The Seventh-day Adventist Church and Transgender People

In the United States, 2015 was a landmark year for transgender people.

After becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her work in Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox in 2015 became the first trans woman to be memorialized with a wax statue in Madame Tussauds wax museum, based in London—a significant accolade among many for Cox. In 2015, the Amazon series Transparent, about the family of a man who has long identified as female, became the first show produced by Amazon to win a major award and the first streaming video service series to win a Golden Globe for Best Series. Trans man Aydian Dowling was the Men’s Health Reader's Choice pick for the title of the Ultimate Men's Health Guy in 2015. And Caitlyn Jenner appeared on countless magazine covers, and became a household name in 2015.

Within the last year, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has had its own awakening concerning transgender people. From late 2014 to late 2015, trans people became not only a topic of serious discussion within the denomination, but also the subject of multiple position statements, a film project, several articles—even a talking point for the first Seventh-day Adventist candidate for President of the United States. For the first time, transgender people showed up on Adventist radar in a significant way.

How transgender people featured in Adventist discourse within the last year has varied widely.

OFFICIAL STATEMENTS

In October 2014, the Biblical Research Institute’s Ethics Committee authored a statement on “transgenderism,” a phrase not often seen in scholarly literature, but one gaining popularity among Evangelicals. The statement addressed “sex-change surgery” in particular, saying “the question of sex-change surgery (also called sex reassignment surgery) challenges the Church with sensitive questions.”

The statement addressed believers who opt to undergo gender reassignment surgery, saying “we recognize the uniqueness of their existential situation and the limitation of our knowledge in such issues,” adding that “from a biblical perspective the human being is a psychosomatic unity. This means that sexual identity cannot be entirely independent from one’s body as is frequently asserted.”

The statement also suggested that “In some cases, sex-change surgery may be motivated by a sophisticated desire for homosexual activity. Undergoing sex-change surgery in order to satisfy the homosexual urge to have sex with a person of the same sex would violate the ethical and moral biblical principle of sexual activity being limited to heterosexual marriage.”

The statement also addressed transgender people who convert to Adventism, and trans people who want to be married.

In October 2015, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University issued a statement entitled “An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care, which referenced transgender people, but aside from one sentence—“In addition, various alternate sexualities, including homosexuality, bisexuality, and the variety of transgender identities have become increasingly mainstream”—the document dealt exclusively with homosexuality.

On November 2, 2015, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists approved a statement on human sexuality that, like the BRI’s statement, essentially professed agnosticism concerning transgender people. The NAD statement said, “While the Seventh-day Adventist Church has formulated teachings on gender and sexuality that may have a bearing on issues related to transgenderism, the Church has not yet articulated an official position applying these teachings to the issue. The complex nature of transgenderism calls for further discussion before recommendations can be made for the Church.”

ARTICLES

Another Adventist approach to relating to transgender people in 2015 came by way of telling trans people’s stories—primarily in articles on this website. My March 2015 article on Teagan Widmer, a successful, self-taught software engineer and the creator of the Refuge Restrooms app, was the first article (as far as I know) in a Seventh-day Adventist journal documenting a story of a trans person.

In June, Alita Byrd interviewed an Adventist employee who, in the process of coming out as a trans woman, was also transitioning out of Adventist employment. The interviewee, who declined to be named, said that she had no intention of leaving the Adventist Church.

POLITICAL TALKING POINT

Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, arguably 2015’s most famous Seventh-day Adventist, has made some strong statements about transgender people in his bid for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Writing for Sojourners, Andrews University graduate Eliel Cruz traced the Adventist Church’s complicated history with homosexuality from Colin Cook’s controversial, church-funded “Homosexuals Anonymous” in the 1970s to Carson’s statements about homosexual and transgender people in his 2015-2016 presidential run. Writes Cruz, “Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, has compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. He even suggested segregating bathrooms for the transgender population since it was unfair to make non-trans individuals uncomfortable. And this week, Carson referred to trans individuals as “abnormal” and said they should not be given “extra rights.”

FILM PROJECT

The 2015 film project “Enough Room at the Table,” directed and produced by Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer, who also created the film “Seventh-Gay Adventists,” provided another first for Adventist trans people. Enough Room featured a weekend dialogue in which 12 Adventists from around the United States including pastors, educators, parents, and LGBT+ Adventists, all from from differing theological paradigms, experiences, and perspectives, came together as strangers to talk with one another. One of the participants, trans woman Rhonda Dinwiddie, provided some of the film’s most deeply poignant moments as she shared her story with the group. The project is the first Adventist-created story featuring a transgender individual. It debuted at the Spectrum UltraViolet Arts Festival, and is available for $.99 as a digital download. The DVD of Enough Room will be available soon.

YOUTUBE ATTACK VIDEO

Just last week, Rhonda Dinwiddie found herself at the center of another visual project—a YouTube video attacking her, the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church, its pastor, and that conference’s administration. In the summer of 2015, Dinwiddie was ordained as an elder at the Hollywood Church (another denominational first). As part of a series of church-life conversations at Hollywood, Hollywood elder Kirsten Salvador interviewed Dinwiddie in December 2015. That video was uploaded to Hollywood’s YouTube channel on December 15.

The video caught the attention of Andrew and Hilari Henriques, who operate the independent Adventist website prophesyagain.org. The couple posted a 33-minute video in response, attacking Dinwiddie, the Hollywood Church, its pastor, Branden Stoltz, and the Southern California Conference where Hollywood is located. The Henriqueses expressed outrage and called for firings. “I believe somebody has to be held accountable for what is going on at Hollywood,” Andrew Henriques said, looking into the camera. He called for punishment for the church’s pastor, its ministerial director, and conference president Velino Salazar. The video launches into a lengthy excursus on biblical texts dealing with wickedness and with sexuality.

I spoke with both Kirsten Salvador and Rhonda Dinwiddie about the video and how the Hollywood Church was responding to the attack.

Salvador said that the Hollywood Church did not want to respond in a reactionary way, knowing that God can work transformatively through negative situations like the one created by the attack video. She said that the team of elders at Hollywood and the pastor had all been supportive of each other after the video went viral, creating a small firestorm on social media.

“We do not want to feed the flame, but this affords us an opportunity to do something positive,” Salvador said. She said that Dinwiddie, in addition to having thick skin, has a “gentle, kind, compassionate spirit.”

Although within the last year the Seventh-day Adventist Church has begun acknowledging and discussing transgender people in serious ways, the denomination still more often than not talks about trans people rather than listening to them. To continue reversing that trend, I wanted Rhonda Dinwiddie to have the last word, to be able to speak for herself, and not simply be spoken about.

Here are her responses to my questions about this incident:

What does it mean to you to be part of a community that not only welcomes you, but also recognizes your desire to take part in ministry by making you an elder?

My community is, simply, my friends. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, religions, political ideologies, personal philosophies and sexual and gender identities. I care about all of them, whether they are inside or outside of my Christian community, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. My local church community is my family . . . my spiritual home. Each member is very important to me. I was asked to become an elder because of my mindset and what I already do, not to set something new into motion. I find love and security in knowing that my church family has recognized my consecration to it by my choosing to serve as soon as I could find my place to do so.

What was your response to the YouTube video from "Prophesy Again," which, though part of the same Worldwide Adventist family, in name at least, was such a completely different approach to you and your being an elder than the Hollywood Church's approach?

That video and what the hosts presented sickened and saddened me. They chose to complain, criticize, condemn and judge the people of my church without ever trying to contact or interview any of us. They showed no interest in learning anything new . . . only interest in using what they already “knew” and in using the Bible and EGW’s writings to propel aspersions against us.

In what ways has the congregation at Hollywood responded on a personal or interpersonal level to the attacks from people like those in the video?

My co-leaders think things through carefully and seek counsel from one another and from leadership within the Conference, Union and Division. We do nothing hastily or in anger. Hatred was no stranger to any of God’s people in Bible times. We should consider ourselves no different, and we are expected to be the recipients of it.

Now, you were a key part of the dialogue process that went into Daneen and Stephen's "Enough Room at the Table" film project. What do you hope that project will accomplish in the Adventist Church?

I am hoping that the films Seventh-Gay Adventists and Enough Room at the Table will be shown in every SDA church on Planet Earth and that they will engender deep conversations within each of their congregations. We need to be a church of question askers, not a church of answer providers spoon feeding all from a silver platter. The diversity of human life must be acknowledged and accepted as a very natural part of life. Hateful discrimination based on any artificial divisions of humans must dissolve through mutual love and respect for one another. Jesus gave us only one Great Command: that we love one another. It is only this, if anything, that can usher in the end of time.

What do you think people—Adventists or otherwise—might be prone to misunderstand about you as an individual, and about transgender people more broadly?

I would guess that a large majority of people, the world over, believe that transpeople are perverts or sex addicts or child molesters etc, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are simply people born with a an unusual condition wherein the brain’s sense of gender does not correspond with the body’s physical gender. Such people need education, and there is plenty available for those who really want to know and understand.

And when it comes to the full range of sexual identities from asexual to pansexual and everything in between, what would you hope the Seventh-day Adventist Church's attitude or response would be to people across the wide spectrum?

I hope that the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church will talk publicly with us rather than to or about us without our public participation. Until now, we have been relegated to “it” or “they” rather than “we” or “us.” We have been ostracized and excluded from virtually all conversations. This is what needs changing first and foremost. Then the possibilities will come for true care, understanding and acceptance of sexual and gender variant people. And, I would love to see this happen before my passing.

The last thing that I would very much like to see happen is church-wide, truly open, prayerful and fervent Bible study where all of the supposed proof texts that are used against us are thoughtfully weighed according to their ancient languages and the cultures/societies and textual contexts in which they were used rather than taking them simply at their face value. Study means STUDY, not the most casual, automatic and literal a Victorian reading that many radical extremists are inclined to.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7282
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Wow, this is very disturbing and discouraging, that professed Christians would use such a hateful tactic in an attempt to force their own views on people. I only heard about this attack video yesterday and my immediate response was one of deep sadness. How can some of us in the SDA Church be so hateful. It makes me feel sick.

It is my hope that the church will continue to grow in these areas. We need to be more open to trying to understand transgender issues rather than simply jumping right in with condemnation and assuming that anyone who is trans is somehow a pervert, or at the very least is in rebellion against God. Such responses come out of a deep level of ignorance and unwillingness to try and understand.

The church needs to study transgender issues with a more open mind, which includes learning about it from biological, medical and behavioral experts who have a greater understanding about why transgender people exist, and from trans people themselves. In fact, a proper understanding of biology, especially as it relates to fetal development, makes it clear that it would be surprising if no transgendered individuals existed. Because of the complexity and timing of prenatal development, humans are basically setup for a few people to be born this way. Knowing this, we must behave with greater understanding and compassion.

We must not see transgendered people as somehow mutants or perverts, but rather as perfectly normal human beings with particular struggles that many of us will never face. We need to accept them and help them integrate into our church families as fully participating and contributing members. Such individuals are my brothers and sisters as much as are the majority of people who are born with no transgender issues.

Chances are, most people have already met trans people and never even knew it. Many of them pass easily as the gender their being tells them they are. Even for those who are unable to pass so easily, we must exercise compassion and loving acceptance. I know quite a number of trans individuals and they are wonderful, vibrant people that we need in our church family. God loves them just as much as He loves the rest of us, and we need to do the same, no holds barred.

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If anyone were to spend even a few minutes with Rhonda they would realize how deeply Adventist she is. She’s actually quite conservative. I’m so saddened to see such a hateful video attack Rhonda. They lack education on trans identities and no relational context with her. Yet, neither does our church really have any education on trans identities. It’ll be quite interested to see how the church responds to the reality of trans people in our pews. I know of some of our Universities/Colleges who have accommodated trans students – albeit quietly. Should be interesting to see what the GC says here in the near future.

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Thanks for this overview, and thanks in particular for including Rhonda’s voice and perspective after this really appalling attack video was circulated. As she says, transgender people are almost always talked “about” and “at” rather than “with”, and it’s the “with” spaces where we must continue to strive to dwell, even when we don’t always understand or agree. Rhonda’s gentle spirit and deep commitment to her faith is inspiring.

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Here we see the mentality behind the NO vote to women’s ordination at the GC.
Planks in eyes and swallowed camels.

Really sad to see.

@kennlutz @tony @bronwynreid

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Let’s presume BRI’s “psychosomatic unity” assumption among others were right, what about other conditions where the body is not quite a he nor she such as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. In a study of 143 women with CAH, “41% were not exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual” compared to 29% for “Simple Virilizing CAH” and for unaffected “control” it was 5%. Then there are the other disorders of sex development such as Turner’s syndrome, Klinefelter’s syndrome, Androgen Insensitivity syndrome, Hermaphroditism and Enzymatic defects in XY genotype.

Shall we exclude these population from joining the SDA church because their “sexual identity cannot be entirely independent from one’s body as is frequently asserted?”

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The way Rhonda’s eyes light up when she speaks about God, Jesus, and the scriptures is unmistakable, and I’m glad the community at Hollywood recognizes and nurtures it. May no one hinder the Spirit.

I also respect her loyalty to her denomination, despite the fact that the denom’s top layer has not always proven loyal to her.

@Elmer, the cases you’re referring to fall under the spectrum of intersex conditions (differences of sexual development / DSD), not transgender experience. And there are already intersex people born into Adventist congregations, born to Adventist missionaries and church workers, or born into families that convert into the denomination.

We need to stop asking “What would we do if Those People joined us?” and recognize that the Adventist community worldwide has always included people who are neither cisgender nor heterosexual—and rarely treated them well regardless of their spiritual commitment or willingness to use their gifts for the edification of the church as Rhonda is doing. That’s a confession we have to make before we can move forward.

It’s still possible that the church’s medical, psychological, and scientific specialists can have more influence on the denomination’s understanding of difference. Whether it’s likely is going to be a combined function of the experts’ willingness to share what they know at all levels of the .org, and administrators’ humble teachability.

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I’d like to point readers to a concise summary of the biology (and theology) of gender differentiation, gender identity, and sexual preference: http://tinyurl.com/pe8l8z3. There, I summarized what we know about the simple fact that as much as 2% of the human population has mismatches among the sex chromosomes, internal gonads, internal ducts, and external genitals. And no one has yet to quantify the frequency of mismatches between these tissues and the brain–which is the biggest sex organ of all. In the beginning God created them male and female, yes, but only someone completely ignorant of biology would insist today that gender remains a black-and-white condition; it’s not.

The judgmentalism, intolerance, and even hatred arises from one deep-seated conviction: that God judges our sexual identity and behavior on the basis of what’s between our legs (external genitals) with complete disregard of our brains. What kind of a God prioritizes our genitals ahead of our brains?

In a sin-riddled world in which (1) genetic mutations abound, (2) emotions during pregnancy can affect not just developmental pathways but even our DNA (i.e., our children’s children), (3) and environmental toxins cause neuroendocrine disruption including sex organ and brain development, why would a God be so fickle and ignore the very essence of being human and the organ with which we worship: our brain?

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7.

ITEM ADDED:

Linton, if an individual has a male’s penis and a woman’s brain–which research clearly shows can be the case–where in the Bible or in God’s commandments are we told that God requires behavior that must conform to the penis rather than the brain? Where? And where are we told that God identifies our gender and appropriate behavior solely by our genitals rather than our brain? Is God incapable of judging our brains, and therefore makes us slaves to our genitals? I have a simple suggestion for you: let God judge these matters.

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“If by their fruits you will know them” carries any weight, Rhonda seems to pass the fruit inspection and the makers of the attack video fail it miserably. I met her at Kinship Kampmeeting and I also listened to her and shook her hand to congradulate her at the Arts festival at Glendale Church in September. Love will win in the end when all the forces of doubt, outrage and rejection are left twisting in the wind. @daneenakers

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Permit me to comment on the article “The Seventh Day Adventist Church And Transgender People”

My first concern is that it seems the editor is using this magazine as a platform for The LGBTQ Community. Trying to rally acceptance,by the denomination,of the said community.In his attempt to reach his objective he has made certain statement or inferences that gives cause for concern and which gives me no other alternative but to say, if one don’t like the fact that the SDA Church was founded on and stands on bible principles then it is time to gracefully/quietly make their exit.And i say that because merely being a Seventh Day Adventist does not guarantee us a place in God’s Kingdom.The last pronounced blessing found in the bible is recorded at Rev.22:14 and it makes no reference to any particular denomination/religeon it references “those that do his commandments” Now we must ,if the bible is our guide, accept that God’s Commandments represents his expressed will or his will/condition for salvation.We cannot get past that plain and simple,we can try to circumvent it as the article’s author has tried to do but it just simply won’t work because God declares " I am the Lord I change not mal.3:6.
This brings me to my first observation.The author in an effort to present and champion his case cite several persons of the LGBTQ community who have received accolades for different contributions made in various areas of discipline.This is irrelevant because (a) the church/denomination cannot or should not be governed by the world’s standards,if the church lowers it’s standards it will have failed to retain it’s moral influence. So the church stands apart with a standard all it’s own as a beacon of hope to those who are honestly seeking a relationship with our creator,that is the primary mission of the church.
The church is not governed by the opinions of men,regardless of how many doctorates they might have.The church as one guide The Bible So the BRI cannot morally compel the church to go against the plain teachings of God as is found in the bible and in this particular case Leviticus 18:22. They can’t do it they do not have that authority.
The question of LGBTQ should not even come up except where the the concept of loving the sinner and hating the sin is applied.This simply means that one so love the "sinner "to the extent that one would with God’s help,do all that is humanly possible to help that “sinner” to recognize the error of their ways and turn from such error. Loving the sinner does not mean we elevate such person into a position where they are able to be a person of influence especially where such person has not renounced the error.Loving someone does not mean i encourage that one into continuing on a path to destruction or eternal loss.That is why the Lord refer to those practices as an abomination.
My next observation is pastor Henriques’ observation.Since when upholding biblical principles an attack on someone? The pastor highlights a concern,and it is a concern shared by many of us SDA’s.Are we about to go back to the dark ages when christians were lynched because they exposed the Roman Church for their errors.Why does it seem that we are going back to the days of the early church ,where the apostles were beaten and locked up for opening the eyes of the people because the sanhedrin was not doing it ? Friends truth is truth God’s word has no grey area it’s straight up black and/or white ?Why are we so insistent in creating a grey area where the Lord has clearly established his will ? Friends we need to stop this slide into rebellion and find our path back up on to the pathway of truth before judgment is visited upon us.thank you for your time.We must remember the intelligence we have/posess is given by God and sustained by God and as such should be used to enlighten and encourage his people so they might turn to him in obedience. So let us use it accordingly lest he take

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Thanks for the thoughtful article. Knowing many transgender people, even a significant number who are SDA, I know they appreciate the support that they receive from those within the SDA church to see God, the Savior, as big enough to include people who, by no fault of there own are transgender.

Those who want to judge will do so, the question in my mind is can the institutional church truly live out the gospel as Christ commanded and modeled. Do we love God with all are hearts, and our neighbor as our selves. Can we learn to love other even thou they are not like ourselves, even if we cannot empathize with a medical condition we our selves don’t have and some are not able to understand.

Thanks Jared and Spectrum for giving voice to Rhonda and other LGBTQI people. Can we the church stop yelling at them long enough to listen and learn, I certainly hope so, but history shows that religions have a hard time with listening…

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Jesus didnt come to change God’s mind about us – Humans.
Jesus came to change our minds about God, to reveal Who God really is.

As Paul says, we humans see God through a smoked up piece of glass – “darkly”. And we say, “THIS is God.” And then go about proclaiming Who God is by our distorted observation.
God has allowed all these biological formation differences. David in Psalms says YOU have formed me, knit me together. In Jeremiah, God says He knew Jeremiah before he was born. And selected him in the womb to do a particular job for Him.
Why cant we say the same for ALL Human’s who are born every day. This includes persons who are mis-matched body and brain. Our hormones control us humans more than we would like to accept. These include our Brain Hormones. Special areas of our brain like the Amygdala and the Thalamus control us more than we human SDAs would like to to accept.
Being Right Brained, Left Brained are NOT the only differences among Brain Development.
It is our Brain that tells us WHO we are, WHAT we like to do, WHO we want to be for a life work, tells us when IT wants to change occupations. Tells us who IT wants to spend the rest of ITS life with in a long-term relationship.
Our arms, legs are only methods of moving our BRAIN around the environment so it can socialize with other brains. Our external nervous system is the only way our BRAIN can see, smell, taste, feel, learn everything, and it is a glutton for being stimulated every second of its life.
It has also been programmed to be in contact with its Creator. That is why it creates beings greater than itself. It is searching for its Creator.

So we have to be careful, very careful one human being Brain judging another human being Brain. One God-seeker judging another God-seeker. One Seventh-day Adventist judging another human God-seeker who has sensed some of God’s presence.
This is why some of the on-line groups like the Henriques and the BRI who come out of Silver Springs are so dangerous. Groups like these were condemned and blasted by Jesus in His day. What does He think about them continuing to be in the Seventh day Adventist church in our day.

PS: Dont forget Male Seventh day Adventist Brains judging Female Seventh day Adventist Brains. And the Males at SA2015 voted what THEY think of Female Brains.
When, in the OT God says I am looking at the “heart”. He is really saying, I am looking at this person’s BRAIN.

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Adventists have always had problems with people who do not “look” like Adventists, whatever that means to the individual. Dress, behavior, even beliefs that do not correlate with the majority is threatening.

Transgender is much like homosexuality in that the body does not “match” the brain as is the norm (see above). It is difficult for the church and members to even understand those who are not “normal” so they have shunted them aside with either multiple studies or simply to close their eyes.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the new ability CRISPR, to edit the genes that causes genetic diseases? The future is frightening to those that have difficulty even accepting transgender and homosexuality.

Either the church will join the 21st century or stay in the 19th with the “glory” of its founding beliefs. But it cannot expect to have any influence on people of today with such outdated perceptions.

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I believe it is inaccurate to say that the Prophesy Again site by the Henriques is a Seventh-day Adventist site. I believe it is more accurate to say that it is an attack site against Seventh-day Adventists. We can find no evidence that this couple belongs to a Seventh-day Adventist Church anywhere, let alone that he is a Seventh day Adventist minister, even though his wife calls him "Pastor."
I could be mistaken on this and would welcome information to the contrary. I’m sure his supporters will be glad to provide it.
The aim of the site appears to be to demonstrate that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in apostasy. Attacks on the site are not just against the North American division but also the world church and even specifically against the Bahamas Seventh-day Adventist Church. (The Henriques appear to be physically located outside the Bahamas, probably in the US.)
I don’t think this couple deserves all the attention we are giving them.

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Do we really need “position papers”, “official statements” and other church communications on these issues? Why can’t we all be glad to have dedicated and talented people who commit to Jesus and serve in church? A balanced reading of scripture reveals that it is the heart of a person that matters to God. Rene G.

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My problem with the Church’s proclamations on the topic of sex is that their statements don’t allow for the variety that is out there. Statements like “we are all born male or female” form the underpinnings of their arguments, and are wrong from the outset, as revealed to us my medical science.

If the church’s guidelines don’t include the 1 - 5% of people who are different (depending on what you consider to be significantly ‘different’) then it can’t be taken seriously. And is doesn’t so it can’t.

Any sexual morality guidelines from the church need to encompass all of humanity and not exclude those who, in may cases, are already marginalized. The church should be trying to counteract marginalization, not promote it with ignorance.

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I agree that they don’t deserve attention, however the reality of the Internet Age is that people with a little bit of web savvy can generate a good deal of destructive attention on their own (as Andrew and Hilari Henriques did with their video). The video spread virally on social media, and with the echo-chamber that is the Internet, became a much bigger deal than was probably warranted.

One of many reasons Spectrum exists is to provide the Adventist Church with new narratives–alternative storylines and new perspectives that the church itself might not be able to see. That is both the function and the value of an independent press.

In this case, I think Kirsten Salvador articulated the point very well when she said, “We do not want to feed the flame, but this affords us an opportunity to do something positive.” That positive, perhaps, is what @daneenakers called a “with space,” that is, talking with someone rather than talking at or about them.

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I feel as though it would be fair to say that the church’s official pronouncements on this topic literally are the opinions of men, the masculine pronoun here being intentional.

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Jeffrey, I am loving your rhetorical question: “What kind of a God prioritized our genitals ahead of our brains?” And this question: " . . . --where in the Bible or in God’s commandments are we told that God requires behavior that must conform to the penis rather than the brain?"

I have a child born with a vagina and a male brain. When he finally admitted to himself and everyone else he DOES have a male brain and began living his life identifying as a male, it was as though he went from a black and white world to a world of color. Life still provides anxieties for him but there is an underlying serenity about him that did not exist before.

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To @Inge’s point. It makes a significant difference in reporting the vitriol of the Henriqueses if they are misidentified as part of the church. Their video is cruel in any case, but much hurt about the video results from believing that it’s fellow Adventists flinging this mud.

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