LGBT Youth Despair in Hostile Church Environment

Four professors at Andrews University, feeling that the time was right, teamed up to study the experience of Seventh-day Adventist LGBT+ youth related to coming out to their families. Curtis VanderWaal, chair and professor in the Department of Social Work, along with colleagues in the psychology and religion departments, surveyed hundreds of LGBT+ adults who were raised Adventist. They were shocked by some of the findings.

Look for their article about the survey and its findings in the forthcoming issue of the Spectrum journal.

Question: You have been studying the subject of family acceptance and the “coming out” of LGBT millennials in Adventist homes. You surveyed more than 300 adults ages 18-35 who identified as LGBT+ and were raised in the Adventist church. What did you find? What was the most surprising or compelling finding?

Curt VanderWaal: We are just beginning to analyze the data, but our preliminary findings, which are found in our Spectrum article, have focused mostly on the LGBT+ individuals who experienced varying levels of family acceptance or support, as well as current levels of social support, self-esteem, depression, substance use, risky sexual activity, recent suicidal thoughts and lifetime suicide attempts.

It’s a bit difficult to summarize all that we found since it was a pretty long survey, but our main findings showed generally low levels of family acceptance and support, as well as elevated levels of depression and at-risk thoughts and behaviors, with higher levels among those who experienced high levels of rejection. That said, a high proportion of respondents have retained strong spiritual commitment and moderate church involvement.

The most compelling findings were the rates of suicidal thinking in the past six months (32%) and rates of lifetime suicide attempts (29%). Although we knew from the research literature that suicidal thinking and suicide attempts were much higher among LGBT+ individuals than the general population, we were shocked to find this level of despair among those who had grown up as Adventists. Clearly we need to do more to educate Seventh-day Adventist families and church members about the pain and alienation that a large number of LGBT+ youth face as they grow up and begin to experience their identity. Conversely, we were quite surprised by how many respondents have remained deeply spiritual and have continued their involvement in religious activities. For example, about a third of respondents said they pray daily and participate in religious services on a weekly basis, even though the level of support they feel from their congregations is often quite low.

Was it difficult to find survey respondents?

Curt VanderWaal: Since we (the authors) are all LGBT+ allies rather than members of the LGBT+ community, we knew from the beginning that the only way we would get a significant number of respondents was to work with LGBT+ Adventists and influential allies to spread the word.

The internet makes it easy to send a SurveyMonkey link out in a Facebook post, an email, or a tweet, making potential distribution of the link relatively easy. The hard part is convincing busy people to take 20-30 minutes of their day to answer really difficult questions about painful memories, risky behaviors, and current life situations.

As we created the survey we invited people from conservative, moderate and progressive LGBT+ perspectives to review and provide suggestions on question content and wording. Once we had incorporated their ideas, we asked them to send the link through their social media contacts and also ask those people to forward the link to their friends. In the end we relied on the trust and good will of an amazing group of people who took the risk to answer hard questions without really knowing how their sensitive information and stories would be used.

When did you first conceive of this research and survey? And why? When did you start the project?

Curt VanderWaal: A few well-documented events at Andrews University prompted our university administrators to establish two taskforces in the autumn of 2015. The first taskforce reviewed and updated campus policies relating to LGBT+ issues, with a special focus on developing a recognized LGBT+ support group on campus. The second group, the Teen Homelessness Taskforce, focused on campus education and outreach around vulnerable teens, 30-40% of whom are LGBT. Three of our research group are part of this second taskforce.

Although we had heard many stories from LGBT+ individuals about the difficulties they encountered as they attempted to understand and talk about their orientation or identity with their families, we quickly realized that there was no systematic research on LGBT+ issues within the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Research shows that around 9% of teens in the US are kicked out of their homes when they tell parents about their orientation or identity. We wondered how that statistic compared to the Adventist church (we found the same rate in our study) and decided to develop our own survey to better understand how Adventist families responded when their children disclosed that they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. (We patterned some of our research on the Family Acceptance Project, a group that has worked with the Mormon church to create better relationships between LGBT children and their families. Their focus is to downplay theological issues and focus on loving and accepting children, even if they don’t understand or approve of their child’s orientation or identity.)

We began developing our survey early in 2016 and began circulating drafts around to selected LGBT students, their parents, and various LGBT allies and leaders. We were careful to include a representative from one conservative Adventist LGBT+ organization and kept our very supportive senior-level university administrators in the loop every step of the way. After about three months of survey development, we collected data between July and October 2016.

Did most of the individuals who completed the survey feel rejected when they came out to their families? Or accepted? Did it vary by culture/ethnicity? Age? Are parents becoming more accepting?

Shannon Trecartin: Coming out is a really hard and complex process for most LGBT individuals. Many come out to some people but not to others, or they come out at different times to different people.

For those Adventist LGBT individuals who had already come out, about 85% said they did not feel comfortable coming out to their parents, while 11% said that they were comfortable. Those who were uncomfortable often had their fears confirmed. More than two-thirds (69%) said that their parents were disappointed in them when they came out. About 16% were not sure whether their parents were disappointed or not. Not surprisingly, 20% of the people we surveyed had not even told their parents and others had told one parent but not the other one. This finding was similar across ethnicities and age categories with no significant differences between groups.

We cannot say whether parents are becoming more accepting or rejecting in the moment their child comes out. However, when the respondents elaborated in a short answer format, they were able to describe their ongoing relationships with parents. For some, relationships with parents improved over time. Other individuals described being able to reach a point of tolerance, while others described achieving parental acceptance. A few described their relationships with parents as being actively supportive from the time they came out.

We saw the greatest difference when we compared respondents by the degree of religious/spiritual family upbringing on accepting and rejecting variables. For our sample, a significantly higher percentage of respondents who reportedly grew up in families that were very religious/spiritual reported that their parents struggled to accept their sexual orientation/ gender identity (84%) compared to those who grew up in families that were not religious or were somewhat religious/ spiritual (75%). Practically speaking, though, the majority of families struggled regardless of degree of reported religiosity/spirituality.

How does family acceptance/rejection for LGBT+ individuals differ in the Adventist population from the general LGBT population?

David Sedlacek: The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at San Francisco State University studied family acceptance and rejection among 13 to 18 year old LGBT+ children. Over 50 variables were used to examine family acceptance or rejection. Only a small sample of these variables were released to the public so we aren’t entirely sure how Adventists compare to the general population.

Without the benefit of knowing all of the variables measured in the Family Acceptance Project, we developed over 30 acceptance and rejection variables in consultation with a wide range of members of the LGBT+ community. Many of these variables were unique to individuals with a Christian belief system, so it is not possible to accurately compare the rates of family acceptance/rejection between studies.

That said, we do have one comparable statistic from the general population: our research shows that Seventh-day Adventist LGBT youth were kicked out of their homes at a comparable rate to LGBT individuals in the general population (9% in both groups). Again, we can’t make comparisons in other areas because the data is not available.

Are rates of depression and suicide higher among LGBT+ individuals from Adventist homes than in the general population?

David Sedlacek: Yes they are. About 6.7% of the general population meets the criteria for clinical depression in a given year. We know that depression is multi-dimensional and our study used a survey that measures nine dimensions of depression. Thirty percent of our sample experienced low energy and sleep difficulties and around 20% reported appetite problems, feeling bad or like a failure, and trouble concentrating. Between 10-16% experienced some of the more severe symptoms of depression such as anhedonia (lack of pleasure), feeling down or hopeless, or reporting moving and speaking slowly. While a total depression score has not yet been aggregated and analyzed for our study, the responses to these questions are well above the 6.7 percent of the general US population. This is consistent with previous research that suggests that LGBT persons are 5.9 times more likely to be depressed than persons in the general population.

The Center for Disease Control reports that an estimated 9.3 million adults (3.9% of the adult U.S. population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year. Lifetime suicide attempts for the general population average 4.6%. LGBT young persons are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-LGBT individuals.

In our study, we asked three questions relating to suicidality. Almost one-third (31.7%) of respondents said they had thoughts of suicide or thoughts of ending their life during the past six months. This is over eight times the rate of suicide thoughts in the general population. Almost one-third (29.0%) had made a suicide attempt at some point in their life. This is over six times the national average. Of this group, almost a third (29.5%) said that their suicidal thoughts or attempt(s) were related to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

These statistics should be a wake-up call to the church that an extremely high proportion our LGBT+ youth are in serious distress, some of which is related to rejecting behaviors from Adventist families and the churches they attend.

What lessons can the Adventist church learn from your research?

Nancy Carbonell: First, we learned that there are a cluster of attitudes and behaviors that appear to contribute to an unreceptive and hostile environment for LGBT+ youth when they come out to their parents and community. Some of these factors, reported by a high number of participants, included: fear of coming out (85%); feeling like their parents struggled to accept their identity (82%); believing that their parents’ religious beliefs made it difficult to accept their sexual identity (82.4%); fear of being seen as “disgusting” and “sinful” to their parents (75.8%); religious beliefs that triggered feelings of guilt and shame (75.2%); feeling like they disappointed their parents because they came out (70%); not assured of parents’ love after coming out (67%); seeing that one or more of their parents responded as if their sexual orientation and/or gender identity was a poor reflection on them (65.8%); finding that parents were not open to finding ways to support their coming out (64%); fearing they would be disowned by their parents (57.2%); noticing that parents did not listen attentively when they came out (51.2%); and having parents forbid them to tell others of their sexual orientation or gender identity (42.8%). There is no doubt that LGBT+ adults often see their parents, home and churches as very rejecting places, making coming out or understanding their sexual orientation or gender identity extremely difficult for the majority of these young people.

Second, we learned that this non-affirming, sometimes hostile, environment has often led to serious consequences: it was too unsafe to come out and thus continue to live hidden in the closet (20%); they were not taken for counseling to get help in understanding and accepting their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (85.4%); and, as noted above, almost a third had thoughts of suicide during the past six months or had made an unsuccessful suicide attempt at some point in their life. Because of the high number of participants who attempted suicide at some point in their life, it gives us pause to think how many were successful and thus are no longer with us to respond to this survey!

Third, while many of our LGBT+ youth reported having a friend that they could share their joys and sorrows with (70%), less found this support from their parents (34.2%), few found support from their pastor (11.9%), and even fewer found their congregation as an important source of support (9.3%). Our homes, schools and churches are not generally seen as safe spaces.

What can the church do to support families and LGBT+ individuals?

Nancy Carbonell: Recently, Dr. Richard Hart, President of Loma Linda University Health, stated in a presidential communication that our knowledge about sexual identity is changing so rapidly that it requires a paradigm shift on how we should understand and respond to our LGBT+ youth. We agree.

The best place to start would be for all of us — youth, parents, church members, teachers, pastors and church leaders — to become better informed about recent findings and studies of human sexuality and gender identity. The confusion, rejection and the level of hostility suggest that a lack of information and/or misinformation about human sexuality lies at the center of this problem.

After gaining this clearer understanding, our church leadership could use this information to develop new resources that would help and support family members, friends, church members and pastors to provide a more loving and friendly environment to our LGBT+ young people and their families.

Informed pastors and teachers could lead in the development of two different compassionate spaces: first, one where we listen and dialogue with our LGBT+ youth as they seek to learn and understand more about their sexuality; and second, one where we provide a listening ear and support to the parents and families of LGBT+ youth as they sort through the fears and concerns about the present and future well-being of their LGBT+ young person. Teaching parents how to listen carefully and non-judgmentally while their LGBT child shares their pain and confusion will help the child feel safe and supported while they explore their identity.

Do you still have work to do on the project, or putting the findings together? Are you presenting the data to any official church entities?

David Sedlacek: We are still in the very preliminary stages of data analysis. What we have been reporting to date are basic frequencies and percentages. Our ultimate goal is to analyze more specifically whether real or perceived of rejection of LGBT+ youth results in higher rates of depression, suicidality, substance abuse, unprotected sexual activity as well as lower levels of self-esteem and social support.

We plan to complete the data analysis and to write articles for church publications as well as professional journals in order to disseminate this information. We will recommend to church leadership that they use this research as a springboard for the development of resources that could be helpful to members of the church in various capacities. We have already made our preliminary findings available to several North American Division and General Conference officials and some have expressed cautious interest in exploring next steps for support and further dissemination of materials.

What research in this area still needs to be undertaken? Are there upcoming projects you are planning?

Shannon Trecartin: Currently, we are focusing on the short qualitative responses we collected in our survey, as these stories will help add depth and richness to our understanding of the experiences of Adventist LGBT+ persons. Their stories are important for teaching us about what it is like to be in their position, and how we can better support them through their journey.

In addition, we are in the process of analyzing the variables that measured acceptance and rejection through the use of factor analysis. Once this is complete, we will look at relationships between family acceptance/rejection and outcomes like depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, as well as religious and spiritual practices in later life.

Finally, we hope to conduct a similar study with parents of LGBT+ children to better understand their experiences and perceptions, and identify promising avenues of support.

How is the landscape changing for people who identify as LGBT+ in the Adventist church? What changes do you see happening in the next 20 years?

Curt VanderWaal: In 2013 the Pew Research Center conducted a survey with almost 1,200 LGBT adults. Four in 10 (39%) said they had, at some point in their lives been rejected by a family member or close friend because of their orientation or identity and 29% said they had been made to feel unwelcome in a place of worship. However, almost all (92%) of these same respondents also said that society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and the same number expect society to become even more accepting in the decade ahead.

This optimism seems to be borne out in more recent 2014 Pew Research Center study, which finds that over half (54%) of US Christians say that homosexuality should be accepted, rather than discouraged, by society. While the highest rates of acceptance are coming from Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, Evangelical church members have increased acceptance levels from 26% to 36% between 2007 and 2014. This trend is partly driven by younger church members who are generally more accepting of LGBT individuals than older church members. We know from surveys of Millennials, including those in our own church, that a major reason for leaving the church is frustration with the church’s lack of tolerance toward LGBT+ individuals. That said, levels of acceptance have increased across all age groups, driven in part by more people knowing and interacting with someone who is LGBT, a better understanding of what it means to be LGBT, and advocacy by public figures across the social, political and religious landscape.

The Adventist church is grappling with these issues along with the rest of society. We have LGBT members in our churches and homes too. In fact, in another recent study (soon to be released) researchers from Washington Adventist University and Andrews University surveyed over 1,600 US Adventists and found that 84% had a friend, colleague, or family member who is LGBT. The more church members interact with LGBT individuals, the better they will understand them and the more they will recognize that there’s nothing to fear.

Listening to their stories, we speculate that more and more church members will appreciate that loving unconditionally does not necessarily mean feeling pressured to give up their own values, perceptions, and theological understandings, but that it is rather a love that chooses to actively strive for the well-being of another.

It will take some time to work through the differences in theology, and those differences may never be fully reconciled, but more and more people are choosing to focus on trying to hear each other and figure out how to create safe spaces where everyone feels respected and loved. In the end, that’s what Christ calls us to do — to love generously and freely, knowing that we all are sinners who are saved by God’s grace.

Top picture (left to right): Nancy Carbonell is associate professor in the Department of Graduate Psychology and Counseling, Curtis VanderWaal is chair of the Department of Social Work, Shannon Trecartin is assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, David Sedlacek is professor of family ministry and discipleship in the Department of Discipleship and Religious Education.

An article about the survey and its findings will appear in the forthcoming issue of the Spectrum journal.

If you respond to this article, please:
Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7917
1 Like

There is nothing new in this report!

Renée Drumm, PHD. former sociology professor at Southern Adventist,
many years ago, wrote her doctoral dissertation on Adventism and the way the church harms its LGBT offspring.

Parts of her dissertation were published in Spectrum magazine at that time.

Doctor Drumm detailed the shaming, the shunning, the demeaning, the denigration, the demonization, the discrimination
and the overt MEANESS and hatefulness that congregations, families, academies and colleges heaped on our LGBT youth.

No wonder the incidence of depression and suicide attempts are harrowing!

Where is Christian love in all of this?

That years after Professor Drumm’s findings, conditions remain unchanged in Adventism, is egregious, abysmal and inexcusable!

All young people need a strong sense of self esteem, self worth and a good self image. When these are deliberately destroyed by their churches and families, no wonder the suicide rate escalates.

I do not believe that any LGBT Adventist young person should be enrolled in our Adventists schools, until this TOXIC, destructive, and unacceptable church attitude to gays/.lesbians is repudiated and replaced.

They would be more psychologically protected at the nearest ( and cheaper )
public school/college.

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I just have heard rabble in semons and read the vey in “Signs of the Times” and our “Adventist World” -the audirtorium / the readers embarrassed and applauding. And only partial and selected qotations from Plato ( What about Diotima ?) and others of that time ; wow, those heahen, horribe !! Bt the minste had “studied” the matter - and, wehn asked, had never n his if orcareer hav an encoutwth a a hmosexua !

So, and what about the closet homosexual, in a camuflage hetesexual marriage, in chrch at prayer meeting and Sabbath worship ?

What about his feelings, when he experiences the hatred at oncne stirrend up ?

Lack of integrty, WHO ß

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I am not sure what the authors are trying to get at ! Yes we must support our children ,who are LGBTQ , more. It is the love of God that supports us all. To be open, accepting, and welcoming is the Christian thing to do . ARE THE AUTHORS SUGGESTING THAT CHURCH POLICY , AND DOCTRINES CHANGE TO SUIT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY ? Is homosexuality still considered a sin ? Or will it in the future , be considered a sin ? The church will split down the middle if it is left up in the air, that anything goes . We must hold the line on the love of Christ. All are welcomed. Come as you are , but you can’t remain as you are . We all must experience that change . It is the power of the Holy Spirit that brings the Life of Christ to us . If Christ be lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself . Let us submit ourselves to Christ as the example that we all most follow. Are the authors suggesting , hypothetically , that if marriage was a key variable that made those who are LGBTQ feel more comfortable and accepted in our churches , that our doctrine on marriage should change to reflect this ? I wish one of the authors would answer that for me . Let’s just put our cards on the table , and talk Thus said the Lord. Email mail me if you must : rodneybdasmith@gmail.com

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Thank you for the insight and conversation.

It seems to me that the article mainly addressed the individual’s families responses and atmosphere.

I am interested in the individual’s treatment specifically by their local congregational family. How did the congregation treat them? How did their own pastor treat them? Were they accepted, supported, and loved - and to what degree? How were they mistreated, abused, and not loved?

As a pastor, I want to know how they are treated by their “extended Christian family.”

7 Likes

Was this the theme and focus of recent LGBT conferences convened in South Africa and Andrews University Seminary?

When can such a research-based, factual conference focusing on our church to address suicide, shunning, rejection and stories of real people to teach us what it is like to wear their shoes?

Today’s Adventist churches need guidelines, leadership, and strong support for teaching their congregations how to love instead of what a recent poster said here at Spectrum: they should “go back into the closet.”

12 Likes

I’m shocked that the professors were shocked.

The SDA church is decidedly unchristian in its dealings with the LGBTQ community. This is not news to anyone who is paying attention.

You can murder someone and remain a member, but if you love the “wrong” person, that’s a different matter. What sense does that make?

The justification for this sounds just like the justifications the church has held, but now largely abandoned, against marrying outside of the church and inter-racial marriage. 60 years ago the bible clearly condemned such things. Now, somehow, we have nearly forgotten how to misuse the bible to justify prejudice against inter-faith and inter-race marriages, but we can still find a way to use it to deride the LGBTQ community.

Medical science has determined in the last ~20 years that a person’s sexual orientation is in-born. For the believer, this means that God created us the way we are, in this respect as well as all others. To then turn around and try to change it or vilify it is dishonest. Never mind immoral and anti-christian.

10 Likes

This is nothing new. It’s like “let’s study WO” again and again and again. Kick the can down the street for as long as we can so we don’t have to face our prejudice and hate.
Ask yourself (you white people). If you adopted a black child would you have friends that were members of the KKK? Even if they said they “loved” you.
No one with a LGTB+ child should expose that child to the SDA church or it’s schools for that is a sure way to have a child on the bring of suicide when she/he hears someone saying that they are an “abomination”.
Forget the studies. Accept the science. Forget about the few unclear biblical reference about homosexuallity except to realize people have been born that way since the beginning of time.

11 Likes

Thanks for doing the study and for analyzing the results. Yes, this is nothing new for any of us. It is a tired subject that is costing the lives of so many members. But it is better being a repeat of previous findings than to just continue sweeping the topic and its LGBTQ members under the carpet and forget about them. It is time to DO something about it. Hopefully this study will be much better than the last study that Andrews published in a book and was a big failure.
I want to think that in 10 years this has been settled and the church is no longer grappling with this topic, but when we look at how many years Adventism has tried to ignore it, it doesn’t look very promising.
The comment about those who are hiding in a heterosexual marriage and sitting through anti-LGBTQ sermons is quite on target. Being in the closet takes a toll on the person and on the family if they know and are helping to keep the secret. So although the 35 and under age range is very important, this topic affects all age ranges, genders as well as long time and newly converted Adventists. At some point the breaking point comes for each of us.

10 Likes

To the contrary.

What is needed is to educate our church leaders instead, beginning with the GC officers, EXCOMM and BRI then on down the hierarchy ladder. You’d be surprised how many church members blindly follow church leaders. To make it more effective, the church can publish a new EGW compilation such as “Messages to LGBTs” similar to “Messages to Young People” to focus on how a Christian LGBT should conduct themselves in the modern world, clearly a win-win situation for all.

Dream on.

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God loves never changes. My Behavior doesn’t affect the way he loves me.Why Can we as a church be more like Jesus ?

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To those who have noted that there is “nothing new” in this research, it may be important to place the study in a wider perspective. The Drumm study (referenced above) was a qualitative work that included 37 participants, most of whom were associated with a single organization, Kinship. The Andrews study is a largely quantitative work that encompasses over 300 LGBT+ young adults from a wide cross-section of Adventist contexts. It was made possible by the growing visibility and accessibility of Adventist LGBT+ individuals. Studies like the Family Acceptance Project, have already established the broad outlines of the Andrews results within the general population as well as the Mormon population. However, I think the hope of the Andrews researchers is to provide the Adventist church with specific data about its own young people. There is a great amount of denial still within the denomination about the negative impact resulting from our rejection of Adventist LGBT+ children. We always believe that Adventists are somehow different or immune. The intention here is to specifically profile the Adventist situation and hopefully break through the dismissive attitudes that exist among some church leaders and members. Of course, as already evidenced on this thread, no amount of data (even some of the heart-breaking qualitative data that will be forthcoming) will ever be enough to change the hearts and minds of some Adventists. Nevertheless, the experience and voices of Adventist LGBT+ young people deserve to be heard through detailed research and in-depth storytelling. My own view is that this data–drawn from within our own Adventist family–creates a moral imperative to which the church must respond. The fact that there is only “cautious interest” in these results on the part of church leaders is disappointing but perhaps to be expected. After all, many of the presentations from the Cape Town conference have been suppressed and may never be read by the church at large. Hopefully, this study will find its way to a wider audience.

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Thanks for the background on Dr. Drumm’s study. Yeah, 37 is a pretty small population which leaves the study open to potentially errant data. However, I wouldn’t fault her to seek Kinship members for her study as this is a population of Adventists that have already ‘outed’ themselves.
This Andrews study has a much broader population and benefits from a collaborative effort to help to this study to be as objective as they were able. So it will be interesting to see the compilation of their study.
Sadly, in the overall church’s perspective, these are cutting-edge research projects but at least these are projects which hopefully will expand into further studies. These are not looking to discover who is right or wrong but the reality of the LGBT+ experience within the church.
It saddens me how many members in my area are so flagrantly homophobic and Islamaphobic. I’ve learned not to engage them other than asking them to think about their statements each time they sing They WIll Know Us By Our Love. If I get hit with a clobber text, I ask them to consider that thought in the context of Romans 1.
Even though I had read the clobber texts and struggle with whether or not it is sin. But after a showing of Seventh Gay Adventists it ended any need to study it out. Simply asking myself WWJD which gave me my spiritual answer. Also reminding me to focus on what I do about my own sins instead of worrying about others. And over time, I realized to put any effort into the debate is really showing a distrust of God’s power to be able to determine if it’s an issue and if it needs correction.

6 Likes

When Jesus was here, all he told his first disciples was “Come, and see”.
Not too long before he was led away to go through the Crucifixion process he told
Peter, "… When you are Converted."
Even Judas at one time had the power given him to cast out devils, heal the sick,
raise the dead.
Even though the 12 were “not converted” they were treated like equals with Christ.
Give the same power he had – forgive sins, heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the
dead.
It seems so SIMPLE for one to say, "Come, and see. [Come, and hear] [Come, and
do]"
But for us Seventh day Adventists from the General Conference to the Local Church
pastor and member, being willing to say, ONLY THESE THREE WORDS, is the most
difficult three words to say to anyone that we consider “sinners”.
Yes, Jesus welcomed 12 unconverted persons for 3 1/2 years to journey with him, eat
what he ate, sleep where he slept, bathe where he bathed. Gave them all his power,
all his authority.
We can’t even welcome some to be our neighbor in the pew. Much less give them all
the power and authority to participate in ALL the activities of our Local Church group.
Jesus said, "…WHEN you are Converted."
173 years. And Adventism is STILL NOT CONVERTED.

PS-- Is There No More Lounge???

Edit-- on another page, Pres. Jackson’s meeting is posted.
In it he says GL’s will NOT BE ALLOWED to BECOME MEMBERS, but they can FELLOWSHIP.
THIS is a Very Hostile statement!! There CAN BE NOT Fellowship without FULL Membership for
any one, Hetero or Homo [GL]. IF one is NOT a Full Member of the local congregation one IS NOT
ALLOWED to have any Church Office and NOT assist with the operation of the church programs.
CANNOT be a Deacon, Elder, help with Adult or Children Sabbath School, probably NOT called
to the “platform”.
All that is allowed is warming a pew seat for 180 minutes on Sabbath. That is IT!!
THAT is NOT FELLOWSHIP!! It is a hostile slap for President Jackson to even suggest this!

Esp. when the Sunday church down the street Welcomes All and is ALL inclusive in its activities.

8 Likes

Great to see this research taking place. I can only wish the results would sink in deeply where it needs to penetrate the most.

This might be organized by a courageous group at an SDA university, but it won’t be well attended.

It ain’t gonna happen at the denominational level with the current GC makeup. Science is irrelevant to this group unless it can be harnessed to support its views, as in recent GC/uber-donor-organized meetings to promote so-called “creation science” (an oxymoron in my opinion, though I’m a believer).

The recent GC-organized South Africa conference failed to include any presentations by those who pay close attention to the biology of sexual differentiation, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

It would be nice if we were known as “the Church that really loves Jesus.” When was the last time anyone heard this description of us from an outsider?

11 Likes

As I understand the position of the LGBT community any attempt at change is close to life threatening . the same stance is taken by the Church, to change its dogma is to threaten its very existence, Thus the impass. Frankly what saving merit is found in having ones name on the Church books? Please no lament, find a church where you are accepted, hopefully you will find saving Grace.

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Hey Robert,
Two examples at the extreme ends. I know one gay couple, together many years, totally accepted and taking full part in their local SDA church. I know of another gay SDA who was outed by another member and immediately, without opportunity even to speak, dis-fellowshipped by his local pastor. I fall between the two extreme. When I came out to my local church (~8 years ago) it almost split apart. We all struggled and anguished but never fought. I remain a member, but one who is barred from taking any active part in worship/SS etc. I hang in there largely because of the amazing support of the majority of the members despite an occasionally vociferous outpouring from the minority opposition.
If you (and others) are interested please see an article I wrote last year entitled “When reality confronts ideology - My experience as a Gay Christian” at http://understandingtheology.org/2016/10/when-reality-confronts-ideology-my-experience-as-a-gay-christian/ Thank you for reading…

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I can heartily sympathize with Robin. But, things don’t just change overnight! I am deeply thankful for Rene’ Drumm’s pioneering research! I have done some research myself that was reported here, but can’t find it now. It has been 27 years since we learned that one of our sons is gay, and all I can say after reading this article is:

                                PRAISE GOD!

To me, this looks like a real sea-change in out NAD Church’s attitude toward this topic. I am thankful to have known and worked with a wonderful minority of pastors, educators, editors and church leaders through the past 27 years, but to see this kind of work being done at AU by respected professors makes me feel very hopeful and happy! Yes, I am deeply sad about those who have taken their lives or left the church because of rejection, but I believe God knows their hearts and their experiences and will judge accordingly. I can only hope God will judge those responsible with equal mercy.

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I have to hand it to you Mike for hanging in there. I found it more spiritually and emotionally damaging to stay, so I quit going to the SDA church about a year after I came out. A humiliating experience that happened to me last summer at campmeeting was the last straw. After decades of faithfulness to my wife and church, when she left me 2 years ago, I finally came out. There is something very emotionally draining and physically exhausting living with a secret, knowing you are one piece of information away from people who have supported and loved you suddenly thinking completely different about you. While I met no open hostility toward me, it was clear that I was to be marginalized by the leadership. Our small church shared a minister with another congregation, so I had been frequenetly asked to preach on Sabbath morning when he wasn’t there. That all ended. Several months later when I inquired about preaching, I was told the church couldn’t allow an openly gay man to be up front. My lifestyle hadn’t changed except I no longer had a wife. My offense seemed to be that I went to Kinship campmeeting.

In many ways I still identify as SDA, and I have not withdrawn my membership. Mike, you mentioned that a gay SDA member who was outed was disfellowshipped by his local pastor. A pastor does not have the authority to do this. Only the church membership, by a vote in a business meeting, has the power to remove a persons name from membership. Thanks for the link about your experience as a gay christian.

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Please remember that a parent’s ability to be objective and rational is easily overpowered by emotion and loyalty. This is why a parent wouldn’t be allowed to participate in evaluating their own child in some sort of contest, or competition. A parent is assumed to have a conflict of interest, be unable to separate emotion and logic, and will not be allowed to sit on their child’s jury, for example.

Almost all parents are stridently against teen drinking and driving and ask for justice until it is their OWN child. I just spoke to a friend of mine who is a Sgt. at a local PD. He told me some unbelievable stories about how parents will go through great lengths to insulate their own child from getting caught for DUI. They will transport them from the scene, clean out the evidence from the wreck, lie as to their whereabouts. On and on.

We need to be careful as parents that we are aware of our bias. The church cannot lower her standards in an attempt to overlook the shortcomings of the favored sons and daughters. I’m not talking about SSA, I’m talking about our children who are in openly homosexual relationships. We have to follow God’s Word, God’s Wisdom, not our parental emotions.

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