The Church’s Interaction with Sexuality: A Millennial's Perspective

Sexuality. This topic seems to be on the forefront of many minds heading into the 2015 General Conference Session. For Adventists, sexuality is most prominently tied to two issues: same-sex marriage and women's ordination. During the months leading up to the San Antonio session, Adventists have been abuzz about modifying Fundamental Belief 23 to more definitively exclude same-sex marriages and the coming vote concerning each division's right to ordain women (which is part of an ongoing discussion that spans over half a century).

Sexuality has not only captivated the conversation of the Adventist community, but also that of the entire nation.

Pop-culture and political headlines have been busy with the Supreme Court's landmark decision to back same-sex marriage as a constitutional right, along with the controversial gender confirmation surgery of Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce), as reported in early June by Vanity Fair. These topics have set off a social explosion in mainstream news outlets and independent media bloggers alike, with sexuality front and center. Is sexuality fluid? What does it mean to be a man or a woman? How is marriage defined? Can the "traditional" definitions of marriage change over time?

Reaching into Adventist circles, this national debate illuminates sexuality as perhaps the most polarizing of topics within the church. Whatever the labels may be – liberals and conservatives, orthodox and unorthodox – the separate camps are at last converging at this year's GC session.

Should any of this matter to Millennials? To our relationship with the church?

Millennials, more than any generation thus far, were nurtured by the Internet. What the Internet has offered those of us who have had access, is the idea of a broad availability of knowledge. We are given a free pass to libraries of information, across the world. As I write this piece, my quick Google search of "SDA Church," gave me "about 1,300,000 results [within] 0.35 seconds." Millennials have grown up with the assurance that we can hear it all, see it all, and converse about it all, within mere seconds. This power comes with the realization that we never simply exist within just the bubble or circle of the Seventh-day Adventist church. There are no separate entities – church and society, us and them, remnant or condemned. The church is a part of society, this greater social context. We are a part of the cultures, societies, and ideologies that continue to evolve, struggle, and engage with the oft volatile happenings of humanity. Therefore, the movements of the church in the GC Session do not only affect people within four walls, in front of a pulpit, under a cross. Rather, these GC decisions affect and are affected by our greater social context. It also heightens the responsibility the church has within society.

On the same day of the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, the SDA Church proclaimed that "it will continue to teach and promote its biblically based belief of marriage between a man and a woman." This statement is expected of the church, yet it stands at obvious odds with most Millennials within it. Just take one trip around your Facebook feed. Notice the Gay Pride-colored profile pictures, the constant posting of pro-same-sex marriage articles, the heavy comments and arguments. While social media may not be the most conclusive of sources, these online declarations are, at the least, a reflection of Millennial ideals. Indeed, these Millennial expressions are with some noted skepticism, but most are nevertheless confident in the notions of tolerance, affirmation, acceptance, and love. What some call "absolute truth," Millennials may dismiss as rigidity. Or what church leaders label as "divine," Millennials may call close-minded.

While we debate about, interpret, and create church doctrines and policies, it is easy to alienate ourselves from the rest of the world. Still, we cannot forget that Christ, during his time on Earth, both embodied and embraced humanity. Christ affirmed and supported the oppressed, dined with the rejected, and empowered those that were deemed powerless and voiceless by society. Christ lived by these virtues, and after breaking the law and opposing religious dogma, He died by them.

As a Seventh-day Adventist Church, the time could not be more ripe to follow these clear, socially aware, socially engaged, and socially radical steps of Christ.

Jonah Valdez studies history and English at La Sierra University, is former Editor-in-Chief of the Criterion student newspaper, and currently serves as an intern-reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune.

Photo caption from the author: This photo was taken a day following the June 26, 2013 Supreme Court decision that declared California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, making same-sex marriage legal in my home state.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6913
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Surely the most conservative position, whether politically,
or religiously, is to encourage ALL couples,
both gay and straight to engage in marriage,
which provides stability to society,
and strengthens families.

The “marriage” that SCOTUS recently conferred
on gays and lesbians, was NOT the holy sacrament,
performed in a church, but a CIVIL legal ordinance,
often performed in a dusty, cluttered courtroom.

Amazingly, the Episcopalian Church,
always in the forefront of HUMAN RIGHTS
SOCIAL JUSTICE, and extending love to ALL
(the FIRST. denomination to allow
women ministers) has now agreed to
allow gay weddings, not in a dusty courtroom.
but in the church sanctuary.

Those who decried the hedonist, promiscuous
gay life style that produced AIDS, will no
doubt be aghast at this “sacrilege”!

The Episcopalians rightly recognize that
a stable monogamous couple, gay or straight,
is infinitely better than the current millions
of babies being born out of wedlock,
and the myriad of heterosexual couples
co-habiting without the benefit of marriage.

The millenials, the most educated and informed group
in all of civilization, thanks the Internet,
clearly recognizes the social dynamics.
That is why the vast majority of them,
Republican or Democrat,
devout Christians, or unchurched,
support the recent SCOTUS decision.

This can only strengthen the imstitution
of marriage, and let us hope that many
heterosexual couples will follow the
role models being set by the gay community,
who unlike their co-habiting heterosexual friends,
have won a decades long FIGHT,
for the privilege of being married!

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Christianity alienates people on a daily basis. So what? That’s what Christians are called to do: Not follow the world, But God and The Bible. I could care less who we alienate. There will be a final judgment. The most massive alienation in history. Matt 10 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

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A wonderful post, Robin.

What Stephen is quoting is the Truth as Jesus saw it. That Generational Differences will SPLIT Families, and be a cause of severe friction between the 2 generations.
Is not meant to be, but it occurs.
I think we have seen and will continue to see the SDA Family “warring” about The Full Inclusion of ALL in the Ministry. A lot of THIS is generational. Seeing differing views on the same Texts used by both groups.
There will continue to be a generational haggling about how to mesh Genesis 1-11 with what is seen and touched around the Earth both on the land and in the sea.
There will continue to be felt the Strains of Families who would like their children to be able to be Full Participants in the Church Life, and those who believe that these same children are special sinners, not allowed to fellowship in their home church, separated from Family.

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There’s a small amount of knowledge and a lot of rubbish on the internet. From what I see of my interaction with Millennials, it’s not the knowledge that they’re mostly accessing on the internet but the other stuff. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true or even useful.

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While I agree that Christ spent time and helped the rejected the oppressed it is important we identify who the oppressed really our in our society. The article didn’t make it too clear. I recently graduated from a public university a BA in political science and I was shocked that although most of my professors support the lbgt community they did not see them as an oppressed group. I was shocked because their point of view was different than what the media bombards us with. The reason is they believe (I do to) that the government a long with the media are using the lbgt community as an escape goat, to distract us from who really is oppressed which according to them and the many books I read for my classes are the poor/working class and not just the ones here in America. People outside the church are starting to realize that something is not right and many of my classmates believed that something big is coming! I think we need to rely on God more than ever. We also must remember that while Christ loves the sinner he promises to save us from our sins not in our sins! Matthew 1:21.

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A Millennial’s perspective?
One single Millennials’ perspective?

One single person of any age can have a perspective of any sort.

An atheist Millennial perspective?
A Conservative SDA Millenial perspective?
A liberal, non attending, on the books SDA Millenial perspective?

What does it matter?

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Like what this article had to say, very much.

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I don’t believe that Christ had that kind of attitude.

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This is exactly what main stream Protestantism embraced some decades ago. It hasn’t worked so well for them. In fact the Episcopal church is the one in a death spiral. I am afraid Obama-care will not be able to pull it out. And members have been leaving these churches in droves whether millennial or not. And I won’t try to support this, there was an article here about it on Spectrum recently that showed it to be so.

But of course, Christ death was by the ruling powers, and Christians were persecuted by the world. His followers are teated that way even today.

Christ broke the law? John 8:46 "Which of you convinceth me of sin? Didn’t know Jesus broke the law, but maybe Jonah is onto something I am not aware of.

[quote=“ezbord, post:2, topic:8697”]
Surely the most conservative position, whether politically,or religiously, is to encourage ALL couples,both gay and straight to engage in marriage
[/quote] (From Robin)

But gays just don’t get married! I calculated it roughly at about 1.5% of the total. But I could be wrong and am willing to bow to real stats. Straights aren’t getting married, so why would gays do it? This whole thing was a means to get respectability and not stability or to strengthen ties.

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No, nor is it true of any type of communicative medium. However, I don’t think that you have the expertise to determine how much of the internet is “good” or “bad”.

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Why does your perspective matter? If you can answer that then you will have your answer.

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It gives them the CHOICE to marry…whether they do or not is besides the point.

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15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1 Jn 2:15-17

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I will be a bit more impressed by the arguments for same sex marriage when supporters apply their ideas to polygamy. Are proponents willing to fight for polygamy in the same manner? Or perhaps, there is a moral basis for rejecting both ideas.

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You mean you don’t agree with Robin?:

I’m very grateful that I was raised and educated before the Internet came along.

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As a “Millennial” I find it hilarious how most of the conservative commenters on here started to instantly dismiss the group or attack them.

It’s no surprise that most Millennials, including the Christian ones, think differently on gay marriage and other issues than the more conservative older members. One key element that many people don’t consider is that if a Millennial identifies as Christian or is part of a church, it is likely they are sincere. Millennials who would be “nominal Christians” simply don’t attend church or don’t identify with religion.

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I wish this article did not mention women’s ordination. This article, about same-sex marriage, has nothing to do with women’s ordination.

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Yes indeed, and it is found in Matthew 25;31-46. It is the last parable Jesus tells in the book of Matthews. Read it. It is when He separates the sheep from the goats, with the defining distinction between the two was “as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me.” Those words should be blazened in bnght lights across the screen at the GC before the vote is taken. WWJD. I certainly don’t think he would be calling for exclusiveness and trying to narrow the tent so only the acceptable would fit in.

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This isn’t all generational Steve. I am a 63 year old baby boomer and i think milleniels are doing a far better job at defining chistianity than our generation. I presume you are in my generation. It would be easy to throw some pots shots about now at some, but i will simply not project anything toward anyone expect the fellowship of love. The church is at a historic crossroads. A defining hour is at hand.

Oftentimes when God’s people were in what seemed like an impossible situation, God came throw at the most critical moment. At the Red Sea Moses told Israel to “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Ex 14:13
Jahzaiel said the same thing when addressing Jehosophat and Israel who were faced with annhiliation by their enemies …“stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…” 2 chronicles 20:17.