The Message Behind the New Film from Coming Out Ministries

Brian and Anne Savinsky talk about the new film they have produced about same-sex attraction within Christianity and the Seventh-day Adventist Church which shares the perspective of Coming Out Ministries. Watch the film on 3ABN on February 16.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

We live amidst a political (republican) and religious (fundamentalist Christian and SDA) culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to science. I’m pleased to see in the interview what I interpret to be an effort to portray same sex attraction for what it is–a biological (largely genetic) phenomenon. I also appreciate the desire to minister to LBGT individuals, which is a vast improvement over the intolerance of many die-hard evangelicals. But for God’s sake, why do we put our loving Father in a box by insisting that “He” has to judge an individual’s behavior in accordance with their external genitals and phenotypic appearance, when the brain is the largest sex organ of all? The science is clear: gender is NOT black-and-white. Up to 2% of the human population has mismatches among the sex chromosomes, internal gonads, internal ducts, and external genitals–and we have barely scratched the surface in understanding the hard-wired sexual intricacies of the brain, which compelling science shows can be mismatched as well.

Why can’t we let God judge us based on the actual substrate we use to make decisions and worship him–our brains? And more importantly, why are we attempting to do any of the judging ourselves? Surely God knows our brain’s sexual makeup, inclinations, thoughts, and decisions; surely “He” can be trusted better than us to do the judging. We urgently need a more cerebrocentric theology (


i’m impressed with spectrum’s decision to share this interview…it clearly demonstrates an intention to look at a contentious issue objectively, which i think can only add to the credibility of spectrum, which in my view is already the leading adventist site, and the only one that represents what is balanced, progressive and self-critical within adventism…

the issue of homosexuality is one that can take a very long time to understand…and moving from a clear, full understanding to an effective plan of action can take an even longer time…this is because there are more dimensions to consider than what the bible says, what it means, and how the church should respond…in the end, i believe everyone can benefit by looking into the issue of homosexuality…in my view, nothing else reveals so clearly what it means to be fallen, and yet the one object that the son of god gave his life for, and is living for in the heavenly sanctuary now…i believe it is the case that a gay person is in a position to love god more deeply, and understand his purposes for humanity more fully, than anyone else…

my own view is that our church should allow gay persons the room and flexibility for self-discovery…this is an issue in which there must be an evident intent to err on the side of love and acceptance, rather than censure…while i don’t think we can in any way change what the bible clearly says about this subject, i think it is evident that the prudent course, in some areas, is to accept practicing gays into full fellowship, which includes baptism, membership, ordination and employment…if we reason from cause to effect, we can see that hurling accusations at people we’ve made no effort to understand doesn’t influence them to love god and give their lives to him…i think the best and only thing a straight person can do to influence a gay person spiritually is to be exceptionally spiritual himself…after-all, exceptional spirituality is what’s being asked for from gay persons…


Conservative secular politics and conservative Biblical theology are not one and the same thing. What is noteworthy is that in neither setting should sexual orientation be the decisive factor.

In the secular political arena, attractions and orientation make no difference, as civil government has no way of knowing what is going on inside someone’s brain. All that matters in the civil context is that intimate choices between consenting adults be protected as a part of free association, irrespective of the conflict these choices may create with one or another set of religious or cultural beliefs.

In the arena of Biblical theology, the same principle holds, though the Biblical definition of behavior includes the hidden choices of the heart (Matt. 5:28), something secular politics cannot possibly regulate. But at the bottom line, Biblical morality is about behavior, not orientation. How one feels does not define one’s identity. It is choices that establish this definition.

The opposition of Coming Out Ministries to so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy is a decision of wisdom, and one in full harmony with the Biblical definition of behavior. Same-sex attraction no more makes one a homosexual than feelings of antipathy toward one of a different race makes one a racist. It is choosing to accede to these feelings in the choices of the will that makes up the moral character.

I have often quoted the following inspired statements in these discussions, and will do so again, as they are supremely relevant:

“Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then lust, when it hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin” (James 1:14-15).

“There are thoughts and feelings suggested and aroused by Satan that annoy even the best of men; but if they are not cherished, if they are repulsed as hateful, the soul is not contaminated with guilt and no other is defiled by their influence” (KH 140).

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i was fortunate to see the film from “Coming out Ministries” and was initially favorably impressed.
It is slickly produced and seemingly benign, disarming, and indulgent in tone.

I was very pleased to see that there was no hint of "conversion " or “reparative” therapy , that is, the possibility that gays/lesbians can effectively and decidedly change their orientation from gay to straight.

Despite their remonstrances to the contrary, these Coming Out Ministries advocates did have this possibility as a sub text in their presentations some years ago. Being able to change one’s sexual orientation was very appealing and comforting to millions and was the foundation for the church supported
Colin Cook fiasco in Reading Pennsylvania many decades ago.

Now that ALL western psychological and psychiatric associations have decried “conversion” therapy as not only being woefully ineffective, but exceedingly damaging to the psyche of young people, many legislative bodies have made it illegal in their jurisdictions.

Even the Mormons, notorious for giving electric shocks to the genitalia of their gay/lesbian offspring, in hope of “curing” them, have finally abandoned this practice.

Now that “Coming out Minstries” has been forced to abandon the appealing aspect of slickly changing one’s orientation, the MESSAGE BEHIND THE FILM
becomes harsh, bleak, grim, bitter, callous and pitiless.

It is essentially asking our gay/lesbian pre-teens and teens to commit to being celibate for life. Why do I use the terms “bleak” “grim” and “bitter”?
Because those of us who have been in loving relationships, know intuitively that the sexual component, while important, is vastly overshadowed by the companionship, caring, loyalty component of the relationship.

Parents of gay/lesbian teenagers need to ask themselves do they really want their offspring to commit to lead lonely, comfortless, blighted and empty lives till their deathbeds?

Did a truly loving God really expect 4 percent of the earth’s population THROUGH NO CHOICE OF THEIR OWN, to be obligated to lifelong companionless loneliness?

Quite apart from the fact that God gives our gay/lesbian offspring the SAME
levels of hormonal sexdrives as their straight siblings/cousins and then supposedly expects them to curtail/resist/suppress these drives when their straight siblings/cousins can happily marry and be sexual.

In my eighty one years on this planet, I have observed many widowed male acquaintances , who were remarried within a year of their bereavement. Since many were of the “post Viagra” age group, they were not getting married for sexual reasons but because of their intense loneliness and sense of companionlessness. If we do not deny loving companionship to our hetero widowers, why would we deny it to our gay offspring?

Being in my eighties, how blessed I am to have four caring, competent adult children, who will, when the time comes, choose my hospice/assisted living. While celibate singles, can with modern medical tecnics, have their own biological offspring, all would agree that single parenting is tough. I know of many gay couples, both male and female, who have achieved biological offspring. The joys of having children and grandchildren would be what all of would wish for our own children.

Mathew 7:9. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

The Adventist God has given our “Russian roulette”, one in twenty, gay /lesbian offspring, the “stone” of lifetime loneliness, an asexual existence despite having all the hormonal and emotional components to be sexual, and childlessness. Surely only a cruel, callous, pitiless God would dispense such “stones” in such an arbitrary random fashion.

No one, when born, will know whether they are the unfortunate one in twenty,
unhappy ones. They have zero control nor input in this process.

There is also a FINANCIAL component to this celibacy issue. In my circle of acquaintances both gay couples and straight, I know of many couples where one was fired or became unemployed relying totally on the generosity of their spouse to avoid becoming HOMELESS.

All of us acknowledge that in today’s society two pay checks are better than one in affording a comfortable lifestyle. While their straight brothers/cousins marry affluent female anesthesiologists, attorneys, accountants, architects, our gay sons, if single, when losing a job, have no fall back position.

CELIBACY is the UNSPOKEN issue behind this film.
Since one of the producers has a Catholic background, it is fitting to compare
CELIBACY as advocated in this film, to CATHOLIC CELIBACY.

FIRSTLY: Catholic celibates freely CHOOSE their celibacy as ADULTS, with full acknowledgement of all its components. Our gay/lesbian offspring have NO CHOICE in their orientation and therefore no choice in celibacy.

SECONDLY: in exchange for their vows of celibacy the monks/ nuns/priests live in convivial convents, monasteries priest homes, surrounded by companions. Even on their death beds they will have enormous emotional support from life long companions. Our celibate gay/lesbian offspring have no such intimate caring support.

THIRDLY: Catholic celibates are offered life long food, lodging, comforts, medical care, and all necessities. They will never be homeless or lacking of material comforts, in fact many of the Catholic Hierarchy live lives of luxury and opulence.

FOURTHLY: Catholic celibates receive adulation, esteem, admiration from their families, their friends and their parishioners. Adventist gays, even when celibate, are demeaned, denigrated, and discriminated against!

My final observation on the film, is that it toned down the libertine, promiscuous, sleazy and depraved past of some of the participants. In their past presentations, they have titilated their audiences with sordid tales of their prior debauched lives-- one was even a male prostitute. And many were also chemical substance abusers and alcoholics. Alcoholism leads to hepatic hormonal disruption, with premature loss of libido. These aging, sexually waning guys dispense celibacy advice to those in the prime of their sexual/
hormonal lives. Hardly FAIR!

The “Coming Out” group is a sub set of gay Adventists, quite unlike our many academy and college gay/lesbian students, who are innocent, guileless, and desperately seeking answers to their horrible predicament. Their dating heterosexual classmates, are more likely to be sexual, than many of our “closeted” gay kids on campus!

Most of our gay offspring are neither prostitutes nor promiscuous, and merely, like their straight counterparts, are desirous of finding a suitable romantic, monogamous companion with whom they can spend their lives.

May I advocate ALL parents, teachers, pastors, physicians and any dealing with gay young people, to see the film currently playing in cinemas: MOONLIGHT. It is on the list for numerous awards including BEST PICTURE.

it gives an unvarnished view of what it means to grow up gay with all the accompanying bullying, brutality, and bashing involved. Only those who have seen this movie will have a true picture of the horror of what it means to be born gay.

Plus the child actor, and later the teenage actor who portray the main character, are truly astonishing, and deserving of Oscars!

The plaintive little gay boy, asks: “what does “faggot” mean”?
The answer: “It is what people say to gays when they want them to feel bad”.

ADVENTISM HAS BEEN EXCEEDINGLY EFFICIENT in making our gay/lesbian offspring “FEEL BAD”.

I do not think this COMING OUT movie will make any gay/lesbian Adventist feel any better, despite its seeming benign and disarming tone.


I’m afraid that the current push for acceptance of transgender, gender switching, non-binary genders and especially the concept that your physical body doesn’t define your gender, your mind does, is a resurgence of the ancient pagan concept of body soul dualism.

The ancients (many of them, but it was especially well developed by the Greeks) believed that there is an immaterial soul that is the greater reality, and that the body is only a tent. If one subscribes to such a theory then it is easy to accept the concept that there is a mismatch between your body/genitalia etc and your mind.

Greek philosophy became the basis of Roman Catholic thinking, it was taken and developed further by the church fathers, and the Reformation did not cleanse Christianity of all these ideas. Thus it is easy for Christians of all sorts to accept these ideas because their Christianity is still partially founded on them.

But to Seventh-Day Adventists this should be anathema. Not only did God create them Male and Female and that describes “them” as a whole, not their minds or their bodies separately, but the human is the living soul, made of dust and the breath or spirit which gives life.

So, it is no wonder that in a world governed by “reason”, the educational and philosophical systems still riding on the backs of Greek philosophers to some degree, the idea that one can be a different gender than one appears can be entertained even by science, academia and Christianity. But in a worldview that the Bible is the source of all truth, that the Bible interprets itself, and that the method of interpreting the Bible is not human reason, culture or philosophy, but the sanctuary and the Great Controversy theme, this idea is not tenable.

What percentage of transgender individuals out there are truly intersex and what percentage are regular males or females genetically? Let the intersex be, but let not the regular males and females think they can switch.

Choosing an identity? I do not remember ever choosing to be heterosexual. Ever. “Blessed are they” who are gifted by God to choose their own sexual orientation.


Requisite to the church functioning as a crucible are (a) church members, who are the objects of the church’s refinement, and (b) an effectively hot temperature.

The very worst of sinners should be admitted into membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church if he or she is willing to bear the refining flames of the crucible. To be rejected is the Church Manual–every chapter, sentence, and word–because it fundamentally fails to understand that sinners cannot be refined by the crucible that is the church if they are not there. The Church Manual’s goal of church purification is an absurdity; the crucible that is the church never attains that goal so long as it functions.

Having seen evangelical Christians join together in enthusiastic support of a degenerate, a Caligula, a swine of a man, we realize that the temperature in the crucible that is the church is tepid at best. An appropriate response of the Seventh-day Adventist Church would be to increase the temperature with respect to sexual immorality.


I live in Asheville, NC. The Carolina Conference seems to be enamoured with the message of the Coming Our Ministries people: they presented a series of meetings at the Camp Meeting last Summer, a week’s meetings at Mt Pizgah Academy later in 2016, when students had no homework for the week and attendance was compulsory, and they were here again last week, with a series of meetings in Fletcher Academy, one each in several churches, including Pr Ron Woolsey preaching at Hendersonville Church last Sabbath, where Ted Wilson’s son-in-law is the pastor. (When the GC sponsored a huge conference on homosexuality in Capetown, South Africa, the only “gay” Adventists invited to speak there by Ted Wilson were two of these men. They seem to have the only account of homosexuality that the GC is willing to hear.) I saw the film and heard the presentations of two of the group at the Asheville North Church on the night of January 23. What did I see as the message of the film and its participants?

The film told their personal stories. The three men are all older, from the generation when society was very negative towards homosexuals and the church said almost nothing publicly, though if asked its counselors and pastors told gay men to “pray about it, date a woman, marry her, and God will change you.” Such an attempted trajectory caused so much internal tension, that men following that advice typically lived very promiscuous lives, including after they began their usually disastrous married lives. I have heard many such stories from previously married gay Adventists, and the stories I heard in this film and afterwards were no different. I firmly believe that for a gay man to marry a woman is sin, as it was for the church to advise that course of action. But that advice was being given to gay theology students, for example, at the Adventist Seminary in those days.

We were told after the film that one of the men (Woolsey) has married, has had 5 children, and is now a pastor (my data make it absolutely clear that parenting children absolutely does not prove that a man or woman is no longer gay); the other two men and one of the women are celibate, wisely choosing not to marry because the men admit that they are still sexually attracted to other men, while the woman stated that she is not interested in sex; the second woman is still an active lesbian. The speakers made a strong call to Adventists and their churches to make homosexuals welcome, and that is much-needed if we are to behave as the Christians we claim to be. However, sadly, the implication of what they were saying was that these should become celibate like they are. This of course is the official position of the church: the only acceptable homosexual is the celibate one or the ex-gay; ironically, it much prefers a promiscuous “ex-gay” to one living in a loving, committed relationship. There was no attempt to address the fact that the Bible does not address sexual orientation, but speaks only in its few brief mentions of the topic of people who while being heterosexual engage in homosexual sex as an aside.

My main problem with the film and the presentation was the assumption that all LGBT Adventists live promiscuous lives like they did. This ignores the huge changes that have taken place since society and many church members became accepting, creating room for LGBT Adventists and many others to seek and maintain committed, monogamous relationships. In this they were bearing false witness about LGBT Adventists today, providing church leaders and members who have “itching ears” with what they want to hear. They reminded me of that tired quote that appears so often when Adventists talk about LGBT people these days: “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” Sadly, this really means “we will love you when your ‘lifestyle’ becomes acceptable to us.”

A friend who is a lesbian mother of a student at one of the academies told me in anguish that her daughter did not want to attend the meetings given by this group, but was forced, like all her fellow students, to attend them. The daughter is not LGBT herself, but is very supportive of her lesbian mothers. Among her friends are several not-yet-out LGBT students who have felt comfortable being open with her, who responded to what she described as “the hateful presentations” that they were forced to endure by becoming suicidal. She was the one providing them support in that situation, while the school authorities were responsible for forcing the students to listen to material that made them feel unloved and hopeless. Similarly, I was told by a heterosexual Adventist who attended the Hendersonville Church last Sabbath, and thus heard Woolsey’s sermon there, that its tone was also very negative to LGBT people, and very different from that of the film, which she saw at Fletcher Church that afternoon.

Frankly, any attempts by the Adventist Church to promote organizations that reach out to LGBT members have usually been focused on changing their orientation, and these have been disastrous, as the leaders of Exodus International admitted when they finally closed down that organization. I was the researcher who unexpectedly discovered, back in the 1980s, that the change organization headed by a defrocked pastor and funded by the GC and a Union, had fostered a frightful environment where the “gay healer” who headed it was regularly sexually exploiting the fragile boys and men, some of them under-age, who had gone there for healing. These are the interviews that I remember as the saddest of all the thousands I have completed in a lifetime of eager sociological research. When I blew the whistle on the head of the organization, who had also become the best-known speaker at the annual conference of Exodus International, by writing a long letter to Neal Wilson, then the President of the GC, which included many quotations from the interviews, with copies to 29 other prominent Adventists so that he could not put it in the bottom drawer and forget about it, the “healer” admitted that what I had reported was correct and resigned immediately. But he was not to be so easily stopped–he went on to found another such program in Denver, with links to Focus on the Family, which continued to attract Adventists among those who went to be counselled and unexpectedly abused. However, some of those, on learning of what had happened previously and hearing my name as part of the denouement, then contacted me with recordings of their counseling sessions, so that once again I had to blow the whistle, this time through contacting a reporter at the Denver Post, who did her own research and then published a front-page story.

I fear that whoever in the Carolina Conference arranged the presentations here did so because the film and the sermons said what they wanted to hear. In this they were very unlike Jesus, who welcomed those considered sinners by those in high positions in the Jewish religion and who never mentioned homosexuality. However, according to the Gospel of John, he had a beloved disciple who was physically intimate with him during the Last Supper. I cannot be sure what that suggests, other than that because he is our example, we should not be offended by physical closeness by same-sex couples at our Communion Services.

     ..Ronald Lawson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Queens College, City University of New York

I welcome all earnest efforts to nudge authentic dialogue and listening within the Adventist church about the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality. If this film helps spread more compassion, awareness, and genuine seeking to hear from those very seldom given adequate time to share their spiritual gifts and stories, then I welcome it. However, I worry that churches who show this film might think that they’ve “had” a conversation by showing this film, but they won’t have heard—or even invited—LGBT Adventists who represent a far larger majority of our faith community.

I talked to a young gay Adventist man who saw this film when it first came out, and he said his main worry was that it’s going to help straight Adventists feel good about the status quo and policies, and it’s going to make closeted LGBT youth sitting in the audience feel that much more alone and isolated facing a church that just told them their very desire for companionship, family, and someone to journey through the ups and downs of life with is inherently immoral. It’s telling that the official church platforms and publications have so enthusiastically embraced this film. It fits their narrative.

I truly don’t want anyone’s voice or story silenced. All stories matter because all people matter. And we have to be careful because historically a lot of harm has been done in God’s name to gender and sexual minorities. A whole lot more listening needs to happen to those we have harmed and shunned before anything else.

If we had a film that only highlighted testimonies of the men and few women who zealously support male headship and don’t support ordaining women equally to the Gospel ministry, and we called that a dialogue, we would have a representation problem. Right now, the Adventist church needs a lot more listening to the broader LGBT Adventist community, not just those whose testimonies match what they want to hear. That’s not easy, and it’s a much more intentional and involved process.

I understand why Coming Out Ministries is often read as supporting ex-gay/reparative therapy, even though I also realize they vigorously deny that. Their language, framing, and worldview borrow a lot from the ex-gay world. And in their presentations, they often jokingly talk about the ways in which they check to see if God has changed their orientation yet. Certainly the implication with one story of someone who did identify as gay and now identifies as heterosexual (and wrote a book called, “That Kind Can Never Change, Can They”) is part of the confusion about if this group does or doesn’t support ex-gay programs, which are now widely (and wisely) denounced. And the conflation of promiscuity and orientation is damaging because so many Adventists already have very limited exposure to LGBT people, and that fits their stereotype. I rejoice that these men have found a healthy and purpose-filled path. But they were leading very traumatic and destructive lives. They needed redeeming whether gay or straight. There’s too much conflation of addiction (both sexual addiction and drug addiction) and sexual orientation in their testimonies which isn’t challenged or explained in any way.

That said, this film sounds like a kinder and gentler version of their presentations, and I hope it helps to influence their audiences in positive ways. I also sincerely hope that their audiences realize that if they truly want to engage in this conversation and community, this should not be their only input.


I don’t know that I can add much to the excellent responses from Robin Vandermolen, Ron Lawson, Daneen Akers and a few others. Their comments that really stood out for me:


I have dialoged with Wayne Blakeley before, and while he declares that he doesn’t support reparative therapy, he clearly supports an ex-gay byline. His position is to deny who you are and accept a new identity in Christ. He sees any position contrary to his viewpoint as believing Satan’s lies and rejecting the gospel. In Wayne’s world “sexual orientation” is an unacceptable term , and the APA should never have removed homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973.

IMO this production is most likely a well oiled counter response to SeventhGay Adventist. My fear is that it will keep many gay Adventist youth trapped in a lifetime of shame and struggle of denying and repressing who they are, forever faced with a continued stigma in the church if they identify as gay. Having once lived for 50 years in the lie of that shadow, I can tell you it produced multitudes of consequences. @daneenakers @carrolgrady


“He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Lest alone challenge --each and all are born sinners. But let us not boast our condition. Nor reject others. TZ


What I have seen in my lifetime is that Adventism would be quite happy if the LGBT+ community would continue to sit in silence or if they are too vocal or visible, to disappear altogether. I don’t think that this movie is presenting anything more than what has been the “accepted Adventist message”…and we know how ineffective that has been so far.


This is so true. Furthermore, we need to stop placing LGBT persons who have different convictions about how they should relate to their sexual orientation or gender identity into two different, oppositional camps. The Christian Gay Network represents one organization that has attempted to bring both groups–“Side A” and “Side B”–together under one banner. Wesley Hill and Julie Rodgers are another example of two Christian LGBT friends who have publicly come together to discuss their commonalities and differences in a remarkably respectful way: My sense is that while differences do exist in the Christian LGBT community, it may be straight Christians who sometimes exploit these differences for their own purposes and to the harm of all LGBT Christians. If straight Adventists weren’t so busy recruiting gay Adventist like those in Coming Out Ministries to make their points for them, I think you would see LGBT Adventists on all sides turning toward one another and supporting each other in the journey. Just a hunch…


ROBIN VANDERMOLEN. Thank you. I saw the film last week and felt all of what you expressed, but I couldn’t put it into words. I don’t think I know you, but I wish I did.

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To be honest about my views on the LGBT lifestyle, I will say, in brief, that if a child of mine practiced one of the above categories, MY major concerns would be(1) that such a boy/girl would work to be accomplished in what I consider to be a worthwhile area of endeavor such as for example: science/pianism/ astronomy/writing or other areas of work , but NOT religious leadership as in pastoring , and (2) try to avoid a promiscuous lifestyle. which I would regard as too stressful and may lead to psychological difficulties. For this reason I would also counsel them to give up religion as a whole, but retain faith in God. While at present, inter sex relations is the GOLD STANDARD, and the only way of perpetuating the species on an large scale , the time is almost here and now when motherhood will be unnecessary.The age of EUFI (Extra Uterine Foetal Incubation is already here and its development is seemingly held back more by a False perception of bioethics, than by technology.As for myself, I thank almighty God for the creation of woman.

I have tended to dislike it when someone revives old discussions on web forums and have studiously avoided doing so here and elsewhere, but this particular discussion was suggested at the bottom of a current discussion that I had been engaged in. Out of curiosity I took a look and was rather agog at the following statement:

Really? …and of course this would never be a problem, there would be no reason for concern if he/she were a practicing heterosexual !!! ???

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