How Will North American Division Human Sexuality Document Be Implemented?

During the 2014 North American Division (NAD) Year-end Meeting, a request was made that the division’s Executive Committee provide guidance on the topic of homosexuality. With an increasing number of North American states approving same-sex marriages at the time, many Adventists wanted clarity on the NAD’s stance.

DRAFTING A STATEMENT North American Division Associate Secretary Kyoshin Ahn served as chair of an ad hoc committee tasked with formulating the division’s position statement, the North American Division Statement on Human Sexuality. Presenting the statement at the 2015 NAD Year-end Meeting last week, division leadership stressed the diverse credentials of the writing committee members.

In addition to Kyoshin Ahn, the committee members were:

  • Larry Blackmer, North American Division Vice President for Education
  • Claudio Consuegra, Director of North American Division Family Ministries
  • Marcus Harris, Senior Pastor of the Breath of Life Church in Ft. Washington, MD
  • Heather Knight, President of Pacific Union College in Angwin, CA
  • Grace Mackintosh, General Counsel and Director PARL for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada
  • Alan Parker, Professor of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Adventist University, and former vice president of evangelism for Amazing Facts
  • Katia Reinert, Director of North American Division Health Ministries
  • Gerald Winslow, Vice President for Mission and Culture, Loma Linda University Health

The committee shared drafts of the document with various NAD departments for feedback, and General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson also provided feedback on drafts of the document.

The committee’s work first came before the NAD Executive Committee on October 30.

Before delving into the contents of the NAD Statement on Human Sexuality, committee members received and reviewed two statements from the General Conference. The first was the General Conference statement on homosexuality, which says in part that “The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships. Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden.” The second was the document, “Responding to Changing Cultural Attitudes Regarding Homosexual and Other Alternative Sexual Practices,” which states that a "monogamous union in marriage of a man and a woman is affirmed as the divinely ordained foundation of the family and social life and the only morally appropriate locus of intimate sexual expression."

Executive Committee members also heard portions of the recently-released Andrews University Theological Seminary position paper on homosexuality entitled “An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care.” Jiri Moskala, dean of the Seminary, read excerpts from the 21-page document.

"We strongly affirm that homosexual persons have a place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Moskala read.

Following Moskala, the writing committee presented the NAD Statement on Human Sexuality for consideration, reading the statement line by line. Executive Committee members then set about dissecting the language. Most challenges to the document’s verbiage came from the right, and focused on the document’s provision allowing denominational employees to attend same-sex weddings at their discretion.

DEBATING THE STATEMENT Omar Grieve, Speaker/Director for La Voz de la Esperanza, shared concerns about the language. “Attending a same-sex ceremony is a matter of personal conscience and should be considered with discretion,” Grieve read from the statement. “Can I go other places I should not go with discretion? I think we should remove this and not put it on paper. Then you’re opening the door for other things,” he said.

Kyoshin Ahn responded that the committee intended to permit “simple attendance, especially in the case of family members. We want to create boundary for them,” he said.

Gene Heinrich, pastor at the Troutdale Adventist Church in Oregon thought the statement needed more clarity. “Who decides what is different between actively participating and attending?” “If children of an employee get married, is the father of bride marching her down the aisle active participation or not?”

Heather Knight responded, saying that “Officiating, performing a musical selection, being the best man,” etc., differed from attending ceremony “that may be one’s own child.”

“Those were the very very sensitive areas where we were trying to make distinction between participating and attending,” Knight said.

While most feedback from Executive Committee members attempted to make the document more restrictive, student leaders, serving as delegates from Adventist Colleges, pushed in the other direction.

Nic Miller, president of the student body at Pacific Union College asked for the inclusion of Millennial voices. “There was a joke in the discussion about people who don’t know what gender they are,” Miller said, addressing the Executive Committee. “My generation doesn’t find that funny because for people on my campus and other campuses it’s a very real struggle. I can take this paper back to someone on my campus who is gay and say, ‘This is how I’m supposed to treat you.’ And it looks good on paper, but in reality it’s not that great.”

Nisha Johnny, Burman University Student President, said later in the discussion, “I want to know how much of this document was based on relationships with real people. I can give them all of these’s not going to prevent them from walking out the door. The only position I want us to take is that of love.”

Still the move to strike portions of the document persisted.

Cryston Josiah, pastor of the Beacon Light Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kansas City, made a motion to strike the statement: “Attending a same-sex ceremony is a matter of personal conscience and should be considered with discretion.”

By a vote of 76 yes, 85 no, Josiah’s motion to remove the sentence was defeated.

On the first two days that the document came before the Executive Committee, it was sent back to the writing committee for revisions.

On the third and final day of discussions of the Human Sexuality Statement, General Conference President Ted Wilson stood to speak with his concerns about the statement.

“I want to thank the North American Division for focusing on this particular subject and producing a statement which helps to cover this very complicated area,” Wilson said.

He called attention to the two statements approved by the General Conference Executive Committee.

“One item that I think we might have a little challenge with, and I have mentioned it before this, but the committee has chosen to leave it in, and that’s up to you folks here,” Wilson said. “It has to do with the marriage ceremony [section] in the last sentence: ‘Attending a same-sex ceremony is a matter of personal conscience. It should be considered with discretion…’ Actually I think the first sentence implies that an individual could attend, and you probably would be better off not having the second sentence.”

Wilson honed in on the problem as he saw it:

“My guess is that this may seem and appear to be almost an unofficial condoning of allowing people, even though it says it’s a matter of personal conscience. But be that as it may, the Scripture is extremely clear in my opinion and in the opinion of many people as to the subject of homosexuality. The problem comes in with our inter-relationships and how do we deal with that. One of the greatest challenges that we’re facing in society today and in the church is that society and culture almost coerces its members into a particular mindset. And if you’re not part of that mindset, you are therefore out of step. And as we try to understand what Scripture says about this subject, we must not consider ourselves in any way to be above the sin of others. That’s what our documents try to portray. That we are all sinners at the foot of the cross, but that the Lord does give the power to overcome, otherwise what would Christianity be? It is coming to the foot of the cross and allowing the justifying and sanctifying power to change our lives to become more and more like Christ. The challenge comes when you interface that with individuals that you know, and how do you respond to them? How do you work with them? How do you try to associate with them, even within the church?”

Taking aim at the ways younger generations have demonstrated greater openness to same-sex marriage, Wilson continued:

“If we allow culture to form our opinion and we don’t--especially I would say young people today...we have some wonderful young people in the church, we need more. But young people I would urge to go back to the word and not allow culture to form opinions that are contrary to the word. You know people will want us to believe that life is existential, that everything is relative. It is not, if we believe in absolutes, and absolutes do not have to be legalistic in the wrong sense. They are full of Christ’s righteousness. So I think as you go into this, I would appeal to this body and to the entire--not only the North American Division, but the whole church at large--that we must fully understand what is really at stake. It is that we must stand for the word in loving kindness, but we must always stand for God’s word.”

As Wilson finished, several Executive Committee members murmured “Amen.” North American Division President Daniel Jackson responded:

“Thank you very much for that statement. I want to publicly give you the assurance that I fully support the statement that you just made, and I fully believe that is the position of our administration. We must never compromise on the word of God. Never compromise on the word of God. I do want to say, and I’ve made this observation to a number of young people who I’ve had dialogues with--and they’ve been good dialogues--the statement I’ve made is I believe in my heart is the church has it right in the theology. Where we do need, I think, help and assistance is in how we mediate the truth. How we mediate the statements to those in our midst because in our generation, it was much different. And so we need the help of those who interface and those who understand, in terms of relationships. And I think you pointed that out. But we will not compromise on the word of God and we cannot compromise on the word of God.”

IMPLEMENTING THE STATEMENTOn November 2, the NAD Executive Committee voted to adopt the North American Division Statement on Human Sexuality. Conversation turned to implementation of the statement. Dan Jackson and NAD Executive Secretary Alex Bryant both noted that the statement was an official document, but was not policy. Michigan Conference President Jay Gallimore expressed dismay and concern that the document was not policy, suggesting that institutions with “other leanings” could go another direction.

Jackson stated that theologically, he stood with the document, but suggested that its implications for implementation remained open-ended. He hinted that he would like to engage in a series of conversations with students on Adventist campuses as former General Conference President Jan Paulsen had done.

The open-endedness of the NAD Statement on Human Sexuality leaves implementation and policy making to the constituent unions and conference of the North American Division. In the short term, the statement creates a state of limbo for church employees.

Soon after the Year-end Meetings concluded, I received a question from a musician and paid section leader of a large Adventist Church’s choir. She asked not to be named because her being paid was not widely known.

“Would I be at risk for being fired if I participated in a gay wedding?” she asked. “How does this impact those of us being paid through yearly contracts?”

The question was not merely hypothetical. For this musician, how territories within the North American Division shape policy around the Human Sexuality document could directly impact earning potential.

“As a poor student, I use my talents in order to cover my living,” she said. “I sing for weddings, funerals, and special occasions all the time. Singing is my livelihood.”

She says that if she were to cut out an entire demographic because of the risk of being fired from her primary job, “it puts me in the position of choosing between my church and my livelihood.”

For the time being, no official policy prevents people in similar positions from participating in same-sex weddings, but that may soon change.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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Than you for your detailed reporting. The biggest problem that challenges the credibility of this document is the complete lack of LGBT Adventist voices (openly) at the table, in the room, on the committee. Imagine the disappointment of San Antonio’s vote on women, and then imagine if no women had been allowed to speak or participate at all in the process (even though the stats were still much less than ideal).

As for the final document, I find myself of two minds. Part of me just lets out a huge sigh and wonders–why is so much energy put into trying to draw even more boundaries that make it clear we have second-class citizens in our church? And even given the church’s theology, when will divorced/remarried heterosexuals face this sort of treatment? How about family members “actively participating” in their weddings? And part of me recognizes this is a net gain on several levels. At least the sad history of church-sponsored ex-gay therapy should be officially over now. And at least there is an attempt to welcome all into full fellowship (if not membership and leadership). That is a step back for many churches but a step forward for more.

A parable is told by a pastor I admire about sheep. There are two ways to keep sheep where you want them. One is to build fences and pens. The other is to build a good well, and then all will go there to drink. The church too is faced with that dilemma–more fences? Or focus on building a great well where we all can come to drink and seek Christ together. When that is the focus, these differences become minor. But so far we have more pen-builders in leadership. I am hoping the well-builders don’t get too discouraged.

We had an absolutely beautiful and phenomenal dialogue that we filmed for our new film between an intentionally diverse group who have different experiences, theological views, and beliefs around this intersection of faith, sexuality, and gender. I wish my whole church could share in an experience like that. We will find that there is enough room at the table after all.


Jared, thanks for this informative report. I’m curious: during the discussions, was there ANY acknowledgment or discussion whatsoever of alternative interpretations of what the “Word of God”–that they ardently stand for–says? Specifically, interpretations that allow for loving monogamous homosexual relationships? I’m thinking specifically of the Summer 2012 (print edition) Spectrum article by Ivan Blazen and the 2014 blog post by Sakae Kubo, These are both respected scholars who have taught at the seminary at Andrews and then at the university level on the west coast. I am curious if there was any acknowledgment at all of their points of view. Did the young adult (college) representatives push back only on the relational level, or are they aware of these alternative interpretations and putting them forward?


As the parent of a lesbian daughter who is married (and whose wedding I attended) this document already saddened me. To hear the attitudes of some of the people on the committee saddens me even more. I fear we as a church have lost sight of Jesus’ admonition of “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” This document makes it clear that as a church we are willing to sacrifice the well-being of a whole, albeit small, sector of our membership so we can raise the proud banner of theological correctness.

It also saddened me to read in this report the rather deaf response given to the brave student leaders that tried to speak up. Not much more I can say, except that I will need some time to grieve the cold-hearted stance the church has taken on these issues. :cry:


As I read these statements, I’m reminded of the Pharisees arguing over every point in the law to make sure that (a) they weren’t in violation and (b) to point out who was in violation - supposedly for their own good.

Then I’m reminded of Jesus example, who never faltered to live with and spend time with people those same Pharisees abhorred, and who declared Jesus a sinner and violator of the law based upon those actions.

If my gay friend asks me to be in his/her wedding, I will do so. If my church elected to remove me from fellowship for doing so, I would be saddened but rejoice in that I am following Jesus example, rather than theirs.


Won’t happen. Because we’re a church full of sinners that feel better when we can point to the sins of others that are “worse” than our own. Our obsession with homosexuality is pathetic, cold, uncaring, and unChrist-like.

What about attending or officiating in the first-time weddings of heterosexuals who are no longer virgins? Or weddings of heterosexuals who serve alcohol at their wedding? Or weddings of heterosexuals who break the Sabbath? Are homosexuals truly more sinful or evil than these others? Why do we now find it so importat to create policies based on the ranking of sins by their sinfulness?

Come on, Kevin. Did Jesus “normalize” the sins of his contemporaries by associating with and engaging them? You’re as fixated on homosexuality as any other evangelical. You treat this condition far different than others you also perceive to be sinful. Are your own sins any more excusable than anyone else’s, or less likely to keep you from the Kingdom? Or do you think you’ve actually achieved the perfection that you preach so vigorously?


It’s a good question. If there were any mentions in the committee or elsewhere of other ways of understanding the biblical text, I missed them. Certainly the discussion I heard gave the impression that most considered the biblical witness to be univocal in its condemnation of homosexual practice. Both the writing committee members and those serving on the NAD Executive Committee sought to draw a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual practice.

Again, if there were mentions of other ways of interpreting Scripture by younger members of the governing body, I didn’t catch them. As far as I could tell, discussion focused on relational aspects of the document’s implementation.


Sad, because it won’t take long for this to become Policy and Procedure.
Sad, because this will have an impact on “Safe Places” in our Colleges and Academies.
Sad, because this will have an impact on the very few pastors in North America who are attempting to minister to the LGBTIO, etc community in their congregation at THIS time.
Sad, because this will have impact on the very few pastors in North America who do cross the line and DO Baptize GLBTIO, etc persons into the family of Christ.
Sad, because this restricts pastors and other employees to minister to non-SDAs and SDAs when requested, or the opportunity is there to do so.

I dont understand how you think that the development of an All Welcoming, All Participating Church, whether at the Local Level or the World Church Level would cause the Death of the Seventh day Adventist Church.
It seems to me that our Goal is to Preach — Christ accepts Sinners.
It seem to me that our Goal would be to WELCOME SINNERS into the body of Christ so they can learn about Him.
We have to allow for Sinners [you and me] to be on the Path at different places and to allow the Holy Spirit to hold Class for each individual Sinner at His convenience. Not by what and when WE THINK the Holy Spirit should be conducting individual classes.

Last Day Church —
From the way I see the wording of the 7 Churches, I see The Church of Philadelphia [brotherly love] being the Last Church to Welcome Christ. Not Lao.
We need to develop the Church of Philadelphia within ourselves.

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That’s clear enough, and should have taken care of the matter once and for all. Simplicity is always preferable to complicated and detailed documents. If it weren’t for the militant activists who keep trying to normalize what God has forbidden, there would be no need for this. No matter what the final document said, the activists would not be satisfied. The SDA Church simply cannot accommodate these perversions; to do so would be to encourage and facilitate its demise.


i am so encouraged by what both presidents ted and dan have to say…it is completely clear to me that god has used movements in the secular world around us to heighten our understanding of the true dimensions of the commission we are holding in our hands, which we haven’t always understood…if we are really going to be entrusted with the latter rain and the final message to be given to a fallen world, we need to understand clearly what we are dealing with in ourselves, and in those around us…we must be like jesus, who “knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.”…what god has on offer can only be correctly valued to the extent we comprehend ourselves…

in my view, and as i’ve believed for a long time, nothing illustrates the condition all of us are born into more fully than the biological condition of homosexuality…all of us are gay on some level…we are all born to stray…i really believe that we need to feel this truth more deeply before we will be able to engage in the kind of repentance that can shake our long history of laodiceanism, and cooperate with invisible, heavenly intelligences who are all around us, just waiting for us to reach out effectively for what they have to offer…i feel eternity opening up before us…it seems possible to sense the edges of it now…let’s hope our evident commitment to the subject of homosexuality can be the boon for our church which i believe god intends it to be…

To plan a committee on human sexuality and include no psychiatrists, psychologists, and professionals in human behavior; and no LBGT individuals presents only one side of a very complex subject. All the Bible texts will not change a gay individual to straight, but only pour more guilt over his head as unacceptable as equal in Christ’s church.

This may purify the church by eliminating sexual sins, but all the while divorced and remarried individuals have been participating in the church for years which in the past were treated just like LBGT.

The young of the church are keenly sensitive to this subject as they all know or have friends who are in the LBGT group. They believe justice, mercy, and equality are ideals seen in Scripture. On one hand this document professes to show loving action; but on the other hand refuses to accept that gays do not choose their orientation just as those who are straight do not choose theirs.

To suggest that individuals should not attend a gay family member’s wedding is a step too far in attempting to control others’ conscience.
Missing from this document is the hope for what this statement will accomplish for individuals and the church.


Do not compromise the word of God. The bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin. Those who claim to be born with gay feelings they should pray as these are consequences of sin through Adam. If you think you are born gay, you must be born again.


I also am concerned about this statement, both as a practicing musician and as a music professor at an Adventist university. I have provided “musical selection[s]” at many weddings in which the celebrant’s religious affiliations and/or choice of food/drink (or sexual orientation, which, together with the items previously listed, is demonstrably none of my business) may be at variance with stated church policy. What about SDA businesses or individuals providing floral, decorative, or catering services to such ceremonies? What about speaking or providing music at the reception?

If we are going to split hairs as to how a document which may find itself part of working policy “make[s] distinction” between attending and participating, I feel these issues should be firmly delineated. And if, as I understand it, a commonly-held view is that the church does not want official or unofficial sanction of such marriages, I can not see any difference between attending and participating. In any rite-of-passage ceremony (such as a wedding), attendance is participation.




Shoot looks I only get one comment on this and I might as well spend it on you Jeremy, since I know you promote celibacy or the highway for all Christians. For the record I thought Dan Jackson’s sounded like a man who has great convictions but is bowing to higher powers because he’s always tried once to do the right thing on women’s ordination and was scolded and had to retrace his stores. And what Elder Wilson said, basically telling the young people you’re going to hell, so why not join us righteous folk over here. I’m not going to sugar coat, especially since sugar is so bad for our health ;).

Yes so you said “if we are really going to be entrusted with the latter rain and the final message to be given to a fallen world, we need to understand clearly what we are dealing with in ourselves, and in those around us”. Am I exagerrating to say that you believe this is a military tactical mission and we need to know the danger within and without? So how does Matthew 25 play a role? Would you say that the latter falls when love is the heart of faith? Seems Jesus comes back not to people who have studied how to label others and themselves as good or bad but who simply are out there serving. I mean don’t argue with me, argue with Jesus. His words are chalked full of doing and loving and serving, but if you want to pick one saying of his that supports your view on self reflection for a world desperate for loving kindness, I guess I can’t stop you. But dude the sea of the divine is roaring and riding the waves of love is awesom. I’m not going to undercut Jesus, I’m going to sail away on the whole of his life and example. I do know we’ll all make it to the Heavenly gates but I’d hate for you not to have a fun journey getting there!f

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You state emphatically: “The SDA church cannot accommodate these perversions”.

Sir, I hope you thank God on your knees every night that your favorite son/ daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew is not gay/lesbian, otherwise you would be forced to deal with this “perversion”.

It would be poetic justice if one of your favorite family members were so afflicted. It happens in the best of families, as Bryan Ness, elsewhere on this post, so aptly and sensitively points out. This would also apply to all the nine committee members who drafted this report. Do any of them have close family members who are gay/lesbian?

It is so easy to pontificate about other people’s family members!

“Michigan conference president Jay Gallimore expressed dismay and concern that the document was not policy”.

I recall it was this same president who tolerated a rapist in his conference, protecting his protégé without any “dismay and concern”

Apparently “perversions” have different levels of sinfulness. This same rapist, now fortunately belatedly defrocked, still maintains on his website a diatribe against homosexuality. Go figure.

Thank you Jared, and Spectrum, for giving us this transparency of the background proceedings in formulating this policy statement.

Regrettably, the comments of many participants come across as petty, quibbling, unloving and insensitive.

The clear winners were the millenials who tried unsuccessfully to inject some compassion into the proceedings.


Yes indeed this really goes to the heart of the matter. Now I know how a turkey feels like when it is excluded from the discussion of what is on the dinner menu for Thanksgiving! @ageis711Oxyain

It seems like some interpreted it backwards, that a “NO” vote was a vote against this document because they were sympathetic to lgbt’s. The “NOES” seemed to be for eliminating a conscience clause for even attending such a wedding. I’m talking now of the 17 votes against the document. It would be nice to hear opinions from those 17 people and why they voted NO. @carrolgrady

The church is so big on mouthing platitudes for religious liberty outside of our ranks, but inside the church they trample on the right of conscience. Go figure. As a gay man I see the “dissecting of the document” as tantamount to carving lgbt’s up and serving us on a platter for lunch!!! It’s no wonder millenials are leaving the church in droves.

Jesus said in Matthew 25 “As you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” It looks like you can’t get much lesser than the least of these and be gay in the church.


It helps to keep in mind that another person’s inconsistency is never an excuse for my own disobedience to the counsel of God. Those seeking to normalize one or another sin which may for a time be fashionable seem to have considerable trouble remembering this.

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So there was a group of people dealing with a mental health issue without having a single mental health professional participating?

If so, the paper is not a “document,” but rather a bitter joke - and it’s worthless. What exactly do they want to implement now?

Were those people paid to work on it? They should reimburse the tithe-payers!!!
@elmer_cupino @andreas

PS- This issue deserves a real discussion, not jot this throwing of one single comment here. Those interested in a a real, productive conversation (discussion!) should go to the Spectrum LOUNGE, where this same article is posted for open discussion. Go to:

Or, for a full list of articles being discussed in the LOUNGE, go to:

If you try going to this sites and you find a “shut door,” just ask @JaredWright for permission. He always grants it gladly.

I just read the “document” again, and at the end I took a selfie:


Good point!

This is what happens when a question is answered by a committee whose members do not have a proper understanding of the question. All they have to do is get an opinion of what homosexuality is from the Dept of Psychiatry, Loma Linda University, a GC institution. What has hindered them? Dr. Knight?

Had Paul and Peter behaved as this committee did when discussing the culturally loaded issue of circumcision as recorded in Acts 15, christianity would have been dead long time ago. How much more with homosexuality, a sexual orientation that crosses cultural lines and is deemed to have biological underpinnings.

Acts 15:10-11 “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Obviously the SDA church believes otherwise.

Come join us at the lounge for a deeper conversation. @GeorgeTichy @kevindpaulson


Excellent point. Attendance implies the attendee’s acknowledgement/agreement with the purpose of the event (unless the aim of the attendee is to stand up and object to the union when the question is asked). The purpose of this document should be to confirm a certain church interpretation or teaching, not to set forth rules as to how the teaching should be received and applied by church employees or members. That making-of-rule is the point at which the document becomes de-facto policy rather than a simple statement.