – The Great Advent Movement BEGAN in a way, with Religious Civil Disobedience. Against the then Traditional Thinking. The MILLERITE MOVEMENT, a SPLINTER of that movement, ALSO was a Religious Disobedience Movement. Many churches [Methodists in Maine for one] DID NOT AGREE, and so DISCIPLINED those with Excommunication. They formed and “Independent” ministry that in 1863 became the SDA Religion.
The CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE GROUP proclaimed in their Newspaper, PRESENT TRUTH, to have NEW LIGHT through ELLEN WHITE.

Paul, in Galatians TURNED THE ROMAN WORLD UP-Side-DOWN. Stated that there was NO MORE LEVELS/STRATA of People Groups. NO MORE OF: Men, Women, Slaves/Servants, Free. ALL WERE EQUAL.
The SDA church has attempted to Shut Paul Up – Saying THERE ARE Strata of People Groups in the SDA Church!!! “Paul, GO! Preach EQUALITY some place else, NOT the SDA Church!!”


Thanks for responding. I suggest the following:

  1. I neither said nor believe that all conservatives are more for dividing liberals and conservatives than they are against otdaining women. Indeed, I specifically mentioned two other groups. One is unconditionally against it and the other is conditionally so. The people in these two groups are not cynical but sincere and I respect them as such.

  2. I have never denied that some unions are disobeying the expressed will of the denomination. They are. They are doing so as a matter of conscience just as most of those who oppose it are doing so as a matter of conscience.

  3. I regret that Elder Ted N. C. Wilson appears to have taken sides instead of seeking a way for both sides to collaborate on other matters while disagreeing on this one.

  4. I have long advocated the civil disobedience approach because in it those who are respectfully out of compliance willingly accept a severe punishment and this prevents widespreaf chaos rather than causing it.

  5. This is a compromise. It will be opposed by many on both sides because it does not give them all they want. My view is that we should all give a little in other to gain much.

Thanks again for responding. Even at this late date people of good will can prevent the splintering of Adventism. It will not split.


Are U Serious?..calling for “civil disobedience” so as to rebel against both Scripture & the official position of the Church speaks volumes of ones spiritual immaturity…


That goes contrary to the counsel we’ve been given by Ellen White. And, it will only create hard feelings, and further divide the church.

Nonsense! I know how Blacks were treated, both in the US and South Africa. Refusing to ordain women pales in comparison with the horrible treatment that Blacks have received over the centuries.

Curiously enough, I learned to read away back in the mists of time. I know how things were back in the 50’s and 60’s. And I’ve read plenty on the subject. One sobering book is Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin.

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I’ve got to admit, this takes a lot of guts for an active employee of a directly-run GC institution to call for constituent organizations to disregard a vote on the subject and caption it as. “civil disobedience.”.

Luther started his own church and Williams started his own colony. MLK had the support of his congregation and it was a protest against a government, not the church that he pastored in.

Maybe the best thing for the dissent would be to be ejected. This constant stoking of internal tension is destructive to both.

And this is coming from someone who supports the equality of all.

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Interesting. The idea of everybody giving a little so that all can gain even more is denounced by the most committed on both sides because each wants all or nothing. It is not going to happen. If not this one, some compromise will be reached. This is what should happen and it will.


I don’t think it’s good practice to take advice from someone that would remove texts from the bible that dont meet their narrative…

“The six texts that are usually to clobber (to condemn) people who practice the LGBT lifestyle should be removed from the bible. Then let us just love everyone.” David R. Larson


So, then you’re a Roman Catholic? If not, you are in a constant state of rebellion, protesting against the original church Protestants broke from 500 years ago.


Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, “ an icon of resistance “ and designated by the United States Congress as “ the First Lady of civil rights “ and “ the mother of the freedom movement “ was fighting DISCRIMINATION when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger.

In retrospect, she was being disparaged not merely for being black but she also was a woman — double jeopardy!

Absolutely similarly, those calling for our women pastors to be equal in stature to their male counteparts, are fighting DISCRIMINATION. (misogyny under another name ).

Adventists of your persuasion, Groucho, are so like Catholics!

For many years I owned a home mere steps from Notre Dame, in the heart of the French capital. That cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, has her image emblazoned in every niche and cranny of that monument.
She is usually represented cradling the infant Christ in her arms.

Except for the Pieta behind the altar, Christ is ONLY represented as an infant, in His mother’s arms. In many ways the Virgin has replaced Christ.

When I peruse TW’s articles in the Review, there is such a proliferation / plethora / profuseness of EGW pronouncements — they outweigh the Biblical texts.

Such an extravagant cornucopia of quotes is an agrandizement of one woman to the exclusion and debasement of all others.

One Christmas Eve I took my daughters to the MIDNIGHT MASS at Notre Dame, not to celebrate the sacrament, but for the glorious music in their liturgy. It was standing room only and we were crowded against the sixty foot high doors in the back of the church.

On the stroke of midnight, those doors parted, and in swept the crimson cloaked Cardinal , followed by his retinue. My astute younger daughter, a mere teenager at the time, acerbically observed : Look Dad, just like the Adventist church—NO WOMEN,

And indeed , there was not a single nun, not even a Mother Teresa, in that male assemblage. Yet everywhere, a profuseness /proliferation / plethora of images to Mary.

Just as the Catholics elevate the Virgin to the pinnacle of Paradise, while treating their nuns shabbily (compared to their priests ). So conservative Adventists place EGW, a woman, on a pedestal, while denying every other Adventist female equality.

The conflation of Catholicism and conservative Adventism in this regard is striking.

Western Adventists, as opposed to their Third World counterparts, have been raised egalitarian, treating their women with honor and not as chattels.

They have EVERY RIGHT to demand that their church does the same, even if it means civil,disobedience.

This is indeed a fight against DISCRIMINATION just as Martin Luther King fought for EQUAL RIGHTS.


Even though it is probably well intended, this report of what I said could not be more mistaken. My point was precisely the opposite: It was that IF all the clobber texts were removed, it would still be evident thst Biblical people preferred families with many children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on.


Sounds a lot like the pro-slavery arguments of a couple of centuries ago.

(Is discrimination a mark of spiritual maturity?)


I am all for civil disobedience in a secular setting, where questions of conscience lead committed men and women to action. But hey, we are talking about the Church which calls itself the Remnant, whose members (should) strive to reflect more and more God’s character (did not EGW write that Jesus will return when His people will reflect God’s character perfectly?).
So where do we see any use of force in God’s dealing with us? If He let Isreal time and again go their way and still loved and cared for them, if He let the prodigal son go his way with full financial support, how can we call ourselves His followers and dare to force someone else’s concience? My conclusion from this whole affair is: the Remnant are people devoted to God from all kinds of religious groups. The Adventist Church as an organization (I am not talking of members here) cannot be the Remnant.


Jesus’ and his disciples engaged in a form of civil disobedience where the Sanhedrin was concerned. It’s why they killed him. This whole thing could be avoided if the GC would revert to the 1903 decision, supported by Ellen White that shifted decision making power over this sort of thing to the Union Conferences. Ever since, the GC has sought to restore what Sr. White called “kingly power”. First the GC created the Divisions to add a layer of authority that was responsible not to the conferences, but to the central administration. It gave us more layers of authority than the Catholic Church! This is about power. The GC’s own Glacier View Conference, which they spent hundreds of thousands of dollar on to bring theologians from all over the Adventist world to, voted by 2/3’s majority that there was no Scriptural prohibition on women serving as pastors because there is no “Biblical” instruction on ordination. The word is not even used in Scripture. The GC administration manipulated the information provided to delegates in San Antonia to force a vote that appeared to be about Women’s ordination, but in reality was about a transfer of authority back to Silver Springs.

I do not hold to that. I am an Adventist and here I stand as Martin Luther so eloquently put it. If members refuse to obey what is an illegal and I believe unChristian power grab by the GC, then what will the GC do about it. Let them try to keep us out of our churches. A form of congregational obedience is precisely what is called for in addressing GC administrative overreach. Not obedience to human authority, but to the authority of God. Jesus is the one authority which we must at all cost obey. It is his example that we follow.

No human who inserts himself between the individual and his God is exempt from God’s wrath if he uses his position to usurp the power that is reserved to God.

The way you can tell there is a problem is by counting the number of sermons and articles in church papers that you hear on the subject of Church Unity and Church authority. If obedience to God is disobedience to human authority, so be it. We should pray and obey Him who died to save us and to whom we owe our very lives.

If we must challenge kingly authority to serve God and to protect the meek and lowly church members, then challenge it we should.

Tom King
Puyallup, WA


birder, this is a subject you may not have a true feeling for…as a person of color, let me assure you that the struggle for WO is exactly analogous to the struggle for equality for blacks…in the s. africa i was born into, people who opposed apartheid twisted the bible to support the notion that blacks are born to serve just like you twist scripture to support the notion that women are born to follow, born to set aside any possible leadership gifts, and born to express themselves only through their husbands…in fact both forms of discrimination - racism and misogyny - are related and existed side by side in an extreme form in s. africa at one time…

in the struggle for the dismantling of apartheid, i can assure you that no amount of reasoned arguments, however conclusive and unstoppable, could have possibly persuaded s. africa’s whites that blacks were even people, let alone equals…their view was that they were being generous towards blacks if they hired them to work on the farms that were stolen from them, and especially if they gave them any payment, any housing, or any food…i know many blacks were hungry because my mother ran a soup kitchen where she taught school for a time, and none of those kids ever came to school having had anything to eat…

when i think of s. african apartheid, i see its hideous reincarnation in the position taken by today’s adventist headship crowd…they can’t be reasoned with…their prejudices are set…their literalistic biblical interpretations are unreasonable, tortured and convincing only to themselves…and what’s more, they believe they’re being generous if their women are allowed to teach SS, do special music, organize a potluck, or something they themselves have no interest in doing - or paying for - never-mind that their church founder was a woman…headship adventists are encased in a blind prejudice that they’ve conflated with spirituality…nothing can move them…they regard it as a point of faith to resist any contrary evidence, or even conscience, and to angrily denounce any dissent…as was the case with s. africa’s whites, adventist headship conservatives are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming over the finish line…there’s no other way…

civil disobedience in this case may be rebellion against the GC, but it isn’t rebellion against scripture…as you know, san antonio seeks to impose a one-policy solution on everyone, when the bible, in Acts 15, points to a two-policy solution existing side by side…in reality, san antonio is rebellion against both the bible and egw…it cannot be respected by true adventists…

if those who believe san antonio was the voice of god can open their eyes to the fact that the bible, in its account of the council of jerusalem, points to a two-policy solution on policy questions instead of the one-policy solution erroneously adopted at san antonio - and san antonio being out of harmony with the bible means it cannot possibly be the voice of god - they’ll see that living side by side with WO supporters is actually god’s will, just as it was god’s will for circumcised jewish christians to live side by side with uncircumcised gentile christians…and as you know, one huge concern of those who voted no in san antonio wasn’t so much WO, as it was LGBT, which is exactly analogous to the concern, held by many jewish christians, that heathenism and licentiousness would gain an entry into the church if circumcision was set aside, AA:192…

as for civil disobededience, i’m sure you must know that it is something egw strongly advocates…for instance, she actively advocated civil disobedience in the case of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, 1T:201, along with suffering the consequences…and of course in the case of sunday laws, which we believe are yet to occur, egw clearly teaches that those who don’t practice civil disobedience will be lost…if her approval for the civil disobedience of the reformers is any indication, and i think it is, egw would have been on the side of martin luther king…and she would have been on the side of PUC, sandra roberts and pro-WO adventists…

conservatives have simply shot themselves in the foot over this ordination question…and as with those conservatives who charged the GC with being in apostasy over what they called the new theology, before leaving the church in droves, only to have a careful investigation of the bible and egw show they were wholly wrong on original sin, the nature of christ, and the role of justification in our salvation, conservatives are once again on the wrong side of the bible and egw…that is, by trying to force a biblical basis for headship, they’ve overlooked the fact that the bible teaches at least a two-policy solution in ecclesiastic matters, and not the one-policy solution they fought for in san antonio…honestly, i don’t know how much credibility certain conservatives in our church have anymore…


Wow, wow and WOW! This is a great post. Spot on Jeremy!


If George Knight’s report turns out to be accurate, all those who are opposed to this way of doing things can stand in respectful silence as the plan is unfolded. This would be courteous. It would also be clear


And you would know this how? You have been or are related to a black or white or any female pastor who has been through discriminatory hell?


I find it it ethically imperative not to comply with these procedurally questionable and substantively suspect GC mandates. On the other hand, I also think it ethically imperative for the Unions to acknowledge the seriousness of their non-compliance and respectfully accept appropriate penalties. This is in the longstanding tradition of civil disobedience.