Letters to Lucinda

Today I, Kendra Arsenault, am tackling a controversial question. However, it’s not so much an answer that we’re going to arrive at, but a journey we’re going to go on. Was EGW an LGBTQ? Now for those of you listening who are not familiar with Adventist history, I apologize. She was a historical figure in the founding of the Adventist church. I’m not unaware of how negatively and even unfavorably just asking this question might be received. But I really believe it’s important to ask questions, even the questions you think you shouldn’t ask. I recently gave this presentation at the Kinship Kampmeeting, and it all started when I Googled a single question, as I often do, “Was Ellen White an LGBTQ?”  For those who may be wary that I’m even asking the question, let me assure you, the results are inconclusive. Culture and language, and expressions of self-identity have drastically changed since the 1840s. So we have to do a bit of time traveling to explore 19th-century same-gendered relationships. While there are no hard claims made at anything, I do investigate a series of private letters that reveal a not-so-public truth. So if you’re interested in going on a journey, buckle up because it’s a wild ride.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11903

Thank you for the letters you shared. I was unaware of how troubled EGW’s marriage was to her husband. It seems that she could not even pray with James and did not even want to listen to his claims that, she was inspired by the wrong spirit. Her troubled marriage no doubt the results of years of unsolved conflicts.

EGW seemed to solve their marriage differences by staying away long periods of time, instead of “in love” and prayer working through the issues that separated them. She chose to not be troubled by his presence, even though he requested her to come to him. This appears to me to be a self-centered approach. She had thousands of pages of advice to others on love and marriage, a whole book called “Adventist Home.” However she did not care to listen to James’ advice to her.

Another issue was that EGW believed her work in writing was more important then her marriage. She failed to place love in marriage as primacy importance. She failed to trust in God to provide a way to restore peace and love into her marriage. She could have by her long absences placed James in great temptation to a more warm and loving woman. It seems that her “work” not her marriage was more important.

I am glad that my wife never took that approach in our marriage.

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Very interesting peek into the culture and society that EGW lived in.
Although I am grateful for the Conflict of Ages books, I have been baffled by what seems to be a lot of contradictory statements in the letters and advice that she has given- though I’ve only read a small portion of what she has written.

For instance, in many of EGW’s writings she seems to encourage people to avoid sentimentality. The letters concerning Lucinda was some of the mushiest stuff I’ve heard. So much yearning and pining.

Regarding EGW’s marriage troubles-it seems that a lot of problems they had could have been smoothed over if they just had sexual relations more often. Of course, Mr.James White had a stroke and EGW expressed a lot of concern about draining vital forces but maybe having more sex would have improved his mood. I mean that in a totally egalitarian way.

Regarding same sex attraction in the EGW era- it was sad for both parties involved when people were pressured into marriages with people they weren’t able to love in a marital way.

The repression of that time caused problems. People seemed to find covert ways to fufill their sexual desires. Take John H. Kellogg for instance- a man who didn’t seem mentally healthy enough to have a romantic relationship with anyone. I believe that he had some repressed homosexual feelings which led to some of his attitudes and behaviors including his fixation on yogurt enemas.

And then there was the ‘hysteria’ diagnosis for the women of that era- with the treatments administered not only by men but also by women. Did EGW ever mention that in any of her writings?

If anyone has a link for any YouTube videos where EGW’s more obsure writings about things that disturbed her are translated to what they mean in a modern context please post!

I think one of the things people don’t think about is that EGW was probably a hard person to live with and always thought she was right. I think the fact that she was not always right is her treatment of Dr. Kellog. So James might have been nasty, but very likely EGW was as nasty. Also realize that marriage for love was not really a thing too much in the world before really the 20th century. So that two people don’t get along that well is not unusual and if they had the ability living separately was a great alternative. No need at all to assume LGBT stuff.

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I’m not a fan of EGW. The conclusions drawn however - hinted at really with so many “we cannot knows…” are based on too meager evidence and too much conjecture.

A woman pouring out her private frustrations to another woman during a difficult time in her marriage is more likely just that. James may have been difficult, older, unwell. Ellen, strong-willed, on a mission, might not be easy to live with either.

We are not getting an unbiased analysis of the letters. There is too much I’m afraid of Ms Arsenault looking to find but not quite finding what she wants to see.

Occam’s Razor

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I guess EGW is another name to add to the list of supposedly LGBTQ people like David, Jonathan, Paul, John, Jesus, the centurion in the gospel, etc…

Well, at least she will be in good company…

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Whether she was or she wasn’t who knows; but what disturbs me here was an oblique comment about Ellen having a regular visitor (a guide/helper)? What’s that about? Anybody.

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Elisha had Gehazi as a regular visitor/guide/helper, and Paul apparently had an entire entourage who seemed to go their separate ways quite frequently…i’m not sure we need to read anything into that…

Where are you getting this from?

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That could be the fallen Prince of heaven!

Her marital problem only shows us that she is not to be projected as a role model wife, mother, and most of all, a spiritual guide. She needed a change of attitude

Is there any discussion about this visitor/helper mentioned anywhere else? It seems I’ve heard this before but never paid any attention to it. If she had visits by any sort of “spirit guide” …??

Yes, I do have referrences of these mysterious visitors.

where am i getting what from…

“Paul apparently had an entire entourage who seemed to go their separate ways quite frequently…”

I thought I heard a mention of a “helper” other than Lucinda. I tried to find it without listening to the whole thing, but that’s hard to do. Did I imagine it? Some non-material entity.

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I don’t know what the podcast was referring to, but EGW speaks frequently about “my Guide” who showed her things.

In the night season I was taken by my Guide from place to place, from city to city, in the South. I saw the great work to be done - that which ought to have been done years ago. [36]

There was a spirit of strife and contention among them, as to which should be the greatest. The spirit was similar to that manifested in the ball games on the College grounds. Said my Guide, "These things are an offense to God** …

There are others as well.

She also has a lot of “her accompanying angel” showing her all kinds of things. :upside_down_face:

Thats correct.

If you put ‘my guide’ into the search bar on the EGW writings website, it will show references to what you are probably mentioning.

Yes, I guess that’s what I was remembering. I’m just having a hard time justifying these series of “guides” like those Russian dolls, one inside the other, starting with God, followed by Jesus - followed by the HS, who/which needs another guide (her helper) to reach EGW; and the last in the series is us - everything finally coming through Ellen - which kinda makes her the final say for us.

It’s not that complicated for me. There is God and He reaches us through His Spirit - Jesus being the human form of God.

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I agree with you, Sirje. Her “Guide” and “accompanying angel” sure told her a bunch of nonsense and unbiblical ideas. Let’s not forget “the green cord dream”. :thinking: :woman_facepalming: :upside_down_face: