Why I’m Leaving the Church but Remain an Adventist

 

I’m a proud 4th generation Adventist, on both sides. I grew up going to Adventist schools, I graduated from an Adventist boarding school and college. I even managed to marry an amazing Adventist man. 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12090
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I don’t understand when sda members present lgbt issues or women’s ordination as a “civil right”. Civil rights is the incorrect lens for these issues. We’re a church, we don’t make decisions based on civil rights.

We can deny someone a job because they don’t believe what the church believes. We can deny membership because someone is having premarital sex, which would not really apply to civil rights. We don’t deny people the right to vote because they’re having premarital sex. We make policy and decisions based on biblical standards on morals. I realize we may disagree on those interpretations, but judging biblical issues from a civil rights perspective cannot possibly work. We have faith based beliefs that we have every right to defend based on scripture, and “equality” as society defines it doesn’t apply. Can I complain because the church won’t let me be an elder even though I don’t believe in the sabbath or that Jesus is equal with God? No, they can and should deny me that privilege. It’s a church!

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Thanks for sharing Brittnie. Your story resonates very much with me and parallels much in my journey. My mom too was a fan of Doug B and loved watching 3ABN. I feel these are what is helping to change the church as I know it today into something that is no longer Christlike. As a gay member and president of SDA Kinship, i realize the church has left me years ago. I remain (with membership) for the sole reason to be able to say that I am still and Adventist in good standing and that my voice counts. If I can prevent one LGBTQ person from committing suicide because of what the church teaches, it is worth it. Sadly this past week I was unable to prevent a friend from doing just that and it is weighing heavily on me and I am very mad at the church. Then the Colorado shootings and I do blame churches and religion for that. And that includes my dear SDA church. I agree that whether I have my membership or not, I’m still and Adventist. I would like to invite you to listen to a Kinship Worship on YouTube where a drag queen gives the worship talk. She isn’t SDA, but her message is perfect for this conversation and what we face.
Flamy Grant - Kinship Worship- August 2021 - YouTube
Blessings to you on your continued journey.

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I am with you on this.

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Hi Brittnie,

You speak for many Adventists who are confused between the compassion we were taught and the church’s treatment of LGBTQ members. When a group of people are marginalized and labeled as sinners simply because they love differently, that is not reflecting the love of Christ—it’s a caste system.

You are wise beyond your years in your response and I want to acknowledge that. I have had a lifetime of watching my parents and others change and become harder and less loving due to watching preachers like Bachelor and Bohr and Ted Wilson. So many follow these leaders and imitate them instead of imitating Jesus.

I am a sixth gen Adventist who married a gay man thirty years ago due to the church’s teaching that gays will burn in the lake of fire. There is no proof of this in the Bible. As a matter of fact the word “homosexual” wasn’t added to the Bible until 1946. There was a question in the translation of that word, So the word homosexual was slapped on it and sadly that has influenced generations Christian culture resulting in the persecution of innocent people.

Like you, my heart is Adventist, but I too, can no longer condone what some in the church are teaching. Jesus taught us to love everyone.

Blessings on you and everyone courageous enough to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.

“They’ll know you are my followers if you have love for each other.”

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The challange for the traditional church (SDA) is its lack of concern for social injustices, it doesn’t see itself as belonging in that space but that creates a problem for the youngers as to one of church relevance, or lack off.

The Bible is quite clear in both the OT and the NT of God’s concern about the injustices going on, we now call it social justice but the same principle is right there in the bible.

Until we as a church come to term with that dissonance, we will continue to bleed members like the writer of this article.

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As a former Adventist, I thought I would feel a philosophical kinship with the writer.

But as it turns out, not so much.

I didn’t leave out of spite, because the church mistreated my friends and me, or due to minor theological differences like the age of the earth or eschatology.

And asking to be “unbaptized” had nothing to do with the possibility of “leaving god”.

In fact, just the opposite is the case.

I quit church, that is religion, when I realized that I didn’t need to understand anyone else’s thoughts, experience or understanding with or about god.

Instead, I wanted to have my own understanding, thoughts and experiences with my maker which meant shutting out all of the contradictory words of people who claim to be authorities on the topic and instead rely only on my own internal guidance system, which, in the end, is what everyone uses anyway, to pick and chose between which middleman’s path to try and follow.

Of course, the religious people will say my “path less traveled” is the road to hell and since it’s impossible to prove a negative, there’s obviously no way for me to prove them wrong.

But even if my decision to use my own consciousness to get closer to the mind of our creator leads to eternal damnation, my life has been exponentially more blessed without religion’s “evil scientist” view of a god who merely experiments with his creatures as if they were lab rats.

Further, if it turns out that living one’s best life is the only thing that really matters, and if our creator wants me to show that i have been a good steward of the only life I can change in order to gain access to eternal life, I can provide tangible evidence that this decision has saved me a lot of time, money and angst over the past 45 years in not looking for god in all the wrong religion…I mean, places!

:wink:

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i really wonder why people want to be a part of adventism so badly…wouldn’t it be easier to join a church where there isn’t so much conflict, or maybe just not have anything to do with any church at all…what is it about church membership that motivates people to feel that they simply must fight their way in…

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I agree with that- but I think it’s more like people are fighting to stay in than get in which is understandable. It’s common for people to want to stay in the culture they were raised in, especially if relgion is involved and then there’s community, shared history and nostalgia.

Some in the SDA church might explain the exodus of people from it as ‘The Shaking’.

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i think a lot of adventists explain people dropping out as the shaking…people also use the term to describe moments of strong unbelief, as during the time of Desmond Ford’s challenge of egw and our Sanctuary doctrine…my understanding of the shaking is that it’s still future, when persecution hits, and it actually costs something to be an adventist…

but your bigger point that people fight to stay in, rather than enter for the first time, makes a lot of sense…it is true that adventism is a complex social situation, much more than a set of doctrines, for most people…

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I agree- it is complex. It brings to mind women at church (usually elderly) murmuring amongst each other when some family left the church ‘Must be the shaking’ With every adverse event shown on the news ’ It’s the last days’ ‘time to raise the Ebenezer’ ‘get ready for the time of trouble’ ‘time for people to leave the cities’ ‘won’t be able to buy or sell’ ‘we’ll have to run to the hills’ ‘live off the land and preserve your own food’ ‘won’t be able to trust your neighbors’ ‘need to escape in the night’ ‘mobs chasing us with torches and pitchforks’.

adventist apocalyptic has been abused, no question…but the perpetrators of this abuse are really only displaying their own paltriness…reasonable people take everything in stride, and live in the present, even though they understand the future…

Martin Luther King Jr lived a life of civil rights based on his religious convictions. How can we be a church setting others free when we don’t engage with civil rights? Perhaps we have to clarify what we mean by civil rights?

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I wish the author best wishes on her journey. As the old meme goes, this ain’t the airport. No need to announce your departure. But then that’s rude especially when coupled with historical roots that run deep. So best wishes from the rest of those of us on the outside looking in who read Spectrum just to see what new controversy is brewing and to continually affirm the reasons for our departure. Welcome. You’ll find belonging here.

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And Jeremy, I can’t understand why you say that. From before Cradle Roll we are taught evangelism and reaching out to get people to join our church. We are THE church with THE truth. So if we tell people to go elsewhere, we are sending the message that they aren’t good enough to be a part of our elite church who has the answers to all the secrets in Daniel and Revelations (which says nothing about homosexuality). I’m tired of folks telling me to go elsewhere when this is MY church. We aren’t trying to come into the secret society. We are already IN the church and from one day to the next we go from poster child for a perfect Christian to the spawn of the devil.
We are hounded to give money to dark county evangelism, and we have baptism number goals to reach. Now here we have folks who would like to be a part of the remnant church (or are alreaday members), but they are turned away because suddenly they aren’t good enough to fit into our neat narrow box of what some folks in Silver Spring decide is acceptable to be or become a member of God’s Kingdom.
That doesn’t sound much like a true church or a remnant church, or a church that is a safe place for anyone really.

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What you describe is not a church. It is an exclusive club. Jesus’ church is not exclusive. It is inclusive. Me being a gay Adventist doesn’t infringe on any of your personal Christian rights. Me and my husband sitting in the pew next to you does not infringe on your marriage or endanger your relationship or your children.
The Sabbath example is lame. It is a belief. Being gay is not a belief or something you decide. It is something you are from birth. You aren’t born a Sunday keeper and then come out at 16 to the church and wow… we didn’t have any idea. The state of the dead is a belief. But being LGBTQIA+ is something you are from birth (or before) and you acquire the beliefs of the church. You suddenly tell people that you are attracted to someone different than what is expected of you and immediately you are on the prayer list. Most people doesn’t wake up one morning and say, I think I’ll love someone of my same gender today. It is something that is in the DNA that they have been wrestling with for a long time and the need to be genuine and honest overwhelms the need to hide this from family and church. As soon as they tell the church they are ostracized and that cements the fact why most people don’t come out in church. They simply stop attending and fade away and very few of the members around them actually notice.

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Some of us are not given a choice whom to love. Some of us love a variety of genders, maybe more than one at the same time. Whether it is a choice or mandated by our inexorable genetics, it doesn’t matter. We have the right to decide whom we will love. We aren’t so weak as to require a compelling biological reason to decide that we prefer a particular man over a particular woman or a transgender person. This idea that we are victims on a train track to a particular gender takes away the possibility of experiencing love to its fullest and testing a variety of flavors. I know that I’ve moved around on this from time to time, and while this may not be the case for all, it certainly shouldn’t be foreclosed upon by those who compel a strict sexuality as if we are confined to a strict genital-comparability configuration. I enjoy more than one kind of sexual chemistry, and sometimes I seek a more masculine energy and other times a more feminine energy. Eventually, the confining construct of “marriage” consisting of only two persons for life will pass away and we will all realize that divinity shows itself in many ways.

I so wish that people would stop speaking in such absolutes. You were once progressive but now sound oddly old-fashioned.

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Hi Sam, I’m not sure if you were disagreeing with me or expanding on what I said. I was writing from a gay man’s perspective (mine). But yes, the world is wonderful and diverse. Some of what you describe is bisexuality and yes, no one is stuck in one spot. The orientation spectrum is somewhat fluid. Although I haven’t seen anyone truly go from one end to the other, unless they are trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes that “change” is possible. Pansexual is wonderful and yes, polyamory can also be a wonderful thing, although i am not convinced it is for everyone and our society isn’t set up for it. The good brethern and sisters in the church would need smelling sauce on Sabbath morning if a poly family walked in.
By the way, as you probably know, I tried being married to a female and it just didn’t work for me. That was truly unequally yoked for me. But for others that works. What bothers me is that so many gay/ lesbian Adventists ARE married to the opposite gender and at home they look like a “leave it to beaver” episode, but when the (usually) husband (but it could also apply to the wife) goes out of town he enjoys the company of other men and finding ways to have anonymous sex with them. Then back home he becomes the biggest homophobe around to cast all suspicion off him. He can do what he wants. I’m not the judge. But the double standard and lying is harmful to not only his family, but to the LGBTQIA+ community as well.

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Once upon a time, after I left the Adventist church, I thought to myself that if I found myself in another town without a church of my own, I would probably attend the Adventist church for fellowship reasons. I wouldn’t be a member - I simply can’t subscribe to the beliefs.

But after a few years away, my response now would be “yeah, nah”. There are enough other ways to enjoy good company, without being subjected to some whimsical theories being espoused on a Saturday morning, from people with beliefs that have a tenuous relationship with reality.

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I read something somewhere about a guy who went to his former pastor or priest and asked if it was okay to come to church, sit in the pew, listen to the music and enjoy the entire experience even if he had informed the clergyman beforehand that he didn’t believe a word that was said.

Obviously, this was a tacit form of bearing false witness and he was instructed not to “darken the door”……

:wink:

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