On Thursday, February 16, the film Journey Interrupted was broadcasted on 3ABN. On Sunday, February 19, it will be broadcasted again at 3:00 PM Central Time. I highly recommend this film—it is relevant to those who have questions about how Christianity and homosexuality ought to relate to each other, of course, but it is also a ray of light and clarity amidst an overwhelming flood of confusion, and an amazing testament to all sinners of the saving power of the Gospel.Read More
The year was 1999, and a denominational publishing house heard my conversion story from homosexuality, and asked me to submit my story for publication, as a resource for our denomination.Read More
As much has already been said about the sermon, both pro and con, I would like to focus briefly upon the conclusion of the presentation and the appeal. Henderson’s appeal was that a safe place be established for “Adam and Steve,” at Pacific Union College. But more than that, it should not be a designated area on the campus, but rather that the college itself should be that safe place.Read More
Satan is laying hold of multitudes, which brings me to the sad case of Jonathan Henderson. In his presentation, “Adam and Steve,” in front of impressionable students during Week of Prayer, he makes a number of declarations. It’s almost as though he’s in a fist fight with God’s Word insisting on a new and different “truth.” He mocks those who believe in God’s written Word, mocks God, and mocks the sanctity of marriage.Read More
Human sexuality, along with a pleasing sexual imperative, is introduced at the very beginning of the Bible story. Mankind was created with gender. Gender was created with purpose. Compliantly, in the narrative, Adam “knew” his wife and she conceived a son, and then another, and then a third. And though we don’t have details about differing sexual orientations before the flood, it is certain that only heterosexuals were on the Ark.Read More
Southern California Conference (SCC) released a statement Tuesday distancing itself from the controversy surrounding past comments made by Pasadena Public Health Director and SDA associate pastor Dr. Eric Walsh regarding homosexuals, Catholics and Muslims. SCC spokeswoman Betty Cooney said, "[H]e does not hold ministerial credentials from the Adventist Church, does not speak on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and as far as we know, does not represent his views as anything other than his own.”Read More
Do you love Jesus? Do you love yourself? Do you love yourself more than you love Jesus? What are you doing to strengthen your relationship with the One who sacrificed His life for yours?Read More
City of Pasadena's Public Health Director Eric Walsh, who is also an associate pastor at the Altadena Seventh-day Adventist Church, has come under intense criticism for comments made in sermons he delivered in church. Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck has placed Dr. Walsh on paid administrative leave while the city investigates his sermons.Read More
A new website sponsored by Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, Intercollegiate Adventist GSA Coalition and Seventh-Gay Adventists Documentary claims lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) Adventists are being prevented from sharing their stories at the 'In God's Image:' Scripture, Sexuality, and Society Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, this month. The summit will discuss the challenges the church faces with issues surrounding alternative sexualities.Read More
Question: Could it be that Satan is presently conducting a test run for his final and full frontal assault on the moral law of God? Are we witnessing today, throughout the world and every echelon of society, including the church, unprecedented spiritual warfare against the first institution created in Eden, in preparation for the ultimate attack against the second one?Read More
How well I remember the isolation and feelings designating me as the “odd one” in my church, church school and denominational hospital throughout my childhood. I dreaded going anywhere I would be in the presence of a group of people.Read More
The Press Enterprise, a newspaper covering Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Calif., covered a story about a group of gay and lesbian students trying to become an officially recognized club at La Sierra University.
A group of gay and lesbian students at La Sierra University is trying again to gain official recognition for their club, six months after the university denied it because of Seventh-day Adventist Church teachings on homosexuality.
The club, Prism, reapplied for recognition last month, hoping that attitudes of members of the 2,400-student Adventist university's Student Life Committee have changed, said Prism president Rebecca Kern. "It's also a way for us to say out loud that we're not going away," said Kern, 23, a fourth-year student who is lesbian and Adventist. Prism members are holding their first public event Saturday, Nov. 17, but the mix of workshops and entertainment is taking place at UC Riverside because La Sierra doesn't permit non-sanctioned clubs to hold events on campus.
Non-approved clubs cannot promote their events on campus with leaflets or postings in university buildings, and they cannot reserve campus meeting rooms.
La Sierra spokesman Larry Becker said organizations viewed as violating Adventist beliefs cannot gain recognition.
"The committee felt that while the university values all students and is against harassment in all forms, this group's mission does not align with Seventh-day Adventist beliefs on sexuality," he said. "La Sierra is a Seventh-day Adventist university, so we support the values of the SDA Church. That is why they were turned down." (Read more)
Last year, the world's media were abuzz with stories of the “Arab Spring,” a revolt against autocratic rulers that swept across the Arab world from west to east. The revolt started in Tunisia, with the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, then spread to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in an armed revolt, and swept on through Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was removed from power. The Arab Spring sparked protests in many other Arab countries, led to an ongoing and very bloody civil war in Syria, as many sought to oust second-generation dictator Bashar al-Assad, and led to a relatively peaceful change of government in Yemen. This year, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is witnessing its own “Arab Spring” over the role of women in the church. Because of clear apostolic guidance, most churches with a high view of Scripture, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church, historically have not ordained women. The world church in General Conference session has twice voted against the ordination of women, first at Indianapolis, in 1990, and again at Utrecht, in 1995. But church officials in North America and elsewhere have nevertheless pushed to hire female pastors, and have promoted a form of ordination for female pastors, “commissioning,” that is ceremonially indistinguishable from the ordination of male pastors. Finally, they have sought to erase any meaningful distinction between commissioning and ordination, which brings us to the genesis of the current revolt.
This past October, the North American Division Executive Committee, for the third year in a row, voted for a policy change that would allow commissioned pastors to be elected to the office of conference president. This policy change is out of harmony with General Conference Working Policy. NAD president Dan Jackson was informed that the NAD does not have the authority to vote for or establish policies that conflict with GC Working Policy or the GC Model Constitution. This was confirmed by the NAD's legal counsel in an an opinion letter issued on January 3, 2012, which noted that the NAD does not have a constituency. The Church later made clear that the divisions, including the North American Division, do not form a separate layer of church governance, but are essentially administrative territories or sub-divisions of the General Conference.
In a January 31 letter to the NAD Executive Committee, Elder Jackson reiterated his commitment to placing women in the headship role of conference president, and called for more work to bring that about:
“While we, as a Division family, have philosophically supported women in leadership in three successive Year-End Meetings, the time has now come for us to become more practical in our application of philosophy and belief. . . . We must also develop intentional methods of mentoring women who can take on executive leadership positions within our conferences.”
Elder Jackson went on to lament that there are so few female pastors in North America (only 107 out of approximately 4,000 pastors), his implicit assumption being that the church should be moving toward a pastorate more evenly divided between the sexes.
Mid-American Union Conference President Thomas Lemon is on the NAD Executive Committee, and on March 8, while he was explaining to his own executive committee why the NAD's vote to allow women to become conference presidents was reversed, the Mid-America Union Executive Committee decided to vote, then and there, “to support the ordination of women in the Mid-America Union.” This was followed, on March 15, by the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voting to “reaffirm its commitment to the ordination of women,” and, on March 20, by the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee voting to reaffirm its previous request to ordain women. On March 22, the Southeastern California Conference Executive Committee voted to issue only one credential, “ordained,” to all of its pastors regardless of gender, effectively retroactively ordaining all commissioned female pastors. On March 29, the Southern Union Executive Committee stated that, while they would not take an action contrary to the policy of the world church, they were “actively supporting, encouraging, and empowering women in all areas of ministry including . . . conference and union leadership . . .” On April 23, the North German Union voted to amend its constitution to end gender discrimination in ordination.
On May 9, the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voted to hold, on August 19, a special constituency session to authorize ordination without regard to gender distinction. On May 15, the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee voted a statement almost identical to that voted by the Southern Union, supporting the ordination of women, but declining to take any action contrary to world church policy. On May 17, the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee took an action essentially identical to that taken by the Pacific Union, voting to hold, on July 29, a special constituency meeting “for the purpose of authorizing ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” Also on May 17, the North Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voted “to appoint an ad hoc committee to create specific recommendations on how to fully integrate committed and called Adventist women into all levels of church leadership within the NPUC territory.”
It is important to emphasize just how this Adventist “Arab Spring” began: It began not over the ordination of women, per se, but over the North American Division's attempt to amend the “E-60” policy to allow women to serve as conference presidents. The issue is female headship in the SDA Church at the level of conference president and higher. Elder Jackson's letter made this clear, as have several of the statements issued by the various executive committees. So we can now put to one side such issues as the meaning of ordination, whether ordination is biblical, whether there is a role for women in ministry, whether women can serve as tithe-paid pastors, etc. None of these is the issue that now confronts us. The issue that has crystallized is female headship in the Adventist Church at the level of conference president and higher.
Even those unions--like the Southern and the Atlantic--that acknowledged and deferred to the authority of the world church nevertheless voiced support for women in headship roles. With a couple of exceptions, the executive committees have not offered any theological or biblical justification for their actions. Female headship has been treated as an organizational or administrative issue, not a doctrinal issue. This is perhaps not surprising, because although the Bible has much to say about the roles of the sexes, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has had little to say; we have not formulated a doctrine of sex roles. But the present crisis demonstrates that it is now necessary to do so; neglect is no longer an option. As a church, we need to familiarize ourselves with what Scripture teaches about sex roles.
Scripture specifies male headship in the Christian church. God the Son, Jesus Christ, was incarnated in the form of a male, and Christ is the head of the church. The Twelve Disciples chosen by Jesus were all men. Mat. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19. When lots were cast to replace Judas Iscariot, both of the candidates were men. Acts 1:12-23. When deacons were chosen to perform some of the practical tasks of the church, the seven appointed to the office of deacon were men. Acts. 6:1-7. Both the office of episkopēs (“bishop” or “overseer”) and deacon are described as male offices, to be filled by sober men who are the husband of only one wife, and capable husbands, fathers, and heads of their families. 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul makes clear that capable leadership of the family is a prerequisite to leadership in the church: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” And Paul elsewhere makes clear that the husband is the head of the home. Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1. Since the husband is the head of the home, and successful headship in the home is a prerequisite to headship in the church, it follows that headship in the church is also reserved for men.
Not only are leadership offices reserved for males, a submissive, non-headship role is specified for women. “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” 1 Cor. 14:33-35. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” 1 Tim. 2:11-14. Even a very relaxed application of these passages upholds the principle of male headship in the church.
These scriptural principles are too clear to need elaboration, which perhaps is why the Seventh-day Adventist Church has never bothered to articulate a “fundamental belief” regarding male headship in the church. Another reason may be sheepishness over the prominent role played by Ellen White in the founding of the denomination. Proponents of women in headship roles argue that the prophetic authority exercised by Ellen White sets aside, by implication, the patriarchal church governance specified in the New Testament. But female prophets were common in biblical times---Miriam (Ex. 15:20-21), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14)---and in fact there were New Testament-era female prophets, such as Anna (Luke 2:36) and the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9), who would have been well known to the Apostle Paul. Yet Paul nevertheless gave clear instruction that leadership roles in the church were reserved for men. Neither Paul nor any of the other Bible-writers hint that the existence of female prophets suggested a non-patriarchal organization for the Christian Church.
The most common argument in favor of women in headship roles is that, in the Bible era, society was organized along patriarchal lines (patriarchy = “rule of fathers”), and in order to conform to the culture of that time, Scripture specified that the Christian Church would also be patriarchal in organization. Today, however, society is less and less patriarchal, and the church may properly reflect today's cultural realities. After all, Paul frequently told slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25; Titus 2:9-10), but this is not interpreted as an apostolic mandate that all societies should embrace the institution of slavery. Likewise, just because Paul specified male headship in the church of his time and culture does not mean that all societies must embrace the restrictive prerogatives of patriarchy. Scripture's mandate was culturally conditional, and our culture is different.
This reasonable-sounding argument runs afoul of the fact that male headship in the church is based upon the order of creation and the history of the Fall: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” 1 Tim. 2:13-14. These facts of history are never going to change, hence the biblical rationale for male headship in the church does not rest on the shifting sands of culture. Obviously, there is no comparable biblical statement basing slavery on the order of creation or the history of the fall, so there is no legitimate comparison between slavery and patriarchy.
It is certainly true, however, that the move toward female headship in the SDA Church is being driven by cultural changes in what is referred to as the developed world or the “first world.” The “executive committees” involved in the Adventist Arab Spring have felt little need of a biblical rationale for their actions, but no need whatsoever to critically re-examine the cultural trends that are driving their actions. The members of these executive committees tend to be practical people who know how to operate within the prevailing cultural/legal complex of mores, laws, rules and regulations. Such people excel at running enterprises and organizations, but are unsuited to the task of critically examining the culture in which they operate. And the question of whether the SDA Church should bend to the dominant culture or resist it turns on a broad overview of cultural trends.
In the biblical-patriarchal form of sexual-social organization, the family, not the individual, is the basic unit of society, and legitimate sexual expression is restricted to opposite-sex married couples. Since the “sexual revolution” of the late 1960s/early 1970s, however, Western elites have promoted a post-patriarchal form of sexual-social organization in which the basic unit of society is the individual, not the family, and legitimate sexual expression encompasses anything consenting adults can think of to do with each other. These two different forms of sexual-social organization have very different ideas about the sexes, about proper sexual conduct, and about what is just and unjust. A contrasting summary of the assumptions and attributes of the two systems follows.
|Attributes and assumptions of Biblical-patriarchal culture:||Attributes and assumptions of Post-patriarchal culture:|
|1. The Sexes, and the differences between the sexes||God created us male and female. (Gen. 1:27; Mat. 19:4-5; Mark 10:5-9) The very significant differences between the sexes are part of the created order, and not something we should strive to efface. These differences mean that men are better suited than women to certain roles and tasks, and women are better suited than men to certain roles and tasks.||Except for their obvious physiological differences, men and women are the same. Persistent non-physical differences between men and women are the product of culture; they are not innate.|
|2. Sexuality, and the difference between male and female sexuality||Men and women have very different sex drives. Male sexuality can be problematic, even destructive. (2 Sam. 11, 12; 1 Kings 11:1-13) An important goal of Christian patriarchy is to curb the negative potential of ungoverned male sexuality, and to channel male sexual energy into monogamous (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6), heterosexual marriages, that build families, societies, and civilizations (see 7 & 8, below).||Men and women are the same in their sexual drives. Women are just as likely as men to want casual sex with multiple partners, and men are just as likely as women to want to marry and raise children.|
|3. Marriage||Men and women need each other in long-term relationship in order to live the fullest, happiest, and most productive lives. It is not good that man should be alone. (Gen. 2:18; Heb. 13:4) A happy marriage is an important goal for all, and young people, 19 or 20 years old, are old enough to get married. Marriage is intended to last until death. (Mat. 19:6-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18)||Traditional heterosexual marriage is one option for sexual expression, but not the only legitimate option, nor the socially preferred condition. People should probably postpone marriage until they are fully educated and in their late 20s (and it is obviously unreasonable to expect chastity for the first 15 years after puberty). Marriage should last as long as both parties are happy, and no longer; during the sexual revolution, no-fault divorce was adopted in all states, meaning that either party could end the marriage at any time, for any reason or no reason. More recently, same-sex “marriage” has been enacted in several jurisdictions.|
|4. Raising Children||Men and women each bring something unique and irreplaceable to the rearing of children. The man's biological role in producing children is trivial, but he makes up for that by providing protection and support for the woman. The woman is a nurturer and has a greater role in the raising of infants and young children. (Isaiah 49:15; 1 Kings 3:16-28) When a wife gets pregnant, she reduces her participation in the money economy in order to concentrate on her physically and emotionally demanding role in bearing and raising the child, whereas the husband increases his participation in the money economy so as to be able to fulfill his complementary role of protector and provider.||Because men and women are not different in any meaningful respect, it doesn't matter who raises children. Two daddies or two mommies are as good as a mother and a father. Even a single mother is just as good as two parents. Discrimination in adoption in favor of married heterosexual couples has been outlawed in many jurisdictions; Catholic adoption agencies in several jurisdictions have closed because they can no longer discriminate in favor married heterosexual couples.|
|5. Out-of-wedlock Births||Stigmatized and frowned upon in patriarchal societies, because they are the product of illegitimate sexual activity, and also because complementary, opposite-sex parents are viewed as crucial to successful child-rearing. (Deut. 23:2)||Because there is nothing wrong with sexual activity outside of marriage, and because a single parent can raise a child as effectively as an opposite sex couple, there is no stigma whatsoever attached to childbirth outside of marriage. In the U.S., 40% of births, and the majority of births to women under the age of 30, are out of wedlock). If anything, there is now a stigma attached to disapproval of what used to be called illegitimate births and bastard children.|
|6. Sexual behavior||Legitimate sexual expression is limited to opposite-sex married couples. Adultery is proscribed. (Ex. 20:14; Mat. 5:27-28) Unmarried heterosexual sex is proscribed. (Mat. 5:32; 15:19; Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 7:2; Gal. 5:19) Homosexuality is proscribed (Lev. 18:22; 20:13), and widespread open homosexual conduct is a sign of the removal of God's Spirit (Rom. 1:18-27) and even cause for immediate, supernatural judgment. (Gen. 18:16-19:29)||Between consenting adults, anything goes. Homosexuality is fine; pre-marital and extra-marital sex are fine. Since age and consent are the only guidelines, sexual expression is discouraged in situations that raise the possibility that consent is not genuine, such as when one party has power over another by reason of economic or social circumstances. Laws against workplace sexual harassment, and against sex within various relationships of trust, have multiplied pari passu with the acceptance of extra-marital sexual activity.|
|7. Female virtue-chastity||This is highly prized and protected in truly patriarchal cultures. The father is the protector of his daughter's virtue until she is married, after which her husband is her protector. The desire of husbands, fathers, and brothers to protect the virtue of their female relatives puts an important check on voracious and variety-driven male sexual appetite; it protects women from the worst male impulses. (Gen. 34)||This is viewed as quaint, if not actually oppressive. It is a woman's prerogative to be as sexually active and adventurous as a man, if not more so.|
|8. Female economic independence||This is not a value in patriarchal systems, because fathers are expected to support their daughters, and husbands are expected to support their wives. Fathers typically demand that their daughters' suitors be able to support their daughters; as a result, young men are forced, in order to gain sexual access to a woman, to channel their energy into hard work and economic success. (Gen. 29:16-30)||Very highly prized in the post-patriarchal sexual-social order. Economic independence, they are told, means freedom from male domination; it means that women don't need to get married for the wrong reasons, but can wait for “Mr. Right.” (A darker reason, seldom mentioned in polite society, is that a large cohort of single, self-supporting women creates a large pool of potential partners whom men can sexually exploit without being expected to financially support; Hugh Hefner was an early and constant supporter of “women's lib,” or equal economic opportunities for women. Moreover, when a woman is economically as powerful as a man with whom she has sex, the genuineness of consent is not usually in question, and, again, consent is the sole criterion of legitimate sexual expression between adults.)|
|9. Gender fairness and economic justice||Men and women have different roles and functions and perform different jobs. Not all jobs open to men are also open to women, and vice versa. Since the basic unit of organization is the family, not the individual, as long as jobs and other economic opportunities are open to all families on an equal basis, the fairness/justice element is met.||Because the basic unit of society is the individual, not the family, and it is not assumed that most adults will be, or will have been, married to a person of the opposite sex, family opportunity is irrelevant. Every individual, whether male or female, should be eligible for every job. Gender-based discrimination in employment has been almost universally outlawed (clergy being a rare exception). Any job that men do, women should also be encouraged to do, even to the extreme of putting women in military combat. (Again, in the post-patriarchal system, this isn't just an issue of fairness and justice; it is critical to the logic of the system to have a large cohort of women who are self-supporting and can freely consent to sexual activity.)|
|10. Headship||Headship, in the home (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1) and in the church (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9), is a male prerogative, but it is servant-leadership, to be exercised in a Christlike, self-sacrificing manner. (Eph. 5:25-33).||For the dwindling few who choose to get married, the marriage should be a 50/50 partnership; there is no “headship” in marriage. In society, women should be in leadership roles as frequently as men. Since there are actually more women than men in the church, there should be at least as many women as men in church leadership, preferably more.|
If one reads down the column, it becomes apparent that each culture has an internal logic and consistency; there is a coherent rationale behind each. And if one reads across the columns, it becomes apparent how sharply each culture conflicts with the other. (Obviously, neither the United States nor any other developed country is purely patriarchal or purely post-patriarchal; rather, they are at points along a continuum. In the mid-20th Century, most were still largely patriarchal societies, but for the last 40 years, they have been rapidly transitioning into post-patriarchal societies, although that transition is not complete.)
The Bible's values with regard to sexuality are part and parcel of the patriarchal system, but are rejected by the post-patriarchal system. Obviously, then, the Seventh-day Adventist Church should not view the fact that female headship is demanded by post-patriarchal culture as a point in its favor, but rather as a compelling argument against it. If we reject biblically prescribed male headship in the church on the basis that biblical culture was patriarchal but modern culture is post-patriarchal, we are consenting to be ruled by a neo-pagan culture, the sexual norms of which are anathema to biblical values. If we accept the foundational assumptions of post-patriarchal culture, we render irrational and unsustainable the entire complex of biblical prescriptions and proscriptions relating to human sexuality.
Christian patriarchy need not apologize to women. Wherever the gospel has taken root, the social, legal, and spiritual status of women has been elevated. Consider the position of women in Christian cultures versus their position in Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Confucian, or other Eastern cultures. But whereas Christianity elevates women, post-patriarchal culture devalues femininity and female attributes. Created sex differences are downplayed, dismissed, despised, and denied. Post-patriarchy has contempt for women who embrace family and motherhood as their first and highest priorities; it denies that there is anything unique or extraordinary about women, insisting that women are just like men, except for the plumbing.
Moreover, an unspoken but obvious aspect of post-patriarchal culture is the enabling of immature male sexual instinct by creating a huge pool of self-supporting women whom men can sexually exploit without commitment or financial responsibility. Instead of ennobling men by demanding that they become responsible husbands and fathers, it degrades women by demanding that they shorten their own sexual horizons, and knuckle under to male patterns of sexuality.
Denominations that have embraced female headship are coasting toward oblivion. Liberal Presbyterians began ordaining women to the ministry in 1956, and by 2001 there were almost as many women as men in the PCUSA clergy. But the Presbyterians have witnessed a 40 year decline in membership. In 1968, there were over 4 million members, or almost 2 % of the U.S. Population; today membership hovers around 2 million, or about 0.6 % of the U.S. Population. Their membership was halved and their percentage of the population was reduced by more than two thirds. The United Methodists also began ordaining women to ministry in 1956, and first ordained a female bishop in 1980. Their U.S. membership has declined every year since 1968, from around 11 million (5% of the population) to 7.8 million (2.5% of the current population). The Episcopal Church began ordaining female priests in 1974. Their American membership has declined from about 3.2 million to about 1.95 million. Promoting female headship in the church is not the path to church growth and cultural relevance; it is the path to irrelevance and extinction.
The liberal churches that have embraced female headship have also embraced (or are in the process of embracing) homosexuality, as witness the confirmation of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson in the Episcopal Church in 2003. Why? Because the culture of post-patriarchy is opposed to the entire corpus of biblical directives relating to sex, sexuality, and gender, and once a denomination has placed post-patriarchal culture above Scripture, the biblical rules will all eventually be jettisoned. It is also important to note that no church adopted female headship until after it had made peace with Darwinism and rejected a literal reading of the Genesis narrative. We have seen that Paul grounded male headship in the church upon a literal understanding of the story of the creation and the Fall. 1 Tim. 2:11-14. Patriarchy is part of the created order, if we understand the creation narrative literally. Liberal activists, unlike many serving on the “executive committees,” well know that these issues are all connected, which is why Spectrum divides its time about equally among: 1) agitating for female headship, 2) arguing for normalization of homosexuality, and 3) promoting Darwinism. They understand that these three issues are inextricably bound together.
Last year's “Arab Spring” was a disaster for American and Western interests; in every case, a more secular autocrat was replaced, or is in the process of being replaced, by a more Islamic government that embraces the sharia ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological offspring, Al Qaeda. This year's Adventist Arab Spring will prove just as disastrous for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because it signals a willingness to thoughtlessly embrace the cultural imperatives of post-patriarchy, in derogation of clear Bible truth.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:7-10
Regardless of your position as individuals in the film "Seventh-Gay Adventists," I commend you for your honesty and boldness in sharing what has undoubtedly been a difficult walk for each of you. Without question God loves you. And as a child of God, I love you with His love also.
The fallout from the church’s silence on this biblical issue has been devastating. I was a victim of Satan’s lies and deceptions as well. There was no hope or help delivered from the church during my childhood, teenage years and adult life. Because of this silence I was propelled into a sensual abyss. I desperately wanted to be wanted, needed and loved. Yet in the midst of Christ’s believers, I was isolated, alienated and rejected. The loneliness was overwhelming and it took very little to tempt me with the feelings that resulted in “acceptance” by the gay community.
In the spring of 2009, I was struck with a contemplation one day that was inspired by the Holy Spirit without any question whatsoever. God spoke to me and asked me to consider the relationship that He had desired from me all along. Unquestionable clarity was revealed to me. It was not about me. I had had it all backwards. It is about Jesus Christ, my redeemer and creator and how to live according to His plan. Not mine. As I surrendered fully to Him, He revealed truth after truth and gave me strength to begin to continually abide and depend on Him. Each day He revealed more and more of His love to me. As I studied and prayed, I wondered how I could have missed what He had wanted to convey to me since childhood. Satan had deceived me with lies of being unwanted, unloved and unimportant. My day of rejoicing had arrived.
I gave myself to Jesus Christ and became a “New Creation” in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). This requires dying to self daily. I didn’t have any idea that the church still seemed to be in the dark regarding how to reach out to those with same-sex attraction. We need to consider here that there has been a hundred and fifty year history of silence and ignorance. What we don’t talk about, grows like a bacteria in the dark. In fact during the silence, an entire culture and community of gays developed.
Emerging victorious in Jesus, I began to openly share the clarity revealed to me by God and His Word. Now if we don’t believe that God’s Word is inspired by Him, we are at great risk. We then might as well believe in anything. But God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Matthew 24:3, Hebrews 13:8. If we don’t believe God’s Word, this is where the danger begins.
In the fall of 2009 I was invited to share my testimony at Andrews University during the conference on Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church. Daneen Akers and Stephen Ayers, (producers of "Seventh Gay Adventists") were present at the conference and their work had begun on the film. They heard my testimony and I had contacted them about the film, not realizing the intended angle. By January, it seemed apparent that they were not seeking any testimonies from same-sex attracted individuals who have been redeemed and are choosing to live sexually pure through Christ.
I wrote an article for the Adventist Review which appeared in the April 15, 2010 issue conveying my concern that the film would not represent those who have given their lives to Christ and live sexually pure. The film’s producers contacted me and the Review’s editor asking for a retraction to be printed. Since this film is about loving those who are same-sex attracted, my question is why haven’t they given a voice to those who also suffered so many years of alienation by the church, but have returned to worship God and interact with His family while living a sexually pure life?
So this brings us to the core of what the film is about: God’s approval or disapproval of homosexual sex. If you read His Word there is no question as to where God stands on this issue. I was recently contacted by a “Gay Christian” who pointed out to me that God loves him and his same-sex partner just the way they are, and that they are familiar with the nine “hate verses” regarding homosexuality in God’s Word. Our God is a God of love and He has not compiled “hate verses,” but has given instruction on sins that are displeasing to Him. Due to the fact that gays and homosexuals have not seen the reflection of God’s love in His people, one can begin to realize why more and more alienated souls have gathered together in their spiritual darkness and created their own truths and are seeking to manipulate God’s approval.
But God’s Word is clear about His desires. He asks that we cast all our burdens upon Him. He asks for our trust and our faith regardless of what our feelings are telling us. There are a lot of feelings that come naturally to people that wouldn’t meet God’s approval much less man’s approval. But for some reason, many are seeking to make an exception for this clearly defined sinful behavior.
With such strong feelings of desire, lust, love, etc., Bible-banging is not going to make any of those feelings less intense. So what actually brings a soul into living according to God’s will? We have got to see the reflection of the love of Jesus in those who claim to be His children. Leading a soul to Christ must be done gently and lovingly under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” It doesn’t say your feelings will set you free. But if we are not personally and intimately connected to Christ, we are not likely going to be able to help a struggling soul engage with Him in the relationship He intended.
Jesus loves each and every one of us as His own precious child. A child for whom He shed blood and died for while we were still sinning (Romans 5:8). What are we willing to give up for Jesus? Every mention of homosexuality in God’s Word is in a negative connotation. There is no sanctified instruction from God for homosexual unions as there are for unions between a man and a woman. Why would one even venture to take over for God? Doesn’t this sound much like Lucifer saying that he knows better, or has a better plan? Do you see the terminal risk involved? Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” We cannot afford to trust our feelings, especially under the duress and deception of Satan.
Sin is natural. We were all born with it. Choosing Christ is unnatural. It is everything that Satan claims is impossible. We are at the end of this great controversy between Christ and Satan. We are exactly where Christ has told Satan there will be a people who will remain steadfast in truth and trust regardless what they feel. “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40: 1-3).
Without self-denial and without a love-relationship with Jesus stemming from humility, we will fail to see His plan for us.
Dear precious children of God, this is not a constructed prayer that begs for the same-sex attracted person to miraculously become straight. This is a humbling of ourselves before our Creator and asking Him to help us fall more in love with Him each day. Thy will, not my will. Lay your heart in His hands. Surrender completely to Him and let Him make you a “New Creation” in Him. Allow the change to be one that draws you to holiness. Then listen as He guides and directs you. Yes… it’s possible. He may want you to live a celibate life for Him, whether you are attracted to the opposite sex or the same sex. But let Him decide what He wants for you that is in accordance with His Word. Insisting that we know better than Him will only align us with the enemy.
Is it painful? Sometimes. Sometimes my carnal nature just wants to be next to warm flesh that says I love you. But Jesus would rather that I know He loves me. His love, and my trust in that love, brings eternal life and a relationship that will grow forever and ever. Shaping my relationships around what currently feels or seems good, ends here. God is seeking those… those precious few who will make Him their God and obey Him out of love. These are the ones He wants to spend eternity with. Do you see the difference? Can you see how always putting self first is too dangerous for God to allow?
I want you to know with all my heart, that with Christ all things are possible to them that love Him (Philippians 4:13), all things that are according to His plan, not ours. Job endured horrendous trials and mental pain. As we have been given Job as an example, how can we seek our own pleasure in this modern age? How can we not come to God and say, "Lord, I am yours; do with me as you will. Make me a servant of yours?” If that sounds impossible to you, think about it. Pray about it. Invite Him to take control of your life. He’ll do it! I promise! There isn’t anything that He won’t do for you that is better than what you can possibly imagine for yourself. But be careful not to play God. Be careful not to listen to the power of suggestion rather than the love and truth of Jesus.
Experience this: "you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). He deeply desires a one-on-one intimate relationship with you. He died to save you. He knew you and chose you … before you were born.
I am passionate about God’s love and redemption regardless of the sin. I want to ask you, whoever might be reading, whether you have been in the church your whole life or if you have shaped your life around your own truths and feelings, to consider this, forgive and seek forgiveness. Everyone of us are ignorant. We have much to learn. Let’s heal together. Not a single person on this earth can claim perfection in and of their own. Jesus offers us His righteousness if we will accept it. It is a lifelong transforming process. But He asks us to model ourselves after Him. Live as He lived. Resist temptation. Surrender. Abide in Him.
As for the film “Seventh Gay Adventists,” ask God to put love in your heart that will draw all sinners to Him, not condone their sin. Be careful not to put your own salvation at risk by sympathizing with the sin rather than the sinner. Love deeply with the love of Jesus. Love is a two-way relationship. Because of our love for Christ, He will grow us and we will want to obey His commands. He is righteous and He is just. He is the Almighty.
If you are a pastor, leader or teacher and you are interested in presentations that exemplify the changing love of our beautiful Savior through those He has redeemed, please do not hesitate to contact me. Four ministries under the umbrella, "Coming Out Ministries," are available to come to wherever you are. We give weekend presentations, week of prayer, and college presentations that bring to light the changing power of God.
This article originally appeared at Know His Love as "Seventh Gay Adventists--Movie vs God's reality." It is reprinted by permission of the author.
Seventh-Gay Adventists, a documentary film advocating for the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, asks Adventists to think twice about what it means to love their neighbor. The independent film follows three gay and lesbian individuals, as they attempt to reconcile their Adventist identity with their sexuality. David, Marcos and Sherri express their struggles with coming out in an Adventist community, yet attempting to remain in it. All of them relate that at one time they had tried to become straight, but with no success. David tried for five years, eventually leaving fellowship with the Adventist church and finding a non-denominational church with his new partner Colin.
Marcos also leaves the church after being fired as a minister for cheating on his wife with another man. He eventually finds and begins attending Second Wind, a church created by Greg & Shasta Nelson. Later in the film the church closes for financial reasons, and seizing the opportunity, Marcos realizes his dream of being a pastor again and begins his own church.
Sherri and Jill’s story is different because they continue to fellowship with a Seventh-day Adventist church. They tell of the mixed reactions they received from members, but that over all, the church has been very accepting, even allowing Jill to head up the new Adventurer club, which no one was willing to lead out in. There is some initial apprehension when their current pastor Loren Seibold leaves, because they are unsure how the new pastor will treat them. Their eldest daughter is baptised by the new pastor later in the film.
Producers and married couple Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer do a masterful job at provoking an emotional sympathy for the struggles and pain each couple experienced at the hand of individuals and leaders within the church.
“The ultimate question we wanted to ask is how do we treat each other,” Eyer says. “We wanted to begin a conversation that would break stereotypes, and allow gays to tell their story, and not just have a film talking about gays.”
Akers and Eyer originally had planned to do an issues film, inspired by the political buzz generated by Proposition 8 in California. The proposition says only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. They initially were angry with Proposition 8, but after delving into the personal stories they were following, they decided to tone the film down and focus exclusively on the individuals.
“We wanted to start a thoughtful conversation through story,” says Akers.
The couple spent three years following the lives of about 12 individuals, eventually narrowing it down to the three seen in the film.
Stories are a powerful form of propaganda. The film tells stories in a very non-confrontational style, but the message is loud and clear. With the exception of a few intimate scenes of the couples kissing and a protracted scene of David receiving a backrub from Colin without his shirt, there’s not much to take offense at. The film shows the very mundane activities of each couple. The stereotypes of gay and lesbians as uncommitted, promiscuous sex fiends are absent.
While the film did produce some food for thought, the manner in which the subject is presented is biased against the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s understanding of the biblical view on homosexual behavior. The film is deceptive and artful in its normative presentation of homosexual behavior. It presents homosexual behavior in the most benign way with little regard for the plain texts in the Bible, which prohibit it.
The premise of the film shows you can be gay and Adventist. However, it is impossible to reconcile homosexual behavior with being a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, and here is where the film completely misses the boat. Christians cannot identify with sin while calling themselves Christian. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (NASB). A gay Adventist is an oxymoron. When we’ve died to self and become a new creature in Christ, we will no longer identify ourselves with the sins of our past. Yet the film attempts to place sexual identity and the desire to be with someone over the Bible and our need to place God’s will before our own. It’s not a film about dying to self and coming into a loving and obedient relationship with Jesus, it’s about taking any measures to please and appease self.
Consider Akers, a fifth generation Adventist, who hasn’t attended an official Adventist church in years. Due to their work on this film, Akers and Eyers have found it difficult to find a church to attend, according to Akers. While she and her husband appear to identify themselves with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, they are opposed to the church theologically regarding homosexuality, which puts them at a disadvantage in the conversation about the intersect of Adventism and homosexuality.*
“Ultimately it’s a question of hermeneutics--how do we interpret the Bible,” Akers said during the Palm Springs screening.
She couldn’t be more correct, but the film doesn’t address what the Bible says with any depth, relying exclusively on emotion appeal.
And the lack of representation from individuals who have overcome homosexual behavior is concerning.
“Initially Daneen [Akers] told me I was the person they were considering to represent those who had been living the gay lifestyle and were now celibate,” Wayne Blakely of Know His Love Ministry said. Blakely is also participating in a merger of ministries dealing with homosexuality called Coming Out.
Blakely said he and his colleagues offered Akers and Eyer their stories of freedom, but the producers didn’t want anything to do with them.
“If [Eyer and Akers] are calling for a reconciliation, is it a reconciliation to God or to the world?” said Blakely. “God's word is not a message of hate, but a message of love. Some Christians are accused of being homophobic, because they’re not placing their stamp of approval on someone's lifestyle. You say you're unable to love your child without condoning their behavior? My parents’ loved me while I was living a gay lifestyle, but they never stopped praying for me and they never condoned my lifestyle.”
Blakely is concerned the film doesn’t give any representation to those who have started a new life in Jesus, and who have overcome homosexuality through the power of Jesus’ healing and restoring grace. This doesn’t mean anyone has labels of gay or straight; it means they are a new creature in Jesus, denying self, ready to be obedient to what a loving God asks in His word.
In response to this lack of representation, Akers said: “A film is really an exploration of a question, and our questions were: how does someone reconcile being both Adventist and gay, and is there a home in the Adventist church for those who are on the margins? The story of celibate gays also deserve attention, as all of our stories do, but it's a very different story because celibate gays live within the church's prescribed standards. That just wasn't the intersection we ultimately wanted to explore because that's not where the real identity challenge is.... We didn't connect with anyone who seemed appropriate to profile in depth with the rigor that participating in a film like this requires.”
It doesn’t appear the producers were interested in how Blakely and others had overcome their sin, but were more interested in promoting stories that nicely condone homosexual behavior in the church, while at the same time desensitizing people to the serious nature of sin. The film pushes a homosexual-behavior-is-acceptable agenda, and doesn’t give a gay person any resources or hope for overcoming sin.
There is no doubt the church has not always dealt with the issue of homosexuality in a loving manner. The church needs to ask forgiveness, and those who have been wronged need to forgive, even if not asked.
Too often “love the sinner but hate the sin” is repeated, but without any knowledge of how this plays out practically. What does it look like to love a brother or sister in Christ who chooses to participate in homosexual behavior and yet hate the sin? It’s a challenge all Christians ask who have friends or family choosing a gay lifestyle.
What’s dangerous about this film is its treatment of homosexuality. Unlike other sins that are universally recognized as such, homosexual behavior is no longer being considered a sin by an increasing number in the church. That poses a problem for the church. The church has not educated its membership adequately, and hopefully this film will stir the laity and church leaders to be more proactive in teaching what the Bible says about how we should love each other and what appropriate boundaries should be made both in the church and in personal relationships with people who choose to live in sin.
Unfortunately, this film will do more to desensitize members to sin than anything else, and if the church remains complacent about the film’s influence, it will also hold some responsibility for the souls it did not educate or help. Even if the producers are misguided, at least they are speaking. We are to be hot or cold, not somewhere in the politically-correct middle.
* UPDATE 5/7/12 Clarification as to why Akers and Eyer no longer regularly fellowship at a Seventh-day Adventist Church.