Open Letter to the Church from a 19-Year-Old

Tomorrow is my 19th birthday. I have lived 19 years in a society formed around using God's word to keep others down. I have had to make my way through years of being surrounded by people muttering homophobic and misogynistic comments and from an early age I was trained to second guess every decision I made, to censor my true feelings and opinions that happened to be contrary to community beliefs, to hide who I truly was in order to conform, and to hate the part of me that was so unforgivable and disgusting to my elders and peers. I was taught that I could be anything I wanted, except for a pastor, because Paul said so.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Kari, as someone who went to church with your parents when you were a little girl, I just want to apologize for the pain you felt and say that you have always been a beautiful child of God and you are just as beautiful and precious to Jesus as ever!


Kari, you have expressed yourself well and thank-you for sharing your personal story. You have hit upon most all of the points that postmoderns say that is so unattractive within the SDA church. I know, myself, because I have experienced most of what you speak of as a female raised in the Adventist church though not of your generation.

The question comes down to: Is the church going to listen and make changes or is it going to continue to preserve itself? If it continues to “preserve” itself then many like yourself will not see it as “Christian” and walk out the doors never to return. Postmoderns long for authenticity and if they don’t find/experience it…then they will seek it elsewhere.


One among thousands in the Western world. A lot of us were or still are. My experience is that teens are not interested in theology, “right beliefs” or adventist history. And they are just rejected by orthodox lifestyle. As you say, teens need acceptance and a warm, loving atmosphere within a christian community. They will always remember what they felt within the church. Most teens want - and so wanted I - to accept Jesus, not that artificial institution called a church. To discuss the fundamental beliefs with a teen is pointless. Teens decide for baptism not because of the church, but despite of it. But there may be exceptions, I guess. Maybe we should use our resources to just tell people about God and what Jesus means to us, not fighting against our past, bad feelings and wrong adventist theology. Sometimes I feel so stuck in my struggle with the SDA church that I forget about others who need to be saved. The fruits of wanting to be right seems not to be of devine origin. Because Jesus is the truth, but no fundamental beliefs.


One of the difficult realities of this story is that the church can be right and still lose, and the church can be wrong and still lose.


You have incapsulated the issue, krisspeters…each individual needs to decide for themselves is it worth being a member or not. You can still be a Christian without being an Adventist but many still stay for the tangibles of social networks, etc.


Several SdA have similarly expressed to me sorrow at the damage the SdA do to its members.

I must admit, it was not very consoling given the magnitude of the damage. Especially since it came from people who were not visibly active in opposing the ongoing damaging activities.


Because self esteem is so very important to a young person’s well being
and being loved and accepted are vital, how tragic for you!
I have often said that a young gay/lesbian person is better being born into an
Atheist/Agnostic family, who accepts them for themselves, than to be born into
a hostile, harsh, judgemental, condemning Adventist home!
And these condemning Adventist homes are compounded by
unaccepting churches and Adventist schools.
(Altho we must admit there is intense gay bullying at public schools also!)
What a tragic commentary on our denomination!
We should all be ashamed and embarrassed, but I do not see anything
changing soon as long as the current church administration is in power.
I recommend going to the best local public university, where you can get
in-state tuition, and where you will be so much more accepted than at our
homophobic Adventist colleges.
You need to heal the hurt in a more trusting and accepting environment!


So the ages old conundrum. A disagreement. 1. What to do? Look at the bible. It doesnt show homosexuality as a positive acceptable alternative. Return to step 1. What to do. If you endorse the bibles view then you are…how was it put? “…homophobia, misogynism, and bigotry being spouted (at them) under the guise of being God’s loving words.”?
So if you dont endorse the bibles view that makes one more enlightened on the issue?
“Please, dear Church, move forward. Step into the light and realize that God is all about love, love for everyone. Love in the form of acceptance and celebration. Love in the form of of a safe haven and a warm hug. Love in the form that God meant it to be in the first place.”

There was a disagreement in heaven. I dont find God accepting and celebrating that disagreement. Everything in the statement is true, except Love in the form of acceptance and celebration. When God comes will he be Lov(ing) in the form of acceptance and celebration?
From what I read it will be a time where the chaff will be separated from the wheat. That chaff can be any of 100’s of issues. None necessarily higher on the ick scale than the other but in the end they are all still chaff.


And some people wonder why some of us are such animal lovers. I have a nice collection of Guinea pigs, rats, snakes, tarantulas, etc. None of them are judgmental and my Guinea Pigs are always warm and cuddly. I know Kari understands this too. I just thought this conversation needed a little lightening up. :yellow_heart: :blue_heart: :purple_heart: :green_heart: :heart:


This is increasingly true as Kari Ann states re: homophobia & misogynism—but, not just for young members. Unlike previous generations for whom distancing from the church was unthinkable, more will be asking themselves if it does deserve their energy & thoughts.

For those who may be upset at my stating so, please remember that killing the messenger doesn’t change the reality. And calling it “Shaking” doesn’t change the tragedy.


Hey Kari

Great write up, thank you.

You are 19. A great age!

If I were you, I would get yourself a rucksack (pink is a nice colour! :wink:), buy a plane ticket and travel.

Get yourself out of this vortex. You will realise there is a whole world of wonderful peoples, ideas and philosophies.

You will get to understand that all this minority SDA baggage you have grown up with, is such a marginal view.

Education is such a wonderful liberator. I don’t just mean academic, but social interactions and culture.

Meet and interact with different cultures, push the boundaries of your understanding.

You will soon come to see, that this religious myopic, exclusive view of God’s will, is simply the product of insecure people (mostly patriarchal men). A people who need to claim their own infallible interpretation of God’s will. A people who thrive on a seige mentality, so they can wallow in external conflict and so avoid having to actually question themselves.

One day, on this life journey of yours, you will look back and realise you no longer have any fear or guilt. You will be free.

In finishing, I dedicate this (very famous) poem to you (forgive the old English). I think it fits and will continue to fit some of your experiences. It is the one I read to my son on his dedication. It is one I hope you find inspiration from on your journey through life.

BY RUDYARD Kipling - ‘If’


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
’ Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you’ll be a Man (Woman) , my son (daughter) !


Good point! I’m sure glad God loves us through our pets because sometimes loving people are very hard to find in this church–er world.


People will always say forget the church, leave the church, but the church is not about human opinions and politics–it’s about having a relationship with Jesus. If you love Jesus, it doesn’t matter what other people say or judge, you are the church. And you do have a voice. Stay close to Jesus!


It is interesting to me that Kari writes as she does from PUC… which has been one of the leading lights in forming a church which DOES take seriously the task of re-framing the SDA church into a more loving truly Christian church… especially in the area of gender challenges… and especially in her last paragraphs she seems to be indicating that she is and will continue to be one of those who “stays by” and works from within for change, rather than one who runs away.

And yet… it seems as though every voice here has been one to discourage her from even trying… or even to admit that there are those of us… both old and young, lay members as well as administrators and leaders… who are working for those same goals.

It would be really nice to see some words that are optimistic and encouraging. And not merely for the sake of the young… but for those of us who have not long to live on this earth and who long to see our church become more Christlike in both our words and actions.


“Calling it ‘shaking’ doesn’t change the tragedy.” Yes!


Thank you so much for sharing so beautifully, honestly, and poignantly. May it be so. And happy birthday! If only the church knew how lucky it was to have you and its other LGBTQ children…


The fact that with the help of the church, good or bad, you have come to this conclusion shows that you are developing and maturing in a normal manner. Apply this to yourself. Forget about the church now, she had done her job on you. Moreover, like a adolescent ready to move out on her own, be comforted that the church, like parents, can take care of herself. You move forward. You step into the light and realize that God is all about love, love for everyone. Love in the form of acceptance and celebration. Love if the form of a safe haven and a warm hog. Love in the form that God meant it to be in the first place. Just like you said it. And spread it among those close and far from you.

Don’t change now.


I hope you will continue your search for God and how He wants to use you. You are a valuable person. I am convicted that each follower of Jesus must use the Bible in such a way that it speaks to ourselves and teaches us, personally, how to live. God is gracious and good. May we be so with one another.


Kari Ann and her contemporaries are faced with a hard choice - much harder than the one I faced at her age.

Circa 1975, when I was 19, it was possible to pretend that the SdA might still be right about evolution, the homophobia was society-wide so the SdA did not stand out as being more homophobic than the rest of society, Walter Rea had not yet written The White Lie, Des Ford hadn’t arrived at Glacier View, Davenport was not yet a well known name, …

In short, one could still believe the myth,

Of course it blew up between 1975 and 1985. People either left (most? a huge slice? of Australian SdA between the ages of 30 and 45 left) or became tolerant.

The elder SdA, horrified at the loss of an entire generation, were the ones who became tolerant. The young also were tolerant.

And then from 1985 to 2015 it all went to pieces again. Intolerant ignorant people - those of the 35-45 generation who had stayed when almost all the tolerant knowledgeable component of that generation left in 1975-1985 - took control of the publishing houses and the GC and the evangelism, and many of the congregations.

It was kind of inevitable really.

Now Kari Ann and her contemporaries face a challenge:

Do they

1- wait out the demise of the intolerant conservative current in-power generation, contributing their tithe dollars so these people can be paid to push their damaging nonsense

2- actively fight the nonsense while staying

3- walk

It is a hard choice. There is the social life and the good aspects of SdA theology on one hand. On the other is the damage being wrought on good Christian kids by the current leadership.

I think 1 is bad choice. I did 2 until it began to affect my personal life. At that point I left.

It is already clearly affecting the personal lives of Kari Ann. The next ten years,until Ted Wilson and Kevin Paulson and Paul White and others are no longer in position to damage lives, are going to be brutal.

Paul tells us God puts all leaders into power - including the Caesars. It doesn’t mean what those leaders do is right, and it doesn’t mean we have to pay them to do it.