The LGBTQ Experience—Imago Gei

On this episode of Imago Gei, a multitude of LGBTQ voices share their stories of struggle, triumph, and faith, along with their complicated relationships with the church. Understanding queer theology is more than just closing the loops in logic—it is being responsible for the impact of our theology upon LGBTQ lives. Living in the fullness of love, joy, and peace starts with listening.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11641

To quote the oddly adagio intro for Adventist Voices, I’ll never forget it.

I’m guessing it was around 15, maybe 20, years ago.

I was sitting on a stool, inside the small closet of the bedroom in our Harlem apartment, door closed, completely miserable.

I didn’t have any money. There were no writing jobs on the horizon. Rent and utilities were both behind, and due. My wife and I weren’t really talking. And as far as I could see, things were not likely to get better anytime soon.

I sat there, deeply frustrated and hurt. I wondered why this was happening to me. Why was everything going this way, at once? Why did others seemingly get all the choice gigs, with money to burn? Why wasn’t I having the life I felt I deserved?

Then, like a bolt from the sky, came a statement which burrowed deeply into my brain, and has remained there ever since.

"Everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be."

I can’t say it was God speaking to me, but I also can’t say it wasn’t. All I know is, in that moment, the despair I’d been feeling, the hopelessness which was overtaking me like high tide, was pushed aside by the realization I was suffering the effects of my own hand.

Everything I was going through was the result of something I had done, something I had not done, and/or combinations of both. And because I was where I was for these reasons, this meant it was my own hand that could also reset the context.

Usually, when people see the after-effects of a massive, EF-5 tornado, like the one which hit Joplin MO in May 2011, below, only two words come to mind: Utter chaos.

I disagree. Well, actually, I completely agree. What I disagree with is this: What most people mean by “utter chaos” is “complete and total disorder.“

In fact, the effect of a tornado on human environs is chaotic. But it is not disorderly. It’s highly ordered. It’s as pure a machine of physics as as one is likely to find or observe this side of a large hadron collider. In it, every plank, every car, every roof shingle, every dust particle is being driven along, both by and through the maelstrom, due to laws of aerodynamics, motion, kinetics, material stress, heat, and other physical guidelines built into dynamical systems. Basically, what the tornado leaves behind is a highly complex shape.

When we say, “This scene is chaotic,” what we are really saying is, “The mathematics which produced these results are beyond our computational ability.” Had we the calculational capacity, we would be able to, in theory, predict where, after a given twister, every object would end up.

So, here’s what’s bugging me, and what I don’t understand: What did Kendra Arsenault expect?

I’m asking a real question, here. From listening to her podcasts, it’s not clear to me what she’d give as her answer.

I wish she would give an answer. I think it would help those like me, who were watching from the outside, to better understand, and even empathize with, her plight.

Put another way: When she aired three programs of gay theology on Advent Next, and announced, at the end, she, also, was gay, what did she expect her conservative Christian employer to do? I’ve not heard her say.

Is she sorrowful because she did not expect to be fired? Was she an SDA Charlo Greene, who expected to quit, but, instead, was surprised when she was pushed?

Or, is it she did expect to be fired, but she thought people who were her friends would come to her aid?

Is it she knew she’d be fired, friends would have to choose between her and the organization—and she would probably lose this vote—but she thought she’d be able to stay in the community, and not be seen as a pariah?

Or, is it all of the above, plus the fact, whatever you think being dumped is going to feel like, it always hurts more once it actually happens?

Kendra has invited people listening to the podcast to write to her with their comments and questions. I’m doing so here, under the eaves for one of her important sponsors.

I wish she would address this query. If she hasn’t yet, I suspect doing so would help her acquire not only greater clarity, but plan for, or against, future acts of resistance.

If she has addressed it, hearing her answer would help me, certainly, better understand her story, make better sense of where she is now, and maybe put the various parts of the experience she reveals in the order they are supposed to be.

HA

2 Likes

Harry, that was a wonderful post! I confess I did not read the article, for I could not post anything new or helpful. But you did. Nice job.

I did want to say that the lady in Finland who quoted scripture about homosexuality and is on trial for it with a possible two year sentence, is also feeling as Kendra feels. It seems from what you say that both are experiencing chaos of some sort.

Again nice job with the post.

There is no room in God’s house for those who promote LGBTQ. If we love we cannot lie to those who are sexually immoral, sin is sin. We must speak the truth even though it may sting. This “magazine” and those who promote i’s ungodly unbiblical view points will be shaken out of the church. Repent and walk int he light as He is in the light.

1 Like

if we love, we’ll give people all the time and freedom in the world to discover for themselves the truth about LGBT…this is a question in which there truly are fine people on both sides…there hasn’t yet been a consensus put forward which explains everything sufficiently, and to which everyone agrees…

what we don’t want is to pile up hurt and hate so high that people give up, not only on us, but on god…it’s best to let this LGBT question develop in its own way, and at its own pace…as in many other areas, time and the vicissitudes of life have a way of clarifying things…it may be that the latter rain and/or the ministry of a future prophet will definitively answer this question…i don’t think we need to worry that the church as a whole will never understand LGBT clearly…

1 Like

Last time I checked the Bible says this.
Ephesians 5:11
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Leviticus 20:13
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
Romans 1:
26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

1 Like

i think it’s a question of using the right biblical texts at the right time, and in the right way…perhaps the next time you check your bible, you might notice these:

“And of some have compassion, making a difference.” Jude 22.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7.

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Ephesians 6:2.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17.

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8.

“Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” Romans 15:2.

and perhaps you can recall the example i posted on Fulcrum7 not too long ago of egw’s call for leniency in the case of a smoker in the Ligonier Church in Indiana, 12MR:285…remember, we know that smoking has a genetic component, and that society at that time saw nothing wrong with smoking…

ultimately, i think our church has to be about redemption…kicking people out when they clearly don’t think or feel that they’re doing anything wrong means such a course is premature…i don’t see how it can possibly lead people to christ…

2 Likes

At its heart you misunderstand and mischaracterize those who find themselves in this state. A blindman (amongst others other) in the time of Christ was thought to be the result of sin. Like minded individuals to yourself at the time were convinced that these ones should repent. Jesus spoke at length warning us and by example to resist judging others.

Fast forward to 2022 our understanding of the natural world has increased. We are able to discern the difference between biological/physiology conditions and now understand the root cause of such things that in the ancient past people could not. We are told that the natural world is subject to the laws of God and we do well to learn from it. We know the root causes of conditions of many things and in recent years including LGBTQ. No more than a blindman the LGBTQ cannot through force of will change their condition. Ignoring root cause of the conditions and condemning others who through not fault of their own which they find themselves in goes against the law of love and is the sin of pride.

The curse of sin has left its mark on us all resulting maladies and conditions which are outside the original plan and state God intended. You yourself are under the curse and by your logic must also be condemned and as a result you to will find yourself without a room in God’s house. You look at your brother or sister who is LGBTQ and as a result of self inflicted ignorance condemn them. Who has committed the greater sin? Those who recognize their true condition and humble themselves before the God and the brethren can be saved.

“A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion.” DA280
You cannot condemn those who Christ died for and come to Him and expect your prayers or your case to end well.

1 Like

I agree we must have compassion but we must speak the truth with compassion. We must be merciful but we must speak the truth. We are called to become like Christ and Christ always spoke the truth. He forgave the women who was going to be stoned then he said “go and sin no more”. We are to reject sin not accommodate it. Though I agree the delivery is important. To be accepting of sin is to be at odds with Christ. If you love the sinner you will educate him in love not find ways to have the sin become acceptable in the church.

i agree we must always speak the truth…but sometimes it’s more effective to speak truth through our lives, than to constantly hammer people with our words…even when our words are right, there is such a thing as using them at the wrong time, and in the wrong way…

this question of LGBT has been brewing for a long time…as it is now, cultural shifts have caused many sincere, reasonable persons to question whether biblical prohibitions are really valid…this isn’t necessarily a case of people knowing what’s right and wrong, but choosing the wrong regardless…the question of the fairness of being born a certain way, but being asked to deny that way for the rest of their lives, is a legitimate question almost all gays, and their loved ones, eventually ask…

my feeling is that this question is fully understood only when the important doctrine of original sin, taught in Paul, but especially in egw, is understood (as you no doubt know, conservative Adventists generally deny this doctrine)…but it’s going to take time before our church sees how the implications of this doctrine apply…as i see it, LGBT is ultimately an opportunity for the entire church to understand what we really are at birth, and what it actually means to be born again…we must allow the issue of LGBT to play itself out so that as many people as possible can learn what needs to be learned, not just on this LGBT subject, but on the much broader question of the type of conversion experience we need in order to survive the time of trouble, and ascend into heaven without seeing death…as we move inexorably into the latter rain, just before the close of probation, i’m convinced that this is knowledge that we generally don’t, but must, understand…

2 Likes

That is your opinion. Many Christians disagree with it. The most thoughtful and sincere use the scriptures to explain why.

Well, it’s not actually. Much of what you think is wrong/sinful is a result of your upbringing and your environment. Much of what you think the bible says is wrong is an interpretation, perhaps sincere but also perhaps wrong.

For example, is interracial marriage sinful? It was 100 years ago. It was also illegal in most of the US. The church taught that’s what the bible meant when it admonished against being “unequally yolked”. Somehow, though, now it’s fine.

Is it OK to have sex with your married partner on the Sabbath? It wasn’t in bible times. How about when she’s menstruating? Nope, not in bible times. It was a sin to have any sort of sex what couldn’t result in a baby. Or on Sabbath.

Is divorce OK if the wife is being beaten by her husband? Jesus says no. I think he was wrong, if he actually said that.

But, hey, we just ignore that. Because that is what we do. We cherry pick. If the text seems unreasonable, or outdated, we ignore it. As Bart Ehrman closed a thoughtful post titled Jesus and Sexual Immorality on his blog, “People pick and choose what they want when it comes to discussing biblical views of sexual ethics.

Well, “unbiblical” simply means, “not found in, authorized by, or based on the Bible.” There’s a plethora of things in this world that fall into that category. Technology, for example. Electricity. Science. Biology.

Also, Spectrum is not a “magazine”, in quotes as if it’s somehow questionable, but it is a magazine. And a website. And a discussion forum. And, you’ll be happy to know, it has never been part of the church.

But yes, once we get all of the sinners out of the church it sure will be peaceful, won’t it? It’ll be so quiet you’ll be able to hear a pin drop. Except there will be no one there to drop the pin.

He is not in the light. Per Jesus, He is the light, and we are the light. Which is different.

Again Jesus spoke to them [the crowd and the officials], saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” - John 8

Jesus, speaking the crowd: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5

Notably, Jesus didn’t ask anyone to “repent” in these episodes in order to come into the light. He asked the disciples to follow him, and he asked the crowd to nothing at all except good works.

4 Likes

“sin” the Bible states is the “transgression of God’s law” that is the definition of sin. I didn’t “think” that. It is what the Bible states sin is. 1 John 3:4
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” the Bible is clear on sexual immorality and other sins. We don’t have to guess. Here for example is another quote on sexual immorality. Here is just one of many on sexual immorality notice it calls out a man and a woman not two men or two women. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.1 Corinthians 7:1-2 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Again you should pray and ask God for wisdom and read the word thoroughly before claiming to know what the word says.

“He is not in the light” I’m just quoting the Bible. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
“Walk” is your life the way you live it. We are called to emulate Christ to become Christ-like in our walk, our life.

"Jesus didn’t ask anyone to “repent”. Again just another quote from the Bible
Matthew 4:17
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

You should pray before you open God’s word and ask for His Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding. You shouldn’t say things that aren’t true God will hold you accountable.

Yes, we must be compassionate, at the same time not condone sexual abornmalities condemned by the Bible.

Yes, well, “The Law” mentioned in the bible is the Torah, 612 edicts - as counted by Jews. Christians don’t follow The Law. In any case, Jesus “fulfilled” the law and Paul wrote that Christians are not bound by it.

Clearly not, or there wouldn’t be huge arguments and discussions regarding what the bible means. Practices that were perfectly normative in the bible, not condemned at all, include plural marriage and marrying your sister-in-law in the case that your brother dies (which is stated as a requirement, if I remember correctly). How many wives did the hero Solomon have? How many concubines?

How arrogant of you. Your assumption seems to be that because I don’t buy what you have to sell that I have not done so. You cannot know that.

In any case, my response is to ask you to stop cherry-picking texts to support your views.

The very text you quote, Corinthians 7, is later modified by Paul, who writes, “I say this as a concession, not as a command.”

And then he goes on with more of his opinion, and makes it clear that is what it is. It’s a good thing, too, because we ignore it as Adventists:
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”

I can think of a lot of reasons why that is really very bad advice.

And then he goes on:
“To the rest I say (not I, but the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”

Now there’s something I haven’t heard from the pulpit: Your spouse can make you holy through their belief?! And save you?! How is that possible? Well, apparently is it. It’s in the bible. So, perhaps someone can explain how this works to me? I thought we had to personally believe? I guess not.

Oh, and also note that Paul just directly disagreed with Jesus, who made no accommodation whatsoever for an unbelieving spouse.

And then he goes on some more:
“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.”

Yea, except that circumcision is literally one of God’s commands, part of The Law, so that’s peculiar.

And then he goes on with some really difficult advice:
Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

So, if you’re a slave and you are called (to become a Christian), you should remain a slave - unless you can gain your freedom somehow. Really? We’re supposed to follow this? Slaves should remain slaves unless their masters free them? Well, the bible says so.

And this is gem:
“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”

Note this is one-sided. Isn’t the man bound as well? I guess not. Try selling this to the Christians around you and see how far you get.


My point here is that you have cherry-picked a text that is convenient for your position from a passage that is really quite inconvenient - and which modern Christians, including most Adventists, ignore and/or don’t even know exists.

We don’t teach that a spouse can make their partner holy through their belief and so save them.
We don’t teach that a slave should remain a slave.
We don’t teach that a divorced woman remains bound to her husband until he dies.

The verses you selected have no more weight than the surrounding verses, which many or most Christians ignore, including Adventists. If it’s OK to ignore most of the passage for one reason or another, then it’s OK to ignore your selected text as well. If it’s not OK to ignore your selected text, then we shouldn’t ignore any of the passage.

3 Likes

Can you learn from the words of the Messenger of the Lord and the principles that our Master taught us? Will you be an agent of God or the enemy of souls? Will self-righteous pride win or will you humble yourself as we are told to?

“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heartstrings of a friend.”

The people partook largely of the same spirit, intruding upon the province of conscience and judging one another in matters that lay between the soul and God. It was in reference to this spirit and practice that Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” That is, do not set yourself up as a standard. Do not make your opinions, your views of duty, your interpretations of Scripture, a criterion for others and in your heart condemn them if they do not come up to your ideal. Do not criticize others, conjecturing as to their motives and passing judgment upon them. MB 123.3

“Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. We cannot read the heart. Ourselves faulty, we are not qualified to sit in judgment upon others. Finite men can judge only from outward appearance. To Him alone who knows the secret springs of action, and who deals tenderly and compassionately, is it given to decide the case of every soul. MB 124.1

“Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Romans 2:1. Thus those who condemn or criticize others, proclaim themselves guilty, for they do the same things. In condemning others, they are passing sentence upon themselves, and God declares that this sentence is just. He accepts their own verdict against themselves. MB 124.2

It seems you’re implying that I am judging others? I said nothing, I quoted scripture. Is it not true that God condemns sexual immorality? Is it not true that we are to obey God? Is it not true that if we love God we will keep His commandants that those who “claim to know God but do not keep His commandments are a liar”? Does the Bible not state these clearly? I have not given my opinion I have given scripture. I condemn no one that is God’s job, but if they are feeling convicted for their behavior or they disagree with scripture that is between them and God. The Scripture and its truth burns like a hot iron those who would seek to do their own will over the will of God. It is not my place to judge but to present scripture. Jesus said think not that I have come to bring peace but a sword, He goes on to illustrate that there will be division. This division comes from what the truth is and what people want to hear. i.e. a homosexual or an adultery who is convicted of his sin doesn’t want to hear what the Bible has to say on these subjects but rather what they want it to say. They want to “I can’t help it” I didn’t ask to be this way, or my wife is horrible and drove me to sin. The bible says that there is no temptation that is uncommon to man that if we resist He is faithful and will give us a way out so that we do not give in to it. This is clear that we sin because we choose to in many cases because we do not want to resist. Then when someone comes along and states this, well the emotions get high and they lash out and say anything to excuse their sin. This act of telling them what the Bible says about these matter aren then by some viewed as judging when in fact it is simple a fact of scripture. So you and others were given free choice to do and believe as you will. I won’t judge you but God will judge us all. We are Adventist the people of the law, we were given the spirit of prophesy and we are to warn the world according to the 3 angels messages otherwise what other work are we called to do as Adventists?

I love it when people say, ‘I’m not judging, just quoting scripture’! That is the issue ‘misquoting’, no idea of context or most often not wanting context!!

‘people of the law’, which law or laws! No, SDA’s, as has been pointed out, not even close to following the laws of the OT.

Christ gave (2) laws, 1. Love your God, 2. Love and treat your neighbor as one would like to be treated. A hard concept for humans to grasp, they keep asking and making more additions as a way to exclude others. Sounds like the opposite of Christs interaction and teachings.

2 Likes

Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

And yet we don’t really know what God commands are for us. We don’t really know what they were in bible times. All we have is a translation, often of another translation of some copies of copies of copies (…) of original texts that are long lost. We have no originals an none of the copies of any book of the bible we have are the same. They are all different, because the copyists made mistakes, made deliberate changes, and generally weren’t that excited about being precise.

Even if the translations were perfect (they are clearly not) and the sources we have were perfectly copies (they are not), we would still only know what God told others 2000+ years ago, or really what the authors thought God told them to do. Remember these are some of the same people who thought rolling dice could reveal to them their God’s wishes.

As an example, we have exactly zero words Jesus spoke. Not one. The books of the new testament were written in Greek. Jesus didn’t speak Greek. He spoke Aramaic. Also, they were written down decades after his life based on oral tradition and by using some previous written sources, which are now lost.

In some cases, some of the things he supposedly said cannot be translated from Greek back into Aramaic and still make sense. Other times, the Greek text doesn’t make sense but if the text is translated back into Aramaic it makes a lot of sense, because the meaning changes - often significantly.

In Mark 2, for example, Jesus says, “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Adventists like that because it makes it sound like Jesus is promoting the Sabbath - as the Son of man is laying claim to it. And so by implication makes it important for Christians.

But the issue is that Jesus didn’t really say that. Instead he was telling the officials something quite different. From this post by Bart Ehrman:

"Second, those who are linguists among us can translate the Greek sayings of Jesus back into Aramaic, and sometimes – this is very much worth noting – they actually make better sense in Aramaic than they do in Greek. This does not necessarily show that such sayings were actually said by Jesus, but it does show that the sayings originally circulated in Aramaic-speaking Palestine, that is, that they are very ancient sayings that may well go back to Jesus himself. My favorite illustration again comes from Mark, where Jesus justifies his disciples’ actions when they violate Jewish traditions about (not) working (for food) on the Sabbath. Jesus informs his Jewish opponents, “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” When you look at that saying closely and try to figure it out, in fact it doesn’t actually make sense. What is the “Therefore” there for? Why does the fact that Sabbath was created for the benefit of humans, not humans for the benefit of the Sabbath make the Son of man (Jesus) the Lord of the Sabbath?

“The saying does make sense when put back into Aramaic, however. That’s because “man” and “son of man” are the same term in Aramaic; bar enash. And so what Jesus said was “Sabbath was made for bar enash, not bar enash for the Sabbath. Therefore bar enash is lord even of the Sabbath.” Now the saying makes perfect sense. Humans are lords of the Sabbath, not the other way around. Human need takes priority over the commandment not to work on the Sabbath.”

So, to be clear, Jesus actually said, "“Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore man is lord/master even of the Sabbath.” Which is a very different thing indeed. Man is lord of the Sabbath.

Which, as it happens, Adventists accept out of hand - we keep our hospitals open on the Sabbath, for example, because human needs are often more important than taking a particular day of rest.

What plank? By you calling me a hypocrite isn’t that casting judgment?