The SDA church has always taken a special interest in
health concerns: diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc. They are strong
supporters of the principle of separation of church and state. They are also
strong promoters of religious liberty.
The Church has about 16 million members worldwide, with a growth rate of
about 7% per year. 1 They have over a million members in the
U.S. The 2001 Canadian census reported about 63 thousand members in Canada.
2 Theologically, they are very conservative. One obvious
difference between the SDA church and a typical
Evangelical church is that the SDA's hold religious services on the Sabbath (Saturday).
The church's stand is that the Bible consistently condemns all homosexuality
behavior as a sin, regardless of the nature of the relationship. They have stated that gay and
lesbian relationships are "obvious perversions of God's original plan."
The church expects homosexuals to not enter sexual relationships, but to remain
celibate for life.
Sexually active gay candidates are not permitted to be
ordained as pastors.
The language that they have used to refer to homosexuality has changed over
time. Two decades ago they used terms like "depravity" and "perversion." They
grouped homosexual behavior together with child rape and human-animal sex. More
recently, they have mellowed. They describe homosexuality as simply a "sin;"
they have emphasized that marriage and the associated sexual activity is to be
restricted to opposite-sex married couples; they discuss how the grace and love
of God helps homosexuals remain celibate.
Some developments from 1976 to 1999:
1976: Gay-positive group formed: Seventh Day Adventist Kinship International was founded. It is "devoted to the spiritual, emotional, social and physical
well-being of current and former Seventh-day Adventists who are lesbian, gay,
bisexual or transgender." It is completely independent of
the SDA church and has over 1000 members, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals,
transgender persons, their parents, friends and supporters.
They believe that:
God loves and accepts gays and lesbians as they are.
The Bible does not "condemn, or even mention homosexuality as a sexual
Ellen White's writings do not "parallel any of the
Bible Texts which are often
used to condemn homosexuals."
An adult's sexual orientation is unchangeable.
1980: Dialogue:Kinship's first annual camp meeting was held in Arizona. Two SDA pastors and three seminary
professors attended as official delegates of the SDA General Conference. The two pastors concluded that
God's will for gays and lesbians cannot be understood from a simplistic reading of English translations of the
Bible. The delegates subsequently recommended to General Conference executives and officials from SDA
The Biblical Research Institute, a group of biblical scholars located
in the SDA headquarters, conduct a special study of homosexuality.
The church publish balanced articles on the subject, and that
SDA schools include homosexual information in their sex-ed programs.
These and six other proposals were approved. However, a search of the
Institute's website did not reveal a study on homosexuality.
Lawsuit over Kinship's name: The Seventh-day Adventist Church filed legal action in
a federal district court in California, in an attempt to stop SDA
Kinship International from using "Seventh-day Adventist" in
their name. The church lost their lawsuit, which was never appealed.
Statement of concern over perverted sex: The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee
approved a statement of concern on sexual behavior on 1987-OCT-12. It states that:
It considers homosexual practices as belonging to a group of perverted sexual
behaviors that are contrary to God's expressed will. The group includes spousal
sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, incest, homosexual practices and
"In spite of the clear moral standards set forth in God's Word for
relationships between man and woman, the world today is witnessing a
resurgence of the perversions and depravity that marked ancient
God's grace will lead the homosexual to healing, and will lead the
church to "firm and loving discipline" of the homosexual.
They don't define whether "healing" means that
the homosexual will transition to a heterosexual
orientation, or that the individual will be able
to live a celibate life without a supportive partner.
1991:Second lawsuit: The General Conference of the SDA church brought a lawsuit against
Kinship over trademark
infringement. They tried to prevent Kinship from using the words "Seventh-day Adventist" in their
organization's name. The church lost again.
1999-OCT: SDA statement about homosexuality: The Annual Council of the General Conference Executive
Committee approved a resolution on 1999-OCT-03 about homosexuality.
Some of the points raised in the document are:
All humans (presumably including homosexuals) are valuable in
the sight of God.
Sexual intimacy is intended by God to be only between a man and a woman who
"Sexual acts outside the circle of a heterosexual marriage are forbidden."
The Bible makes no accommodation for homosexual activity or
Homosexual activity is sinful, regardless of the nature of the
Jesus differentiated "His love for sinners from His
clear teaching about sinful practices." The SDA church
attempts to follow this example. This appears to mean that one should love the
sinner even as they hate the sin. 3
In common with other conservative Christian denominations, the SDA does not
stress the concept of homosexual orientation. They generally refer
to homosexuality as a behavior -- perhaps an
addiction. It is what homosexuals do. Most religious liberals,
therapists, human sexuality researchers, gays and lesbians consider sexual
orientation to be a basic of a person's nature; it is part of what a person is.
the time that the resolution was passed, some members of the church's
Executive Committee commented:
Laurie Evans, president of the Church's South Pacific Division in
Sydney, Australia, said that the statement.
"...not only endorses clearly the biblical position in respect to this matter, but also
acknowledges our pastoral responsibility to all groups of people. It
is so easy to concentrate on the sinfulness of such a practice and
forget that there are people who struggle with such temptations, whom
God loves dearly, and who need our support and encouragement."
Laurie may not be aware that there are a range of interpretations on the six or so
"clobber" passages in the Bible that have been interpreted by
conservatives as condemning homosexual behavior.
Ardis Stenbakken, director of Women's Ministries at the Church's
World Headquarters, said:
While we strive to follow what the Bible
says, we are also to demonstrate our love to others as Jesus teaches.
In the words of the Bible, we are 'to act justly and love mercy'."
Ted Ramirez, a lay member of the Executive Committee from
Kettering, OH, noted that the resolution stresses the duty of believers:
"... to treat all persons with dignity and respect, regardless of their
personal situations...Christ died for all of us, and every one of us
has a personal role to play in revealing His love and redemption to all."
William G. Johnsson, is the editor of Adventist Review, and
helped draft the statement. He said:
"such a statement was needed
for our Church community and society in general. We are being asked
where Adventists stand on this issue."
Ray Dabrowski, the SDA's communication director said that:
"The Church should not remain silent on issues prominent in society,
especially when they also touch the Adventist faith community. A
Christian church is expected to uphold biblical standards. But it is
equally important that as Christians we are always full of grace and
compassionate towards everyone." 4