Keisha McKenzie Outspoken: "We're In A Denomination That Rejects Us"


(Spectrumbot) #1

Keisha McKenzie grew up in Margaret Thatcher’s United Kingdom, a time and place where teaching was confined to heteronormativity, McKenzie recalls. She also grew up a Seventh-day Adventist, which added an additional layer of prohibition to non-heterosexualities. “I had no template growing up for anything other than that,” McKenzie says in the latest installment of the “Outspoken” video series, produced by Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer.

McKenzie recounts experiencing “a lot of pushback” from her Jamaican family when she spoke to her family about her own bisexuality in her 20s.

“I learned that I could not rely on what I thought was a safe and nurturing community because of course small Adventist environments often have that sense of nourishment and nurture…”

That McKenzie’s “Outspoken” film arrives at a time when the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been mulling the ongoing possibility of imposing punishment for perceived non-compliance over ordaining women ministers seems somehow fitting. Her simultaneously softly-spoken and sharp indictments of a Church that stubbornly refuses to provide a nurturing environment for some of its own--whether divorcees, scientists or LGBT+ members--seems accentuated by the Church’s protracted fight over the other “other,” women ministers.

“You can’t speak frankly about those distinctions and you can’t work with them because people are afraid of difference,” McKenzie says.

The film takes us into her kitchen where food preparation becomes metaphor.

“I like preparation because you get to know your food this way… There’s really no other way to know it,” she says. And then she pivots to church, asking how one can get to know people without being in touch (to say nothing of making policies “without any grounding in experience or fact”).

McKenzie points to a deep problem that affects Adventism at all levels. Policy makers seemingly have too easy a time setting the course for various subsets of the church without any meaningful contact with those stakeholders: policy about women ministers dictated primarily by men; policy about sexualities dictated by straight...men; programs aimed at young adults with little if any young adult representation.

But beyond that, there is the church’s rejection.

“We do know that we’re in a denomination that rejects us. It’s not something that you can not know,” McKenzie says.

Yet she continues, perhaps remarkably, to be engaged and involved (Spectrum readers may recognize her from her many contributions). She attributes it in part to the sense of belonging that the faith community provides.

“Everybody needs their people, right? So I've never been a part of this philosophical subset who says we can go it alone…”

“We do need it, I think, wisdom and nourishment and laughter. And all those sorts of things just happen in community. Authenticity in community is hard work. It's not just something that just happens, and you can't force it. It sort of has to emerge from consistent interactions with different people over time. Congregational life I feel like is a long term project. And part of what makes the kind of engagement that I do with the church meaningful for me is the idea that maybe it's not going to turn out right in my lifetime. I don't know. But I can certainly push the needle to make it a little bit better for somebody else.”

WATCH - Keisha: Outspoken

Keisha - Outspoken

Jared Wright is Southern California Correspondent for SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8304

(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #2

I had lunch yesterday with a with a dear friend, the senior woman pastor of the largest Methodist church in town.

The Methodists have been ordaining women since 1956. The local Methodist Conference president here, is female, as is the Bishop ( equivalent to our Union Conference president ).

My pastor friend had just returned from an international world conference of the Methodist church in Berlin. The conference was initiated by the world wide body of Methodism, to address THE WAY FORWARD : How to be more inclusive of the Methodist Church’s gay/ lesbian members.

The goal of THE WAY FORWARD is laudatory:

FIRSTLY :

To achieve FULL PARTICIPATION of lesbian/gay members in the local churches, that is, to let them not merely attend, but to allow them to hold church office. Numerous Methodist churches in North America already allow full participation of their LGBT members.

SECONDLY
To allow the ordination of gay /lesbian pastors to the Methodist ministry ( currently allowed in some districts/ regions).

THIRDLY
To allow Methodist ministers to perform same sex weddings, where it is legal in the particular country concerned.
( not currently permitted )

My woman pastor friend was hugely encouraged by the outcome of the Berlin Conference , saying that even African members of the committeee, agreed, that while African members might not yet be ready for steps two and three, that they may well be ready in the next ten years.

These African Methodists were extremely willing to have a regional / cultural diversity on the issues of ordaining LGBT pastors and on the church performing same sex marriages

Our Adventist Africans are entirely unwilling to be permissive of regional / cultural differences on women pastor’s ordination, let alone the ordaining of gay pastors!

Since Methodism has been ordaining women pastors since 1956, and since their WAY FORWARD world wide commission is aggressively expanding inclusivity for their LGBT members, it would seem that they put Adventism to shame in their loving outreach and honoring, not just of their women, but of their LGBT offspring.

It would appear that Methodism is NOT a Christian Church that rejects its LGBT members. Maybe it would be advised that rejected Adventist LGBT members migrate to Methodism, a warm, welcoming worship, actively working for inclusivity .


(Carolyn Parsons) #3

This is especially timely as Wayne Blakely from Coming out Ministries will be speaking to the Autumn Council on Wednesday as the sole voice of LGBTQ+ people. When the church speaks about and to LGBTQ+ people it choses a very narrow viewpoint, and one that is invested in a distorted and misrepresentative view of sexuality, gender and identity.

Keisha has a world of experience in public speaking, organizational development and strategic communication and a great deal of wisdom as is evident in this episode of the Outspoken series. The church has been offered bright and wonderful people to speak with, LGBTQ+ and Allies, and they have steadfastly refused. There is no understanding without dialogue.


(Sam Matthews) #5

The Pacific Union has quietly been trailblazing a way forward for LGBTQ Adventists although it doesn’t appear in official publications. This is the real subtext of what’s happening at the Autumn Council although the Union would deny it if asked.

The idea that there can be variances very carefully avoids limiting ordination to heterosexual men and women as there is room being allowed for the LGBTQ community. In a sense, the failure to pass the resolution yesterday was a joyful affirmation of this fact. When the door opens for ordination without regard to gender, it will be a very wide door.


(Lynden Williams) #6

JSKMO, I think, if you are fortunate enough to pass through that narrow gate, you might be surprised to see just how many people who were born into the LGBT community that are there as well. They will be the ones that truly loved their neighbors, fed those who were hungry, visited those in their local jail, mended the wounds of the sick and injured and they will be covered with the same robe of Christ’s righteousness. But if you do go through that narrow gate, it will be because you have learned to except that you too are just as much a sinner as those you are pointing fingers at now. If you think not, you are already lost. I truly hope you find your way to let go and let God work in those He wants to welcome into His kingdom. And, if you’ve gone through that narrow gate and you look around carefully, the ones you won’t see will be all the Adventists that strived all their lives to keep the letter of the law, filled with their works, but who have lost sight of who really, completely and totally is responsible for our salvation, Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

Beating people with the bible is just as hurtful and unchristian as beating them with a baseball bat. Please stop.


(David) #7

I am happy that for the first time in a while people are starting to wake up to better understanding regarding the women ordination (WO) issue. And I am glad that the document was returned to the committee. However, I think that the WO issue has little to do with LGBT related issues, and by jumping on the bandwagon of WO debate I believe that it does more harm to WO issue than it does otherwise.
Simmilarities: WO issue and LGBT issues only have in common that they are viewed as repressed. That is pretty much all.
Differences: WO issues is a policy issue. It is not theological issue, and proper hermeneutics (which are in line with both early Adventist and current Adventist hermeneutics) support the WO. However, most of LGBT related issues are theological and hermeneutical in nature (besides the policy). In order to bring to change the policy regarding the LGBT community, different hermeneutics need to be applied. This means that no longer we apply Adventist hermeneutics, but that of other churches’.
I am for welcoming LGBT people in our churches, but I am sure that by term “welcoming” most people understand differently. Accepting someone as they are does not necessarily mean supporting that person in living a life you, based on the Adventist hermeneutics, deem to be detrimental.
If we would change our hermeneutics, we would become other church. Why is than the need to change our hermeneutics if there are already churches with hermeneutics designed to support gender fluidity?


(Daneen Akers) #8

Did you actually watch this short documentary profile of Dr. McKenzie? Your comments don’t seem to reflect a grounding in what she said at all.


(Terry Whitted) #9

I hereby call for Ted’s resignation or I support an immediate effort to impeach him.


(Kim Green) #12

“WO is most definitely a theological issue.”

Adventism’s own theologians are not in agreement upon this issue with more supporting it than not. You may speak from your own perspective but not speak for Adventism or it’s theologians.

“The same hermeneutics that have been used to justify WO are the exact same hermeneutics being used to justify homosexuality, Sunday sacredness, consumption of unclean meat, and every other heresy that goes against sound doctrine.”

The ole “slippery slope” argument.

“That is why proponents of WO are being hypocrites when they speak out against any kind of consenting sexual relationships including polygamy, bisexuality, homosexuality, incest between adults, bestiality, and in the very near future, robosexuality.”

Interesting logic…flawed but interesting. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to reject some of your list as not compatable with their belief system.

It is so easy to come here and make comments that do not address what Keisha says about being “rejected”. When doctrine becomes more important than people it becomes idolatry.


(JSKMD ) #15

I may be mistaken but I thought we were allowed one original post but unlimited replies. But since you seem to be such a strong advocate for law and order (except when it involves the current GC policy to disallow WO), I will put everything under one post so as not to be a stumbling block to those of weaker faith.

The SDA Church’s so-called narrow viewpoint is the Biblical viewpoint.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

WO is most definitely a theological issue. There can only be one truth. Truth is never relative. Our God is not a god of confusion. Either WO is of God or it is not. There is no middle ground. The same hermeneutics that have been used to justify WO are the exact same hermeneutics being used to justify homosexuality, Sunday sacredness, consumption of unclean meat, and every other heresy that goes against sound doctrine. The ultimate excuse is that everything in the Bible is culture based and is thus relative. That is why proponents of WO are being hypocrites when they speak out against any kind of consenting sexual relationships including polygamy, bisexuality, homosexuality, incest between adults, bestiality, and in the very near future, robosexuality.

Anyone who does those things you mentioned because they truly love God and want to be like Jesus will also turn away from anything that would separate themselves from Him including LGBT sexual relationships, both in mind or in deed.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 1 Corinthians 13:3-6

Egotists, secular humanists and people who practice salvation by works can also do the things you mentioned but for all the wrong reasons.

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24, 25

We are all called to deny our sinful desires and crucify our sinful natures daily. If we insist on clinging onto sin, then we are not abiding in Him and not allowing Him to abide in us. I am just as much of a sinner as you and every person on earth. My righteousness is as filthy toilet paper. Anyone who attempts to enter the wedding feast wearing such garments instead of the white robes of Christ’s righteousness will be thrown out into the darkness. However, the white robe will never be given to anyone who insists on hanging onto their filthy toilet paper garments. They must first discard their cherished sins before they can be washed and made new.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! Matthew 7:21-23

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 1 Corinthians 7:19
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. Galatians 6:15

Yes, it is important to do good works and help those in need. But it is just as important, even more so, to love God and to obey Him in everything. When the Holy Spirit makes us a new creation, our love for God drives us to do anything and everything for His glory thereby giving evidence that our faith is real. This faith and love is what allows us to turn over control of our mind and body to Jesus who then keeps His Eleven Commandments for us.

If these words cut you to your core, it is because that is what the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is supposed to do.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. Matthew 10:34

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12, 13k

And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:21

You make your smug dismissive comments without answering why my logic is flawed which makes me wonder if the god of this age has blinded your mind.

If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, I would highly recommend Women’s Ordination: 31 Popular Arguments and Biblical Answers by Eugene Prewitt.

The reason why I believe, if WO proponents were consistent with their hermeneutics, they should support the list of abominations I mentioned is because they believe the contemporary culture supersedes the Word of God. Since much of Western society views women’s liberation and the eradication of all gender distinctions and roles as normal and desirable, WO proponents naturally feel that the Bible should be interpreted to promote these viewpoints. Given the fact that humanity will only become more wicked as God’s Spirit withdraws from the earth we can expect abominations and wickedness to become normalized in the future. In the future, if the culture promotes it and if they want to be consistent with their interpretation of Scripture, WO proponents will have no choice but to accept and ordain those who practice things that at this time would be considered abomination. Ultimately, the culture, rather than the Word of God, will determine what is right or wrong. As Aleister Crowley said, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.” That is the disastrous end of all who elevate culture and human reason above the Word of God.

For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Malachi 3:6

The proper Biblical hermeneutic is that the Word of God always supersedes culture. It is not OK to interpret the Bible to fit what you want it to say just so that you don’t have to feel guilty when you are doing wrong. Culture can and does change what is considered sinful but the Divine standard of holiness has remained the same and will remain the same from eternity to eternity. When God’s people have disregarded the Biblical hermeneutic, heresy upon heresy has arisen within their midst.

You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes. Psalm 50:21

Holiness is unnatural to us and that is why we try time after time to bring God down to our level and project our thoughts and our feelings onto Him. God does not want us to stay in our imperfect unholy way of thinking. That is why He rebukes us and sets our sins before our eyes so that we can know what they are and repent of them.

If we refuse to repent, the grim reality is that God will not be able to protect us from Satan’s deceptions since we would be considered his lawful prey. Compromises will be made, sin will be redefined, the Word of God will be explained away, and we will ultimately be deceived by the false New Age Jesus, Satan himself.

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Romans 1:22-25

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12


(Website Editor) #16

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#17

Adventist believe that sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman. This was the design established by God at creation. Throughout Scripture this heterosexual pattern is affirmed. The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or relationships. For these reasons, Seventh-day Adventists are opposed to homosexual practices and relationships. Our outreach to mankind is non-discriminatory. Adventist have in the past and will continue to offer compassion and care to anyone, including persons who are in need of God’s love and desires us to guide them into a saving relationship with Him.


(jeremy) #18

i’m not so sure PUC’s efforts are really so quiet and unnoticed…i see plenty of discussion of it on conservative sites - all the time, and i do mean all the time…i don’t think WO ushers in LGBT acceptance…they may go hand in hand in a few places, but not as a general rule…

i think this was the best moment in this vimeo…food preparation is such an apt metaphor for interacting with people in order to know them…i wonder whether keisha has talked to LGBT adventists who no longer live lives that reference their sexual orientation in any way…i wonder what she thinks of LGBT persons who are completely LGBT expression free…

i feel bad for keisha’s apparent isolation from her family…is this recent…or has it solidified over many yrs…something that i find helpful to keep in mind is that non-LGBT persons, especially family, can opine on LGBT more easily that an LGBT person because they aren’t dealing with the reality of an LGBT sexual orientation…as obvious as this sounds, it’s a humbling and intruiging thing to consider that their opinions may very well be more objective…on the other hand, any solutions they may think to offer are less than meaningless since they have no way to test them themselves…i think it’s important for non-LGBT persons to understand that their views on LGBT aren’t what LGBT persons can use…and it’s up to LGBT persons to make them realize that…in the context of a family, the tension between not being able to be objective, on the one hand, and not being able to be helpful, on the other, produces an interesting dynamic…if it’s managed well, it can mean that the family may have less motivation to split…

i think keisha should go to an adventist church again…i’d be willing to bet she’d be happier there…i find that most people don’t inquire about anyone’s sexual orientation, and when it becomes known, it usually isn’t a problem…even in the case of LGBT expression, i find it hard to believe that anyone would actually be disfellowshipped…people who do know tend to take it in stride…outside of a few extreme conservative churches - that should probably be avoided for reasons besides LGBT - most adventist churches are full of people who have an interest in connecting, which is something keisha seems to really be wanting…i don’t believe someone born and raised in adventism can really be happy, on a heart level, anywhere else…but of course, when one is younger, it’s probably impossible to really see this…but the chickens do come home to roost as one grows older…


(Carolyn Wesner) #19

SOME Adventists believe as you suggest.


(Andrew) #20

I agree that the church should accept and welcome all people where they are and offer them fellowship. Whatever our views of marriage and other issues, there is no room for homophobia or discrimination.
Having said that, I am not sure what the church is to make of bisexuality and the rambling about vegetables and food preparation didn’t offer much substance.
Even if I was to fully embrace homosexuality and agree that committed gay marriage should be embraced by the church and supported, as monogamous loving relationships are in the churches best interests, where does it leave B?
I recall a female SDA minister came out as B in the last year or so and left the church.
Presumably, if someone is B and in a committed marriage relationship, they will always be denying part of their sexual identity and attraction to the opposite sex to their current partner. I am just not sure how a Christian church can ever fully embrace such a situation. What level of support and acceptance should be provided, even with the most understanding of attitudes?
We can talk about cooking and vague reference to understanding the experiences of others, admirable for sure, but what is even the most progressive accommodation supposed to look like?


(Pauluc) #22

Leopold

Not every Adventist is or should be a Westboro Adventist. Some actually are trying to emulate Christ in being redemptive rather than judgemental. Evidence suggests that people who have highly conservative political or religious views are physiologically different to those that take a more progressive view. These differences are most easily evident in startle responses and a conservative tries to make the world friendlier to their physiology. Conservatives like yourself are perhaps made that way from early childhood. Could you as a Westboro Adventist become progressive, loving and empathetic rather than judgemental? Perhaps, but like personality and being gay these things are extremely difficult to change. The analogy of the eye of a needle comes to mind.

I am not sure if you read the SS lesson this week but the model of Church found there in Acts 15 is of accepting precisely the differences that exist and accepting that you can legitimately be a Jew or a Gentile with very different world view and interpretation of Christian practice but we are all one in Christ. We can accept and feel empathetic with those in your natural habitat of Fulcrum 7 but appreciate that there you are speaking to a different demographic than Spectrum where you feel compelled to come to dispense your particular brand of judgement. The new testament church demonstrated a Grace that say both Judaizers and gentiles are part of Gods kingdom.


(Phyllis Dujon) #25

I am trying to be open minded on this subject. If we follow the Bible homosexuality should be condemned. So, how do we love all people regardless of their “sins”? We are all sinners, no one is perfect. I want to show love and respect to all people, regardless of their sexual persuasion. The only way I can do this is by letting God lead me on the path I should take. I have a long way to go before I can honestly and truthfully say that lesbians and gays should hold church office. I believe they should be a part of the church body and should not be ostracized. Perhaps we all should be praying that God will open our eyes that we make the right decisions.


(carlos a molina) #26

It is sad that someone would reject you on the basis of your preferred sin. We all sin but we must love each other. While we are not a perfect church and we all struggle with our sinful human nature, it does not follow that we should accept as members those who choose to continue to live in open rebellion to God’s clear teaching in scripture. We should demonstrate Christ’s love towards you while maintaining the standard of truth.


(George Tichy) #27

You nailed it! We (our intellect) all are mostly the product of two strong influences,

  1. Home, parents, extended family, family church of preference, and
  2. School, teachers, friends, culture, social context.

If a child has the unfortunate bad luck of being affected (victimized) by both 1) and 2) being extremely conservative, fundamentalist, and intolerant - we can easily predict the outcome (though there are some rare exceptions).

Leopold, aka @pagophilus, can certainly look in retrospect to his life and get some clarification on why he is always so extremely bent toward intolerance of variety of thinking/opinions/views/beliefs.

I bet @elmer_cupino can offer some hints to Leopold that may help.


(George Tichy) #28

By “homosexuality,” are you referring to,

  1. BEING homosexual, or
  2. Engaging in homosexual sexual practices?

Please clarify, because there is an immense difference between the two.
I agree with you if you are referring to 2), but cannot include 1) because the individual cannot determine his/her own gender identity. If they are born “gay” they have a much different challenge than the rest of us.