Viewpoint: LGBT Adventists Can Find Hope in the Adventist Civil Rights Movement

This is a shortened version of an article written for the current issue of Spectrum (Spring 2016). To read the full article with citations and references become a member of Adventist Forum and receive Spectrum quarterly with your membership. If you are new to Spectrum, you can also request a complimentary copy here. -Ed.

Two weeks have past since a gunman terrorized a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 people and injuring 53 more. The senseless massacre prompted an outpouring of support for members of the LGBT community who felt especially hard hit by this homophobic attack.

The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) joined the chorus of supporters, offering a ray of hope to LGBT members in an otherwise desolate moment. The same day of the tragedy, the NAD issued a statement expressing heartbreak over “the loss of innocent lives.” Although the statement failed to name homophobia, it “denounced[ed] the hate that led to this mass shooting” and “condemn[ed] all expressions of hate, from speech to deadly violence.” In a video posted a few days later, NAD President Dan Jackson added, “Our hearts grieve with the LGBT community.” The post included the affirming #loveisloveislove, which has been used by same-sex marriage advocates.

In sharp contrast, just four years ago, the church’s General Conference (GC) managed to add insult to injury when it responded to reports that pastor Blasius Ruguri of the East-Central Africa Division had publicly supported Uganda’s anti-gay legislation, which would have sentenced gay individuals to death in some cases. Instead of condemning homophobia, the GC doubled down on its condemnation of homosexuality while also claiming to be “strongly opposed to acts of violence, hatred and discrimination against a person because of his or her sexual orientation.” The GC’s hypocritical statement drew the ire of black Adventist lawyer and religious liberty scholar Jason Hines who asked: “How can we expect a pastor in Africa to care about the rights of homosexuals when the Adventist rhetoric in America is at the very least tinged (and more often saturated) with homophobia and hate?” Indeed, the GC’s statement failed to appreciate that, for many LGBT Adventists, the church’s one-sided disparaging views of homosexuality and same-sex relationships feel like “acts of violence, hatred and discrimination.”

From that perspective, the NAD’s response to the Orlando mass shooting stands out not only for its compassionate tone but also for its omission of any condemnation of homosexuality, and may signal a shift in the way the church is now approaching homophobia. If so, it would not be the first time Adventism evolved on a significant social issue. The church’s troubled history with racism comes to mind. As civil rights leader Coretta Scott King aptly noted, “Homophobia is like racism . . . it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

In this regard, the Adventist civil rights movement delivers a prophetic message of hope to LGBT Adventists fighting homophobia today. In the same way the Adventist church came to accept desegregation and interracial marriage, Adventists are slowly embracing LGBT equality and same-sex marriage as well. Already, 25 percent of Adventists in the United States favor same-sex marriage, and of the 64 percent that oppose it only 21 percent are 18 to 29 year-olds. Ethicist Gary Chartier affirmed this trend in The Future of Adventism. He explains that the Christian community blurs “divisions based on ethnicity, nationality, and class, and increasingly also divisions based on gender and sexual orientation,” because “the church, rooted in the inclusive practice of Jesus, is an institutional rejection of the destructive business of boundary-making.”1 The Adventist civil rights movement is a stark reminder of that important truth. The sooner Adventist leaders grasp this reality with respect to LGBT members, the safer the church will be for all people of faith.

Adventist Civil Rights Movement and the Church’s Struggle against Racism As recently as the 1980s, an Adventist pastor stunned his Canadian community when he refused to perform an interracial marriage.2 News reports of the incident reached E.E. Cleveland, a black Adventist pastor and civil rights leader in the United States. He shared the story with Neal Wilson Jr., GC president at the time. Wilson discussed the matter at the GC’s human relations committee, and the group voted to revoke the credentials of any pastor who refused to marry interracial couples.

The discriminatory practice of denying marriage to interracial couples was not divorced from the church’s teachings. In 1968, less than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia, the NAD issued guidelines advising against such marriages on religious grounds. The guidelines invoked the counsel of church visionary Ellen White who at one time directed, “there should be no intermarriage between the white and the colored race.” The GC published the NAD’s guidelines in the Church Manual in 1977, and did not remove them until 15 years later in 1992.

Concern about mixing between the races was driven, in part, by pseudo-scientific beliefs that percolated American society in the nineteenth century. In her early writings, Ellen White suggested that “certain races of men” were the product of mixing between humans and animals (also known as the “polygenesis theory”).3 Her statements stirred controversy among early Adventists “with critics charging that she believed Negroes were not human and defenders insisting she meant no such thing.”4 Eventually, she distanced herself from such views and declared: “Birth . . . or color cannot elevate or degrade men.” It took the church several decades to follow suit.

Well into the 20th century, many Adventist institutions still barred black members on account of their race. As late as the 1960s, some Adventist pastors justified these exclusionary practices with dated interpretations of biblical texts such as the “Curse of Ham,” suggesting that Ham’s son Canaan turned black after Noah cursed him to be a servant to his brothers.5 According to these pastors, black Adventists could not hold positions of authority or even enter certain facilities because, as descendants of Canaan, blacks were also cursed.

Again, these segregationist practices found support in official church policy. Although Ellen White had initially observed that “sin rests upon us as a church” when prejudice got in the way of building a racially inclusive faith community, she reversed course a few years later when Adventist missionaries confronted violent southerners who disliked the church’s integrationist values. Motivated by safety concerns and a desire to evangelize white and black southerners in spite of the racial divide, she endorsed segregation “until the Lord shows us a better way.”6

A better way emerged when, in the 1960s, black Adventists enlisted in the civil rights movement and demanded equal treatment in the church as well.7 Black students and their friends amplified the demands for change through public protests across Adventist colleges. Black Adventist theologians supported these efforts through liberationist interpretations of the Bible, and a renewed emphasis on Ellen White’s integrationist commitments. Other black Adventists such as Frank Hale Jr. formed the Laymen’s Leadership Conference (LLC) with the purpose of ending racial discrimination in the church. In 1961, the LLC urged the GC to re-articulate Adventism’s position on race “in light of social changes,” to require diversity training for pastors, and to remove racial barriers to church membership, employment and access.8 The GC responded by issuing a statement rejecting segregation as incompatible with Christian teaching, but little else changed in practice.

Pressures to desegregate mounted following two important events: the landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing racial segregation in schools and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banning racial discrimination in public facilities. Relying on these new anti-discrimination laws, black members of the South Central Conference (SCC) sued the denomination because many Adventist academies continued to deny admission to black students. The U.S. Attorney General joined the lawsuit on the side of black Adventists, and pressured the GC to end segregation or risk losing federal tax exemptions. The GC gave in to these demands and, in 1965, resolved to desegregate. Charles Dudley, a black civil rights activist and SCC leader, chided the GC for letting the government play the role of the Good Samaritan. In Dudley’s view, the church should have acted out of its own initiative rather than legal compulsion.9

Although efforts to combat racism continue, the GC formally shifted the tone on race relations in 1985 when, at the insistence of black Adventists, it condemned racism as “one of the odious evils of our day.” That statement also declared that “Scripture plainly teaches that every person was created in the image of God” and “made of one blood,” refuting any lingering doubts about the Curse of Ham and the polygenesis theory in Adventism. Here, the prophetic voice of the Adventist civil rights movement sounds all the louder for LGBT Adventists today.

LGBT Adventist Struggle for Equality and Parallels with Adventist Civil Rights Movement Similar to issues of race and race relations, Adventists have been engaged for decades in an ideological debate over the proper understanding of homosexuality and same-sex relationships.

This debate has been influenced by modern conceptions of sexual orientation, which emerged in the late 1800s when European psychologists started to study same-sex love and labeled it “homosexuality” and “inversion.”10 Some psychologists followed the so-called “degeneracy theory,” which taught that biological and moral degeneration in certain groups threatened social progress and casted homosexuals along with “Jews, Negroes, rapists, murderers and incest abusers as the most dangerous of social ‘degenerates.’”11 Other psychologists, however, found homosexuality to be an innate, morally neutral characteristic akin to heterosexuality.12

Early Adventists stayed aloof from these developments in the study of sexual orientation.13 By contrast, the degeneracy theory infected Adventist teachings on health and sex.14 For example, Ellen White attributed the “sad degeneracy” of the human race to a failure to observe the “laws of health,” such as eating meat, drinking stimulants or indulging in sex.15 Her health reform protégé Dr. John H. Kellogg took those concerns further and dedicated his life’s work to combatting “race degeneration” by promoting dietary cures, sexual abstinence and selective breeding to eliminate undesirable characteristics (also known as “eugenics”).16 An extreme example of the degeneracy theory’s effects on Adventism occurred in Germany in the years leading up to World War II when some church officials there endorsed the Nazi’s efforts to sterilize “all physical and mental degenerates,” and supported “the extermination of . . . Homosexuals, Jews and people with physical infirmities.”

Today, Adventism is still dusting off traces of the degeneracy theory, which in retrospect sounds more like nineteenth century folktales about “certain races of men” than well-researched science.17 For instance, the church’s Fundamental Beliefs presents homosexuality as a “disorder” and “homosexual practice” as a “distortion of the image of God.” The GC’s official statement on same-sex unions indiscriminately characterizes all same-sex relations as a “lowering of the heavenly ideal” and a “manifestation of the disturbance and brokenness in human inclinations and relations.” The authors of these documents cite biblical verses such as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to support their claims, harkening back to a time when some pastors used the Curse of Ham to brand blacks as less worthy than whites.

These “official statements” also obscure a rich history of LGBT activism and dialogue in the Adventist church. Much as the civil rights movement precipitated desegregation in Adventist institutions, the 1969 Stonewall riots that gave birth to the modern gay rights movement triggered a more robust discussion on homosexuality as well. Throughout the 1970s, Adventist authors expressed concern over the way homosexuals were abused in society, yet they failed to consider how their religious views might be fanning the flames of fear and prejudice.18 Instead, they fell back on the soon-to-be-discredited medical notion that homosexuality was an illness that could be “cured” through therapy and prayer. In response, some gay Adventists wrote letters to the editors of these publications and offered their positive stories, providing the earliest murmurings of an Adventist gay voice.

Towards the end of the 1970s, a group of openly gay Adventists formed Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International to support gay members who felt excluded by the church. Like the LLC, which had been established by black Adventists to end racial discrimination, SDA Kinship also desired to rid the church of its prejudice against gay members. In 1980, SDA Kinship invited church leaders to speak at its first spiritual retreat. Three theology professors from Andrews University and two pastors attended the gathering with the GC’s approval. The guest speakers presented papers on homosexuality and faith, and concluded that a “simplistic” reading of the few references to homosexual acts in the Bible was insufficient to discern God’s will for gay Adventists today. After listening to the stories of the retreat’s gay attendees, the guest speakers returned to the GC with a three-page written report.

Similar to the LLC’s 1961 platform urging the GC to revisit its position on race relations, the SDA Kinship report asked the church to study the question of homosexuality holistically. The report suggested that pastors, teachers and administrators undergo sensitivity training to help them minister to gay members under their care. And it asked the church to create closer ties to SDA Kinship and to become more inclusive of gay members. The GC initially accepted most of these proposals, but then quickly and quietly retracted its approval under pressure from right-wing conservatives who began questioning the denomination’s bona fide Christian credentials.19 Fear and prejudice had reared its ugly head once again. In short, to appease conservative members uncomfortable with change, gay Adventists like black Adventists would have to wait for equality “until the Lord shows us a better way.”

Just as the civil rights movement of the 1960s improved the situation of black Adventists, a better way started to materialize for gay Adventists as the gay rights movement gained momentum at the turn of the twentieth century. The most public display of support for gay Adventists came in 2008 in the form of a campaign called, “Adventists Against Prop 8,” protesting a highly contested California law prohibiting same-sex marriage. Filmmakers contributed to these efforts with a trailblazing documentary, “Seventh-Gay Adventists,” which chronicled the story of three Adventist same-sex couples making sense of their faith and sexuality in a church that was often hostile towards them.

Like Adventist theologians who offered liberationist interpretations of scripture to support desegregation, Adventists scholars began to publish theological and ethical perspectives that prioritized the wellbeing of gay Adventists over dogma.20 These scholars understood that faithful gay Adventists were not seeking to undermine God’s authority. On the contrary, gay Adventists desiring the same covenantal relationship available to heterosexual couples were merely affirming the church’s teaching on marriage and family. Still, church officials seemed unwilling to engage in open dialogue.

A sea change took place when countries around the world started legalizing same-sex marriage. In 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. Repeating its reactionary response against interracial marriage after the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1968, the NAD issued guidelines this time opposing same-sex marriage. The Andrews University Seminary also issued a white paper condemning “homosexual practice” while conceding that an innate homosexual orientation is not morally culpable. An Adventist satirist wittily captured the tension in that position with a blog post titled, “Adventist church cool with gay people as long as they’re not gay about it.”

Despite the church’s continued resistance to LGBT equality, a new wave of students is breathing life into the type of activism last seen at the height of the Adventist civil rights movement. One example is Andrews University alumnus and news commentator Eliel Cruz, a self-identified bisexual Adventist who founded the school’s unofficial gay-straight alliance. As a student, Cruz led a widely publicized social media fundraising campaign to benefit LGBT homeless youth in Chicago after school administrators rejected his club’s plans to raise the funds through a bake sale on campus. Other students started gay-straight alliances at Adventist colleges in the hopes of making these campuses more welcoming of LGBT persons.

With time, gay Adventists at all levels of the church will feel more comfortable with coming out of the shadows. Same-sex couples that marry outside the church will bring their children to Sabbath school and a growing number of openly gay students will attend Adventist academies and colleges. Like the SCC’s black members in the 1960s, gay Adventists will be able to hold their faith community legally accountable for any discriminatory responses. And, as was the case with segregation, the church will find itself once again in a losing battle against social change unless it learns from its past mistakes. Ellen White’s counsel on this point is compelling: “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us . . . in our past.”

The NAD’s response to the Orlando mass shooting may be an indication of lessons learned. Perhaps this time the GC will not wait for the government to act as the Good Samaritan to point out that “sin rests upon us as a church” when it fails to create an inclusive faith community. An easy place to begin is to condemn homophobia explicitly like racism as “one of the odious evils of our day.” Starting from that premise, the church’s position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage should look very different.

Juan O. Perla is an attorney in New York who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy, and Andrews University. After college, he represented the General Conference as a field intern at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (now the U.N. Council on Human Rights).

__________________________
NOTES:

1. Gary Chartier, Christ and Salvation, in The Future of Adventism: Theology, Society, Experience 126 (2015).
2. Samuel London, Jr., Seventh-day Adventists and the Civil Rights Movement 149 (2009).
3. See Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream 271-72 (2d ed. 2007).
4. Ibid.
5. London, supra note 2, at 86-87.
6. See Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Gary Land, and Ronald L. Numbers, Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet 274-75 (2014).
7. See Gary Land, Adventism in America: A History 174-75 (1998).
8. London, supra note 2, at 117-18.
9. Ibid at 125.
10. Neil Miller, Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1969 to the Present 13 (1995).
11. Ben Kemena, Biological Determinants of Homosexual Orientation, in Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives Part 2 5 (David Ferguson, Fritz Guy, and David Larson eds. 2008); see also Miller, supra note 10, at 15.
12. See Miller, supra note 10, at 13-25.
13. Michael Pearson, Millennial Dreams and Moral Dilemmas: Seventh-day Adventism and Contemporary Ethics 231 (1990).
14. See generally John Money, The Destroying Angel: Sex, Fitness and Food in the Legacy of Degeneracy Theory, Graham Crackers, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes & American Health History (1985).
15. Bull and Lockhart, supra note 3, at 164.
16. See generally Brian Wilson, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living (2014).
17. See Kemena, supra note 11, at Part 2 10-19.
18. See Pearson, supra note 13, at 243-51.
19. Ronald Lawson, The Caring, Welcoming Church? The Seventh-day Adventist Church and Its Homosexual Members, in Christianity and Homosexuality, supra note 11, at Part 3 35; see also Pearson, supra note 13, at 247.
20. See, e.g., John Jones, “In Christ There Is Neither…”: Toward the Unity of the Body of Christ, in Christianity and Homosexuality, supra note 11, at Part 4 3-30; Fritz Guy, Same-sex Love: Theological Considerations, in Christianity and Homosexuality, supra note 11, at Part 4 43-58.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7534
5 Likes

So the church does what it always does and gets on board the Orlando shooting as if it is a marketing opportunity to increase evangelism and you think it is because it has changed its teachings on LGBTQ issues? Everybody thinks it was a bad thing, except for some wing nuts, that a Muslim extremist who had mental issues and may or may not have been gay shoots up a bar and kills people because he felt a religious compulsion in his screwed up brain to do so. When the spotlight ends Dan Jackson will go away and will say no more about the issue.

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The opportunistic conflation of the race and sexual orientation is reprehensible and a rather cheap way to secure legitimacy for the LGBTQ community. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen any prohibition against being Black in the Bible!

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Thank you! Juan Perla for a beautifully researched and foot noted historical perspective on gay rights in Adventism. Yes it is a civil rights issue.

The NAD’s response to the Orlando shooting was very welcome and nicely done. Not only in our denomination but in others, there is a more conciliatory approach to LGBT members

The Mormons have finally abandoned their long held position that sexual orientation was deliberately chosen and therefore could be changed. Only the most remote polygamous communities in Utah still electrically shock the gentialia of their gay offspring in the hope of a “cure”.

However a huge proportion of the homeless youth in Salt Lake City continue to be the rejected and abandoned gay offspring of right wing Mormons.

Even the current Jesuit Catholic Pope has made, and continues to make, apologies for the ages long, abysmal, atrocious attitudes of the hierarchy to Catholic LGBTs.

When our supreme leader Ted Wilson, contributes similar contrite comments, I will finally believe we have started to turn the corner on better treatment for the SDA LGBT community.

In the meantime, three aging gay men, who publicly proclaim decades of prolific promiscuous behavior ( one admits to being a male prostitute ) continue to be paraded around the planet at tithe payer expense.

Their message: “we spent our better years “sowing our wild oats” but now we are"cured” and all other gays can be “cured” likewise.

A cascade of commercials for ED drugs has convinced cynical critics that the so called “cure” of these men conveniently coincided with the very age when sexual decline made these drugs necessary!

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God Loving Homosexuals [GLBTIOs] have always been part of the Christian church, and have always wanted to be a part of the Christian church family.
It wasnt until around the 1860s that there was even a WORD coined — Heterosexual, Homosexual. About as long as the Seventh-day Adventist legal corporation has been around.
It was in the 1970s that God Loving Gays, independent of each other, began developing organizations so that they could freely associate with each other and encourage each other in their Spiritual Journeys because their churches, the Seventh day Adventists included, excluded them from participating.
1968 – Reverend Troy Perry, a Pentecostal minister, expelled for being found gay, founded the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches [MCC] with 12 people in his living room. The MCC church has since grown into a worldwide denomination ministering to LGBT people and their allies in over 30 countries around the world.
1972-- Integrity was born. This was a group of Episcopalians who felt excluded from their church. A few years ago the Episcopalian church and Integrity developed the ecumenical program – Believe Out Loud. This was to encourage the Christian churches to allow God Loving Gays to be integrated back into their beloved home churches with full participation. It has done a wonderful work, although still in its infancy.
1974 – Dignity was born. This is the Catholic version of Integrity by God Loving Catholic Gays. For them to be able to partake of all the Sacraments of the Church. And to find fellowship in their Christian walk.
1976-- Seventh day Adventist Kinship. A group of Seventh day Adventist men met for fellowship and Christian worship. They felt the shunning by the church. But desired to continue to be part of the church, and organized to provide fellowship and encouragement in their Spiritual Journey. Members of this organization are world wide. There are mini regional “conventions” and an annual “convention” here in the states. There is a yearly “convention” in Europe.
Kinship has not been well accepted by the Church Leadership. However, by individual pastors and religious teachers Kinship has been able to have made it possible for more SDA gays to be accepted into membership in a few SDA churches in North America. Some pastors have been and are willing to baptize GL’s into the SDA church. I have seen several in the Atlantic Ocean. But these still had to be members of a “local” church, not the one they attend back home.
I personally became aware of Kinship a number of years ago. Since then I have been taking an Episcopalian and Jewish gay friends to one of the mini regional groups. My Jewish friend does the Friday evening candle blessing in Hebrew for us. The last 3 years a Jewish person from New York has been attending.

Seventh day Adventist Kinship will ALWAYS find trouble and will ALWAYS be trouble for the Seventh day Adventist Corporation. This is because Church Doctrines EXCLUDE these persons from ALL Church activities except to keep a pew seat warm. Kinship, by its very presence, says, ALL are Welcome at The Table. The Church says, NO!!! And, speaking for the Voice of God, the Church says, NO!!!
So Seventh day Adventists who find themselves born G or L or I or Trans have to find their Seventh day Adventist fellowship outside of the Denominational structure. And if they want to introduce their non-SDA friends [GLBT] to Adventism, they have to do so outside of the Denominational structure.
We saw what TROUBLE a few Gays at Andrews University caused the Denomination and the University. All they wanted to do was sell a few baked goods at the Village Market parking lot to make a few dollars to help set up a homeless center for GL’s in the local town. The University Administration made a huge deal about it. It was picked up by National News Outlets. On the Internet.
But on the other hand, a huge amount of money was raised by donations to the Andrews U. Gays than they could have ever dreamed. And was given to the homeless center. And at least for a couple of weeks, Andrews Administration suffered a black eye, and so did the Seventh day Adventist church.
There were NO APOLOGIES from the Administration!!!
THERE IS NO ADVENTIST CIVIL-RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN THE ADVENTIST CHURCH FOR LGBTs.
This is just somebody’s “dream child”.

But, there CAN BE a Religious Rights Movement.
But, again, both of these are “dream children”.
The Seventh day Adventist Denomination will HAVE TO SAY, we DID NOT Speak for the Voice of GOD. WE LIED. When we excluded you.

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It is insulting to our Black brothers and sisters to equate the attempt by homosexual activists to normalize their lifestyles with the struggle of Blacks to achieve the rights which are granted to all citizens in the US Constitution, but which were illegally denied them for so long.

They may well do so, but they will not be accepted as members in good standing as long as they defy the standards of membership. They will be in the same category as unmarried heterosexual couples who live
together. They will be encouraged to repent and come into harmony with Christian principles, just like anyone else who desired church membership.

Translation: when it refuses to compromise on Biblical principles. These code phrases fool no one.

Translation: affirmation of the Bible’s condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle is an “odious evil.”

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*Selective perception extolling majority socio-cultural opinions seems to RULE decisions and declarations every time, meanwhile understanding creeps forward at snail pace. For example it seems that the views of EGW were sometimes in direct opposition to the words of GOD himself especially concerning matters in which she had emotional investment as it were such as “interracial” marriage. Humans are one species,(showing physical variations due to habitat variations) and all variations can interbreed successfully, ad infinitum. Did she never read Numbers chapter 12, where God afflicted Moses’ sister Miriam with the terminal disease of leprosy specifically for exhibiting “racism”? In fact Jesus himself was a crossbreed between God and mankind. Suppose God had taken a discriminatory position against Homo sapiens and refused to have a son born to a woman belonging to an “inferior species” What then?Adventists traditionally have had difficulty with the concept of full integration, and even today seem to be more willing to commit to the concept of LGBT integration than full “interracial” integration, even though it is by now abundantly clear that there is no embedded , native, advantage in neo-cortex or physical endowment residing exclusively in any group. Sexual libertarianism has always been a feasture of human life . The “harlots” mentioned by Jesus in the parable of the Prodigal Son referred to a sect of women(said to hve been attached to zealots) who "worshiped ecstatically"that is they engaged in orgies as part of the worship service. Some of those Jews who withdrew from the city of Jerusalem and lived on the Qumran plateau to await the "coming of a Messiah"practiced homosexuality. There’s nothing new under the sun.

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You can only speak for the church where you hold membership. Other churches have welcomed LBGT’s into membership.

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The act of homosexual sex is sin. Seems simple enough.

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Casting the first stone, eh. Well fair enough, but…

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov 16:18)
Mercy, humility and love are always better. @Barrington @nmiller @xrsiii @Zondiwe

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Man has always wanted his cake and to eat it too as they say.
To equate homosexual activity and its place in Christianity with the civil rights movement??? Well Now I’ve seen everything.

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I hate to say it but the SDA movement was not founded on incrementalism. We have forgotten our past. In the beginning, we were a movement, committed to the principles of restoration, God’s love for mankind, community and social justice. Indeed, when it came time to organize into a church, it was a brawl, with many siding with the words of George Storrs wrote in 1844: “Take care that you do not seek to manufacture another church. No church can be organized by man’s invention but what it becomes Babylon the moment it is organized." (The Midnight Cry, Feb. 15, 1844). Yet the pragmatic prevailed and the church was born. Following the death of James White, the SDA Church valued building an organization, which required, moderation and conformity. Dissent was Crushed. Kellogg, Jones, Waggoner, Sheafe, heck, the white male heterosexual (we assume) Brethren even exiled Ellen White to Australia to marginalize her influence.

The conservative and socially scared SDA church in the 1960’s was not meaningfully part of the civil rights movement and only marginally adapted to civil rights legislation. On the LGBT issue? As a Church we filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court’s DOMA case, which makes for an interesting and completely pessimistic view of change.

As a church we are failing. Ask our young people if you can find any who are left. I recently said elsewhere and it bears repeating here. I believe our denomination continues drift into obscurity, lacking a moral authority and relevancy demanded by the times we are in.

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The idea that our denomination is drifting into obscurity belies the fact that it is growing and is the seventh largest Christian denomination and the twelfth largest religious organization.

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Is this an Adventists publication? If so why are we supporting something so unbiblical? LGBT is condemned in the Bible. Yes, feel sorry for the human beings in Florida, but to say that all of sudden I am going to support gay rights…What? Oh and to tie this to the civil rights movement is historically inaccurate. The " LGBT Movement" didn’t take off until the 1970’s and is more associated with the radical feminist movement. So the whole connection to civil rights is false. The science behind it is false(Go back and read Dean Hammer’s original research. Even though he is credited with discovering the link between genes and homosexuality he never concluded that a person could be “born this way” In fact, even playing devil’s advocate, given the very specific circumstances, that Dr. Hammer set in his report one would have to almost purposely want to bread this trait into a man. And I said man because according to this same research there is no genetic link to lesbianism. Furthermore this point outside still that there are many environmental factors at play. And at best, with genetics acount, the possibility of a man being born homosexual is still in the realm of Chance. To quote Dr. Hammer, “Here the genes serve to predispose ratherthan to predetermine.” ). Which means this whole movement is built on false perception, false facts, and a false spirit. So I ask again is this publication supposed to be Seventh Day Adventists? Because, traditionally we have stood up for biblical truth and from what I’ve seen here we should be called the Seventh Day Church of Popularity…

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Yes the idea that the SDA Church had any kind of impactful part in the 1960’s civil rights movement is laughable. Dr. King was considered a radical by most SDA’s Black and white due, I believe, to how they were and continue to interpret EGW. In addition, this article for me, is way too optimistic given what the SDA church did in regard to WO. If they will not fully accept women what chance does an LGBT agenda have within Adventism. NONE. Lastly, I do resent factions of the Gay Rights Movement trying to over compare that struggle with that of Black America for equality. Yes, there are some useful comparisons but this article reaches too far. I won’t even go into area of difference between a Black gay person vs. a white person walking into a SDA Church OR the whole issue of inter-cultural racism within the gay community. That is a whole 'nother subject. Just sayin.

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The church is an inclusive community. It includes any who are willing to begin battle against the sinful nature, no matter what the sin be that their nature desires. Was Jesus against prostitutes when he said to the women caught in adultery, go and sin no more? Was he against thieves when he rebuked silently Judas?

And what according to the author is homophobia? Calling gay sex sinful? Accepting the 2000 yr old interoperation of scripture rather than the 60 yr old one? The author seems to feel that full acceptance as members is the only solution. But that solution requires abandoning the first century view of all Jews including Jesus. Is that so wise?

Are you telling me k_Lutz that gay activists are none of these things: malicious, despiteful, proud, boasters, without understanding, implacable, unmerciful?

Why as I recall, they prosecuted a photographer that would take shots of any gays who wished, but did not feel comfortable with doing a wedding because of his/her personal belief. Is that not malicious and unmerciful??

Or is it only those who disagree with you that are that way? Or maybe:

I don’t think you see the log in the other guys eye.

There is another thing here. You guys thrive off of the husks of the church. There is o much negativity here that you are going to become blind to all the good the church does. Are there problems there? Sure. But they are not nearly so rampant as one would think from the posts here.

Don’t talk yourself out of the kingdom. Accentuating the negative has never been a good strategy.

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Our church currently requires heterosexual unmarried couples who cohabitate to marry before they can become members. So in your opinion if a same sex married couple want to join the church would you now insist they get a divorce and break up their family?

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I agree, with time, much of this will happen. And it’s happening at an incredible speed: (WSJ, Jun 30, 2016)

ChristianMingle Opens Doors to Gay Singles Under Settlement

The owner of online dating site ChristianMingle.com has agreed to let gay and lesbian users search for same-sex matches under a judge-approved settlement of discrimination claims.

The terms approved by a state judge on Monday also apply to other Spark sites — including CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com and BlackSingles.com — that had operated in the same way.

Spark Networks agreed to pay each plaintiff $9,000 each and $450,000 in attorneys’ fees to the two men’s lawyers. The company didn’t admit any wrongdoing as part of the agreement, which was earlier reported by the Daily Journal legal newspaper.
www.blogs.wsj.com/law/2016/06/30/christianmingle-com-opens-doors-to-gay-singles-under-settlement/

Someone wrote, on another site, these words:

Even worse, the conservative Christians now have solid evidence that they are being compelled to behave in ways that go against their beliefs. This is a bridge too far.

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Rejoice with me! After over ten months I can finally get upstairs to my computer! As a recently-turned-80 great-grandmother, wife of former pastor and GC department director, and mother of a gay son, who has been observing this situation for the past 30+ years, I want to optimistically say that I very much appreciated this article’s overview of our church’s history regarding it’s treatment of its LGBTI members and children, and its growing understanding and acceptance of them. (Not in evidence, however, among a number of contributors here!)

Those who object on biblical grounds have forgotten that Jesus told his disciples that there were many things he had to tell them that they were not yet able to bear, but that he would send his Holy Spirit to guide them (and those who came after them) into all truth. In our church we call this Present Truth, although our openness to such only lasted for a short time. I firmly believe that the vast increase in knowledge about homosexuality over the past half century is God’s Spirit bringing another present truth to the world’s attention, resulting in all religions and denominations, including our own, beginning to study this in the light of new knowledge. Unfortunately, our church has been slow to recognize the need for a change in its understanding of what the Bible says. It has concentrated on six texts which can easily be understood in a different context by anyone with a mind open to the Spirit’s guidance, and overlooked the many, many references to loving our neighbors as ourselves and putting ourselves in their place.

If there are any here who can still believe that the many divergent forms of sexuality now recognized are willfully chosen and can be changed, I can only wish you would listen to a few of the painful stories I have heard of those who spent years wearing holes in the carpet as they prayed and begging God to change them.

I will limit myself to this comment, and to thanking the author again for this excellent summary.

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Well, after reading the comments, it looks like we still have a long way to go.

The Lord must have known that I was incapable of handling the hateful and hurtful discrimination associated with being a member of the LBGT community and created me heterosexual. I have had several relatives and many friends who are included in these communities and I am so sure that these individuals did not decide, choose or make any conscious decision to become who they are, that I would find a God who brought them into the world as they are and then condemned them for being who they are, as the most despicable God I could ever imagine. I would give up heaven and eternal life altogether if I thought for one minute that God would ever condemn a person because of who they are rather than who they chose to be.

Most Adventists are shocked when I bring up the fact that the bible contains many contradictions, that is, until I prove it to them. And, yes, I can prove it even to the most died in the wool fundamentalist. I hate the whole concept, but sometimes it becomes necessary in order to stop the legalism. In Sabbath School this quarter, I pointed out that in Matthew alone there are 172 contradictions, most of them dealing with other Gospel accounts of events. There is a 1 inch thick book devoted to dealing with discrepancies found in scripture. Yet, most of us want to hammer one group or another into the ground with this text or that, feeling quite smug that we were able to “prove” our point with a verse rather than simply following Jesus command to love one another. Why do you think that there are around 10,000 different Christian denominations all built around the same book? Are you so arrogant as to think that only your interpretation of scripture is the correct one and everyone else has “got it wrong?” There are only two biblical authors that talk about homosexuality, Moses and Paul. Many of you would chime in and say that Jesus talked about the subject when he inferred that marriage is between one man and one woman. But, you lose site of the fact that marriage and sexual orientation are only loosely associated with each other. Marriage is a contract where two people make a lifetime commitment to love each other. Sexuality is an entirely separate issue.

I can assure every one of you who continue to make life more difficult, even painful, for those born LGBT, that on the day of judgment, you are going to be surprised to find that your “keeping the rules” is going to be “trumped” (now, I hate that word) by your lack of love and compassion. If you don’t believe me, try re-reading Matthew 25:31 to the end of the chapter. Not one word about the “rules”, it’s only about our love for our fellow man. And straight out of the mouth of the Son of God.

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